Evolution on the Right

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The New Republic polled leading conservatives about how they "feel about evolution and intelligent design?" I am pleased to note that evolution wins by a landslide! My simplified reading of the results is below:

Pro-evolution: David Frum, Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, William Buckley, James Taranto, John Tierney, Richard Brookhiser, Ramesh Ponnuru, and David Brooks basically accept that it is a genuine scientific explanation for how the diversity of life arose on earth.

Skeptical: William Kristol, Stephen Moore, and Tucker Carlson express some skepticism about the details of evolutionary theory.

Anti-evolution: Grover Norquist and Pat Buchanan are pretty sure that it's wrong and pernicious.

Norman Podhoretz abstained.

Check out the TNR article "Evolutionary War" for their views on whether or not evolution should be taught in the biology classes of government schools. (Annoying registration required.)

For my take on why certain conservative intellectuals are so furiously attacking neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory check out my article "Origin of the Specious."

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  1. Penn & Teller have a fun episode on ID.

    I think we should kram those fundies in a classroom and force them to listen to critical assessments of their religions.

    seriously, science is science. faith is faith. science should be a critical look at things. it should be falsifiable (spelling?), it changes, and the bottom line changes. P&T do a good job in showing why ID is not “science”.

    perhaps our resident PhD physicist should weigh in πŸ™‚

  2. It’s fun to watch highly educated northeastern elites like this squirm lest they offend the literalist mouthbreathers.

    It’s standard neocon doctrine that religion is a lie, but a necessary lie to keep the Lower Orders in place. The fundies get some symbolic gestures but ultimately must know their place. Dr. Strangelove, er, I mean Krauthammer is about the only one who is honest about it.

  3. Gosh, here’s proof that even conservatives can evolve! (Why am I not surprised by the list on dissenters?)

  4. perhaps our resident PhD physicist should weigh in πŸ™‚

    What’s there to say, really? Most people here accept evolution, but if the thread starts to involve too much religion-bashing then a few people will react indignantly. Some of them will eventually admit that they don’t object to evolution, just religion-bashing, but they’ll play Devil’s Advocate on creationism as a response to religion-bashing.

    And of course a few people will show up who actually do subscribe to creationism, and a certain recently-returned poster will take me to task if I treat them with kid gloves.

    So I’ll sit this one out. I’ve got a ton of reading to do on formation of blood vessel networks. There’s a lot of fascinating physics in there, but first I have to learn the biology.

  5. lol — now that’s an educated answer, mr thoreau.

  6. Geat article on the link, Ronald. I had not seen it before.
    I have a pet theory, that the strong reactions against Darwin that we see among the social conservatives are the result of being accutely aware of what the theory means to their beliefs. It really does, if understood properly, invalidate some types of beliefs about God.
    To heighten the conflict, scientific advances regarding genetics and brain activity are really picking up steam, and the implications may provide very convincing evidence against some majority views [ I think dualism, the overwhelming belief of the population, but clearly wrong to those who look into it, is in for some tough days ahead.] The people with those views sense the danger to their views much more accutely than those of us who find it hard to believe they do not jsut want to find some common ground by throwing away some of the more obviously wrong beliefs. Anyway, it is just a theory.

  7. “Grover Norquist and Pat Buchanan are pretty sure that it’s wrong and pernicious”

    Grover Norquist is pretty sure that it’s wrong and pernicious, and any other stance will interfere with his whoring, ^M^M^M^M^M^M^M fundraising.

  8. a certain recently-returned poster will take me to task if I treat them with kid gloves.

    Say it ain’t so…

    The Scourge of Theists? He-who-must-not-be-named (by any of his aliases)?

  9. Not to defend the current crop of neocons, but the support of evolution by a good chunk the Right has been pretty open and obvious, just not heavily reported. The lack of Official Republican Support for a number of textbook decisions was conspicuous, especially when they would have amounted to dismantling a vital piece of the Liberal education agenda they often rail against.
    Also, the lack of openly hardcore evangelical policy is conspicuous. I think when the Bush term is over, the Evangelicals will claim they were betrayed (as many are already saying).

    Lastly, drf’s comment about Penn & Teller reminded me that In Demand no longer shows their episode about Mother Teresa. A few chatrooms express outrage about this, while NewsMax and others on the right claim the episode is another “attack on Christianity” (as opposed to a specific dead catholic nun). Has anyone heard anything official yet?
    And before anyone starts telling me how the episode was offensive, I guess they don’t have enough faith in the six 24 hour religious channels on my digital cable to nullify the influence of a single half-hour show.

  10. It’s fun to watch highly educated northeastern elites like this squirm lest they offend the literalist mouthbreathers.

    You saw the same thing a couple of years ago with the Lawrence decision. Many conservative intellectuals opposed the ruling, ostensibly on federalist grounds, but relatively few actually suggested that anti-sodomy laws were a good idea (John “Buggery, Buggery” Derbyshire being a notable exception). But politicians like Santorum and Frist, having a better feel for the sentiments of the reactionary numbskulls whom they pander to, weren’t anywhere as enlightened in their rhetoric.

  11. a certain recently-returned poster will take me to task if I treat them with kid gloves

    Wait, he’s back?!?! How did I miss this? As who?

    What’s interesting is how opposition to ID being taught in Bio classes is majority among conservative thinkers, but there is still a massive fight over this. One advantage Republicans have over Democrats is their willingness to hold their tongues over minor disagreements to increase solidarity over bigger issues. Dems are the kings of infighting.

  12. Mo-

    Croesus the Traveler has returned in the form of “Hakluyt.”

    Check out the London threads from yesterday.

  13. One advantage Republicans have over Democrats is their willingness to hold their tongues over minor disagreements to increase solidarity over bigger issues. Dems are the kings of infighting.

    I don’t know about that. A huge number of social conservatives consider “RINOs” no better than Democrats, even if their so-called RINO has perfect solidarity with party beliefs about economics and foreign policy. There’s also tremendous Republican infighting on free trade, immigration, the War on Drugs, and other hot-button issues.

  14. Further evidence that libertarianism will not gain grounds among a less intellectually evolved population. The masses apparently still need someone telling them what to do – whether it be religion, or experts-who-know-best.

    I must certainly laud this crop of neo-cons for being a most pragmatic lot, who are able to implement a social-darwinist class structure on their very own followers. The irony is truely delicious. Bravo!

  15. I think the theory should be revised in light of phocion’s observation. Among the Right, the fundies are perfectly happy to smack around their partners in public, and the neo-cons and old school Republicans just accommodate them. Rhetorically, at least.

    Among Democrats, all sides are constantly squabbling – the DLC plinking Howard Dean, the netroots plinking the DLC, etc – and everyone gives as good as they get. No DLCer is going to pretend to be down with Al Sharpton’s ideas about massive public employment just to keep his people happy. Thus, fights erupt in public a lot more often.

  16. Demo foodfights may happen more often (and more loudly), but when it comes time to actually take action, Democrats are better at holding their noses and cooperating.

    Republicans, by contrast, operate like a circular firing squad. Even with a clear majority in Congress, they can’t get their programs through–not even the tamest stuff, let alone the more controversial things (including their areas of intersection with libertarians–defunding public broadcasting, downsizing the govt., etc.).

  17. I’m not a fundie nor am I religious in any way but I remain skeptical of evolution as a theory.

    That species adapt to conditions over time is apparent, but to insist that amino acids adapted enough over billions of years to genetically mutate into liberals who walk upright, smoke dope, and love Michael Moore is just a bit of a stretch. For my money, that’s as much of a stretch as believing that God created the Heavens and the Earth in seven days and then tossed in Irving Kristol for fun.

    And don’t even start with the ‘Big Bang’ theory that precisely matches the ‘God Created’ theory in that both propose that something was created from nothing.

    Because objective reality can be observed and discovered, I have no doubt that at some point humans will understand the true origin of the species and perhaps the proponents of evolution will be proven correct.

    Until then, well, we’ll see.

  18. Well, the breeding of dogs, horses, and the cross-pollinization of flowers are all examples of evolution. They are all forms of selection. They represent genetic changes over a period of time. No one disputes these.

  19. TWC-

    FWIW, there’s a hell of a lot of things in science that blow my mind.

    I’m like “No way does energy minimization lead to the beautiful network patterns that we see in bronchial systems, blood vessels, and tree branches. No fucking way can you explain all these things with energy minimization.”

    But they can.

    In grad school I was like “No way are all waves (well, almost all, as my thesis discussed) localized in one-dimensional systems. No way is there a universal pattern in the intensity profile. And no way can statistics reveal something so simple yet mysterious.”

    But it’s true.

    And I’m like “Don’t even try to tell me that you can see through the skin with polarizers and inhomogeneous illumination.”

    But they can.

    Evolution almost seems too good to be true. I agree with you on that. But data is data. Feel free to maintain a very high data threshold before you accept evolution. What’s amazing to me is just how many thresholds they’ve cleared. Set a higher one if you wish, but be honest enough to admit they’re right if they ever clear your threshold.

  20. Croesus the Traveler has returned in the form of “Hakluyt.”

    So sad…I clearly pay way too much attention to this board since I understand that comment.

  21. Croesus the Traveler has returned in the form of “Hakluyt.”

    lol — that explains a lot.

  22. FWIW, I welcome the return of Gary, or Hakluyt, or whatever name he prefers.

    gaius, I have no doubt that you two will cross keyboards over Nietzsche again.

  23. T.W.C.’s spot on, and a hard act to follow.

    The thing that really burns my toast with regard to Creationism/ID is that people continue to foist it on the public as a theory with equal footing to evolution. Yet neither of those two conform to the elements of the scientific method.

    I have yet to see any usable solutions for anything come from those pushing C/ID, whereas evolutionary theory underpins practically all of the advances made by the biological sciences, from the development of vaccines and penicillin, to the creation of pest-resistant crops.

    I mean, not to overly simplify things, but what is the C/ID explanation for the rise of penicillin-resistant strains of common diseases?
    What is the C/ID solution to such diseases?

    /Once again, probably stating stuff everyone already knew. -Bah-

  24. mediageek-

    From what I’ve heard, the C/ID camp distinguishes between “microevolution” and “macroevolution.” They acknowledge that evolution happens in some cases (e.g. antibiotic-resistance, pesticide resistance) but basically point to gaps and say that the jury’s out on whether other steps in the history of life also proceeded without intervention (i.e. a Designer).

    To me, the case for evolution comes down to this:

    1) There’s a fossil record. It’s incomplete, but it’s there, and there’s an apparent progression from one form to another. Not a perfect progression (i.e. there are and always will be gaps) but the gaps get smaller over time. And most new fossils narrow the gaps rather than widen them. (i.e. a gap might widen if somebody found a fossil that was intermediate in age between two apparently related species and similar to both of them, but also drastically different in key regards.)

    2) There’s a mechanism for introducing change: Random genetic mutations.

    And remember that in recent years biologists have learned that protein-coding genes aren’t the only actors in an organism’s development. A few years ago Scientific American had an excellent article on recent findings concerning “junk” DNA (it codes for RNA that performs important tasks) and the epigenetic material that accompanies the genome. There’s room for mutation in more areas than just the genes.

    3) There’s a mechanism for selecting and preserving some changes while discarding others: Natural selection.

    4) In addition to the fossil record, there’s a genetic record that strongly suggests common ancestry for different species.

    5) On time scales that we can observe we have seen mutation and natural selection produce fairly profound changes. For instance, resistance to deadly poisons.

    Put it all together and there’s a powerful case here. It’s consistent with observations, it make predictions about the sorts of fossils that future paleontologists will dig up, and it provides a paradigm for making predictions about socially and industrial significant phenomena on time scales that we can observe (e.g. resistance to pesticides and antibiotics). It encapsulates all of the things that a good scientist seeks: Fundamental understanding of big questions, testable hypotheses, solid roots in theory, observation, and experiment, and practical significance.

    Is it “right” about the past? Well, it’s as right as it can be. In some philosophical sense nobody “knows” anything about the past. I mean, what if the world was created 5 minutes ago and our memories and records are fake? But that sort of thinking gets you nowhere. The philosophers can sort out questions about how we know anything about the past, but as long as you accept some pragmatic notion that past events are knowable, evolution does a damn good job.

    OK, I guess I violated my self-imposed decision not to join this one.

  25. In grad school I was like “No way are all waves (well, almost all, as my thesis discussed) localized in one-dimensional systems. No way is there a universal pattern in the intensity profile. And no way can statistics reveal something so simple yet mysterious.”

    I’m sure my mind would be blown by that as well, if I knew what it meant. I read a lot of layman’s science, but I sudenly feel a bit stupid.

    Speaking of stupid, I live (as I’ve pointed out before) next door to these idiots. I see them on the local talking head programs. These folks are not offering a reasoned critique of evolution (and I think there are some unanswered questions here, as there are in every area of science), but truly are the slackjawed yokels they are made out to be.
    I suppose I find those folks especially offensive because I spent 8 years being educated by the Jesuits, and am well aware that a reasoned case for god can be made. The Kansas folks have more in common with Jerry Springer than Thomas Aquinas.

  26. Of course, evolution can’t exactly rule out a designer or supernatural intervention. So let me list my criteria for good science:

    1) Solid support from observations and experiments.
    2) Testable hypotheses.
    3) Firm theoretical basis. (This means mechanisms that operate in a predictable way, or at least statistically predictable way, that we can use to formulate predictions. Even a Creator might be OK if the Creator behaved in a predictable manner rather than by inscrutable whim.)
    4) Practical applications.

    Not every scientist cares about #4 (see: String Theory), but most do. How does C/ID stack up?

    1) All they can observe is “Nobody’s figured this one out yet.”
    2) Their best prediction is “Nobody ever will figure this one out.”
    3) Their mechanism is fundamentally impossible to understand. In essence, their assertion is that no natural mechanism (something that happens in a predictable manner, at least statistically) exists so some entity that can do whatever it wants stepped in.
    4) The day that the C/ID crowd does something useful with vaccines or antibiotics or pesticides I’ll give them this one. So far all they’ve got is faith healing, which has a “mixed” track record in double-blind studies.

    Since they flunk my criteria, their theory is no better than the theory that the universe is 5 minutes old and our memories are all fake.

  27. How’s this for an argument: life and nature is *too complex* to have been created by intelligent design. Instead, some kind of chaotic process must have occurred to create the complexity that exists.
    And TWC, Big Bang Theory is out, Inflation Theory is in, although it still says that something was created out of nothing.

  28. Speaking of the Big Bang theory, this article from The Economist is worth a read.

  29. TWC,

    You should differentiate evolution from issues of origins. BTW, the Big Bang doesn’t postulate “something from nothing,” at least as far as the bang is concerned. What’s funny about the “Big Bang” theory is that its first moden proponent was a Belgian Jesuit priest (his name fails me at the moment). Anyway, I guess if you want to put God somewhere, you can put him/her/it in the singularity that preceded all the those funkily named epochs.

    mediageek,

    There is little to no actual science behind I.D. If one reads Behe’s book one finds out rather quickly that Behe is tinkering at the margins of science. Indeed, Behe spurred research in areas where he gave examples of I.D., and that research in turn demonstrate how evolutionary processes created, for example, the flagellum. Even Behe’s famous mousetrap example has shown to have no merit, as a scientist has come up with a scenario where a mousetrap could evolve. I.D. is essentially an old-fashioned argument from ignorance; if you cannot explain X right now, that must mean that God was involved somewhere.

  30. I’m sure my mind would be blown by that as well, if I knew what it meant. I read a lot of layman’s science, but I sudenly feel a bit stupid.

    Localization is a really neat and deep thing that is needed to fully understand the electronic properties of certain molecules and new electronic devices (e.g. “Quantum Well Lasers” and whatnot). It happens for any type of wave, be it light or sound or electrons (which, as we know from quantum physics, are waves on a microscopic scale). The biggest applications are with electrons, but it’s sometims easier to study in the case of light, and it may yet turn out to be needed to understand the properties of new optical technologies.

    The idea is that waves can be trapped in space because they interfere with themselves. In 1D systems (e.g. electrons in chain-like molecules called polymers, or light in a layered material) waves are always localized. (Well, there’s a few exceptions, but we won’t worry about them for now.)

    In 2D systems, like electrons trapped in a single thin layer of a material (a geometry used in some new devices), waves are also always localized. (Trapped in a small region of space.)

    In 3D localization is less common. For electrons it happens in insulators, but for light it’s very difficult to achieve.

    For more info see:
    http://www.tn.utwente.nl/cops/people/adlag/articles/dgain.htm

  31. The difference between science and Creationsim/I.D. is this (albeit greatly simplified): science involves gathering data, studying the data and then determining what conclusions can be drawn from it; ID/Creationists already have their conclusions, and cherry-pick the data to support it.

    At home I have a book called “The End of Evolution,” which I found for a dime in a thrift store; they had a handy-dandy chart of “Evolutionist Claims” and the corresponding “proofs” that they were wrong. More than half the “proofs” consisted of either “This must be created because its so complex” or “This can’t be true because Genesis says otherwise.”

  32. Michael A. Clem,

    The Big Bang theory really says nothing definitive about what happened in the very, very, very, very early universe.

    thoreau,

    As far as I know, string theory can’t be “tested” outside of a blackboard.

  33. Also, you can use scientific knowledge to make predictions about the future; for example, an evolutionist can predict that in the future, germs will grow resistant to antibiotics, and damned if that isn’t happening. What predictions or conclusions can come from Intelligent Design?

  34. Jennifer,

    The latter “proof” is known as circular reasoning.

    “The Bible says its wrong, ergo it must be wrong. Thankya Jesus! Lay your hands on the wonderment!”

  35. What predictions or conclusions can come from Intelligent Design?

    You’d have to ask the Designer, wouldn’t you?

  36. science involves gathering data, studying the data and then determining what conclusions can be drawn from it; ID/Creationists already have their conclusions, and cherry-pick the data to support it

    To be fair, we frequently start with a theory and then get the data. There’s nothing dishonest about that order of events. Sometimes the theory precedes the data, sometimes the data precedes the theory.

    What distinguishes science from C/ID is that we don’t ignore contradictory data. If the theory comes first and then the data contradicts it we throw out the theory. (Well, we throw it out if enough contradictory data comes in. We don’t just toss it aside the minute somebody gets apparently contradictory data, since the experiment must be subject to just as much scrutiny as the theory.)

    The C/ID folks, OTOH, have never changed their minds. The most they’ve done is retreat into ever-shrinking gaps.

  37. Jennifer,

    Big Bang theorists predicted that if their theory were correct then cosmic microwave background radition. When they looked for it they found it. I’ve never seen Behe or any other adherant of I.D. make such predictive claims.

  38. I know, Hakluyt. I just mentioned that to demonstrate the incredible unscientific lameness of that book.

    I’m trying to remember some of the other complaints in it. There was the old “Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics” trope, and there were various crudely drawn cartoons showing how ridiculous it would be to expect a human woman to give birth to a giraffe. I can’t remember much more just yet.

  39. Thoreau-Thanks for the information, that does look interesting. I’ll look over the article more closely later.

    Jennifer-I have a Chick tract I found that has a similar chart. Turns out that carbon dating is a sham, and the fact that we havn’t found fossils for every stage of evolution means that god but the fossils there to trick us. You see, he loves us so much that he’s trying to trick us into eternal damnation.

  40. That last post starting with “I know” was in reference to the “circular reasoning” bit.

  41. and the fact that we havn’t found fossils for every stage of evolution means that god but the fossils there to trick us.

    And Einstein was concerned that God might play dice. Seems gaming is the least of The Almighty’s vices. He’s a fucking liar too, eh?

  42. There was the old “Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics” trope

    AARRGGHH!!!!

    I know a Ph.D. physicist who’s a creationist. Yes, you read that correctly. Upbringing is a powerful force.

    He once tried to use that argument on me. Here’s the sad part: He did his Ph.D. on phase transitions. He knows thermodynamics backwards and forward. (I know enough thermodynamics to get by and see the basic fallacy, but I don’t know as much as him.) If he wanted he could have easily overwhelmed me with sophisticated arguments. Wrong arguments, but sophisticated nonetheless. He could have intimidated me into surrendering. Not that I would have changed my mind, but I would have conceded that I need to know more before I try to argue with him.

    But instead he gave me the lamest argument he could come up with: Evolution decreases entropy. I don’t actually know if the argument is true or not, but it is most definitely irrelevant because the earth isn’t a closed system. Entropy can decrease in an open system receiving energy from an external source (e.g. the sun). So even if he’s right and evolution decreases entropy, the argument is irrelevant. (And if he’s wrong, well, then he’s wrong.)

  43. thoreau-

    Thank you, your information is greatly appreciated.

    I’m probably going to get flamed for the following, but how is it that Microevolution is all kosher with God, but if Macroevolution is true, suddenly the whole thing falls apart?

    Does a belief in evolution really invalidate the ten commandments, the teachings of Jesus, or spiritual enlightenment so many Christians seem to feel?

    To coin a mixed metaphor, it seems like these evangelicals are putting a lot of effort into making a mountain out of a red herring.

  44. Marilyn Vos Savant had a good take on evolution theory. She said the average person who “believes” in evolution really does’t understand the theory as well as say a PhD biologist does. Instead the average person simply has “faith” in the word of the scientists that the theory of evolution is true.

  45. Having refreshed my mind with a healthful cigarette break, I’m remembering a few more of the “proofs”:

    1. Carbon-dating is BS because scientists once carbon-dated the shell of a freshly caught oyster and it read as being millions of years old! (When you check the footnote, you’ll find that the ‘study’ was conducted by an organization with a name like “The Scientific Society of Creationist Bullshit” or something; no peer-review, of course.)

    2. Think about the eye! How could it possibly evolve? I mean, DUH.

    3. I suppose you think a woman could give birth to a giraffe, don’t you?

    4. There are a lot of cave drawings showing cavemen fighting dinosaurs. No, we don’t have any photographs. Shut up.

  46. Beyond just the weirdness of the idea that God created the universe in such a way as to fake vast age, evolution, etc, ID pretty much sits on the old “God of the gaps” fallacy. So, in a way, it’s about the secret designs of a secret Designer…

  47. She said the average person who “believes” in evolution really does’t understand the theory as well as say a PhD biologist does.

    Certainly I don’t understand it as well as a biologist, but how many advanced degrees do you need to consider the evolution of germs? You take drugs, they kill a lot of germs, but if even ONE germ is resistant to the drug it’ll multiply and soon you have an entire little species that’s drug-resistant.

    Think of this: when I was very young, my belief that the world was round probably was a matter of faith. But as I grew older I was able to prove this myself using reason (the way ships vanish bottom-first over the horizon, for example). Perhaps my intellectual grasp of the round world isn’t as great as it would be if I were a mathematician/geologist, but it’s sufficient that my belief in the round world, like my belief in evolution, is considerably deeper than just “faith.”

    Faith is believing something in the absence of proof. This is not the case with my belief in evolution.

  48. To me, the money quote of the article was by David Frum, who said that he believed in both evolution and ID.

    “I don’t believe that anything that offends nine-tenths of the American public should be taught in public schools. … Christianity is the faith of nine-tenths of the American public. … I don’t believe that public schools should embark on teaching anything that offends Christian principle.”

    Since when is 90% of the population fundamentalist evangelical? I thought that largest single denomination was Roman Catholic, and having gone to a Catholic High school where we covered evolution, know that evolution isn’t a big problem for official Catholic doctrine these days.

  49. It’s kind of funny that creation “scientists” will propose a creator or “God” to explain (i.e. reduce) the complexity of biologic systems. It does nothing of the sort. Positing a creator just adds a new, highly complex creature to the biologic system. How did this “God” come to exist? Did it evolve? πŸ˜‰ My childhood bible school answer “God has always existed” just never satisfied me.

  50. I know a world’s leading authority level physicist who believes in creation. Not only that, but he supports his views with “scientific” reasoning.

    His most favorite argument is that one side of the universe can’t be in thermodynamic equilibrium with the other side of the universe by relativistic limits, ergo, God must have made it that way.

    I happen to agree with him that the hyperinflation in the first 10**-35 seconds explanation of this datum is equally as far fetched as creation. I just happen to think they are both wrong.

  51. His most favorite argument is that one side of the universe can’t be in thermodynamic equilibrium with the other side of the universe by relativistic limits, ergo, God must have made it that way.

    Um, the fact that distant regions of space have the same temperature in no way implies any sort of exchange of energy between them. Has anybody explained that to him?

  52. Marilyn Vos Savant had a good take on evolution theory. She said the average person who “believes” in evolution really does’t understand the theory as well as say a PhD biologist does. Instead the average person simply has “faith” in the word of the scientists that the theory of evolution is true.

    The main difference being that if I so desired, I could drop everything I’m doing right this minute and start working on a PhD in Biology in order to learn the rational and scientific underpinnings of evolution. Heck, even as a layman I can freely use intellectual resources in order to learn as much as possible and sate my curiosity or disprove my “faith.”

    To blow that idea up even larger, the argument could be made that every layman who accepts current knowledge about physics, electronics, etc. takes it on faith.

    But I can look around this very office to find proof that those egghead guys probably know what they’re talking about. Wireless mouse, audio speakers, three cathode-ray monitors and one LCD notebook. I can pick up my cell phone to order a pizza. The results of the hard work of scientists and engineers quite literally surround me. I’m up to my eyeballs in proof that they probably know their shit.

  53. TJ,
    I completely agree. My creationist friend tried to pull the old “if you found a watch, you’d assume there was a watchmaker” b.s. line on me. I asked her if she saw a watchmaker, wouldn’t you assume he has parents? If the world is so complex and mysterious that a creator is implied, doesn’t that mean the creator, which is far more complex and mysterious, needs another creator. Then after that, it’s turtles all the way down.

  54. Instead, some kind of chaotic process must have occurred to create the complexity that exists.

    thoreau may slap me for this but AFAIK chaos has not been proven to exist above the quantum level. Chaos is just a name we give to a pattern we can’t recognize.

    Big Bang theorists predicted that if their theory were correct then cosmic microwave background radition.

    But the causality itself is theoretical. Math is a bound language just like human speech and applications to the origin of existence are tenuous. Or can you characterize the universe before it was 10^-43 seconds old?

    Neither idea has sufficient basis to be any more than just that. Have you ever seen those animated morphing graphics? The algorithms used there are sufficient to smoothly morph just about any image into any other. The intermediate steps are all artificial, created from a deterministic formula that explicitly predicts what the state of each pixel will be at any given step.

    No part of evolution has ever been demonstrated causally; it is based on observations of point A and point B, and the assumption that there had to be some intermediate biological progress that moved a singular organism from A to B. It’s possible, but pretending like there’s no other explanation is rather obtuse.

    Intelligent design seems to have the same effect as evolution, but in reverse: it rankles the feathers of many who want nothing to do with the idea of a being that exceeds humanity. It produces as much humanism-based rage as evolution does in Jesus-based rage.

    Indeed evolution is a compelling idea, and perhaps supported by anthropological and fossil evidence. But it is just a theory, and like any theory (F.L.T. anyone?) should be treated with perpetual doubt until proven. The debate is fun, and if you have to score it, sure evolution enjoys slightly more scientific basis than intelligent design. But it really doesn’t matter. Both of them deserve so much doubt as to be taught in parallel. There is nothing mutually exclusive about the two ideas; nothing about evolution can disprove intelligent design or vice versa. There is no truth to be found here.

  55. I recall discussing one of Ron’s GMO articles to a coworker who is known to thump the bible around the office. He felt the whole GMO technology is proof of ID. His reasoning is man, himself, has become intelligent enough to understand “simple complexities” and alter the “evolutionary path” of DNA. And, get this, since man is made in the image of god and man has become the intelligent designer behind “simple complexity alteration,” God is the Intelligent Designer. Needless to say, he was proud of his theory. But what can you expect from a person who served in the Marine Intelligence?

    These folks are not offering a reasoned critique of evolution…

    #6, this is on par with some of my very lefty friends who think the free market is about greed and corruption. To me, it offers perfect proof of evolution since critical thinking skills have not evolved in everyone and the intelligent designer didn’t design these skills at the outset, yet, many of the commenters here have them!

  56. Jennifer,

    Yes, I run across the 2nd Law of Thermo claim all the time myself.

    mediageek,

    Evolution by itself doesn’t deny the existance of a creator in general. It does clog up the works of specific creation stories like the two found in Genesis.

    David,

    Frum is wrong. Only 76% of Americans are aligned with a Christian sect (as of 2001); down from 86% or so in 1990.

    TJ,

    Essentially they are just shifting the locus of debate.

    Bukvich,

    Well, any honest physicist, etc. would tell you that claims of what was going on during that first 10**-35 is mere speculation. Outside observing a similar event in the future (accepting that we can get outside the confines of our universe) that may always be the case. And so a gap will exist for God to live in.

  57. I won’t smack you down, rst. In some sense you’re right: Above the quantum level everything is deterministic if you know the initial conditions to sufficient precision.

    The term “chaos” is used in 2 ways:

    1) By people who want to sound fancy.

    2) By careful people who do solid mathematical work. In their lingo, chaos happens when something is “highly sensitive” to those initial conditions, and good scientists have precise mathematical criteria to quantify whether or not something is “highly sensitive.” Not being in the field I don’t recall the precise definition, but it’s more than just “Hey, look, this is complicated!”

    As to whether evolution has been demonstrated, like I said before, it depends on the extent to which we can know anything about the past. If you want to know about the past (and ignore the philosophical questions that lead to quagmires about a 5 minute old universe), and you only want to invoke deterministic (or at least statistically predictable) phenomena, then evolution is the only real game in town. And it seems to work pretty darn well. As far as we can possibly tell, that’s how it happened. Or at least that’s how it looks.

    Of course, questions about the past would be mere curiosities if they didn’t also shed light on the present: Relationships between species, antibiotic resistance, even understanding the functions that different forms provide.

    Put it all together, and you’ve got a powerful scientific framework there.

  58. rst,

    Evolution is a historical science; historical sciences by their very definition are based on observation. Yes, evolution may be wrong; but I.D. has never shown any reason why it is wrong.

    As to the issue of philosophy and the sociology of various adherants, that has nothing to do with the success or failure of evolution as a theory.

  59. Neither idea has sufficient basis to be any more than just that. Have you ever seen those animated morphing graphics? The algorithms used there are sufficient to smoothly morph just about any image into any other. The intermediate steps are all artificial, created from a deterministic formula that explicitly predicts what the state of each pixel will be at any given step.

    No part of evolution has ever been demonstrated causally; it is based on observations of point A and point B, and the assumption that there had to be some intermediate biological progress that moved a singular organism from A to B. It’s possible, but pretending like there’s no other explanation is rather obtuse.

    Allow me to posit a mind excercise. Imagine a four-second video that shows a velociraptor morphing into a bald eagle.

    Now, NTSC video runs at 29.97 frames per second, so we have 119.88 (120) total frames of animation.

    Now, you show this animation to someone who tells you that such an animation is impossible.

    “This cannot possibly be a real animation!” they exclaim.

    “Why, just look at frames 60 and 61! Something has to be between them, otherwise there’s no way this can possibly be logical!”

    That’s what the C/ID people seem to be saying. Since you can’t account for the time between frames, then the whole thing must be fallacious.

    Oh, and before anyone gets smart with me, STFU, I know about fields. :-p

    /mediageek

  60. Hakluyt-

    A point worth remembering is that the Creationists are half-right: Sure, historical sciences are limited by the fact that nobody was around back then. Sure, we can’t replicate the past.

    But if the past is inherently unknowable, why should we believe that the God of the Bible created the world when the Bible says He did and put the fossils in the ground and the microwaves in outer space to trick us? Why not believe that a different deity created the world at a different time and created the Bible to trick us?

    Once you go down that path then nothing is knowable. Throw that at them and watch their minds blow.

  61. And one of these days, I’ll actually learn how to properly use the italics tags. *rolls eyes*

  62. mediageek,

    Yes, it is an argument from ignorance, “god of the gaps,” etc.

  63. Well you people are going to have to find someplace else to contemplate My mysteries.

    I want you out of here by the end of the month. There’s a party that’s interested in the property.

  64. rst,

    Stephen J. Gould has lot to say about evolution as a historical science in a number of his books if you are interested. Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes is one of my favorites.

  65. Maybe Vos Savant was trying to communicate to the fundies, not us. Perhaps what she was actually saying was: “Listen you slack-jawed, mouth-breathing rubes, if faith is the only way you will assimilate a new idea, then have faith in evolution, ya lil’ bastards. And put that snake down before you get bitten. Jezus Key-rist.”

    Or something like that.

  66. Thoreau, I’ve enjoyed your posts in this thread.

    I’m not that familiar with biology, or the sciences in general. I’m a layman, a finance guy by learning and trade, who’s read Bill Bryson’s “The History of Everything” and thought “well, that’s about enough science to get me through my day-to-day existence”. I have no problem with evolution – it makes sense to me, enough so that I can easily dismiss ID/other ‘theories’ as not worth my time. So evolution it is.

    I say this because I don’t want to sound like I’m part of the “evolution is only a *theory*” crowd.

    Anyway, can you tell me, or point me to a good source, about current evolutionary theory about the development of man? I know that there are various species of humans (Java Man, etc.)that have emerged and died out, before we got to where we are today. But what about the “start” of man? Is there still some sort of “missing link” idea floating around? I can understand that woodpeckers develop a certain type of beak in order to get at bugs in trees for dinner. But, in terms of humans, just a couple of million years ago, we drop out of some trees in Africa, saying “boy, are my arms tired, I think I’ll try my feet”, and the next thing you know, we’re knocking around golf balls on the surface of the moon. That just seems amazingly fast, and just amazing in general, to me. But the monkeys, they’re still back up in the trees – they haven’t moved. Again, I’m not doubting evolution, I’m just curious about how that sort of superfast brain development in humans is currently explained, and would like to read something that explains it in layman’s terms.

  67. Hobson-

    I’m not an expert in the field, so I don’t know the best reference. I get my general science info from Scientific American. On this forum that magazine is considered controversial for its stance on global warming (and a few other things, but mostly global warming). All I’ll say is that most of the articles in Scientific American have nothing to do with global warming, so I suggest that if you have strong objections to their stance you just skip the global warming articles and read the other ones.

    From what I’ve read, the origin of our exceptional intelligence is something of a mystery. Sure, it confers obvious advantages, but nobody is sure why our ancestors developed such great intelligence but not other species. The human evolution articles are fascinating because it’s an area of continuing mystery.

  68. From what I read about human evolution, the current theory is that first we started walking upright, which gave advantages such as being able to see farther, staying cooler (with less body space being directly exposed to the hot African sun overhead) and also enabled mothers to carry their babies with them rather than have to stay put until the kid could walk.

    Then, since we now had two extra limbs (extra in the sense of being unnecessary for locomotion) the evolution of the brain and of manual dexterity kind of went side-by-side; as we did stuff with our hands we also developed more intelligence, which gave us more ideas of things we could do with our hands, and so forth.

    And yes, this is a VERY sketchy description; it’s intended as preaching to the choir, not to win converts.

  69. “I know a Ph.D. physicist who’s a creationist. Yes, you read that correctly.”

    thoreau,

    It’s far worse than that. In my travels through grad school and through collaborations at NIH over the last five years, I’ve come across more than a handful of PhD’s in a variety of the biomedical sciences that while not usually strict creationists, hold a skeptical view on Darwinism to the tune of being somewhere close to the ID folks. Fascinated, I found that exploring the subject with them always led to the same conclusion: darwinian evolution didn’t seem to be a sufficient explanation, it was likely wrong because of (insert some tired old creationist argument), but they really never gave it much thought. My conclusion was that there are a lot of folks who have their head so buried in their specialty that they hadn’t ever bothered to read/consider the subject at length. These learned doubters general fell into two ethno/religious groups: South American Roman Catholics and Near to Far East Asians of varying creeds. Many had even rejected their religious upbringing for a generic spirituality, but as you said, I think the upbringing stayed with them. And don’t even get me started on the MDs (the majority of whom wouldn’t know science if it spit in their face).

    Keep you ears peeled in your time at NIH, I’m curious if you stumble across as many of these outliers as well.

  70. thoreau,

    It also appears that you have recently moved to the Baltimore/DC neighborhood. Not sure if you are at NIHmain campus or out at one of the satellite campuses, but if you need to find x,y,z in Bethesda or DC, feel free to ask. I would also suggest going to Baltimore as often as possible, as things are simply better up here (the Ukranianfest in September is not too be missed).

  71. But it is just a theory, and like any theory (F.L.T. anyone?) should be treated with perpetual doubt until proven.

    Ugh, this argument drives me crazy. There is no such thing as a “proven” theory – can you name one? All science is theory, and all theories are tentative and subject to refutation by future observations (something that is most certainly not true of ID/creationism). Observation provides a set of facts – e.g. here are a set of fossils from something that doesn’t currently exist, or light from distant galaxies is shifted to longer wavelengths, or electrons are seen to create interference patters, etc. Theory seeks to explain and illuminate the facts in some sort of coherent, rational framework. There are many criteria discussed above for what constitutes science; thoreau and others have laid that out pretty well so I won’t add much to it except to stress that it seems essential that a theory make some non-trivial prediction that can (at least in principle – see string theory) be tested. ID and creationism do no such thing. ID simply asserts a thesis with no evidence whatsoever beyond religious texts, arrogance and a general lack of thoughtfulness and curiosity to essentially posit that “gee, this seems way too complex to have evolved; must have been designed,” end of story. That is science?? Please.

    Claiming something is “not proven” and therefore enjoys no more right to be taught than any other “similarly” unproven pseudo-science tripe is patently absurd. General relativity is “unproven.” QED is “unproven.” Hell, the second law of thermodynamics is “unproven” and any physicist can tell you (maybe thoreau can back me up) they are often sent stuff claiming to prove some variation on the perpetual motion machine theme and all manner of other quack theories. Should they all be taught alongside thermodynamics, relativity and quantum physics because, after all, they are all “unproven?”

  72. That’s what the C/ID people seem to be saying. Since you can’t account for the time between frames, then the whole thing must be fallacious.

    You’re taking the metaphor too far. Archaeological evidence is dated in gaps of tens of thousands of years, not seconds. At any rate, as I said (I’ll say it again as obviously it was not clear enough) such gaps do not counterindicate evolution or support intelligent design. The lack of proven causality in those gaps demonstrate that no matter what, you still take the crossing of those gaps on faith either in a deity, some being of far superior intelligence, or a “natural” process. Putting your faith in one interpretation alone is a function of your own bias.

  73. Brian Courts,

    The Patent Office is flooded with perpetual motion machine claims every year. Now they have a standard rejection for such claims.

  74. thoreau,
    I may have read incorrectly, but I had thought that dolphins were theorized to have very high intelligence (near-human according to some), butt that their inability to create tools or writing keeps them as “mere animals” rather than developing complex societies*.

    When one thinks of what makes humans so intelligent and advanced, a lot of it is due to making small, incremental improvements on previous inventions and ideas. If every few generations had to recreate the wheel, so to speak, we’d never have gotten to outer space. I know more math and physics than Newton did, but he’s a lot smarter than I am. I just happened to be able to learn what he and those after him developed and filed it away.

    * No, my source is not the Onion’s hilarious “Dolphins Evolve Opposable Thumbs” article.

  75. rst,

    We have a ton of evidence to demonstrate the validity of evolution. We lack such evidence for the existance of God.

  76. Brian –

    I didn’t say it was science. But is is invalid to posit that evolution is proof against intelligent design, or vice versa.

  77. Mo–
    What I read is that dolphins, though intelligent, have two strikes against them:

    1. No organs of manipulation (which is to say, even if they figure out how to make something, they have no arms or hands to do so)

    2. Being underwater means no fire, which is the ultimate foundation of almost all of our technology.

  78. MP: Thanks for the Economist article. Great stuff, there.

  79. But Mo and Jennifer:

    upside to Dolphins: they can chat with Aquaman!

  80. Oh yeah, I forgot about number 2, Jennifer, thanks.

    So long and thanks for all the fish.

  81. We have a ton of evidence to demonstrate the validity of evolution

    Points in a timeline do not a process demonstrate. It still requires faith to believe in evolution. That’s fine, but acknowledge it for what it is instead of pretending you hold some leverage over the God ‘n’ ID crowd.

  82. rst:

    all the sciences rely on natural (non-God-related) explanations. the only time anyone complains is when it contradicts their personal beliefs. there’s no need to refer to a god to explain why salt is soluble in water, because it doesn’t interfere with anyone’s belief system. to single out biology and say you’ve got to make sure your science doesn’t contradict our religious beliefs is just ridiculous, but that’s the real reason for all the drama of evolution vs C/ID. science is supposed to be agnostic (not atheistic), even if scientists themselves are atheists, deists, or whatever.

  83. Brian –

    I didn’t say it was science.

    rst, perhaps I should have included more context in my quote then:

    But it is just a theory, and like any theory (F.L.T. anyone?) should be treated with perpetual doubt until proven. The debate is fun, and if you have to score it, sure evolution enjoys slightly more scientific basis than intelligent design. But it really doesn’t matter. Both of them deserve so much doubt as to be taught in parallel (Emphasis mine).

    This is absurd for the reasons stated above. There is no scientific evidence for ID. Claiming that they should be taught in parallel is indeed claiming ID is on similar scientific footing which is, in all sincerity, quite ridiculous.

  84. rst,

    I guess I’d have to understand what you mean by faith, as the term has multiple meanings. Indeed, in one usage it means the belief in a supernatural power.

    Further, the genetic evidence (to give just one example) is more than mere “points in a timeline.”

  85. to single out biology and say you’ve got to make sure your science doesn’t contradict our religious beliefs is just ridiculous

    The problem is the belief that they’re contradictory at all. The event that gives rise to a process does not directly indicate the nature of the process. It’s called “Design,” not “Implementation”.

  86. I believe it was Steven Jay Gould who said the problem with evolution is that everyone thinks he understands it…

  87. Claiming that they should be taught in parallel is indeed claiming ID is on similar scientific footing which is, in all sincerity, quite ridiculous.

    I forgot that science was the only class taught in schools. My bad.

  88. Claiming that they should be taught in parallel is indeed claiming ID is on similar scientific footing which is, in all sincerity, quite ridiculous.

    That’s what disclaimers are for. Science teachers are perfectly capable of pointing out the distinction you make. And then people can choose whatever silly pointless theory makes them feel comfortable about their inevitable demise.

  89. Hobson,

    If you have time, you can try going to the Talk.Origins website and read through their FAQ. There’s probably something in there that deals with the currently most widely accepted lineage for humans.

  90. rst,

    That is not what I.D. is about however. It is not about a creator which simply creates the universe and let’s it go its merry own way. I.D. concerns the specific structures of biological life as they exist today.

  91. rst, i’m sorry, there’s just no getting around the fact that there’s no evidence to support ID. the best “evidence” that’s ever offered for it is simply to point out perceived gaps in the evidence in support of the natural selection theory of evolution. some of those perceived gaps are in reality well accounted for; but even if they weren’t, gaps in knowledge are not by default filled by an Intelligent Designer. they’re left open to be filled by further experimentation. that’s the reason ID has no justifiable place in a science curriculum.

    I forgot that science was the only class taught in schools. My bad.

    this is the entire point, rst. ID may well deserve to be taught in religion classes. but it shouldn’t even be dealt with in science classes, except as a logical exercise to point out why it’s unscientific.

  92. The lack of proven causality in those gaps demonstrate that no matter what, you still take the crossing of those gaps on faith either in a deity, some being of far superior intelligence, or a “natural” process. Putting your faith in one interpretation alone is a function of your own bias.

    God, ID, or a partially understood “natural” process, which of these satisifies Occam’s Razor?

  93. I forgot that science was the only class taught in schools. My bad.

    Ok rst, I guess I have to spell it out for you in your own words:

    rst: …evolution enjoys slightly more scientific basis than intelligent design… (emphasis mine again).

    rst: I didn’t say it was science.

    So you are claiming there is scientific basis for ID in one post and then backpedaling and claiming you didn’t “say it was science?” Only to then imply that maybe it can be taught in another class? How is that “in parallel?” So disingenuous… If you meant that it can be taught in a theology class, then why even mention evolution and “scientific basis?” And if you did not mean that, why the smartass response?

  94. zach,

    Well, there will always be gaps because no historical record is perfectly recorded. Perfect recording is what rst demands. In the case of genes we do have a very good recording of mutations over time though. Indeed, its because of this genetic record that I.D. folks, creationists, etc. always attack the fossil record. They know they simply can’t compete with what molecular biology and biochemistry have discovered.

  95. As an aside, I found the following essay to be quite entertaining:

    Warning: Gravity is ?Only a Theory?

    by Ellery Schempp

    All physics textbooks should include this warning label:

    ?This textbook contains material on Gravity. Universal Gravity is a theory, not a fact, regarding the natural law of attraction. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.?

    Warning: Gravity is Only a Theory

  96. I guess I’d have to understand what you mean by faith

    The a priori acceptance of a causality that was not observed by the adherent. Most of your comprehension of your environment is based on just that.

    ID may well deserve to be taught in religion classes.

    Religion is an institution. Religions have icons, tenets, heirarchies, organizations, etc. Intelligent Design is composed entirely of words.

  97. mediageek,

    I love it!

  98. rst,

    Are you a solipsist? Because that is the direction you are heading in.

  99. Religion is an institution. Religions have icons, tenets, heirarchies, organizations, etc. Intelligent Design is composed entirely of words.

    right. with its basis in religious belief, and none whatsoever in the scientific process.

  100. http://skepdic.com/intelligentdesign.html

    from this interesting page:
    “ID is a pseudoscience because it claims to be scientific but is in fact metaphysical. It is based on several philosophical confusions, not the least of which is the notion that the empirical is necessarily scientific. This is false, if by ’empirical’ one means originating in or based on observation or experience”

    rst – welcome back. were you the one who claims that correlation does indeed imply causation, provided you take a step back?

  101. The a priori acceptance of a causality that was not observed by the adherent. Most of your comprehension of your environment is based on just that.

    But doesn’t C/ID suffer from exactly this? After all, no one alive today was actually there to watch God mold Adam from clay, so that critique seems to debunk C/ID just as much as evolution. The difference is that evolution (as thoreau pointed out earlier) generally adheres to known scientific principles, so even though I wasn’t there to watch evolution happen, it at least seems to fit into a general framework of how we perceive and understand the world.

  102. mediageek-
    Does a belief in evolution really invalidate the ten commandments, the teachings of Jesus, or spiritual enlightenment so many Christians seem to feel?

    Not specifically, but as someone pointed out earlier, it invalidates a literal reading of Genesis and the impartion of Original Sin. Lack of Original Sin in humans eliminates the need of Jesus to be divine, and makes His teachings just positive human wisdom. It also brings the credibility of the Scripture itself into question.

    This is why it is so important to evangelicals.

  103. James Randi has been mentioning at his site that if we teach “alternative” creation stories in biology classes, maybe we should also cover the Hindu, Animist, Native American, and “other” creation stories alongside evolution in biology class.

    I can see it now–some group of radical Hinduists living in the Midwest (named Patel and running motels) get everyone’s skirts in a bunch when they DEMAND that their creation story/stories get taught alongside Genesis. Hilarity ensues.

  104. And incidentally, no one has addressed my questioning as to just why so many evangelicals find evolution so offensive to their beliefs.

    In what way does evolutionary theory debunk the truths spoken by Jesus, the ten commandments, and the other good stuff one can find in The Bible?

    It seems that the evangelicals today are needlessly painting themselves into a corner, much the same as the Catholic Church did with Galileo.

  105. from mediageek’s site:

    First of all, no one has measured gravity for every atom and every star. It is simply a religious belief that it is ?universal.?

    classic.

  106. mediageek,

    We have science and the observation, empiricism, etc. associated with it. I.D. adherants have a couple thousand year old book full of fantastic, supernatural stories.

  107. -Blah- I must have been posting while Herman was hitting the reply button.

    Ok, I’ll plead to ignorance then: how does evolution debunk original sin?

  108. shawn smith, for that matter, we ought to teach acupuncture meridians along with the circulatory system, and astral projection along with neurology.

  109. mediageek,

    Well, unless the I.D. adherants are Raelians; then they believe that aliens did it. πŸ™‚

  110. zach-

    I can only wish I was that witty!

    πŸ™‚

    Ellery Schemp Wikipedia entry

    Interesting guy.

  111. mediageek, “original sin” is the eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil by adam and eve. no literal creation, no adam and eve, no original sin, no point to jesus.

  112. mediageek, that reads exactly like a KJL post on National Review’s blog.

  113. with its basis in religious belief

    Which religious belief? That every religion (except perhaps Buddhism) has a story of willful creation does not mean that the notion of willful creation is religious.

    So you are claiming there is scientific basis for ID in one post and then backpedaling and claiming you didn’t “say it was science?”

    1 is slightly more than 0.

    Science is based wholly on what can be observed. Whether something is scientific is more a function of the times than of its own merits. Evolution is based on the observation of points in time; assuming carbon dating to be a reasonably accurate measure of the age of an item, the rest is indeed faith. Like I said, this is ok, but give the beast its proper name. Science cannot exist without faith.

    were you the one who claims that correlation does indeed imply causation, provided you take a step back?

    No. I might have once said that autocorrelation implies causation more than correlation does, but I’m not sure if I said that here, or if it’s even right. I’m not sure if anything I’m saying is right, but neither are any of yall, so it’s all good.

    p.s. I think many of you often misinterpret my use of the word “faith” as having some religious component.

  114. zach,

    Do they get to teach tantric sex in the sex ed classes? πŸ™‚

  115. how does evolution debunk original sin?

    No Creation a la Genesis means no Garden of Eden, no serpent etc. Hence no fall from grace etc and so on.

  116. “original sin” is the eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil by adam and eve. no literal creation, no adam and eve, no original sin, no point to jesus.

    Why not? I thought the point of Jesus was to reform a Judaism that had lost it’s way, or from a more messianic view, to remove Rome from the Promised Land.

  117. rst,

    No, evolution is based on more than observations of points in time in the geophysical record. See my statements above on genes and molecular biology. We can actually map genetic mutations over time and there are no “gaps” involved.

    Also, most fossils aren’t dated via radio carbon dating as the maximum range is about 50,000 years.

  118. rst:
    …evolution enjoys slightly more scientific basis than intelligent design…

    and
    1 is slightly more than 0.

    Bullshit – you didn’t mean it that way and to claim it now is dishonest. There is simply no reasonable reading of the first quote that would lead people to believe that you meant to say there is zero scientific basis for ID. Saying it that way clearly implies some – as does your claming that they deserve to be taught in parallel. All that is fine, believe what you want and argue for it, but don’t keep trying to squirm out from under the clear meaning of your words when someone else takes issue with them. That is intellectually dishonest.

    And 1 is infinitely more than 0, by the way.

  119. RST:

    gotcha. sorry i confused you for someone else. etc.

    and i apologize for confusing you, furthermore, with one of H’s/GG’s/etc. nicks.

  120. rst,

    You are likely thinking of radiometric dating which uses the decay rate of things like U-235.

  121. David,

    “The point of Jesus” was to introduce the concept of a Living Torah. Without changing a single jot or tittle, he completely upended the code, out of necessity, out of a recognition that while the principles therein are universal, the changing conditions of society required the text to interpretted in a manner more consistent with contemporary norms and practices.

    Also, his point had nothing to do with removing the Romans.

  122. hakluyt, God willing.

    rst,

    Which religious belief? That every religion (except perhaps Buddhism) has a story of willful creation does not mean that the notion of willful creation is religious.

    well to be honest, the christian version of creation. but if we’re going to pretend that ID wasn’t created by christians, i would say simply that the idea of a conscious creator, since it exists in many religions and is not suggested in any way by scientific investigation, must be considered a religious belief.

    in reality, whether you call it religious, philosophical, or fuck it, culinary, the point is it is not scientific, and has no place in a science classroom.

  123. mediageek-
    Zach has it right. Leave out a literal Adam and Eve grabbing the pomegranate and thus, for lack of a better term, genetically imparting on all humans a tendency to defy God, and there is no need for Jesus to be anymore than a carpenter, and human shortcomings with God might reasonably be solved with good works and genial behavior.

    Shawn Smith-
    About ten years ago I remember a book called something like Red Earth/White Lies arguing that some variant of Native American creationism could explain the world properly. Lack of exposure doesn’t mean folks aren’t trying.

  124. David at July 8, 2005 04:45 PM

    Actually you’re have a point. Not all christians believe in original sin. And not all christians believe literally in the Creation.

    I wonder if there is any sort of correlation between the first group and the second.

    Also some evangelicals have no problem with evolution. I would say it is fundamentalists who have said problem.

  125. “original sin” is the eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil by adam and eve. no literal creation, no adam and eve, no original sin, no point to jesus.

    David made a good point on this. However, given that we have all probably fucked up at one time or another, or done something unethical, that particular argument doesn’t fly. But then again, I’m not a biblical literalist, so the whole thing just seems kinda dumb to me.

    mediageek, that reads exactly like a KJL post on National Review’s blog. Joe, I haven’t read NR since Florence King retired, so you’ll forgive me for not knowing who KJL is. :-/

  126. mediageek, theoretically, the reason we all fuck up from time to time is those fuckers adam and eve. don’t think too much about it, i never said it made sense. but isaac bartram’s right, fundamentalists is a more accurate way of describing the people who believe this.

  127. Are you a solipsist?

    No, I am a computer engineer.

    Seriously, no, I am not my own logos.

    But doesn’t C/ID suffer from exactly this? After all, no one alive today was actually there to watch God mold Adam from clay

    Creationism is not Intelligent Design. Creationism is for our purposes the adherence to a single story that warrants the origin of existence as the explicit and sequential acts of a specific being, often couched in terms of the writer’s worldview. Intelligent Design is a non-specific abstraction that in no way contradicts the process of evolution or indicates any present relationship between a being and the forces that over time gave rise to its existence. Evolution, even with its superior scientific basis, arises from our shared obsessive need to see things happen in patterns.

  128. The idea that I.D. isn’t being pushed almost exclusively by Christians in the U.S merely ignores the reality of the situation.

  129. any more I mean. Since Double G may be back I should watch my grammar.

    David-
    I thought the point of Jesus was to reform a Judaism that had lost it’s way, or from a more messianic view, to remove Rome from the Promised Land.
    The evangelical argument for that would be that Judaism had lost it’s way by not living up to God through the Law and not pointing to Him.

    While some of the Jews hoped that Messiah in whatever form would drive the Romans from their land, I don’t know if you could argue that was Jesus’ point, as I don’t believe he ever made such a promise, unless it’s in some really arcane text.

  130. What about the guys like Laurence Gardner and Jeremish Sitchin that believe we were cloned by aliens?

  131. rst,

    You really don’t know much about I.D. apparently.

    The main adherants of I.D. (Behe in particular) specifically claim that macroevolution is completely undermined by I.D. You don’t know anything about I.D. at all. If you did know something about I.D. you’d realize your statements about I.D. are completely erroneous.

    Further, that individuals like Behe are also liars doesn’t help their cause either: http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/001124.html

  132. Issac-
    Also some evangelicals have no problem with evolution. I would say it is fundamentalists who have said problem.

    Fair point. Lots of overlap between the two groups.

  133. The ID movement is wrong. It was the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    http://www.venganza.org/

    nmg

  134. rst-

    So you have no problem with teaching that humans were brought to Earth 75 million years ago by the warrior god Xenu?

    After all, within the doctrine of ID, that’s just as acceptable as any other, is it not?

  135. no one alive today was actually there to watch God mold Adam from clay, so that critique seems to debunk C/ID just as much as evolution. The difference is that evolution (as thoreau pointed out earlier) generally adheres to known scientific principles, so even though I wasn’t there to watch evolution happen, it at least seems to fit into a general framework of how we perceive and understand the world.

    Good point!

    Creationists will say “Ah, but we have this written account!” And since everybody’s opinions on the validity of that written account are already well-known, let’s just leave it aside.

    And we scientists have our own account. It’s “written” in layers of stone and fossilized bones and genetic family trees. We routinely infer very useful information from such accounts, whether it’s tracing the history of a viral outbreak (viral family trees have been used to study strains of AIDS), finding oil or identifying zones prone to earthquakes (from studying rock formations, and there is a difference between predicting when an earthquake will happen vs. predicting zones at risk), or dating archeological relics (including Biblical artifacts) with radioactive dating.

    All in all, we have a good account on our side that provides historical information as well as practical benefits. Really not a bad piece of science, all things considered.

    As to rst’s point:

    I understand what he means. There will always be gaps and on some level you have to decide what to do with them if your goal is to know something about the past. There is no way to prove (in any sense of the word) that the gaps were filled by natural mechanisms. After all, these are gaps that we’re talking about. By definition we know little or nothing about them.

    But the thing about a historical science is that gaps actually aren’t a big deal. Gaps aren’t holes in urgent need of filling. This isn’t dentistry. Gaps aren’t going to decay and lead to infection of the nerve.

    In science, we assume nothing about the gaps. We know nothing, we assume nothing. Science isn’t about answers, it’s about methods of inquiry. We don’t say that natural processes happened in the gaps, we don’t say that God intervened in the gaps, we don’t say anything about them. We work on them. And the way we work on them is the scientific one.

    The more philosophically inclined types can get into debates about the nature of knowledge and falsifiability, but the pragmatic approach of scientists is that we identify hypotheses that we can get a handle on and work with. That doesn’t mean that we assume the answer will come from that list. The answer could always turn out to be something that none of us could wrap our minds around. (see: Quantum Mechanics) But we draw up a list and we start testing the hypotheses.

    The only hypotheses that we can test are the ones involving natural mechanisms. Natural need not mean deterministic (it could be stochastic). So we test those. If they don’t work, well, we discard them and search for new ones. If no natural mechanism ever fits the data then we won’t go around telling the public that something natural happened. But, amazingly enough, natural mechanisms do tend to fit the data. Sure, there are gaps, but as new data emerges that data keeps on fitting to natural mechanisms. Something must be working right.

  136. but if we’re going to pretend that ID wasn’t created by christians,

    Calculus was also created by a Christian and enjoys little basis in the mathematics that preceded it. Rather, it was created merely out of a need to express cumulative quantities changing over time. Does that mean it has no place in a math class?

    and has no place in a science classroom.

    …or does it mean that perhaps we should stop thinking of education in terms of “reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.”

    Bullshit – you didn’t mean it that way and to claim it now is dishonest.

    Yeah, yeah, I know. Not being one of these professional rhetoriticians I have the luxury of being an asshole unapologetically. In the sense that you need your science to make your cerebellum tingle, there is no observable scientific basis to ID. But nor does it require an adherence to a dead-end philosophy as Creationism does, rather it invites the introduction of observable processes that may have filled the gaps. I’ll say it again, chew on it: the event that gave rise to a process does not dictate the nature of the process. Creationism and I.D. are distinctly different animals and should be treated as such. As a process, evolution seems to be a good explanation for a great many aspects of existence. As a blanket explanation, however, it fails.

    So you have no problem with teaching that humans were brought to Earth 75 million years ago by the warrior god Xenu?

    nah dude this is Creationism, not intelligent design. Get the difference yet?

  137. word thoreau.

    Intelligent Design is a non-specific abstraction that in no way contradicts the process of evolution or indicates any present relationship between a being and the forces that over time gave rise to its existence.

    by your reluctance to use the term “scientific theory” you’ve already distanced yourself from the majority of ID proponents, and basically made the case for not teaching it as part of a science curriculum.

  138. Thoreau, Hakluyt, Shawn Smith, thank you for your recommendations. I’ll be sure to check them out, I find this stuff fascinating.

  139. Forgive the snark:
    Evolution is offensive to fundies because it implies rational, critical thinking. That’s bad news if you worldview is based on uncritical faith in a self-condradicting book of mythology.

  140. it at least seems to fit into a general framework of how we perceive and understand the world.

    And how arrogant is it to think that how we perceive and understand the world is how the world actually proceeds?

    My point is that Creationism may be out there, but ID and evolution are not mutually exclusive; comparing them as such is inane. Whether or not they belong in a science classroom is the decision of each state’s education department. As government institutions, they are free (and likely) to set curriculum as stupidly as they like.

  141. rst, you’re completely right that creationism and ID are different.

    creationism is what these idiots tried to get taught in schools in the 70’s, and that didn’t work out. ID is a thinly veiled second try. an “evolution”, if you will.

  142. You really don’t know much about I.D. apparently.

    I’m just not an ideologue. The theory is easy enough to grasp without trying to defend someone else’s interpretation of existence.

  143. That’s bad news if you worldview is based on uncritical faith in a self-condradicting book of mythology.

    Number 6, Amen! πŸ™‚

  144. It may well be that ID is not the exclusive provice of fundies. From what I have seen first hand, though, the attempt to include metaphysical speculation (and that’s what ID is, no matter how you cut it) in the classroom is headed and supported by them.

  145. creationism is what these idiots tried to get taught in schools in the 70’s, and that didn’t work out. ID is a thinly veiled second try. an “evolution”, if you will.

    True, but this second attempt was the product of a designer.

    Oh, but it wasn’t an intelligent designer! πŸ˜‰

  146. Thoreau,

    Evolution entails observable and repeatable facts to support it; I.D. does not. That’s the basic difference between the two.

    Indeed, many I.D. adherants call for an end to “methodological naturalism” and call themselves “supernaturalists.” Basically they want to depend on a priori “knowledge,” whereas the science of evolution depends on a posteriori knowledge.

  147. The theory [ID] is easy enough to grasp without trying to defend someone else’s interpretation of existence.

    No evidence and not falsifiable – it’s not a theory it’s simply an assertion.

  148. rst,

    No, you are simply ignorant. After all, you’ve made two statements which directly contradict what I.D. adherants like Dembski, Behe, etc. state – you know, like the founders of the idea.

  149. And how arrogant is it to think that how we perceive and understand the world is how the world actually proceeds?

    Because if it wasn’t, our species would have likely been hunted to extinction by sabre-toothed tigers aeons ago.

  150. Brian Courts,

    Its more like philosophy or some such.

    The term itself originated in Christian creationist literature, though the idea of an intelligent designer has been around since the pre-Socratics. However, whoever the adherants have been, none of them have been able to establish a scientific, empirical, etc. basis fof I.D. That’s what makes its a philosophy and not a science.

  151. And how arrogant is it to think that how we perceive and understand the world is how the world actually proceeds?

    And, perhaps it is, but then getting on an airplane and trusting the science of aerodynamics with your life must be a supreme act of arrogance. (As an aside, does anyone know if they teach the theory of flying carpets in aeronautical engineering school?)

  152. mediageek,

    Its all subjective; no matter how stupid or foolish the idea its equal to any other idea, no matter how intelligent or wise it might be; etc. Imagine if we took that approach to say Communism.

  153. The Christian roots of ID has no bearing on its scholarly merits or lack thereof.

    But let’s not kid ourselves: ID is about more than just scholarship. Even if, for the sake of argument, we say that ID has scholarly merit, there’s more going on here than just a quest for knowledge. There’s an agenda to get ID into public schools.

    For the sake of argument, let’s leave aside the issue of whether public schools should exist, and whether the first amendment should apply to state and local governments. I know these are favorite topics here, but I want to address the relationship between ID and Christianity.

    Let’s say that a purely secular version of ID was put forth for a public school. This version simply said “Some entity of some sort, be it natural or supernatural, must have intervened so that bacterial flagella could form.” Now, that statement may be wrong, and it may not belong in science class, but it certainly isn’t religious in and of itself. So one could argue, at least hypothetically, that it belongs in public schools that are supposed to be neutral on the subject of religion.

    (Yes, Hakluyt, I know, you could argue otherwise, but I’m granting the other side as much rope as possible so I can hang them with it.)

    OK, what happens next? Does anybody believe for one moment that the ID proponents will be content to leave it at that? Does anybody believe for one moment that they won’t try to introduce into the curriculum “competing theories” for the nature of that designer?

    And does anybody believe for one moment that ID proponents will take it in stride if the Hindus and Raelians and whatnot try to introduce their theories? Oh, sure, there’s probably one or two out there who would. What about the other 99.99999%?

    We all know what’s going on here. As an academic theory ID might be ostensibly secular, but as a movement ID is about injecting religion into schools. If they had some scholarly merit then I’d be willing to draw the line in the middle, where ID gets in and the religion doesn’t. But we all know what’s going on here.

  154. Its more like philosophy or some such.

    Hakluyt,

    I would certainly agree with that. I was simply trying to point out that at is most basic level it is simply someone saying something like “this is too complex to evolve there must have been a designer,” which is simply an assertion of fact, and not a theory. It doesn’t explain anything. That it is also tied up with historical religious philosphy, and a thinly veiled attempt to get creationism in te classroom, as was pointed out, is also very clear.

    Oh, and welcome back… shhhhhhhhhhh.

  155. (As an aside, does anyone know if they teach the theory of flying carpets in aeronautical engineering school?)

    I’m quite upset that nobody at NIH is willing to work on Lysenkoist theories of genetics.

  156. I’m quite upset that nobody at NIH is willing to work on Lysenkoist theories of genetics.

    ROFL!

  157. Its all subjective; no matter how stupid or foolish the idea its equal to any other idea, no matter how intelligent or wise it might be; etc. Imagine if we took that approach to say Communism.

    Great, so now the fundamental Christians are engaging in moral relativism? Now I have seen everything.

  158. After all, you’ve made two statements which directly contradict what I.D. adherants like Dembski, Behe, etc. state – you know, like the founders of the idea.

    Oh I forgot, I’m supposed to stick with the word-by-word incarnation of the idea as it existed at the moment of its creation, because you can’t believe in anything if you don’t belong to a camp.

    Just like Christians aren’t Christians if they don’t believe in the literal creation story in Genesis.

    Who’s ignorant again?

    getting on an airplane and trusting the science of aerodynamics with your life must be a supreme act of arrogance.

    Well, to be precise, the science of aerodynamics is based primarily on the theory that air in motion acts like a liquid. At 50,000 feet I sometimes wonder whether that’s a law, a theory, or just an assertion.

  159. 50k feet? pretty high. how was the concorde?

    doesn’t anybody get the feeling that two of gary’s sides are arguing with each other?

    and gary – dammit, just stick with GG or JB – i can’t spell your new handle.

    i’m glad you’re back, but, enough with the arguing with yourself.

  160. doesn’t anybody get the feeling that two of gary’s sides are arguing with each other?

    I don’t think so – rst said he is a computer engineer. GG/JB/H may be one to play games, but I don’t seen him telling an outright lie to cover his tracks (a la Woodstein and the smoking Deep Throat).

  161. rst,

    I see, so you have your own seperate version of I.D. then that has nothing with what the actual adherants of modern day I.D. have to say? Yes, you are ignrant. Essentially you won’t admit error so your choice is to simply duck the reality of what I.D. adherants, “scholars,” etc. say and come up with your own brand of I.D. That’s fine I guess, but it makes conversation pointless.

    Honestly, words have definitions, ideas have generally cognizable parameters, etc. If you aren’t willing to admit that this is the case, then conversation does simply slip into solipsism and random mutterings that no one should care a damn thing about.

  162. GG/JB/H was a historian, journalist, marine, married, librarian at Auburn, an engineer living in NYC (french engineer) – there’s a connection…

    probably right, Brian. Their annoying discussion was based on splitting hairs, anyways.

    happy hour commences. Good weekend, all.

  163. Brian Courts,

    Are you at Oregon State?

  164. I’m quite upset that nobody at NIH is willing to work on Lysenkoist theories of genetics.

    There oughtta be a law, I tell you. A LAW! Maybe you can look into whether the ACLU will back your claim of emotional distress because the NIH won’t accept your beliefs. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  165. doesn’t anybody get the feeling that two of gary’s sides are arguing with each other?

    I post to this board solely as rst.

    then that has nothing with what the actual adherants of modern day I.D. have to say?

    My own view is irrelevant. My point is that while each camp may be comprised of people who designed their specific tenets to be mutually exclusive, the ideas themselves are not mutually exclusive, and should not be treated as such.

    In my defense, I must have missed the sign up for the exclusive Intelligent Design Club, and as such, I have no Intelligent Design Club Membership Card to present.

    It is the idea that is at issue here. Its place in science if any is a debate for the architects of that special club.

  166. Brian Courts,

    Are you at Oregon State?

    Hakluyt,

    Yes, grad student at OSU. Go Beavs! πŸ˜‰

  167. Red State Rabble’s lengthy transcripts of the recent Kansas hearings on Intelligent Design — search for them in his archives — should disabuse anyone honest of the notion that ID is separable at all from Christian creationism.

  168. Brian Courts,

    That’s where I got my undergraduate. πŸ™‚

    rst,

    Actually, your own view is entirely relevant, because you are defining I.D. in a very peculiar way that has very little to do what folks who are actually knowledgeable about the subject state.

    ..the ideas themselves are not mutually exclusive, and should not be treated as such.

    Actually, they are. I.D. adherants claim that the human eye was designed; evolutionary scientists state that the eye evolved. Now you are suggesting that these aren’t mutually exclusive, when in fact they are. If an object is designed by some maker, then it has not evolved via natural, undesigned processes. Unless you grasp these basic differences you will continue to be confused and muddle-headed on the subject.

  169. rst,

    And this has nothing to do with silly statements about clubs, etc., it does have to do with actual knowledge of the issue at hand, which you (unfortunately) lack. As far as I can tell from your comments you believe I.D. to be something more along the lines of the “blind watchmaker” scenario, where the watchmaker sets the watch running but does not involve itself afterwards. That is not what I.D. is about; I.D. involves special, designed creation (such as the human eye) with the hand of the designer continually invested in tinkering with the watch.

  170. Phil,

    Thanks for the link.

  171. Hakluyt-

    I thought you studied at Auburn.

  172. What’s all the talk of neo-Darwinism? Who still talks about punctuated equilibria? Some kook had a column in the NYT critical of neo-Darwinism just the other day, and now I see it here. I thought neo-Darwinism was pretty much finished off in the 1980’s, the paleo-Darwinists having answered all the neo’s problems with the standard model, and that everyone is unreformed paleo-Darwinist now.

  173. actual knowledge of the issue at hand, which you (unfortunately) lack

    You also seem to lack this knowledge; in “The Design Inference” it is often stated that ID is not meant to replace or supplant evolution. You are speaking of the movement.

    I speak of the idea: “Thus, instead of looking to signs of intelligence to obtain theological mileage, as [18th cent philosopher William] Paley did, intelligent design treats signs of intelligence as strictly part of science… intelligent design attaches no significance to questions such as whether a theory of design is in some ultimate sense true, or whether the designer actually exists or what the attributes of that designer are.”

    Continually invested tinkering? Work on your reading comprehension. You are still hung up on a movement, dude. Movements are for bowels.

  174. I noticed, though, that of all those “pro-evolution” conservative pundits, Brookhiser was the only one who didn’t waffle about whether to allow ID to be taught in public schools (“No!”). Everyone else–even Krauthammer–proposed some gutless compromise “solution”.

    And that’s exactly what those who cooked up the ID nonsense really want: an opening for the thin edge of their new, improved political Wedge.

  175. rst,

    You’ve been suckered by typical I.D. propaganda. Dembski has been quite honest about his relationship with Christianity and his desire to see I.D. as an engine to Christian conversion even though he denies it in forums where evolution is the issue.

    Here are a few statements:

    “The conceptual soundings of the [intelligent design] theory can in the end only be located in Christ.” – Intelligent Design; the Bridge Between Science and Theology, pg. 210

    “Not only does intelligent design rid us of this ideology, which suffocates the human spirit, but, in my personal experience, I’ve found that it opens the path for people to come to Christ. Indeed, once materialism is no longer an option, Christianity again becomes an option. True, there are then also other options. But Christianity is more than able to hold its own once it is seen as a live option. The problem with materialism is that it rules out Christianity so completely that it is not even a live option. Thus, in its relation to Christianity, intelligent design should be viewed as a ground-clearing operation that gets rid of the intellectual rubbish that for generations has kept Christianity from receiving serious consideration.” – http://www.designinference.com/documents/2005.02.Reply_to_Henry_Morris.htm

    “I think at a fundamental level, in terms of what drives me in this is that I think God?s glory is being robbed by these naturalistic approaches to biological evolution, creation, the origin of the world, the origin of biological complexity and diversity. When you are attributing the wonders of nature to these mindless material mechanisms, God?s glory is getting robbed. […] And so there is a cultural war here. Ultimately I want to see God get the credit for what he?s done ? and he?s not getting it.” – http://www.talkreason.org/articles/revolution.cfm

    “The elite in our culture are materialistic and atheistic. Intelligent design challenges their materialistic science and materialistic evolutionary theory. If you look at discipline after discipline, it’s been evolutionized ? medicine, business, religion, literature. […] If we are right, all these superstructures built on evolution need to be questioned.” – http://www.lasvegascitylife.com/articles/2005/02/24/cover_story/cover.txt

    Ooh, atheistic. We atheists are so frightening! You know, if Dembski were really fond of aliens or any other non-deity being the designers he wouldn’t be slamming atheists so hard. His agenda is to promote the philosophy of I.D. as a wedge for Christian conversion.

  176. Snarf,

    Oh, you are absolutely correct; one cannot (whatever liars like Dembski might claim) differentiate the movement from the philosophy.

  177. Thow-row,

    I know. I’m constantly shocked too. But still…

    Mrs TWC tells me I need to read more. πŸ™‚

    Mediageek,

    thanks

    Hak,

    It isn’t a contest between God and Darwin. I find both theories lacking. Someone once axed me what it is I do belive. I answered that I simply don’t know, which is a valid response. There are many things we (as a civilization) don’t know and many more we (as individuals) don’t know.

    Jen, nicotine does stimulate thinking, that’s a fact. Now blow some of that smoke over this way.

    My friend, Bob Gonzalez, studied carbon dating at UCLA. He fooled his professor by leaving a chunk of wood in the bushes on the 405 near the Sunset Blvd exit for a couple of months. πŸ™‚ True Story.

    And as I bow out for Friday Night at the Movies with the kids here at Casa de las Rocas Grande, I leave you with this little nugget:

    In the 1930’s it was thought that God had left all those fossils lying around for the amusment and entertainment of good christian sunday school kids. This I heard first hand from my grandfather. I cannot vouch for how widespread this idea was, and he wasn’t big on religion, but he’d been to that church.

  178. thoreau,

    O.K. Anyway, no, I got my undergraduate degree at Oregon State, in “cornvalley,” where the men are men and the sheep are scared.

    Brian Courts,

    Do they still have Woodstocks pizza? That was good eats. One of my favorite haunts was the Beanery next to campus right down from the Oceanography building where they show the foreign films. Every so often I visit OSU’s webpage for the webcams. Reser stadium seems to be coming along fine. Talk about bringing back memories.

  179. TWC,

    If God exists, it exists so far in the margins of reality that its presence isn’t that important. Through science we can explain our presence here, the natural order, etc. and God doesn’t show up in that process. Ultimately that is what has got I.D. creationists so much in a tizzy.

  180. Brian Counts,

    Correction: right down from the Oceanography building and the building where they show the foreign films.

    I think the latter is also a biology lecture hall. Its where I had Bio 201, 202 and 203; or whatever they call the main introductory course for biology majors these days.

  181. Hakluyt,

    Yep, Woodstock’s is still there and they even have a Woodstock’s in the commons at the MU now. With my coffee addiction the good ol’ Beanery (near Gilfillan Auditorium) has definitely taken too much of my money, though the brand new University Center on Monroe has a Dutch Bros. coffee which is quite good now.

    As for Reser Stadium I was just driving by there and the new part is quite an amazing improvement – doesn’t look anything like the old student section. Much more impressive in person than on the webcam – can’t wait for football season! More importantly for me though is the new Kelley Engineering Center opening next month – I think they have a webcam for that too. Getting out of 100 year old Batchelor Hall (should be in Owen but not enough grad student office space there), for brand new Kelley will be very nice indeed! As much as I like to look at the old buildings, working in them is not so nice in the summer and winter.

    So how long ago were you here?

  182. Brian Courts,

    Yeah, OSU is always building some new engineering building! I had heard that the MU cafeteria area was radically different from what it used to be like. I’ve heard tales of marble floors and Taco Bell.

    Let’s see, I was there from 1988-1990 and from 1992-1995. In between I did a lot of travelling and generally living the champagne version of the bohemian lifestyle. I lived in Corvallis for a few months in 1996 translating 18th century French and playing lots of Quake (basically over the summer) before I left Oregon for good. I was back for a week in 1997 and a week in 1999. My wife and I are considering visiting there next year.

    Ever eat at Nearly Normals? Only vegetarian restaurant I have ever liked. There are quite a few good restaurants in Corvallis. I remember liking TOGOs a lot too and a little falafel place between the Beanery and that independent bookstore.

    As to football, I used to live right across the road from the Stadium on I think Western. My roommate and I could hear the game and if it sounded competitive we’d walk over there and watch a few quarters. At that time getting in didn’t cost anything for a student if it was just a regular game (as opposed to the Civil War game). I still try to catch the Beavs on T.V. if I can.

  183. where the men are men and the sheep are scared

    What are the women like at OSU?

    In any case, I sympathize with TWC. There’s no requirement that one believe in science. There’s no reason why one must accept scientific conclusions that are admittedly kind of mind-boggling. (Hell, I still think we need to “teach the controversy” when it comes to the theory of quantum measurements.)

    However, while I respect TWC’s reservations and don’t look down on him for them, a science class should stick to the best-supported results of science. If you like we can always include a short disclaimer at the beginning that addresses the philosophical issues inherent in any inquiry into pre-historic events, but once that is out of the way the class should proceed with the best science available. (Note that the philosophical issues inherent in pre-historic inquiries would also apply to religious theories of ancient events, but it might be best to avoid religious cans of worms in science class.)

    I also think that it would be good to include in high school biology classes a discussion of the ways that evolutionary biologists have contributed to the study of commercially significant matters like resistance to pesticides and antibiotics. I say this for a number of reasons. The first is that students might respect a subject more if they see how it applies to their lives. (When I taught optics to photographers my students were always more attentive when I spoke in concrete terms about the specific equipment that they use, rather than speaking generically or abstractly.) The second is that it might actually mute some creationist objections: Even (most) creationists accept the existence of “micro-evolution.”

    The third reason is that I think science is at its best when the fundamental and the practical are linked. Not to disparage purely fundamental or purely practical work, but when the two merge it can be very exciting.

  184. rst, “Hakluyt” is entirely correct in this thread, and you simply do not know what you are talking about. ID is about — and only about — destroying contemporary science for being “materialistic” and replacing it with Xian theological hegemony. This can be easily demonstrated by reading the “Wedge” memo the IDers unwittingly leaked to their critics some years back. It says, among other things:

    If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a “wedge” that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the “thin edge of the wedge,” was Phillip Johnson’s critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe’s highly successful Darwin’s Black Box followed Johnson’s work. We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions. “

    Do read Dr. Barbara Forrest’s analysis of the Discovery Institute, their Wedge plan, and the Xian IDers– Behe, Dembski, Johnson — who are all explicitly promoting ID as part of a comprehensive plan to restore Xianity to its (in their view) rightful place in culture. ID has nothing to do with science, except as a form of hostility to same.


  185. “The elite in our culture are materialistic and atheistic. Intelligent design challenges their materialistic science and materialistic evolutionary theory. If you look at discipline after discipline, it’s been evolutionized ? medicine, business, religion, literature. […] If we are right, all these superstructures built on evolution need to be questioned.” –

    But this is exactly the viewpoint that Rob Bailey was exposing. The introduction of ID will create a class structure – where the materialistic evolutionaries are at the top i.e. the leaders of conservative thought, and the faultly educated masses at the bottom. It is a matter of the educated elite leading the uneducated on a path that lets the elite benefit tremendously at the followers expense.

    If you look at 3rd world nations, you see the same phenomenon – those in power are highly educated and able to find the right buttons to push to create a seething mass of support to propel them into power – usually by villifying a minority view.

    It’s pretty clear that the groundwork has been layed for similar action in this scenario.

  186. Hakluyt,

    I lived in Corvallis for a few months in 1996 translating 18th century French

    Interesting, was that for the university? So what do you do now? Seems I may have heard a while back, but of course with names on here being as um… ephemeral as they are, so to speak, it’s hard to recall… πŸ™‚

    where the men are men and the sheep are scared

    Well, in fairness to OSU I should point out that it was at UW in Seattle that upon raiding a frat initiation the police found a sheep in the house looking, according to the police report, “nervous and agitated.”

    But anyway, yeah the MU commons was remodeled before I got here but from what I’ve seen in pictures it is radically different. Taco Bell was there for a while but has been replaced by A Slice of Woodstock’s – basically a Woodstock’s express. TOGO’s has moved way out 9th street now because the old building they were in on Monroe was razed to make room for the new University Center on the corner of Kings. A rather nice mixed use building with appartments above and, so far, a coffee shop mexican food place and some other stuff below. Even fronts on the street with parking hidden behind – I’d have to think joe would approve. πŸ˜‰

    As for Nearly Normals, yeah been there a couple times and not bad for a veggie place but the first time I ever went there was funny. A friend invited me to go get breakfast with her but failed to mention it was vegetarian. The look on her face (and the girl behind the counter) when I asked if I could get a side of bacon was priceless.

    I think the falafel place must be gone now because I haven’t seen one up there, and the independent book store (Book Bin) is gone now too – replaced by a tattoo parlor I believe. Too bad; it was the only non-internet competition the OSU Bookstore faced.

    Well since I’m still sitting here in the office at 8:30 on a Saturday I think it is time to get over to Clod’s for a pint of Guinness. I hope this is far enough down on the thread that nobody will mind my use of it for what is essentially an email at this point… Cheers!

  187. Brian Courts,

    I was sort of independently contracted. There used to be a company off OSU campus that had translators for hire and I offered my services to them. I was paid by page or word or something. It was really the only work I could find at the time; I put in resumes all around Corvallis that summer as I recall. I eventually moved down to Alabama in September after I got a job doing marine biology with the Department of Natural Resources.

    I’m soon to be a full-fledged attorney.

    Yeah, I always got a kick out of that UW story.

    The bacon story is hilarious! Yeah, they get a little militant about meat. I used to eat there just about every morning; I like their muesli. Or I did when I lived there. I can’t imagine their menu has changed much.

    Wow, the Book Bin is gone! I loved browsing their shelves for cheap copies of pre-20th century literature. Not as great as Powells in Portland, but still nice.

    Man, I used to drink all the time in Clods. You really make me want to come out there and stay for a couple of weeks. I still have a ton of friends in Oregon.

    Yeah, this has gotten to be an e-mail.

    Cheers

  188. On the topic of the NRO article, Buchanan’s statement was hilarious:

    I don?t believe evolution can explain the creation of matter.

    I think he’s confusing biology with physics.

  189. I think I’d like to see a study showing how many students in high school biology classes change their minds about the origin of life after being taught whatever theory.

    …Of the students in religious schools who self-identify as believing in evolution, how many change their minds and become creationists? …Of the students in public schools who self-identify as creationists, how many change their minds after taking a course emphasizing evolution?

    I guess that really doesn’t matter, does it?

    I empathize with agnostics and atheists and, indeed, Christians who only want their children taught science in science class, but I also empathize with fundamentalist Christians, who the state forces, under threat of violence, to support schools that teach their children something that directly violates their religious convictions.

    …It looks like the ol’ abortion debate to me. Regardless of whether choice is more important than life, should we allow the state to facilitate abortions on the children of fundamentalists, without their parents’ consent or knowledge? Regardless of whether science should be the only thing taught in science class, should the state force parents to support schools that teach their children something that violates the religious convictions of parents.

    If the state is going to force fundamentalist parents to pay for schools, shouldn’t they have a voice in what the state teaches their children?

    …I mean, so much of what I hear seems to be along the lines of, well, sure, the teaching of evolution violates the religious convictions of fundamentalists just as the teaching of creation violates the religious convictions of atheists, etc. …but I’m not a fundamentalist and creationists are wrong on the facts, so I’m willing to live with that.

    …I promise you, this sort of hypocrisy fuels some of the the hostility fundamentalists harbor toward libertarians.

  190. Tom-

    Well, obviously the ideal libertarian solution is no public schools, yadda yadda yadda. But as long as those schools exist, is it too much to ask that the science class not be turned into a freak show to accomodate a handful of people?

    If it will make them feel better, we can always start with some sort of brief philosophical disclaimer before the evolution lesson. The “just a theory” disclaimer is inadequate because “just a theory” doesn’t really capture the essence of a scientific theory. Instead, I’d go with something like:

    “Now we’re going to talk about evolution. The study of evolution involves drawing inferences about past events from information available today. Of course, any scientific inference about the past is contingent on an assumption that past events were governed solely by natural (deterministic, or at least statistically predictable) laws. To the extent that one accepts this assumption, the inferences of evolution and geology are solid findings that can only be undermined by the discovery of new data. To the extent that one rejects this assumption, well, obviously one might draw different conclusions. For the purposes of this class we will work from that assumption and seek to understand its consequences. You are, of course, free to accept or reject that assumption in your personal private views, but you are not free to reject that assumption on the midterm. Finally, lest you think that evolution is only of historical interest, we will see that evolutionary biology also yields insights that have been fruitfully applied to contemporary phenomena such as bacterial resistance to antibiotics and insect resistance to pesticides. Now, with this disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started…”

    I’m sure the more philosophically inclined types on this forum could refine that, but it captures the pragmatic attitude of scientists. And, FWIW, it would probably pacify a lot of creationists. The creationist kids could feel validated by it, since it provides a loophole for them to slip through. The science geeks could acknowledge this loophole while realizing that it’s an irrational and/or irrelevant one. And the rest of the kids could (and would) pay no attention whatsoever.

  191. Once again thoreau (and just for clarity’s sake, it’s ol’ Ken S. here), I think some of us are missing the forest for the trees.

    …Even if intelligent design is a farce, so what? It’s unfair and unrealistic to expect fundamentalist parents to sit on their hands and breathe through their noses while the state teaches their children something that violates their religious convictions.

    I suppose some of this speaks to what an education is. Personally, I think it has something to do with an acceptable level of general knowledge and the ability to think critically. …One of the reasons I’m against public education in general is because it seems to me that fifth generation bureaucrats have a huge disincentive to teach people to think critically, especially in a democracy. …but not all parents feel the way I do.

    It seems to me that most parents want very little from their schools. They want their children to know how to read and write, they want their children to have their multiplication tables memorized. They want their kids to know the difference between the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and World War II. They want their children to have access to organized after school activities. They want a nice graduation ceremony.

    …Learning about science is pretty low on the list for most of them, I think. Most of them couldn’t tell a logical fallacy from a hole in the ground.

    And I’m not convinced that we’re talkin’ about a handful of people here. Here’s Gallup poll (30 day free trial required) that shows that as of 1999, 70% of Americans support daily, classroom prayer in public schools, 68% believe that creationism should be taught along with evolution in public schools, 40% believe that we should teach creationism in public schools instead of evolution and 71% of Americans favor using the bible as part of literature, history and social studies classes in public schools!

    …This is not a handful of people we’re talking about. In some parts of the country, presumably, the percentages are higher. Do we or do we not believe in local control of the curriculum? Shouldn’t people who send their children to private schools get some kind of rebate?

    If you were a fundamentalist, and you saw libertarians point to the First Amendment and laugh at your state inflicted pain and then watched the same libertarians stand up for the First Amendment rights of the Klan, how would you feel about libertarians?

    The feeling I get from certain Objectivists is that we need to wait until a majority of Americans embrace atheism before we can hope to influence public policy. I reject that. Libertarians have few allies within the bureaucracies of public education. This is an issue with which libertarians can make common cause with one of the largest, most important demographics–Christain fundamentalists. …and it doesn’t matter whether they’re right or wrong on the facts.

    “Well, obviously the ideal libertarian solution is no public schools, yadda yadda yadda.”

    How ’bout a simple rebate for goin’ private?

  192. Tom-

    Fair enough on the rebate.

    What about my proposed disclaimer? With this disclaimer, the teacher wouldn’t actually be telling the creationists that they’re wrong. He’d be saying that evolution hinges on a certain assumption (in a nutshell, that natural processes have always been operating so that we can extrapolate from fossils in the present to obtain info on the past), so evolution is only as true as that assumption.

    By stating that assumption up front and then moving on, the science teacher wouldn’t actually be saying that he’s right and the creationists are wrong. Instead, he’d be exploring the consequences of an assumption that one can accept or reject.

  193. Tom Crick,

    Sorry, I don’t make common cause with people who believe in idiocies. It does matter whether they are right or wrong; ideas have consequences after all and I won’t support a lie merely because it is politically convenient.

    Education is first and foremost, and especially in the early years, about indoctrination. The idea that you are teaching children to “think critically” about the world is rather strange in light of the nature of their general ignorance.

    As to the First Amendment, it says nothing about education.

  194. Tom Crick,

    Just so you know, large numbers of Americans believe “healing touch,” that foot massages cure cancer, that magnets cure arthritis, that Noah got all the species on the planet onto his ark, that alien abductions occur on a daily basis, that ghosts haunt locales all over the world, and in all manner of other idiocies. Just because its popular doesn’t make it correct.

  195. thoreau,

    In the end, its all about keeping the voodoo going so as to maintain a certain type of social control. So, do we get to be the philosopher-kings?

  196. “Hakluyt” writes: Sorry, I don’t make common cause with people who believe in idiocies. It does matter whether they are right or wrong; ideas have consequences after all and I won’t support a lie merely because it is politically convenient.

    Here I disagree with him. The SCOTUS delivered an opinion in the 20s, Pierce v. Society of Jesus, that I agree with politically. “Children are not mere creatures of the state,” said the High Court.

    I agree, and parents should have vouchers available to tutor their kids in their preferences, even if the preferences are BS.

  197. “Sorry, I don’t make common cause with people who believe in idiocies. It does matter whether they are right or wrong; ideas have consequences after all and I won’t support a lie merely because it is politically convenient.”

    I appreciate that. Unfortunately, it means you’re gonna have to wait until, according to the Gallup poll, as many as 71% of the American people set aside their idiodic ways. …Me, I’m not willing to wait that long. I want to influence public policy now.

    …and to re-emphasize my point, I don’t think it matters whether they’re wrong or right on the curriculum. Some of you sound like eighteenth century aristocrats denouncing democracy and the idiot masses.

    Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the term “common cause”. Some might say that when we stand up for the First Amendment rights of the Klan, we’re making “common cause” with them. That is to say, Fundamentalist Christians make “common cause” with us when they want less govenment intrusion in their lives. They make “common cause” with us when they want justice, lower taxes, etc. …And I don’t think anyone ‘ll have to call the purity cops if I say that we can make “common cause” with fundamentalists when they argue that parents should have some say in what the state teaches their children.

    thoreau,

    I think your preface would do students well. …but I don’t think the people with the beef are worried about that. I think there are three groups: 1) fundamentalists who don’t want the state teaching their children about evolution, 2) evangelicals who want the state to teach creation to non-believers and 3) people who don’t want the state teaching non-science in science class. I’m not sure your solution does much for the first two groups. …at least, not enough to satisfy them.

  198. Mona,

    I’m curious, what does Pierce have to do with my statement? What exactly are you assuming that my statement implies? I haven’t written a word about vouchers, etc. Furthermore, preaching crackpot and primitive ideas like I.D. in a private school is one thing (and that is what vouchers allow of course); it is quite another for me to be forced to fund such in a public school. And forcing me to fund such idiocies in a public school is exactly what you support.

    Tom Crick,

    Fundamentalist Christians never make true common cause with libertarians because they aren’t interested in limited government. People fool themselves into thinking that they do of course.

    Anyway, you seem to forget that my tax dollars are involved in this and as I don’t have children, I may not opt out of the system via some voucher. In other words, if I.D. and the like were allowed into schools I’d have to pay for what is essentially prostelyzation and evangelism.

  199. Mona,

    And let me be clear. If you choose to educate your child in a publicly funded school you choose to expose that child the certain bits of truth that you may not want them to hear.

    Tom Chick,

    And yes, I will wait. Given the lack of veracity the I.D. crowd continually shows, it is really the only option.

  200. I guess it comes down to “Make common common cause with whom over what?”

    It’s all well and good that fundamentalists are pissed off over evolution in public schools. The question is, what do they want to do about it?

    Those who want to be able to opt out and get a rebate might be able to make common cause with some libertarians. (Yes, I know, not all, but some.) Those who want to abolish the whole system might make common cause with even more libertarians.

    Those who want to put ID in schools are hardly worth working with. They want to inject their own form of social engineering into a public program. Even if you believe that teaching evolution is a form of social engineering (I don’t, but I can see the point), I fail to see how adding ID to the curriculum is going to improve the situation.

  201. “Fundamentalist Christians never make true common cause with libertarians because they aren’t interested in limited government. People fool themselves into thinking that they do of course.”

    You are mistaken sir.

    Maybe I should define some terms. There are modern evangelicals and there are fundamentalists. I think most modern evangelicals self-identify as fundamentalists, but not all fundamentalists are evangelicals.

    Non-evangelical fundamentalists are, traditionally, extremely wary of government. Many of them home school, for instance, because they don’t trust the government to educate their children. Many fundamentalists believe in end of time prophecies in which the government eventually persecutes them. They see government as a pathetic attempt to order human relations without God, and they believe that all governments will eventually crumble under their own weight.

    …and it’s funny, but the do as you would have others do unto you mantra sounds a lot like your rights end where another’s rights begin.

    The first libertarian I ever knew–this is goin’ back to the late seventies–was and remains a fundamentalist. I’ve observed non-evangelical fundamentalists and libertarians ever since, and, for whatever reason, you’re mistaken.

  202. “It’s all well and good that fundamentalists are pissed off over evolution in public schools. The question is, what do they want to do about it?”

    Indeed.

    …and I never said intelligent design should be part of the curriculum. It’s probably unconstitutional. …but then teachin’ evolution is unfair to fundamentalist parents.

    …and that’s why they should be able to opt out. They should be able to opt out of the schools themselves–no problem there–and they should be able to opt out of financing public schools. They should get their money back.

    How many agnostic or atheist parents send their kids to religious schools? Those parents decide that the rest of the education they get is worth a lapse in the Biology class and a Bible class. Given the option of opting out, most fundamentalist parents won’t have much to complain about; indeed, most of them won’t complain. They’ll have decided that, for whatever reason, they’re sending their kids to a public school with an evolution class, and they’ll have decided that they’re payin’ for it.

    …It’s the coercion that’s the problem. …and it may sound like I’m makin’ a big beef about a non-issue, but I’m back to where I started. The state shouldn’t force parents to support schools that teach something that violates their religious convictions. …The state probably shouldn’t facilitate the abortions of the children of fundamentalists without their consent or knowledge either.

    When I see libertarians belittle these forms of government coercion, it often seems that it’s only because the victims are fundamentalists. …That’s bad tactics and it’s bad reasoning.

    If we are to make any headway with those Christians out there—and there’s lots of them–who really believe that God’s kingdom is, most certainly, not an earthly kingdom, we need to stop treatin’ ’em like that. Fundamentalists are not the natural enemies of libertarians.

    …That title belongs to the Soccer/Security Moms.

  203. Tom Crick,

    I’ve met far too many fundamentalist Christians who want to ram their agenda down the throats of people who don’t agree with them to accept your argument. Indeed, their presence is felt across this country in the form of dildo laws, attempts to ban private contracts between gay couples, etc. Honestly, you have to be blind not to see this.

    Lots of things are unfair. As long as we have public schools, creationism and other crackpot and irrational notions have no place in science classrooms.

    The state probably shouldn’t facilitate the abortions of the children of fundamentalists without their consent or knowledge either.

    Actually, it should. Merely because one is a minor doesn’t mean that one’s recognized rights should be abrogated. Indeed, I’ll go one further; when a parent endangers the life their child the state should step in to protect the child no matter what the parents’ religious convictions. Parents simply don’t have unlimited rights over their children; it is not a master-slave relationship in other words.

    I don’t want to make headway with irrational individuals who believe in the existance of angels, Gods, ghosts, and all other manner of hogwash. Fundamentalists are the natural enemies of libertarians; they oppose the very freedom from government that libertarians support. So long as my tax dollars are being spent on public schools, I’ll fight their twisted agenda.

    As to the opting out issue, the problem there is that homeschooling families want to homeschool and at the same time take advantage of what a school may have to offer as far as atheletics or what have you are concerned. Indeed, this sort of partial opt-out of the system is becoming quite common.

  204. Tom Crick,

    I would refer you the writings of individuals like Dobson on the issue of fundamentalists and their designs on the use of political power. I would also refer you to states like Alabama, where fundamentalism is rampant and the population supports such thugs as the “Ten Commandments Judge” Roy Moore.

  205. What I found interesting about the article is how ignorant of science the fencesitters the skeptics and fence sitters were. Maybe the worst was Tucker Carlson. Though admittedly Carlson has never struck me as that bright to begin with. For example a few months ago Carlson argued on his PBS show that he was concerned with the issue of immigration and how it would change the country. A few weeks later he was interviewing the Frenchman re-doing de Tocqueville’s journey (sort of) and Tucker was all about how Americans embrace change with open arms.

  206. “…so much of what I hear seems to be along the lines of, well, sure, the teaching of evolution violates the religious convictions of fundamentalists just as the teaching of creation violates the religious convictions of atheists, etc. …but I’m not a fundamentalist and creationists are wrong on the facts, so I’m willing to live with that.”

    —-Comment by: Tom Crick at July 10, 2005 03:10 AM

    “Lots of things are unfair. As long as we have public schools, creationism and other crackpot and irrational notions have no place in science classrooms.”

    —-Comment by: Hakluyt at July 11, 2005 03:04 AM

    The suggestion that you’re willing to tolerate this kind of unfairness because Christians are crackpots and irrational is, quite frankly, unsightly. I’ve had several conversations with gay friends about why it’s probably a bad idea to mock Catholic icons at gay pride parades–I mean, after you’ve ridiucled a man’s religious convictions, goin’ back and askin’ for his tolerance is probably a tougher sell. Don’t you think?

    You talk about fundamentalists as if they were some kind of monolithic bloc. They aren’t.

    …You also seem to conflate the leadership of various evangelical organizations with other fundamentalists, particularly lay people. I’ve made the distinction above, and it’s real.

    I don’t need to go to a website to know that there are evangelicals who want to advance their bible based agenenda through government. I already know that. I’ve also known many fundamentalist Christians from childhood who support much, if not all, of the Libertarian Party platform. Indeed, I managed to persuade several of them to vote Libertarian for President in the last election.

    …In fact, I know a number of fundamentalists who are pro-choice, which, as a no-longer fundamentalist, pro-life libertarian, I consider a never ending source of amusement.

    Anyway,

    “…this sort of hypocrisy fuels some of the the hostility fundamentalists harbor toward libertarians.”

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