Reverend Falwell & Company's Scary Thoughts on Monkey Trial Verdict

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Commenting on the verdict in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the Reverend Jerry Falwell told the Lynchburg News Advance:

I am convinced that Judge Jones is out of step with the trends in this country. Religious freedom is back in. The country is moving away from extremist judges.

Even more scary were the comments of Falwell's legal eagle, Mat Staver, who according to the News Advance

said he is confident that Jones' ruling will be reversed, particularly if nominee Samuel Alito is confirmed for a seat on the nation's high court.

"With Justice (Sandra Day) O'Connor stepping down, the court will be inclined to be more favorable to intelligent design," Staver said. "I predict within the next decade that alternatives to evolution will be taught in the nation's classrooms."

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  1. “With Justice (Sandra Day) O’Connor stepping down, the court will be inclined to be more favorable to intelligent design,” Staver said. “I predict within the next decade that alternatives to evolution will be taught in the nation’s classrooms.”

    Ya gotta admit, though–Falwell tolerates different religions with far more equanimity than your server tolerates different fonts.

  2. Gotta love the Commonwealth of Virginia… within one hour of each other, you have the right-wing freaktown of Lynchburg and the left-wing freaktown of Charlottesville. It never ceases to amaze me…

  3. When you see Falwell being quoted here, you know its gonna be a Bailey.

    I’m shocked at the things Falwell says. Shocked, I tells yeh.

  4. “Alternatives to evolution?” Well, I, for one, welcome the teaching of ancient Greek theology in my science classes. Tell me again, oh muse, about how Zeus created the Men of Gold.

  5. “religious freedom”?????

    go fuck yourselves.

    (Jennifer: call it a draw)

  6. “said he is confident that Jones’ ruling will be reversed, particularly if nominee Samuel Alito is confirmed for a seat on the nation’s high court.

    A reversal can only happen if Dover challenges the ruling. They don’t seem inclined to do so.

  7. to paraphrase S. Clements/ M. Twain: “There are three kinds of liars: liars, damned liars, and Jerry Falwell.”

  8. I never took a class where the teacher addressed evolution. I don’t know if the teachers were scared or didn’t know much about evolution. Most were lousy teachers who skipped over more than just Darwin’s theory. The others were probably scared to deal with the subject, and I can hardly blame them for wanting to keep the paychecks coming.

  9. Religious freedom means I have the freedom to force my religion on you.

  10. well, Jennifer, the US is a Christian nation, and if you don’t like it, then you…well, you can’t really do anything about it you godless feminist heathen, so shut up, get in the kitchen, and make me a chicken pot pie. remember, atheists aren’t real citizens, and don’t have any rights under the US Constitution. Also, why don’t you be fruitful and multiply as God ordered you to do?

  11. These guys understand that they don’t actually want to win right? Need to keep the problem alive to keep the rubes agitated, voting, and handing over their money.

    While we’re coasting on the past at this point, the US has been on the leading edge of science, technology, and engineering for at least a century. Why this drive to teach a crude 2000-year-old creation myth written by excitable desert nomads? Now?

    I have read that fundamentalism is at its strongest and loudest when it’s fading and it realizes its time is over. Makes sense. Or wishful thinking.

  12. You know, an alternative attack might be to make science classes in public schools nonmandatory. I sure hope that doesn’t happen, because I think American kids get too little quality science education as it is. And too few go into the hard sciences or engineering, which bodes ill.

  13. I, for one, look forward to the day when ID becomes the standard so I can present my alternative theory of SD–Stoned Designer. The proof is so clearly around us! Cannabis! Psychadelic shrooms! Not to mention the results of our Designer being stoned, such as the platypus. But he wasn’t too stoned, though; he made sure that the polar bears stayed at the North Pole, and the penguins kept to the South Pole, so the penguins didn’t all get eaten by the bears and the bears died of eating cholesterol-rich penguins.

    I’ll tell the science teacher he should refer to the SD as “Jah”.

  14. Falwell must really hate Alito.

  15. …if nominee Samuel Alito is confirmed…

    Why does he assume a Catholic will rule in favor of creationism.

    But then, Pat Buchanan is a creationist so I guess it might be an individual thing, or maybe just a pandering thing.

  16. Also, why don’t you be fruitful and multiply as God ordered you to do?

    Because I suck at math and every time I try to multiply I end up with some bizarre shit involving binomial fractions and Greek letters like ‘pi.’.

    Besides, I though Falwell was opposed to the Fruity type?

  17. T.,

    What they probably meant was that Alioto & some SCOTUS majority would effectively overrule the court’s reasoning in the next case that came up on this. That is a loose use of the word “reversal,” but probably good enuf for lay usage.

    Actually, the decision will be “reversed” as its sweeping generalizations about ID are incorrect, and because the plaintiffs in the next case will be smart enuf to position themselves in a way to make the Dover decision appear ridiculous.

  18. I would compel every science teacher to teach ID at the beginning of the school year. It would take 5 minutes to summarize it — “It makes my brain hurt to try to imagine how certain biological structures developed via natural selection; therefore, I say we give up and call it a miracle.”

  19. I, for one, look forward to the day when ID becomes the standard so I can present my alternative theory of SD–Stoned Designer.

    You may call it SD, but it sounds like it is just a new name for an old theory – recreationism

  20. ProL:

    you’re really onto something.

    when people don’t understand and refuse to/can’t comprehend what constitutes “science” as appropriate for science class, and what constitutes “myth”, we have problems.

    math and science skills are so poor already, the ID debate is overshadowing the real problem.

    there was that bozo yesterday who tried to poison the well with the “this diet pill was ‘scientifically tested'” argument. that there shows how that dickhead is too dumb to understand what’s going on. that is a failing.

    with good, strong math and science teaching, this would be reduced as an issue. science class will still be politicized as long as the government is involved, but until the gov’t gets out of education, having a clear side in this debate is important.

  21. On a similar theme – it always amazes me that anyone can look at the world, and say sincerely “yep, this is obviously the work of an omnipotent creator.” If this is the work of omnipotence, then clearly I’ve been reading from the wrong dictionary all these years…

  22. Of course, the Cato Institute says it the best. The evolution/ID debate is moronic at best. If science is your thing, teach evolution. If you’ve got little use for science, teach ID. Let the market decide which students are better equipped for the global workforce. [Quite frankly, for the vast majority of Americans, I’m not sure it has any relevance to future success.]

    “Today’s intelligent design ruling by the U.S. District Court in Harrisburg will be perceived as a victory for supporters of evolutionary theory and a defeat for I.D. advocates and creationists. Such perceptions are shortsighted. The Pennsylvania ruling will do nothing to end the battle over the teaching of human origins that has plagued public schools since the Scopes trial of 1925. It, and all the other cultural and religious ‘school wars’ that divide our nation, will rage on unless we do something about their root cause: our one-size-fits-all government school system.

    No “Intelligent Design”

    Now, who do you think paid for that opinion?

  23. yup – the liberal one that makes you eat corn syrup and other such bullshit from lame asses. m’kay.

    🙂

    evil. naughty. terrible. oh so wrong.

  24. You may call it SD, but it sounds like it is just a new name for an old theory – recreationism

    um…no! No! We all know the courts banned Recreationism from being taught in schools, and this has nothing to do with it! Jah knows we’re not advocating any particular form or dogma of recreation, just saying it explains the unintelligible…no Establishment problem here!

  25. If this is the work of omnipotence, then clearly I’ve been reading from the wrong dictionary all these years…

    Ah! a kindred soul! At this rate we’ll soon overrun those Intelligentists!

  26. If human life emerged as part of a carefully orchestrated plan, then how do you explain Falwell?

  27. If human life emerged as part of a carefully orchestrated plan, then how do you explain Falwell?

    He was put here to test your faith.

  28. cdunlea,
    My theory is bureaucratic design. Look at the human body. Now tell me anyone but a zoning board would put a recreation facility so close to a waste disposal site.

  29. OK, now a more serious question:

    Can the ID crowd give us some criterion for when a researcher can throw his hands in the air and say “That’s it! This can only be explained by a miracle!”?

    Will this criterion be accepted in peer review?

  30. Stoned Designer

    Yes, there is a lot that points to a really toasted designing intelligence. There are those weird little scaly beasties, I think they are called pangolins or something: they look like little dinosaur samurai, and they walk on their hind legs, and they’re mammals! WTF? That was obviously designed by some high teenage boy fresh off a round of Oriental D&D.

  31. Hilarious listening to these superstitious idiots whining about how the ruling is an “attack” on “Christianity.” Like you can’t be a Christian and believe in common sense. Well, I suppose in Falwell’s world…

  32. Let the market decide which students are better equipped for the global workforce.

    In all seriousness, that’s the aspect that frightens me, almost as much as my kid being tested on some holy roller’s makebelieve version of the universe. As we wallow in such a stupid and moronic debate, we’re forgetting that PhD graduates of our best science academies are going home to China, India, Korea, and strengthening their universities so they are rising to a par on ours, while their MS students are directing corporate research.

    Eventually, the market for real science will belong to Asia, unhobbled by theology, and humanity be in the same technological situation it was in in 1200.

    And military power–and therefore security–depends on having the best technology of the day.

  33. Warren-

    That reminds me of an engineering joke:

    Several engineering students were discussing theology. The electrical engineer said “God must be an electrical engineer. Just look at the intricate wiring of the brain and nervous system, and the electrical signals controlling the muscles.”

    The mechanical engineer said “Let’s talk about those muscles. Look at how finely their motions are tuned, how carefully the structures of the bones are designed to bear weight, and how reliable the pump of the heart is. God must be a mechanical engineer.”

    Then the chemical engineer says “But all of those things rely on a constant sequence of chemical reactions in every single cell. God must be a chemical engineer.”

    Finally the civil engineering student says “You’re all wrong. Who but a civil engineer would run a sewage pipeline through a recreational area?”

  34. “Natural Design and Intelligent Selection”.

    said it before. say it again.

    Warren: “Now tell me anyone but a zoning board would put a recreation facility so close to a waste disposal site.”

    AND uses the same piping!!!!!!! that screams of union labor!!!

    🙂

    Thoreau: the courts decide what science is. and you won’t use that tone. m’kay….

    (terrible. wicked. naughty.)

    “oriental D&D”. mein gott. for gamers with the yellow fever. (even more wrong)

  35. “These guys understand that they don’t actually want to win right? Need to keep the problem alive to keep the rubes agitated, voting, and handing over their money. ”
    Comment by: Brian at December 21, 2005 12:24 PM

    I believe the Republican Party used this type of strategy with gay marriage. I remember in the 2004 Presidential Election that gay marriage was a hot topic. Now, the Bush Administration has not said anything about it since.

  36. d’oh. thoreau’s comment beat me 🙂

    cdunlea: agreed. good call.

    zeiner: again. good call. keep the soccer moms in the “security mom” camp.

  37. Can the ID crowd give us some criterion for when a researcher can throw his hands in the air and say “That’s it! This can only be explained by a miracle!”?,/i>

    I think the ID crowd is going to drop the ID meme. they will eventually be smart enough to recast the issue as the right of science teachers to distinguish for students between questions that science can meaningfully study and questions that science cannot meaningfully study due to lack of data.

    The compelling evidence will be some whacko atheistical science teacher or 2 who claims that evolution does disprove the Christian God. Once those statements get on the record, its a gonna be as easier as making Jerry Falwell look like a fool.

    At some schools, I wouldn’t be surprised if more science class time gets spent on why science can’t address origins questions, than gets spent on what science does know about speciation. That would probably be a good thing, btw because origins questions come up a lot more often in real life anyway.

  38. Actually, the decision will be “reversed” as its sweeping generalizations about ID are incorrect, and because the plaintiffs in the next case will be smart enuf to position themselves in a way to make the Dover decision appear ridiculous.

    Comment by: Dave W. at December 21, 2005 12:36 PM

    Dave W.: care to elaborate on the bolded area of your statement?

  39. Eventually, the market for real science will belong to Asia, unhobbled by theology, and humanity be in the same technological situation it was in in 1200. And military power–and therefore security–depends on having the best technology of the day.

    You know, when it comes to the issue of public schools I go back and forth on whether or not I support them, but I think the best argument in favor of public education is summarized in cdunlea’s statement I just pasted here. In theory, and at its best, public education does indeed benefit the public–even a childless person like me can see that living in a country with an educated and propserous populace is much better than being in a country full of poor illiterates.

    And I, a former English major, know damned well that a populace with a firm grasp of scientific and mathematical principles makes for a much wealthier and stronger society than a populace full of luxury degrees, historians and literary people.

    Another thing that bothers me about the idea “let the parents choose whether or not to let their kid get a worthwhile education” is that I don’t like the idea of leaving kids at the mercy of their parent’s prejudices; it’s not much different from “let the parents decide whether or not they will let their girl-children learn to read and write.”

  40. At some schools, I wouldn’t be surprised if more science class time gets spent on why science can’t address origins questions,

    not true

    than gets spent on what science does know about speciation. That would probably be a good thing, btw because origins questions come up a lot more often in real life anyway.

    Comment by: Dave W. at December 21, 2005 01:05 PM

    how so?

  41. At some schools, I wouldn’t be surprised if more science class time gets spent on why science can’t address origins questions, than gets spent on what science does know about speciation. That would probably be a good thing, btw because origins questions come up a lot more often in real life anyway.

    Huh?

    Evolution certainly does provide intellectual coherence for biology. And certainly it has some very practical applications (e.g. resistance to antibiotics, pesticides, and herbicides). But on a daily basis, most medical researchers don’t have to invoke it directly. I don’t really need to directly invoke evolution as I study the formation of blood vessel networks. The notion of common descent and universality of life is certainly crucial when I compare data from mice with data from humans, but “origins questions” don’t come up directly in my work.

    (Oh, for the record, I don’t actually work on mice or humans. I make computer models and compare them mostly with in vitro experiments. But in a few months I might start comparing my models with in vivo observations from other groups.)

    Where, pray tell, do origins questions come up?

    But I suspect you’re right about ID: ID is dead. (Long live ID! 🙂 The next incarnation of creationism will be even more subtle. We’ve gone from simple denial of science, to flood geology, to ID, to…something. There will always be a movement to spend some portion of the evolution lesson telling kids to not take it seriously. The next incarnation will probably pose as philosophers of science, wanting to remind kids of the thorny philosophical issues involved in historical inquiries, and remind them to think carefully about the limitations of any investigation.

    All that would be fine if they wanted useful, enlightening, and honest discussions of the complicated issues underlying scientific investigations. Except that they will present something that is a gross distortion of the issues, and boils down to “Don’t take this evolution shit seriously.”

  42. ID is a scientific conjecture on origins, with as much going for it as any other scientific conjecture on origins. In that sense, ID is science.

    However, when ID gets unduly emphasized as a preferred conjecture on origins, without supporting scientific evidence (which we don’t have now and seem unlikely to get in our childrens’ lifetimes), then ID becomes religion. This is the distinction that the opinion seems to gloss over, at least the excerpts I happened to read.

  43. cdunlea:

    I like how you think, man.

    We should mount a counter-strike against these IDiots and demand our right to re-write the Bible.

    I’m personally convinced that God created weed on the 6th day. That’s why he’s chill’n on the 7th day.

    And all the biblical scholars got it totally wrong. I know that for a fact, and that’s good enough.

    Here are the actual “Ten Suggestions” straight from God!

    1) I AM THE LORD THY GOD. STOP LOOKING AT THAT OTHER GOD. I KNOW YOU WERE LOOKING AT HIM. I’M YOUR GOD.
    2) THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD IN VAIN, UNLESS THOU ART REALLY, REALLY PISSED OFF.
    3) TOKETH THOU ON THE SABBATH DAY AND KEEP IT REAL.
    4) HONOR THY ‘RENTS, UNTIL THEY KICK THOU OUT OF THE HOUSE.
    5) THOU SHALT NOT KILL. DUH.
    6) THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, UNLESS IT BE A THREESOME, THOU LUCKY BASTARD.
    7) THOU SHALT NOT STEAL. IT IS NOT NICE.
    8) THOU SHALT NOT LIE, UNLESS THOU IN SOME REALLY DEEP SHIT.
    9) DON’T LOOK AT THOU BUD’S WIFE’S ASS, DUDE. DON’T GO THERE.
    10) THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR’S GOODS. BUY THOU OWN DAMNED HD TV.

  44. DaveW:

    There are a number of specific religious claims that absolutely fall into the jurisdiction of scientific investigation. Natural selection does. Genetic transmission of traits does. Mutation does. The question I suspect you would have us hedge on is whether these three things in combination are necessary and sufficient to explain the diversity of species. Are you arguing that is an unanswerable question within the limits of scientific reasoning?

  45. We’ve gone from simple denial of science, to flood geology, to ID, to…something.

    True, in order to fight evolution they have had to continually….evolve

  46. Mr. Nice Guy–

    I take it your attempts to cut back aren’t going too well, huh?

  47. Jason:

    not only those questions, there seems to be a bone to pick with the Scientific Method, as well.

    But when you’re in your parent’s carport, eh, and are scared of blood and can’t do math, what can you do?

  48. Where, pray tell, do origins questions come up?

    Everytime a person wonders whether we are all part of some cosmic whole and whether the separateness we humans feel from each other and nature and even ourselves is a sham. Everytime a person wonders if there is such a thing as good and evil, or alternatively, whether do what thou wilt is the whole of the law. Everytime a Catholic thinks about falling away. ICGO (I could go on).

    btw, I am pretty skeptical that evolutionary theory was instrumental in the selection of mice as popular research subjects. The genetic similarity of mice to humans may (or may not) be an important factor, but I don’t think the researcher really cares whether mice got to be similar due evolution or some other way. I don’t think researchers figure out how similar mice are to men by looking at evolution tables. I imagine they look at genes, without much regard to how the respective genes got the way they are. This doesn’t disprove evolution or anything. It just means that you personally don’t really need it for the scientist work you do. Probably some scientists do use the theory — I am just saying that they are a tiny sliver of population compared to the types of characters enumerated in my previous para. And also, lots of that sliver goes to college and can and does pick up extra science there.

  49. Wait a minute, I thought teaching ID had nothing to do with religion.

    Creationists can’t even hold their seats on the school board in Dover, PA, and Falwell thinks they’re sweeping the country?

    Uh huh. Let’s file this with Bush’s fundie-produced “mandate.”

  50. ID is a scientific conjecture on origins, with as much going for it as any other scientific conjecture on origins. In that sense, ID is science.

    The problem is, their book “Of Pandas and People” was previously published as “Biology and Creation”, but they changed all the references to “creationism” to read “intelligent design”. Then they lied about it.

    There was also videotape of the chair of the curriculum committee, William Buckingham, talking about how creationism should be taught. Which he denied, until they went to the tape.

    The ID case was far, far weaker than you’d think, and it was backed by a number of denials which were very easy to disprove. It was obvious that ID=creationism, and there was already precedent for not teaching creationism.

  51. Yes, there is a lot that points to a really toasted designing intelligence. There are those weird little scaly beasties, I think they are called pangolins or something: they look like little dinosaur samurai, and they walk on their hind legs, and they’re mammals! WTF? That was obviously designed by some high teenage boy fresh off a round of Oriental D&D.

    What a greatpet this would make!

  52. Jen:

    It’s not 4:20 yet 🙂

  53. What a greatpet this would make!

    It’s an artichoke with legs.

  54. btw, I am pretty skeptical that evolutionary theory was instrumental in the selection of mice as popular research subjects.

    That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that scientists in every field carry with them certain assumptions that undergird their work. The great mysteries of life are its simultaneous unity and diversity: The unity of life explains why so many organisms have enough in common that results from one species can often carry over to another species.

    Anyway, my point was precisely that evolution is an important intellectual foundation of biology, but the details of the theory don’t come up on a daily basis in most research. Whereas you suggested that evolution plays a direct role in questions that come up on a daily basis.

    And you say that questions of origin come up on a daily basis. Fair enough, questions of purpose and meaning and morality come up on a daily basis, and many people connect these issues with issues of origins. I don’t see why we need to water down biology lessons as a result.

  55. Smacky:

    what a great “O RLY” it would make!!!

  56. Let me put it another way. Evolution can be treated as science or religion. Let me show how:

    Evolution as science: evolution explains speciation, that is, why animals and plants look different from each other. Genes mutate as they are replicated and replicated, and some of these genetic changes result, over time, in new species. The new species that survive are the ones best suited for their competitive natural environment. We are pretty sure about all this because of the cumulative empiracal impact of looking at large portions of the fossil record, which can be assuredly dated by looking at the makeup of the fossils at the atom level. Science does not know what causes the mutations, but the leading conjecture is that some radiation from somewhere like the sun caused the mutations.

    Evolution as religion: Evolution disproves the creation story in the Bible and therefore disproves God. If random forces of nature can create something as complex as a human being, then it is clear that there is no room for God in the natural world.

    Just like evolution, ID can be treated either as science or religion. Therefore, those trying to force an either-or choice here are mere false dichomists. Herrick IS his balls and his balls ARE Herrick.

  57. These guys understand that they don’t actually want to win right?

    I don’t think they do. They envision some utopian government run along the beliefs and traditions of their church. Not realizing their church is so small a minority that what they’ll end up with is a government run along the beliefs and traditions of someone else’s church.

    What we really really need to teach is Christian history. Like how many people came here during the Colonial period to get away from “Christian” governments.

    From the opinion: It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

    Lying? Isn’t that like one of the Big Ten No-nos?

  58. Maybe a good analogy for my point on evolution would be atomic theory: Believe it or not, there are many areas of physics where you don’t have to use the notion of atoms to get useful results. Fluid dynamics, much of soft condensed matter physics, much of biophysics, and classical optics (which, despite the word “classical” in its name, is still an area of fundamental and applied research) don’t directly invoke atomic concepts. I’ve done work in classical optics, biophysics, and soft condensed matter physics. Atoms and electrons and protons often come up only rarely in some of the work. Even when atoms and electrons and protons and photons do come up, frequently the details don’t matter. All you need to know to actually do the work is that there are atoms and they have some structure, and the components are charged.

    Of course, you need to know more than that to actually function and think meaningfully about your problems. You need to know enough about physics on the atomic scale to understand precisely when it can be ignored. You need to know enough to know when certain phenomena matter and when they don’t. You need to know the constraints that these phenomena impose on phenomena at higher levels (e.g. the number of valence electrons in the surface atoms places an upper limit on the charge density on the surface of a ceramic particle).

    So there are lots of concepts that scientists don’t invoke directly in their work, but these concepts are there in the background, informing the ways that we think about problems. Evolution is not directly invoked on a daily basis in most biological work, but it’s there in the background, shaping the way that people think.

  59. You’re making a big fucking leap there, Dave W.

    Evolution disproves the creation story in the Bible and therefore disproves God.

    This is predicated on 1) evolution explaining abiogenesis (which it doesn’t) 2) the acceptance of the Genesis story as the true-and-literal word of God and 3) accepting that if Genesis is not the true-and-literal word of God, God doesn’t exist.

    That’s a lot of hoops.

  60. “ID is a scientific conjecture on origins, with as much going for it as any other scientific conjecture on origins. In that sense, ID is science.”

    ID is NOT a “scientific conjecture”. Read the text of the decision for a concise and well – reasoned explanation why ID is most certianly NOT science. In brief, science deals only with things that can be explained through natural processes. It does not and cannot deal with things that are in the realm of the supernatural. ID by definition depends upon the supernatural for its explanation. Therefore it is NOT science. It IS, however, conjecture – of a religious or faith based nature.

    By the standard you outlined above, ANY theory, guess or conjecture should be considered to be “scientific” and that’s patently absurd. If we accept you standard, then it is perfectly legitimate to say that fairies are responsible for the ups and down of the stock market, mermaids cause the ships and planes to dissappear in the Bermuda Triangle, stepping on a crack in the sidewalk really casues physical harm to your mother, and space aliens are controlling the mind of Pres. Bush.

    Well, maybe that last one is not so far fetched…

  61. I don’t see why we need to water down biology lessons as a result.

    Because the vast majority of ppl don’t need biology and it is a waste of time. Why do you think biology is so important for most kids? You only really need to know enough to know whether to study it in college. I mean the Simpsons version of science class is a bunch of kids spending a week cutting apart an earthworm. We sure did back in ’83. here is what I remember from the experience:

    1. what formaldehyde smells like; and

    2. that you should use strong pins to constrain the dead worm skin because the flimsy ones fall out.

    3. wondering who paid for worms.

    How can you water something like that down — there is nothing there.

  62. Jennifer,

    “living in a country with an educated and propserous populace is much better than being in a country full of poor illiterates.”

    Fair enough, what does that have to do with state run education, though? I think a country where everyone has adequate footware is better off than one without. We seem to be doing allright with that sans state.

  63. Why do you think biology is so important for most kids? You only really need to know enough to know whether to study it in college.

    What about teaching people to be smart consumers of health care? It helps if they have some background to understand what the doctor is saying, and understand articles or news reports on medical issues.

    I do recall you being upset at some point about people not making intelligent decisions about health care.

  64. Timothy,

    I am not advocating evolution as religion. I am just saying that I have seen people use evolution in this manner and that is what they sound like when they do that. Don’t *you* do it — it was intended as a negative example, not a positive one.

  65. BTW, for the record, I’m not defending mandatory biology class. But Dave W. asked why anybody would find it useful to study biology, and I gave reasons why students (or their parents) might decide that it’s a good idea to take a biology class from a private school.

  66. When will us Reasonistas simply realize that Intelligent Design is nothing more than the fallacies of “argument of complexity” mixed with the “argument of design”. Again, for a clear, simple statement that refutes I.D.: Just because something is complex does NOT mean it was DESIGNED! Seriously, how long is it going to take for people to realize that they buy into false causes?

    There is nothing scientific about it, Answers, any more than asserting that invisible green goblins make my watch run. There’s no evidence for that, why should I believe it? Same principle.

  67. “How can you water something like that down — there is nothing there.”

    dave, you’re kind of on your way to proving the whole ID/creationism = i can’t understand it, therefore it must have been god!

    i mean, can you imagine where we’d be if intelligent design had been accepted as the ending answer to all of our sciences a few hundred years back?

  68. Oh wait, I forgot Occam. When in doubt, choose the simpler:

    1 – “Evolution”

    2 – “Evolution + Designer”

    Can it get any more basic than logic?

  69. T.
    My original answer to your question was centered around the thesis that we ought to teach human medicine instead of biology. Then I decided that you wouldn’t be able to follow me if I jumped to that. I very much agree with you and I would be quite disinclined to have a human medicine or healthcare class be watered down with evolution. However, I think Dover is probably still earthworm autopsy country for the time being.

  70. Ron —

    A conservative Catholic (which O’Connor sort of was too I think), except insofar as he/she may be pandering or individually convinced, is under no theological constraint to disbelieve in evolution; the late John Paul II even said evolution was a fact.

    Buchanan isnt a creationist on life on earth. He is clever to play words, with “godless evolution”, being heard as anti-evolution per se by fundamentalists and secularists alike, but it really means for him, teaching evolution without mentioning God as a remote cause of the whole universe. It is still religion but it is not intelligent design in the sense of supernaturally guided evolution.

    The nominal majority of Christians in the world are Catholic, and in America a plurality. Many Protestants are manistream textual liberals and separationists, even when conservative politically. This means that if one imputes the beliefs of the religions to adherents, most believing Christians, of a conservative bent, are comfortable with evolution. In the US with a fundamentalist bias, it is split about even, but the idea that a conservative Catholic would support anti-evolution out of theological bias is not consistent with the state of the church’s theology.

  71. “evolution” should be –evolution-related disclaimers–

  72. we ought to teach human medicine instead of biology

    Yeah, because there’s no way that dissecting an animal and examining its organs will give any insight into human medicine.

    Earthworms might not be good examples, but fetal pigs (which I dissected) are enlightening. They’re mammals, for starters.

  73. we don’t need biological evolution in order to disprove that the Genesis story, as interpreted by young-earth creationists, is not literally true. physics clearly demonstrates that the universe and the earth are much older than 6000 years. that doesn’t disprove the existence of the Judaic God, the Christian God, Jesus as the divine saviour, Zeus, Odin, Yog-Sothoth, Cthulu, Isis, etc. some scientists who are committed to “proving” that the bible is literally true have proposed alterate explanations for the appearance of the universe as having great age. these are scientifically falsifiable in principle, but not in practice with current technology. the reason this isn’t good science is that they are committed to a particular outcome of the data. although we always start with particular assumptions, and may have predicted certain outcomes, any can be abandoned if shown to be false. that’s another critical difference between science as practiced by most scientists besides the committment to natural explanations is that we aren’t (supposed to be) committed to one particular outcome, at least in principle. In principle, evolutionary theory could be disproven. for ID and these other ideas to be science, the Christian apologist “scientists” would have to be open to the idea that we COULD disprove the existence of God. I doubt that any of them are ready to allow science to disprove God. few scientists make the assertion that we can disprove the existence of God, therefore we leave God out of our explanation..

  74. I believe in God, but I do not believe in the Biblical God. I don’t claim that I can verify my belief scientifically, and I do not presume to inform scientists of what data they collect or what conclusions they may draw from that data. Personally, I love literature and myth and intangibles, but I am thrilled beyond measure that my world includes scientists who look at things objectively, and with a drive to constantly expand knowledge. I feel no kinship with these religious nannies. (Or is that, ninnies?)

  75. Occam is faith, not reason, Ayn. Reason is stuff like syllogisms and identities. Occam is a rule of thumb, signifying nothing logically.

  76. Bails, shouldn’t that be the Lynchburg News Retreat? I kill myself. I probably shouldn’t call you Bails, Ron. I called Cavanaugh “Cavs” once and he was not happy.

    Dave W., you’re fighting a losing battle. Bottom Line, ID is metaphysics, not science. Just because the Precambrian explosion pokes a hole in evolution does not mean that evolution should be discarded.

    Consider: How on God’s green earth do we devise an empirical test to examine the theory that there’s prime mover in the Universe???

    Aquinas settled this aboout 650 years ago: God gives us the gift of reason, (not the magazine) and it is 1) an affront to His gift and 2) a waste of time to fuck around with charades like pretending ID is a competing “theory” to evolution.

  77. “living in a country with an educated and propserous populace is much better than being in a country full of poor illiterates.” Fair enough, what does that have to do with state run education, though? I think a country where everyone has adequate footware is better off than one without. We seem to be doing allright with that sans state.

    Bad analogy–a country full of barefoot people is not automatically putting itself in severe danger of being overrun by a country full of shoes, whereas a country full of scientific illiterates is in EXTREME danger of being overrun by a technologically superior country.

  78. We’ve all been proponents of Spaghetti Monsterism.
    This evolved into Stoned Designed, or Recreationism.
    I think it is time to take this to its full conclusion with the theory of Steady State Design Theory:

    Clearly, because we cannot figure out how life was created, and because we are made in the creator’s image, their must have been no creation. God just parked his butt here and took over. What is always has and always will be.

    We should ask Jerry Falwell to Stealth Ninja some schoolboards to promote this theory.

    Now, where did I put my Illuminati guide book, ye false second God of Creation and Not Light?

  79. Dave W., here’s something you might be happy with:

    If a student approaches the teacher with concerns that the evolution lesson has religious implications, the teacher can say “We’re studying science here. If that raises some religious concerns for you, you are free to decide how to handle that. We’re not trying to tell you how to handle matters of religion.”

    Would that be enough? Is that all you want: Some assurance that nobody’s trying to change your mind on matters of faith?

  80. T.

    I am thinking of more practical things like: how do I avoid diabetes? How do I avoid knee replacements? How can I, as a consumer, tell if a drug is safe? How can I avoid having unwanted babies? What the hell is going on with AIDS?

    Fetal pigs can get watered right out of the class as far as I am concerned. The time for that level of boondoggle is when the kid is off the public edu-dole.

    Jesus Christ, I don’t even think it is moral to slaughter a pig for purposes of a high school biology class. What a cruel thing to do to an intelligent animal in exchange for for so little utilitarian gain. First Gillespie with the dogeating and now this.

  81. how do I avoid diabetes? How do I avoid knee replacements? How can I, as a consumer, tell if a drug is safe? How can I avoid having unwanted babies? What the hell is going on with AIDS?

    Avoid imbalances of the four humors, and use aggressive leach therapy to treat symptoms as they arise.

  82. how do I avoid diabetes?<<br />
    Have a working pancreas.

    How do I avoid knee replacements?

    Don’t pay a surgeon to put them in you.

    How can I, as a consumer, tell if a drug is safe?

    See if you die from it.

    How can I avoid having unwanted babies?

    Infanticide.

    What the hell is going on with AIDS?

    After taking last season off to work on its book, AIDS is back with a vengence. Coming to a Subsaharan country near you! AIDS is also wondering what the hell is up with Dave W, hasn’t seen the guy since college.

  83. Would that be enough? Is that all you want: Some assurance that nobody’s trying to change your mind on matters of faith?

    Kids shouldn’t make kids believe that evolution disproved God because that is unConstitutional in a public school. If significant proportions of kids walk away from high school biology making that mistake, then there is a problem and it means we need more teaching on the limits of science. If no significant proportion of high school kids make this mistake, then the teaching is right, maybe disclaimers can even be scaled back.

    I don’t know how many kids do make this mistake. Based on Akira and some of the other posters here, I think the evolution-as-(ir)religion mistake is prevalent and problematic, but I certainly ain’t certain enuf to sue or anything like that.

  84. Negative, Corrections. Occam is reason because it states that to multiply entities beyond necessity to explain all aspects of a particular problem is irrational. Quite simply, it makes sense to say that the only thing necessary to explain something is what is necessary. Sounds too simple, but that’s logic for you.

  85. “Kids shouldn’t” should be –high school science class shouldn’t–

  86. Dave W., here’s a deal: You find me the data to show that high school biology class is a breeding ground for atheists, and I’ll support a very short and modest disclaimer at the beginning of biology class (but I get to veto the wording, to avoid any statements that are inconsistent with the way science actually works).

    If you can’t get the numbers, just sue somebody and take advantage of the great transparency engine that is the discovery process. Prove to me that 25% or more of those who abandoned religion in favor of atheism did so because of high school biology class, and I’ll support a disclaimer.

    I suspect you’ll find that high school biology teachers aren’t all that influential in practice.

    That’s about all I have to say about that.

  87. Here’s a theory: The Universe is an enormous blob suspended from an even more massive piece of tissue paper, God having just blown His nose. Human beings are germs, giving God a headache.

    That would explain a lot.

  88. Dave W./ corrections dept:

    does high school science class do that?

    Akira’s comments are his opinion, not something you see printed in scientific journals. just like Falwell’s comments are HIS opinion, not something you see printed in the bible.

  89. Kids shouldn’t make kids believe that evolution disproved God because that is unConstitutional in a public school.

    Well, teachers shouldn’t. Kids can try and make other kids believe anything they want.

    If significant proportions of kids walk away from high school biology making that mistake, then there is a problem and it means we need more teaching on the limits of science. If no significant proportion of high school kids make this mistake, then the teaching is right, maybe disclaimers can even be scaled back.

    Teachers need to simply teach what they’re supposed to teach. If kids walk away with a misunderstanding of an issue being taught, that’s simply a problem with the teacher, and the teacher needs to get his/her act together or be replaced. It’s not a constitutional issue.

  90. BTW, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with atheists. Some of my best friends are atheists! 🙂

    But there’s nothing in high school biology that proves that theism is bullshit. High school biology might, just might, persuade some kids to interpret the Bible figuratively rather than literally (I suspect that most kids don’t care). But atheism, like theism, doesn’t hinge on high school biology. To conclude otherwise is a gross error, and it should be corrected if high school biology classes are actually propagating such an error.

    My hunch is that high school biology isn’t terribly influential.

  91. What the hell is going on with AIDS?

    According to an article I read just a month or so ago, AIDS is actually becoming less fatal.

    If you believe in evolution, it’s because it is (obviously) bad for a virus to have its host body die, so an overly lethal virus is at a severe evolutionary disadvantage compared to a virus that does NOT kill its host; therefore, AIDS, like syphilis a few centuries ago, is evolving into something much less virulent.

    That’s the evolutionary reason why AIDS is becoming less fatal. The Intelligent Design reason is that God, after a surprisingly orgasmic one-night-stand, has decided to rethink that whole “kill all the gays with a virus” idea.

  92. If you can’t get the numbers, just sue somebody and take advantage of the great transparency engine that is the discovery process. Prove to me that 25% or more of those who abandoned religion in favor of atheism did so because of high school biology class, and I’ll support a disclaimer.

    What if the class causes no atheist conversions, but does cause 20% of the non-christians to switch to the Jesus team. Would that be a problem? If so, how did you get your 25% figure?

  93. Catalina:

    Douglas Adams said it first.

    The universe resulted from a sneeze by the Great Green Arkleseizure. Live in fear of the coming of the Great White Hankerchief.

  94. Thoreau: Can I be the first asked?

    I abandoned religion because the other participants were more concerned about liking the pastor than about doing the work. A host of terrible experiences with Christianity led me to conclude that it’s all hooey. Most religious people are fine folks, but the whole heirarchy stunk… and then a year or so after I left the church, I realized that I no longer believed any of its teachings. Therefore, I do not believe in God.

    Circumstances 1
    Biology Teacher 0

  95. In high school (1999 and 2000 for these classes), I had a kooky, strange, tin-foil hat type (but highly educated) Dr. for a biology teacher. She was screaming about I.D. then. I had no idea what ID was, never heard of it, and just dismissed her (I was religious then anyway). Just goes to show that just because the conspiracy theory folk say crazy stuff doesn’t mean they are wrong.

  96. If you can’t get the numbers, just sue somebody and take advantage of the great transparency engine that is the discovery process. Prove to me that 25% or more of those who abandoned religion in favor of atheism did so because of high school biology class, and I’ll support a disclaimer.

    It doesn’t really matter what impressions the kids walk away with, as long as accurate material is being taught. If history is taught and from that kids tend to walk away with the impression that Jesus is Lord, it doesn’t make any difference at all, unless the material itself is spinning history in a way that suggests that. My public school biology teacher certainly didn’t spin the teaching of evolution in a way that was aimed at somehow disproving the existence of God. The fact that I later became an atheist has no reflection on him at all.

  97. By the way, if high school biology class turned kids into atheists, then wouldn’t atheists make up considerably more than ten or so percent of the American population? I know a hell of a lot more than ten percent of Americans had to take high-school biology.

  98. does high school science class do that?

    That is the question. Everybody else has a hunch and a closed mind (esp that judge what wrote the 130-some pages). I have a hunch and an open mind. Which is the way to be here. I say let’s collect the evidence first and take a look after.

  99. What if the class causes no atheist conversions, but does cause 20% of the non-christians to switch to the Jesus team. Would that be a problem?

    You know, if you can find me examples of students who walk out of science class saying “Wow, that class was so awesome, it felt like I was in touch with a higher power!”, then as a scientist I’ll declare victory!

    If so, how did you get your 25% figure?

    Arbitrary cutoff. Every deal or wager requires one.

  100. Like I said yesterday, we live in a plebiscite theocracy and this ruling, although absolutely unquestionably correct, will not stand. The 3d Circuit will reverse it, on the merits, with or without Alito.

  101. Kids shouldn’t make kids believe that evolution disproved God because that is unConstitutional in a public school.

    Absolutely true. Evolution in particular, and science in general do not disprove God. I would also hope that kids don’t come away feeling evolution or any other science disproves, in the words of Mr. Average, that fairies are responsible for the ups and down of the stock market, mermaids cause the ships and planes to disappear in the Bermuda Triangle . . . and space aliens are controlling the mind of Pres. Bush.

    Since all these ideas, from God to alien mind control, are equally uncontaminated by evidence, nobody should misunderstand that science cannot speak to their existence or lack thereof. How about that as a disclaimer?

  102. Everybody else has a hunch and a closed mind (esp that judge what wrote the 130-some pages). I have a hunch and an open mind.

    Tell me, Mr Open Mind, how many of those pages did you actually read before you decided the judge was closed-minded?

  103. By the way, if high school biology class turned kids into atheists, then wouldn’t atheists make up considerably more than ten or so percent of the American population? I know a hell of a lot more than ten percent of Americans had to take high-school biology.

    same question 4 U as for T., J. (not Julian):

    if a public school is changing kids into Christians, what proportion numbers would you look for before you saw a Constitutional problem?

  104. if a public school is changing kids into Christians, what proportion numbers would you look for before you saw a Constitutional problem?

    What matters isn’t proportion, but methods. If public schools taught kids to believe in Christianity, or any religion, then it’s a Constitutional problem even if nobody converts. But if kids are turning Christian because, I dunno, maybe they were impressed by the history of Christendom in history class, or by the religious works in Medieval Literature class, or the pretty paintings of the saints in art class, then it’s not a Constitutional issue.

  105. Dave W.:

    I give up, not because you have convinced me you are right, but because you have convinced me you are full of shit.

    Everyone else:

    Never try to educate a fool. It wastes your time and will only annoy the fool.

    real intelligent design evidence

  106. I need to either stop arguing with Dave W. or tell a corn syrup joke.

  107. Again, the question of numbers is a pointless one. The issue is what is actually being taught. People, including kids, are necessarily going to draw their own conclusions from that.

  108. “Douglas Adams said it first. The universe resulted from a sneeze by the Great Green Arkleseizure. Live in fear of the coming of the Great White Hankerchief.”

    Ha ha! Well, didn’t Ringo once say he spent a whole evening writing a song that had already been written? Me and Ringo. Oh well, we tried.

  109. Total of about 2, I think. here is the part that convinced me that this judge has some serious prejudice problems:

    Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an
    activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court.
    Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction
    on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a
    constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an
    imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the
    Board?s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which
    has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers
    of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal
    maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

  110. Again, the question of numbers is a pointless one.

    You’re taking my wager just a bit too seriously.

  111. Total of about 2, I think. here is the part that convinced me that this judge has some serious prejudice problems:

    Well, sure, if you only read the Cliff Notes you might miss the point of the book.

    I thought you were a lawyer.

    A) There was a precedent that creationism could not be taught in science class
    B) ID was very poorly disguised creationism, which was made abundantly clear through the trial

    An “activist judge” may have ignored precedent, but this one did not, and had to conclude that creationism cannot be taught in science class. And you call that closed-minded?!?

  112. Dave W.–I didn’t see what was so prejudicial in that bit you quoted from the judge. You think the judge is prejudiced for calling the pro-ID faction “ill-informed”? Did you actually read the pro-ID testimony? What would you have called it?

  113. biologist-

    You’re right.

    Here’s my final assessment of the debate in this thread:

    http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/warriorshtm/ferouscranus.htm

  114. IMHO, calling inanity, inanity, is not evidence of a closed mind.

  115. I can see an entire nation full of 8th-grade science teachers rolling their eyes when they conduct their mandatory, but in practice perfunctory, discussion of “intelligent design” with a wink and a nod before moving on to actual science lectures.

    I’m an atheist, but I’ve maintained a long fascination with religion and find the ID crap (and all forms of biblical literalism) so removed from Christianity as to be laughable. The Bible is, essentially, one long string of metaphors and fables written to set out moral teachings.

    Even assuming that the Bible is the literal word of God, one must remember that he was delivering it to ancient Jews in a way they could understand. Their culture (like most ancient cultures) used metaphors as “concept-movers.” In other words, they didn’t really give a fuck whether God ACTUALLY created the world in six days or seven or whether Jonah was ACTUALLY swallowed by a whale and survived. It was acceptable in their culture to tell ‘tall tales’ as history in order to make a point. And one would have to think that God would have used such a method to get his point across to the Israelites.

    As such, Falwell & other biblical literalists are just basically full of crap, even from the Christian viewpoint. Their minds are so small and rigid that they can’t seem to get beyond their literalism to focus on the ‘moral of the story’, as it were.

  116. Getting a little frustrating in here, I need to go mainline some corn syrup to dull the pain. Anybody have a spoon, a lighter, and a syringe I can borrow? I left my rig at home.

  117. What matters isn’t proportion, but methods.

    No, what matters is whether state actions are promoting religion (or lack thereof, which is also classified as a religion, Constitutionally). We may have to go into people’s methods as a surrogate because it is difficult to poll all the kids accurately. When I read the snippet of the decision quoted at top, I had hope that the judge was doing a realistic determination of people’s motivations.* Now after reading more of the decision, it looks like the judge did a prejudicial examination of people’s motivations.

    However, looking at people’s motivations remains merely a surrogate, a way of showing a Constitutional violation when more direct evidence is hard to obtain. So, the next plaintiffs oughtta get some direct evidence, do a poll, collect anecdotes, etc., etc. Then their motivations won’t matter — the bottom line will: is science class making converts?

    whatever practical approach the Lemon test takes, and I don’t know the details of it, the Constitution provides for the type of bottom line accountability that I am describing. In fact, if science really did disprove religion, it would be unConstitutional to teach science in schools until the Constitution got fixed by an appropriate amendment.

    FOOTNOTE:
    * I did comment that this motivations stuf seemed like it should be a jury issue and I am still puzzled about that.

  118. thoreau: good stuff

    Dave W.: it’s hardly prejudicial. let’s think for a minute: prejudicial means judging before ascertaining the facts of the situation. since the judge was judging after the trial was over and both sides had presented their evidence, by definition it’s not prejudicial. it was a judgement, which is the function and duty of judges.

    now I’ll stop

  119. How can people believe in something as stupid as ID? It’s because the costs of believing in ID are so low, that people can hold the belief without much consequence.

  120. Jennifer,
    Sure the fundies are asshats. You are correct that letting them marinate their kids in the ‘one book philosophy’ they clutch so desperately will result in a new generation of asshats. That’s what freedom is all about baby, living with asshats. The alternative to letting them do it to their own kids is letting them to it to your kids too. (Yes I KNOW you are a card caring member of the barren club but try to work with me here)

    You are wrong that this will result in a catastrophic strategic vulnerability. Just as wrong as those who say granting marital status to a couple with other than one, and only one, penis will result in the same. What ever the shortcomings of allowing parents to raise their children, the market will correct them. Perhaps we’ll decide to import those Asian mathamagicians, and once they breathe the free air they’ll go native.

    I will draw the line at child abuse. Under extreme circumstances, I do recognize the sates authority to intercede between parent and child. But only in extreme cases, where the child’s physical health is in jeopardy. And even then only if it can show that the child will be safer under its watch, and with ongoing oversight. However, subjecting your kid to the same whacky notions that keep you from having to think for yourself, does not cross the line. (You’d be surprised at how many kids start to think for themselves anyway)

    It occurs to me that you’re just yanking our chain with your “I know what’s best. I should set the curriculum for every child’s education in America. If so I apologize for being so slow.

    Joyous Solstice Everyone

  121. …(or lack thereof, which is also classified as a religion, Constitutionally)

    It is? Was there a Supreme Court decision I missed or something? I’m genuinely interested in this. If lack of a religion is classified of a religion by law, we really do have some fucked up minds running this country.

  122. IMHO, calling inanity, inanity, is not evidence of a closed mind.

    No, it is contextual. I like namecalling. I do it all the time in everyday conversation. However, it is way inappropriate in a judicial opinion (or a scientific paper, or a patent, or an editorial, ICGO).

    I can tell you that I would feel the exact same way (ie, bad opinion) if the judge had found for the Board and called Kitzmiller the same nasty names. So there’s some prety good bona fides on that.

  123. (or lack thereof, which is also classified as a religion, Constitutionally)

    Try telling that to Scalia

  124. I’m so high [on corn syrup] I don’t even know what’s going on.

  125. No, it is contextual. I like namecalling. I do it all the time in everyday conversation. However, it is way inappropriate in a judicial opinion (or a scientific paper, or a patent, or an editorial, ICGO).

    This sort of thing appears in judicial decisions all the time.

  126. what matters is whether state actions are promoting religion (or lack thereof, which is also classified as a religion, Constitutionally

    What are you talking about? Being non-religious is Constitutionally classified as a religion? Which amendment says that?

    In fact, if science really did disprove religion, it would be unConstitutional to teach science in schools until the Constitution got fixed by an appropriate amendment.

    Again, what are you talking about? By your logic, it is unconstitutional for geography teachers to tell kids “Atop Mount Olympus there is nothing but rock, ice and snow,” because that disporves the religious belief that Zeus lives there.

    If your faith can’t stand up to science the problem lies with your faith, not the science.

  127. Mr. Nice Guy’s “10 Suggestions” are cool, but he should learn the difference between THOU and THY. (Please forgive this former teacher.)

  128. Dave W,
    via dictionary.com:

    in?ane
    adj. in?an?er, in?an?est
    One that lacks sense or substance: interrupting with inane comments; angry with my inane roommate.

    [Latin in nis, empty, lacking sense.]

    It’s not name calling. It is the germane quality of ID.

  129. In fact, if science really did disprove religion, it would be unConstitutional to teach science in schools until the Constitution got fixed by an appropriate amendment.

    I didn’t even catch that part of your post, Dave. I’m convinced you’re just so caught up in this “atheism is a religion” business you assume your error is repeated by law.

    Let me ask you, do you think science is a religion? If not, shouldn’t all scientific ideas be allowed to be taught? And if so, shouldn’t science education be banned from public schools?

  130. Bah. Douglas Adams and the Great Sneeze. He merely parodied the asking of the meaning of it all and then created an arbitrary, unexpected story for life on earth. Hackery.

    The Steady State Lack of Design Theory combines the most important notions in scientific debate for the New Fundie Age.

    ID states that (1) Given that we cannot figure out how life was created based on natural processes with emergent properties; (2) given that we know that an intelligent designer could create life; (3) given that we can catagorize examples of those things that cannot be explained (lens based eye sight,ATP,etc); then those things that cannot be explained must have been created by intelligent design.

    Just because they fail to present a physical/computational model demonstrating that natural processes are insufficently powerful to create life with sufficint probability doesn’t mean they are invalidated. It merely means that they have further work to do.

    Clearly, there are only 1 out of the 3 steps in the core scientific process that are missing from ID. That’s only 1/3 faith! If 1/3 faith isn’t good enough for America, then America can go to Hell.

    Why did evolutonists have to go and demonstrate the possiblity of testable Natural Selection. They should have stopped at 2/3’s of the process and said God did it. That would have been cool.

    Meanwhle, my SSLD theory includes knowledge that God Created Man in His Image. This is a metaphysical, faith based given assumption. That means that SSID is 2/3s faith based science. Awesome!

    Furthermore, a logical approach would suggest that, as we are made in the image of God, we cannot conclude that God could not understand the creaton of life–and therefore create it–as we are but a subset of God. But if we reverse this logical implication, SSID is sound. This reversal of this logic is a form of mysticism.

    So let us review the theories briefly:

    Evolution:
    3/3’s scientific
    No Faith-Based Component
    Boring. Should have left out supporting mechanisms.

    ID:
    2/3’s scientific
    One element of testing hypothesis missing.
    1/3 faith!
    Fun!

    SSLD:
    1/3 Scientific
    1/3 Faith
    1/3 Mysticism
    Gnostilicious!

    And on the Seventh Day I Rest My Case.

    Remember all:
    (1) We can’t figure out how life works
    (2) God created man in his image

  131. Mr. Nice Guy’s “10 Suggestions” are cool

    I agree, and I am already at work on a large stone monument dedicated to them. Once complete, I shall place it in a nearby courthouse under cover of night.

  132. zach: science doesn’t disprove religion, only certain religious beliefs that are subject to falsification, such as the age of the earth. that doesn’t disprove the existence of gods, etc. Dave W. is just so caught up in his religious faith that he is blinded by the shining goodness of God/ FSM.

    as far as I can tell, the only way in which atheism is subject to the religious aspects of the constitution is that freedom of religion by definition prevents coerced belief in any religion, just as freedom of speech and association means we are free from being compelled to speak and being compelled to certain associations.

  133. Where’s Hakluyt when someone really needs verbal evisceration?

  134. Most evolutionists aren?t anti-religion, but there are a few high publicity evolutionists who make a career out of attacking religion.

    We don?t need a disclaimer about the limits of science during the evolution lesson, but we should have one at the start of the year when teachers teach the scientific method. Activists in many fields (ie. smoking bans, environmentalism, urban planning) end debate by say science proves them right. Kids need to know that science just proves A causes B and C causes D. It can?t prove that B is better or worse than D.

  135. Jtuf: maybe after they’re done getting that through people’s skulls they can say the same thing about economics. If you do X, Y will happen doesn’t speak to whether or not you should do X.

  136. You are correct that letting them marinate their kids in the ‘one book philosophy’ they clutch so desperately will result in a new generation of asshats. That’s what freedom is all about baby, living with asshats. The alternative to letting them do it to their own kids is letting them to it to your kids too.

    That’s one way of viewing it; I view it as protecting the rights of the child against a bad parent.

    Hypothetically, Warren, what would be your opinion of a religious family that refused to let its girl-children learn to read and write? Do you think the government should step in, or is the parent’s right to keep the girls in ignorance more important than the girls’ right to get the most basic of skills necessary to survive in our society?

  137. Again, what are you talking about? By your logic, it is unconstitutional for geography teachers to tell kids “Atop Mount Olympus there is nothing but rock, ice and snow,” because that disporves the religious belief that Zeus lives there.

    If the kids went into class believing that Zeus did live there, in the material sense, then, yeah, debunking that would be unConstitutional. Of course the law never reaches this absurdity because not enuf kids believe in Zeus.

  138. It helps if they have some background [in biology] to understand what the doctor is saying, and understand articles or news reports on medical issues.

    So they can make healthy decisions, stay alive longer and sap Social Security and Medicare to age 120 instead of 75. I’m just being a smart-ass, but I have to admit this thought entered my head when I was reading the human biotech article in the most recent print issue. Talk about a housing bubble.

    In all seriousness, that’s the aspect that frightens me, almost as much as my kid being tested on some holy roller’s makebelieve version of the universe. As we wallow in such a stupid and moronic debate, we’re forgetting that PhD graduates of our best science academies are going home to China, India, Korea, and strengthening their universities so they are rising to a par on ours, while their MS students are directing corporate research… And military power–and therefore security–depends on having the best technology of the day.

    Fascinating… tying the instruction of Intelligent Design to national security.

    Does anyone know if there are attempts to get ID into non-science courses? I never understood why the so-cons don’t dis the science route and try to get it included in some “cultural history” course.

  139. If the kids went into class believing that Zeus did live there, in the material sense, then, yeah, debunking that would be unConstitutional. Of course the law never reaches this absurdity because not enuf kids believe in Zeus.

    How did you arrive at this conclusion? Where does the Constitution say “People have the right to never be exposed to anything which might weaken their religious faith”?

    By the way, the Bible says that “pi” is 3. Is it unconstitutional for math teachers to say otherwise? The Bible says the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it. Is it unconstitutional for geography or astronomy tteachers to say otherwise?

  140. What are you talking about? Being non-religious is Constitutionally classified as a religion? Which amendment says that?

    http://www.camlaw.rutgers.edu/publications/law-religion/new_devs/Kaufman.pdf

  141. In brief, science deals only with things that can be explained through natural processes. It does not and cannot deal with things that are in the realm of the supernatural. ID by definition depends upon the supernatural for its explanation. Therefore it is NOT science.

    I want to agree, I really do. I think ID is a crock and most of its proponents are trying to mask religion as science. My comments from the end of yesterday’s thread on ID:

    “It seems to me, though, that a stripped-down ID hypothesis (minus the obvious attempts to make Genesis into science and other theological and supernatural aspects)such as “biological species were designed by some conscious mind(s), at least in part” is obviously scientific. Plants and animals are, among other things, physical objects, and so one can imagine a world in which they were constructed in some way according to a conscious plan. An archeologist who contends that some find is an artifact is obviously making a scientific claim. So, all else being equal, it would seem that the claim that animals were designed is on its face scientific.

    I am not making Paley’s Watch argument here; Hume dispensed with that sophistry quite well. The analogy between obvious human artifacts and biological species breaks down in a number of important places, but that just shows that ID is a really poor scientific hypothesis, not that it is not science at all. In fact, it seems quite common for people to argue against ID by pointing out how much evidence there is against it–but if there is evidence against it, doesn’t that qualify it as scientific?

    I am just trying these ideas on for size. Rip away.”

  142. How did you arrive at this conclusion? Where does the Constitution say “People have the right to never be exposed to anything which might weaken their religious faith”?

    That part is called the Establishment Clause. To be kept mentally distinct from Free Excercise aspects of religion. People don’t have the right not to be exposed, but they do have the right to keep the government out of the picture. As many have pointed out, none of this would be a problem if we did away with public schools (for better or worse).

  143. I think Rev. Falwell is upset at the overwhelming scientific evidence that he is descended from apes.

    But to be fair, how does he think the apes feel?

  144. Smacky,

    Yes! That’s the beast I was thinking of. Those creatures just blow my mind. That’s a mammal! It makes an armadillo look like a pile of puke.

  145. We did not have sexual relations with Jerry Falwell’s ancestors!

  146. By the way, the Bible says that “pi” is 3. Is it unconstitutional for math teachers to say otherwise? The Bible says the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it. Is it unconstitutional for geography or astronomy tteachers to say otherwise?

    I am not sure it helps to keep reformulating your Zeus hypothetical. These hypotheticals are easier because it is pretty easy to see that refining the value of pi is not much of an intellectual challenge to Christianity. If some religion rewrote the bible so that they *ONLY* kept the part about the pi and the astronomy, then we would be back to your Zeus example.

  147. but if there is evidence against it, doesn’t that qualify it as scientific?

    Yes, I suppose that would make it scientific, but at the same time you would have to discard that “scientific” hypothesis, because of that same evidence.

  148. Why couldn’t Peter Gabriel come back? Lousy Phil Collins…

  149. You know what really isn’t being taught in high schools?

    An authentic field on which teenagers could bring personal experiences to bear?

    How about the psychology/sociology/economics of scientific communities on the one hand, and fixed-belief communities on the other? The dynamics of Kuhnian paradigm shifts in science versus the dynamics of successful heretical revolutions in religion? Seems like this is the kind of reasonable set of generalizations that should be high priority for any substantive introduction to “social studies”.

  150. These hypotheticals are easier because it is pretty easy to see that refining the value of pi is not much of an intellectual challenge to Christianity.

    Evolution doesn’t present an intellectual challenge to Christianity, either; how does evolution contradict the notion “Jesus is the son of god, who died for humanity’s sins and rose from the dead a day and a half later”?

  151. Wait, pi isn’t equal to 3?

    That would explain why all of my calculations have been off by about 4.5%

  152. Jennifer,

    The logical analysis of that statement for IDiots could be the following:

    1. Jesus was man
    2. Man was made in God’s image
    3. Jesus is the Son of God
    4. Neither Jesus nor God were descended from apes

    Therefore, man is not descended from apes.

    Of course, it requires a leap of faith to accept these “facts,” but there you go.

  153. I’ve rechecked my data, and I’ve decided that I am now an atheist.

    Theists are all stupid idiots and a threat to liberty. The one thing I can’t figure out is how those damn theists have weapons to oppress us atheists with: They should be miscalculating the bullet diameters by 4.5%.

    OK, my fellow atheists, fess up: Who made the guns for the theists? Come on, let’s hear it. Who’s responsible for this?

  154. Warren, what would be your opinion of a religious family that refused to let its girl-children learn to read and write?

    I think it would be tragic. I pray to Zog that we never sink so low. I share your horror and disgust of such a thing. However, I am more afraid of stepping in and saying “You can not be allowed to do that. It is reprehensible and immoral, therefore I have the just cause to strip you of your parental rights” for I am sure that when I wake tomorrow there will be another saying “You have not taught your child the Lord’s Prayer. That is reprehensible?”

    There are better ways of thwarting a parent’s determination of keeping his child ignorant. Not the least of which is exposing the shameful practice. Subversive education may be another possibility. But let me be clear, while I do think that market forces should be relied on to combat this sort of nonsense, I do not pretend that they will foil it in every case. And when it does occur, it is every bit as maddeningly horrific as you suppose. However, I think the alternative will result in something at best, equally bad, and at worst, well the word Inquisition comes to mind.

    The Constitution draws some lines that describe under what circumstances the state may deprive one of its citizens of their liberty. I’m big on those lines. Children are much more problematic for me. I think that bestowing full rights of citizenship (as I’ve heard some libertarians suggest) is madness. So I accept that they are not free, and not being free individuals unto themselves I am inclined to find their rights in the hands of their parents. Along with those rights, comes responsibility and accountability. It will not do to say you must accept the consequences of your choices when you chose for another. But when do someone’s choices merit the breach of their rights. I have no constitutional lines to help me. I have concluded that so long as a child is disease free, well fed, and sleeps through the night, the parent’s rights should be inviolate.

  155. *raises hand*

  156. Who made the guns for the theists?

    Ok, I admit I may have made some, but don’t worry, they’ll have problems since the guns go off when you just bump them.

  157. I have concluded that so long as a child is disease free, well fed, and sleeps through the night, the parent’s rights should be inviolate.

    But parents have to do more than just that; they also have to prepare their kids for adulthood.

    How about a compromise: parents have the right to keep their girls illiterate, if they so choose, but adults have the right to sue their parents for proven harms, like “I am incapable of getting a job because nobody wants to hire an illiterate and my parents refused to let me learn to read”?

  158. Who made the guns for the theists?

    I made a few, but they all fire backwards.

  159. SPD summarizes: “Jesus is the Son of God. . . Neither Jesus nor God were descended from apes. . . . Therefore, man is not descended from apes.”

    Months ago somebody on another thread (probably John) declared, “I am not an ape! I am a man!”

    What I want to know is: What do these people have against apes? I like apes. (Though I admit in addition to being passionate, compassionate and super-smart, they can be astoundingly cruel. Oh, wait. . . .)

    Perhaps what they really mean is, “I am not a man! I am an angel!” Apes are real, see. We are magic.

  160. you would have to discard that “scientific” hypothesis, because of that same evidence.

    Absolutely.

  161. Evolution doesn’t present an intellectual challenge to Christianity, either

    see Dave W.’s post above on (presumably permissible) “teaching evolution as science” versus (presumably impermissible) “teaching evolution as religion” post. The evolution-as-religion soundbite is an evocative, illustrative, exemplary (BUT NOT EXCLUSIVE) example of how evolution could be taught in a way that challenges Christianity. That might not be how you or I would teach biology, but ya gotta remember, there are some Akiras out there in the big bad world who would given the chance.

  162. But parents have to do more than just that; they also have to prepare their kids for adulthood.

    That is an excellent definition of what parenthood is. I will stand by you when you fight to correct those that attempted it and failed. But I am afraid to give such power to the state. Your suggestion of allowing adult children to sue their parents is novel. As my father use to say “you can sue anyone you want”. If I were on the jury I think I might vote to give the plaintiff say the equivalent to four years tuition at state school (I don’t pretend that would make the whole). I worry that next week a child will sue their parents for raising them in a house with thick foreign accents. “I canna gets a gooda jobb, cuase I sound like my pops”

  163. Does anyone know if there was any civil protest about this? Did any parents/homeowners threaten to not pay property tax to a city that codified ignorance?

  164. I worry that next week a child will sue their parents for raising them in a house with thick foreign accents. “I canna gets a gooda jobb, cuase I sound like my pops”

    That’s quite different from a parent deliberately withholding an education.

    Months ago somebody on another thread (probably John) declared, “I am not an ape! I am a man!”

    I don’t know if it’s the same guy, but I remember someone here once protested that he wasn’t a primate. I think I was distracted by productive activity that night, which is a shame; three more posts and I probably could’ve got him to deny he was even a mammal.

  165. When I substitute 3 for pi, my percent error is 4.507034144869 …

  166. Jennifer-

    Somebody who’s that easy to manipulate would probably even deny being a vertebrate.

  167. I, for one, look forward to the day when ID becomes the standard so I can present my alternative theory of SD–Stoned Designer.

    I have to reject ID and SD in favor of AD&D Theory.

    I mean, look at what life is: Unknowns to explore. Puzzles to solve. Risks, danger, conflicts and the constant threat of death. And most people take it too seriously. Only pizza, beer and Monty Python quotes can make it bearable.

    It’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. AD&D. We may think God is laughing at us behind His dungeonmaster’s reference screen and throwing orcs at us just to be cruel, but really He just wants us to have fun and think He’s cool.

  168. Stevo, that cracked me up.

    Does this mean that He created the entire universe in His mother’s basement?

  169. Stevo,

    I believe it was Einstein who once said, “I refuse to believe that God plays 20-sided dice with the universe.”

  170. Steveo: You need to upgrade your outlook to 3.5 Edition. Never compute THAC0 again!

  171. I prefer the oscillating theory for the origin of the universe. First, there is D&D. Then that universe is replace consecutively by AD&D 1 and AD&D 2. Finally, the cycle completes itself with the reappearance of a streamlined D&D.

  172. You forgot the part where the universe is acquired by Wizards of the Coast.

  173. The sad thing is, gentlemen, is that the AD&D school of thought is just as “scientific” and well-thought out as the ID spew.

    Man, some of the comments here were so fucking depressing.

  174. Stevo,
    HA!
    Well spoke Oh dark one

  175. What I want to know is: What do these people have against apes?

    They shot me in the throat! Dodge was killed in the hunt. As for Landon — they cut up his brain, the bloody baboons! (I know, baboons are not apes. I was not speaking literally. It was orangutans, really.)

    Even the kindly chimpanzee scientists who helped me were rather condescending about it.

  176. “OK, now a more serious question:
    Can the ID crowd give us some criterion for when a researcher can throw his hands in the air and say “That’s it! This can only be explained by a miracle!”?
    Will this criterion be accepted in peer review?”

    Thoreau:

    I’m not a scientist. But its my (limited?) understanding that a theory becomes a fact when the repeated experiment produces consistent results. I also (think I) understand that quite a bit of science is based on cause and effect.

    Now, please don’t misconstrue; I’m not pushing a creationist agenda. But, 1) evolution cannot be “repeated” with consistent results. I know thats somewhat loaded, but can you explain the folly of my thinking in a way even my simple mind can understand. And 2) Cause and effect brings to my mind the chicken and the egg question. I’ve heard evolutionists take the origination of life all the way back to the big bang, but what existed before that? And what brought “it” about?

    I’ve posted this same quandry here before and have yet to be answered (probably because I wait until people are tired with the thread. But I don’t see evolution as asnwering the fundamental question of “where did things start?” I don’t dispute that has has occured and continues to do so. I just find it inadequate to address origination. Along that vein, can’t “ID” (or whatever other hokey name you have for it) coincide with Evolution?

  177. For this post, let’s stipulate that teaching evolution doesn’t increase the incidence of atheism. Does teaching of anything factual or logical increase the incidence of atheism?

    Are there any facts that if taught by an authority figure might increase the incidence of atheism? I could give concrete examples of facts and lines of reasoning that I think are likely to increase the incidence of atheism, but for discussion purposes, I’d like to stay hypothetical.

    Imagine a set of facts F that there is compelling statistical evidence that shows that teaching F will increase the incidence of atheism by X%. Is there any value of X, for which the combination of the 1st and 14th amendment prohibit a “state school” from teaching F?

    e.g. if teaching F raises the incidence of atheism by 0.5%, then a school of four hundred would cause two people-on average-a year to lose their faith. Does that mean those two people have had the free exercise of their religion prohibited?

    Is there any value of X, for which the combination of the 1st and 14th would require a “state school” to teach F? If X were 99% could one argue that not teaching F was a de-facto establishment of a religion, since when F is properly taught, people abandon God?

    If we move from God vs. no God to a hypothetical specific belief that the teaching of F affects, does that change things? If that particular belief were popular (>30% of the population believing it), would that matter? If that particular were rare, but sincerely held by 0.01% of the population, would that matter?

  178. Cap’n,

    First: Yarrgghhh, matey. (Sorry, I was compelled to write that.)

    The issue with evolution being repeated is that the conditions need to be exact to produce the same results each time. Unless this happens, the end product most likely will not be the same. This taken on its own cannot disprove that the original evolutionary process took place to begin with.

    The conflict I see with ID and evolution is that evolution implies that creatures had to evolve from imperfection within a given set of environmental parameters towards a better mode of adaptation.

    The proponents of ID are, in the majority at least, believers in a God who is both omnipotent and infallible. Could a deity capable of making no mistakes create a being that had to evolve from its original state in order to survive? Would that not contradict their own belief system at its most elementary level?

  179. God has no place in public school! Just like facts have no place within organized religion.

  180. Did any parents/homeowners threaten to not pay property tax to a city that codified ignorance?

    I’ve not heard of any… although I’ve “considered” holding my taxes back in my town because it has codified idiocy. I almost have an accident everytime I drive by one of these hideously ugly works of “government-sponsored, civic art.”

    The Dumbest Government Program Ever

    BTW, I happened to be driving through Mr. Falwell’s town of Lynchburg yesterday and forgot his university is humorously named “Liberty University.”

    [And, for anyone who occasionally drives through Lynchburg, they just finished a nice little bypass so you don’t have to lay a single glance on the town and its stoplights. But, you do now have to look at the Liberty campus.]

  181. “It seems to me, though, that a stripped-down ID hypothesis (minus the obvious attempts to make Genesis into science and other theological and supernatural aspects)such as “biological species were designed by some conscious mind(s), at least in part” is obviously scientific. Plants and animals are, among other things, physical objects, and so one can imagine a world in which they were constructed in some way according to a conscious plan. An archeologist who contends that some find is an artifact is obviously making a scientific claim. So, all else being equal, it would seem that the claim that animals were designed is on its face scientific.

    I am not making Paley’s Watch argument here; Hume dispensed with that sophistry quite well. The analogy between obvious human artifacts and biological species breaks down in a number of important places, but that just shows that ID is a really poor scientific hypothesis, not that it is not science at all. In fact, it seems quite common for people to argue against ID by pointing out how much evidence there is against it–but if there is evidence against it, doesn’t that qualify it as scientific?

    I am just trying these ideas on for size. Rip away.”

    OK, you said “rip away”, so here goes:

    Ethan, you ignorant twit… Just kidding, however you obviously do not understand “science”. The scientific process starts with an hypothesis and tests that hypothesis for validity. A “scientist” might publish a paper detailing his hypothesis and the experimental work on that hypothesis. If the hypothesis turns out to be wrong, that might be interesting and worthy of a paper just to document that, “here was an inviting hypothesis that turned out not to be correct”. If the hypothesis turns out to be correct then it is even more likely that a paper is justified, and if you string together enough experiments and hypotheses you might come up with a “theory” that synthesizes a lot of thinking into an explanation of nature. ID is not science because it has never been subjected to the scientific process. ID is simply religion phrased in a way to mislead ignorant twits, which gets us back to you. Just kidding again, of course.

    Because ID is just a wild assed guess, with obvious religious underpinnings it has no place in a science class room. Comparative religions, Modern Mythologies, The study of dirty political manuevering: perhaps in one of these classes, but not science. But, of course, if ID is taught in the appropriate setting it will be obvious to all that it is simply a sham pieced together to thwart the US’ constitutional restrictions against a state sponsored religion.

  182. Penn Jillette said it: Everyone should read the bible cover-to-cover, because we need more atheists and nothing will get you there faster.

  183. SPD: Thanks for effort. A few follow-up questions if you don’t mind.

    Given that exact conditions cannot be duplicated, can evolution still be called a fact? Remember, I don’t claim that lack of repeatability falsifies evolution, I only wonder if their absence is cause to assume fact.

    Secondly, why does evolution imply perfection or imperfection? I’ve always thought of it as modification (sometimes to a more survivable form, othertimes to one less so) with natural selection being the final arbiter.

    Third, I realize that most proponents of ID are…shall we say…off thier rockers? And though I wouldn’t count myself in thier camp, I do reserve the right to question a scientific theory which hasn’t been “proven.” And I also like to keep my mind open enough to account for the possibility that we don’t know everything yet…such as, for example, where’d we come from?

    Related to which, you never answered my question about how science deals with the questions of the chicken and the egg.

    Finally, I certainly don’t think that ID should be taught in science classes. Frankly, I don’t think kids should be going to idiot factories in the first place. But it does seem odd to me that so many here approve of teaching a fact in science class all the while, not understanding it sufficiently enough to explain its origens.

  184. I do reserve the right to question a scientific theory which hasn’t been “proven.”

    Questioning everything is great. But a couple questions: Can you name any scientific theory that has been proven? And, do you demand as much (well, let’s be honest here, how about any) evidence when someone makes a religious claim?

    The point I’m making is that I think you misunderstand the scientific process. There is massive, abundant evidence of evolution and it is all consistent with the basic theory. That cannot be said for any other “alternative.”

    Given that exact conditions cannot be duplicated, can evolution still be called a fact?

    Again, this misses what science is – it is a process that attempts to explainin the world we observe in a logical and consistent manner. Facts are observations that either are consistent with a theory or are inconsistent with a theory. The theory itself is not a “fact.” If you find a fossil of a T. Rex bone in the same age of rocks that contain human fossilized remains, this would be a “fact” and it would be inconsistent with the theory of evolution. However, no such fact has ever been unearthed, and to the contrary, all such evidence ever discovered has so far been consistent with the theory.

  185. Cap,n:

    Darwin’s “Origin of Species” does not offer an explanation of the origin of life, it just lays out the mechanism of how life differentiates into various species. According to Darwin, life might have originated in the Garden of Eden, or it might have sprung up spontaneously, or maybe Merlin the magician started the whole thing.

    Who said evolution implies perfection?

    No scientific theory is ever “proven”, they are all open to improvement. A theory never becomes a “fact”. Have you ever heard of the “Fact of Evolution”, or the “Fact of Gravitation”? Me neither. But just because a scientific theory is not a “fact” does not reduce it to religion. This criticism of science (it’s just a theory) by religionists is just a red herring and is unworthy of debate.

    The mechanism of evolution is simple and compelling and has been tested in the laboratory. This is a very sound scientific theory. The origin of life is a matter of speculation.

  186. This is why government should not be part of provisioning eduction. At most govt should provide a subsidy for the poor who wish to get educated. But actually providing the education itself is a horrible idea.

    nmg

  187. Cap’n,

    The theory of evolution is not intended, nor was it ever intended to explain the origin of life. This is a common misconception among many people, even more ‘educated’ people I have had this discussion with. I believe this proly has its origins by Darwins choice of title ‘The origin of species’, and the misbelief that the book attempted to explain where life came from. Thats not the case, evolution only serves the purpose to predict a possible pattern of change on an organisim based on external forces. Which it does remarkably well. I dont believe evolutionary scientists activly attempt to use evolution as a means of predicting, or explaining how life itself came about, at least not anything I have ever read.

  188. Brian & Wayne:

    Thanks for the clarification of “facts” and “proof.” And no, I’ve not heard of the “fact of gravitation.” Though I have heard of the “Law of Gravity” as well as the “Law of Thermodynamics.” It would be truly interesting if evolution were understood to a degree that it could be taught along those other building blocks of science, and perhaps that is what’s going on in genetics classrooms. As I said earlier, I don’t portend to push religiosity on anyone, nor do I find ID a compelling aleternative thesis to evolution in answer to the question of why things are the way they are.

    My main question concerns the origen of life. And while I don’t expect that ID satisfies this question in the mind of athiests, neither does evolution satisfy this question in the mind of thiests. My point is not that one is right and the other is wrong, but to point out how fucking retarded this debate gets when both sides talk past eachother (and becuase H&R is populated with more athiests than thier corresponding percentage of the general population would imply, its obvious why the ID crowd gets such a shelacking here). The origen of life is currently unknown and that teaching it either this way or that remains part of the state curriculum stupifies me.

    Is this really something new under the sun? Or have I totally missed something?

  189. Kanabiis –

    That sounds reasonable. Why then the debate? I’ve yet to hear a bible-pounder object to evolution as a matter of fact. What it seems they reject is that it be taught in an attempt to vanquish God and His role in the origen of life.

  190. It would be truly interesting if evolution were understood to a degree that it could be taught along those other building blocks of science, and perhaps that is what’s going on in genetics classrooms.

    The laws of thermodynamics and gravity are mathematical formulas. The law of gravity is actually incorrect and needs to be fine-tuned to match quantum mechanics and relativity. This what the Theory of Everything would do. Evolution will never be understood on this level because it doesn’t describe single instant controllable events. There’s more to that, but that’s the general idea.

  191. “My main question concerns the origen of life. And while I don’t expect that ID satisfies this question in the mind of athiests, neither does evolution satisfy this question in the mind of thiests.”

    Cap’n,
    The theory of evolution does not address the question of the origin of life. So, if that is your objection to it, then you don’t understand what it is about, and you really have no objection.

    Now, I will admit that there are some interesting speculations about “primordial soup”, and “comets carrying the fundamental building blocks of life”, and so on. Once life is here, then evolution takes over the process of speciation. Apparently these speculations are also reasonable to the theists, hence they rant and rave about evolution because they have no counter arguments and they are threatened. I guess my answer to them is, tough shit, you need a better guess than, “it’s just so fucking complicated it’s a miracle.

  192. (and becuase H&R is populated with more athiests than thier corresponding percentage of the general population would imply, its obvious why the ID crowd gets such a shelacking here

    I’m not an atheist. I take Einstein’s approach to science, “Science without religion is lame, religion
    without science is blind.”

  193. Cap’n

    Most scientists assume that the same processes that happened in the pass happen today. We can?t repeat the past to test that assumption, but it doesn?t matter, because we live and make decisions in the present not the past.

    There are experiments that prove microevolution (evolution that creates small changes but not new species) happens today. The case of the peppered moth is well documented, and there are other less famous examples.

    Macroevolution (the evolution of new species) is just a special case of microevolution that alters the reproductive system or reproductive behavior. Researchers selectively bred two lines of fruit flies from the same original stock. One line mated at warmer temperatures, while the other line preferred cooler temperatures. If the researchers kept the experiment going long enough, they would have had two separate species that couldn?t interbreed. In another experiment researchers started with a fruit fly species with males that produce toxic semen and females that are resistant to the toxin. They selectively bred the line so both the toxin level and the resistance went down. If they continued far enough, this new line wouldn?t be able to interbred successfully with the old line.

  194. Why then the debate? I’ve yet to hear a bible-pounder object to evolution as a matter of fact.

    Huh!? Again, I don’t mean to be rude, really, but if you haven’t heard the chorus of opposition to evolution from the religionists then I have to think you haven’t been paying attention; not only to them but to the arguments and discussion here. Granted, there are very few on this site who object to evolution, so if that is what you meant, I apologize for the confusion. But far too many mainstream religious people, not to mention the “bible-pounders” are advancing ID as an alternative to evolution. The issue here between science and the religionists centers on the question: Did humans (and all other life) naturally evolve from single-cell organisms, as evolution posits, or did some supernatural force (i.e. God for the ID proponents) design humans as well as the other species, as ID claims?

  195. Probably the reason there are more atheists posting is probably because most religions exhibit an authoritarian shackling of the mind and action (you will eat this! you will believe that! Thou shalt not…!). Generally, people interested in free minds don’t take kindly to the Mommy & Daddy “because I said so” argument. Strangely enough, we’d like a reason for why we should behave a certain way, not just marching orders.

  196. Going back to the ape business, I get the impression that people who object to evolution are not doing so merely because they mistakenly think it disproves God as the originator of life; but that they have some kind of allergy to the idea of the biological interrelatedness of all living things. “Was your grandfather a monkey? Was your grandmother a slime-mold?” etc. Weird. It is a little baffling since fundamentalists are the ones who harp on about the base, filthy nature of man (Original Sin, the Fall from Grace and all that) on the one hand and the “miracle of life” on the other (I guess the miracle does not apply to slime-molds or even monkeys). Personally, I find evolution to be elegant and to make a lot of common sense, and I do not feel diminished at being related to a jelly-fish. — Maybe what is frightening is the implication, they think, that man is not special — not over and above everything else (dominion over the Earth, etc.). But why? If we are ultimately descended from single-celled organisms, that makes us neither more nor less “special,” does it?

    Perhaps mankind frequently feels lonely and crappy, and believing that we are God’s Special Child is a consolation. A threat to that belief leaves us out there on our orb all alone, spinning into oblivion.

  197. Dave W.

    Thank you for putting words in my mouth… mother fucker.

  198. Now, correct me if I’m wrong (I’m no scientist), but I get annoyed when people say we “came from” chimps and things like that. Isn’t it more like we have a common ancestor? It would be like saying you came from your cousin. Seriously, though, as it’s been forever since I’ve been in a science class, isn’t that, basically, how it goes for humans? Common ancestors not direct descent?

  199. If it wasn’t clear, I think evolution is a brilliant theory…

  200. It’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. AD&D. We may think God is laughing at us behind His dungeonmaster’s reference screen and throwing orcs at us just to be cruel, but really He just wants us to have fun and think He’s cool.

    During the whole “role-playing games are a instrament of the devil” craze back in the early 80s, some fundie group circulated a pamphlet that stated that the most evil RPG was actually the sci-fi game Traveller because it “allowed players to create their own worlds, and only God has the power to do that.”

  201. some fundie group circulated a pamphlet that stated that the most evil RPG was actually the sci-fi game Traveller because it “allowed players to create their own worlds, and only God has the power to do that.”

    Hoo. Then you’d have to burn down every science fiction book there was. At the very least.

  202. It gets worse than that. I once went to a fundie “Hell House” for Halloween, and on a table of books that will get you sent to hell (Nietzsche, Porn, etc.) was a rulebook from D&D. These people are crazy, and I should know ’cause I used to be one.

  203. Correction: when I say porn, I mean, like, Maxim. I want to go as a fundie for Halloween next year.

  204. By the way, Tuesday’s Dilbert was slightly related to this topic.

  205. It’s kinda weird to think how fundie groups ever even learn about some of this stuff.

    I knew plenty of 36 hour, all weekend D&D players from high school dorm days, back in the early eighties, who had no idea what Traveller was. Traveller was like D&D for uber geeks…

    …Too geeky for geeks. …boy that’s a blast from the past.

  206. By the way, Tuesday’s Dilbert was slightly related to this topic.

    Scott Adams is (or was, I haven’t kept up with Dilbert in a while) funny when he sticks to the office politics and engineering project stuff he apparently knows something about. When he attempts to work his ignorance of evolution into his strips he just makes himself look like an idiot, which is unintentionally funny enough, I suppose.

  207. I just like the line, “Oh man, you’re giving me a serious pearl.”

  208. …Too geeky for geeks. …boy that’s a blast from the past.

    The main objections I’ve heard against Traveller was a) it’s too “hard” sci-fi in an audience that perfers Star Wars and Star Trek, b) combat was way too “realistic” (i.e. a single gunshot could kill your PC just like really life), c) your character could die in generation if you roll a mishap during the “prior history” phase.

    BTW, Traveller is one of my favorite RPGs. The originally 1977 version was not really all that complex and with the right house rules, you can easily make up for any of it’s flaws. (Except combat. RPG combat *should* be “deadly.” It prompts the players to use their brains and try to resolve matters with more than just violence.) It’s just that it was presented in a rather “user unfriendly” format. That, and Marc Miller, its creator, has this nasty tendency to entirely re-write the rules each time he comes out with a new edition.

    IMHO, the best versions of Traveller are Classic, GURPS Traveller, and Traveller D20. MegaTraveller was OK, but Miller muddled things up with more rules than it needed. He completely jumped the shark with Traveller: The New Era and Traveller Forth Edition…

    …I better stop this geek-wave before it flattens a major metropolitan city.

  209. “If lack of a religion is classified of a religion by law, we really do have some fucked up minds running this country.”-zach

    For consistancy in establishment clause logic, it has to be. If, for example, that the phrase “under God” is an establishment of religion, as seems to be the consensus here, then the converse, a government entity saying there is no God must also be establishment of religion. Otherwise, atheism has a privilged place among belief systems compared to Methodism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam , Buddhism, deism, etc. The framers original thinking about the establishment clause was of actual government support of a particular church. The broad definition of religion has come about, in part because of the actions of atheists.

  210. Akira, it’s okay. I played D&D and Traveller when I was a kid, too, and I’m only moderately geeky 🙂

    Stevo, How about ID&D? “Intelligent Dungeons & Dragons?” I’d be okay with that being taught in our school science classes. First there was a void. Then the DM rolled his dice. . . .

  211. If, for example, that the phrase “under God” is an establishment of religion, as seems to be the consensus here, then the converse, a government entity saying there is no God must also be establishment of religion.

    But there aren’t just the two choices of “government says God exists” and “government says God does NOT exist;” what is wrong with “government says nothing about God one way or the other”? Like what the original Pledge of Allegiance was before God got shoved into it in the Fifties.

  212. you obviously do not understand “science”. The scientific process starts with an hypothesis and tests that hypothesis for validity.

    Wayne, thanks for your comments, but I think that we might be talking about different things. When I said that ID (the pared-down version) is scientific, I did not mean that IDists are approaching their beliefs in a scientific way, but merely that the claim that “biological species were designed by a conscious designer, at least in part” is a claim that can be scientifically investigated. It is an empirical claim subject to empirical evidence, for or against.

    ID is not science because it has never been subjected to the scientific process.

    A claim can be scientific prior to its being subjected to the scientific process. In fact, it is necessary that a claim be scientific in order for it to be subjected to the scientific process.

    it has no place in a science class room.

    I agree completely.

  213. “A claim can be scientific prior to its being subjected to the scientific process. In fact, it is necessary that a claim be scientific in order for it to be subjected to the scientific process.”

    I have no idea what you are talking about here. It seems you want to weasel in the word, “scientific” because is has many syllables. By your definition, say something that is NOT “scientific”. And by your definition, what difference does being “scientific” mean anyway.

    “A claim can be scientific prior to its being subjected to the scientific process. In fact, it is necessary that a claim be scientific in order for it to be subjected to the scientific process.”

    Huh? You’re actually one of Reverend Falwell’s “favorite” choir boys, aren’t you?

  214. I think by “scientific” Ethan means “testable by comparison with the results of systematic observations.” If a claim is not testable then it is not really a subject for science.

  215. “I think by “scientific” Ethan means “testable by comparison with the results of systematic observations.” If a claim is not testable then it is not really a subject for science.”

    Two questions:
    1. What “empirical evidence” is there that a supernatural force started the whole thing, and what evidence is there that said supernatural force actually handles the day to day drudgery of speciation after life was planted.

    2. How, exactly, does one “test” for the presence and actions of this supernatural force, call in Ghostbusters?

    A comment, let’s nor be so genteel here. The supernatural force is God, so IG is actually Godly Design, GD.

  216. wayne-

    I personally don’t think that ID will ever be testable. However, I have speculated on the possibility that they might find a way to support a negative hypothesis: That natural mechanisms cannot account for how some feature of life emerged.

    I realize that most people say it’s impossible to prove a negative, and they’re usually right. But physics does contain some impossibility statements: The laws of thermodynamics, the uncertainty principle, and relativity all discuss fundamental limits.

    It is conceivable that the ID crowd might find a clever way to exploit thermodynamics (or its close cousin, information theory) to devise an impossibility statement. They certainly haven’t done so yet, and I think they are unlikely to ever do so. Mostly because they aren’t trying to constrain an elementary process where fundamental principles are enough to understand what’s going on. Even if they limit their attention to a single feature of a single organism, they’re still trying to constrain a vast number of processes happening over numerous lifetimes of numerous organisms. Any such analysis seems doomed to hinge upon limited imagination. As in “Well, every pathway that we’ve thought of is impossible.” Which doesn’t mean that there is no pathway possible.

    Still, I don’t rule it out.

    In summary, ID is not testable at the moment, and probably never will be testable. However, I entertain the possibility that some day they might find a way to put testable constraints on evolutionary processes. I’m not holding my breath, but it’s possible.

    Anyway, until they reach that point, their idea is not science.

  217. I have spent all of the energy I have on this subject. ID is a big, steaming pile of bull shit and its proponent know it. ID is just a subterfuge to divide our country over this emotional God issue.

    I think Falwell needs to grow a pair of balls and take his fight to the streets like the Mullahs in Iraq and Iran have done. They should pass the collection plate and buy a bunch of AK47s and settle this ID issue ballistically, which is very scientific.

  218. ID is a big, steaming pile of bull shit and its proponent know it

    I agree. There is no reason whatsoever to give ID serious consideration, and there will be no reason unless the proponents ever manage to come up with something better than “Um, well, we can’t figure this out, so, you know, maybe God did it.”

    I’m not holding my breath.

  219. Wayne, I think your soul is showing!

    You don’t seem able to discuss this issue like an adult, but I will continue to give you the chance: many people have used the term “scientific” with respect to claims to mean “capable of being investigated via the scientific method.” There are many claims–religious, metaphysical, and otherwise–that simply cannot be subjected to scientific analysis as they do not imply any empirically testable results. Drawing the line between the empirical and the nonempirical (and between the scientific and the nonscientific) is an active debate in the philosophy of science. If you are interested in learning about such things, consult your local library or bookseller.

    Also, as I now have to repeat for you yet again, I am not a proponent of ID and I think that ID is bull. It (again, the pared-down version I refered to) can be both scientific and bull–the two are not mutually exclusive.

  220. What “empirical evidence” is there that a supernatural force started the whole thing, and what evidence is there that said supernatural force actually handles the day to day drudgery of speciation after life was planted.

    You are conveniently misreading what I wrote. I am beginning to suspect that you aren’t trying very hard. Scroll up, I quite plainly said that “a stripped-down ID hypothesis (minus the obvious attempts to make Genesis into science and other theological and supernatural aspects)” is scientific. So your argument, while it might be a fine one, is not relevant to what I said.

  221. Ethan:

    I think you are correct in saying that a “stripped-down ID hypothesis” is amenable to scientific investigation, if by that phrase you mean an intelligent designer who is not a supernatural being. However, no ID proponent has actually proposed testable hypotheses for what a designed biological mechanism would look like beyond “irreducible complexity”. Evolutionary biologists have answered the charges of irreducible complexity by pointing out how a currently irreducibly complex structure might not have been irreducibly complex in the past, but necessary parts lost during evolution. the pro-ID crowd has no response to this, as far as I know. the evolutionary biology answer I recounted above isn’t intellectually satisfying, either, but it makes sense in a thought-experiment. our best hope is to find organisms that have survived with the extra add-ons to the irreducibly complex structures that make them not irreducibly complex. also, many of the systems and structures that Michael Behe of Darwin’s Black Box fame has claimed are irreducibly complex have been demonstrated not to be irreducibly complex, i.e. hemoglobin proteins are made up of four smaller protein chains surrounding an inorganic heme structure that contains iron in mammals. in lampreys, the hemoglobin is made up of only two smaller protein chains. is lamprey hemoglobin irreducibly complex? probably not, but there is much research left to be done.

  222. T.,

    All the things you said to Ethan about ID are directly applicable to the UID (UnIntelligent Design) conjecture on origins.

    One of the basic concerns here is to make sure that UID isn’t taught in schools, either expressly or implicitly. For example, for me personally I don’t care whether ID is taught (I think Dover should have lost). I do care that UID isn’t taught. It shouldn’t be for exactly the reasons you told Ethan about testability and (lack of) opportunities to collect evidence.

    Maybe what the next school board needs to do is twin up ID and UID in the disclaimers / lesson plan /whatever. Then it will be realized that neither the Baileys nor the Falwells have any sort of edge in the current origins debate. By making that symmetry between ID and UID conjectures clearer, I think the next School Board would win, and so would the children.

  223. So, Dave W., in your ideal schools (where biology is an elective for the college prep track, and everybody else takes a very practical class on human health), the part on the history of living organisms would go something like this:

    We know that there are fossils of older life forms.

    We know that these fossils, despite the gaps, strongly suggest a progression of life forms from less complex to more complex.

    We know that these fossils, despite some gaps, show a progression toward the life forms seen today.

    We know that the DNA of living creatures today, and the DNA extracted from some fossils, is consistent with a picture where the fossils are the ancestors of today’s organisms. And we know that, with reasonable assumptions about mutation rates, the degree of divergence between the genomes of modern species is consistent with common ancestors at a point in the past that roughly coincides with when fossils diverged into different forms.

    We know all of this, but that should in no way be interpreted to mean that science has anything to say about what happened in the past.

  224. Now we are co-operating. My revised proposal:

    We know that there are fossils of older life forms.

    We know that these fossils strongly suggest a progression of life forms, over millions of years, generally shift from less complex to more complex. We know that these fossils show a progression toward the life forms seen today.

    We know that the DNA of living creatures today, and the DNA extracted from some fossils, is consistent with a picture where the fossils are the ancestors of today’s organisms. And we know that, with reasonable assumptions about mutation rates, the degree of divergence between the genomes of modern species is consistent with common ancestors at a point in the past that roughly coincides with when fossils diverged into different forms.

    What we don’t know is what caused the mutations. Specifically, we don’t know whether undirected randomness caused the mutations, or whether the mutations were deliberately caused by some force or being with a will and intelligence. This is why some people believe in God and some don’t. The randomness ppl say there is no God. The God ppl say that God, in some mysterious way, caused the mutations on purpose.

    Currently, science does not have the observational tools to prefer either the randomness people or the God ppl. Therefore, debate from these sides rages on and is likely to continue to do so for the rest of your life. Hopefully, science will one day collect evidence to definitively decide between the God ppl and the randomness ppl. Science currently has no real reason to prefer either side.

  225. Let me make a proposal:

    From here on let’s simply call ID an unsubstantiated, and untested claim that a supernatural being “designed” life on Earth. To call ID “scientific” is confusing at best, and a flat out, unscrupulous attempt to deceive at worst. This is the kind of “talk” that instigates dopey school boards to inject this superstitous nonsense into the curriculum in the first place.

    Now, in that light, I don’t see how it is the responsibility of anybody except ID proponents to examine these claims and advance them to the status of science. As soon as the ID guys publish their findings in several peer reviewed scientific journals, then perhaps we can move ID from the pages of the bible.

  226. if by that phrase you mean an intelligent designer who is not a supernatural being.

    Yes, that is what I meant. I bring it up because some IDists claim (I think they are lying) that they are merely arguing that species were in some respects designed, but are making no claims and have no interest in who that designer turns out to be. That is their attempt to make ID scientific, and they are successful as far as that goes, I think. Of course, for the reasons you bring up and other reasons, the scientific case for even that minimal claim is pathetic at best. So the IDist have a bit of a dilemma: if they keep ID the way they want it is just religion, but if they clean it up to give it a tiny scientific foothold, it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Either way it should remain outside the science curriculum.

  227. What we don’t know is what caused the mutations. Specifically, we don’t know whether undirected randomness caused the mutations, or whether the mutations were deliberately caused by some force or being with a will and intelligence.

    Well, strictly speaking we don’t know what caused mutations in the past. Then again, strictly speaking we don’t know if those fossils are in fact millions of years old because we don’t know for absolute certain that radioactive isotopes behaved the same way in the past. And, for that matter, we don’t know if the world was actually created last Tuesday with all of these memories implanted in our minds.

    What we do know is that mutation rates in organisms alive today can be explained by physical chemistry: There are always errors when DNA molecules are replicated, due to natural thermal fluctuations. In addition, DNA can be damaged by radiation, and (I’m no biochemist, so go find one to be sure) probably by various chemical compounds. Much of this damage is innocuous, some is deleterious, and some produces useful mutations. Even mutations that seem innocuous may have subtle positive or negative effects, only seen when comparing the survival rates of large numbers of offspring with and without the mutation.

    So we don’t actually know if mutations in the past were caused by divine intervention, but we do have an understanding of mutations today. Not a perfect understanding, but good enough that we haven’t yet had to invoke divine intervention to explain contemporary phenomena.

  228. “What we don’t know is what caused the mutations. Specifically, we don’t know whether undirected randomness caused the mutations, or whether the mutations were deliberately caused by some force or being with a will and intelligence. This is why some people believe in God and some don’t. The randomness ppl say there is no God. The God ppl say that God, in some mysterious way, caused the mutations on purpose.”

    We (scientists) are able to induce mutations in the laboratory right now. We are able to exert strong natural selective forces on organisms in the laboratory right now.

    Your paragraph is enlightening in one sense. It shows that no matter what evidence is presented, a substantial group of people will always say, “but how do we know that God didn’t do all that?” Apples don’t fall because of gravitational attraction, it is the mysterious hand of God that causes that. Airplanes don’t fly because of aerodynamic forces, it is the will of God.

    If you want to persist in your belief in a mysterious God, that is your privilege. But that is what separates science from religion. To insist that an “alternative explanation, i.e. biblical” must be taught to children in public schools is not acceptable. That is what churches and sunday schools are for.

  229. From here on let’s simply call ID an unsubstantiated, and untested claim that a supernatural being “designed” life on Earth. To call ID “scientific” is confusing at best

    In calling ID, as you define it, confusing at best, you are right. But the ID folks are not total idiots–some have already forseen this objection and are (disingenuously, of course) severing the “supernatural” aspects of their theory and moving towards the claim that “we are just saying that SOME designer was involved, perhaps a perfectly physical designer.” Against this move the mantra “it isn’t science” isn’t going to work–not politically, and not philosophically. And the argument against the minimal claim is that it is very poorly supported hypothesis, so poorly supported that no self-respecting scientist would believe it.

  230. Edit: first sentence should read “Calling ID, as you define it, scientific, is confusing at best, you are right.”

  231. Actually, that edit has a mess-up too. I think you know what I mean. I am agreeing with the italicized bit. [aargh]

  232. Ethan,

    I tend to agree that politically we are in trouble for the same reason that Iran and Iraq and countless other places are in trouble. We are “led” by superstitious idiots, or even worse by those who pander to superstitious idiots.

    But I don’t see how I can lose “scientifically”. In science, it is not enough to make a fantastic of life being designed by space aliens. No, fantastic claims REQUIRE fantastic evidence, and verification, and testing, and, well… science.

    Now, if you “philosophers” are willing to listen to this ID stuff with a sympathetic ear then you are not the brightest of bulbs. Why would a “philosopher” be willing to waste his time with this BS, and not also spend his time investigating whether the sun revolves around the Earth. To say that this ID stuff is a philosophical winner is insulting to philosophy.

  233. “some have already forseen this objection and are (disingenuously, of course) severing the “supernatural” aspects of their theory and moving towards the claim that “we are just saying that SOME designer was involved, perhaps a perfectly physical designer.”

    Actually, to me the claim that the designer might have been “natural” is even more fantastic than that if it was God. If the “designer” was natural then it literally was a space alien because by definition there was no “life” on Earth at the time. Whoo boy, now that is good science. Move over all you devil-worshipping Darwinists there is a new “theory” in town.

  234. Now, if you “philosophers” are willing to listen to this ID stuff with a sympathetic ear then you are not the brightest of bulbs.

    Whoo boy, now that is good science.

    Wayne, by now I think I have made it QUITE CLEAR that I think ID is nonsense. Perhaps you should actually read what I write before you respond. I never said I was sympathetic to ID. How many ways do I have to say that I think ID is bull before one of them gets through to you? My point is simply about what makes a claim an empirical one, not about what makes an empirical claim a GOOD empirical claim.

    Again: I think —–> ID = bad science
    I think —–> ID = very weak hypothesis

  235. Rather than pushing fake science with ideas like ID, perhaps the Discovery Institute and like-minded individuals should start with the hypothesis that there’s a creator and use science to, well, prove it. Maybe there’s some message built into pi or something. It’s a long shot, but it’s not like physicists aren’t looking for creation explanations themselves.

    Of course, the IDers won’t do this, because of the fatal flaw inherent in ID “science”: They know the answer without even trying to get one iota of evidence to support it.

  236. Ethan,

    OK, I will take you at your word. We both agree that ID is utter hogwash.

    Why then do you say that ID is scientific? Why do you say that disagreeing with ID is philosophically unsound? In my mind there is nothing remotely “scientific”, or phiilosophically sound about ID.

    Actually, when one sets out to do science even an hypothesis (or is it “a hypothesis”) needs to be well grounded, i.e. it needs to have some empirical evidence that leads one to suspect that it might be valid. There are an endless number of hypotheses that are quite stupid and unworthy of investigation, and frankly ID strikes me as belonging to this group. The fact that ID is being proposed as real science by a lot of people implies that we are (or should be) well beyond the hypothesis stage.

    To claim that ID is philosophically sound, or “scientific” implies to me that you aware of some supporting evidence for it. Personally, I am aware of no such evidence. Though I am very skeptical of ID (big revelation, huh?), I am quite willing to be convinced; just show me the evidence. In fact, just show me the very preliminary evidence that supports even investigating ID. Anybody willing to display evidence will be warmly embraced by me, my lack of soul not withstanding.

  237. “Maybe there’s some message built into pi or something. It’s a long shot, but it’s not like physicists aren’t looking for creation explanations themselves.”

    Funny you should mention this. One of the things that has always puzzled and intrigued me about science are all the “fudge factors”. They are litterally everywhere you look in science (physics and chemistry anyway). Gravitational attraction is “defined” by the equation:

    F = (G X M1 X M2)/R2, for example. (sorry, but I don’t know how to make this equation look correct with subscripts, and superscripts, etc, but you know what I mean).

    Where the hell did G come from? It is just a fudge factor, empirically determined and thrown in to make the equation work. As I said, these fudge factors are everywhere. I suspect there is some unifying principle where all of these FFs will be explained. Maybe that is God?

  238. “Currently, science does not have the observational tools to prefer either the randomness people or the God ppl. Therefore, debate from these sides rages on and is likely to continue to do so for the rest of your life. Hopefully, science will one day collect evidence to definitively decide between the God ppl and the randomness ppl. Science currently has no real reason to prefer either side.”

    Dave W., just to follow this line of thought, why would the fact that we are not certain of which natural cause begat the mutations lead to the plausibility of a non-natural explanation? Can you give me some other areas where we need a non-natural explanation?

    Also, you revive the idea that we cannot speculate on origins because of lack of data. Hmmm. What about the Big Bang? It’s the Mother of Origins theory and someone found empirical, replicable data to substantiate that one. And guess what? It was a natural explanation!

  239. The debate isn’t science vs. religion. The debate is simply does the formal endorsement of a particular religious belief belong in the public schools? The answer, of course, is no. The Dover judge isolated the matter beautifully. The only downside is that his definitive ruling will be considered a line in the sand. Falwell, Dobson, and Robertson are, as a result, salivating. This will spurn their biggest fund-raising efforts yet.

  240. “The debate isn’t science vs. religion. The debate is simply does the formal endorsement of a particular religious belief belong in the public schools? The answer, of course, is no.”

    You are right, of course, that endorsement (or denial) of a particular religious belief does not belong in public schools. But I think you are wrong to ignore the “is it science” debate that is swirling. The only reason that ID was invented was because the religous ones were distraught over their failure to include prayer and paiety in public school’s curriculum. To keep their agenda rolling along they concocted this ID stupidity and are trying to pass it off as real science.

    I am not really terribly concerned with any of this though. Kids are pretty smart in general and will see through the buul shit even if they are subjected to ID in the class room. Some will succumb, but most will be sneering at this in 30 years.

  241. “The debate isn’t science vs. religion. The debate is simply does the formal endorsement of a particular religious belief belong in the public schools? The answer, of course, is no.”

    You are right, of course, that endorsement (or denial) of a particular religious belief does not belong in public schools. But I think you are wrong to ignore the “is it science” debate that is swirling. The only reason that ID was invented was because the religous ones were distraught over their failure to include prayer and paiety in public school’s curriculum. To keep their agenda rolling along they concocted this ID stupidity and are trying to pass it off as real science.

    I am not really terribly concerned with any of this though. Kids are pretty smart in general and will see through the buul shit even if they are subjected to ID in the class room. Some will succumb, but most will be sneering at this in 30 years.

  242. Why then do you say that ID is scientific? Why do you say that disagreeing with ID is philosophically unsound? In my mind there is nothing remotely “scientific”, or phiilosophically sound about ID.

    To claim that ID is philosophically sound, or “scientific” implies to me that you aware of some supporting evidence for it.

    Wayne, words can be used in different senses. You are using “scientific” to mean “well-confirmed by science,” which is a perfectly fine usage. It is also common to use “scientific” to mean “able to be investigated via science,” which is the sense I am using it. I don’t always use the term in that sense, sometimes I use it in your sense. But I am not using it that sense right now. Right now I am using it in my sense. Just like sometimes I use the word “mad” to mean “crazy” and sometimes I use the word “mad” to mean “angry.”

    I never said that ID was philosophically sound. It is one of the most unsound things going.

    Some things about myself that might surprise you, given some of your above comments: (1) I am an atheist. The reason God didn’t design biological species is because He can’t get around the fact that He doesn’t exist. (2) I not only think that the theory of evolution is the best explanation we have concerning life as we see it, I think it is a great explanation, and no other explanation even comes close. (3) Falwell did not have sex with me

  243. How many of you have changed your minds or learned something from this tedious exchange? Hands? Zero, huh? The blogosphere has been called a massive global circle jerk, but I think that’s putting it too charitably. “Bridges to nowhere”? Ha, these are threads to nowhere.

  244. Welcome aboard, Scrooge!

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