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FORCES OF DARKNESS CONFRONTED

The ABC condemns Islamofascism as “ignorant”, a “stalking monster”, and a “force of darkness”. Actually, no; those terms in fact describe intelligent design, in an ABC promotion for a new Robyn Williams book:

Intelligent Design has found its way into the headlines, has been spruiked in the Parliament and is now trying to slink into our schools. So where did this wilfully ignorant sibling of creationism and its anti-scientific arguments spring from? And why is it refusing to go away?

Using all the richness of the scientific and natural worlds, Robyn Williams takes on the stalking monster in a short, wicked and witty debunk of ID. Why make the earth, the solar system, our galaxy and all the rest, he asks, when the Garden of Eden was all that was needed? And then there’s lifespan. During long periods of human history, the life expectancy of men was a mere 22 years and children were lucky to toddle, let alone grow up. Why the waste? And shouldn’t we sue God for sinus blockages, hernias, appendix flare-ups and piles, not to mention bad backs?

This is a book to infuriate the forces of darkness, and anger and amuse the rest of us.

I’m not religious, so I don’t have a God in this fight, but I’d sure like to read a “short, wicked and witty” book by Robyn Williams exposing all the scientific flaws in fundamentalist Islam (and the ABC’s aggressive promotion of that book). Williams better write it quickly, though, before intelligent design militias hunt him down and kill him for his heresy. Only has days to live, does Williams; an entity known as the forces of darkness likely doesn’t mess around.

(Via reader Cuckoo)

Posted by Tim B. on 08/26/2006 at 02:00 PM
  1. Shazbot!

    Posted by Jim Treacher on 2006 08 26 at 02:59 PM • permalink

  2. Ann Coulter beats the crap out of Evolution’s Advocates in her book, Godless.

    And I haven’t read any reviews mentioning that.  Hmmm.

    (Apparently mandatory disclaimer:  Ann Coulter yadda yadda yadda, I don’t personally yadda yadda with her, but in this instance she blah blah blah.)

    Posted by ushie on 2006 08 26 at 03:05 PM • permalink

  3. When Ann Coulter can explain the ice fish, I’ll be interested in her scientific opinion on evolution.

    Do Muslims believe in Intelligent Design?  If so, maybe they should get together with the vast marches the creationists have been sponsoring…er… somewhere… someplace… well, you know they just gotta!

    Heck, if Cindy Sheehan can stand with the Klan, and the Democratic Party leadership’s position on Iraq can be the same as the White Aryan Resistance’s, this is obviously a valuable new application of synergy…

    Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 08 26 at 03:08 PM • permalink

  4. Ann Coulter beats the crap out of Evolution’s Advocates in her book, Godless.

    And demonstrates she’s as scientifically knowledgable as she is pudgy.

    Posted by Rob Crawford on 2006 08 26 at 03:08 PM • permalink

  5. I’m pretty much agnostic on the idea of intelligent design, but just from reading that little blurb, I don’t think it means what Robyn Williams et al think it means.

    As for that book debunking Islamic fundamentalist beliefs:  chyeah, we’ll see that one when pigs take wing and Michael Moore joins Weight Watchers.

    Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 08 26 at 03:19 PM • permalink

  6. “I don’t have a god in this fight” ahhh ha ha haaaa. I am so going to Hell.

    Posted by mencken_cynic on 2006 08 26 at 03:19 PM • permalink

  7. And of course you fellers have read her book…

    Posted by ushie on 2006 08 26 at 03:20 PM • permalink

  8. I’m not going to get into an argument on ID; there seem to be theologians and scientists on both sides of the issue, and being but the humble captain of that modest conglomerate, Paco Enterprises, I am willing to let others duke it out to their heart’s content.

    But for those with an interest in what might be referred to as matters of more immediate urgency, may I suggest Islamic Imperialism, by Ephraim Karsh (Yale University Press - of all things)? Here we see an unblinkered analysis of a real theocratic threat, in the context of its long and bloody history.

    Posted by paco on 2006 08 26 at 03:25 PM • permalink

  9. Oh, lordy! Are we going to have a creationism/evolution catfight on this blog now?

    Life has demonstrated time and again that it is durable, resilient and can adapt to virtually anything - even if a nuclear war wiped out humanity, Life on Earth would survive and adapt - and doesn’t require an “act of God” to accomplish it. Make of that what you will; that’s all I’ll say on the subject.

    Posted by Spiny Norman on 2006 08 26 at 03:34 PM • permalink

  10. Why make the earth, the solar system, our galaxy and all the rest, he asks, when the Garden of Eden was all that was needed?

    Ah,yes. To know the mind of God.

    Perhaps God just likes to experiment. Think of it as God’s hobby.

    BTW, I’m not a creationist. I’m not an evolutionist. And, I’m not a intelligent designer.

    I’m a truthist, and I’m still looking.

    Posted by rinardman on 2006 08 26 at 03:48 PM • permalink

  11. I never warmed up to the ID theory. It seems so much like appeasement to me.  You either believe in Creation or you don’t. Anyhow, once we step off into eternity we’ll all know the truth.

    Posted by Texas Bob on 2006 08 26 at 04:10 PM • permalink

  12. I’ll note the irony of the Left attacking Intelligent Design. While the Left believes in Evolution, they think Evolution operates like Historical Determinism, which is a whole lot like Intelligent Design.

    Disclaimer: I know Intelligent Design is a crock as is Historical Determinism.

    Posted by phil_b on 2006 08 26 at 04:22 PM • permalink

  13. My, that Robyn Williams is a busy fellow, what with his film career and I hear he’s in rehab…

    I’m with rinardman. No one as yet has explained it, in particular the ascent of man, to my satisfaction. But as TBob notes, we’ll all find out on that fateful day. Frankly, the only thing that would really surprise me is if nothing but a big void awaits. But, of course, if such is the case, I will have lost my capacity for suprise.

    Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 08 26 at 04:27 PM • permalink

  14. Well, phil_b, I’m not sure how you could know any such thing.

    Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 08 26 at 04:29 PM • permalink

  15. Disclaimer: I know Intelligent Design is a crock as is Historical Determinism.

    Substitute “believe” for “know”, and I’ll overlook your arrogance.

    Posted by rinardman on 2006 08 26 at 04:44 PM • permalink

  16. No matter how heated the argument gets, at the end of the day we still don’t know and can’t do anything about it anyhow, so its all academic.  Like climate science, this issue has been politicized to the point where reasonable, civil discourse is all but impossible.

    Posted by Vanguard of the Commentariat on 2006 08 26 at 04:53 PM • permalink

  17. Why waste time debating this esoteric subject when civil liberties everywhere are under attack?

    Via Ed Driscoll .

    Posted by paco on 2006 08 26 at 05:10 PM • permalink

  18. Thank you, paco.  Now I must hide under the bed.

    Posted by ushie on 2006 08 26 at 05:14 PM • permalink

  19. Civil liberties under assault? Indeed!

    China has added strippers at funerals to its burgeoning list of proscribed activities…

    There is no fun in China, it’s official.

    Posted by Spiny Norman on 2006 08 26 at 05:18 PM • permalink

  20. Just because people are entitled to believe whatever they want, it doesn’t follow that all beliefs are equally valid. Some beliefs withstand rigorous scrutiny others don’t.

    Anyway, my point was that for many believing in evolution, is just that, a belief. And were they to understand evolution, they would be unlikely to believe in it, since it invalidates the progressive paradigm (for want of a better word).

    Posted by phil_b on 2006 08 26 at 05:20 PM • permalink

  21. I view the ID argument as fundamentally related to State control of education and only marginally as an argument related to science.

    It isn’t about what science tells us about the universe, it’s about what the State decides is acceptable to teach our children.  We separate religion from our government but it’s not possible to separate ideology from education. 

    Is it right for the State to determine and teach an approved ideology?  Can science be taught ideology free, or will there always be an ideological subtext, if nothing else that there is no God?

    When it comes to the State, is it really enough to be *right*, or do people have the right to be wrong?  If people aren’t free to be wrong, are they free at all?

    Posted by Synova on 2006 08 26 at 05:24 PM • permalink

  22. We gather that strippers are commonly seen at Taiwanese funerals, where explicit displays are accompanied by hard-core commentary on the deceased’s virility.

    Beats a good old-fashioned Irish wake all to hell.

    Synova, I for one am long past the point of supporting state-controlled education. It was one thing when public education was pretty much controlled at the local level and schools were most concerned with things like knowledge and literacy. Today the locals have all but lost their control and we spend billions and billions of local, state and federal tax revenue on a public education system that gives back next to nothing. It’s the most expensive baby-sitting scheme ever concocted.

    Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 08 26 at 05:49 PM • permalink

  23. I love Anne Culter for her witty polemics and female cuteness but she’s not always right.

      Look guys, evolution is a theory based upon observation and experiment, Intelligent Design is not.

    However, I do not understand the religious objection to it as it says nothing about god and there is no reason why god shouldn’t work in mysterious ways.

    Posted by Wimpy Canadian on 2006 08 26 at 05:56 PM • permalink

  24. The point is moot. A large Flying Spaghetti Monster created everything we see. I know ‘cos I have been touched by his noodly appendage.

    Posted by CB on 2006 08 26 at 06:27 PM • permalink

  25. The ABC also pounces on any opportunity to talk up religious right influence in conservative politics, while ignoring the camel in the room with the NSW ALP, or the perils of reading extracts from the koran aloud in Brackistan.

    Posted by blogstrop on 2006 08 26 at 06:31 PM • permalink

  26. Why not mull around the concept of ID as some scientists are in fact doing?

    Indeed put it to the same level of scrutiny as other theories rather than dismiss it by mocking.

    Another question: when did people started dropping ‘the theory of’ tag in front of evolution?

    And I think Williams et al needs to be upfront in discussing adaptation versus true evolution (ie one species genetically mutating into another as to develop a separate species).

    Because apart from a couple of one-off examples in the city’s nightclubs, I’ve not yet seen a half-man/half-ape.

    —Nora

    Posted by The Thin Man Returns on 2006 08 26 at 06:33 PM • permalink

  27. #24 - Has Tripodi been on the rampage again?

    Posted by blogstrop on 2006 08 26 at 06:33 PM • permalink

  28. Who the hell believes anything they hear on everybody’s taxpayer funded ABC??!! A pack of lying bastards, if ever there was one.

    Posted by Gravelly on 2006 08 26 at 06:44 PM • permalink

  29. Surely Google has it right.Google

    Posted by CB on 2006 08 26 at 06:49 PM • permalink

  30. #23 Look guys, evolution is a theory based upon observation and experiment, Intelligent Design is not.

    So, how does that prove that God didn’t design that which you are observing and experimenting on?

    Just asking.

    Posted by rinardman on 2006 08 26 at 06:49 PM • permalink

  31. #26,

    Fine. Lets do that. ID is an untested hypothesis and it is up to its proponents to justify it. Why do the proponents of this untested hypothesis not conduct experiments to test it? Why do they not propose testable implications and examine them? ID is NOT a theory, not yet. Evolution started as an hypothesis and has been promoted to the grand and rarefied heights of theorydom because, and only because, it has been tested, and tested, and tested again, continually and rigorously. Let the ID proponents do the same.

    And an FYI - adaptation is true evolution. Evolution is any change in the gene frequencies in a given population. There doesn’t even have to be mutation for this to happen, merely selection.

    Posted by Chris Harper on 2006 08 26 at 07:03 PM • permalink

  32. #23: Look guys, evolution is a theory based upon observation and experiment, Intelligent Design is not.

    But why do you think so, WC? ID may ultimately be exploded as a theory, but what gets my goat are the sweeping denunciations of it that are based on an imperfect or non-existent knowledge of who some of its proponents are, what they’ve written (including in peer-reviewed journals and books), and the scope of its inquiry. There is a world of difference between a fundamentalist preacher who says the earth is only 6,000 years old based on a literal interpretation of the bible, and, say, a Cambridge PhD with a background in geophysics and the history and philosophy of science (Steven Meyer) who attempts to make a rational case for ID based on his interpretation of empirical evidence. I realize that most scientists are lined up against ID, but it simply isn’t true that there aren’t any scientists who support ID at all, and doing so on the basis of scientific inquiry. It may turn out to be lousy science, but it won’t do to say so without engaging their written body of work - as many Darwinist scientists are now doing. Again, ID may be bunk, but it is not, in my opinion, self-evidently bunk, and if it is so easy to refute, then its opponents have even more incentive to do so in a spirit of relative civility. The fire-eating Darwinist who not only denounces ID without seriously addressing its claims, but also wantonly denounces the motives and character of its proponents, does not strike me as a shining exponent of scientific method. Among genuine scientists, I should hope this sort is in a distinct minority.

    I don’t at all disagree with the points Chris Harper makes above, specifically: let the ID’ers test their hypothesis, and we’ll see what we’ll see.

    Posted by paco on 2006 08 26 at 07:40 PM • permalink

  33. WIlliams’ book is not a debunking so much as a sloppily written regurgitation of Richard Dawkins, with lots of musing about his socialist childhood in London.

    Militant atheists (sorry, humanists) seem to think that evolution and God are incompatible. I really don’t see why.

    Rabbi Natan Slifkin has an interesting take:

    SLIFKIN: I am very much in favor of an intelligent designer. But what most people mean with the term intelligent design is that there are certain specific biological phenomena that science can’t explain, and that that is where we see God. This is problematic in that it restricts God’s role to those things that science can’t at present explain—an area that is constantly decreasing in size. I believe that it is important to see God in things that science CAN explain.

    INTERVIEWER: That gets to one of the main elements of your thesis—that scientific explanations make one more in awe of God, right?

    SLIFKIN: Absolutely. It is a more sophisticated understanding of God to realize that His greatness is in working in a rational, ordered manner—via the remarkable laws of nature—rather than being some kind of cosmic magician zapping things into existence.

    Posted by arrowhead ripper on 2006 08 26 at 07:55 PM • permalink

  34. And an FYI - adaptation is true evolution. Evolution is any change in the gene frequencies in a given population. There doesn’t even have to be mutation for this to happen, merely selection.

    Not true. An organism can adapt as much as it likes but it’s not going to become different species.

    Natural selection, of course, does make an organism with particular characterists more successful in a given environment but it still doesn’t change what it is.

    We’re not only to be able to prove evolution as the origin of the species anymore than we’re going to prove ID. The fun is in the exploration.

    —Nora

    Posted by The Thin Man Returns on 2006 08 26 at 07:56 PM • permalink

  35. If someone pitches the “Intelligent Design” theory at me I just ask, “Why do men have nipples?...”

    Posted by Toosmoky on 2006 08 26 at 07:58 PM • permalink

  36. ID challenges the atheistic assumptions behind Darwinism, the idea that no creator did any creating.  Both ideas are metaphysical, as is the very idea that the universe makes sense at all.
    I can’t understand why scientists are so angry that people can be religious and scientists at the same time.  How did modern science ever come about when most of the Greats believed in Intelligent Design [a Creation], and many still do?  Why the hysteria when most people think evolution is not the whole story? [compare global warming!]
    As for the ABC-endorsed atheist cynics like Williams who love to cite the imperfections of life, hasn’t he heard of the Doctrine of the Fall [also in the Genesis Garden.]
    Since it’s Sunday, here’s a few verses for all those who never read the Bible:
    Romans 8:21 “The creation will be set free from its bondage to decay…we know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail [a heavy burden].. and not only the creation, but we ourselves…”

    Doesn’t sound too wrong to me…
    Try this too: 
    Romans 1:20 “Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

    That’s where ID comes from, and it’s not anti-science, it’s pro-reason.
    Here endeth my only lesson on this.

    Posted by Barrie on 2006 08 26 at 08:00 PM • permalink

  37. #31 Why do the proponents of this untested hypothesis not conduct experiments to test it?

    What experiments have been conducted to verify evolution? It seems to be mostly based on observation, not scientific experimentation.

    As I understand it ID theory says the universe appears to have been designed. Again, this is based on scientific observation of things that exist.

    If the universe wasn’t designed, then maybe it’s also possible the Mona Lisa was the result of an explosion in a paint factory.

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 26 at 08:00 PM • permalink

  38. Flying Spaghetti Monster is your friend. It also offers a logical explaination on the real cause behind global warming.

    Posted by Linz on 2006 08 26 at 08:09 PM • permalink

  39. Heres more scripture for you:
    “They have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and shall receive the penalty in their own bodies”.  Romans.

    Intelligent Design is an extended ‘Argument from Ignorance’, and not a theory. It is not worth the piss to put it out if it were on fire.

    As a christian, and a geologist, I have to say that ID fundamentally misrepresents science, and has nothing to do with science.  It is self-refuting because it is an appeal to move the discussion from evidence to emotion and faith.

    Go for the faith if you can, but don’t be fooled by people lying about the evidence because the evidence is real.

    Posted by ChrisPer on 2006 08 26 at 08:26 PM • permalink

  40. Robyn Williams is an ABC science presenter; science is his schtick. I’m not surprised he’s written a book about evolution and intelligent design - more power to him!

    Posted by TimT on 2006 08 26 at 08:27 PM • permalink

  41. If I were to be named God, I would of course want to be omniscient and omnipotent. Kind of goes with the position. And, now that I’m God, I need something to God over, right? What to do?

    I suppose I could produce a little place, where everything is perfect and good, and put some life in it that is perfect and good. Unchanging. Static, but ultimately boring. I’m God after all, and I want to use my God powers to their fullest. So, what next?

    How about making things more interesting by just willing a big bang in the midst of nothing, and give it time to develope. Even billions of years. Why not, time is mine, too. As something to while away my time, I think I will experiment by messing around with the worlds that form in my “universe”. Over there. That insignificant world which I’ll call Earth. I’ll do something with it. Let’s see.

    I know, I haven’t done this yet. I’ll plant a seed of life in it’s primordial soup, and let it grow unhindered for a few billion years just to see what developes. Just a few basic laws to get things started. I think a good name for this would be “evolution”.
    Or, since I am omniscient and omnipotent, I could just as easily put in place an infinitely detailed “plan”, guiding the developement of everything, down to the smallest detail. Since I’m supremely intelligent, and it’s my design, I’ll call it “intelligent design”. Catchy, huh?

    But, ya know, I could just as easily make everything at once and be done with it. I would, like, create everything at once, so I’ll call it creation. Then let the chips fall where they may. Could be amusing.

    Ah, to hell with it! I’m just gonna go play golf. BTW, you should see my drives!!
    Love, God

    Posted by rinardman on 2006 08 26 at 08:43 PM • permalink

  42. 41.  Good job God!  Well, except for the storks.  You got their knees on backwards.

    Posted by Vanguard of the Commentariat on 2006 08 26 at 08:48 PM • permalink

  43. I recall an earlier bunch of Intelligent Design enthusiasts insisted the Earth was at the centre of the universe.

    They had some pretty persuasive arguments too, as Galileo discovered.

    Posted by dipole on 2006 08 26 at 09:00 PM • permalink

  44. Evolution started as an hypothesis and has been promoted to the grand and rarefied heights of theorydom because, and only because, it has been tested, and tested, and tested again, continually and rigorously.

    If you can point me to fossilized evidence of one animal species transitioning to another animal species, I’d love to see it.

    Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 08 26 at 09:03 PM • permalink

  45. Didn’t Einstein say he couldn’t imagine the universe with which he was so intimately acquainted absent a Creator?

    Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 08 26 at 09:10 PM • permalink

  46. Good job God!  Well, except for the storks.  You got their knees on backwards.

    Thanks, Van. There’s a really funny story behind the stork knees. But, it’s kind of esoteric to we supreme beings, so I’d best not tell it. God

    Posted by rinardman on 2006 08 26 at 09:11 PM • permalink

  47. Einstein also said he was a deeply religious unbeliever.

    Posted by TimT on 2006 08 26 at 09:15 PM • permalink

  48. I just have one question for proponents of ID: What evidence, specifically, would be sufficient to get you to reject ID? And not even to accept evolution in turn, just to reject ID. I’m genuinely curious.

    Posted by PW on 2006 08 26 at 09:17 PM • permalink

  49. 39 They have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and shall receive the penalty in their own bodies.

    Wow, talk about a baldfaced misquote.

    The actual quote ?

    They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator… Romans 1:25

    It says there is a Creator.  Not really something you could use in an argument against ID, is it?

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 26 at 09:30 PM • permalink

  50. #1

    No Jim, this Robyn Williams. not that Robyn Williams.

    Posted by kae on 2006 08 26 at 09:32 PM • permalink

  51. #48 PW
    I’m not a ID’er, but if I were, I would think undeniable proof there is no supreme being would do it. Otherwise, all cards are on the table.

    Posted by rinardman on 2006 08 26 at 09:36 PM • permalink

  52. oh, what the heck: let’s do have an evolution debate. i’ll echo what the sage said, and point out that i also have no god in this fight. but i have read ‘godless’, and have noticed that although there’s plenty of folks who dismiss her thoughts on evolution out of hand, there’s no one at all who addresses her actual arguments and buzzsaw of footnotes. 

    this is interesting, since it’s exactly what her political enemies do: howl with fury, call her bad names, refuse to debate specifics (“that’s so mean-spirited, i won’t lower myself to her level by commenting on that”), and then run away like a scalded dog. so maybe - just maybe - she’s on to something.

    her seem-to-be-quite-reasonable-and-commonsense evolution arguments are:

    1)since evolution is a trial-n-error process, where are all the millions of ‘evolutionary dead-end’ fossils we should be seeing? australopithecus with, say, a hand growing out of its forehead? there should be lots and lots of them. there seem to be very very very few. how come?

    2)since evolution is a gradual, incremental process, how do we explain evolution of vastly complex systems like, say, an eyeball? which would also require the random ‘evolving’ of an optic nerve and brain ‘software’ to process those images? since none of it would be worth a damn until it’s all in place and operating, why would the creatures in the ‘incrementally evolving an eye’ stage survive to pass on the genes to offspring?

    3)since evolution is all about ‘survival of the fittest’, why would a creature evolving a new body part get to pass on it’s genes at all? if a kid is born with a 2nd nose in his forehead, he’s not gonna get a date, much less babies. ought to go for other animals, too, no?

    4)since evolution is taught to be gradual & incremental, how can the wild proliferation of brand-spanking-new plants and animals in the ‘cambrian explosion’ be explained?

    usually, the answers to questions like these are in the nature of “yeah, well, coulter is a skinny harpy and i hate her.”

    let’s see.

    Posted by jimmy quest on 2006 08 26 at 09:40 PM • permalink

  53. Evolved from what? And God, what the heck happened with the platypus?

    Posted by slatts on 2006 08 26 at 09:42 PM • permalink

  54. #48 Why don’t you go first. What evidence would be sufficient to convince you that the universe isn’t just the product of blind chance and a gigantic explosion?

    And why do you exist at all? Any reason you can think of, apart from a series of pure accidents?

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 26 at 09:44 PM • permalink

  55. Look, folks, evolution is a scientific theory, and an incredibly well-tested one.

    ID is not.

    A scientific theory must be falsifiable, it must make predictions, and above all, it must explain a natural process in terms of natural forces.  That’s what science is.

    Evolution tells us that every living thing evolved from something else.  For every thing living today, and for every fossil we dig up, there was a precursor, right back to the beginning of life itself. (Where the first life came from is, of course, a tendentious subject, but that’s not what this particular debate addresses.)

    If we were to find a fossil rabbit in the pre-Cambrian strata, that would kill the theory on the spot.  Just one Permian pussy-cat, and we’d have to ditch the whole thing.

    We have never found anything of the sort.  We have found tons (literally) of confirming evidence.  We have found some surprises.  We have, since Darwin, discovered exactly how characteristics are inherited - Darwin knew nothing of genetics, much less DNA.

    What’s more, we have directly observed new species evolving - not large animals, since their life-cycles are too slow for this - but plants, single-celled animals, insects.  We’ve seen it.  Evolution is happening right now.

    There is no question among biologists; the Theory of Evolution is correct in its broad sweep. They are still arguing about the fine details, but acceptance of the overall Theory is nearly universal.

    Now, Intelligent Design says some creatures did not arise through evolution but were created by supernatural interference.  The proponents of ID have raised a number of examples of biological systems that they claim could not have evolved naturally.

    In every case, it has been shown that the systems in question could have evolved naturally.  Not that we know exactly how they did evolve, but that it is possible.

    The IDists try to avoid mentioning this.

    One of the main concepts in ID is “Irreducible Complexity”.  This is the idea that certain systems in living creatures could not have been formed one step at a time, as evolution would do it, but must have come into being all at once, because if you take away any part, the system stops working.

    Hemoglobin is one example.  If you take away any part of the hemoglobin molecule, they say, it stops working.  Unfortunately for ID, this (a) is not true, and (b) does not in any event preclude the natural evolution of hemoglobin, since mutations can as easily remove or change components in the structure of a protein (like hemoglobin) as add new ones. 

    Irreducible Complexity, quite simply, ignores most of what we know about mutations and DNA coding.  At best it’s a hollow attack on Evolutionary Theory, at worst it is intentionally dishonest.

    The IDists try to avoid mentioning this too.

    And that’s it.  The Theory of Evolution is a properly-structured scientific theory, that is, as far as we know, correct.  Evidence may arise tomorrow that shows that it is wrong, but we’ve been looking for 150 years and we have not found that evidence.

    Intelligent Design is an objection to the Theory of Evolution based on supernatural beliefs and a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of much of what we know about biology.  It is not even a validly-structure hypothesis;  it fails in every requirement.

    It is not science.

    It’s not that it’s been proven wrong, it’s that it can’t be proven wrong.  In science, it is essential that every hypothesis can be tested.  We have to know if it’s wrong or, potentially, right.

    With ID you cannot do that.  If the IDists raise 1000 examples of things they claim could not have evolved, and biologists show in every case that the creatures or organs or proteins in question could in fact have evolved naturally, that does not show that ID is incorrect.  The IDists can just raise objection 1001.  That isn’t how science works.  And that is why ID shouldn’t be taught as science.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 26 at 09:44 PM • permalink

  56. And God, what the heck happened with the platypus?

    Actually, I consider the platypus the ultimate lifeform.

    Well, that, and Heather Locklear.
    God

    Posted by rinardman on 2006 08 26 at 09:50 PM • permalink

  57. #48 PW, I think the debate may be at cross purposes. ID is about the why, evolution is about the how.  Perhaps there are various interpretations of ID according to who’s doing the propounding, but the way I see it evolution is incorporated in ID because it just explains one of its processes.  Quantum phyics is similarly another process within ID.

    From Bantay, “DNA structure with random displays of chemical bonds would be just that. Random, no pattern, no specified information. DNA bonding through chemical affinity would show order, but no specified information. But DNA structure patterned with chemical bonds that are coded to react with proteins in ways that demonstrate a purposeful effect, is specified information, and so indicates design. An improbable event, (making it complex). The information rich content indicates ‘choice’. The specificity of the information demonstrates ‘purpose’.

    Intelligent Design is no more and no less than detecting patterns that can be independently given and whose probability of occuring by chance interplay of matter and energy are too improbable to be reasonable.”

    At the same time, we haven’t the capacity to comprehend the mind of God, we can only understand some of the effects through the language of science.  To me it’s not about science or God, one over the other.

    Posted by romeo on 2006 08 26 at 09:53 PM • permalink

  58. I used to scoff at ID, then I had some of the serious flaws in evolutionary theory pointed out to me. I still don’t believe in any divine being whatsoever, but am now perplexed that people talk about evolution as though it is a flawless theory.

    Posted by percypup on 2006 08 26 at 10:03 PM • permalink

  59. 1)since evolution is a trial-n-error process, where are all the millions of ‘evolutionary dead-end’ fossils we should be seeing? australopithecus with, say, a hand growing out of its forehead? there should be lots and lots of them. there seem to be very very very few. how come?

    Well, you can’t get that from a mutation, rather, that would require anomalous development of the embryo.  We see such things today, of course, but they are rare and in most cases spontaneously abort or die shortly after birth.  I don’t know whether we have found fossil examples of such developmental anomalies, but in any case, it does not address Evolution at all.

    2)since evolution is a gradual, incremental process, how do we explain evolution of vastly complex systems like, say, an eyeball? which would also require the random ‘evolving’ of an optic nerve and brain ‘software’ to process those images? since none of it would be worth a damn until it’s all in place and operating, why would the creatures in the ‘incrementally evolving an eye’ stage survive to pass on the genes to offspring?

    Good question.

    The answer is, it evolved one step at a time, and it was useful all the way along.

    You only have to look around the animal kingdom to see the wonderful variety of eyes that exist even today, from light-sensitive patches to to complexity of vertebrate and cephalopod eyes, and everything in between.  Eyes as complex as ours not only evolved; they evolved twice.

    We didn’t get an eyeball then an optic nerve then a brain capable of processing the images.  What we got was a light-sensitive cell feeding into a small cluster of nerves that controlled our movment in simple, almost mechanical, ways.  Back when we were something like a modern flatworm.  The eye evolved, in various directions.  The nerves evolved.  The brain evolved.  Independently.  And not always successfully.

    3)since evolution is all about ‘survival of the fittest’, why would a creature evolving a new body part get to pass on it’s genes at all? if a kid is born with a 2nd nose in his forehead, he’s not gonna get a date, much less babies. ought to go for other animals, too, no?

    Absolutely.  It’s survival of the fittest, and “fittest” means, well, those who survive and make babies.  If you don’t make babies, you are, by definition, not fit.

    And as it happens, we don’t see animals with two noses.

    4)since evolution is taught to be gradual & incremental, how can the wild proliferation of brand-spanking-new plants and animals in the ‘cambrian explosion’ be explained?

    Gradually and incrementally.

    Over millions of years.

    The Cambrian explosion was slow; it took place over several millions of years.  But the explosion was when we saw large, complex forms with hard body parts start to arise and compete; the competitive pressure provided accelerated the evolutionary process.

    Remember, there are two components to evolution: inheritance of characteristics (genetics, as we call it now), and natural selection (the survival of the fittest).  If the environment is stable, there may be little in the way of selective pressure, and evolution may proceed slowly.  Turn up the heat, by introducing just one newly evolved predator, and the selective pressure increases substantially.  A minor difference in, say, the ability to detect predators, or flee, or hide, that didn’t make much difference before in whether or not you survived to make babies… Now it may be vitally important.

    We don’t know exactly what started things moving, but once the environment changed, the old survival of the fittest really kicked in.  Lots of species died out; lots of new adaptations showed up.

    The thing to understand is that the Cambrian Explosion didn’t come out of nowhere.  There were already multicellular animals around, but they were mostly very small, or else soft (like the Ediacaran fauna), and either didn’t leave many fossils (the Ediacaran fauna were discovered much later) or were ignored in the early days of study because peering at hundreds of tiny, indistinct fossil shells through a microscope is a fairly thankless task.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 26 at 10:13 PM • permalink

  60. Another question: when did people started dropping ‘the theory of’ tag in front of evolution?

    It’s cumbersome? You could also say the theory of gravity made the rock fall, the theory of thermodynamics made your coffee cold, the theory of aerodynamics made Beckham score on a free kick etc.

    The term “theory” is often misunderstood by those not from scientific backgrounds.

    I find it entertaining (and depressing) that people will accept scientific knowledge when it suits them (medical treatment for diseases, DNA testing, geology for mining/oil production) but reject the very same scientific knowledge when it conflicts with their beliefs.

    Posted by Engelbert on 2006 08 26 at 10:13 PM • permalink

  61. I used to scoff at ID, then I had some of the serious flaws in evolutionary theory pointed out to me.

    I’d be interested to hear of those flaws, percypup.  I’ve read some of the ID literature, and nothing I’ve seen of their claims holds up to examination.  Perhaps you are talking about something else.

    By the way, I’m not a biologist of any sort, I just read a lot.  Stephen Jay Gould is a very accessible source of information on the subject.  His book Wonderful Life discusses the Cambrian Explosion in particular; any of his books of essays is worth reading.  They’re not dry at all, they’re just plain fun.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 26 at 10:18 PM • permalink

  62. Oh no!  The italics are escaping! . </i>

    Let’s see if that helped.  I know there’s a trick to this.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 26 at 10:20 PM • permalink

  63. Ookay.

    Oh, of course.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 26 at 10:21 PM • permalink

  64. Well, poot!

    [STOP FIXING THE FORMATTING ERRORS. I WILL FIX THEM AS SOON AS I AM BACK AT THE COMPUTER. WHEN YOU TRY TO FIX IT YOURSELF, YOU JUST FUCK EVERYTHING UP WORSE. STOPPIT STOPPIT STOPPIT. The Management.]

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 26 at 10:22 PM • permalink

  65. Okay, that got it!

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 26 at 10:22 PM • permalink

  66. What about bluebottles (blowflies)?

    You know, those irritating flies that buzz around your house on summer days; they go from egg to next generation in one week, that means since humans have walked the Earth there have been trillions and trillions of generations of bluebottles, but we know that bluebottles were around for millions of years before us.

    So over those gazillions of generations the bluebottle must have evolved into one serious super life form, except that it hasn’t. It was a perfectly designed bluebottle eons ago and it is still the exact same design today.

    So what, does evolution not apply to bluebottles?

    Posted by Harry Flashman on 2006 08 26 at 10:24 PM • permalink

  67. ID has never struck me as especially strong scientifically, since it seems to boil down to ‘something as complicated as life can’t possibly have been accidental.’  It then fails to prove that (if, indeed, such a thing is provable at all).  I have no problem with ID as a religious belief, since it seems to be part and parcel with Quantum Deism.  QD isn’t my faith, but its adherents aren’t rioting over cartoons or sawing the heads off hardshell Baptists, so I’m not especially worked up about it. 

    If its believers want to home school their kids in it or get accreditation for St. Schroedinger Elementary, okay, but it has no more place in the public school curriculum than any other faith, including my own.

    Posted by Achillea on 2006 08 26 at 10:28 PM • permalink

  68. ID is about the why, evolution is about the how.

    Oh, I largely agree with that. If it turned out that there’s a God who decided on using evolutionary processes to implement his designs, I don’t think the majority of evolution proponents would be all that troubled. After all, strictly speaking evolution doesn’t say that there must be no God in order for evolution to be the correct theory of how beings evolve, just that he’s not necessary. It’s just not a question that evolution theory in its scientific form seems to concern itself with much. (There’s no denying that some proponents of evolution have raised it to quasi-religious dogma, of course.)

    On the other hand, nearly every proponent of ID that I’ve ever encountered seems to consider ID in competition with (and complete contradiction to) evolution theory. Presumably that’s at least part of the reason why ID is often seen as the last refuge of the discredited “Earth was created 5000 (or whatever) years ago” crowd. And no, I don’t really care if that’s actually right or wrong, I’m just saying that’s the perception, especially over here in Europe.

    #54: What evidence would be sufficient to convince you that the universe isn’t just the product of blind chance and a gigantic explosion?

    I find it curious that you felt the need to expand my question into the realm of “does God exist at all?” All I asked was what it would take to reject ID, not what it would take to reject the idea of God. Unless you think both questions are equivalent, of course, in which case you’ve just disqualified yourself from a discussion of whether ID is a scientific theory.

    So, the proper inversion would be what it would take for me to reject evolution theory. I’d say the Pre-Cambrian fossil rabbit Pixy Misa mentioned would be one, for starters.

    Posted by PW on 2006 08 26 at 10:31 PM • permalink

  69. 60 Engelbert

    It isn’t the same thing. The existence of gravity can easily be proven by experimentation. What experiments have proven the theory of evolution?

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 26 at 10:35 PM • permalink

  70. I think the debate may be at cross purposes. ID is about the why, evolution is about the how.

    No, ID tries to pre-empt the how.  Now, Theistic Evolution is the idea that God set up nature, including evolution, to produce his desired outcome.  That’s fine.  It’s religion rather than science, but it has no argument with science, and most importantly, doesn’t pretent otherwise.  Lots of biologists believe something along those lines.

    DNA structure with random displays of chemical bonds would be just that. Random, no pattern, no specified information.

    But this is entirely beside the point, because evolution is not random.  Mutations are random.  Natural selection is very definitely not random.

    And in any case, you can’t have DNA with random displays of chemical bonds.  DNA is explicitly structured.  The pairings may be randomly ordered, but the bit about “random displays of chemical bonds” is complete nonsense.

    But DNA structure patterned with chemical bonds that are coded to react with proteins in ways that demonstrate a purposeful effect, is specified information, and so indicates design.

    Again, this is nonsense, unless you are willing to ascribe design to random processes.  We have seen - we have observed directly - single, natural, random mutations that code for novel and useful proteins.

    At best, at best, Bantay is completely wrong.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 26 at 10:35 PM • permalink

  71. So over those gazillions of generations the bluebottle must have evolved into one serious super life form, except that it hasn’t. It was a perfectly designed bluebottle eons ago and it is still the exact same design today.

    So what, does evolution not apply to bluebottles?

    It does.

    Evolution doesn’t require species to go extinct.  Survival of the fittest, remember? Bluebottles survive because they are already fit.

    If something came along that outcompeted or selectively devoured bluebottles, things would change.  We’d see either a Mk II bluebottle or eventual extinction.  It just hasn’t happened yet.

    There are lots of species that have remained largely unchanged for many millions of years, from cockroaches to coelacanths.  Find a niche and fill it, and hope for the best, seems to be a pretty good strategy in that respect.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 26 at 10:39 PM • permalink

  72. PS:

    If it turned out that there’s a God who decided on using evolutionary processes to implement his designs

    What I mean by that is something akin to the Conway’s Game of Life, in that the player (“God”) sets the starting parameters and then lets nature run its course (“evolution”) to whatever end state that will result from it. I’d personally still consider that Intelligent Design, but I don’t think most contemporary proponents of ID would agree with me on that, and that’s the part I’m puzzled by.

    Posted by PW on 2006 08 26 at 10:42 PM • permalink

  73. Now, Theistic Evolution is the idea that God set up nature, including evolution, to produce his desired outcome.  That’s fine.  It’s religion rather than science, but it has no argument with science, and most importantly, doesn’t pretent otherwise.  Lots of biologists believe something along those lines.

    Yay, there’s even a term for what I was trying to describe. Thanks, Pixy Misa.

    Posted by PW on 2006 08 26 at 10:44 PM • permalink

  74. What experiments have proven the theory of evolution?

    That’s not how it works.

    You can’t prove a scientific theory.  You can only disprove them.

    The Theory of Gravity has not been proven; in fact, Newtonian Gravitation has been disproven, and we knew something was wrong as early as the 17th century, because the planet Mercury doesn’t move as Newton predited.

    Einstein explained this; that’s what Relativity was all about.

    Now, evolution, as it applies historically, is necessarily based on historical observations.  That means the fossil record, and historical evidence remainng in our genes.

    More broadly, evolution explains how new species arise in any circumstances, and there has been an enormous amount of experimentation on that, starting with Gregor Mendel’s peas and moving on to fruit flies and other critters.  And every experiment has provided supporting evidence for the Theory of Evolution.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 26 at 10:46 PM • permalink

  75. 68 PW

    I didn’t “expand” your question. I asked you something different, which you chose not to answer.

    Of course ultimately, there’s a supernatural aspect to the question of intelligent design, but that doesn’t mean the theory should be dismissed out of hand. I think there is evidence to suggest the universe may have had a Designer. Are you saying it’s impossible that such evidence could exist?

    Incidentally, I don’t believe in a purposeless universe. Perhaps you do?

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 26 at 10:48 PM • permalink

  76. Spiders eat bluebottles, so how come over all that time the bluebottles have been unable to evolve a method of not getting stuck in spiders’ webs? According to evoultionary theory the bluebottles which got caught in webs should have died off by now leaving only the non-stick variety, remarkably enough the stupid buggers keep getting stuck in those webs, millennium after millennium.

    Posted by Harry Flashman on 2006 08 26 at 10:56 PM • permalink

  77. Spiders eat bluebottles, so how come over all that time the bluebottles have been unable to evolve a method of not getting stuck in spiders’ webs?

    They have a method:  Make lots of babies.  It works.

    According to evoultionary theory the bluebottles which got caught in webs should have died off by now leaving only the non-stick variety, remarkably enough the stupid buggers keep getting stuck in those webs, millennium after millennium.

    No.

    Since by observation it is clear that enough bluebottles do in fact survive to produce the next generation, evolutionary theory makes no such prediction.

    What’s more, the bluebottles don’t seem to have any precursor for either non-stickiness or the intelligence to avoid the webs.  If there were enough spiders around, bluebottles might go extinct, but there aren’t enough spiders.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 26 at 11:07 PM • permalink

  78. More broadly, the “live fast, die young, leave a whole lotta kids” approach is a superb survival strategy in many environments.

    If you lay 30 eggs at a time, it doesn’t matter if 90% of them don’t grow up and have eggs of their own.

    If, on the other hand, your energies are focused on anti-spider defences instead of reproduction, you might just get eaten by a sparrow.  Or a wasp, or a dragonfly, or a frog, or a lizard, or…

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 26 at 11:21 PM • permalink

  79. “They don’t have any precursor for non stickiness”, but they didn’t have any precursors for wings either until they got them, where do these “precursors” come from and if they aren’t actually the real thing what use are they, ie why would they keep developing until they become wings if they aren’t any use as wings in the first place?

    And as for intelligence to avoid the webs, did amoebas have “intelligence” to become the remarkable multi-billion celled creatures that there are today? And isn’t it an absence of intelligence that is the bedrock of evolutionary thought, ie it’s all just a random mutation without any intelligence involved?

    Posted by Harry Flashman on 2006 08 26 at 11:24 PM • permalink

  80. Tim, keep your gunpowder dry, mate.  Williams is a scientist, not a political commentator.  He has no interest in Islam. Almost every reputable scientist agrees that ID is a joke theory - where there’s a hole in science there must be God.

    BTW, some of the most elegant debunkery of ID has been done by Christian scientists. See the excellent (and long) article in the New Yorker about 3 months back.

    Posted by Bearded Mullah on 2006 08 26 at 11:37 PM • permalink

  81. Mr Williams seems to be confusing Intelligent Design proponents, who may or may not be in error with their ideas, with Creationists, who are flat-out goofy with their “man walked with the dinosaurs and the Grand Canyon was created by the Flood” craziness. Whatever you may think of the ID people, they aren’t going about saying the earth was only created 6000 years ago. Mr Williams is probably of the “all religious people are drooling yokels” school of thought, and by some of the comments here some of you people are too.

    That being said, I think the ID’ers are mistaken in their efforts to push their philosophy (Intelligent Design is ultimately a philosophical position, and in fact philosophy 101 is where I first heard of the idea—remember the “watchmaker”?) as science. They are basically trying to use the scientific method to prove God exists, and that’s simply not possible. I think it’s more as Synova said: their anxiety over not the theory of evolution, but the belief system of Evolutionism, is what is driving the ID’ers to this pass. Evolutionism is only tangentially about studying the theory of evolution; it’s mostly about applying the theory to things that it wasn’t meant for. Basically the Evolutionists try to use the scientific method to prove that God doesn’t exist, and that can’t be done either.

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 08 26 at 11:40 PM • permalink

  82. Can someone tell me why this debate is not pointless, until someone answers the penultimate question: Is there a supreme being?

    And, only then can you answer the ultimate question: How was it done?

    Posted by rinardman on 2006 08 26 at 11:42 PM • permalink

  83. #78 and others. Thank you, particularly, Pixy.

    Just when I was beginning to wonder if evolution had left some of our fellow commentators behind, you come along and punctuate their equilibrium.

    I truly wish I had more time to post my opinions—just reading this thread is causing me to evolve.

    But, it’s 9 year old girly-type-sleep-over at chèz MentalFloss and I can barely hear myself think.

    Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 08 26 at 11:43 PM • permalink

  84. Some seem to think that if the current scientific dogma about evolution is questioned, the questioner must be stupid and/or a religious fanatic.

    When I was at university in the 70’s a few scientists were predicting disaster because of an upcoming ice age. Now many scientists are predicting disaster because of global warming due to the greenhouse effect. Since scientists can’t be wrong I look forward to the day when the warming and the cooling are both happening at the same time. Froinlavin, as Professor Frink once said.

    I’m not anti-science. The scientific method has been a great benefit to the human race. But just because the ID types have proposed a counter theory to the “fact” of evolution doesn’t make them anti-science either.

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 27 at 12:12 AM • permalink

  85. Having made as careful review of all extant theories of creation, I find that all are hopelessly flawed in one way or another. Therefore, I can only conclude that this “creation” nonsense never happened. Nope. No evidence whatsoever. This universe does not exist. And you can’t prove that it does!

    Posted by nofixedabode on 2006 08 27 at 12:26 AM • permalink

  86. #84

    Scientists are human, scientists make mistakes. Compared to climatology evolution is bog simple. It’s far easier to explain how changes in gene regulation can lead to stumpy legs becoming long legs, then it is to explain how rising temperatures can lead to growing glaciers in the center of Greenland.

    But, science corrects itself. Scientist A. says, “Blah, blah, blah!” Scientist B. asks, “You sure about that?” Scientists C. and D. chime in with, “That’s not what we found.” Scientist A. then says, “I’ll run the tests again and report back to you.”

    ID is an assertion. There is no way to test it, no way to verify it. It requires a supernatural agency (anything that can create a whole universe is certainly beyond this realm), and science does not concern itself with supernatural agency. Besides, a creator isn’t necessary. From all we know, our universe can be explained naturalistically. You don’t need God. You don’t have to give God the credit, you can’t give God the blame.

    That’s what it comes down to. You are responsible for your own actions, and God won’t cover your ass for you. It’s called independence, and some people refuse to accept it.

    “The only thing that makes slavery possible is the slave.” John W. Campbell

    Think about it.

    Posted by mythusmage on 2006 08 27 at 12:33 AM • permalink

  87. #85 nofixedabode

    Weren’t you paying attention?

    #74 explained it:  You can’t prove a scientific theory. You can only disprove them (sic).

    Therefore you can’t prove your theory that the universe does not exist. You can only disprove that it does exist. Got it?

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 27 at 12:43 AM • permalink

  88. #60 Engelbert:

    (I said) Another question: when did people started dropping ‘the theory of’ tag in front of evolution?

    (You said) It’s cumbersome? You could also say the theory of gravity made the rock fall, the theory of thermodynamics made your coffee cold, the theory of aerodynamics made Beckham score on a free kick etc.

    The term “theory” is often misunderstood by those not from scientific backgrounds.

    Actually they’re the Law of Gravity, the Laws of Thermodynamics and the Laws of Aerodynamics.

    The term ‘law’ is often misunderstood by people who can’t tell the difference between a theory and a law.

    —Nora

    Posted by The Thin Man Returns on 2006 08 27 at 12:44 AM • permalink

  89. #86 Compared to climatology evolution is bog simple.

    Think about it.

    I thought about it. What you wrote is ridiculous.


    You’re saying the study of deviations by a couple of degrees in the current climate of the earth is too complex for scientists to understand properly.

    But the history of life on earth for billions of years including the mysterious origin of a living organism from non-living material, and then the metamorphosis of the single-celled swamp thingy into a human being is simple to understand.

    Evolutionary dogma reminds me of the communist dogma I once believed. (I’m a former repentent socialist.) It too was purported to be very simple and very scientific, and no argument was ever allowed about the validity of it either.

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 27 at 01:19 AM • permalink

  90. #88 Nora

    Well said. That was a splendid response.

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 27 at 01:43 AM • permalink

  91. i need to ask God about pluto.. my horrowscopt is still out of wack

    Posted by missred on 2006 08 27 at 01:45 AM • permalink

  92. Meh. The title isn’t even original.

    Posted by Fern R on 2006 08 27 at 02:12 AM • permalink

  93. This isn’t even about science or religion , it’s about screaming leftys determining what you can and can’t believe. I like ID not because I believe in it, but because it pisses off the social engineers.

    Posted by Daniel San on 2006 08 27 at 02:36 AM • permalink

  94. Yeah Fern, and I bet it’s been used in countless blog posts too!

    I prefer the slightly more obscure, but punning title ‘Untelligent Design’. The other part of Williams title is just silly: ‘Why God isn’t as smart as she thinks she is.’

    In general, though, I reckon Williams is one of the better ABC presenters, and I agree with him on this point.

    Posted by TimT on 2006 08 27 at 02:59 AM • permalink

  95. What is a “stalking monster”?  Is that a stalking horse after evolution? 

    Could a monster evolve, or are they created? 

    ABC should watch their cliches…

    Posted by anthony_r on 2006 08 27 at 03:16 AM • permalink

  96. Speaking of ridiculous.

    #86 The only thing that makes slavery possible is the slave.  John W Campbell

    I suggest the slaver also has something to do with it.

    John W Campbell was a former editor of the pulp magazine, Astounding Science Fiction.  L Ron Hubbard also wrote stuff for Astounding at one time. A pair of great minds, apparently.

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 27 at 03:36 AM • permalink

  97. Look, folks, evolution is a scientific theory, and an incredibly well-tested one.

    Every time someone says something like that I think of evolutionary psychology.  The people who work in the field, pontificating about how our emotions, morality and so on have evolved from those of our ‘primitive ancestors’, consider themselves scientists. 

    Now the simple fact is that they have not a single one of our ‘primitive ancestors’ to use as an experimental subject since those ancestors have all been dead for a very long time.  So evolutionary psychologists are not doing science.  They are imagining what the minds of these dead people were like and then they are using an evolutionary interpretive framework to produce untestable speculations about how we came to be as we are now.

    One ‘does’ science within a materialist framework because science is concerned with investigating the properties of matter.  That’s how the structure of the renowned bacterial flagellum got discovered.  Once you start thinking about how that structure might have formed you are no longer doing science.  In that case materialism becomes elective rather than mandatory; a matter of personal belief rather than professional practice. 

    A dogmatic evolutionist materialist will assume what is to be proved and say that the structure formed by chance.  More open minded people might consider other knowledge - e.g., from science and mathematics.  Given our current state of knowledge it is very much open to those to come to the conclusion that chance alone cannot account for this structure.  If chance can’t account for it then what is left?  Purpose is left and that implies intelligent design.  That is a reasonable inference from current data. 

    What would destroy the ID argument would be a demonstration of how such ‘irreducibly complex’ structures can form by chance.  As far as I’m concerned such a demonstration would have to be a proper demonstration.  Just-so stories such as those peddled by evolutionary psychologists and their ilk will not do.  Tautologies won’t do either.

    Consider what Pixy said at #71 “Bluebottles survive because they are already fit.”  It tells us absolutely nothing.  He might as well have said bluebottles survive because they survived. They’re fit because they survived and they survived because they’re fit.
     
    Considering that flies are said to have first appeared between 250 and 300 million years ago (the Permian) and considering everything that’s supposed to have happened since then - massive extinctions, new species of all sorts appearing, multiple climate changes including ice ages -  to just say that bluebottles survive because they are fit is to beg the question to a massive degree.

    Posted by Janice on 2006 08 27 at 03:38 AM • permalink

  98. No link, but if you google the back issues of Quadrant, Hal Colebatch had a funnyt review of Robyn Williams’ ludicrous book 2007 in the December, 2003 issue.

    Posted by Susan Norton on 2006 08 27 at 03:56 AM • permalink

  99. # 97 Janice

    That was an excellent comment you just posted, although probably not politically correct enough for some of the anti-ID commenters here.

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 27 at 04:00 AM • permalink

  100. Next week’s “Science Show” (12.00 EST) examines another “scientific” hypothesis with much shakier foundations than Darwinism, one that borders on mysticism (or maybe lunacy), Gaiaism.
    In light of Williams’ approach to “Intelligent Design” it will be interesting to hear his stance on that one.

    Posted by chrisgo on 2006 08 27 at 05:49 AM • permalink

  101. I believe in intelligent design.

    It makes sense to me.

    I accept a lot of people don’t but do you really want to end up on the same side of a debate as the greens/luvvies/democrats and all the nutters who can’t hold a productive thought between them?

    Posted by gubbaboy on 2006 08 27 at 05:51 AM • permalink

  102. For a long time I thought that the reason evolution shouldn’t be considered scientific was that it can’t be falsified.  Every argument against it was dealt with by a shifting of the goal posts. 

    For instance, originally evolution was associated with an idea of upward progress - start with goo and end with you.  But then it became, “a change in gene frequencies,” or, “change over time”.  Indeed, I’ve even come across people who reckon that normal human development from infancy to adulthood is evidence of evolution. 

    Sometime in the last twenty odd years (once people realised that the Urey/Miller experimental results were going nowhere) the idea that evolution could explain the emergence of life from non-living matter seems to have quietly been dropped.  Now, instead of hearing that evolution can explain everything about life, we hear that the study of evolution only deals with changes to already living things.  The study of the origin of life is a another matter entirely. 

    And then there are arguments like the bluebottle one.  Change is evidence of evolution but non-change is equally good evidence.

    Then I realised that there has been a series of experiments going on for about a hundred years that could falsify evolution (at least they could falsify neo-Darwinian evolution).  The interesting thing about this series of experiments is that it offers no comfort to evolutionists at all.

    I’m talking about all the experiments done on fruit flies.  Maybe thousands of generations of fruit flies have been exposed to a variety of mutagens.  Remember that mutations are (were?) supposed to be the fuel that feeds evolutionary change.  These are the changes on which natural selection is supposed to act.  After all, what else can provide new information to an animal’s genome and move them up the scale from simple to complex?

    So after all these flies were given doses of various stimuli-to-evolve what happened?  They remained fruit flies.  Even the populations of mutated ones reverted to normal after a few more generations which gives support to the notion that natural selection is conservative rather than creative.  Don’t anyone tell me that fruit flies with a mutation or two are not still fruit flies.  On average we all carry about six mutations but they don’t make us something other than human. 

    In any case, after 30 years of thinking about and investigating the subject, my considered opinion is that evolution is garbage science that is welcomed because it allows escapist, wishful thinkers to not believe in God.  And it is your right to choose to believe garbage science rather than believe in God.  That’s what free will is all about.  I used to believe in evolution myself so I can hardly condemn those who believe it now, especially when I know you’ve all been indoctrinated into believing it since you were wee, tiny children and almost every authority figure you’ve come across since then has assured you that it is believable.  It is hard to kick against the goad.

    Posted by Janice on 2006 08 27 at 05:52 AM • permalink

  103. Given our current state of knowledge it is very much open to those to come to the conclusion that chance alone cannot account for this structure.

    No, that’s impossible.  It is always possible that chance can account for that structure, no matter how unlikely that structure is.  There is no way to conclusively rule out random chance in favor of intent.

    Oddly enough, any attempt to imply otherwise is just begging the question to a massive degree.  ID can’t get away with proving that something that already does exist was improbable or impossible.  An improbable structure is still a possible structure, and if something actually exists it logically follows that it was possible for the thing to exist.  ID cannot prove otherwise, ever, so it assumes.  That assumption is logically and scientifically invalid regardless of its truth, and therein lies the reason ID does not belong anywhere near a science class.


    I actually happen to believe in a divine creator myself, but I feel no need to desperately disguise my faith as reason.  We hold many wonderful and constructive irrational beliefs in our society, my favorite being “All men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.”  I abhor materialists, and it pains me to see them come out on top of an argument people should be too smart to have.

    But the only thing that makes me more uncomfortable than hearing people try to clumsily conflate ID with science is people trying to conflate the God-Damn Flying Spaghetti Monster with cleverness.

    Posted by Sortelli on 2006 08 27 at 06:15 AM • permalink

  104. So the natural world is ruthless and wasteful, so what?
    That’s the way God created it if you wish.
    I don’t see how the belief in a Creator impedes genuine scientific endeavor.

    Posted by chrisgo on 2006 08 27 at 06:17 AM • permalink

  105. There has been an Islamo-Fascist link for many years.

    [Link removed because the commenter lacked the common courtesy to follow the instructions for posting long urls. Next time the entire comment will be deleted. The Management.]

    Posted by Howzat on 2006 08 27 at 06:26 AM • permalink

  106. #88 Nora,

    Sorry, but no.

    A law is a mathematical relationship derived from a theory.

    Newtons Laws of Gravitation are mathematical expressions derived from his Theory of Gravitation.

    To save argument, this is not opinion, but an exposition of the correct explanation of the definition of the terms.

    #34,
    Sorry, but it is true. That IS the definition of evolution. If you would like it to be something else then fine, argue for a change, but for the moment, like it or not, that is the definition evolutionary theorists work with.

    #44
    “If you can point me to fossilized evidence of one animal species transitioning to another animal species, I’d love to see it.”

    The line of evolution of horses, elephants, cats, dogs, and numerous others are all as well documented as you ask for. We have clear examples of change from form to form, it is just that each transitional form is labeled as a new species by its finder. This habit is more evidence of ego on the part of biologists than lack of evidence of transitional forms.

    #58
    “I used to scoff at ID, then I had some of the serious flaws in evolutionary theory pointed out to me”

    I have read book after book, and article after article, proposing flaws in Evolutionary Theory, and I have never yet seen a proposed flaw which was not trivialy easy to refute. These articles tend to be produced by people with a superfician understanding, not a deep one.

    #97
    Sorry, but you built a straw man and then demolished it.

    No evolutionary theorist will claim that any complex structure was created by chance.
    Ever.

    The only people who make the claim that they do are those who have no concept of how Darwinian selection works and no idea of what Darwinian theorists do claim.

    The flagellum argument falls apart because when the ID folk started to claim the rotor as an example of irreducable complexity biologists were able to demonstrate a rational mechanism by which the individual components developed, each useful at all stages of development, rendering an external influence (ID) as an unnecessarily complex explanation.

    Posted by Chris Harper on 2006 08 27 at 06:35 AM • permalink

  107. 105.
    What chance of seeing this German documentary on SBS (in prime time) I wonder?

    Posted by chrisgo on 2006 08 27 at 06:43 AM • permalink

  108. Once again: Can someone tell me why this debate is not pointless, until someone answers the penultimate question: Is there a supreme being?

    And, only then can you answer the ultimate question: How was it done?

    If there is no supreme being, creation and ID are eliminated from the equation, leaving chance as the major (or only) driving force in the developement of the universe as we know it.

    So, come on, somebody answer the question: Is there a supreme being (God)?

    Otherwise, I think you people just like to pontificate!

    Posted by rinardman on 2006 08 27 at 07:58 AM • permalink

  109. Consider what Pixy said at #71 “Bluebottles survive because they are already fit.” It tells us absolutely nothing.  He might as well have said bluebottles survive because they survived. They’re fit because they survived and they survived because they’re fit.

    Bingo!

    You are exactly right.

    And if bluebottles went it extinct, it would be because they weren’t fit.

    “Survival of the fittest” is really a definition, not an explanation.  “Survival of those that survive.”

    To put it less circularly: In any population of critters, there are variances that make some of the critters more likely to survive to adulthood and then to reproduce. 

    Those variances are (at least largely) inheritable.  We know this.  Today it’s called genetics.

    The variances come about through random mutation and through the genetic lottery of sexual reproduction.  All of this is established beyond reasonable question.

    Some of the critters have babies.  Some don’t.  That’s natural selection.  Or artificial selection if you’re breeding domestic animals.  Artificial selection is just a special case of natural selection.

    The slow cheetahs, the deaf zebras, they tend to die out.  Pygmy elephants die out on the African savannah - but they are the ones who survive on Mediterranean islands, because there food is scarce and there are few or no large predators.

    You’ve seen what we’ve done to dogs in 20,000 years or so.  All dogs are wolves, genetically.  They can all interbreed.  Despite their huge differences, they haven’t even speciated yet.

    Nature has been working on this for about 3.5 billion years.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 27 at 08:01 AM • permalink

  110. Can someone tell me why this debate is not pointless, until someone answers the penultimate question: Is there a supreme being?

    Sure.

    The reason that the debate is not pointless, is that Evolution is a genuine scientific discipline, and Intelligent Design is religion passed off as science in an attempt to get religion into the classroom.

    This is the “Wedge Document” put out by the Discovery Institute, the leading proponents of Intelligent Design, wherein they admit exactly what they are doing.  (An easier to read copy can be found here, and a version with commentary here.)

    Intelligent Design is being presented with almost complete dishonesty.  That is why it gets biologists riled up.

    It’s also worth reading the findings of fact from the case Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which are a very insightful overview of the nature of ID and the activities of its proponents.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 27 at 08:10 AM • permalink

  111. Once you start thinking about how that structure might have formed you are no longer doing science.

    Entirely false.

    Science enquires into how things happen all the time; this is indeed the very essence of science.  Ernest Rutherford said “All science is physics or stamp collecting”, meaning, if you are not explaining how something happened (which ultimately goes back to physics), all you are doing is gathering data.

    Gathering data is a useful part of science, but by itself it is not science.

    Science is all about how.  It’s not - at least, until you get into the behavioural sciences - about why.  See what I said about Theistic Evolution above.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 27 at 08:14 AM • permalink

  112. Why do people fear mystery?  That may be the better question to ask with regard to this debate.  An awful lot of posts here state proposition as much more hardened fact.  Well to that, BUllSHitler.  When you can openly look at some of these questions and say “I do not know the definite answer to blah blah blah, but this is what makes sense based on X,Y and Z” as opposed to “Your an idiot.  This observation proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that blah, blah, blah” then you can start to puzzle out some of the issues with the help of people who are willing to do likewise but maintain a different perspective.  Apply that thought process as a sort/filter to the posts above and a large percentage fall into the latter camp as opposed to the former.
    Making a minor cognitive leap leaves this small rodent with the conclusion that many are emotionally uncomfortable with the notion of not being able to live with a mystery regardless of their predilections.
    Suggested course of treatment?  Well, humility, the ability to forgive others their trespasses as they forgive you yours and so-on and so-forth.  You know, that stuff the majority of the worlds religions appear to take to heart.  Well many of the worlds religions anyways.  Not sure about the faith that claims somewhere in the neighborhood of one-in-seven of the worlds population but seems to be at the heart of close to one-in-one of the global conflicts.  Not that I really know for certain mind you.  It’s a mystery.  And I’m okay with that.  Doesn’t seem to affect my aim at all.

    Posted by Ignorant Peon on 2006 08 27 at 08:21 AM • permalink

  113. What would destroy the ID argument would be a demonstration of how such ‘irreducibly complex’ structures can form by chance.

    Chris Harper has addressed this in part, but I’ll respond more fully.

    First, Evolution does not happen by chance.  Evolution is not random.  Mutations are random.  Natural selection is not.  The presentation of Evolution as happening “by chance” is one of the primary markers of IDist dishonesty; don’t buy into it.

    Second, it has been done.  Every example of supposedly “irreducibly complex” systems put forward by the IDists has been shown to have a plausible evolutionary path.  That doesn’t mean (as I said earlier) that we know how it actually evolved, just that the argument that it could not have evolved has been refuted.

    Third, this does nothing to refute ID itself.  ID is merely a collection of claims without any connecting theory.  If hemoglobin, the vertebrate eye, and the flagellum are all shown to have possibly evolved naturally, the IDists simply move on to wings and spider webs and whatnot.

    ID can never be proven wrong.  Specific claims can be shown to be wrong, but ID as a whole is immune to falsification.  That means that ID is not science.  (It is worth noting that in the Kitzmiller case, ID’s proponents, in an attempt to make ID a science, broadened the definition of “science” so far as to include astrology.)

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 27 at 08:24 AM • permalink

  114. If the universe has been the product of design then it must have been by a committee, suggesting that if there is a god than polytheism seems more likely.

    I mean, why all these planets? Why not just earth? Seems wasteful. And all these stars with no planets. must have needed to get rid of an excess of hydrogen or something.

    And people who think humans are the product of intelligent design haven’t taken much of a look inside us. What a mess.  Anyone who’d design our intestines needs to go back to the drawing board.

    Posted by Francis H on 2006 08 27 at 08:24 AM • permalink

  115. Oh, and finally - as strident a defender of Evolutionary Theory (and science in general) as I am, I find the ABC’s wording to be ludicrous, especially in light of current world events.

    Robyn Williams book, on the other hand, may well be worth reading.  I’ll get a copy and see.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 27 at 08:28 AM • permalink

  116. Francis H - In pondering the nature of God, it might be instructive to consider that there are estimated to be between 5 and 8 million species of beetle.

    Posted by Pixy Misa on 2006 08 27 at 08:31 AM • permalink

  117. Pixy,
    Speaking of the Coleoptera are you familiar with this exchange from the biologist J.B.S. Haldane.

    A woman asked him what his study of nature had told him about the mind of God.

    The reply. “He seems inordinately fond of beetles.”

    Posted by Lloyd Flack on 2006 08 27 at 08:44 AM • permalink

  118. Also the statement about evolution never being random is not correct. As well as natural selection there is genetic drift.

    This is random change in gere frequencies from generation to generation. In small populations this can lead to large changes in gene frequencies including the disappearance of some alleles.

    Posted by Lloyd Flack on 2006 08 27 at 08:48 AM • permalink

  119. I think it’s more as Synova said: their anxiety over not the theory of evolution, but the belief system of Evolutionism, is what is driving the ID’ers to this pass.

    I’ve been getting a similar (I guess) feeling reading this thread…ID isn’t being supported because it’s all that much of a credible theory, but because it’s the currently fashionable religion-based alternative to “the secular explanation that’s being expounded primarily by people we don’t like all that much, namely lefties, greenies and associated folks”. Well, to each their own, I guess, although in that light ID strikes me as a bit of a security blanket for religious people in a secularized world. Shrug.

    Posted by PW on 2006 08 27 at 09:23 AM • permalink

  120. #118

    Read exactly what I said in #106.

    I didn’t say evolution is never random, I said complex structures won’t be created by chance. I agree with your point about genetic drift, and gene frequencies can change via synthetic selection as well. Darwinian natural selection is not the sole mechanisim by which evolution can occur.

    #114
    Yeah, we are an enormous aglomeration of engineering hacks. No professional engineer would be proud of us as a refined design. We are so not designed for bipedal walking.

    Posted by Chris Harper on 2006 08 27 at 09:38 AM • permalink

  121. I asked you something different, which you chose not to answer.

    Well, what do you suggest I should take as evidence that “the universe isn’t just the product of blind chance and a gigantic explosion?” I’m open to suggestions, preferably ones that don’t require any supernatural being to directly announce its existence to me.

    In lieu of anything more compelling, I will volunteer that that pre-Cambrian fossil rabbit which would disprove evolution theory would probably also make me question the common scientific theories about the creation of the universe, at least for a bit. So, perhaps now you could state what kind of evidence would get you to reject ID. Unless you’d like to move the goalposts again.

    Though, in light of your statement that

    Evolutionary dogma reminds me of the communist dogma I once believed. (I’m a former repentent socialist.) It too was purported to be very simple and very scientific, and no argument was ever allowed about the validity of it either.

    ...which I found highly ironic (of the unintentional variety), considering ID doesn’t actually allow for any ways to question its validity, I kinda doubt you’re going to have a credible answer.

    All in all…you sure you didn’t simply exchange your communist fervour for religious fervour? It’s not like you’d be the first one…there are plenty of newly-minted Islamists who underwent a similar transformation, after all.

    Posted by PW on 2006 08 27 at 09:40 AM • permalink

  122. I am a scientist and I hate to rain on the parade of the true believers in evolution, but the only part of the theory of evolution that is well tested is the part about evolution within species (i.e., micro evolution). Evolution between the species (i.e., macro evolution) is still very much a theory.  And, contrary to popular opinion, the fossil record provides little support for macro evolution. It lacks millions of transitional species that would be otherwise be expected, if the current theories concerning macro evolution were actually true. We have also never actually observed any macro evolutionary events. What we have observed is that species become extinct when mutations and environmental changes push them beyond their normal limits. Macro evolution is also difficult if not impossible to reconcile with the known scientific laws of probability and entropy. The only real evidence that supports macro evolution involves the genetic similarities between species that we continue to see as we dissect the genome of living organisms. This could be the result of macro evolution; however, due to the lack of support from actual observations and the fossil record, it is just as likely that life was simply created through an intelligence driven process. The truth is out there. We simply don’t have enough facts to prove one way or another how life began or how the many species of life came into existence. Personally, I find the ID debate to be refreshing and overdue. When science proclaims a theory to be fact and teaches that theory to the exclusion of all others, it abandons the very foundation principles that make it possible for science to seek and find truth.

    Posted by nuclearphysicist on 2006 08 27 at 09:46 AM • permalink

  123. PS:

    My claim about you being filled with religious fervour is primarily based on your performance in this thread, since I obviously don’t know you beyond it. If evolution was proven wrong tomorrow, my life would keep going on exactly the same way. On the other hand, you (and some other ID proponents here, but primarily you) act as though having to reject ID would be like sacrificing your first-born. I guess I just don’t get the emotional investment in “ID as as competing theory to evolution”.

    Posted by PW on 2006 08 27 at 09:46 AM • permalink

  124. Hey, Pixy, Lloyd, what’s wrong with beetles, eh? Not for nothing did Darwin spend tons of time studying millipedes (cessile or pedunculated) ...

    Go to the ant, though sluggard: consider her ways, and be wise ...

    Posted by TimT on 2006 08 27 at 09:50 AM • permalink

  125. “...as a…”, even. And yes, I do understand there are highly emotional people on the pro-evolution side of the argument as well (the ones that Andrea referred to as Evolutionists), but those guys don’t even have the excuse of having to argue against the consensus, so they’re not even getting the time of day with me.

    I guess, all things being equal, I don’t get the emotional investment in having to be correct at all costs, no matter which side one is on. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, big deal…every mistake is a chance to learn something, or whatever cliche you prefer.

    Posted by PW on 2006 08 27 at 09:52 AM • permalink

  126. Tim Blair wrote “I’d sure like to read a ‘short, wicked and witty’ book by Robyn Williams exposing all the scientific flaws in fundamentalist Islam…”

    So, why AREN’T we seeing books like that? Fear and cowardice? Laziness? Ignorance? Hatred for Christianity combined with indifference toward Islam?

    Posted by pst314 on 2006 08 27 at 10:18 AM • permalink

  127. #126 -  Now there is no point asking such questions if you are going to answer them so accurately and completely all by yourself.

    Posted by WhoCares on 2006 08 27 at 11:00 AM • permalink

  128. Ahem, having come out from under the bed, I’ll not bring up Piltdown Man, or Peppered moths, or any of the other frauds perpetuated in the name of Darwinism, but I will bring up Ernst Haeckel.

    He was the fellow who proclaimed bird- , Amphibian- , and human fetuses developed alike at early stages within the womb.  He also proclaimed that man evolved from the ape—and that, oh, say, “wooly-haired Negroes,” as HE called them, were obviously closer to apes than, oh, white Europeans (of which he was one) and thus a different value on the life of oh, a “Wooly-haired Negro” to a white European was entirely justified.

    Just throwing that admirable believer in evolution out there for y’all…

    Posted by ushie on 2006 08 27 at 11:26 AM • permalink

  129. “It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, insects flitting about and worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these forms, so different yet so dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by simple laws.There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”

    Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, last line, 6th edition, 1872.

    Posted by exit ramp on 2006 08 27 at 11:53 AM • permalink

  130. nice post, #122. coulter also wonders about the ‘lack of evidence’ issue. as well as the “why did bluebottle/blowflies (and sharks)(and cockroaches) stop evolving a couple hundred million years ago? if we can get 100+ breeds of dog from a starting point of “wolf” in just 20,000 years, why aren’t there flying sharks by now? or spider-eating bluebottles?

    the fundamentalist evolutionistas always seem to couch their answers in terms of ‘faith’ (faith in the theory, mind you)(“we don’t pretend to understand it all! but despite the paucity of evidence, and questions we can’t really answer except in vague generalities, the theory must be correct! no more questions!!”) and uncomfortable things like nobel prize winner crick’s assertion that “the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make it absurd” tend to be just….you know…..ignored.

    which was sort of her point.

    Posted by jimmy quest on 2006 08 27 at 12:21 PM • permalink

  131. Hey, Francis H.:

    Leonardo did a lot of preliminary sketching and doodling, and no doubt had a lot of leftover paint and messy rags and such, before producing his finished masterpieces. Many of them were done on things like plaster walls, which can become frangible and brittle over time if not maintained, so one could say they aren’t the best of materials for using as the basis of great works of art. And of course there are those current, living artists who have many unfinished works of art lying around. Anyway, if you come at creation from this perspective—God as artist, Creation as ongoing work of art—your argument falls apart. This seems to be the position of ID’ers, that God is an artist who is in the middle of creating, rather than as a scientists dissecting and assembling things in a lab. This still bothers people who don’t like to think of themselves as something being “worked on,” whether in a lab or a studio. As we will never know in this lifetime whether this viewpoint or the viewpoint that everything just spontaneously decided to exist one day is true, it’s the attitude that counts.

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 08 27 at 12:24 PM • permalink

  132. Mocking Christians’ silly beliefs: hip, harmless, fun, and politically correct.

    Mocking Muslims’ silly beliefs: racist, bigoted, xenophobic, likely to inspire a death sentence, and wrong wrong wrong.

    Posted by TallDave on 2006 08 27 at 12:56 PM • permalink

  133. Oh, I meant to ask: did Theo Van Gogh review Robyn Williams’ book?

    Oh, right, he’s still dead.

    Posted by TallDave on 2006 08 27 at 12:58 PM • permalink

  134. I have never understood the reason for the debate between evolution and ID. They’re in different spheres.

    As a practicing Roman Catholic, I believe that the hand of God is as evident in creation occuring in 6 days as it is in creation occuring over billions of years.

    As a practicing biologist, God isn’t in the Theory of Evolution, because I can’t devise a test for him. The supranatural is not the explaination for the natural ( In science) So work is strickly God neutral.

    I believe in God and I believe in evolution.  They are not mutually exclusive, but God doesn’t belong in the science, and science does not belong in faith.

    Posted by MJL on 2006 08 27 at 01:35 PM • permalink

  135. For a thorough debunking of Ann Coulter click here, here (scroll down to Roman numeral II.), here, and here (scroll down to about the eighth paragraph that begins with, “A bit of background: When Slander appeared, it soon became clear that the book was drenched in ‘mistakes.’”)

    For a rebuttal to every Intelligent Design claim you can probably think of, click here.

    Posted by MikeLaut on 2006 08 27 at 03:01 PM • permalink

  136. Those who believe that science is not faith-based need to go back to school. Scientists “believe” all kinds of things that are not true. So do religionists. Since when do science and faith need to be separate? That was clearly not true for many of the greatest scientific minds in history. Science theorizes about many things that cannot be tested or proved (macro evolution included). Religion professes belief in things that cannot be tested or proved. Both seek the truth. It is simple arrogance that has driven educators and scientists to insist on a pristine world where science and religion are kept surgically separate. The constitutional arguments that exclude discussion of religious theories in the education process are absurd. The intent of the writers of the US Constitution was to prohibit the formation of a state-sponsored religion. They never intended to eradicate all discussion of God and religion from our education system. They never wanted an America where its citizens would be denied the ability to say a prayer or wear a religious symbol in schools and other public institutions. They never envisioned that the intolerance of a few would deny such rights to the masses. None of these expressions of religion require any American to subscribe to any particular religion or faith. The founding fathers would be ashamed of how our society has dealt with this issue.

    Posted by nuclearphysicist on 2006 08 27 at 03:08 PM • permalink

  137. The line of evolution of horses, elephants, cats, dogs, and numerous others are all as well documented as you ask for. We have clear examples of change from form to form, it is just that each transitional form is labeled as a new species by its finder. This habit is more evidence of ego on the part of biologists than lack of evidence of transitional forms.

    Ah, I see. The fossil record of transitional forms does exist, but, due to scientific hubris, is not labeled as such. So, to accept the science, one must discount the scientist. Yet, one can’t help wondering why, for example, the fossil record of the Cambrian explosion contains   evidence of the emergence of new metazoa but no record of their emerging. It’s been suggested that several of the new species were already on an pre-Cambrian evolutionary path. Why, then, no record of that path?

    I have noted in other discussions that the acolytes of Stephen Gould can sometimes display an almost evangelical ferver. I can not claim to have studied Gould, but I think I understand his basic tenets.

    The history of life is not necessarily progressive; it is certainly not predictable. The earth’s creatures have evolved through a series of contingent and fortuitous events.

    Gould said that he didn’t know why the Cambrian explosion could establish all major anatomical designs so quickly and called it “the most remarkable and puzzling event in the history of life”. The mystery is compounded by the fact that, while most of these new metazoa died out, a few did survive to become modern phyla, again for reasons unknown.

    Gould saw natural selection not as a progressive principle but one of local adaption. He also rejected the idea that life moves forward to greater complexity. Gould’s evolutionary path is one of long periods of stability punctuated by bursts of great leaps forward and mass extinctions. He wrote: According to the punctuated equilibrium model of speciation, trends within lineages occur by accumulated episodes of geologically instantaneous speciation, rather than by gradual change within continuous populations.

    Emergence, survival, extinction were random events predicated on fortuity, the presence or absence of key features. The defining events of Gould’s evolutionary path were of unpredictable magnitude and character, therefore it was not possible for emerging life forms to anticipate future contingencies and evolve accordingly. He saw life’s pathway as “quirky and unpredictable”. He did not accept the appearance of “human consciousness” as inevitable or even predictable. He characterized it not as a progressive “complexification” but rather a tiny, late-arising twig on life’s enormously arborescent bush - a small bud that would almost surely not appear a second time if we could replant the bush from seed and let it grow again.

    So, the universe is random and chaotic, and the emergence, evolution and extinction of life a series of random, chaotic events, a cosmic rolling and re-rolling of the dice. And this is so because science can’t come up with any other explanation given the known fossil record.

    Well, you must forgive me and others if we cast a skeptical eye in the direction of such scientific extrapolation. There seems much room here for the fine hand of a Creator and for our educators to suggest that such is not even worthy of mention, much less discussion, in the classroom is a level of hubris to which they are not entitled.

    Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 08 27 at 03:08 PM • permalink

  138. “Intelligent Design” is sometimes a stalking horse for a rather traditional creationism. In and of itself, however, it’s an interesting series of speculations, so far not negatable (although subject to many quibbles when it comes to its examples), and therefore outside the realm of science, one way or the other.

    None of this makes it a “menace.”

    How prone the militant secularists among us are to hysteria!

    More comments at A Riff on Intelligent Design.

    Posted by Grumpy Old Man on 2006 08 27 at 03:27 PM • permalink

  139. #108 I agree, except that I would consider that the antepenultimate question. Who, then WHY and only then—How.

    Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 08 27 at 04:31 PM • permalink

  140. So, is String Theory science?

    Posted by JackOkie on 2006 08 27 at 04:53 PM • permalink

  141. #87 Newman- Neither you nor your logic exist!

    Posted by nofixedabode on 2006 08 27 at 05:14 PM • permalink

  142. Andrea

    Your explanantion sure kills off the idea of God beign omniscient and omnipotent.

    Nothing wrong with that of course. I’ve always thought if there is a god he’s probably a young’un on training wheels.

    Posted by Francis H on 2006 08 27 at 05:32 PM • permalink

  143. #123
    My claim about you being filled with religious fervour

    I don’t think you express your views any more delicately than I do. How come your fervour for evolution is okay? You seem to be way too enthusiastic about it.

    I admit I’m a Christian. Please let me know if you have something better to believe in. You do believe in something besides evolution, don’t you?

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 27 at 05:49 PM • permalink

  144. #141 nofixedabode

    In # 85 you said: The universe does not exist. And you can’t prove that it does.

    I assumed you were joking. I was just trying to go along with your attempt at humour. Sorry if it didn’t come off. But if I’m any judge of humour what you said wasn’t really funny either.

    Then again, if you were being serious, you’re obviously not qualified to discuss logic with anyone.

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 27 at 06:06 PM • permalink

  145. Anyway, my rather flippantly put point (and i may as well be flippant- face it, no-one here is convincing the other side of anything) was that people use as evidence that the universe “looks designed” as their jumping off point.  Personally i don’t think it looks designed in the least. However, whether someone thinks something looks designed or not isn’t a scientific observation.

    I’d be more impressed with ID if it had genuinely been built up from observation and attempting to answer holes in theories of how life develops. But it hasn’t, it is a way of finding a place for a god which has already been determined by IDers to exist. It is just the latest of the “god-in-the-gaps” gambits.

    Personally i don’t know how accurate evolutionary theory is. It’s a difficult theory with counter-intuitive elements. But at least its an honest attempt to explain the diversity of life without employing a deux ex machina (who’s existence can only be a matter of faith) to get through the difficult bits.

    Posted by Francis H on 2006 08 27 at 06:11 PM • permalink

  146. We have also never actually observed any macro evolutionary events.

    Wrong, WrongWrong , Wrong and Wrong again.
     

    Macro evolution is also difficult if not impossible to reconcile with the known scientific laws of probability and entropy.

    Bullshit. Absolute bollocks.

    For someone to claim “I am a scientist” and then to come out with such nonsense as you’ve just come out with - well, it is obvious that you don’t have the first clue about science. By the complete lack of knowledge (and the sheer amount of basic science you get wrong) in your posting, you’re just another idiot creationist.

    Entropy is effectively the amount of disorder in a closed system. This is basic physics. Yet you get it completely wrong.

    Face it, cretiniods, evolution happens. Deal with it.

    Posted by Morgoth on 2006 08 27 at 06:26 PM • permalink

  147. Ann Coulter handles “evolutionism” very convincingly in her new book.  Ask Robin Williams (who is he, by the way? - thought he was an over-rated actor) about the fossils?

    Posted by norsaint on 2006 08 27 at 06:29 PM • permalink

  148. Gee, Newman. Hurt feelings? Wow. I didn’t think you’d be so fragile. I thought you got the joke. I guess not. But humor is a difficult concept. Sorry if I offended.

    As to logic: not much of that in the ID vs. Evolution debates. Very little science or theology. Just choose up sides and shout. (I especially love the site purporting to debunk Coulter. They’re even more shrill and ideological dense than she is! In one case, the “debunking” consists not of refuting her charges, but of nitpicking her paragraph structure!)

    I still have yet to see it demonstrated that ID and Evolution are mutually exclusive.

    And since we’re disqualifying, well… I thought things like

    “Why make the earth, the solar system, our galaxy and all the rest, he asks, when the Garden of Eden was all that was needed? And then there’s lifespan. During long periods of human history, the life expectancy of men was a mere 22 years and children were lucky to toddle, let alone grow up. Why the waste? And shouldn’t we sue God for sinus blockages, hernias, appendix flare-ups and piles, not to mention bad backs?”

    were jokes. If this was meant to pass as logic, count me out!!!

    “What about bluebottles (blowflies)?”

    “Why do men have nipples?...”

    “...what the heck happened with the platypus?”

    LOL

    Posted by nofixedabode on 2006 08 27 at 07:03 PM • permalink

  149. ideologically! pifm.

    Posted by nofixedabode on 2006 08 27 at 07:06 PM • permalink

  150. #146 - Your references prove nothing (I did read them). Macro evolution is still a theory because it is an extrapolation of information that cannot be tested in the laboratory nor observed in nature. Fossils are not observed events. They are leftovers from history that are inherently subject to broad and often changing interpretations. In addition, the current dogmas that form the basis for macro evolution theory is not the only possible explanation for similarities between the genomes of differing species. It’s just the one that evolutionary biologists choose to believe in and promote at this point in history. Who knows what they might be saying a hundred years from now. Also, you should do some reading on probability and entropy before boldly proclaiming your superior intellect. Too many scientists are legends in their own minds because they only accept what they believe or define to be the facts. There are many “real” scientists who question the arguments that evolutionary biologists continue to invent to explain inconsistencies in the theory of macro evolution. That doesn’t make them bad scientists. Any science that does not allow its pet theories to be questioned is no science at all. It’s more like a cult.

    Posted by nuclearphysicist on 2006 08 27 at 07:36 PM • permalink

  151. Face it, cretiniods, evolution happens. Deal with it.

    Banning also happens, Morgie. Do you want to deal with it? If not, lay off the insults.

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 08 27 at 07:55 PM • permalink

  152. #110 “The reason that the debate is not pointless, is that Evolution is a genuine scientific discipline, and Intelligent Design is religion passed off as science in an attempt to get religion into the classroom.”

    If it weren’t for the fact that the “science” of evolution wasn’t frequently misapplied to origins it would have been a whole lot harder to convince regular folks that there was a need for an explicitly creator-friendly alternative *in the classroom*.

    As far as a lot of people are concerned there already *was* religion in the classroom, a religion that specifically disallowed God.  Intelligent Design is a *reaction* to that.

    Argument over who is *right* and who is *wrong* is based on the assumption that whoever is *right* has the right to force all children to be taught correctly.  The battle isn’t over who is right, it’s a battle over who has power and control.

    If people aren’t free to be wrong, they aren’t free.

    Posted by Synova on 2006 08 27 at 07:57 PM • permalink

  153. Francis H:

    Your explanantion sure kills off the idea of God beign omniscient and omnipotent.

    I don’t see how. When it comes to the “debris lying around” idea, the worst God can be accused of is having a messy artists studio. Neither omniscience nor omnipotence implies tidiness. And I’m not sure how the notion of the universe being God’s work in progress is proof against omniscience or omnipotence. The fact that at one time the Mona Lisa consisted only of a sketch doesn’t mean Leonardo was a lousy artist until he finished the painting.

    Your argument further seems to imply that this all means we are somehow hurt by being “unfinished.” That makes no sense. Children are “unfinished” adults but that doesn’t mean the state of childhood is inherently painful or wrong.

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 08 27 at 08:01 PM • permalink

  154. “Tim Blair exposes more ABC double standards: Landline edition on sheepdags fails to condemn Islamo-fascism.”

    Posted by Bearded Mullah on 2006 08 27 at 08:45 PM • permalink

  155. #148 nofixedabode

    Well, if you’re acknowledging that I do exist, then I’m willing to say your humour was okay after all. (But you’re no Tim Blair.)

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 27 at 08:49 PM • permalink

  156. #152 Synova

    “If people aren’t free to be wrong, they aren’t free.”

    I’m really starting to like you…

    Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 08 27 at 09:29 PM • permalink

  157. #121 ...which I found highly ironic (of the unintentional variety) considering ID doesn’t actually allow for any way to question its validity, I kinda doubt you’re going to have a credible answer.

    Let’s get this straight. It’s the theory of evolution that’s taught dogmatically as if it were an absolute truth in the classrooms, and ID is forbidden to be even discussed even though reputable scientists support it.

    I compared that with communist theory, whose practioners permitted no argument about its validity. You do remember communism, don’t you, no opposing views allowed?

    I think I have an answer for you. You managed to get it exactly backwards. It’s the evolutionists who are preventing the ID theorists from even speaking in the classroom, not the other way around. You’re not so good at detecting irony after all, but you are good at mental gymnastics.

    Posted by Newman on 2006 08 27 at 09:35 PM • permalink

  158. What is Judaism’s take on all this?

    Well, take Rashi [b. 1040], for example. Rashi tells us that G-d created everything in potential on Day One, and then different species developed from that primordial soup. (see Genesis 1:24, 2:4) It is worthwhile noting that as he was writing in the 11th century, Rashi was unapologetic in the face of a scientific challenge!

    Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch (19th century Germany, founder of Modern Orthodoxy) further explains that each “Day” represents a specific stage of creation - i.e. a mingling of raw materials and bursts of dramatic new development. If you go through the Torah’s account, you see described a gradual process from simple to more complex organisms - first a mass of swirling gasses, then water, then the emergence of dry land, followed by plants, fish, birds, animals, and finally, human beings. This pattern may be similar to the evolutionary process proposed by science. Just sayin…

    What I find particularly fascinating is the fact that the Torah’s position never changed; science has come to match it! In fact, the Punctuated Theory of Equilibria is a further step toward the reconciliation of Judaism and science.

    Arnold Penzias, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his research on the Big Bang, remarked: “What we see marking the flight of galaxies with our telescopes, Maimonides saw from his metaphysical view.”

    Of course, there is a point where the Torah and the “evolutionists” diverge. The Bible says these things didn’t happen by accident. G-d made it all happen.

    So, if we pose the question: “Is the human being simply a smarter monkey, or a qualitatively different creation?”, the Torah tells us that G-d blew into Adam a spiritual soul, which is what separates man from all other creatures. (see Genesis 2:7)

    You may ask, what difference does it make (then again, you may not)?

    Judaism teaches that the purpose of our existence is to sanctify life by utilizing everything in the world to get close to G-d. Only a being with a spiritual soul can have the “spiritual consciousness” necessary to achieve this. If you would remove this aspect of existence, then everything in the world is ultimately meaningless and we are all reduced to a random collection of molecules.

    On a deeper level, “physics” is actually a pathway toward understanding the inner science of “metaphysics.” As RAMBAM (Maimonides) writes:

    “As long as you are occupied with the mathematical sciences and the technique of logic, you belong to those who walk around the palace in search of the gate… When you complete your study of the natural sciences and get a grasp of the metaphysics, you enter into the inner courtyard and have are in the same house as G-d.”

    I must admit to walking around the palace, but hope one day to find that “inner courtyard”.

    Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 08 27 at 09:46 PM • permalink

  159. I’m very late on this thread but the reason for my absence up until now is somehat relevant to the discussion.

    I have spent the weekend helping my younger sister with a biology assignment. Funny thing was, the actual assignment had nothing to do with biology.

    I actually went through some of the notes and textbook readings for this so-called HSC biology and what they learn is NOT science.

    It was touchy-feely bullshit on what do you believe is the greatest threat to the Murray-Darling Basin.

    Science is not being taught properly in schools already - that is not the issue when it comes to ID vs Evolution.

    What I want to know is why environmentalism, with its quasi-religious belief system, is allowed free reign while ID is shouted down as not belonging in the lab.

    Scientists should be more worried about the former than the latter when it comes to the damage being done to the future scientific minds in the education system.

    Posted by The Prez on 2006 08 27 at 10:17 PM • permalink

  160. Oh, and I think the original point of the post was not to set IDers against evolutionists, but to point out that according to the ABC, there are crazy fundamentalists with a sinister agenda.

    They are just ignoring the fundamentalists with the record of beheading people in favour of tut-tutting at god entering the science classroom

    Posted by The Prez on 2006 08 27 at 10:33 PM • permalink

  161. Well Andrea the idea that a god leaves debris around and is untidy is a bit away from the concept of god as i’ve always understood. Frankly i would have thought if a god was truly omnipotent and omniscient, there wouldn’t be any debris to leave around. Debris suggests to me false starts, incorrect calculation of necessary materials, redundancy etc. The god i was taught about just created through the Word (Logos whatever). 

    Mind you the idea of a god being an artist who can get things wrong and be untidy doesn’t worry me. I’ve never thought that any god had to be truly perfect and all else. That’s just what everyone seems to want to believe. It would certainly explain a lot of things. People who want to treat ID as a science would have to allow into their theory that the concept and powers of god could also be found to need changing. No need to make god a constant variable. Of course that might not suit some people, (particularly any creationists using ID as a trojan horse) but that’s what would be on the table if it is to be treated in a truly scientific manner.

    I don’t find the analogy of Leonardo as particularly compelling as no-one ever suggested leonardo or any artist was perfect in the way we were told god was/is perfect. A truly perfect artist (analagous to a perfect, all knowing, all powerful god) wouldn’t need to try things out like rough sketching or have problems with material.

    I’m not sure where you read into my comments that i’m hurt by the idea that we are unfinshed. It doesn’t worry me in the slightest. Under evolutionary thinking we (humans, animals etc) are always effectively works in progress.

    My difficulty with the idea of a god intervening in the minutiae of the world doesn’t come from a sense of hurt. It comes from never being given any evidence that there is such a god and by the fact that, since the dawn of humankind, phenomena attributed to gods has been constantly whittled down as knowledge advances (storm gods, angels guiding planets in their orbit etc). God it seems, as far as the natural world goes, is now reduced to fiddling around with animal structures to create new species.

    Just a comment - I know that reading typed arguments like this can sometimes come across as arrogant or belligerent. Just to make clear that in my case i’m not meaning it to come across like that.

    Posted by Francis H on 2006 08 27 at 11:08 PM • permalink

  162. #153 Excellent post, Andrea.  [crawl, crawl..] 
    No seriously, your illustration arguments against our [and Williams’] limited concept of perfection are very appropriate, Augustu-inian in fact.

    Francis H:  Please note that God’s attributes are not exhausted by your mind.  They are ‘ineffable’ and transcendent.  That is why reducing God to our level is not necessarily illogical, but it is inappropriate.

    Posted by Barrie on 2006 08 28 at 12:03 AM • permalink

  163. I especially love the site purporting to debunk Coulter. They’re even more shrill and ideological dense than she is! In one case, the “debunking” consists not of refuting her charges, but of nitpicking her paragraph structure!

    Nitpicking her paragraph structure?!  You can’t be serious.  Coulter clearly intends unsuspecting readers to come away with the impression that the NY Times used racial slurs in reference to Clarence Thomas instead of engaging him on the “substance of his judicial philosophy.”  If you can’t see that, you’re hopeless.

    Posted by MikeLaut on 2006 08 28 at 12:07 AM • permalink

  164. If I can sue someone for my sinus’ then I would be very happy.  And if God could just get the Lotto and Powerballs to fall in the correct order iI wll be even happier.

    Thank you.

    Posted by Razor on 2006 08 28 at 12:11 AM • permalink

  165. Sorry, I meant Augustinian.

    BIG QUESTION:
    “I just have one question for proponents of ID: What evidence, specifically, would be sufficient to get you to reject ID? And not even to accept evolution in turn, just to reject ID. I’m genuinely curious.”

    REPLY:
    1. Prove that life as we know it in a single cell can arise by innumerable discovered steps.
    2. Provide a Complete Theory of Everything as Hawking is seeking, so the Universe needs no origin and no ‘remainder explanation’ for anything that is in it.
    3.  Link 1 with 2 convincingly.

    #113 Pixy Misa says:
    “systems put forward by the IDists has been shown to have a plausible evolutionary path.  That doesn’t mean (as I said earlier) that we know how it actually evolved, just that the argument that it could not have evolved has been refuted.”

    Just so.  Evolution does not require proof to be accepted then, as long as it is a ‘plausible theory’ it’s fine and MUST be accepted - alternatives are ‘refuted’. 

    But ID is very plausible too.

    As I said earlier, were talking metaphysics, not science, in both cases.

    Posted by Barrie on 2006 08 28 at 12:34 AM • permalink

  166. If someone pitches the “Intelligent Design” theory at me I just ask, “Why do men have nipples?...”

    And where else do you propose we attach the electrodes?

    Posted by Infidel Tiger on 2006 08 28 at 12:39 AM • permalink

  167. Well Andrea the idea that a god leaves debris around and is untidy is a bit away from the concept of god as i’ve always understood.

    I’ll bet you were either raised Presbyterian or Methodist. (My grandmother was sure that “cleanliness is next to Godliness” was in the Bible somewhere.)

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 08 28 at 01:48 AM • permalink

  168. PS: debris meaning false starts, mistakes, etc.—I don’t know, maybe God just felt like tossing stuff around. He’s God, he can do what he wants. Maybe it’s an abstract sculpture sort of thing.

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 08 28 at 01:50 AM • permalink

  169. This thread was in trouble when Ann Coulter(!) was mentioned in the second post.  Actually, it may have been doomed when Tim asked why a science commentator doesn’t write a book on politics (but he’s right about one thing—the ABC wouldn’t go near it!)

    But the prize goes to #122 (“I am a scientist”).  Thanks for exposing the gigantic worldwide scientific multi-disciplinary conspiracy, mate, and keep that foil hat on tight.

    Posted by slammer on 2006 08 28 at 01:56 AM • permalink

  170. ok, so the results of today’s debate are in aaaand….this is interesting….the evolutionists seem a mite testy today. reasonable, mild-mannered questions, begging for specifics, are being answered with generalities - or ignored altogether - & those daring to question the established theories (or would it be more proper to call them ‘dogma’?) are called mean names. ‘cretinoids’ was tossed out there, as well as the classic ‘tinfoil beanie’ zinger.

    isn’t that discourse technique usually associated with members of the moonbat left? and what can we eager students of life its ownself learn from this? ya could say that the evolution crowd is heavily invested in the theory in question - for reasons unknown - and they will brook absolutely no dissent (another thing they have in common with LW moonbats, btw) all in the name of what they tell us is “science”. you could say that. but that sort of mindset is not what some would consider an authentically ‘scientific’ method.

    here’s what richard feynman, nobel prize winner and all-time world-class smart guy, thought about real science. “...details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given. (...) if you make a theory, for example, then you must put down all the facts that disagree with it (emphasis added), as well as those that agree with it.”

    not seeing much of the ‘feynman’ scientific method from the passionate evolutionaries here today. hmmmmmmm. could it be maybe coulter was right?

    Posted by jimmy quest on 2006 08 28 at 03:02 AM • permalink

  171. Tim was disingenuous when he said he didn’t have a god in this fight. We all can see him worshiping the god of stirers.

    Posted by Lloyd Flack on 2006 08 28 at 03:06 AM • permalink

  172. Two things:-
    1/ I’m disappointed that some people seem to want to argue against evolution because they dislike the school system, or the people that run it.  This sounds to me exactly like the leftists taking up common cause with Islamofascists just because they have similar enemies.  This approach is intellectually bankrupt.
    2/ A core implication of the acceptance of the theory of Evolution is that man is not at the top of the tree; not the ultimate reason for the whole she-bang.  Man just happens to be on the evolutionary branch that has developed increased brain size.  Humans may die out and cockroaches, rats and flies inherit the earth.
    This reasoning is anathema to the religious zealots.  They consider that man is the ultimate expression of God’s intentions, and if this premise is knocked down then their whole edifice comes crashing down.  That is why they are so strongly fighting against evolution.
    Final note, how come so many IDers find it difficult to accept that things aren’t designed but are willing to believe that Jesus rose from the dead!

    Posted by eagle bomber on 2006 08 28 at 03:28 AM • permalink

  173. Andrea

    Actually I was raised Catholic. But your approach could have come in useful when i was a kid. “But mum, god made a mess, my room is my way of worshiping him”. I also like god as the original abstract artist. Makes it a bit hard to rail against modern artists though.

    Barrie

    I should call a time out - when you play the ineffable card what’s a guy to do?

    just to be serious for a moment

    After your comment at 162 I hope you can understand why non-believers such as myself start to think the argument goes around in circles.

    Namely

    1. The idea of a designer is advanced on the basis that the universe and its creatures look to be a function of design.

    2. We say - “but it doesn’t look that designed” - for some of the reasons I’ve stated above .

    3. Then the other side say - “but we can’t really understand god’s design or thoughts - its ineffable, transcendent etc.”

    I just don’t see how you can understand god’s design enough to see it in the universe around us, but then argue we can’t understand god’s nature when someone raises doubts about the details of that design. It becomes just a self-sealing argument.

    As for the concept that imperfection can just be another, not understood, form of perfection, then what can I say……as you say, this is metaphysics which i thought was the evolutionista’s argument in the first place - once you bring in god then its hard to make it into science.

    Anyway i think this thread is winding down as Tim’s posts pass us by. It was fun - see you on the next evolution-based thread.

    Posted by Francis H on 2006 08 28 at 04:02 AM • permalink

  174. Thanks for exposing the gigantic worldwide scientific multi-disciplinary conspiracy, mate, and keep that foil hat on tight.

    Oh, man! First it was the worldwide Zionist conspiracy, then the communist conspiracy, then the capitalist conspiracy, then the Islamic conspiracy, and now there’s a scientific conspiracy too? Just when my day had started to look up!

    Posted by TimT on 2006 08 28 at 05:10 AM • permalink

  175. Actor Robin Williams has just declared he is an alcoholic who has fallen off the wagon -repeatedly.
    Australian ABC Robin Williams was mentioned a year ago or so as the most Hating Howard Hater of all time.

    Posted by crash on 2006 08 28 at 09:51 AM • permalink

  176. There are many “real” scientists who question the arguments that evolutionary biologists continue to invent to explain inconsistencies in the theory of macro evolution. That doesn’t make them bad scientists. Any science that does not allow its pet theories to be questioned is no science at all. It’s more like a cult.

    Cite? Name these “real” scientists?

    Science isn’t the one demanding its members swear oaths of loyalty, like the major Creationist organisations do. Google the “ICR Loyalty Oath”

    And furthermore, since the Creationists here make such a big play of it, can they tell us just *what* exactly, in terms of the mechanics of biological evolution, do they think is the difference between “micro-” and “macro-” evolution?

    Posted by Morgoth on 2006 08 28 at 01:08 PM • permalink

  177. I’d sure like to read a “short, wicked and witty” book by Robyn Williams exposing all the scientific flaws in fundamentalist Islam

    Precisely which scientific claims does fundamentalist Islam make for which there is an organized effort to have them introduced into American schools under the fraudulent rubric of “teaching the controversy?”  Because I can think of exactly, um, none, which renders this particular piece of nonsense irrelevant.

    Posted by phil_d on 2006 08 28 at 09:12 PM • permalink

  178. #128, you might not be aware of this—although most grownups are—but scientific theories are not true or false on the basis of how people abuse them.  Just, you know, throwin’ that out there for you.  What Haeckel did and didn’t do is not relevant to whether evolutionary biology gets things right or not.

    Do we want to start throwin’ out for y’all all the frauds and freaks associated with ID?  Is that really the way you want to approach this?

    Posted by phil_d on 2006 08 28 at 09:20 PM • permalink

  179. #88 Nora.

    A late response, but the term “law” is no longer so liberally applied in science, and when it is applied, it’s usually used in more ‘physical’ sciences.

    The so-called “Law of Gravity” of Newtwon, turns out not to be right. So much for laws.

    The laws of thermodynamics fall under the theory of thermodynamics, just like some laws fall under the Atomic Theory, which if it had been developed years earlier, would have been called the Laws of Atoms perhaps.

    I can’t think of any “laws” that exist only in aerodynamics, hence I used the term theory.

    The ‘law/theory’ is argument is often misunderstood and used by people who don’t understand science.

    Posted by Engelbert on 2006 08 28 at 11:08 PM • permalink

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