Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Expelled: The Movie

According to my traffic log, this post has become one of the most frequently visited in my entire blog. Apparently it shows up high on the top of Google searches for info about the movie. But since this post has little information, I figured I should probably rewrite this with all the information concerning the movie I can put together for everyone coming here looking for such things. The original post is below.

First off, what is this movie? Expelled claims to be a documentary showing the persecution of those supporting Intelligent Design in the academic community.

In reality, it's nothing less than a distorted propaganda piece.

In order to produce the film, the producers knowingly lied to the evolution supporters it interviewed regarding the nature and purpose of the film. This was done in the case of PZ Myers, as well as Richard Dawkins, and Eugenie Scott in which they told they were being interviewed for a film called Crossroads which was intended to be a balanced look at evolution and Intelligent Design (we'll see later just how "even" this is). Although producer Mark Mathis has claimed that this was a "working title", this is belied by the fact that the domain name for Expelled was purchased two months before the interviews took place while no domain was ever purchased for any film of the name Crossroads.

In this film, they also claim to show how ID proponents were persecuted. However, the film apparently grossly misrepresents the cases of ID sympathizers.

One of their martyrs is Guillermo Gonzalez who was recently denied tenure from Iowa State. The ID crowd claims it was because of his ID views. They even went so far as to obtain departmental Emails under the freedom of information act and then quote mine from them. But in reality, the major factor cited was the wholesale drop in actual academic productivity and publications since beginning at Iowa state and failure to move into a primary position in the department. The film also ignores the fact that tenure in the Astronomical field is also notoriously hard to achieve, with only 4 out of 12 candidates at Iowa state gaining tenure in the past decade. Also cited in the tenure denial was the underwhelming lack of funds that Gonzalez was able to attract in grants for the university. Apparently, none of this information is passed along in the film.

Also presented in the film is the case of Richard Sternberg, who, on his way out of the door, put a paper by Discovery Institute Founder, Stephen Meyer into the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, a scientific journal he edited. However, it became apparent that by allowing himself to be one of the reviewers and not used an assistant editor, he had intentionally biased the selection process which typically requires that reviewers not be inherently favorable to the topic as Sternberg was. As such, the council incharge of the paper, "deemed the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings because the subject matter represents such a significant departure from the nearly purely systematic content..."

Caroline Crocker is another ID advocate presented in the film, who claims that she was discriminated against and her academic freedom restricted for inserting pro-ID rhetoric into her cell biology course at George Mason University. She claimed that evolution was false because, "[n]o one has ever seen a dog turn into a cat in a laboratory." This is, of course, a pathetic strawman version of evolution and reveals either a profound misunderstanding of basic biology (which would have made Crocker inappropriate for the position) or outright dishonesty to students (which is similarly inappropriate). Regardless, Expelled and other ID advocates hide behind the guise of "academic freedom". GMU spokesman, Daniel Walsch, noted that, "teachers also have a responsibility to stick to subjects they were hired to teach .... Does academic freedom "literally give you the right to talk about anything, whether it has anything to do with the subject matter or not? The answer is no." Incidentally, although the GMU had clear grounds for dismissal, Crocker was not fired, although her contract was not renewed.

Meanwhile, while the film proclaims to support academic inquiry and open discussion, press conferences have been staged with pre-written questions and actual questions from the press, being screened. Similarly, the producers have been attempting to control who is and is not able to see the movie and attempts to disinvite and remove people that are not sympathetic to their cause. Similarly, they have lied and claimed showings were canceled to those they deemed undesirable.

This is just a symptom of the refusal to offer itself for criticism (as with the rest of the ID movement). The film doesn't even bother defining Intelligent Design nor Evolution. Instead, it merely attempts to conflate Evolution with Nazis, eugenics, atheism, and racism. None of these are actually true.

Recently, Expelled has also become the target of a lawsuit for plagiarism when it was realized that an animation used in the film was a close replica of a film produced for Harvard by XVIVO. This film had earlier been used for profit in lectures by William Dembski who used an altered version with a Creationist narration and the Harvard credits stripped. Although some creationists would try to argue that the producers of Expelled tried to make their own animation separate than the XVIVO one, the Expelled animation makes the same simplifications, leaving out the same proteins. Additionally, Dembski admitted to being in contact with the producers who long ago set aside money for what was to be an inevitable law suit. Thus, we can only conclude that they fully understood their culpability in the infringement.

Additionally, to promote the film, the company is offering rebates and discounts, specifically targeting "faith ministries and organizations, church groups, youth and university groups" (and they wonder why people see a religious agenda? Especially when they keep giving screenings at infamous creationist "museums" and other religious institutions).

So, as we can see, Expelled has absolutely pathetic standards. It lied to get interviews, distorts positions, hypocritically stifles questioning, and intends to bribe students from classrooms to see this propaganda which doesn't even define its own position, but rather relies on emotional appeals and falsehoods to make their arguments.

Original post is below


The intarweb is buzzing about a new creationist "documentary" about how they've been unfairly kicked out of the scientific establishment (as if they deserved to be let in, in the first place after Behe affirmed that "there are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred" during the Dover Trial pg 22-23). The film is reported to star Ben Stein and a "Cast of thousands".

However, it doesn't look like I can find any supporting evidence for the actual existence of this film, either on Ben Stein's official website or on IMDB which frequently lists films that aren't even in pre-production. Needless to say, I'm somewhat skeptical that this is in any way real.

Update: Looks like a number of other sources have confirmed the film. Of course, being the dishonest lot they are, the ID crowd has had to resort to deception to get interviews. Shame I wasn't interviewed. After all, I'm a perfect example of "Anti-ID intolerance". Sounds like just what they'd want!

270 comments:

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thinkingcreationist said...

While some of you may already have determined my posting name is an oxymoron, I ask that you hear me out.

I choose to be a young earth creationist, not because science has proven the theory, but because it is a faith position and science, in my admittedly limited understanding, has some errors in how age of the earth and age of fossils have been calculated.

I read the site admin's post on clearing up misconceptions about the big bang theory and found it very enlightening. You seem to be saying something I have believed for a while in relation to the age of the earth, namely that just because physical laws function a certain way now, that does not definitely necessitate a historical constant. This is like looking at the scientifically observable history we have, barely a couple of hundred years with concrete data, and making predictions about conditions in ancient history. On a simplistic comparison it would be like looking at a 10 foot section of roller coaster track and trying to determine what the entire thing looked like. We could observe certain things, the composition of materials, the curvature of the piece we could observe, etc but predictions about the whole would be highly inaccurate.

The main issues I have with the age of the earth revolves around how we determine that information, i.e. with bad science. Horrific flaws have been determined in radiometric dating methods which have dated know, relatively recent basalt and volcanic flows millions of years old. The assumptions in radiometric dating are huge and if the dates of lava flows that we know definitively the dates of cannot be measured, then the data for unknown rocks is necessarily suspect.

Carbon dating is another methodology that was debunked years ago by secular scientists. The inventor of the carbon dating method, Dr. Willard Libby, found that one of his key assumptions, equilibrium, was not met. Equilibrium should have been achieved after about 30,000 years beyond the earth's creation and population with life forms involved in the breakdown of Carbon-14. Libby's tests of the atmosphere were found to show that the atmosphere was still 25% out of equilibrium. He disregarded this variance as acceptable statistical variance, but later tests by other scientist confirmed that one of the key assumptions for Carbon-14 dating was inaccurate. This calls into question any dates derived from this even by most secular scientists.

Now none of this proves the existence of God nor the incorrectness of evolution, but in my mind it does raise sufficient questions as to the validity of the dating methods. Since evolution requires an old earth origin for its slow change process, for me it is enough to question the results. This is not to invalidate many of the ideas of changes within a species, genetic variance and many other things posted by the links you all have generously provided above. Admittedly, though, just as I am sure it would take absolutely irrefutable evidence to disloge the evolutionists posting here from their belief position, I am unfortunately in the same boat. I just see too many unanswered questions, despite good and rational arguments about some pieces of the puzzle, to push me off my faith position.

One apparent inconsistency I would like to address in closing, however. I have seen numerous posts that the theory of evolution does not concern itself with the origins of life, only the process by which that life led to the diversity of life on earth. It seems to me then, aren't people fighting in a desparate attempt to compare apples to oranges? What I mean is that the ID/Creationist camp seems to be focused directly on the very question evolutionists are excluding from the discussion. ID/Creationism is dealing (in a theological way at least) with the concept of where that initial life came from. Am I incorrect in seeing that part of the huge disconnect is that we are proposing solutions to two different questions and then arguing about why they don't agree?

I don't claim to know the answers but like all humans I am bound to seek to find understanding in a way which fits my predisposed worldview. The irony is, there is not one pile of evidence on one side for evolution and a different pile on the other side for creationism. We are all looking at the exact same evidence, but our worldview determines how we must seek to interpret the meaning of that evidence. ID/Creationists start with the worldview of "In the beginning God" which means we look for logical ways to interpret the evidence within that framework while evolutionists begin from "only natural causes can be considered because supernatural causes cannot be tested" (pardon me if that is not an exact quote, but I was trying to paraphrase what the site admin had put in another blog, please (gently) correct any misstatement in my paraphrase, it is not intended to be inaccruate. From this vantage point, evidence must be interpreted along lines that could possibly produce completely natural origins.

Take for example the findings of the genome project, i.e. that all humans are descended from a single human female. It is the exact same evidence but each side views this as a victory for their side. Creationists say, "see, that's just what the bible says we would find, everyone descended from Eve", while evolutionists say, "see there is proof of the common ancestory that the evolutionary theory says we would find". If it wasn't creating so much animosity and ill will on both sides, it would almost be laughable.

I sincerly hope that nothing on the Creationist/ID side ever does anything to squelch the ever advancing inquisition of science. I believe the answers are our there and, within my worldview, God wants us to find them. I also hope, however, that on the chance that what is taught in the Word of God is true, that mankind never gets to the point of the persecution and violence practiced against Christians throughout history and even today in many countries, especially communist countries, where questioning the scientific status quo is punishable by death or imprisonment.

Again, I am not a scientist, I am a theologian and in Seminary pursuing a life in missions so I have a great deal of insight into what anti-Christian sentiment looks like in a society rife with intolerance. I sincerely thank the admin for hosting a place of idea exchange and hope that these ideas can be exchanged in a spirit of peace and tolerance on both sides.

Jon Voisey said...

Hi thinking.

To address your issue with radiometric dating, I can't say I'm an expert on the subject since it's not one that's used in astronomy. However, I think the version you're thinking of is the rather simplified strawman presented by creationists which says we just look at the decay of a single isotope. This, of course, would require a knowledge of how much was initially present. As you pointed out, that would be a bad assumption since they do change.

In reality, we look at ratios which we do find the relative amounts to be constant. Averaged over geologic times, the minute changes become even less significant (hence why we don't use radiometric dating for things that happened last week, although I've seen several creationist try to do that in a pathetic attempt to discredit the method).

This of course plays the the point of uniformity that you also brought up. In math, there's something called "proof by assumption." You start out with an initial assumption and try to work with it. If it works, it's a good bet your assumption is right. When you start finding things falling apart, then you conclude the assumption is wrong.

That's essentially what scientists are doing here. We can't directly test things all the way back to 4.5 billion years ago, but we start with the assumption that the radiometric dating is valid still and if things start falling apart, then radiometric dating is probably wonky.

The fact that we still do see such amazing correlations between the age (determined through this potentially flawed method) and all sorts of other properties, suggests that the age determination is valid since, if it weren't any correlations we see would be destroyed entirely. These profound correlations are something that cannot be accounted for by any creation hypothesis I've ever seen. It, truly, invokes miracles.

Of course, that's not the only reason to think radiometric dating is accurate. Scientists don't just stick with the assumptions. They try to test things whenever and wherever possible. Radiometric dating has been tested back tens to hundreds of thousands of years by comparison with other dating methods that are easier to prove such as dedrochronology (tree rings). By finding the matching patterns found in dead trees with the successors, an unbroken chronology can be extended back a significant amount of time to check radiometric dating against. And it works. Flawlessly.

Additionally, the main mechanism of the decay process can be tested through understanding of quantum mechanics. Given that the driving force for decay is quantum tunneling which defines a very strict probability time scale for decay to happen, we can again rest assured that this confirms what was originally predicted.

Regarding the point that evolution only covers what happened after life started and creation where the first life came from: It's a rosy picture to consider, but shows that you probably haven't been listening very closely to the creationist position. Their argument isn't just about where the first life came from (which could then be explained by evolution). Rather the presence of the creator has continued to be exerted and entire species were created fully formed (see definition of Creation/ID from Pandas and People), thus setting itself in direct opposition to gradual evolution. Creation may deal with the first life, but it proclaims to do far, far more.

You also bring up the point of a decent from a "single human female". This is a great example, but not in the way you think it is. The common name for this woman (who everyone has mitochondrial DNA from) is "Mitochondrial Eve" which, much like the term "Big Bang", leads to confusion and misrepresentation. It implies that there was only this first one woman which, if true, would conform to the genesis account (despite the fact that genetic drift implies an age of 140,000 years ago for her and not the 6,000 proposed by Young Earth Creationists). But this is not actually what the theory says. If that were the case, population bottlenecking would have destroyed humanity. Rather, it says that many human females were present, but through interbreeding, the mitochondrial DNA of the "Eve" made it into all lines. You may be "bound to seek to find understanding in a way which fits my predisposed worldview", but honest science is bound to see understanding in a way which actually conforms to the evidence.

Lastly, you say you hope that the Creationist/ID side never does anything to inhibit science. Unfortunately, the entire position of Creationism is antithetical to science. It seeks to undermine the methodological naturalism that has made science as successful as it is, and replace it with untestable assumptions.

Igor said...

Your post was intentionally removed because I've been quite busy recently (three talks to give in three days!) and only skimmed it, seeing several of the typical creationist talking points.

No offense taken :) -- it's your webspace, so you're totally free to keep or delete whatever you wish.

Foremost among them is the typical rhetoric of "the more I learned, the more it fell apart" yet amazingly refuse to admit any of the faults you think you perceive.

The theory crumbled in my mind when I compared the assumptions made by the evolutionary theory and the ID theory. My intent was to share my personal experience and not to impose my worldview upon you or anyone else here. I do not want to rob anyone of a personal journey of discovery and learning...

Also, you've got the nonsense about "interpretations" yet fail to realize that the Creationist interpretation inherently voids all science since it posits supernatural explanations. As such, it's not a valid scientific explanation and deserves to be Expelled (from the scientific community).

You have just demonstrated how easy it is to confuse facts and presuppositions. I made no mention of creationism -- how do you know I maintain that view?

The only real assumption that evolution makes is the same assumption that all of science makes: natural explanations are the ones to be sought after (since supernatural ones, by definition cannot be tested) and that our senses can be trusted. ID rejects this assumption and with it, all honest guise of potentially being science.

That's a good one. Can we explain the origin of a Toyota car in pure natural terms without any reference to man's intelligence? I would argue yes, we can (but we obviously cannot prove it because we already have the knowledge that the car was designed by Toyota engineers and manufactured by Toyota workers). Hypothetically speaking, if we had no way of knowing that the Toyota car was designed by an intelligent being, would science automatically reject that notion?

chris van allsburg said...

for a guy who's REALLY into cartoons and heavy metal, TV's Mr. Neil sure knows a lot of science!

And the swearing--ooh. tough.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

... Mmm-hmm... mmm-hmm...

...Yeeeeaah....

Okey-dokey, Igor...

Igor says:
"Hypothetically speaking, if we had no way of knowing that the Toyota car was designed by an intelligent being, would science automatically reject that notion?"

I would think not, but the honest supposition in that case would be "I don't know". Having no evidence means that you don't draw conclusions. ...Scientifically speaking.

Also, careful that you don't stumble into the fatal error of comparing non-replicating machines to biological organisms.

From your earlier post...

"After all, it is not the evidence that leads us to the evolutionary theory or ID but our interpretation (inference) of it."

I don't buy that. Intelligent design proponents have shown consistantly that their way of "interpretting data" is to cherry pick what evidence they want to "interpret differently" and then violate Occam's Razor.

Igor said...

I would think not, but the honest supposition in that case would be "I don't know". Having no evidence means that you don't draw conclusions. ...Scientifically speaking.

In other words, science wouldn't negate the possibility that the car was designed (i.e. has an intelligent designer).

Also, careful that you don't stumble into the fatal error of comparing non-replicating machines to biological organisms.

Ah, but what if the design of the car was so advanced that it was able to replicate itself with the ability to recombine the design information as to produce other cars with varying characteristics?

"After all, it is not the evidence that leads us to the evolutionary theory or ID but our interpretation (inference) of it."

I don't buy that. Intelligent design proponents have shown consistantly that their way of "interpretting data" is to cherry pick what evidence they want to "interpret differently" and then violate Occam's Razor.


If you believed that your worldview leads you to the evolutionary theory (and not the other way around), you wouldn't be adamant about the evolutionary theory, would you? Was evolution the very first thing you learned as a child? We know that not a single human being is unbiased. No matter how much one tries, evidence is always interpreted through one's experiential knowledge (and it is a subconscious process). The belief that preceeds the belief in evolution is materialism -- and that you and I believed before we learned to speak.

Here are some very honest admissions for which I respect these evolutionary proponents:

"We are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."
-- Richard Lewontin

"Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed but rather evolved."
-- Francis Crick

"Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose."
-- Richard Dawkins

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Don't hang scientists on the basis of brief quotes. There is a larger context to what they are saying, and I'll get to that...

"In other words, science wouldn't negate the possibility that the car was designed (i.e. has an intelligent designer). "

The point is that science would have no comment on anything it would not have evidence for.


"Ah, but what if the design of the car was so advanced that it was able to replicate itself with the ability to recombine the design information as to produce other cars with varying characteristics?"

Then you'd have an evolving car whose origin we didn't understand. You would still not be able to comment on its origin.

...but this is speculative. We DO understand where the car comes from, and even if we didn't understand what a car was, we recognize engineering. We know what nuts and bolts are. We know that there is no natural process that accounts for metals and plastic forming together to make a machine. In THIS world, in which we DO know the origin of cars, it is best not to compare them to biological organisms. There is no basis for comparison. Cars don't have a system for replication.

And even if humans developed such a process by which cars could replicate themselves, they would inevitably do so by exploiting a natural process. ...which is kind of what cars do right now, anyway, only only with thermodynamics instead of evolution. The car engine itself is built upon principles that we learn from nature. Every machine man builds is an impersonation of some fascet of nature. The difference is that we can detect the differences between what we make and what occurs naturally.


"If you believed that your worldview leads you to the evolutionary theory (and not the other way around), you wouldn't be adamant about the evolutionary theory, would you?"

I think you're starting to construct a strawman here. I defend evolution in the same way I defend pretty much every other field of science if I see that it's under attack. Evolution is not my worldview. For example, if this wasn't a descussion about evolution, but rather a discussion about the shape of the earth, I would be just as adamant that the earth is a sphere (an imperfect sphere, but a sphere) as I am that evolution is a fact of biology. I would also be adamant about the earth revolving around the sun. Similarly, I am quite adamant that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin actually walked on the moon. ...you know, because there are some people who say that we never went there. (i.e., Joe Rogan)

The point is, I defend a lot things with vigor and confidence, and the reason I defend evolution particularly here is because that's what the scope of this topic is about. Don't assume to know my worldview based on the limited scope of this particular blog post. I am no more an evolutionist than I am a gravityist or a round-earther. However, I will gladly accept the title of anti-Roganist. Hee...


"Was evolution the very first thing you learned as a child? We know that not a single human being is unbiased. No matter how much one tries, evidence is always interpreted through one's experiential knowledge (and it is a subconscious process). The belief that preceeds the belief in evolution is materialism -- and that you and I believed before we learned to speak."

That's true, but accusing someone of being a materialist is sort of like accusing someone of being human. We don't have a choice but to make assumptions based on our experiences. Humans are natural pattern-seekers. And being an illustrator, I'm particularly aware of that. We seek patterns in our experiences and naturally draw conclusions from them. We can't help but expect repetition.

The problem with intelligent design is that it's counter-intuitive to this process. And we're not just talking about simply inferring design. We're talking about bringing an agent into the discussion who essentially can do anything. An agent who, in a figurative sense, would be like a cartoonist, with full power and authority to make his world do whatever he pleases. People who "presuppose" the Christian worldview, particularly the fundamentalist Christian worldview, basically open themselves up to the full ramifications to what Dawson Bethrick (another blogger) calls The Cartoon Universe of Theism, where anything is possible, inspite of what experience tells you. And thus, snakes can talk, the world can flood, and so on.

This is why you have people like Lewontin and Dawkins stating that you cannot allow the supernatural in the door. One can not simply draw the conclusion that something occurred due to a miracle, because, by its very properties, a miracle would defy our human ability to investigate it. If life happened by miracle, we have no way of detecting that.

The only appropriate response is, "I don't know.".

There's also the issue of equivocation here. There's actually two kinds of presuppositions. There is a presupposition you can choose, and one you cannot. The natural presupposition of materialism that you identified is the kind that you cannot choose. You MUST believe that this world you perceive exists and that there are repeatable processes and patterns that you can rely on in order to function in reality. The other kind of presupposition, the choosable kind, is the kind that you could apply to a hypothesis. You know... "If I assume this, then this, this, and this will follow.". This is where theism falls. "If I believe in an omnipotent God, then miracles can occur."

So, it's not a matter of belief versus belief. It's a matter of axiom versus belief.

Hideousdwarf said...

Hi!!
Been a while so I read through.
Wow, lotsa trolls and arguments that have already been hashed out on this post. Wanted to apologize for never responding, caught influenza and the turd took up residence in my respiratory system for about a week and a half.
Mr. Neil, thanks I know MRSA and I shudder because I saw it in Puerto Rico.
I also now understand a bit more, but as I really am just now able to think beyond sleep, I am not gonna try to explain.

I cant keep posting here, it gets too depressing to read all the anger and backlashing, but I really appreciate all the people Ive learned from, and want to thank you all.

I have honestly enjoyed the dialogue in its saner moments, and wish everyone here the best, and (no offense I hope) God Bless. And I mean in in the best way possible.

And Mr. Neil, if you could, I just started my own blog under hideousdwarf, could you send me what you cartoon is? Im trying to learn how to do that myself so it would be much appreciated

The short and Deformed Also Known as Hideousdwarf
Signing off

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"and (no offense I hope) God Bless."

...HISSSS!!! No, that's perfectly alright. I'd be happy to stop by your blog.

thinkingcreationist said...

Jon,

Thank you for your response. I will beg to differ on a point or two, if I may.

The issue with radiometric dating, from what I have seen, is not as precise as you would make it out to be. To begin with, radiometric dating yields ranges, not dates. Sometimes these ranges include spans of millions of years between their earliest possible date and the latest possible date. To me, that is a pretty big margin of error for something so relied upon. Additionally if there are variations which make radiometric dating invalid for things in the short term, testable past, on what basis can we reliably say even these ranges are accurate given that we have agreed upon the possiblity that constancy is not a valid variable necessarily? Granted if the measurment of tree rings gives us some indication of the age of the tree (that sounds right but it would be partially an agreement from ignorance becasue I have not read much on that so need to "trust but verify" on this one. This also does not help that studies (by secular scientists, not just creationists) show that radiometric dating of the same rocks by different dating methods yield vastly different results just prove that using dating methods such a wide range of dates are generated that the scientists can pick a date that fits their pre-determined age of a flow.

Mr. Neil, I will grant you that there are different worldviews. You state that we have no way to know that something is created so we must assume it got here naturally (pardon the paraphrase if I botched it). Creationists, however are operating under a different understanding and this is really at the core of the discussion for us because the Bible tells us "Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

Now, again I am a theologian not a scientist so please don't blast me for trying to explain where we are coming from. Without question the Bible is the basis of our assumptions and quite like your claims for science has been proven time and again to stand up to attacks leveled against it. Leaving theology aside for a moment and only considering the historical value, it is the most accurate history book ever written. Dates, names, places, rulers, (historical) events, kingdoms, etc all have been verified against two thousand years of challenges by archeology and verification by outside sources. There are non-Christian archeologists who don't believe in any of the spiritual truths in the Bible but who won't even begin a dig without some direction from the Bible about where and what they will find things.

Now as far as the miraculous, a majority of even the miracles described in the Bible have independent verification from outside. The plagues of Egypt are found described in heiroglyphics from Egypt. The healings of Jesus are recorded in documents by non-Christian historians. Many of the battles described as being won by the Hebrews being in God's favor and also recorded by the losers as inexplicable turns of events in their own historical documents. While none of these things prove necessarily supernatural events took place, they do further verifiy the historicity of the Biblical accounts.

There is one miraculous event, however, that is not readily explainable by scientific theories, the historicity of which is undeniable, and that is the resurrection of Jesus. It was not denied even by those who crucified him and mention of it appears in not only anti-Christian Hebrew documents from the period but also very anti-Christian Roman documents. Without a valid scientific explanation of how someone who was dead natrually returned to life, then there has to be at least this single example of something supernatural that has occurred.

Now, I apologize for going down the theological road here but as I said that is really my field of study and it was necessary to set up this point. If Creationists must allow the irrefutable evidence of the resurrection, then necessarily we must open the door to the possibility that in at least one instance in the past, something supernatural occurred. Combine that with the verse from Romans I quoted and you see why from our perspective it is not a logical leap (or a departure of intelligence as some have claimed) for us to see a supernatural origin for life.

Jon, the second point of disagreement is on your characterization of Creationists going beyond the scope of the origin of life. I must disagree, the discrepancy comes however from the assumption that all life "types" or "kinds" were created simultaneously rather than through the process of evolution. Any honest, thinking Creationists do not challenge the concept that speciation occurs. The variety of life we see today absolutely, positively is not of the same order of magnitude that was present at creation. Variations within species according to mutation and natural selection are not challenged by educated Creationists, what is challenged is anything that crosses the lines of speciation.

I read some of the links you provided like the 15 examples of beneficial mutation and as I read each one I noticed they were showing some stronger strains of certain bacteria, some hardier brands of others but ultimately I found nothing to disagree with (nor would any reasonable Creationist). Those were all examples of natural speciation. My question is (and forgive me if this question has already been answered in another post, my current courseload does not permit me the time to read over 200 posts in detail) do you know of links for similar experiments which have results demonstrating changes which cross species lines? That would be the "nail in the coffin" I think for the current thinking of Creationists who say the Bible discusses clear boundaries around "kinds".

You see another scientific observation which also reinforces the Biblical account of Creation (in my mind) is the admitted mystery of the "pre-Cambrian explosion". We find in the pre-Cambrian fossil records a diversity of life with no apparent record of simpler fossils (or any fossils) before that. There is also the findings of Dr. Robert Gentry, whose findings on native Polonium (an element with an incredibly short halflife previously only found as part of the radioactive decay cycle of other elements) in pre-Cambrian granite. Initially he published his findings only, without any conclusions, which the scientific community was amazed about until they realized the Creationist implications of these findings. The implication of finding native Polonium halos in pre-Cambrian granite is that this granite had to have been formed almost instantaneously rather than slowly over time since the half-life of some of the Polonium ions are fractions of seconds long.

Once the implications of his findings were realized, his funding was pulled, he was refused publication in any further journals and these findings were relegated to "nature's tiny mystery". This would seem to be a disengenious treatment of an amazing finding by a reputable scientist who never even published any ID/Creationist conclusions, simply the data itself was damning enough to be disregarded by the scientific community.

It is things like this, guys, which makes me a little suspicious about how much of an even playing field the evidence out there gets. If evolutionists controll all the scientific journals and are willing to disregard or bury or bar any presentation of evidence which questions or refutes any of the assumptions, how else is this information to get out other than by being published by "Creationist" organizations? If the mainstream scientists won't let legitimate findings that challenge the status quo come play in their sandbox, legitimate scientists are forced to find another sandbox.

While I understand your objections to Behe and Hovind, there are literally hundreds of other published scientists out there questioning the assumptions of these theories and publishing through Creationists houses as the only avenue available to them. Does this necessarily make them all disingenuous crackpots who didn't deserve their degrees? I think that would be a bit of a harsh broad brush. Some of these guys are brilliant scientists who graduated with honors from the same institutions that the top evolutionists did. I guess the crux of this final question is, if there were one or two they could reasonably be written off as crackpots pushing an agenda but there are hundreds if not thousands of credentialed scientists who feel, in their mind anyway, that there are serious questions still to be answered around evolution. Are they all sub-standard scientists trying to push an agenda? That seems unlikely. Could there be some valid points in the tens of thousands of books on the subject or does science necessitate the writing off of everything put out from that point of view as invalid from the start?

I'd love to hear your opinions on these points, but remember I am only presenting things from the best perspective I understand them, not invalidating anyone elses observations or thoughts.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"the Bible tells us..."

Yes, I could smell Romans 1:20 coming sooner or later.

The problem with that is that it's a naked assertion that doesn't really address how a supernatural being interacts with his physical creations. It's simply an assertion that could be easily countered with a similar apologetic for the Flying Spaghetti Monster. "The FSM has imprinted the clearly revealed himself to all human souls so that all humans are without excuse." And to refute this claim, you would have to employ induction, which would be no different than what any normal person does when handed a quote from the Bible.

I know you're just explaining yourself, but I hope you can see why just asserting something out of the Bible isn't terribly convincing to a non-believer. I've also become very familiar with the way Christians (particularly presuppositionalists) attempt to use Romans 1 and the problem of induction as a means to undermine the foundation of non-theistic forms of thinking, but in doing so, they don't really solve the problem of induction. All they're doing is shifting their inductive assumptions from the natural to making inductive assumptions about God. I don't know how familiar you are with this, but I just thought I'd bring it up, seeing as Romans 1:20 is always the precursor to something like that, from my experience.


"Now as far as the miraculous, a majority of even the miracles described in the Bible have independent verification from outside. The plagues of Egypt are found described in heiroglyphics from Egypt. The healings of Jesus are recorded in documents by non-Christian historians. Many of the battles described as being won by the Hebrews being in God's favor and also recorded by the losers as inexplicable turns of events in their own historical documents."

Actually, there is believed to have been volcanic activity around the time period of the plagues which very well could account the river turning red as well as causing a number of calamities with the wildlife. Obviously, nothing as wild as what the Bible says, but a cumulative distaster, none the less. As far as non-Christians writing about Jesus, I don't have a lot of data on that, but it was always my impression that many of those were of questionable authenticity.


"While none of these things prove necessarily supernatural events took place..."

That's right, they don't. Incidentally, I would concede that there are things in the Bible that clearly happened, but I think you understand why I don't transfer that to the wilder stories.

thinkingcreationist said...

Neil,

I think it is a bit disingenuous to compare a statement from the Bible with the Flying Spaghetti Monster, given I am unaware of similar independent verification for the extreme historical verifiabiltity of the Bible just keeping with the realm of the historical.

Evolutionists cannot be consistent if they take a position to say "look at all the evidence for speciation demonstrating the validity of change within a species, it is logical to assume that similar changes could cross species boundaries" and then pound Biblical Creationists for saying a very similar thing, i.e. "the Bible has withstood criticism and challenge for 2000 years and has been verified (historically) by independent sources and no archeological or historical find has refuted its historicity so it is logical to assume that these authors who took such meticulous care to accurately record minute historical details would suddenly fly into fits of hallucination and record supernatural encounters that were fictional". Do you see where it really is stretching the imagination to assume such diligence on the part of the authors for historical details and then assume these same authors departed from reality suddenly when dealing with spiritual things.

I enjoy watching some of the scientists go through explanations of natural causes for the plagues and I think that despite the mathematical unlikelihood of the exact succession of things that (Jacobovici?) proposed in his documentary on the plagues may be feasible for how most occurred. This seriously breaks down, however, in the 10th plague, the plague of death. His hypothesis of volcanic gasses passing through in the night to suffocate people in their sleep, this does not explain the selective nature of the deaths. Not everyone died, only the firstborn of the households (again verified by Egyptian archeology) and none from the homes of the Hebrews. I think his hypothesis on the first nine plagues was well thought out, well researched and took into account the reality of the situation validated by archeology, but the 10th plague just is not adequately explained as easily or as well as his ideas for the first 9.

Don't get me wrong, I think God does not go outside the natural laws He has given us except on very rare occasions and that many of the miracles recorded may have had perfectly naturalistic explanations, but there are a handfull, usually at critical junctures in the salvation timeline, that this just seem to apply to.

Again, I am not a scientist, but I am fairly well read on the main issues and am always facinated to enter into discussions like this with evolutionists who can intelligently and respectfully give the reasons why they believe as they do. If nothing else it is a good preparation for me for ministry as the area I will be serving will be in communist China where these opinions makeup the bulk of society. The more I learn from you guys the better prepared I can be to address the questions which will undoubtedly be posed to me in the field.

Now, can I ask a philosophical question along the same lines? If we are all the products of natural selection, it would stand to reason that our main evolutionary drive would be toward activities which ensure the survival of the species, correct? Well things we observe in the animal kingdom, like rape, promiscuity, murder, etc all promote survival of the fittest, yet humanity uniquely among the animals has developed a moral sense which states that these activities are wrong. Regardless of culture, ethnicity, etc you find these same core values, stealing, lying, murder, etc are wrong in every culture on the earth. This cannot be easily written off to evolution since these social taboos are found cross culturally and in opposition of the rules of survival of the fittest. How does naturalistic evolution result in the development of morality and an absolute sense of right and wrong?

Gotta run, bread in the oven is ready. Will check back in later today hopefully.

Igor said...

Don't hang scientists on the basis of brief quotes. There is a larger context to what they are saying, and I'll get to that...

No, don't have the right to hang anyone :). Just pointing out what they say...

The point is that science would have no comment on anything it would not have evidence for.

Agreed -- just want to make sure that no one is saying that science excludes the possibility of intelligent design in relation to objects that appear to have been designed.

Then you'd have an evolving car whose origin we didn't understand. You would still not be able to comment on its origin.

I'll defer to your following elaboration...

...but this is speculative. We DO understand where the car comes from, and even if we didn't understand what a car was, we recognize engineering. We know what nuts and bolts are.

This is all good -- especially "even if we didn't understand what a car was, we recognize engineering." Likewise, we know what cells are. We understand the eye, the wing, tendons, ligaments, the brain, etc.

We know that there is no natural process that accounts for metals and plastic forming together to make a machine.

Is that so? I disagree. The sun, wind, lightning, temperature fluctuations, oxygen, hydrogen etc. combined have the capability to form metal and plastic. And, we don't have to necessarily think about them creating a car because we can imagine that it all started with a sophisticated, solar-powered paper clip (no, it wasn't designed to clip paper but it looked that way). After all, we know that a paper clip is not irreducibly complex (that's not even clearly defined --hence, no intelligent design nonsense needs to be involved). We also know that the paper clip contained the information it needed to operate independently: consume solar energy, self-repair, and replicate (never mind where its "DNA" came from -- that's open to interpretation -- but be careful about talking about deity because that will cause us to question materialism). Over the billions of years, through natural selection the fittest paper clips survived and through copy errors (mutations), new information was developed that eventually led to the self-replicating car we know today. We don't know exactly how it happened (as we are still searching for "fossil" (wreckage) records to figure out the transitional forms) but here they [cars] are as a result. And we must believe it or be labeled ignorant, stupid, or (I'd rather not go there) deceivers. Yes, the cars exhibit a marvelous design but it only appears so -- we have proven how it has come to be. After all, we know that it appears overwhelming to consider how it all has come to be but if we take some time to imagine these small steps, what appears to be designed, wouldn't seem so anymore... Now, therefore, let us continue to research in order to fill in the missing pieces so that the theory of car evolution may be beyond reproach. However, since the car exemplifies excellent design characteristics, do not feel like you cannot use them to construct a bycicle (or whatever else). But be very careful not to suggest that the theory of car evolution has faults (dare not mention "intelligent design") or we will pull your funding because we do not want to be perceived as condoning or establishing religion that says that the car was designed by Toyota engineers. If you do, you will be labeled a Toyotamaniac and stripped of your credentials...

It's rather corny, I know, but consider the parallels (less the fact that we have the foreknowledge that cars have been designed by men).

And even if humans developed such a process by which cars could replicate themselves, they would inevitably do so by exploiting a natural process. ...which is kind of what cars do right now, anyway, only only with thermodynamics instead of evolution. The car engine itself is built upon principles that we learn from nature. Every machine man builds is an impersonation of some fascet of nature. The difference is that we can detect the differences between what we make and what occurs naturally.

I like "The difference is that we can detect the differences between what we make and what occurs naturally." Very well said.

Don't assume to know my worldview based on the limited scope of this particular blog post. I am no more an evolutionist than I am a gravityist or a round-earther. However, I will gladly accept the title of anti-Roganist. Hee...

I know you are a materialist -- nothing less and nothing more -- by deducing it from the fact that you believe in the single-cell-to-man evolution. You have affirmed it also below...

That's true, but accusing someone of being a materialist is sort of like accusing someone of being human.

No, I'm not accusing anyone -- just stating facts. I mentioned that the same is true for me...

We don't have a choice but to make assumptions based on our experiences. Humans are natural pattern-seekers. And being an illustrator, I'm particularly aware of that. We seek patterns in our experiences and naturally draw conclusions from them. We can't help but expect repetition.

Yes, very true and fascinating too.

The problem with intelligent design is that it's counter-intuitive to this process.

You made a better point about understanding engineering earlier...

And we're not just talking about simply inferring design. We're talking about bringing an agent into the discussion who essentially can do anything. An agent who, in a figurative sense, would be like a cartoonist, with full power and authority to make his world do whatever he pleases.

Well, that's a valid fear from the standpoint of scientific integrity. However, it is unbased because science, by its very definition, will always seek to understand and explain the natural. Actually, as you stated earlier, we are natural pattern-seekers (i.e. we distinguish design, information, intelligence from randomness). Knowing that there is a pattern in the structure of a cell, will cause us to pursue to understand it. Isn't that what science already does? Science is not seeking to interpret randomness -- it seeks to interpret patterns. As Einstein has once said, "The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible."

People who "presuppose" the Christian worldview, particularly the fundamentalist Christian worldview, basically open themselves up to the full ramifications to what Dawson Bethrick (another blogger) calls The Cartoon Universe of Theism, where anything is possible, inspite of what experience tells you. And thus, snakes can talk, the world can flood, and so on.

Open themselves up to the possibility of believing miracles? Yes. Believing something without knowing it experientially -- never. The fundamental premise of Christianity is to believe the truth. And no, I'm not talking about the "because the Bible says so" truth. The intent of the Bible is to interpret reality assuming that the person already has certain experiential knowledge that will only confirm the concepts presented in the Bible (but let's not go there yet). We know from personal experience a number of such concepts -- such as justice...

This is why you have people like Lewontin and Dawkins stating that you cannot allow the supernatural in the door. One can not simply draw the conclusion that something occurred due to a miracle, because, by its very properties, a miracle would defy our human ability to investigate it. If life happened by miracle, we have no way of detecting that.

I think I addressed this concern earlier...

There's also the issue of equivocation here. There's actually two kinds of presuppositions. There is a presupposition you can choose, and one you cannot. The natural presupposition of materialism that you identified is the kind that you cannot choose. You MUST believe that this world you perceive exists and that there are repeatable processes and patterns that you can rely on in order to function in reality. The other kind of presupposition, the choosable kind, is the kind that you could apply to a hypothesis. You know... "If I assume this, then this, this, and this will follow.". This is where theism falls. "If I believe in an omnipotent God, then miracles can occur."

Materialism that I'm talking about contains both types of presuppositions in its "everything is matter, energy, and time and there is nothing outside of these." Now, the fact is matter, energy, and time are real -- this is the natural presupposition. However, the other premise (negating everything other than matter, energy, and time) is the choosable kind of presupposition.

So, it's not a matter of belief versus belief. It's a matter of axiom versus belief.

So, yes, it is a matter of belief versus belief...

All the best,
Igor

Igor said...

Sorry, I should have made this observation too in my previous post...

This is why you have people like Lewontin and Dawkins stating that you cannot allow the supernatural in the door. One can not simply draw the conclusion that something occurred due to a miracle, because, by its very properties, a miracle would defy our human ability to investigate it. If life happened by miracle, we have no way of detecting that.

Do you realize what Lewontin said? He affirmed that materialism is an absolute (i.e. in support of my assertion that materialism involves two types of assumptions -- "natural" and "choosable"). Also, in essence, he said, "...even though material explanations are inadequate (i.e. not logical), we will continue to pursue them...". Is this the price that science is willing to pay?

Anonymous said...

After having watched the movie and now reading your blog, I am 100% convinced that the movie is actually a documentary. I became an atheist because of science and again a believer because of science. Although I am convinced that evolution is not completely a false science, it is far from being a true science as well. That is if a true science really exists. I'm not saying that science is not important. It definitely is, but evolutionists have made it a religion. And that is the problem. You have to be a complete idiot - even though being a genius - to see the complexities of nature and believe that there is no intelligence design behind it. The problem is that there should be a being for that intelligence and this being would be so amazingly big and small at the same time for our limited intellectual capacity to understand that it is easier to ignore him completely and look for explanations elsewhere. Way too many scientists believe that explaining the mechanics and physics of things so brilliantly make them impossible to have been designed. It is like someone saying that there was no engineer who invented a car engine because he can explain how it works. The movie shows real atheist scientists completely confused because the questions were not for them to explain how a cell worked for instance - which by the way they would have explained it brilliantly. The questions were too simple for them to be able to answer. The reality is that evolutionists can accept any explanation as long as it is complex and intellectually interesting. However, the possibility of a designer is unacceptable. The beauty of the movie is its simplicity. Your blog just proves that without humbleness the almighty evolutionists will never consider the possibility of the existence of a God, because they know everything and if they don't today they will some day. Religions have made many mistakes, so let's get rid of God. The world will be better. People will be happier with no moral values or hope beyond what they see here and now. You know what? I love science because when it really does its real job, it just makes me believe more and more that there is a God. It's the blind scientists who can't see him, not science. Thank you for proving that Ben Stein's movie is a real documentary. If it wasn't, you wouldn't bother so much to explain the inexplicable. And by the way, if you want to explain it, do it scientifically with pertinent evidence. What you just did was to show evidence that has nothing to do with the movie/documentary, although less careful reader might not realize that. Lucky, there are many smart readers out there.

Latham said...

Make sure that you go see the film. You will see that Stein interviews Dawkins, and Dawkins admits that some intelligent something could have seeded the earth. Dawkins would not say what that something was other than it was not God. Dawkins cannot concede the possibility of a god or of the God because it would destroy all that he believes. His faith rests in the evolutionary theory. I suppose in that sense, nature or the evolutionary theory becomes his god.
It would also be nice if those who do not like this movie to realize the purpose of the movie was to show how academia is intolerant of other views. If ID was so wrong, then there should be major debates between evolutionists and those who believe that there is some intelligent designer (whether it be God or some alien). Make the debates public for all to see on all of the major networks. It is pretty clear that the major television networks agree with the theories of evolution. They should not have any problem asking all of the top ID proponents and the top evolution proponents to a GREAT debate. Maybe all of the ID people are scared to do this, but I have never heard the challenge from the evolution side. I have only heard the ID side say that it wants to be heard. The evolution side keeps saying "no" because it is a religious argument. Why not let the masses hear what has to be said and let them decide? This country is suppose to be free to ideas and is suppose to let people have the freedom to believe. Well, why don't we let all people know both sides in a great debate and let them decide what they want to believe. The problem is that the evolutionists do not want to let the ID people speak. Both sides can define their positions so there is no question as to what each side believes. Then each side can present the pure evidence and comment on how the evidence supports its position and how it goes against its position.
I personally would benefit from a debate that looks at all of the evidence plus points to future research ideas.
I would also like the people in America to be free to specify where their tax dollars go to support research. If they want to spend research dollars on ID, let them. They can change their mind if the ID community does not produce results. The same would be available for the evolutionists.
Open dialogue will be much better for both sides, that is, the side that is right. So many times I have heard evolutionists say that ID proponents are closed-minded. A closed-minded person is one who will not listen to the other's position. That, to me, describes more evolutionists than ID proponents. I ask both sides to be open-minded and present all the facts and describe why the facts support their position rather than call each other names and belittle each other. Usually those are tactics of someone who is losing an argument and don't know what else to say.

double2 said...

There have been a lot of great posts over the weekend (and a few that could use the axe...) and I'd love to make some comments, but alas, I have very little time at this present moment. However, there are two things that I have to mention.

Thinkingcreationist (TC):
You said, "Regardless of culture, ethnicity, etc you find these same core values, stealing, lying, murder, etc are wrong in every culture on the earth." Oh man! that is so not a true statement. There are ancient cultures, and modern cultures that not only exhibit (like ours) these traits, but that are built around it. Some cultures value lying and teach their children the "art" of it. Some cultures depend upon murder of enemy tribes and then cannibalize them. Some cultures murder their own children. So please PLEASE in this argument do not over-generalize. I know what you're trying to say. I had this discussion with Jon a couple weeks ago and he didn't want to go into detail, so he sent me in the direction of Dawkins' book, 'Selfish Gene'. I am currently reading it and I think he is working really hard to explain the Moral Law in a natural way because you can't deny that it is there, so if there is no God, it has to be explained through evolution. Now I'm not done with the book, so maybe he ends it with some bang up argument, but at this point, it is really stretching!!

Neil, my historical expertise is the ancients, specifically Roman. And thinkingcreationist is correct in saying that there are many secular sources that address the Jesus issue. And one of the miracles that he didn't mention from the Exodus, was the parting of the Red Sea, which is also accounted for in the Egyptian documents. You can't, historically, ignore that your slave population of even 1 million people (and those are very modest numbers) just up and left. So yes, there has been the attempt to explain the first nine plagues with a natural phenomenon. It is interesting to note, that in the biblical accounts, the first two plagues, the Plague of the Blood and the Frogs, the pharaoh's magicians were able to perform the same tricks. But by the third, the Plague of the Gnats, the magicians couldn't recreate it and said it must be the "finger of God". So we know that the plagues happened in Egypt at about the time that we place Moses. And I saw the History Channel special where they explained the plagues with the volcano. But, it can't explain the 10th, and it can't explain how the Hebrews were able to cross the Red Sea (unless they went north, around it, but then why didn't the Egyptians just overtake them with their army and take them back?) Nor does it answer the question as to why similar plagues were not experienced by other ancient civilizations.

Oh, and TC, I have the email with all your references in it. So even though it was deleted off of the blog, I do have all of that hard work, and I will get around to reading some of what you suggest. But I'm most hung up on the naturalistic argument for the Moral Law. I see why Jon doesn't want to discuss it. It is so non-sensical, it takes the whole book to "explain" it and even then, I'm so not convinced it's a viable argument. But that's there area that I can't get past. It doesn't change who God is if He created everything with the Big Bang and evolution. However, the human soul, consciousness, sin and righteousness cannot be explained through those processes, for me. Dawkins supposedly has an explanation. I hope to see the movie before the week's out. I am most intrigued with what this man has to say.

thinkingcreationist said...

double,

while I concur there have been pockets of cultures which embraced sins as a central element, those cultures have generally been self destructive and have died out or were the absolutely most responsive cultures to the Gospel when presented with it such as the Waodani indians in Ecuador. Also you need to note the difference between cultures practicing a certain behavior and endorsing it. The Auca tribes (of which the Waodani were part) did not enjoy or endorse murder, they just did not know another way was available other than revenge killings. It was not endorsed in their society as something admirable but as something necessary for survival. As soon as they were introduced to the Gospel and another way of life they embraced it enthusiastically.

Now look at a different example from history, the Aztecs. This was a bloody and violent culture who practiced ritual human sacrifice. To us, this is the same thing as murder, but to them, not so. To them it was a necessary thing to appease the gods and provide for the welfare of the people as a whole. Their understanding of murder, i.e. killing without cause, was still not accepted and was severely punished as was thievery, etc.

In preparation for missions studing foreign cultures is part of my master's level coursework and I have traveled to several foreign countries both for business and for mission trips so I would caution you if your sources for viewing other cultures is mainstream cultural anthropology books. They tend to idolize the radical aspects of culture without trying to understand the underlying psychology of them. As a theological anthropologist (which basically all missionaries are) we tend to look at what underlies the behavior rather than automatically assume culturalized sin as the norm. I mentioned a few blatant examples but if you have other cultures you are thinking of in specific that you feel do not fit the mold, let me know so I can address them (or if I am unfamiliar I can research them). In my study I have not found one instance of a culture that embraces the violation of the core of God's law as a virtue in general.

Keep in mind that there are some instances, like Hitler, where deplorable behavior against other races was tolerated while the same treatment of their own people would have been seen as unacceptable and punishable by law.

On a final note, not sure what email you were referring to, I have sent you nothing. You may have me confused with another poster. I am glad you have resources to keep investigating though.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

I intend on coming back here, but I need to concentrate on my work for a while before providing any more commentary here.

That said, I saw this nonsense appear in my email, and I simply had to respond to it.

Latham, this rebuttal is for you. Better put on your good underwear. This isn't going to be pretty!


"Make sure that you go see the film."

Ugh... Another person who thinks that seeing the film is somehow going to make the non sequitur of Ben Stein's flimsy premise of academic freedom go away.

Question: If there was a movie that proposed the academic freedom of those who believe in geocentricity among a scientific establishment that largely supports heliocentricity, do you think that you'd need to see it? Do you think it'd even be worth your time and money?

If no, then you have already justified my refusal to spend money at the theater. If yes, I have some ocean front property in Arizona you might be interested in.


"You will see that Stein interviews Dawkins, and Dawkins admits that some intelligent something could have seeded the earth. Dawkins would not say what that something was other than it was not God. Dawkins cannot concede the possibility of a god or of the God because it would destroy all that he believes. His faith rests in the evolutionary theory. I suppose in that sense, nature or the evolutionary theory becomes his god."

1. Dawkins wasn't serious (nor is anyone) about panspermia.
2. Attacking Dawkins for one small quote while ignoring the full context of his statements or even his worldview is called QUOTE-MINING.
3. The reason God refuses to concede to God is because doing so would necessitate both an appeal to ignorance and a violation of the philosophy of science.
4. You're actually psycho-analyzing Richard Dawkins and accusing him of bias, which is nothing more than an ad hominem.


"It would also be nice if those who do not like this movie to realize the purpose of the movie was to show how academia is intolerant of other views. If ID was so wrong, then there should be major debates between evolutionists and those who believe that there is some intelligent designer (whether it be God or some alien)."

The problem with this is that the premise of the movie is BULLSHIT. Don't confuse the free speech of a democratic society with the intellectual discourse of science. They are not the same thing. Every theory of science that exists gain credibility on the principle of standing up to criticism. Intelligent design doesn't even offer an theory to criticize. They propose a naked assertion that violates the philosophy of science by its very definition. But you, and other people here, don't understand this principle. I suppose you need a demonstration.

Okay. Let's play ball. Let's ignore the fact that evolution already has an answer for irreducible complexity (i.e., the redundancy of vestigial forms) and pretend that you're an ID scientist whose conclusions, which are based on your inability to detect a mechanism that can reduce a complex structure to a simpler form, lead you to believe that there is an intelligent force that works through nature to account for complexity in a biological system.

Question: Why should I grant you tenure? If I run a research facility, why should I even bother hiring you? I don't need to pay someone to tell me that there's a God who works in nature. If I needed someone to tell me that God works through nature, I'd go to church, where it's FREE!

Scientists who think that supernatural answers constitute valid scientific statements and that pandering to personal belief is more imporant than finding real answers should really be fired. I'm sorry, but that's what you do to people who don't want to do their jobs properly.

But there's another objection to this, and it's called excluding the middle. To evolutionary biologists who already believe in a God designer, the assertions put forth by intelligent design are redundant. You're basically saying, "God exists," to which someone like Ken Miller would simply say, "Yeah, I agree, but the evidence also shows that evolution happens.". The key difference here is that Dr. Miller is actually studying the PROCESSES of biological life, that which he perceives as God's creation, whereas a creation scientist would be merely asserting that life is God's creation.

See the difference? See how ID doesn't actually do science? Do you see how this movie's non sequitur becomes visible when shown in the light of understanding what science actually does?


"Make the debates public for all to see on all of the major networks. It is pretty clear that the major television networks agree with the theories of evolution."

Or maybe the television networks, being big businesses, are intent on airing what will draw the largest audience. Apparently you haven't noticed that television stations actually DON'T cater to real science at all. Unless you're watching Science Channel, there is far more pseudo-science on TV than real science. Even Discovery Channel and History Channel have large programming blocks dedicated to complete nonsense, from Bible codes to haunted houses and other bullshit. Obviously, the television industry doen't give a flying crap about science, one way or another.


"They should not have any problem asking all of the top ID proponents and the top evolution proponents to a GREAT debate. Maybe all of the ID people are scared to do this, but I have never heard the challenge from the evolution side. I have only heard the ID side say that it wants to be heard. The evolution side keeps saying "no" because it is a religious argument. Why not let the masses hear what has to be said and let them decide?"

The public already has access to the intelligent design side of the argument. It's called the internet. And there already are plenty resources, such as the Panda's Thumb and Talk Origins, that have taken the time to address the intelligent design arguments and demonstrate why they are wrong, and those who want to hear debates have been able to do so on shows, such as Reggie Finley's Infidel Guy show for the last ten years. Your inability to find them and pretending that they don't exist is NOT an argument.

And beyond that, YouTube has become a fertile ground for creationism and evolution to come head-to-head, and it only takes a moment of your time to track down people who are already putting arguments into the public arena.

Now, the reason your average scientist does not take the time to sit down with a creationist and have a formal debate is because it's a waste of his time to share a stage with someone who represents a brand of pseudo-science. Scientific conclusions are drawn from observations in a lab, not in the public arena of debate.

Real Scientist: "Let's see, should I spend my time making new, important discoveries, or should I drive out of my way to some church or auditorium so I can pander to someone's ignorance of the scientific method, where it has no bearing on the validity of what I do? Hmm... Decisions... Decisions..."


"This country is suppose to be free to ideas and is suppose to let people have the freedom to believe."

Again, you're confusing a democratic society of free speech with a job in which people are supposed to draw conclusions based on observation. They are not the same thing. By your logic, if you work a nine-to-five job, you should be able to do and say whatever you want, whenever you want, because ti's a free society! NO! Obviously wrong. Scientists expect to stick to the rigors of the scientific method BECAUSE IT'S THEIR JOB!

Treating science as a free speech zone in which all beliefs are equally valid would undermine the very philosophy of science that makes discovery possible. I'm sick and tired of ID proponents treating this as a fairness issue. It would be tremendously UNFAIR to give intelligent design a free ride to credibility when every other theory had to fight its way to get there. You would be stepping on the toes of Albert Einstein, Sir Issac Newton, Steven Hawking, Phil Plait, Bejamin Franklyn, Louis Pasteur, and everyone who has ever contributed to the body of knowledge by doing it the hard way.

Stop whining.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Also, pardon my freudian slip of saying God when I meant to say Richard Dawkins. I really should learn to proofread.

Oh, and to the person who says that science made him an atheist and then made him a believer: THAT'S AMAZING! How did science do that?!

See, science can no more lead you to being a believer than it can lead you to being an atheist. It can do neither, as science is incapable of commenting on the supernatural in the first place.

Science wasn't what lead me to being an atheist.

Igor said...

Neil,

Thanks for the honest, "science wasn't what lead [sic] me to being an atheist."

When you say you're an atheist, are you really saying that you are an agnostic? Or do you believe there is no deity? Also, do you define materialism as a view that all is matter, energy, and time? Or do you believe there are other elements?

Thanks in advance.
Igor

thinkingcreationist said...

I find it interesting that this topic can take someone so capable of intelligently expressing themselves and reduce them to spouting vulgarities. You have well thought out points guys, but expressing them mixed with vulgarities does nothing to support the intelligence of your arguments, it just detracts from them.

That aside, I realize this is an emotional issue for both sides, and buckle your seatbelt because here is why:

Despite vehement statements to the contrary, todays version of anti-God, anti-Christian scientific explanations only evolution is absolutely an ideology first and foremost.

How can I say that? Look at the founders upon which your scientific knowledge of today is based. It is resting firmly on the shoulders of ardent Christians. Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Paschal, etc all were fervent Christians. Even one of your poster-children, Einstein was not an athiest, he was a theist and anyone who has read much of any of Einstein would agree he would absoulutely disagree with Dawkins' viewpoint about the absence of a creator.

This is to say that science is not inheriently anti-God or anti-Christian. The scientific forefathers believed that God gave us natural laws and intended that we should understand and use them for advances in medicine, engineering, agriculture, etc. God is not a God of randomness but of order and He intended us to be able to understand how things work. That is why there are scientific facts in the Bible, although it is not intended to be a science book, that flew in the face of the predominant understanding of the time but which modern science has proven to be true. Facts like the earth hanging in space, the earth being round not flat, the hydrologic cycle, and dozens of other facts are stored in the Bible by writers who were not scientists and who were never intending to challenge the scientific status quo but through the inspiration of the Creator, these facts about His creation were put there for us to find out and verify with science.

Neither is Christianity inheriently anti-science, despite that being the sound byte position. The early scientists started with the viewpoint that there is a God and that He put laws in place that we are capable of understanding. Modern evolutionists start from the viewpoint that there absolutely is no God so we must understand our world in light of that.

Folks, you can deny the religiousity of evolutionism all you want but as it stands today it begins with a theological assumption, the absense of God, and then pursues science from that vantage point. The key thing to understand here is, this assumption is not necessary for "good science". If it were then you need to throw out all scientific discovery prior to the last century or so. It is possible to pursue an understanding of our world in most areas while disagreeing with the anti-God dogma held so closely by Dawkins and others. The practice of science is theologically neutral until it is dragged into the realm by people like Dawkins who insist dogmatically on that being a factor. As has been pointed out before by Jon and Neil, it is possible to work on scientific studies without addresing things outside the scope. In the case of evolution they have said repeatedly that the origin of life is not a valid question. If we are not addressing how life began, then it seems as though there should be some grounds for common discussion among scientists with different opinions about a topic not in discussion. The problem is that people holding this viewpoint are excluded on the basis of that viewpoint not necessarily on the basis of their arguments or findings. That was exactly what happened to Robert Gentry and I believe this was the impetus for the movie Expelled. ID/Creationists are not being barred from discussion on the basis of their science, but are being discriminated against on the basis of their religious beliefs which according to evolutionists is irrelevant to the discussion.

You can't have it both ways. Either the origin of life is important enough to exclude ID/Creationists from the mainstream fields of science, in which case evolutionists need to stop screaming "irrelevant" whenever the question of the origins of life are brought up, OR it is not relevant in which case it is also not a valid reason to exclude holders of a certain belief on the matter from discussions of science.

Do you honestly not see the double standard here? The inconsistency is pretty glaring.

One final point, I disagree, Neil, with your assertion that nobody takes seriously the idea of panspermia. Evolutionsts continuously make references to this idea when confronted with the origins of life question, have spent millions of dollars on studies of asteroids, etc to look for evidence of it and the SETI Institute has never ceased listening for signs of intelligent life outside our planet. I can understand wanting to distance yourself from the theory as it is utterly preposterous and doesn't really answer the origin of life question, it just moves it to another planet. This does not negate the truth that this brand of silliness has been widely proposed and considered since the early experiments showed that the conditions necessary for life on earth to have been created would have proven utterly hostile to the continuation of that life. This forced scientists to conclude that another planet with different life forms must have evolved this way and then seeded the earth. For people supposed to be based only in facts (not accusing anyone on this blog, simply the scientists holding to this theory) there sure are an awful lot of science fiction assumptions underlying this theory.

Enough rambling for now. I am sure I have given you guys enough to blast me on.

Anonymous said...

So could we have this discussion without the name calling? I am neither a Darwinist nor a creationist, but I did just see the movie and noted the name calling there too. Let's go out on a limb and hypothesize that no one entering into this dialogue is ignorant nor insane. Perhaps a question one percieves as "stupid" will launch another individual to think in a new way and in turn resolve the mystery of how we all came to be.

While there is an evident spin to the arguments made in the movie I really appreciated the underlying theme-- If one is refused the opportunity to ask questions how will one learn? I think this should be true in science, religion, race relations, world peace, etc. As a therapist my science is much softer than most but I always want my clients to challenge everything in order to illicit change. The movie portrayed the squelching of questions as equivalent to Hitler's extermination of Jews. What I took from it was who of us has the right to decide which questions should live and which should die. When my clients challenge a therory or concept it makes me stop and think of how I can explain it in a way that they understand. When it is a principle I believe to be essential i.e., positive reinforcement in relationship building, I find a way to make it make sense in their worldview but even then the client has the right to choose to disagree and implement his/her own practices.

Thanks for the forum--Let's find the answers to all of lifes questions and enjoy the process and stimulating thought.

While not a Darwinist nor creationist I am a very proud KU Alum--Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!

John Heininger said...

Better an informed astronomer than an angry one. Anger tends to blind one to realities. So here are a couple of realities our angry astronomer needs to face.
Fact 1: There can be no ultimate separation between science and religion because all of science is ultimately founded on criteria for which there is "no naturalistic answer." This includes the origin and existence of the universe, regularity, mathematical form, underlying order, and predictibility. And this applies even to the gatekeeper of science, natural law itself, whose origin and existence has no naturalistic answer. In fact you cannot even do science unless you first accept such intelligence based criteria as a given. Such underlying intelligence must be assumed in order to discover and harness these phenomena for practical purposes. Thus, ID not only belongs in science, but is the very foundation of science and the scientific method. And all scientists who deny this ID reality are sawing of the very limb they are sitting on.

Fact 2: Every court case ever fought on this issue is about suppressing opposition to Darwinism, and preventing alternative views being heard in any science class room. And this is true even relating to the problems with evolution.

All this makes the angry astronomers protests and retoric a farce. There are far to many examples of the co-ordinated efforts of hard core evolutionists and humanist spawned organisations worldwide intent not only in eridicating ID, but theism and Christianity itself. And I am happy to provide chapter and verse if granted the space.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

First and foremost, I'd like to thank you for making this post. I had long forgotten the name of this blog, and I'd have been thumbing around Google for quite some time before finding my way back. Now then...

Point 1: Bollox! There is not a single justification for anything you've asserted. You seem to have this idea that scientific laws are laws that are governed by a supreme being, and yet in a scientific context, that's not what they mean. Laws are those which are DESCRIBED based on the nature of the universe. When you posit a supreme being as a "keeper of law", you commit the fallacy of equivocation, and thus your entire premise implodes.

Furthermore, there is nothing scientific about intelligent design. If you even knew what a theory was, you'd see this quite clearly. Without any testable or predictable phenomenon, all you have is worthless conjecture. And this isn't just an atheist response. There are theists in the field of biology who agree with this, because they see evolution as a clearly evident phenomenon that is part of God's act of creation. There is no need for a "theory" of intelligent design. The only thing intelligent design does, bumbling as it may be, is to bash evolution, and this has been shown beautifully by even the most devout of Christians who work in modern biology, namely Dr. Kenneth Miller.

You have nothing. Even if evolution did NOT have the fossil record, you would have NOTHING. The molecular evidence for evolution is damningly obvious. Endogenous retroviruses are there in the human genome, and they link us to the great apes. Creationists have tried to refute this, and they've failed. Then, you have the Chromosome #2. Clearly the link is drawn to the great apes, because it's a fusion of two primate chromosomes. Once again, this is not refutable within the ability of the creationists.

And finally, I'm getting really tired of these arguments that try to bottleneck the application by redefining it as a divinely revealed faculty of the creator. Funny thing about that, is that divine revelation is a specifically Christian concept, one which intelligent design, if it was truly detached from creationism, would not really be able to use. And, in fact, I already explained that there's no particular reason to assume that a creator would not use evolution.

Positing creation, as if to suggest a single creation of fully formed creatures all at once, is not a scientific answer to anything, and it does not even begin to address the molecular evidence of common ancestry.

This is why intelligent design fails.

Point 2. Nobody is suppressing opposition to "Darwinism". In fact, just forget about evolution for a moment. This is about intelligent design's failure as a scientific hypothesis. Even if there was no theory of evolution, intelligent design would still fail, because it doesn't work with any sort of testable phenomenon. All it does is argue from incredulity. It observes something like an eye, or a circulatory system, or an eco system, and it asserts that since no natural phenomenon can apparently account for its existence, therefore an invisible being of great intelligence must have done it. And that is intellectual bankruptcy.

In fact, such intellectual bankruptcy can be demonstrated by observing how this fraudulent way of thinking has been applied in the past. Take Sir Issac Newton, for example. Newton was a brilliant man, but he had his faults. He made an error, and it's demonstrably obvious by today's scientific standards. It was Sir Issac Newton who mapped out the path of the planets in the solar system. But what Newton could not figure out why all the planets were on the same plane, nor why they were all going in the same direction, so he concluded that it must be the work of God. In fact, you'll hear creationist idiots like Ray Comfort quoting Newton on this, blissfully unaware of the obvious fallacy that Newton employed. Newton couldn't think of an explanation, so he opted for no explanation.

Centuries later, we know how planetary systems are formed. No god required. This should demonstrate to you why arguments from incredulity and from ignorance don't work and don't belong in science. If we don't know how something occurs, then the proper answer is "I don't know".

And finally, getting back to this "Darwinism" nonsense, there IS no such thing as Darwinism. Darwin is dead. He's been dead for 130 years. We're talking about a man whose theory of evolution bears little resemblance to what stands today. This is a man who did not know about genetics. He is not a modern biologist, nor is he a prophet for this ill-defined "Darwinism" that people like you like to throw around sloppily. He's dead, and he can't contribute to the body of knowledge anymore. He's a figure of historical significance and a pioneer of science, but he is one of many.

Maybe you should get your head out of the 1800s (or your ass) and join the rest of us in the 21st Century, where the best evidence for evolution is in the genes.

Timmy said...

Hey Mr. Neil

When you say "laws are those which are described based on the Nature of the universe"
aren't you just saying "Nature obeys laws" and you know this because it is what we
observe? Question - how do we/you know what we/you observe is real? Science needs a
starting point too, a given a "revealed truth", doesn't it?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Timmy,

"When you say 'laws are those which are described based on the Nature of the universe' aren't you just saying 'Nature obeys laws'"

No. Read it again.

HINT: The key word is DESCRIBE. A scientific law is a description. Nothing more.

By saying that nature "obeys" a law, you've taken it out of this context. And you're begging the question.


"Question - how do we/you know what we/you observe is real? Science needs a starting point too, a given a 'revealed truth', doesn't it?"

What do you mean by "revealed truth"? Why does anything have to be revealed? Aren't you, once again, begging the question?

If something is revealed to you, aren't you just OBSERVING the revelation? If so, then what's wrong with simply accepting our observations as fact? Divine revelation doesn't solve these philosophical questions. It just moves the problem back a step and tries to pretend as though these questions have been answered, even when they haven't. I'm not impressed by this apologetic tactic. Actually, I find it quite annoying.

Technically, we DON'T know that what we observe is real, however it is far less of an assumption to assume that our observations are real than it is to assume that they are not.

In fact, you pretty much have to trust your observations anyway. I'd really like to see you try and do otherwise.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Actually, Timmy, I'll zero in on your error even closer, so that you and everyone else can see where you screwed up.

You equivocated my use of the word "nature". When I used the word nature, I was using it in a descriptive sense. The phrase which you quoted even says "the nature of the universe", i.e., the characteristics of the universe. The DESCRIPTION of the universe.

But you came back with "Nature obeys laws". You've changed the word "nature" into a thing instead of a descriptor, as if NATURE itself is a synonym for the universe. This isn't just a scientific error. It's a GRAMMATICAL error.

The nature of the universe doesn't obey the law, because nature of the universe IS the law.

Do you get it now?

Timmy said...

Cool, ok - So a scientific law is a description of what?

On the second point - maybe a better term for revealed truth would be "self evident truth" - a truth for which no further proof can be given - its just true by its very nature because to deny it would be actually affirming it - like in our example to say what I observe isn't real would be saying I observe that what I observe is not real - it's self contradictory ie. I really observe that what I observe is not real) and we just know - that a self contradictory statement can't be true - it is illogical.

Jon Voisey said...

all of science is ultimately founded on criteria for which there is "no naturalistic answer." This includes the origin and existence of the universe, regularity, mathematical form, underlying order, and predictibility.

So often has this claim been made that something is the "most basic" form. Yet there's a difference between what science and religion do next: Religion shrugs and gives up. It takes it as dogma. Science keeps digging. And what does it find? It finds things can often yet more be broken down. Compounds into elements. Elements into atoms. Atoms into protons, neutrons, and electrons. Those into quarks, gluons, etc....

Science doesn't accept that these ends are truly "The End". It accepts that for the present, further answers may be unobtainable, but never assumes final Truth. Thus, your claim that science and religion are indistinguishable in this regard is easily contradicted. As such, the rest of your argument that one must accept (without evidence) any sort of Alpha "intelligence" crumbles too which in turn lets fall your claim that court cases are about suppression opposition to "Darwinism" (whatever the hell that is).

So a scientific law is a description of what?

It's a description of observed phenomena.

maybe a better term for revealed truth would be "self evident truth" - a truth for which no further proof can be given

As I already pointed out, science never makes such statements as an absolute.

Any more questions?

TV's Mr. Neil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TV's Mr. Neil said...

Sorry... Repost. I spotted a typo. And I added a few things.

"Cool, ok - So a scientific law is a description of what?"

Jon beat me to this, but I just want to add that my point was that you were mistaking a descriptive for a prescriptive.

A scientific law, which is descriptive, is merely a statement of fact based on observation. There's no obedience subject to these laws. It's merely stating, "that's the way it is". It's the nature of something.

An imposed law, like that of a state or divine ruler, however, is an imposed law, and is thus prescriptive. It's an imposition that is placed upon something that already has a nature.

So, when you make statements about natural phenomena "obeying laws", I had to ring the objection bell. They don't obey anything. They just behave within their nature.

For example, it's a "law" that nothing can go as fast as the speed of light, but it's not because there's a cosmically imposed speed limit. Rather, it's because it's mathematically impossible to travel at or beyond the speed of light.

Timmy said...

And it's mathematically impossible because ... - so is math an abosolute?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"And it's mathematically impossible because ..."

...because of the theory of relativity. Your mass would become infinite if you traveled at the speed of light.


"so is math an abosolute?"

What relevance does this question have?

I was trying to illustrate to you why a scientific law has nothing in common with an imposed law.

Besides which, you're going to have to explain to me what you mean by "absolute". Sorry, but I'm a little cynical about these sorts of questions to just answer them out of hand. I've done this tango with presuppositionalists a few times too often.

Timmy said...

What I mean by absolute:

You had mentioned previously in the response to the statement/definiton of "self evident truth" that "science doesn't deal with absolutes" - so that is what I meant by absolute - a truth that is true by its very nature - there isn't further proof that can be given of its truth - math is just true and we use it in science to understand the way physical things in the universe operate.

What relevance does this question have (is math an absolute):

I think the relevance is - that if math is a self evident truth/absolute and the physical universe seems to follow math - (ie. we seem to be able to describe how the universe operates according to mathematical descriptions) then it would seem to lead to a statement that "the universe operates according to the truth/absolutes of math". We don't say the physical universe is math -do we?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Right, but that's not what math is, and you should know that.

Math is a system by which we quantify units reality for the sake of measurement. Your statement that "the physical universe seems to follow math" is absolutely backwards.

When I say that it's mathematically impossible to exceed the speed of light, what that means is that the properties of the universe are such that you cannot exceed the speed of light without violating said properties. Math is the way that we quantify this to demonstrate the impossibility. (E=MC²)

If you don't understand physics, you're not going to get a crash course here. You need to visit your local library.

The fact that you keep looking for absolutes to supersede the universe, as if there are rules imposed on the universe, illustrates a very basic misunderstanding of what science is. Nobody believes this other than theists. And the more you keep trying to look for these, the less convinced I'm going to be that your questions are sincere. Again, pardon my cynicism, but I've been around this block way too many times.

You might be able to get a less experienced atheist to say something silly like math is an "absolute", but you're not going to get that from me.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"we seem to be able to describe how the universe operates according to mathematical descriptions"

In fact, this sentence doesn't even make sense. You cannot operate according to "descriptions". That's not what a description is. A description is a way of expressing the way in which something operates or behaves. Nothing more.

You even went so far as to predict that I was going to tell you that math is descriptive, but then you used the above misunderstanding to somehow reverse it so that the universe operates in accordance with math. If math is descriptive, as you've admitted, then this cannot the case. The universe obeys its own properties, and math is a concept that we've come up with to describe a way in which the universe behaves.

Timmy said...

ok - so maybe a better way of saying it would be : "We seem to be able to express how the universe operates according to mathematical descriptions"


Your statement: Math is a concept we've come up with ...


If we came up with this math concept that fits the way the universe works - what keeps us from changing a basic axiom (say 1 + 1 = 3) if it makes the model fit what we observe - rather than try to find a better mathematical model that adheres to the basic axioms of math?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"ok - so maybe a better way of saying it would be : 'We seem to be able to express how the universe operates according to mathematical descriptions'"

Or perhaps it would be better if you would just stop trying to reword everything I say. It's not the most constructive thing you could be doing. Besides which, the above sentence is such a grammatical mess that I don't even know where to begin with it.

A better statement would be, "We define quantifiable properties of nature with mathematics." There's no "seem to be able to" statements about it. We take nature as we observe and give it syntax. Mathematics, like language, is an expression.


"If we came up with this math concept that fits the way the universe works - what keeps us from changing a basic axiom (say 1 + 1 = 3) if it makes the model fit what we observe - rather than try to find a better mathematical model that adheres to the basic axioms of math?"

The reason 1 + 1 can never equal 3 is because "three" is a word that we've assigned to a particular recognized quantity. If you and I both held a cantaloupe, and we put them both down together on a table, we would say that there are "two" on the table, because that's the recognized label that we have for that particular quantity.

And besides which, it's really simplistic to refer to 1+1=2 as an axiom. The statement is true, but only in a rhetorical sense. It's like saying water equals H²0. All you're saying is that these two statements, given syntax, mean the same thing.

I'm not trying to be coy here. I do understand what you're trying to look for, but I also think that your ideas relating to math, science, and nature are a little simplistic.

I'm not the most patient person with this sort of discussion, either. And I'm far from the best. If you're really looking for people who could explain this better than I could, you should hop on Google and seek out either Scott Clifton or maybe Bitbutter.

And yes, that would be Scott Clifton of One Life To Live. ...Not that I've ever watched that show.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"If we came up with this math concept that fits the way the universe works - what keeps us from changing a basic axiom (say 1 + 1 = 3)...?"

I can't believe I didn't catch this the first time. You're actually confusing two different things; the system by which we calculate things and the actual state of that being calculated. You do understand that doing math only alters our interpretation of a state and not the state itself, right?

Again, it goes back to the labels we put on states to give them syntax (i.e., meaning). The reason 1 + 1 = 2 is because those numbers bear syntax that we've assigned to a particular state. To ask why the math equation doesn't periodically equal three is just asinine.

And so is this habit of yours of asserting axioms. Again, the more you keep doing that, the more I'm going to suspect shenanigans.

People who listen to failed internet apologists like Matthew Slick use these tactics, and they're not going to fly here.

Timmy said...

Good dialogue, that did give me something to chew on. I do have the following comments/questions:

So if we agree that "We define quantifiable properties of nature with mathematics" (you said this is a better statememt) - how do you know a property is quantifiable?

In reference to your statement "The reason 1 + 1 can never equal 3 is because "three" Is a word that we've assigned to a particular recognized quantity"

How do we recognize a quantity?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"how do you know a property is quantifiable?"

By "quantifiable properties", it means those properties by which you establish a likeness between multiple things. For example, you have a pocket of marbles. You recognize a marble by its properties, because in your mind that word means "a small hard plastic ball". But you can also refine your search for properties. For example, they're multicolored. You could subtract the red marbles from the total or whatever.

You know that something it quantifiable, because you establish the criteria by which you intend to quantify it in the first place.



"How do we recognize a quantity?"

You establish the criteria of a single unit, like I did with the marbles. Identifying quantity is simply the exercise of identifying repeating patterns.

Now, I'm happy that you are enjoying this conversation, but I think we've strayed pretty far from the topic, which is the movie Expelled. I encourage you to keep asking questions, but at this point, I think you would do better to find someone whose answers are going to be better and more detailed than mine.

I think the most responsible thing I could do at this point is to advise you to find someone who has a bit more training in this sort of thing than I do. I'm a hobby thinker. I'm not a philosopher. I wouldn't even call myself an expert in biology. I'm a cartoonist.

I appreciate the exchange, it's been fun, but it's also something I don't always have time for, and I may not have as much time for this in the future. I'm going to be having a lot more work to do this coming week and especially with the holiday season coming.

Good luck to you.

Timmy said...

Ok, yes we have strayed but I'll try to sum it up and bring it back to where I jumped in and then sign off - that science does have starting points which it assumes are true - that are just given (ie. absolute) and one way to spot those is if an argument is circular. In following the quantifying concept - it seems your argument is (and maybe I'm wrong and I will read your response but like I said - I'll sign off) that we recognize a property as quantifiable from the reality that there is physical property to quantify - that looks like a circular agument (we know its quantifiable because its quantifiable) - maybe I'm wrong and you can comment (i'd be interested in your take on it and maybe I haven't done a good job on what I mean ) but yep I've appreciated the exchange too, its given me some insight - and it was challenging to me

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"it seems your argument is (and maybe I'm wrong and I will read your response but like I said - I'll sign off) that we recognize a property as quantifiable from the reality that there is physical property to quantify"

That's not what I said, and it may not be worth my time to even bother correcting you anymore, although I'll do it one last time, anyway.

However, if you don't mind my saying so, I think you zeroed in on a misnomer I made and tried to hang me with it when I said "quantifiable properties". I even explained this to some extent in my response.

I said, "By 'quantifiable properties', it means those properties by which you establish a likeness between multiple things." In other words, it's the unit, or THING, that's quantifiable, not the properties.

I thought I had clarified myself here, but I kind of suspected that you were going to attack it anyway, which you did.

If you feel satisfied rewording my statements and hanging me on every little thing I say so that you can attack it, go right ahead. I'm not going to play that game with you. I even told you that I am not a philosopher, and I urged you to seek out people who are more versed in this than I am, but you ignored that. What do you think that tells me?

It tells me that the focal point of your questioning wasn't math or quantifiability or even biology and science. It was about me. You kept changing the subject until you found something. And that's why I said a number of times that I suspected shenanigans. I'm not stupid.

This is anomaly-hunting, and you can do this with ANYBODY. I can do this to you, if I wanted to lead you around by the nose and make you talk until you said something circular. It's a fixed bet. You're always going to find some hiccup in another person's reasoning.

Greg Bahnsen laid out it pretty well. He said that in presuppositionalism, you let the atheist talk, because the more he talks, the more you have to work with. In other words, hunting for anomalies. He might as well have said, "The point of presuppositionalism to confront and embarrass your opponent over petty discourse."

Now, I'm willing to assume that you meant no foul. I also take it to heart that you meant what you said, that I challenged you, and I hope you pursue questions genuinely. In other words, actually debate. This conversation has been one-sided, with me doing all of the explaining while you attempt to interpret.

I strongly urge you to consider a more constructive form of debate that doesn't involve meandering through every little supposition of your opponent until you can corner him on something. It tells me that you're not even concerned about looking for inconsistencies in your OWN line of thinking. Not once did you ever even try to counter anything I said. It was all about collecting data from me and then finding some way to attack it. Again, I have more important things to do with my time.

Proper discourse is about learning; not winning. And when you're willing to do that, let me know.

But not until after the holidays.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"...that science does have starting points which it assumes are true - that are just given (ie. absolute) and one way to spot those is if an argument is circular."

And here you are explicitly stating your intent to find absolutes, which you intended to weed out of my statements, as if I'm a representative of the scientific community, even after I already told you that I'm not.

This is why I call shenanigans on you. Again, if you're actually interested in determining what foundation science assumes, you should ask a variety of people, STARTING WITH ACTUAL SCIENTISTS AND PHILOSOPHERS.

For you to attempt to find circularity in science by questioning a layman is bullshit.

Jon Voisey said...

Timmy,

One of the bottom lines I think you should take from all this is that the (temporarily) absolutes science takes come from a very different source than that of faith:

In faith, they come from authoritative and transcendent sources: God, scripture, divine revelation....

In science, they come from observation: Testing, mathematical derivation, logic....

Again, scientific "absolutes" aren't really absolute and we only use them as such for the time being and because they work. Accepting things as such gives us a basis for a predictive framework. This is something that faith absolutely lacks. If our basis was so wrong then the predictive power would be destroyed to the level of being no better than guessing, like Astrology or dowsing.

So again, it's pretty clear that trying to equivocate scientific "faith" with religious "faith" or scientific "absolutes" with religious "absolutes" just doesn't work. The terms may work in some broad sense, but when you get down to how they actually are applied and work out, there's a world of difference.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Right. One is not analogous to the other. Timmy, you've shown your cards here, because you came in here assuming that you could show that science has the same sort of the faith as religion, which is demonstrably untrue.

Richard Dawkins said it best when he said, “Show me a cultural relativist at 30 000 feet and I’ll show you a hypocrite.”

Timmy said...

Ok, yes we have strayed but I'll try to sum it up and bring it back to where I jumped in and then sign off - that science does have starting points which it assumes are true - that are just given (ie. absolute) and one way to spot those is if an argument is circular. In following the quantifying concept - it seems your argument is (and maybe I'm wrong and I will read your response but like I said - I'll sign off) that we recognize a property as quantifiable from the reality that there is physical property to quantify - that looks like a circular agument (we know its quantifiable because its quantifiable) - maybe I'm wrong and you can comment (i'd be interested in your take on it and maybe I haven't done a good job on what I mean ) but yep I've appreciated the exchange too, its given me some insight - and it was challenging to me

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"ok - so maybe a better way of saying it would be : 'We seem to be able to express how the universe operates according to mathematical descriptions'"

Or perhaps it would be better if you would just stop trying to reword everything I say. It's not the most constructive thing you could be doing. Besides which, the above sentence is such a grammatical mess that I don't even know where to begin with it.

A better statement would be, "We define quantifiable properties of nature with mathematics." There's no "seem to be able to" statements about it. We take nature as we observe and give it syntax. Mathematics, like language, is an expression.


"If we came up with this math concept that fits the way the universe works - what keeps us from changing a basic axiom (say 1 + 1 = 3) if it makes the model fit what we observe - rather than try to find a better mathematical model that adheres to the basic axioms of math?"

The reason 1 + 1 can never equal 3 is because "three" is a word that we've assigned to a particular recognized quantity. If you and I both held a cantaloupe, and we put them both down together on a table, we would say that there are "two" on the table, because that's the recognized label that we have for that particular quantity.

And besides which, it's really simplistic to refer to 1+1=2 as an axiom. The statement is true, but only in a rhetorical sense. It's like saying water equals H²0. All you're saying is that these two statements, given syntax, mean the same thing.

I'm not trying to be coy here. I do understand what you're trying to look for, but I also think that your ideas relating to math, science, and nature are a little simplistic.

I'm not the most patient person with this sort of discussion, either. And I'm far from the best. If you're really looking for people who could explain this better than I could, you should hop on Google and seek out either Scott Clifton or maybe Bitbutter.

And yes, that would be Scott Clifton of One Life To Live. ...Not that I've ever watched that show.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Right, but that's not what math is, and you should know that.

Math is a system by which we quantify units reality for the sake of measurement. Your statement that "the physical universe seems to follow math" is absolutely backwards.

When I say that it's mathematically impossible to exceed the speed of light, what that means is that the properties of the universe are such that you cannot exceed the speed of light without violating said properties. Math is the way that we quantify this to demonstrate the impossibility. (E=MC²)

If you don't understand physics, you're not going to get a crash course here. You need to visit your local library.

The fact that you keep looking for absolutes to supersede the universe, as if there are rules imposed on the universe, illustrates a very basic misunderstanding of what science is. Nobody believes this other than theists. And the more you keep trying to look for these, the less convinced I'm going to be that your questions are sincere. Again, pardon my cynicism, but I've been around this block way too many times.

You might be able to get a less experienced atheist to say something silly like math is an "absolute", but you're not going to get that from me.

epeeist said...

Well the figures are out - http://www.france24.com/en/20080420-forbidden-kingdom-high-kicks-top-us-box-office

It seems Expelled took $3.2 million at the box office. Just behind another fantasy movie "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!"

epeeist said...

The Duhem-Quine thesis is that theories are under-determined. A theory is under-determined if, given the available evidence, there is a rival theory which is inconsistent with the theory that is at least as consistent with the evidence.

This being so there is obvious scope for someone out there to develop a rival theory. But bear in mind that it has to have at least the same explanatory power as the current theory. It has also got be both testable and falsifiable as Popper accepted Darwin's theory of evolution to be.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Timmy,

"When you say 'laws are those which are described based on the Nature of the universe' aren't you just saying 'Nature obeys laws'"

No. Read it again.

HINT: The key word is DESCRIBE. A scientific law is a description. Nothing more.

By saying that nature "obeys" a law, you've taken it out of this context. And you're begging the question.


"Question - how do we/you know what we/you observe is real? Science needs a starting point too, a given a 'revealed truth', doesn't it?"

What do you mean by "revealed truth"? Why does anything have to be revealed? Aren't you, once again, begging the question?

If something is revealed to you, aren't you just OBSERVING the revelation? If so, then what's wrong with simply accepting our observations as fact? Divine revelation doesn't solve these philosophical questions. It just moves the problem back a step and tries to pretend as though these questions have been answered, even when they haven't. I'm not impressed by this apologetic tactic. Actually, I find it quite annoying.

Technically, we DON'T know that what we observe is real, however it is far less of an assumption to assume that our observations are real than it is to assume that they are not.

In fact, you pretty much have to trust your observations anyway. I'd really like to see you try and do otherwise.

double2 said...

Anon:

It is refreshing to read your post. I feel as if I've been having a great dialogue with Niel and Jon. Many of the others posts by believers have not been helpful because you can see they don't know what they're talking about and the tone is all wrong. So thank you for taking the time to write your piece.

Questions:
1. You briefly mentioned your astronomy background. How long do you think the universe has been here?
2. Have you read Gingerich's God's Universe?
3. What credible scientific books (for laymen) would you suggest? I am a long-time believer and have always avoided the sciences. My fields of study are history and sociology. So all this science talk is new to me. But I've been doing a lot of reading these last few weeks, and have not come in contact with your arguments.

Jon, I am reading Selfish Gene. I am learning from his chapters of biology and the processes that he describes. However, he started his book with a paragraph that made me rather skeptical of his thinking. He said that if superior creatures from space were to come, they would wonder if we had figured out evolution yet. Hello!!!! What??? If the universe is billions and billions of years old, and there is intelligent life in another universe, who make it here to find us, then they are millions of years further evolved then we are. Seems rather short-sighted and arrogant to think that they would wonder about EVOLUTION!! Look at the last one thousand years, okay, the last one hundred years. Where are we going to be in another one hundred years, let alone a thousand years? Our technology and science are going to be so far advanced from today... and Dawkins thinks they are going to "assess the level of our civilization" based on evolution. Give me a break! So, I'm reading it. But I don't give his "theories" much credence. (I have more issues with other points he makes, but I can't believe he started his book that way!)

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"Well I see a lot of anger, a lot of frustration but once again a complete avoidance of the question. Dawkins himself admits there is intelligent design within the basic building blocks of life, but for him 'aliens did it' is a more plausible alternative than God. Ok...that's scientific."

Is there an argument here, or are you just appealing to ridicule?


"It is absolutely impossible for there to be an intellectually honest atheist. If they are truly intellectually honest they could at best claim to not believe in a God but could not in intellectual honesty claim unequically that there is not one. At best an intellectually honest person could claim to be agnostic."

That's semantic bullshit. Agnostics don't even define themselves by that criteria. By that criteria, EVERYONE is an agnostic.

For example, you can't claim that there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can only disbelieve and be agnostic to him.

Or to be even more damning, you can't claim to know that there's actually a god. You would have to be agnostic to his existence, too. That's a two-way door there, pally.


"When an atheist/evolutionist can propose for me a more reasonable alternative than a Creator God, then I will be happy to listen."

Oh, so your resolve is to just hide behind the argument from ignorance. Just like Bill O'Reilly. Okay, that's your problem, then.

See ya.

Anonymous said...

So could we have this discussion without the name calling? I am neither a Darwinist nor a creationist, but I did just see the movie and noted the name calling there too. Let's go out on a limb and hypothesize that no one entering into this dialogue is ignorant nor insane. Perhaps a question one percieves as "stupid" will launch another individual to think in a new way and in turn resolve the mystery of how we all came to be.

While there is an evident spin to the arguments made in the movie I really appreciated the underlying theme-- If one is refused the opportunity to ask questions how will one learn? I think this should be true in science, religion, race relations, world peace, etc. As a therapist my science is much softer than most but I always want my clients to challenge everything in order to illicit change. The movie portrayed the squelching of questions as equivalent to Hitler's extermination of Jews. What I took from it was who of us has the right to decide which questions should live and which should die. When my clients challenge a therory or concept it makes me stop and think of how I can explain it in a way that they understand. When it is a principle I believe to be essential i.e., positive reinforcement in relationship building, I find a way to make it make sense in their worldview but even then the client has the right to choose to disagree and implement his/her own practices.

Thanks for the forum--Let's find the answers to all of lifes questions and enjoy the process and stimulating thought.

While not a Darwinist nor creationist I am a very proud KU Alum--Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"I personally find it hilarious how close minded everyone in here is. I only skimmed the contents of the comments.

How can you comment on close-mindedness if you only skimmed?


"Basically my two cents is this, proponents of evolution get a major pass in society. And it's no lie that some of the leading evolutionary thinkers in an effort to buy time have made some outrageous claims to defend their faith."

Evolution is not a faith. It's a fact of biology.


"Therefore I think the makers of this film have every right to deceive people in order to get what they want. If that means lying to professors who otherwise wouldnt speak to someone making a documentary film that would completely refute what you're saying."

Why should we trust a film made by people who have to lie to get interviews?


"If you're making a movie ripping on ID would a leading scholar on the subject want to be in such a movie? Probably not. It's simple."

That's speculative, condescending bullshit. Penn & Teller did an episode on intelligent design, and they got Duane Gish to appear on their program. DUANE GISH. They NEVER lied to anyone about what kind of show they were producing. NEVER EVER EVER.


"Lastly what the scholars in Expelled said is what they actually believe and if you're upset that it exposed their outrageous theories, then well you're justified but you're also faced with the realization that evolutionary theory isn't flawless."

Non sequitur. The personal beliefs of individual scientists has nothing to do with the validity of evolution. Second, whether or not evolution flawless is irrelevent, as well. Science doesn't claim absolute perfection. Evolution may not be a perfect theory, but then neither is any other theory. Third, an imperfect theory is infinitecimally superior to the meaningless conjecture of intelligent design.

Hopper said...

Evolution is Science. Intelligent Design is bad theology disgused as science.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

I, for one, rail on Michael Moore, too, although I'm with Jon. Moore may be an emotionally-manipulative little weasle, but he's never released anything as bad as Expelled.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"I reiterate - just because Ben Stein may very well 'attack' what you believe, why should that constitute an outrage by you?"

That's just it, Dawna. He doesn't attack evolution. He attacks a strawman. That's the whole point.

And with that, I'm done talking to you, since you obviously don't get it. Troll.


"Anyway, what, original story of Eve are you referring to? Who has claim to this story before the Hebrews?"

I'm not talking about that. I don't claim to know where the story originates, but if you read the story the way it's written without a rosey pair of Bible glasses on, then it turns into a rather different tale. In Christian tradition, the interpretation of the story is that God is kicking them out of the garden because they brought sin unto the world, but if you read the story on its own merit, it's not saying that at all. He's kicking them out for an entirely different reason. Instead of Eve causing original sin and bringing spiritual death and sin to the human race, it's more a story of God being afraid of mankind becoming gods themselves. He even says this in reference to the tree of eternal life. It's one of the few times in the Bible when God is acting more like Zues. My whole point had to do with the context of the story itself, which is the birth of human knowledge and how God stopped it from going any further. It's strangely more of a story ascension than what the Christian canon says it is.


"Theory does not mean uncertainity. Evolution is a theory, not because it isn't proved, but because it IS!"

Exactly, and thus Ben Stein's entire movie is completely undermined by the body of knowledge that already exists.

Read a science book, watch his movie, and behold the cognative disconnect in everything Ben Stein says.

dawna said...

Neil:

Seriously, do we honestly have to deduce ourselves to namecalling here?

1. I reiterate - just because Ben Stein may very well 'attack' what you believe, why should that constitute an outrage by you? If you are secure in your beliefs then why would a 'troll' anger you so? If creationists have it so wrong, then let science and human intelligence work out the logistics. Why do you feel the need to right all the apparent wrongs in this world of multifaceted beliefs?

2. Sorry, I didn't request a definition and defense of evolution in my previous post.

3. Trust me, I've read this very lengthy and overly drawn out blog which tries to stand and defend and accuse every belief out there. I say, let bygones be bygone. I don't care that we don't agree on the topic of evolution. I don't see the need to 'correct' everyone who comes in my path that has a different viewpoint than my own as you do. Let it go, man.

So they made a movie you disagree with. Move on...possibly to an actual debate with Ben Stein? You know I was always taught to take it up with whomever I had the problem. But maybe that's just something we mindless (in your opinion) ethical creationists do? Personally, Ben Stein doesn't dictate how I live my life or what I believe, so this film may actually just be a form of entertainment, not real dogma, but I digress, just the thoughts of a logical thinker here.

Keep on blogging....I'm out.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"And, btw, Jon and Neil, you proved my point. I wrote a neutral, 'harmonious' blog, if you will. Followed shortly behind by the outrageous one by anon. And both you responded to him, not to me. So if we do find a middle ground of believing in evolution, but disagreeing on the God thing, there is no more heated debate, thus no more need for discussion? Interesting."

More or less. I still don't agree with everything you say, but I think if you keep reading, you'll find out a lot of the problems for yourself. If I just sit here and tell you everything, that doesn't do you a lot of good. There's no way I or anyone could cover all the intrical details of biology in a blog response.

Really, I would just like to see the mistruths go away, which is why there's such importance on addressing this movie and any other nonsense that comes down the way. So far, based on the reviews, it seems as though the movie is fairly unconvincing, but I still think it's going to do a lot of damage. Already, it's given the super fundamentalist Bible thumpers way more confidence than they deserve, and I can hardly post ANYWHERE without being met with heavy dissidence by people who have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. And this movie taught them to do that. Way to go, Ben Stein!


"Actually, I believe in God because I have seen this proven true within the course of my life and those around me."

Again, if I sat here and TOLD you the problems with everything you say, you probably wouldn't learn for yourself. But if I could offer a hint, you should beware of circularity in your thinking.

Think about what criteria you're using for identifying proof of God. It is objective, or is it just an overlay based on your theological perspective?

And please regard that as a RHETORICAL question. That means, you can answer it now if you like, but I'd like it to be a question that you hang onto so that you can evaluate your own thinking.

The point being that it's deceptively easy for ANYONE to fall into the trap of tautology.

double2 said...

Actually, I believe in God because I have seen this proven true within the course of my life and those around me.

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Christians are not immune to the tragedies that everyone experiences. Sicknesses, senseless acts of violence, natural catastrophes... you name it. But somehow, at the end of it, if you ask someone who truly believes in God, if they understand that God allowed it to happen for a purpose, most of them say they wouldn't trade it in. Amazing testimonies. Doesn't make sense in an all-natural world.

But I don't expect you to be convinced. Not trying to win you over. I just don't think that the list of reasons to believe in God is accurate for those of us who His hand working in our everyday lives, and decisions.

And, btw, Jon and Neil, you proved my point. I wrote a neutral, "harmonious" blog, if you will. Followed shortly behind by the outrageous one by anon. And both you responded to him, not to me. So if we do find a middle ground of believing in evolution, but disagreeing on the God thing, there is no more heated debate, thus no more need for discussion? Interesting.

And epeeist... I've been to the top of Mt. Olympus. No Zeus there. With all of the ancient religions, it is only Judiasm, Hinduism and Buddhism that have survived (in mass, of course there are still the pockets of tribal beliefs). Christianity and Islam are both branches of the Jewish God, finding their ancestry through Abraham. So it is not even worth spending time explaining why this is a useless discussion.

But again, the proof of God is not going to be found in logical arguments. It is found within the psyche of the human soul.

dawna said...

And here, I thought this was a site about the movie 'Expelled'?! An unbelievable amount of debate about a topic that Jon and Neil are obviously resolved about (atheism and evolution). If you are so convinced in your 'beliefs' on these subjects, then why debate them so? As a logical thinker and onlooker here, it appears to me that if evolution is as undeniable as you claim, then what are you so concerned about or afraid of that will come to light through this film? I find this entire dialogue pointless and irrelevent to the release of this film. As for theological debate, that should be taken elsewhere. For the record, Ben Stein, doesn't profess to be a Christian, and yet in an earlier post his ethics were challenged on this preface. Again, irrelevent. He's not a christian, so don't use christian values/standards as the crutch to blast his ethics. Ultimately, if you hold all the answers (which, apparently you do) then what are you so angry about?! You've got it all figured out scientifically, philosophically and spiritually, so why feel the need to make everyone else believe like you? Your methodology is no different than those you claim to despise. You have the answers and want to 'enlighten' others to the level of wisdom you have achieved. How is that any different than your view of the creationists you so vehemently despise again?! Oh, I forgot, you're more enlightened than the rest, therefore, making your views, opinions, and beliefs valid and all others should leave the building. I believe you've been trumped!

TV's Mr. Neil said...

The way I usually put it when theists say "you can't disprove my God" is, "That's your problem, not mine.".

I mean, that's a pretty flimsy defense, and it just stuns me how many Christians go right for it. There's a video floating around Youtube of Richard Dawkins on Bill O'Reilly, and Billo was employing that defense literally within the first minute or so. And Dawkins is like, oh gee, Bill, never heard that one before.

Well, the thing is, if you can't disprove God, then it stands to reason that you can't PROVE God either (otherwise you'd be using a MUCH better argument). So what reason is there to believe?

Other than...

A. being brought up in a Christian family; tradition.
B. don't know how universe started; must be God dun it.
C. emotional appeal/threat of hell/guilt of sins, etc.

None of those are particularly good reasons to believe ANYTHING, although I'm most forgiving of tradition. After all, if you like going to Church on Sunday, knock yourself out.

But when you use a "You can't disprove" sort of argument, especially when you use it as quickly as Bill O'Reilly uses it, you're basically waving the white flag already. It's cognative disconnect.

If I was a theist and that was the best trump card I could play, that would drive me CRAZY, because I'd know I was full of shit, because in doing so, it shows that no reason exists to believe.

When you feel confident in your beliefs based on your opponents inability to prove a negative, the only one you're defeating is yourself.

Shadownav said...

I, for one, am all for teaching ID to our children at all levels of academia! Alternative theories must be taught in order to give our young students’ minds a broad foundation. The Intelligent Design proponents make a compelling, and totally legitimate, argument that if a theory has not been proven, then one suggested theory is just as good as another. For years now I’ve been on a personal crusade of sorts to allow an alternative theory of Gravity. As we all know gravity is the force of attraction between massive particles. We know a great deal about the properties of gravity, yet we know nothing about the force itself. Why are particles attracted to one another? Until we have a proven answer to this question, it seems irresponsible to instruct students in what is, ultimately, just a theory; just like the theory of evolution. If we are to discuss the “theory of gravity” at all, then it’s reasonable that ALL suggested theories should be given equal time, since none have been proven or disproven. Therefore, I submit that the Flying Spaghetti Monster(FSM)—may he lay his noodly appendage upon you , which he clearly has since you and I are staying firmly planted to the surface of the earth—is responsible behind the strange and misunderstood force of gravity. It is through the FSM’s noodly appendages pushing down on every one of us that is truly responsible for the force of gravity. And, “what is the scientific proof of this claim?” you might ask. Well, as is common knowledge, humans throughout the ages—which we, like our fellow Intelligence Designers in the Christian community believe that “throughout the ages” only goes back 7000 years—have increase in height as the population of humans has increased. This is due to the fact that the FSM has to split the time he has in touching each of us with his noodly appendages among an ever growing population. The decreased time that the FSM has been able to devote in touching us individually--and inadvertently pushing us towards the surface of the earth—has allowed mankind over the last 7000 years to be ever pulled higher toward space; hence resulting in mankind’s ever increasing height. It bolsters my morale to find kindred spirits in the Intelligence Design debate. No longer can “Big Science” hold unchallenged domain over the theories of gravity or evolution! It is time that the devotees of Newton, Darwin and the scientific method give equal time and voice in the classroom to alternative theories. This isn’t about us, but our children. If you seek further information or the truth about such weighty issues of gravity, Intelligent Design or the FSM himself/herself I refer you to http://www.venganza.org/. Ramen be upon you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jon that is enough for me. You have at least admitted that the door is not completely shut when it comes to ID. Now I implore you to argue tooth and nail for your beliefs/evidence/findings. Thanks again.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Isn't it amazing how almost every scientist who allegedly supports intelligent design either is not a biologist or lived prior to the theory of evolution?

Did the above anonymous person fail to read my comment that historical scientists are not authorities or prophets?

Jon, I'm surprised you didn't mention Project Steve.

I love this exerpt...

"What motive might there be to reject such overwhelming evidence for the existence of an Intelligent Designer? The concept of a Designer or God carries with it certain metaphysical implications that to some would be quite unsavory."

In back-to-back statements, the above person has the audacity to say that there is evidence for intelligent design and then immediately appeals to adverse consequence.

And sadly, that's the best argument that he/she has. The rest of it is just one extended argument from ignorance.

"I don't know how life started. I can't figure out the evolutionary pattern that would produce an eye. Whine whine whine... Too complex! God did it."

The funny thing about the eye argument, or any argument involving irreducible complexity, is that the creationist always manages to forget about vestigial functions. The irreducibility of any complex structure is only valid if one assumes that the eye, or any other complex organ, must have come about with the specific intent of being that organ, which no competent biologist would suppose. Design with intent is not evolution; it's creationism.

Of course, creationists absurdly deny the very notion of vestigial structures in biology, despite obvious examples.

Lorelei Lee said...

Hey, looks like you've got a few trolls on your blog. I'd offer my dustpan and brush to help clean up, but I think it's a moot point by now. Thanks for the info and the links! Very helpful in learning about the movie.

Jared said...

Hmmm...Maybe I should clarify
What I meant in several cases appears to be different from how it reads and for that I apologize, Im not Shakespear and cant write perfect first drafts
Firstly, I frequently switch in and out of layman and my limited science talk pretty frequently, I already know that ID doesn't fit as theory.
Second you're right as far as random mutation goes, that is what I meant. Thank you for clarifying Mr. Neil and no I do not know what MRSA is.
What my post essentially meant to state is that both sides have among there supporters many many laymen. The problem this leads to is a lack of ability to intelligently discuss the theories and arguments that exist. That is what I meant by circular logic: making an argument to prove a conclusion instead of arguing (in the debate sense) and coming up with a conclusion.
When this happens, there is very interesting, entertaining and friendly dialogue.
To restate, from my point of view, science is our attempt to fill the gaps in things that are not mentioned in the Word or other teachings; simply because they are not relevant to it.
As such I believe the two are infinitly compatable.
Jon Voisley
You make an interesting point, however, you do make an assumption that there can not be a God in your argument. I understand why, and applaud your honesty, but it is better to make no assumptions in argument. We are all guilty of it, it is impossible to avoid, but we can avoid jabs and punches to the other side. That being said, it is nice to actually HEAR an athiests argument. My experience is that too many are willing to simply blow you off if you believe what an atheists do not.

Finally I want to try and summarize what I think the problem is in the discussions between the sides. Both work from Ideals

To the Evolutionsists: You have an excellent (generally) understanding of scientific thought, as well as some very decent arguments. However, the gap in knowledge between yourselves and many others is the reason they get upset and so do you. Even speaking layman doesn't help because you fight for an ideal where everyone understands (even if unconciously) and everyone accepts.

To Creationists (in general not just ID there is a difference): We work very hard to try and show our views and to convince others. However, we need to accept that getting angry solves nothing. Just because someone doesn't agree soen't mean they are not intelligent or even partly right. Show the love that is commanded of us and accept that no matter what, some will never agree.

The short and Deformed one,
Also known as Hideousdwarf

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