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May Kansas be touched by His Noodly Appendage
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.08.2005 10:48 pm    Post subject: May Kansas be touched by His Noodly Appendage Reply with quote

Of course Kansas school boards were right to want to include Intelligent Design alongside the Theory of Evolution, but I only hope their egalitarian pursuit of science enables this alternate theory to be added alongside the other two as well. May all our schools flow with His wisdom like a font of holy marinara.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.08.2005 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was hysterical. I am now forwarding it to all of my conservative friends, and will no doubt rot in hell for doing so.



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.09.2005 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing I'd love to see some of the reactions.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 08.09.2005 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The page is pretty funny, in its own right, but it seems awfully mean-spirited.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.09.2005 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Satire may be gently witty, midly abusive, or bitterly critical. All three modes have their place.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.09.2005 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
The page is pretty funny, in its own right, but it seems awfully mean-spirited.




Creationism (or ID Theory) is an intentional deception committed against those who don't know any better and don't want to. Debate with an anti-evolutionist long enough and you will quickly realize that many of them must know enough about evolution, and about science in general, to know that they are grossly misrepresenting both. I'll admit the dupes outweigh the shysters in this charade, but that doesn't mean that pointing out deceit were it lies is inherently mean-spirited.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.09.2005 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course, neither ID nor evolution can be proven beyond doubt; both require some measure of faith. What's most interesting, though, is that certain strains of Intelligent Design theory can co-exist with evolution theory. Rather than find ways to reconcile their faith with overwhelming observable science, much of the ID crowd seems to feel that science is the enemy of faith rather than its friend: If God truly exists, then science can't possibly prove otherwise. What is it that these people fear?



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.10.2005 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What aspects of evolution theory require faith? What are the different strains of ID theory, and which ones co-exist with Darwinian evolution (or any aspect of science)? Or, better yet, what exactly does ID theory, in general, describe or predict?
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.10.2005 2:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
What aspects of evolution theory require faith?


I don't mean to imply that evolution is on shaky ground--in fact, it's probably one of the most durable of modern scientific theories--but there are enough unanswered questions that a rational, scientific mind should resist the temptation to describe it as fact beyond reproach. Part of the problem is that science demands that claims can be repeatedly tested and therefore potentially falsified, but the earth's origin was a unique event that cannot be repeated. Therefore, certain assertions about it cannot be observed and logical conjecture becomes its sole support.



In my view there is plenty of data that suggests evolution is a likely explanation for the origin of species, but also one that is scientifically vulnerable and probably always will be--much like trying to prove the existence of God.



A quick Internet search would summarize the potential vulnerabilities of evolution much better than I could here, but as I see it the science of evolution has not satisfactorily explained (at least not yet) how the first life arrived on Earth, how complicated body parts were formed, and why Darwin's prediction that the missing links would eventually be discovered has not been fulfilled. Needless to say, in your search it's wise to avoid the sites with a religious ax to grind.



I guess what I'm saying is that while it's tempting to overstate evolution's merits, a rational mind should recognize that such misplaced confidence isn't scientifically sound, nor necessary to puncture Creationism (which has far more testing and inference vulnerabilities of its own). I'm much more comfortable saying that while evolution is currently our best scientific guess, right now we simply don't know for certain how the first life on Earth came into existence.



the night watchman wrote:
What are the different strains of ID theory, and which ones co-exist with Darwinian evolution (or any aspect of science)? Or, better yet, what exactly does ID theory, in general, describe or predict?


I'm not qualified to answer this with any authority, but in the past I've read about certain ID proponents who basically believe that evolution is probably true, and is a process initially set into motion by a supernatural designer. (I suppose they essentially substitute God for the Big Bang.) Their assertion is that the so-called improbabilities of evolution (a theory that puts an awful lot of faith in chance) become more palatable when guided by some kind of sentient force.



I'm sure we agree that whatever strain it takes, Intelligent Design is not a scientific concept and should not be taught in science classrooms. If Kansas were truly interested in teaching ID, a much easier road would be to merely institute a religious studies course, or put ID discussion into a philosophy or humanities curriculum--but my gut tells me that Kansas' real motive is not to include ID but to hobble evolution instruction, which is a risible retreat from authentic scientific inquiry.



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.10.2005 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quick response:



beltmann wrote:


A quick Internet search would summarize the potential vulnerabilities of evolution much better than I could here, but as I see it the science of evolution has not satisfactorily explained (at least not yet) how the first life arrived on Earth, how complicated body parts were formed, and why Darwin's prediction that the missing links would eventually be discovered has not been fulfilled. Needless to say, in your search it's wise to avoid the sites with a religious ax to grind.




First, the theory of evolution is not concerned about the origin of life; it's -- as Darwin's book is partly titled -- concerned with the origin of species, or, where species come from. Anyone who posits that the theory is flawed because it doesn't explain where or how life came about is poking at a straw man.



Second, not only does the theory of evolution explain the formation of biological structures, so does Darwin in The Origin of Species. Briefly, the mechanism is natural selection, the raw material is mutation.



Third, anthropology is no longer looking for a "missing link" since it was discovered that the human evolution is not a "straight line," as was originally assumed, but is a diverse tree with multiple species living in tandem with one another, as is all biological evolution. We are the last of the hominds, but our line wasn't always the only one. Like the origin of life, the "missing link" is a straw man.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.10.2005 4:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
First, the theory of evolution is not concerned about the origin of life; it's -- as Darwin's book is partly titled -- concerned with the origin of species, or, where species come from.


A theory that hopes to explain the continuum of human evolution ought to provide a credible starting point for that continuum. They are indivisible concepts.



the night watchman wrote:
Second, not only does the theory of evolution explain the formation of biological structures, so does Darwin in The Origin of Species. Briefly, the mechanism is natural selection, the raw material is mutation.



Third, anthropology is no longer looking for a "missing link" since it was discovered that the human evolution is not a "straight line," as was originally assumed, but is a diverse tree with multiple species living in tandem with one another, as is all biological evolution.


That's all Evolution 101--but doesn't change the fact that some aspects of macroevolution are predicated upon inference, not empirical confirmation. Natural selection and mutation explain how existing species change over time, and such microevolution cannot be disputed. But when it comes to the origin of species, there is a striking lack of data that shows Darwinian mechanisms could produce complex organs. In addition, have scientists ever observed the formation of a new species? This doesn't mean it didn't or doesn't happen, of course. Indeed, macroevolution may be too slow to observe, which means only that it might not be provable at this point in time, a mere 150 years after the theory's introduction.



Again, I don't want to sound like a militant skeptic--for the reasons you listed (and more) I believe evolution is our most scientifically credible theory to date by a wide margin, and the logic of the inferences seems overwhelming. Since we largely agree, I'm sure neither one of us wants to get into a long-winded debate about the theory's credibility. But doesn't scientific inquiry demand that we be open to the possibility that further testing over time may falsify some of the theory's claims? History is littered with scientists convinced beyond doubt that their theories were unassailable... I'd rather not join them in their misplaced confidence.



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.10.2005 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


I don't mean to imply that evolution is on shaky ground--in fact, it's probably one of the most durable of modern scientific theories--but there are enough unanswered questions that a rational, scientific mind should resist the temptation to describe it as fact beyond reproach. Part of the problem is that science demands that claims can be repeatedly tested and therefore potentially falsified, but the earth's origin was a unique event that cannot be repeated. Therefore, certain assertions about it cannot be observed and logical conjecture becomes its sole support.




I'm not sure what you mean by "a fact beyond reproach," but the theory of evolution is not simply a description of history, it's dynamic. It helps us understand what is happening now. Obtaining every piece of the biological puzzle of the past isn't necessary (even if it were possible) to confirm its accuracy because it is studied in progress today.



beltmann wrote:


I'm not qualified to answer this with any authority, but in the past I've read about certain ID proponents who basically believe that evolution is probably true, and is a process initially set into motion by a supernatural designer. (I suppose they essentially substitute God for the Big Bang.) Their assertion is that the so-called improbabilities of evolution (a theory that puts an awful lot of faith in chance) become more palatable when guided by some kind of sentient force.




The theory of evolution has nothing to do with the Big Bang, and puts no faith in chance. As I said in the post above, the mechanism of biological evolution is natural selection, and selection is the exact opposite of chance. Biological change happens at random, but it happens within a narrow frame of possibility. Again, this is not "chance."



As for DI theory, the kind that's advocated by its most vocal champions like Michael Behe and William Dembski basically states that there are certain biological structures that exhibit "irreducible complexity;" that is, there are structures that require every piece to be just so to be functional, and can only be accounted for by the theory of evolution as evolving from simpler structures that were utterly useless to ancestral organisms. Since its impossible to believe that a mindless natural process like evolution could anticipate and direct the building of future, nonexistent structures (and since there's no evidence of such "proto-structures" anyway), then this "irreducible complexity" can only be accounted for as the conscious work of some undefined intelligence (God, in others words, but they don't state anything that flatly since it makes them sound like they have an agenda.)



Obviously this conclusion is a complete non sequitur, but beyond that logical problem there's a lot of contention about what exactly constitutes irreducible complexity.



And let me just say for the record that both IDers and creationists make a lot of the "compelixity" of the universe, suggesting that such complexity can only be ascribed to an "intelligence." But, beyond the fact that "complexity" is a relative term, doesn't it make more sense that they should be looking for universal simplicity? Complexity, after all, is the work of random, mindless, natural forces. Simplicity, relatively speaking, is the work of intelligent organization. A desk neatly stacked with pages, for instances, is relatively "simpler" than one in which the pages have been scattered by the wind blowing in through an open window. The messiness of the cosmos seems to speak of a lack of conscious organization more than it does of intention.



[quote-"beltmann"]I'm sure we agree that whatever strain it takes, Intelligent Design is not a scientific concept and should not be taught in science classrooms. If Kansas were truly interested in teaching ID, a much easier road would be to merely institute a religious studies course, or put ID discussion into a philosophy or humanities curriculum--but my gut tells me that Kansas' real motive is not to include ID but to hobble evolution instruction, which is a risible retreat from authentic scientific inquiry.[/quote]



Agreed.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.10.2005 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


A theory that hopes to explain the continuum of human evolution ought to provide a credible starting point for that continuum. They are indivisible concepts.




The theory of evolution explains changes in biological systems over time.



the night watchman wrote:


That's all Evolution 101--but doesn't change the fact that some aspects of macroevolution are predicated upon inference, not empirical confirmation. Natural selection and mutation explain how existing species change over time, and such microevolution cannot be disputed. But when it comes to the origin of species, there is a striking lack of data that shows Darwinian mechanisms could produce complex organs. In addition, have scientists ever observed the formation of a new species? This doesn't mean it didn't or doesn't happen, of course. Indeed, macroevolution may be too slow to observe, which means only that it might not be provable at this point in time, a mere 150 years after the theory's introduction.




Yes, speciation has been observed in plants, mice, fruitflies, and single-cell organisms. Furthermore, microevolution is the advent of new species. Macroevolution is merely microevolution on top of microevolution on top of microevolution, etc.



As for a "striking lack of data" I direct you here.
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PostPosted: 08.10.2005 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's also deeply important that for all the fuss the ID crowd makes about evolution being only a theory and not a fact, evolutionists haven't made a claim for perpetual fact the way the Creationists have.



Eric
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PostPosted: 08.21.2005 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If anyone's still interested in this subject, I strongly suggest picking up the latest issue of Skeptic (Vol. 11 No. 4), which contains a review of a conference headed by Michael Behe and William Dembski ("Democratizing Darwin," pp. 16-17), a lengthy and devastating criticism of Dembski's literary output ("The Dream World of William Dembski's Creationism, " pp. 54-63), an article about ID theory and peer review ("Creationism's Holy Grail," pp.66-69), and a clever letter on page 29 suggesting how ID theory can be subverted to support polytheism, a tactic that would surely cause most champions of ID to blanch. While the focus is on ID theory, the first two pieces also discuss the process of scientific inquiry, why it works so well, and the fundimental problems of attempting to incorporate supernatural explanations into science. The author of "Democratizing Darwin" sums it up nicely: "Should we, for example, fold non-natural assumptions into aerodymanics or pharmacology? I, for one, would feel less confident in taking a pill or stepping on an airplane if this were the case as, I suspect, would Dembski and Behe. While it is obvious that this simplistic kind of application is not what they would propose, it is important to understand that the same operational incongruities apply in their more subtle suggestions that evolutionary science should accomodate supernatural explanation."
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