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:

1 – 200 of 270   Newer›   Newest»
Kyle said...

Beliefnet has some more information on it. It appears to be quite real.

Anonymous said...

Angry 23 year olds. Is there anything they don't know?

Jon Voisey said...

Sure. For example: Why trolls like you bother putting words in my mouth when I've repeatedly claimed not to have absolute knowledge. I leave that arrogance to creationists.

Kyle said...

I think someone's having fun. Not many people know my 23rd birthday is Monday.

Thomas said...

As a rule, nothing shows up on IMDB unless it meets a certain minimum standard. That standard has changed over time but, usually, a film needs an announcement by a production or distribution company of some size or at least two commercial websites to devote serious coverage to it before it ends up listed.

As a result, small, independently financed films often don't end up on IMDB until they are well into production or even finished and just getting into the festival circuit. It's the mentions on the festivals' websites that gets them in.

If this film is independently financed and not mentioned on in any important film dialogs, it's probably beneath the radar.

Anonymous said...

Outrageous!

Atheists would certainly not engage in deception to get interviews!

Can you imagine BRIAN FLEMMING of RANDY OLSEN engaging in ANY kind of trickery?

Why...that is inconceibable!

Anonymous said...

Like most political documentaries, this movie will be about something other than its proposed premise.

It will not be about the debate about the science of ID.

It will not even be discussion about whether or not ID proponents are unfairly treated.

Ten months after "Expelled" is projected to be released is the presidential election. That is the real point of this movie; to generate outrage from the general public over "egregious suppression of speech and religion".

It should work. The general public is more impressed by posturing and emotional appeals to fairness than to dry, inaccessible terms like scientific method and logic.

ID is commonly identified with God, and attacks that dispute ID are equated with yet more attacks on God. Equating attacks on ID to attacks on free speech is a very clever tactic as that resonates with the public regardless of religious leaning. George W. Bush has already publicly supported ID (which should be enough to dismiss it, but i digress); the Republican party will garner significant support by championing ID once the movie is released. The fallout will be tremendous, especially if the supporters of evolutionary science are represented by people with more academic credentials than media savvy. A warning; if anyone asks you for an interview about the subject, make sure your hair is brushed, you have nothing stuck in your teeth, and you're cloyingly polite.

Stephen said...

Yawn. I get better science from The Simpsons, in theaters everywhere. Check your listings.

TheBrummell said...

ID is commonly identified with God

Interesting, if true, considering that the ID movement has always (as far as I know) tried to distance itself from religion, in order to avoid getting tangled in the "Establishment Clause" of the US constitution. Did they fail at that goal? Does their failure at that goal still work in their favour?

The fallout will be tremendous

Meh, unlikely. I don't think any one event or movie will be identifiable as swinging an election one way or the other. 10 months after the movie comes out, ask people if they've seen it. I'm guessing that, like most movies of any description, a relatively small fraction of the respondents to that question will say "yes".

Anonymous said...

I don't think it matters if people see it. It'll still be used as an example of irrational, reactionary elitists excluding reasonable ideas out of jealousy.

mhvdm said...

I can only echo "annonymous" ... how utterly shocking and despicable that someone should interview a scientist without clearly defining the purpose of the interview! After all, the scientist might have responded differently - if he doesn't know what this interview is for, he might [gasp] speak a little more freely on the subject.

Anonymous said...

recently saw the movie Expelled. It was the directors cut. Many of the producers and the guy who set up the interviews, his name escapes me, were there and answered questions.


First the movie was interesting, it did not attack Darwinism, the bottom line of the film is, Freedom of thinking, not taking any ideas off the table before you can properly put it through the scientific method. It should not matter how crazy the idea is, unless it is completely immoral, it should be allowed to be tested and not thrown out because it does not fit into your or mine world view. That’s not science. In my view our world view should come after science not before, regardless if you are a religious person, an atheist or somewhere in the middle. Only with true unrestricted research can science excel. This film could have easily been made hundreds of years ago about Galileo versus the church being unable to pursue astrology.

As for the “deception” of getting interviews, the guy who set up the interviews stated, “there was a fine line between telling them enough so that they would give honest answers, had we told them what the entire film was about they would have either not given truthful answers or not agreed to the interview” Anyone who does documentaries that could seem controversial has to walk this line.

Finally, go see the film with friends, especially if you are in an intellectual. Discuss what the underlining message is.

Jon Voisey said...

Go take your copy/paste nonsense somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Why are you so angry? Perhaps it's the movies you watch?

Jon Voisey said...

I think I answered that question in this post as well as the first post I made.

Anonymous said...

He's just mad because he has been believing a lie his whole life and knows that there is not one single piece of evidence that backs up evolution. If you know of one go to drdino.com and collect the $250,000 reward he has had available for at least 12 years now. Evolutionist have to make things up to back up there theories and hide facts. God loves them anyway.

Jon Voisey said...

LOL. Cute troll. We all know that Hovind's (not a Dr.) contest is a scam. It's rigged.

And just because you're too ignorant to understand something and gullible enough to fall for a charlatan like Hovind doesn't mean we make things up.

Try again.

Anonymous said...

"Dr." Hovind is currently in no position to hand out $250,000. He's in federal prison for tax evasion.

Restube said...

One question remains: What will happen to the credibility of Ben Stein's intelligent designer when (not if) science discovers the NATURAL processes behind abiogenesis?

This movie just reinforces the belief that the Christian god is just another god-of-the-gaps.

The movies's main argument relies on the fact that natural processes behind abiogenesis fall in CURRENT gaps of our scientific knowledge. I submit to you here that it is only a matter of time before science fills those gaps and do to Ben Stein's Intelligent Design what Darwin's theories did to Young Earth Creationism.


Restube

Susan said...

I can certainly understand your disagreeing with the premis of this movie, and with ID as a whole, but I don't understand why you are so angry. Do you get angry everytime someone disagrees with you? In the whole scheme of life does it really matter if someone disagrees with Darwin? Does it mean that you cannot be friends with someone who disagrees with you? If that is the case then I truly feel sorry for you.

I do believe ID and after much research and reading many books on the subject I fail to see any hard evidence supporting Darwin so it comes down to this...Whatever you choose to believe, ID or Darwin, you choose to believe on faith.

Just because you don't believe the same on this issue as I do does not mean that I am angry at you, or that I think of you as unintelligent or that I feel the need to refer to you as "trolls". (Sorry, the name calling seems a little childish).

This country was founded on freedoms, religion and speech included. I do not wish to restrict your speech, nor do I wish to have mine restricted. May I suggest, instead of using all of your energy simply being angry, use that energy to open-mindedly research BOTH sides of the debate, honestly following the evidence and then write a non-angry book showing your results. I guarentee you that I will purchase and read a copy should you do this whatever your conclusions may be.

Jon Voisey said...

I don't understand why you are so angry.

Then perhaps you should look at the response I left just a few comments above yours in which I answered that exact question. For someone that claims to do their research, your methods are already looking pretty sloppy.

I fail to see any hard evidence supporting Darwin

Then you are guilty of willful ignorance.

Whatever you choose to believe, ID or Darwin, you choose to believe on faith.

Given that evolution is supported by overwhelming evidence that creates a self consistent picture, and ID is nothing but an argument from ignorance resting on the fallacy of bifucation, this is an outright lie.

This country was founded on freedoms, religion and speech included. I do not wish to restrict your speech, nor do I wish to have mine restricted.

Nor am I trying to restrict yours. Unless of course you're trying to use the government to tout your religious speech as the ID movement is doing. That's outright unconstitutional.

use that energy to open-mindedly research BOTH sides of the debate, honestly following the evidence

Been there. Done that. ID fails to even present a hypothesis.

Mr. Neil said...

I fail to see any hard evidence supporting Darwin

I fail to see why ignorant creationists have to associate evolution so closely with Charles Darwin. Sure, he's the guy who first published about it, but he's not an authority, nor is he a prophet. He was a scientist, he contributed to the body of knowledge, and then he died. The validity of evolution is not based on any reverence anyone may or may not have for Darwin. Darwin was a man. Historically, he is important, but scientifically, he is dead and cannot contribute to science anymore.

Since the day of Darwin, others have moved forward and taken his place. Perhaps you'd like to reference someone who's actually living. Oh, but then you'd have to actually READ something and come up with some new fucking arguments! I won't hold my breath.


Whatever you choose to believe, ID or Darwin, you choose to believe on faith.

Fuck you. Don't drag real science down to your level. That's bullshit. If you think evolution is taken by faith, then I suppose you also believe that germ theory is taken by faith. Or aggriculture. No wait, those are well-established, and they're both based on the theory of evolution.


use that energy to open-mindedly research BOTH sides of the debate, honestly following the evidence

Oh go shove your political rants up your ass! Correct science is not determined by the popular vote. It's not democratic. Science relies on that which can be observed and repeated.

Intelligent design is not a scientific theory, nor is it even a hypothesis. It's not even a coherent idea. It's basically the assertion that if we can't explain the process by which something came to be, then God did it. It's a non sequitur.

The purpose of an education system is to provide the next generation with the best knowledge we have available, not play favorites with public opinion.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Idiot said:
"I can only echo "annonymous" ... how utterly shocking and despicable that someone should interview a scientist without clearly defining the purpose of the interview! After all, the scientist might have responded differently - if he doesn't know what this interview is for, he might [gasp] speak a little more freely on the subject."

Congratulations. You've justified lying. The ends justify the means, huh? You get an "F".

Next?!


Another idiot said:
"As for the 'deception' of getting interviews, the guy who set up the interviews stated, 'there was a fine line between telling them enough so that they would give honest answers, had we told them what the entire film was about they would have either not given truthful answers or not agreed to the interview' Anyone who does documentaries that could seem controversial has to walk this line."

Oh, so they're admitted liars.

Question: Why should we trust a documentary made by admitted liars?

Here's a bulletin: Withholding information is LYING. It was a willful act to disguise the true nature of the program being filmed. How this could be construed as anything less than honesty is beyond me.

I don't know why you put "deception" in quotes. It clearly is deception, regardless of whatever ends you think justify the means.

Just keep telling yourself:
THE ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS!!!
THE ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS!!!
THE ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS!!!

And creationists have the GALL to WONDER why they are despised in science!

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Whatever happened to "Thou shalt not lie"? Funny how that one is always optional if you're a creationist.

Anonymous said...

LOL

View One: Hydrogen plus time equals the complexity of the human brain

View Two: God plus His Decrees equals the complexity of the human brain.

Anonymous said...

Where did the hydrogen come from?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"View One: Hydrogen plus time equals the complexity of the human brain"

Strawman. Nobody believes that. While time is certainly a component upon which all temporal processes are based, it is not, itself, a causal agent.

I'm sorry that you don't understand science enough to grasp this. No wonder you believe in primative beliefs of magic beings beyond space and time (as if that even makes sense).


"View Two: God plus His Decrees equals the complexity of the human brain."

Why does the universe need to be governed by anything? Why do you assume that a causeless universe begs the question but not a causeless personal being? Why does a personal being make more sense?

And, more to the point, why does the universe need a creator but not God?


"Where did the hydrogen come from?"

Why do you assume that something precludes the universe? Don't you realize that time itself is a property of the universe? Your question puts the cart before the horse. Your question is circular. You're begging the question.

The answer is that the hydrogen comes from the expansion that occurs at the big bang. Unfortunately, the big bang itself is a misnomer, because explosions imply causation, and causation presumes a space time continuum, which, in turn, presumes the existence of the universe. And any competent cosmologist knows that you don't CAUSE the universe.

The big bang is not a moment of creation before which there was nothing. The big bang is the farthest point back in time to which you can refer. It's like asking about what's north of the North Pole. There is no before the big bang.

So please, you might want to brush up on your cosmology a bit before you continue asking really stupid fucking questions.

You're not as clever as you think you are.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

...And besides, it's clear that you expected me to say, "I don't know", at which point you would smugly suggest that "God did it".

That's really cute, but that's not an argument. That's just an appeal to ignorance.

And even if I did say that I didn't know, that's a perfectly acceptable answer.

By asking where hydrogen comes from, you've demonstrated why creationism and intelligent design will never be accepted in academia, because you expected to take the default position without doing any work to earn it.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

...And just in case you're thinking about accusing me of having "faith" that time is a property of the material universe, I'd like to remind you that it's actually one of the primary components of Einstein's theory of relativity.

So unless you're ready to say that you don't believe in modern physics, I'd refrain from making that argument, if you can help it. You'll save me the trouble of making you look silly. Of course, if you want to look like an idiot, go right ahead.

Plus, what does a question about the origin of hydrogen have to do with evolution anyway? Isn't that funny how creationists can't tell the difference between physics and biology? You'd think it would be rather obvious.

Anonymous said...

Wahhhh boo-hoo! You rabid liberals are all the same. No interview will be granted that does not blindingly support my position. It really does irk you that people would worship something other than you and your science/faith. As for tolerance you "men of science" seem to be the most intolerant people ever devolved.

Jon Voisey said...

Anonymous: Perhaps you should actually do your reading and figure out what you're talking about before you open your mouth (that'd be novel).

PZ Myers explicitly stated he still would have given the interview if producers had been honest! So the accusation that "no interview will be granted" is utter rubbish.

I have no problem if people believe something different than I do. However, when they take to lying, and undermining science, this is something that I do have a problem with.

I'm quite tolerant, but unlike you, I don't feel that we should be tolerant of liars and frauds which is precisely what the ID/Creationism movement is.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"Wahhhh boo-hoo! You rabid liberals are all the same. No interview will be granted that does not blindingly support my position."

Wow, you're a stupid fuck. What does being a liberal have to do with this? (I'm not a liberal, by the way.) And more over, why are you still defending liars?

What happened to "Though shalt not lie"? Join us in condemning liars. ...Unless you're a coward.

(I say this to an anonymous person!)


"It really does irk you that people would worship something other than you and your science/faith."

Fuck you, asshole. Don't bring good science down to your level. And don't project your intollerance, either.


"As for tolerance you 'men of science' seem to be the most intolerant people ever devolved."

Only because you don't understand the scientific method. You seem blissfully unaware that scientists are supposed to be critical of new ideas! That alone is why Ben Stein is wrong, because the premise of the movie attempts to say otherwise.

Ben Stein stupidly believes that having a new idea (actually, intelligent design isn't new) actually means something in the scientific community. It doesn't. Having new ideas means squat unless you have the evidence to back it up. Without evidence, you have meaningless conjecture.

Do you get it now?! Or are you just going to keep being stupid?

Aphur said...

So I'm not one to start cursing because you won't believe what I believe, and that's OK with me.

I was wondering why they call it ID? I guess that's not a real question... I just laughed to myself when I thought about calling "Darwinism" TOE, or Theory Of Evolution.

So, do you believe in the TOE?
lol.

Alright then. Departure.

Aphur said...

Greetings. Now the end will make sense.

A lot of people are calling Ben stupid. That's ridiculous. Most everyone here seems pretty bright. He could have good/poor ethics or whatnot, but a fool he is not. There are plenty of brilliant people that disagree with each other. Stupidity and brilliance truly have little to do with this topic anyhow.

If I may generalize a bit, your own Nietzsche said "It is hard enough to remember my opinions without my reasons for having them."
Even being a christian I find the remark ridiculously true. The statement was wielded against what he regarded as the Church's dogma. But nobody has a monopoly on dogma like the individual.

Departure.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

I'm not one for Neitzche, actually.

I don't recall saying that Ben Stein is stupid. I believe I referred to his particular position on this matter as being stupid.

Actually, there's no question that Ben Stein is a fairly intelligent man. That being the case, it's rather disappointing to see him mix himself up with the Discovery Institute. I don't think there's anything wrong with calling his actions stupid in this case, since even a small amount of effort would have revealed to him that Discovery Institute isn't a very honest organization.

Even with a cursory evaluation of some of the things he says (i.e., he complains that evolution has no theory of origin), I can't help but believe that he has no idea what he's talking about. He expects evolution to explain where the first organic molecule comes from. This is absurd. This is like expecting gravity to account for where the first mass came from.

The problem is that he thinks that evolution is a story. By addressing it the way he is, he's actually treading into other fields of science, such as biochemistry and geology, and treating it as though it's all evolution.

I might even grant that he was simply duped into doing this movie, but I cannot for a moment believe that this could entirely account for his ignorance. Some of the things he's saying in this movie are things that he should really know better.

He didn't do his homework, and he should have. Therefore, Ben Stein's involvement in this is stupid.

Not too old to learn said...

I do not often reply to web conversation perhaps because I am "age-challenged." I am retiring in a few months and moving on to other interesting endeavors. Yep, you should envy me !!

My comment... There is much yet to learn for all of us which is best done when civility reigns. Adhominem comments normally reveal something negative regarding the attacker and/or their position. So, folks, let us leave emotions aside and state facts to that we can sift through information and make a decision.

Thanks....

TV's Mr. Neil said...

I'm perfectly willing to be civil with people who can post without being spammy. Sadly, most creationists and intelligent design believers are extremely spamming and confrontational, and they aren't here to learn anything.

I'm sure Jon feels the same way that if someone actually takes the time to ask a question or express some doubt in a civil manner, they are certainly deserving of a civil response. But most of these people are simply copying and pasting stuff they get from Answers In Genesis and Kent Hovind's website, and they do so without even a cursory understanding of the subject matter. That's pretty dumb.

If I thought there was a better way to deal with people like this, I'd do it. But sadly, when people come forth beligerantly celebrating their ignorance with extreme arrogance, there aren't too many words above "stupid" that I can use to describe such behavior.

And speaking as someone who used to believe in a few stupid things myself (the Fox Moon Hoax special comes to mind), sometimes it takes a little humiliation to knock people out of their complacency. I've had moderate success in getting people to turn around for no other reason than the fact that they got tired of licking their wounds.

Mister Earl said...

God didn't invent man.
Man invented God.

CJSF said...

As a skeptical Christian (and YES we do exist, and NO I am not opening up that for debate here), I will just point out that I always learned it as "Thou shall not bear false witness", which is a fairly specific form of lying. Now lying IS bad and "sinful", but in the 10 or 11 or 9 Commandments, the point was about bearing false witness against your neighbor.

At least how I learned it.

CJSF

Born Again Skeptic said...

This all boils down to (as you lucidly stated) the fact that ID does not offer itself for criticism.

Appeals to ignorance and claims that cannot be falsified just don't pass muster as contributions to serious science. How are we expected, then, to take it seriously?

-BaS

Anonymous said...

I am interested in knowing a few things about evolution. How do evolutionists explain the law of Biogenesis? How do evolutionists explain the 2nd law of Thermodynamics? I am interested in learning more about evolution, but i keep getting hung up on these type of things. Am I wrong for getting hung up on these things? I get skeptical when I see things like the National Geographic article back in 2000 called "Behind the Scenes", in it, they had a contest to see who could draw the best looking ape men from 7 different bones the size of a pinky finger...How do they know what they looked like? You guys know a lot more about evolution than I do... please help me!

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Well, I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "explain the law of Biogenesis". I suppose you mean in relation to the law that says "living things give rise to living things", or something like that.

Well, first of all, laws of science are not like the laws of Moses. They aren't etched into stone to declare things authoritatively. I'm aware that some creationist videos like to refer to biogenesis in this manner, but they are wrong in doing so.

The law of biogenesis does NOT state that life can ONLY come from other life. Rather, it is a DESCRIPTION of the PROCESS by which lifeforms produce new life.

And I realize that it's obnoxious of me to uppercase and bold these terms, but I'm hoping that by doing so, you'll zero in on the key aspect of what a scientific law is and why the creationist argument really has no merit.

There is also another tentative process called abiogenesis, which is the process of life arising from simple organic molecules to complex molecules to polymers to replicating polymers and so on. And that's actually simplifying it a bit. I am not an expert on abiogenesis, but there are resources on the internet that will provide a layman-level description, if you want to find it. You may want to start with talkorigins.org.

It's important to understand that scientific theories are basically MODELS which describe PROCESSES. I know I'm repeating myself here, but the single biggest error that creationists make is that they think of evolution as a story, and thus they assume that evolution has to address chronology of events leading all the way back to the origin of life itself. This assumption, however, is entirely untrue and unwarranted.

Evolution simply describes a process of genetic change that occurs in life that already exists. To explain the origin of life would require another theory, because it's a completely different process.

Now, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is another classic creationist red herring, and it's a lot simpler to explain.

But before I even get into that, let me provide some a purely rhetorical demonstration of how ignorant this argument is. Whenever a creationist presents this argument to me, I simply ask them how many laws of thermodynamics there actually are. Thus far, none of them have been able to answer. And thus we see the problem with these viral creationist arguments. We have people who clearly know nothing about physics attempting to use one of its laws in an argument.

Anyway, the second law of thermodynamics is basically that a closed or isolated system will only increase in entropy over time. Now, I'm sure you've heard the argument that Earth is NOT a closed system. That's actually the correct answer. It's not. We have the sun.

Now, creationist boobs like Kent Hovind scoff and sneer at this stating that you "can't just add energy, because enegery is destructive". And yet Kent Hovind knows full well that there are life forms on Earth that absorb the sun's energy through photosynthesis. We call them plants, and they're at the bottom of the food chain. Again, the sun is the right answer.

See, a more correct way to look at this is to look at the entire solar system as an isolated system (which may not be entirely correct, either). While the solar system as a whole is moving toward entropy, the bodies within the solar system are able to gain from the entropy of the sun. The sun is giving off energy from which the Earth benefits.

It's like fueling your car. Your car will eventually run out of energy, but you can always go to the gas station to get more fuel. The second law of thermodynamics still applies here, because although we have a localized decrease in entropy, there is still an increase with the system itself. The difference is scale.

It should also be noted that if the creationist parody of Second Law of Thermodynamics was actually true, then nothing would work, because they're completely ignoring the fact that energy can still move within the system itself. If it didn't, there would be no cars, no planes, no photosynthesis, and ultimately no us.

Jon Voisey said...

Hi Anon.

I'm not sure what you mean by "the law of biogenesis" either. I'll assume, like Neil, that you meant how the first life came about.

The trouble with this questions is that "life" is such an arbitrary term. We like to make up all sorts of complex definitions and definitions are useful, but there's always some fuzzy edges. For example, do viruses count as "life"? They've got DNA, they evolve, the replicate... But they can't replicate on their own. Do they still count as life?

What about other things that could replicate on their own, but didn't necessarily use DNA as we understand it? Should those count as "life"?

It seems to me that the hang up on demanding when "life" first started is far too weighted on a rather vague and meaningless terms. It's about like arguing whether or not Pluto's a planet. It is what it is and it behaves the same no matter what we call it. As Shakespeare put it, "a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet."

Instead, I tend to look at the whole mess more like Dawkins does: What are the prerequisites for something to be able to undergo a process (namely evolution via random mutations + natural selection) that would increase complexity. Dawkins lays this out pretty clearly in Selfish Gene and Blind Watchmaker. All it really takes is some sort of self replicating molecule that occasionally makes mistakes that can be selected for.

The question then becomes, "how unlikely is it to be able to make a simple self-replicating molecule?" and "is it statistically possible?"

Creationists assume that self replicating molecules must be astoundingly complex. So much so that they could never arise on their own and God must have helped it along at the very least. However, given that the Miller-Urey experiment has shown it entirely possible to get all the pieces you need for such molecules, and other experiments have been able to create self replicating molecules, it would seem that this initial jump is a much smaller one that Creationists are willing to give credit for.

As far as the second law, Creationists always misstate it. It does not say that everything goes from "order" to "disorder" unless you add energy to the system. Of course, as with before, this is a problem of using vague meaningless definitions. To show this, let's take an example:

As I just noted, if you add energy to the system, using the creationist definition with that part actually added, this would indicate that we should see more "order". However, the exact opposite is the case. If energy is added (ie, heat) the water turns to gas and there is even less order. In the other case, if energy is removed from the system, it becomes ice which, on a molecular level, is a highly "ordered" crystalline structure.

So what gives here? Either there is something wrong with the definition as creationists frequently use it, or someone owes me a Nobel Prize for disproving the single most well proven law in all of science.

In reality, the second law really says things just tend towards the most probable state. So essentially, evolution is an extension of the second law: Natural selection weeds out less adapted organisms, leaving the ones that are most probable to survive. In other words, there's no real conflict unless you're using a contrived definition like Creationists do, which has no bearing on reality and is just a cheap rhetorical trick.

Additionally, as Neil pointed out, the second law requires a closed system. Given that the Sun is constantly pumping a ton of energy onto the earth every second, the second law doesn't really mean much.

I don't really know anything about how someone would infer the entire form of something based off a single bone, but some conclusions could be made. The wear on a bone might tell what sort of use it would get, which would give clues as to the environment, which would reciprocally put some sort of constraints on various features. But it sounds more like a contest of artistic interpretation to me.

And no, it's not wrong to ask these questions. They're good questions, but the answers are not often entirely trivial or simple as we'd like. If they were, I'd be out of a job.

Anonymous said...

Nothing any of you can say will change the mind of a person in opposition to your ideas. Both sides feel equally strong about their opinions and beliefs. Presenting your ideas is one thing, attacking the other side is another.

To Darwinists: For people who believe in intelligent design, it is about faith. Since most of you are of a scientific background, faith is something that is difficult to understand. And unless you are going to leave your science behind, don't try to understand it.

To Creationists: It is impossible to prove the existence of a God who is above existence. Your theory cannot be scientifically proven, even though you may have "evidence". Also, Christ presented radical ideas though love and accepted the persecution that resulted. God loves the Darwinists just as much as He loves you, do the same.

Anonymous said...

I thought atheists were against all censorship in movies?

Anonymous said...

How many mutations that ended up having a beneficial impact would be needed to account for the long line of development from the first cell to the human brain.

I think is you can also determine how many mutations that end up having a beneficial impact occure from generation to generations you will have an answer to whether or not the presently accepted mainstream view of evolution is even possible.

A negative answer, I predict...

TV's Mr. Neil said...

The last comment wasn't even coherent. I have no idea what that person is even asking.


"I thought atheists were against all censorship in movies?"

We are. Telling people that this is a stupid movie is not censorship.

I thought Christians and other theists were against LYING. Why do people keep supporting a movie that is based on a lie and gathered interviews from scientists by LYING to them? Why do you keep protecting those who LIE?

But you know what's really funny? PZ Myers was kicked out of an advanced showing of this movie. Why? Because the producer saw him in line and asked security to boot him.

How ironic that he gets EXPELLED from a movie about science's alleged intollerence of other "scientific" views.

But not to worry. Apparently nobody noticed Richard Dawkins standing in line, too.

double2 said...

Such interesting dialogue!

Since you have such distaste for people who are ignorant of your subject, let me preface by saying I am a historian and not a scientist, so I do not pretend to know your field.

I do have a couple questions. One is from the book review of Darwin's God, but it pertains to this discussion. Why have we not seen any macro evolution since humans came on the scene? It was said that there are gaps in science and creationists use God to fill in those gaps. And yet, there is a big gap, from my understanding, in the jump from primates to humans. And are we assuming that humans are the highest anyone can evolve? And if not, why is there not a move away from humanity, to the next level?

I do believe that God created. But I believe it in a sense that He was an artist and Father, more than a scientist- although quite brilliant! He created out of love. I don't know if scientists love what they create? or create because they love? But the kind of love that parents have when they create their children. And the creation story can't end there. You have to keep going all the way up to today. I don't believe that God stopped creating on the sixth day. Matthew 6 talks about God caring for the sparrows and the lilies. The creation of humans is amazing timing! Each of us, had we been conceived on different days/ months, would have different loves, desires, quirks. So my belief is that God is still intimately involved in the workings of His creation, for His purposes.

Which leads me to my second question. You asked if we had read any modern scientists works? My question is, have you finished reading God's story? Have you read any of the gospels, or Romans? Have you read the book, The Case for Christ?

It is not out of ignorance that people believe that God created, and I don't believe that God will get smaller as the gaps of science get filled. (And, in my ignorance, it seems that the more science figures out, and the more intricate we see that it is, the more it requires an Intelligent Designer.) For me, it's because the whole story makes more sense. The beginning, the middle, where I fit into the whole big picture, and where we are going- the end. You can't take just one part of it... just like you are saying for the evolutionists side of things. You can't pick and choose a piece of the story and say the rest is bunk, without knowing it.

On another note, you keep going back to the LYING component of the film. Not condoning it at all. Lying is wrong. Don't think though that the secular realm is above lying. There is a big upheavel right now in the literary world over lying, or fabricating, or however you want to coat it. There are numerous examples. But here's one. Rigoberta Menchu wrote an "autobiographical" account of her life in Guatemala, published in the early 80s. Turns out- the whole thing was made up! It's been taught in high schools and colleges for the last couple decades. And now that it is known as a fraud? Pulled off the shelves? Nope. Universities are still assigning it and making students read it, because it's a good example of what COULD have happened. Any backlash for her lying? She won a Nobel Peace Prize. That wasn't taken away. Or, to name a couple other examples that you can do a search on... James Frey and Misha Defonseca. Wrote autobiographies. Published them as autobiographies and now we know, they were made up. What are the repercussions?

There is not much of a truth standard anymore. If I can use someone else's words (and get away with it), then it's not really plagarism. Like you said, if the ends justify the means, then it's not really lying.

But I think your arguement is unfair for two reasons. One, because the ID movie is not a Christian movie... many of the people working on it do not claim to be believers. (And yes, Christians lie. They do every sin that non-Christians do. Thus the need for Jesus. Sorry, not preaching, but that is a BIG part of God's story.) It's a movie about free speech (I know, supposedly). But don't hold them to a standard that isn't necessarily theirs. And second, don't hold the standard high for secular academia, when in a different arena, if it justifies their means, they don't hold the standard either.

There were two questions embedded in this blog :)
1. Are we done evolving? Do scientists even postulate where we are going??
2. Have you read John, Romans, or The Case for Christ.

Jon Voisey said...

Why have we not seen any macro evolution since humans came on the scene?

You have to be careful what you mean by "macroevolution" here. This terms is often intentionally used in an intentionally vague manner by creationists. In the strictest sense, it means speciation: When one species diverges into two. This has been observed repeatedly in labs.

On larger scales, we can see what's happened to dogs through selective breeding. But this is about the limit of what we should even expect to see since larger changes require even more time. Yet we can even see these changes through the fossil record.

there is a big gap, from my understanding, in the jump from primates to humans.

Again, you're using horribly nebulous terms here. Define "big". We have hundreds of fossils illustrating the transition and many distinct species along the transition over the past 4 million years. To science, this is more than enough. We can probe this with statistical significance and determine it's highly reliable. To Creationists, you can never have enough information to suitably prove anything to them.

And are we assuming that humans are the highest anyone can evolve? And if not, why is there not a move away from humanity, to the next level?

Absolutely humans are still evolving. It's impossible to say where were evolving to, because we can't see the future or even reliably predict what sorts of environmental pressures will drive the evolution. We can't even predict the weather a few days a head of time (or a few hours here in Kansas)!

However, we have seen that humans are getting taller over the past several centuries.

You asked if we had read any modern scientists works? My question is, have you finished reading God's story? Have you read any of the gospels, or Romans? Have you read the book, The Case for Christ?

I own several different bibles (KJV, NIV, etc...) and have read them all. I've also read the Case for Christ. I have universally been unimpressed.

the more intricate we see that it is, the more it requires an Intelligent Designer.

This is known as an argument from incredulity and is a logical fallacy. As such, I reject it.

Like you said, if the ends justify the means, then it's not really lying.

Where have I ever said this?

the ID movie is not a Christian movie

I disagree. ID is Creationism. This was shown in the Dover trial. It has been admitted by the movement's founders and in its guiding documents.

Additionally, if it's not inherently religious, why is it being marketed directly to religious audiences? Discounts are given to church groups. Pastors are being given free screenings. The large majority of screenings are done in churches....

It's a movie about free speech (I know, supposedly). But don't hold them to a standard that isn't necessarily theirs.

They have claimed the candle of being persecuted for trying to use their free speech. What this post was intended to do was show that they are not being truly persecuted, and are astoundingly hypocritical in their promotion of free speech when they have staged press conferences and try to censor reviewers. The irony is overwhelming.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

The whole free speech persecution thing is disingenuous, anyway. In science, you're supposed to challenge new ideas. The fact that intelligent design fails to meet the rigors of criticism is all in the reason in the world to keep it out of a science classroom. Science is not a democracy.

Also, there is no "highest evolved". Evolution is a process by which species survive an ever changing environment. It is not a goal-oriented plan to become bigger, better, and smarter. (Stop reading X-Men, because that's not evolution.)

And man is NOT the pinnacle of evolution. That belief comes from a bias that we all have toward the natural world simply by virtue of our size. We naturally assume that it's the age of the mammals, but it's really not.

It is, always has been, and always will be the age of the microbes. The microbial world is biology's greatest success story.

double2 said...

I realize this blog is supposed to be about the movie, but it is such an interesting dicussion. Do you want to start a different one so this one doesn't distract from your main point?

Intelligent Design is NOT a new theory. And I don't think they are complaining about being criticized. Anyone with an opinion has to be open to criticism, or we'll never learn. But I haven't seen the movie yet. (Btw, how did you get to see it if they are only allowing in the religious?) I think that they are saying they are losing their jobs, or not being published, or something like that. Right? And of course, no boss is going to say that they didn't re-hire someone because that person wanted to teach creationism. Being a business owner, I know that you have to be politically correct when you let someone go.

And, just because someone believes in creation, does not mean that they are Christian. Other religions with a God also believe that He created. And it is probably being marketed to those audiences, because they are the ones who will spend the money to go see it. It's actually a smart marketing strategy. About censoring who gets to see your preview, that also seems like a smart marketing strategy. It's definetly not an encroachment on someone's free speech. They can go to pay to see it, just like the rest of us.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"Don't think though that the secular realm is above lying. There is a big upheavel right now in the literary world over lying, or fabricating, or however you want to coat it. There are numerous examples. But here's one. Rigoberta Menchu wrote an "autobiographical" account of her life in Guatemala, published in the early 80s. Turns out- the whole thing was made up!"

No, she didn't "make the whole thing up". There are several events in that book that have since been verified. Rigoberta MenchĂș wrote a book that was part truth and part caca, but overall, the book itself is a historically relevent representation of the Guatemalan Civil War and the people who lived in that region at the time. It fairly accurately describes the plight of people living in Guatamala between the 1960s and the 1980s. That's why her book remains on university book shelves. Her book may still be used by universities, but it's not as though university professors are using it to teach lies.

Your assessment of the book is both an overreaction and a red herring, and it probably didn't even deserve to be addressed. I fail to see how your examples are representations of secular dishonesty. They're examples of individual dishonesty, but it's not as though academia is trying to cover them up. As a matter of fact, it's quite the contrary.

Let's take a real example that's relevent to the discussion. What about Nebraska Man or Piltdown Man? Creationists always love to harp on those two frauds, but who actually exposed those lies? In cases where certain individual anthropologists have perpetrated fraud, these people are ALWAYS exposed by their peers: other scientists. It's not like the creationists caught it. The secular scientific community is very good at policing itself and discrediting the liars.

Why can't creationists police their own in this same manner? Why is it that very few creationist organizations, even the Discovery Institute, lack the intellectual integrity to denounce the work of Kent Hovind or Ken Ham? Where is the peer review in creationism or intelligent design? They don't criticize each other at all! If a creationist perpetrates a fraud, none of the other creationists seem to notice or even care! It's disgusting.

Likewise, we find here that creationists just don't care that this movie is yet another pack of lies produced by Discovery Institute. They don't care. They just continue in their big creationist circle jerk, because they're winning back America for God.


"Intelligent Design is NOT a new theory."

It's not a theory at all. It's not even a coherent idea. What is the scientific model of intelligent design? What process is it describing? How can it be presented any more meaningfully than "God did it"?


"And I don't think they are complaining about being criticized. Anyone with an opinion has to be open to criticism, or we'll never learn. But I haven't seen the movie yet. ... I think that they are saying they are losing their jobs, or not being published, or something like that. Right? And of course, no boss is going to say that they didn't re-hire someone because that person wanted to teach creationism. Being a business owner, I know that you have to be politically correct when you let someone go."

And being an employee, you're expected to do your job correctly. Scientists aren't at liberty to publish personal beliefs, and one of the first rules you must learn in science is to not fall in love with your ideas. Most theories fail. Successes are few and far between.

But intelligent design doesn't even have the honorable distinction of being a failed theory. It's not a theory at all.

Therefore, articles about intelligent design have no place in a scientific journal. Similarly, there is no place for articles about geocentrism, the flat earth "theory", astrology, or alchemy.

There is no theory of intelligent design. There's never been one published, and there never will be, because all they have is "God did it" or "the designer did it". It's not even a kooky hypothesis on the fringe of science. It is a naked assertion based on a personal belief. Period.

In science, you leave your personal beliefs and convictions at the door. If you don't want to do that, then you are not doing your job, and you deserve to lose it. No, I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who want to publish their personal beliefs and find themselves ostrosized by their peers.


"And, just because someone believes in creation, does not mean that they are Christian. Other religions with a God also believe that He created."

That's splitting hairs. Whether it's explicitly Christian or not, intelligent design is functionally identical to creationism and is not science.


"And it is probably being marketed to those audiences, because they are the ones who will spend the money to go see it. It's actually a smart marketing strategy. About censoring who gets to see your preview, that also seems like a smart marketing strategy. It's definetly not an encroachment on someone's free speech. They can go to pay to see it, just like the rest of us."

PZ Myers got his tickets by legitimate means. He reserved them online. He was in line with his family to see the movie. He wasn't causing any problems, but he got thrown out, anyway.

The fact that the producer was within his right to throw him out is not the issue. Of course he had the right to do so. But as a movie that is attempting to address the scientific establishment for its alleged silencing of those who criticize modern biology, throwing a scientist out an early viewing of the movie is not only cowardly, but hypocritical.

What are they so afraid of?

Jon Voisey said...

double2
Do you want to start a different one so this one doesn't distract from your main point?

I think it's fine here.

Intelligent Design is NOT a new theory.

I completely agree with that. It's a repackaging of creationism after creationism was ruled unconstitutional to teach as science in public schools in the Edwards v. Aguillard case in 1987. Shortly thereafter, "Intelligent Design" debuted, using the exact same arguments and definitions that creationism had been using long before it.

how did you get to see it if they are only allowing in the religious?

I haven't. I've just read several reviews that have said what is featured in the movie. Being familiar with the ID movement's strategies, I can figure out who they're claiming is being persecuted.

I think that they are saying they are losing their jobs, or not being published, or something like that. Right?

That's right. Some have lost jobs. But the issue is that, in every case, when an ID proponent has lost their job, they've also had other serious deficiencies completely aside from their supernatural stance. This movie automatically assumes that they've lost their jobs because of their ID stance. Again, have a look at the three cases I noted people have said are featured that I had in the opening post:

Gonzalez: Has not secured funding and fails to publish.

Sternberg: Circumvented the standard review process of the journal he worked for.

Crocker: Essentially presented a lie (in the form of a strawman) in place of an actual lesson.

Completely setting the ID issue aside, are these people you would really allow to continue on if you were a supervisor? And even if you did, should they then be promoted with tenure as Gonzalez is asking?

Hardly.

no boss is going to say that they didn't re-hire someone because that person wanted to teach creationism. Being a business owner, I know that you have to be politically correct when you let someone go.

I completely agree. You do have to be PC. But really, with how pathetic these people being let go have been, the ID/creationist camp is making a huge logical leap to insist that their dismissal had nothing to do with the things I've listed above and was entirely based on their theological stance.

Other religions with a God also believe that He created.

Creationism is the belief that the act of creation can be supported through science. Given that creation in all religions was a supernatural event, it obviously can't be since science cannot, by definition, test the supernatural.

While any religion could make this claim, it's (almost) exclusively limited to Christians (I do note that there are a few Muslims, but an extremely limited number).

About censoring who gets to see your preview, that also seems like a smart marketing strategy.

I have no doubt that limiting reviews is favourable to anyone. However, for a movie that's claiming to be all about how review of their work is being stifled, to then turn around and prevent review as well as staging staged reviews as has been done with the faked press conference I noted in the original post as well as with the producers planting their own crew in audiences to ask staged questions, the hypocrisy is overwhelming. Don't tell me your irony meter is that broken?

It's definetly not an encroachment on someone's free speech.

I never said it was. What I'm saying is that doing unto others as you have just spent an entire movie lying about them supposedly doing unto you is a bit disengenuous. Essentially it shows how honest their own position is, by which I mean as shallow as an evaporated puddle.

Neil
Similarly, there is no place for articles about geocentrism, the flat earth "theory", astrology, or alchemy.

Since double2 is somewhat new to this discussion, I'd like to also remind him that one of ID's leading advocates, Michael Behe even admitted during the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, that to expand the definition of science to the point that it would include ID, that would necessitate considering astrology science.

double2 said...

Since you gave permission to continue with the evolution discussion...

Because there is a spectrum of advocates in each camp, pure atheism/ evolutionists, theistic evolutionists and creationists, is it fair to say that you don't mind scientists believing in God starting the whole thing?

When I first read your review of Miller's book, I would not have put him in the Christian camp. But I have done a little bit of reading on him and I was quite shocked. So you don't mind people who believe in God, as long as they stick to the scientific method?

For me, that seems like a semantics argument. The only thing that science could find that would bring down Christianity is finding Jesus' body (and of course proving that it was His.) All the rest of it is simply origin. If God did do the creating, then people have to grapple with everything else that goes along with that, like ethics and absolute truth.

Science question: does evolution occur in the same order as Gen 1? Light/dark; sky/water; land/seas; vegetation; sun/moon; sea creatures/ birds/; land animals and finally man?

One thing that was said earlier keeps replaying in my mind. Someone said it takes as much faith to believe in science as it does in God. Mr. Neil had some pretty harsh words to that. Again, I think it is a difference in semantics. I don't think that anyone (credible) is going to argue evolution, in some degree. But you do have faith that science will eventually fill in the gaps that currently exist. The very first definition of faith in the dictionary is "confidence or trust in a person or thing" We do not know everything. We are continually striving to know more, and can build more rapidly on other's knowledge now. But there are still gaps. You believe that science will be able to explain those gaps.

I do, too. I just happen to think that God created science, and He created us to wrestle with His intricate universe.

Science question: Can science yet explain where matter came from? Always in existence can't be a real answer, right?

Most people I know believe in both evolution and in God. They don't seem separable to us. I think that's why I'm so fascinated with this blog. Science has to be separate from faith in that science cannot prove faith. And the very essence of science is it has to be provable. You're never going to prove God. He's beyond that. But, you can't separate God from science.

Just because we started out way ignorant and believed the earth was flat and we would fall off or be eaten by monsters, or that the earth was the center of the universe and everything else revolved around us, doesn't mean that God made that mistake- or even that we've outgrown Him. We've been enlightened... true. And humans are resistant to change in beliefs. Wars are fought over it. It comes down to pride. There's not much harder a thing to do than to admit to people, esp. a lot of people, that you were WRONG!! But I don't agree that God is going to get smaller as the gaps are filled in with science. Even if there are no gaps in science, you are never going to be able to prove away God.

Jon Voisey said...

is it fair to say that you don't mind scientists believing in God starting the whole thing?

I think it's silly to do so because the notion is unparsimonious, but they're welcome to believe whatever they want so long as they do good science (which means hanging up supernatural beliefs when they walk in the lab).

So you don't mind people who believe in God, as long as they stick to the scientific method?

Bingo.

Science question: does evolution occur in the same order as Gen 1? Light/dark; sky/water; land/seas; vegetation; sun/moon; sea creatures/ birds/; land animals and finally man?

Some of the order is right, but other parts are completely wrong. There's light and dark before there's a sun to make light? I don't think so.

Day 2 of genesis implies that there was a point before land where the Earth was just sky and water, but that's not likely either.

Birds most certainly came later than fish and many other animals so they probably shouldn't have been in day 5.

But you do have faith that science will eventually fill in the gaps that currently exist.

Again, this sounds like another semantics game. In my opinion, there's many levels of faith. Some are more valid than others. In a purely technical sense, I have "faith" that the sun will rise tomorrow. But that is far more reasonable than having "faith" that I'll win the lottery even though it's technically the same thing.

So the term is so subject to abuse I tend to sidestep it all together and just look at a qualitative analysis of verifiable evidence. In that case, evolution is well established and proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Science question: Can science yet explain where matter came from?

Matter came from energy in a sort of crystallization process shortly after the big bang event. So the more pertinent question is "Where did the energy come from?"

Unfortunately, our current understanding of physics completely breaks down at such high energy densities (ie, when you stuff that much junk together) so we really can't say currently.

Always in existence can't be a real answer, right?

If theists can use that for God, then I see no reason why it can't be a perfectly valid answer for the universe (although in a highly different form that we can't yet explain prior to the big bang). Additionally, applying this to the universe is more parsimonious since it involves less unseen agents.

You're never going to prove God.

I agree. Neither can you disprove God or any other supernatural entity/event that cannot be tested.

There's not much harder a thing to do than to admit to people, esp. a lot of people, that you were WRONG!!

I agree! It may seem sort of arrogant for me to say, but scientists are actually pretty good at this. There's a famous case during an astronomy conference where a group was set to announce the discovery of the first ever discovered planet outside our solar system. But when they got up to take the stage, they admitted that not only had they not discovered a planet, but the false detection was based on such a simple and silly error that anyone with an introductory astronomy course should have figured out: They forgot to subtract out the motion of the Earth!

But I don't agree that God is going to get smaller as the gaps are filled in with science.

It sounds a lot like you're arguing the same thing Ken Miller is: Science reveals the amazing details of God's plan. However, what Miller always keeps in mind is that this isn't actually a scientific argument. It's a theological one. That's the mistake that creationists repeatedly make. For example, Behe looks at cell pieces like the Flagellum and essentially says, "Gosh. I can't imagine how that would have come from evolution. Thus, it must not have and God must have done it!"

Really, what a silly argument.

Even if there are no gaps in science, you are never going to be able to prove away God.

Again, you'll get no argument from me here. However, I am firmly with Dawkins that although you can't disprove God, science can make Him superfluous. But again, that's my philosophical position. Not a scientific one.

I go into a lot more detail on that topic in this post.

Anonymous said...

Found this blog while searching for info on the movie "Expelled". This morning I heard Ben Stein discussing it on RC Sproul's christian show. I was aghast when they digressed into how evolutionists have no reason to get up in the morning except to get high, drink, commit crimes etc.

And this is from two supposed highly intelligent people ? And they wonder why some of us atheists/"evolutionists" are angry? Christians wear their supposedly good morals on their sleeves when in reality they are no better than any of the "rest of us".

check out the recording at Sproul's website:

http://www.ligonier.org/rym.php

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Ben Stein has obviously fallen into the trap that only atheists believe in evolution, which is blatantly false, and I'm sure he's had it explained to him by now.

Ben Stein's smear campaign on atheists isn't something new. When 911 happened, he called it "an act of atheistic horror".

He's a dick.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"Science question: does evolution occur in the same order as Gen 1? Light/dark; sky/water; land/seas; vegetation; sun/moon; sea creatures/ birds/; land animals and finally man?"

Jon forgot to point out that evolution does not include the creation of the planet or the creation of life itself. The order of events of Earth history are actually cobbled together from MANY different fields of science.

If you constantly refer to every scientific idea that is anti-thetical to Genesis as "evolution", you're going to get the ruler across the knuckles a lot. Don't fall into that assumption.


"Science question: Can science yet explain where matter came from?"

If it didn't, is that a compelling reason to believe in God?

double2 said...

Anonymous: NOT FAIR!!

I took the time to listen to the link you posted. You said:
"I was aghast when they digressed into how evolutionists have no reason to get up in the morning except to get high, drink, commit crimes etc."

That was not a digression. They were talking about if there is no Designer, there is no significance to human life. We become insignificant. And it no longer matters if there is racism or genocide because human life has no significance. If life has no meaning, then why get up in the morning? To fulfill what gives us pleasure.

Jon had said that he thinks as science fills in the gaps, God will become superfluous. What are the repurcussions of that? What would the world look like if it was full of people who had no purpose? If there is no God who created the order, and the laws of the universe and the absolute truths of morality, then we would all live for our own interests. There would be no justice in the afterlife, nor would there be mercy and grace.

There could be no higher calling of humanity to greater humanity. If a dictator wants to take out 6 million Jews, that's his perogative.

I think that it was a very intelligent conversation, between two people who disagree with YOUR theory. You just couldn't hear it because you were so offended by it. Here's the thing... theologians, Christians, creationists, whatever you want to call them, want to continue the inquiry of science (quoting Darwin). That's what they said. At this point, nothing can come out of nothing. Maybe science will get to the point that it can prove something can come out of nothing. But for now, Christian scientists want the right to continue looking for proof of a designer.

I am truly curious what you all think a world of atheists would look like. Not that there can't be moral atheists out there (without a God though, morality becomes relative). If you see a better car than you have, why not steal it, drive it away? Or if someone makes you mad, why not cause him harm? There becomes no reason for self-control. For patience, for gentleness... for LOVE! (except the easy kind to those who already love you).

And, why is there such hostility towards people who think God designed the whole thing? What are the implications there? Is it because then you'll have to wrestle with everything else God said about Himself? Truly, whats the harm of a designer? Are you just resistant to it because it can't be proved? But how do you know? Jon had said that matter was created by energy, but we don't know where the energy came from. What if we get to the very beginning of it, and we actually see a fingerprint of God?

Honestly, entertain the idea, for just a second. Because it can be just as likely that God is at the beginning of this whole thing.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

double2 said...

Neil you said: If you constantly refer to every scientific idea that is anti-thetical to Genesis as "evolution"...

What's the creation of the earth called? In the interview with Stein and Sproul, they said the current theory is lightening in a mud puddle. I'm sure you disagree with that. What does the beginning look like right now?

I know, I'm asking a huge question. But in the Christian evolutionist talks, the primordial mud thing is what is mentioned. So I'd like to know what you guys actually think?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"That was not a digression. They were talking about if there is no Designer, there is no significance to human life. We become insignificant. And it no longer matters if there is racism or genocide because human life has no significance. If life has no meaning, then why get up in the morning? To fulfill what gives us pleasure."

I know you're trying to be polite, but you have this extremely warped idea of what atheism and evolution are. They're not even synonyms for each other. Of course what Stein said was a digression! You can't just swap atheism and evolution like that. That's not fair!

Ben Stein is trying to smear a valid theory of science by making an emotional appeal to the value of religion in society, because he knows that most people attribute morality to their faith (which I'll be addressing here in a bit).


"Jon had said that he thinks as science fills in the gaps, God will become superfluous. What are the repurcussions of that?"

This is only a convincing argument to someone who attributes his morality to an authoritative arbitor. To someone who doesn't believe that, this is hyperbole.


"There could be no higher calling of humanity to greater humanity. If a dictator wants to take out 6 million Jews, that's his perogative."

I must say that you have an extremely warped notion of ethics.

Let me ask you something. Truthfully. Would you murder children if there was no God? Is God the only thing keeping you from going on a destructive rampage. If you're sane, the answer is obvious: NO.

Likewise, unless you are criminally insane, you wouldn't slaughter millions of people if your arbitor of justice commanded you to do so. And I'm sure you think that God would never tell you to do that, but if you actually say that, I warn you that you'll be approaching dangerously close to circular reasoning.

I'm also sure that you're aware of the sort of "justice" that is dispensed by God within the pages of the Bible. Certainly you don't believe that, even before Jesus' alleged sacrifice, that people actually deserved to be stoned for working on the Sabbath or engaging in homosexual conduct. Certainly you're not crazy enough to believe in a creator who, at any time, believed that DEATH was a worthy fate for a woman not being a virgin on her wedding night.

If you base your morality on the will of an omnipotent being, then it's actually the Christian who has thrown out moral responsibility. You've forfeited your ability to THINK in favor of just obeying things blindly.

The point here is that morality is obviously NOT based on authoritarian rules. Rather, morality is implicit by our very mortality. We value this thing called society. It's even implicit in YOUR argument, because you're implying that society would crumble without this God telling us what to do.

Obviously, you share in our values, but for some unexplanable reason, you attribute them to some being beyond space and time.


"Here's the thing... theologians, Christians, creationists, whatever you want to call them, want to continue the inquiry of science (quoting Darwin)."

Yeah, and usually very poorly.

I would also like to add that Charles Darwin is not a prophet for science, nor is he a modern biologist or an authority whose word should be followed to the letter. He died over 100 years ago. Biology has made great strides since the day of Darwin, far beyond what even ever thought.

Darwin, like Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Sir Issac Newton, is a person of some historical significance, certainly, because he gave birth to modern biology. But his word is not law, and quoting him in modern biological context means nothing.

When a Christian says, "Darwin says...", it doesn't mean anything. You have to bring evidence, and the creationists simply don't have any.


"without a God though, morality becomes relative"

And we should be alarmed by this why? Oh, I know the answer! Because morality ISN'T relative.

There are extremely arbitrary notions of morality within society, such as proper attire, political affiliation, vulgarity, and so on, but the basic premise of human morality itself is implicit in our very mortal being and our ability to empathetically project those values onto each other.

In other words, it's wrong to kill, because we value our lives. It's wrong to steal because we value our property. It's wrong to bully someone, because we value our self esteem. It's wrong to lie, because we value the truth.

Think about it. If you were friends with a guy who always lied to you and stole your property, would you base your decision to keep his friendship on God? Of course not. You want friends you can trust, so you probably wouldn't talk to him again. God's authority shouldn't even factor into this decision. It's obvious from a level of self esteem.


"And, why is there such hostility towards people who think God designed the whole thing?"

We're hostile, and rightfully so, toward people who want to redefine science so that "I believe" becomes a valid basis for a theory. We're hostile because inteligent design and creationism ARE NOT SCIENCE. They are political movements trying to undermine modern biology because people think that "I believe" is enough.

If "I believe" was enough, then we might as well let the Scientologists in too. I'm sure they have all sorts of wacky ideas that they'd like to push forward in the name of "academic freedom". I'm sure you wouldn't jibe with that at all, would you?

If you value this God-given morality that you claim, then certainly you value intellectual honesty. The intelligent design movement has nothing, and it's obvious that they have nothing. You should join us, regardless of your theological beliefs, in denouncing these people for trying to disrupt the very progression of human understanding.


"So I'd like to know what you guys actually think?"

What we "think" is irrelevent, just like how "I believe" is irrelevent. What is relevent in science is the ability to provide evidence for your claims. Period.

People who are atheistic aren't bothered by the unknown. We don't stay up at night going, "Oh my god, I don't know how the universe started! I CAN'T SLEEP!!!" That's just silly.

We don't have this notion that we HAVE to have an answer for every concievable question. It's not that kind of worldview. We value what we can learn, not what we believe, and we accept what we don't know as being the unknown.

I'm trying not to project things onto you, but in my experience, the main reason that theists ALWAYS ask what we believe is so that they can pick apart the gaps and use that as a means of implying that religion, because of its all-encompassing scope of humanity and the world in which we live, is somehow better. ...because they BELIEVE in a God who created everything, and so they think atheism should have an equivelant.

This is an unwarranted assumption. Atheists don't value "I believe". We suspend belief until verification.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

There's a pretty good joke that goes along with all this talk of science and morality.

An university professor is explaining to the class his disbelief in God. A student raises his hand and asks, "Excuse me, professor. If there's no God, what's to stop us from killing each other?".

The girl next to him raises her hand and says, "I can move to a new seat?".

Jon Voisey said...

if there is no Designer, there is no significance to human life. We become insignificant.

If you've paid any attention to just how large the universe is, yes, we are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Does this mean that we can't be significant to ourselves? Absolutely not!

But to insist that we have intrinsic value is astoundingly arrogant. I get up in the morning because I want to.

What would the world look like if it was full of people who had no purpose?

Well, it certainly wouldn't be a world full of atheists. We define our own purposes.

If there is no God who created the order, and the laws of the universe and the absolute truths of morality, then we would all live for our own interests.

I suggest that you pick up Dawkins first work: The Selfish Gene. One of the things he lays out quite clearly, is that it doesn't take God to explain morality and good deeds. We help one another because, indeed, what comes around goes around. It's a stable system. Thus, the dismal picture of theists trying to imagine a world without God's morals really isn't that dismal. It's just a strawman.

theologians, Christians, creationists, whatever you want to call them, want to continue the inquiry of science

Wonderful. The best of luck to them. However, when they lie, distort, and commit other atrocious acts in order to do so as the creators of the film (that this thread is ostensibly about) do, then they're not really continuing honest inquiry in any fashion now are they?

At this point, nothing can come out of nothing.

Please show me where anything in science has ever contradicted this. Life certainly came from something, be it a pre-biotic soup, crystalline substructure, or something else.

Even the Big Bang doesn't posit an ex nihilo formation.

But for now, Christian scientists want the right to continue looking for proof of a designer.

Again, feel free to do so, but don't be such dishonest bastards in doing it. Don't subvert the rules of science which state that you can't honestly support supernatural explanations that you can't even test.

why is there such hostility towards people who think God designed the whole thing?

If that were the extent of it, I'd have no problem with it. But that's not the extent. We have people that not only want to think it, but are willing to forgo honest inquiry, spew nonsense, force it into laws and schools, and destroy the very foundation of the only method of inquiry that has truly proven useful. I think that proves good reason for hostility.

What if we get to the very beginning of it, and we actually see a fingerprint of God?

What would the "fingerprint of God" look like? Can you make honest predictions, or is this just another argument from ignorance?

Honestly, entertain the idea, for just a second.

I did. In fact, I entertained it for the first 15 years of my life.

Because it can be just as likely that God is at the beginning of this whole thing.

Parsimony says otherwise.

What's the creation of the earth called?

That would be the theory of planetary formation.

In the interview with Stein and Sproul, they said the current theory is lightening in a mud puddle.

That's the theory of abiogenesis, which is the beginning of life. Not the world.

So I'd like to know what you guys actually think?

I think the primordial ooze scenario is quite robust. It has been shown to be able to spontaneously generate most of the necessary components for life in very short order in the Miller-Urey reactions. As I've stated earlier, all you need is to get those into a self replicating form of some kind, and then random mutations + natural selection can take over.

I really don't see this as large enough of a jump to demand supernatural causation. Especially given the ideas of others which suggest that these first replicators could have been assisted by other ordered growths as a sort of "scaffold", such as crystals (see: Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, Chapter 6).

Is God the only thing keeping you from going on a destructive rampage. If you're sane, the answer is obvious: NO.

I should also add that atheists have a lower tendencies to commit crimes as they're underrepresented in jails, as well as having a lower divorce rate.

So even if you want to believe your strawman, the actual data suggests that atheists do just as well, if not better.

double2 said...

warped idea of what atheism and evolution are
I define atheism in the belief that there is no God. And evolution as the science that explains how species adapt and change. Please correct me if I’m wrong.


Ben Stein is trying to smear a valid theory of science
I don’t think he’s saying anything against the theory of evolution, or whatever you call the beginning of life. The whole talk with Sproul today was on the absence of knowledge regarding the power behind the Big Bang. That’s the whole essence of the argument with evolutionists and ID’ers. Please clarify something for me. Are the ID scientists stopping their research? When they see something like the complex cell, and you keep saying the say “God must have…” is that the end of it for them? Do they throw in the towel and say no more research is necessary? Because even after all this blogging, I’m not clear on why they shouldn’t be allowed in the science realm. No one can prove the beginning yet. If evolutionists (and do they have a different name, since the beginning of the earth isn’t called evolution?) are still trying to find where that energy came from, isn’t there a lot more room for experimentation? Are the ID’ers not doing that?

attributes his morality to an authoritative arbiter.
If there is not a single author of morality, then we all get to decide what’s right for us. More on that later.

Would you murder children if there was no God?
I think a fairer question would be would I behave differently if I didn’t believe in God. And that answer is—Quite! Would it be so extreme as to murder children? No probably not. But if you argue the survival of the fittest, why not murder children who have disabilities? (Ok, that is a horrible question and I had a hard time typing it.) But you see it in nature. I once rescued a kitten that had been purposefully abandoned in the gutter by the mom- I watched her transport her four kittens, and leave this one in particular. I took her home and raised her for awhile, but there was something neurologically wrong with it- couldn’t function. I had to take her to get put to sleep and her reaction to the medicine was such that the vet said it proved that her brain was not functioning properly. Nature gets rid of what can’t sustain itself, right? But as humans we don’t do that. Because human life is valued. WHY? And don’t say it’s intrinsic. Only self-preservation is intrinsic. Even saving offspring goes out the window in some cases.

I'm also sure that you're aware of the sort of "justice" that is dispensed by God within the pages of the Bible.
Do not judge an ancient civilization. Governments were established to dispense judgment and they did not have means/ nor desire to execute without pain. “Cruel and unusual punishment” is a brand new concept on the historical scene and we actually keep redefining it. And it is fairly Western. When Sadam was hanged, there was a huge outcry over here. Con permiso- but it’s their justice system and they get to decide how to execute. Or back in the 90s when the kid tagged in Thailand, was it? And was caned? We don’t get to tell other governments how to dispense judgment. And as far as it being God’s idea… there has to be a painful deterrent for breaking laws (or you get a joke of a justice system, like ours). And if you look at the other civilizations at that time, this was a comparatively humane form of capital punishment.

You've forfeited your ability to THINK in favor of just obeying things blindly.
I think it is just the opposite. God’s laws tend to direct us away from what our “natural” or base desires are. In obeying His commands, there is actually a protective code I am under. One example, if everyone followed God’s guidelines on sexual conduct, ie, not to have sex before or outside of marriage between a man and woman, there would be NO sexual disease. Granted, that’s one huge IF!

Rather, morality is implicit by our very mortality. We value this thing called society.
If morality is implicit, why do not all humans follow the same code? For every single value you can give me, I can probably give you an example of a culture that does not abide by that. How can you argue that something is instinctive, if not all, or most, of the species lives by it?

Obviously, you share in our values, but for some unexplanable reason, you attribute them to some being beyond space and time.
I don’t think we share all of the same values, and I would beg to argue that they were long God’s before science’s.

the basic premise of human morality itself is implicit in our very mortal being and our ability to empathetically project those values onto each other.
NO!! Your examples are so WESTERN, and the adherence to them so sporadic. First, our prisons are full of people who killed. How do you explain humans that don’t live by your intrinsic values? Or societies? There are cultures based around killing. Killing enemies, killing each other, even killing family members. And stealing??? You’ve got to be kidding me. And here’s the big question of the night. If this stuff was all instinct, why do we have to teach our children the opposites? I do not have to teach my children to be selfish, violent, liars, cheaters, or impatient. In fact, an enormous amount of energy is spent in training them into our values. If you have spent any time with young children, you will see that the opposite of all those values you are claiming are instinctual and non-existent in children. (Or just watch one episode of Super Nanny)


And of course I wouldn’t be friends with a guy who perpetually lied—to me. But there are an awful lot of people out there who cheat on their taxes, steal from stores, lie to bosses… the list goes on and on, and yet they have a lot of friends.


"I believe" becomes a valid basis for a theory.
And yet, “you believe” that science will one day fill in all those gaps!

in denouncing these people for trying to disrupt the very progression of human understanding.
I need to know more about it. My earlier question about their processes addresses this concern.

We don't have this notion that we HAVE to have an answer for every concievable question.
But until it’s a fact, you have faith (I know, it holds a bad stigma for you guys) that science will eventually get there. And here’s the thing. Christianity is always having to adapt to the new science findings. Christianity didn’t die when Galileo turned the universe around. It didn’t die when Darwin proved evolution. It won’t die if Adam and Eve end up being a figurative couple, rather than literal. I said earlier, the only thing that will destroy Christianity is if Jesus’ body was found. Our whole faith is founded on Him living, dying and resurrecting. Everything else… it falls within what God chooses to reveal to us (thru the scientific method, currently) and when.


Atheists don't value "I believe". We suspend belief until verification.
You may not value it, but you adhere to it. Void of fact, there has to be belief in something. If you didn’t believe that science could find a new planet, you would stop looking. If you didn’t believe that science could find a cure for cancer, you’d stop trying.

double2 said...

I get up in the morning because I want to.
So if things started going really bad, and you ceased to want to get up in the morning, what then? It’s all so self-centered. What if the purpose you have created for yourself gets thwarted?

See, in size we should be insignificant. That’s what’s so amazing to me about God’s love. He chose us to be significant. To the point that it was worth sending His Son to be sacrifices, so that we might be redeemed. But if all we are, in the science realm, are little specks of life, what does it matter if I am kind, or generous. Why should we expect, or hope that our wealthy, turn around and give us their hard earned cash? What goes around, comes around? I don’t think so. How did that become a law of nature?

I suggest that you pick up Dawkins first work: The Selfish Gene.
I don’t mind doing reading in your field, as long as it will make sense to the average lay person. I’ve actually ordered a couple books. But Neil keeps saying forget about Darwin. Which is it? And talk about belief. What a hypothesis. If you take out thousands of years of religion in the world, you believe that human nature is intrinsically good. There is no proof. First, because you cannot recreate that scenario in your labs. But secondly, why would humanity be better off if there was no religion? It’s already totally screwed up, and these people believe that after they die they’ll be getting judged for it. How much worse would our behavior be if we just up and got buried in the ground?


Life certainly came from something
Yes, but you said we don’t know where the energy came from that created the matter. It couldn’t always have existed. Infinity is not a place for science, but a place for faith.

supernatural explanations that you can't even test.
But you can keep looking! Are they? Or did they get to the end and throw their hands up and say there’s nothing else to learn? My issue is, if they are still looking to further our knowledge in cell formation, or whatever it is, but the happen to think that God created the cell, there is no violation there. They are still using the scientific method of research. You just happen to disagree with the hypothesis of the beginning power/energy.


What would the "fingerprint of God" look like? Can you make honest predictions, or is this just another argument from ignorance?
I don’t think that my prediction of what this looks like could be more or less accurate than what your beginning power source will look like.

That would be the theory of planetary formation.
And that’s the Big Bang? So all the inanimate objects were created, how? And once the land and sea was here, then the primordial ooze occurred?

Isn’t natural selection in direct conflict with the “innate” value of human life?

I should also add that atheists have a lower tendencies to commit crimes as they're underrepresented in jails, as well as having a lower divorce rate.
I don’t put much credence in this because the polls also say that more than 80% of Americans claim to be believers. I think there are going to be many surprised “Christians” on the day judgment when Jesus says, depart from, for I never knew you. (Matt 7:16-23) He says that you will know a true believer by his/her fruits. Just because someone claims to follow God, and yet is in prison for committing crimes, doesn’t mean that they truly love Jesus. So please don’t judge Christianity by the vast numbers of people who do not bear good fruit.

Michael said...

This movie "Expelled" is about censorship, not the lifestyle of an atheist. As blogger discuss issues about the movie, there are many liberal special interest groups who are trying to put pressure on theaters not to show it.

The reason why teachers loose jobs over questioning Darwinism, and the lie that creationists are trying to stuff religion down people's throats is the fact that they fear this movie will encourage people to be more skeptical about Darwinism.

We would all laugh if someone who serious believed he could make a box of shoes out of thin air. But evolutionists are very serious with even less than that. Have something be created out of nothing by chance. This is a supernatural occurrence as it defies the laws of physics.

THE FIRST LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS
Defines energy as a mass which cannot be created out of nothing, and can be changed from one form to another but the total amount remains the same.

Creationists do have the ability to present another side in a scientific way. And that's another reason why those teachers lost their jobs or were punished for questioning Darwinism.

Jon Voisey said...

I don’t think he’s saying anything against the theory of evolution

Have you not been reading the reviews? His basic premise is "evolution = atheism = Nazis"

Sounds about as against evolution as you can get while still being completely devoid of any intelligent content. Just an invocation of Godwin's Law.

That’s the whole essence of the argument with evolutionists and ID’ers.

Looks like you're really new to this topic. The issue is that ID proponents want to be able to admit logical fallacies as scientific evidence. Specifically, they try to dress up arguments from ignorance/incredulity with fancy names like "Irreducible Complexity" or "Specified Complexity".

Are the ID scientists stopping their research?

Yes! Saying "this is too hard to understand, so let's just toss our hands up and say 'God did it'." is a science stopper!

“God must have…” is that the end of it for them?

Yep. That's all she wrote. Behe, Dembski, and every other Creationist/ID proponent has never used that position to discover anything.

I’m not clear on why they shouldn’t be allowed in the science realm.

Why should they be? What science do they actually do?

If evolutionists ... are still trying to find where that energy came from, isn’t there a lot more room for experimentation? Are the ID’ers not doing that?

Absolutely! Cosmologists are constantly working on getting a better understanding of the Big Bang and what happened. Our models can now start from nearly 10^-46 seconds after the actual event that triggered the Big Bang and produce universes with distributions like ours. So we're doing amazingly well.

The problem is that when you start getting things that squished together, the fundamental forces that we know and understand get squished into something we don't understand. Hence the need for a Grand Unified Theory (GUT). If you've already given up and just said, "It's magic" what further need would you have to investigate?

But if you argue the survival of the fittest...

Ah... there's that oft misunderstood phrase. "Fittest" doesn't meant the biggest, meanest, baddass. It means the one that's most suited for their environment. Like it or not, our current environment is loaded with other people. That means that to be "fit" we have to be able to live with those other people.

But as humans we don’t do that. Because human life is valued. WHY?

Because those genes are ones that we ourselves likely carry. Thus, we identify and know that, unlike in the cold brutal nature, we can actually do well to preserve those genes. A full explanation of this is beyond the extent of what I'd write here, so again, I'll suggest reading Selfish Gene.

if everyone followed God’s guidelines on sexual conduct, ie, not to have sex before or outside of marriage between a man and woman, there would be NO sexual disease.

And if you never left your house, you'd never get hit by a car. Does that mean it's the right thing to do? Safer is not necessarily better.

why do we have to teach our children the opposites? I do not have to teach my children to be selfish, violent, liars, cheaters, or impatient.

We do this to protect our children. If they were selfish, violent, etc... they may get away with it for awhile, but as I already pointed out, what comes around goes around. It's easy to be all those things, but it doesn't work in the long run. If we went around doing those things, we'd probably figure that out pretty quickly, but why not save our progeny the hassle of dealing with that, as well as the possible chance that they get killed and the investment we've put in to them go to waste.

If you have spent any time with young children, you will see that the opposite of all those values you are claiming are instinctual and non-existent in children.

Looks like you're making some pretty Western generalizations there too.

And yet, “you believe” that science will one day fill in all those gaps!

You're equivocating again. Science has proven itself amazingly effective at this. Thus our "belief" is justified.

What if the purpose you have created for yourself gets thwarted?

I'll burn that bridge when I cross it.

He chose us to be significant.

Care to provide some evidence for that? I think that's better said as "We chose us to be significant." Just like every life form choses itself to be significant and strives to continue living. It's just interesting that for humans, we realized that in the grand scheme of things, we're not, so we invent a mythical creator to reassure ourselves.

To an atheist, this is superfluous. The fact that we're here and we're alive is good enough.

What goes around, comes around? I don’t think so. How did that become a law of nature?

Again, read Selfish Gene, especially the bits regarding the Evolutionary Stable States (ESS), prisoner's dilemma and the "tit-for-tat" system.

I don’t mind doing reading in your field, as long as it will make sense to the average lay person.

Dawkins is a bit tedious at times, but that's probably because he's Brittish. Not because his material is inherently difficult.

But Neil keeps saying forget about Darwin.

Darwin laid the groundwork, but since his time, much of his work has been overturned. The basic principles are the same (random mutation + natural selection), but we've discovered startling additional complexities (such as punctuated equilibria, convergent evolution, etc...).

Darwin's work is important in a historical context, to be sure, but to think that reading his works give you an understanding of the topic today is similar to thinking that learning how log cabins were built will teach you how to make a skyscraper.

But secondly, why would humanity be better off if there was no religion?

I don't think it would. At the very least, not right away. As you are a testament to, most people are not able to make moral choices on their own. If the notion of religion disappeared tonight, I think the world would be a horrible place.

However, as atheism clearly shows, divinely inspired morals are not necessary. They are a crutch. We can't pull that away from people and expect them to walk immediately.

How much worse would our behavior be if we just up and got buried in the ground?

I think it'd be far better. If we accepted that we didn't get eternal life, perhaps we wouldn't waste so much time preparing for something is likely not to even exist. It would mean that we would actually have a reason to live life to the fullest: It's all we have!

And before you start in on it again, no, that doesn't mean going around killing whoever you wanted and taking anything that suited your fancy.

It couldn’t always have existed.

Again, if God gets to sidestep this, why not the universe? Is there a particular reason for your double standard?

if they are still looking to further our knowledge in cell formation, or whatever it is, but the happen to think that God created the cell, there is no violation there.

I agree! But ID/Creationism offers no premise for additional research. It just says "God did it." and is done with the whole gambit.

They are still using the scientific method of research.

You do realize that in order to use the scientific method, you have to test something? And how precisely do you test for something that is by definition untestable (ie, the supernatural)?

I don’t think that my prediction of what this looks like could be more or less accurate than what your beginning power source will look like.

At this time, no. Like I've already said, we don't understand the physics. Perhaps when the LHC comes on line this summer, we'll get a better understanding of it and be able to say more.

Regardless, the naturalistic version is still more parsimonious, and there in lies the rub. Any particular reason you're sidestepping this point?

And that’s the Big Bang?

No. Planetary formation occurred after the Big Bang. All the Big Bang states is that, "the universe as we know it, began in a hot dense state which expanded and continues to expand."

Everything that happens later is covered by other theories: Planetary formation, galactic formation/evolution, stellar evolution, etc...

Isn’t natural selection in direct conflict with the “innate” value of human life?

Only if you don't understand natural selection and think it's the strawman "survival of the fittest."

He says that you will know a true believer by his/her fruits. Just because someone claims to follow God, and yet is in prison for committing crimes, doesn’t mean that they truly love Jesus.

Yet another logical fallacy from you. The "No True Scotsman" fallacy this time. I'd be really swell if you could stop using so many.

michael
This movie "Expelled" is about censorship

Nah. It's about a undeserved persecution complex.

there are many liberal special interest groups who are trying to put pressure on theaters not to show it.

Now you're just making shit up. I've never seen anyone say that the movie shouldn't be shown. Rather, that it's garbage and that people don't seem to be aware of the pathetic scholarship and blatant lies it contains. In other words, it's a propaganda piece. Not a documentary.

the lie that creationists are trying to stuff religion down people's throats

I suppose you have a better explanation besides a bunch of people trying to legitimize their faith to convert others? After all, that's what many of the proponents of ID/Creationism have stated their mission is!

But evolutionists are very serious with even less than that. Have something be created out of nothing by chance. This is a supernatural occurrence as it defies the laws of physics.

*Sigh* Yet another strawman.

Nowhere in any science (evolution, big bang, or any others besides quantum mechanics) does "something" come out of "nothing".

Creationists do have the ability to present another side in a scientific way.

What science have they ever done that supports their "hypothesis"?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"Are the ID scientists stopping their research?"

What research? Quote mining and nay-saying is not research.

Intelligent design advocates don't do science. They've never even published a model for intelligent design as a scientific theory. Their "research" is primarily strawman attacks, and their "conclusion" (personal incredulity, therefore god did it) is a non sequitur. I don't know how that could be any more clear.

"When they see something like the complex cell, and you keep saying the say 'God must have…' is that the end of it for them? Do they throw in the towel and say no more research is necessary?"

Loaded question. You're implying that they're even doing research. They're not doing anything beyond taking real science out of context and making conclusions that don't follow the logic.


"Because even after all this blogging, I’m not clear on why they shouldn’t be allowed in the science realm."

Then you don't understand science. I don't know how you couldn't. We've explained it to you a million times. Scientific theories are models. they are not conjecture. And yes, the whole point of intelligent design is to say "this is designed" and then call it a day. There is no other step beyond that. They're trying to validate personal belief by doing ass-backwards "science".


"No one can prove the beginning yet."

Oh, not this canard again. Not being able to "prove the beginning" isn't the issue. It's the fact that believing in a beginning in spite of no evidence is NOT SCIENCE. Give it a rest already.


"If evolutionists (and do they have a different name, since the beginning of the earth isn’t called evolution?) are still trying to find where that energy came from, isn’t there a lot more room for experimentation? Are the ID’ers not doing that?"

That's just it. They don't do anything.

And by evolutionist, you actually mean SCIENTIST. Intelligent Design and creationism are wholesale attacks on science. It even pretty much says so in Discovery Institute's wedge strategy, where they claim that they want to do away with scientific "materialism". (In other words, the reliance on physical evidence to make assumptions about how the world works.)


"I think a fairer question would be would I behave differently if I didn’t believe in God. And that answer is—Quite! Would it be so extreme as to murder children? No probably not."

Good, then you're sane. ...I think.


"But if you argue the survival of the fittest, why not murder children who have disabilities?"

Because that's digusting strawman of atheism. There is no "survival of the fittest" in atheism.

Now, why don't you stop with these insulting projections of what you think atheism is and start asking less presumptuous and more constructive questions?


"Because human life is valued. WHY? And don’t say it’s intrinsic. Only self-preservation is intrinsic. Even saving offspring goes out the window in some cases."

But it is intrinsic. Only you think that it isn't. The way you should treat others is implicit in the way you would like to be treated. Thus, an intelligent and mentally stable person would work to form alliances rather than cause chaos. And those who don't will either be exiled or put in jail.

I'm sorry, but your arguments aren't very good. And I'm actually a little annoyed with the amount of ignorant crap you keep spewing. Look, I'm trying to be civil, but some of your rhetoric is downright insulting, and it's obvious that you're not taking the time to investigate or even understand atheism. You skipped over some of my points and even took some of what I was saying completely out of context.

I've dealt with a lot of Christians who argue the exact same shit that you're recycling right now. And yes, I do lose my patience rather easily, because I get tired of theists reading things verbatim from their favorite Christian website rather than approaching the subject fresh.


"God’s laws tend to direct us away from what our “natural” or base desires are. In obeying His commands, there is actually a protective code I am under. One example, if everyone followed God’s guidelines on sexual conduct, ie, not to have sex before or outside of marriage between a man and woman, there would be NO sexual disease. Granted, that’s one huge IF!"

But that's something that YOU are reading into the Bible, as if the Bible was trying to warn us about STDs. It was doing no such thing. At no point does Bible God say, "Don't be promiscuous, because it makes your dick itch." He says, "Don't have sex before marriage, OR BE PUT TO DEATH." The complete context of that passage is fairly mysogynistic, and you know it.

When you get right down to it, God's rules have nothing to do with human morality at all, because it's all about whether or not God approves, and most of his laws are fairly nonsensical and even cruel, such as stoning people who work on the Sabbath. But you completely dodged that one, didn't you? What does God's lesson about working on the Sabbath teach us, I wonder? Is there some disease we're avoiding by not working on Sunday?


"If morality is implicit, why do not all humans follow the same code? For every single value you can give me, I can probably give you an example of a culture that does not abide by that."

No you can't. For one thing, the intrinsic value I'm describing is the basis for how societies form. I'm am not arguing that every single person on the planet should, therefore, follow in this example. There are rogues in society, and there are even societies that wall themselves off from everyone else. But those are irrelevent red herrings.

The point is that all forms of society must value life beyond the scope of just individual self-preservation, or else the human race itself wouldn't even survive. Yes, some warped cultures value the death of their enemies and slam planes into buildings, but only due to warped theological or political idealism. And it's not as though this anti-social behavior doesn't carry some very negative repurcussions. As a society that has culturally isolated itself, fundamentalist Islamic countries are woefully behind on science, medicine, and technology. Their anti-social values against other cultures prevents them from interacting in ways that would improve their way of living.

Heck, their ability to attack us is barely competent. Hitting the World Trade Center with planes was an amazing feet of coordination, but it also shows how incapable they actually are at keeping up any sort of offense against a major power that is scientifically literate and willing to interact socially with the rest of the world.

This is the consequence of isolation is clearly that you don't benefit from social interaction.

A society without religion, with only intrinsic values to guide them, would have no particular reason to behave that way.


"How can you argue that something is instinctive, if not all, or most, of the species lives by it?"

What the fuck are you talking about? I'm talking about human social values. Not the animal kingdom. You can't compare humans to animals that can't even communicate in abstract ways. Don't be a dick.

Earlier, you compared the ethics of a cat to that of a human being, because the mother cat abandoned her kitten, and that somehow translated into the law of the wild, I suppose. Surely you're aware that cats don't have a societal structure akin to humans. The comparison was beyond absurd. It should also be pointed out that the bond between a mother cat and her kittens is not nearly as strong as a human mother and her baby, simply by nature of the development cycle of each species. Human infants are FAR more fragile than kittens, and thus humans are actually biological driven to protect that which is completely helpless, whereas a cat has no such instinct.

Implying that atheists would behave as cats would is both vapid and insulting.


"NO!! Your examples are so WESTERN, and the adherence to them so sporadic. First, our prisons are full of people who killed. How do you explain humans that don’t live by your intrinsic values?"

That's not a very good example. The prison population is astonishingly and overwhelmingly Christian. And no, they don't convert inside prison. they come to prison already believers. The total percentage of atheists in prison is astonishingly low. Less than a fraction of a percent.

And you also apparently don't understand what I mean by "implicit". When I say implicit, I'm not talking about choice values, which you keep blathering about. ("Wah! What about people who don't follow your ethics?") I'm talking about axiomatic values that MUST exist or else there is no survival. The existence of society IMPLIES that there is an intrinsic value for preservation of other individuals in a community.

The existence of a rogue that chooses to deviate from society does not overturn the basic premise of what I'm saying. It's just a red herring.


"Or societies?"

Already addressed this.


"And here’s the big question of the night. If this stuff was all instinct, why do we have to teach our children the opposites?"

Because children are still in a developmental stage. Come on! That's your big question of the night? You can do better than that. I can't believe that you were even serious.

I already talked about the severely delayed development of a human offspring as compared to most other species. See, the disadvantage of being the most highly intelligent species is that we're woefully unequipped for the first fifteen or so years of our lives. The child lacks both the maturity and the experience to have a complete grasp right and wrong. But it does come with time. I mean, even young adults do incredibly stupid and immoral things that they letter grow out of naturally.


"But there are an awful lot of people out there who cheat on their taxes, steal from stores, lie to bosses… the list goes on and on, and yet they have a lot of friends."

Rogues in society. Already addressed it.


"And yet, 'you believe' that science will one day fill in all those gaps!"

Another strawman. No, that would be incredibly arrogant to think that science could fill ALL gaps. Jon said that science would fill the gaps to such a degree that God would become superfluous. He didn't say that one day scientists would know everything.


"But until it’s a fact, you have faith (I know, it holds a bad stigma for you guys) that science will eventually get there."

And yet ANOTHER strawman. I don't have faith that science will ever "get there", wherever "there" is, nor does any scientist that I know of. I believe that science will make new discoveries and revise itself again and again, but that's a reasonable assumption, because that's what science is supposed to do. It's a tool for learning. It's not some magical force that I have faith in.


"And here’s the thing. Christianity is always having to adapt to the new science findings. Christianity didn’t die when Galileo turned the universe around. It didn’t die when Darwin proved evolution. It won’t die if Adam and Eve end up being a figurative couple, rather than literal."

Well, I'm glad that you're able to revise your view of the world based on what you learn. I wish more Christians would do that. The Discovery Institute, Answers in Genesis, and the Institute for Creation Research is full of people who refuse to do that. Join us in denouncing them.


"I said earlier, the only thing that will destroy Christianity is if Jesus’ body was found."

So, the best physical evidence we have for Christianity is "no dead Jesus". I see.


"You may not value it, but you adhere to it. Void of fact, there has to be belief in something. If you didn’t believe that science could find a new planet, you would stop looking."

No! The beliefs held in science are not "void of fact". Beliefs in science are built upon reason and supporting evidence. Astronomers continue to look for planets because they KNOW that planetary formation is a phenomenon and they KNOW there's a whole sky full of shit that they've never had a chance to look at closely. They continue looking because they've already found planets. Your caricature of science is completely ass backwards. ...and insulting. ...and asinine.


" If you didn’t believe that science could find a cure for cancer, you’d stop trying."

Again, this is a strawman. If scientists believe that a cure for cancer can be found, it is purely on a theoretical basis (but that may not mean anything to you, since you apparently don't know what that word means). Your caricature implies that scientists are looking for a cure on a hope and a prayer, as if to poke around blindly for some magic substance that cures cancer. Or at least, that's what the caricature would be if we took YOUR definition of belief.

The belief that a cure for cancer could be found is based on what we know about cancer. I wouldn't believe that you could be so foolish as to make such an argument if you hadn't already demonstrated your amazing ignorance. It's not like scientists haven't gotten CLUES that cancer could be stopped. I mean, do you even know what cancer IS? It's an uncontrolled growth of organic tissue caused by a harmful mutation. Do you not realize that medical science is already moving into the territory of genetic treatment? Do you not realize what gene therapy is and what it's capable of doing for cancer patients?

Clearly, you don't read about science. That's pretty insulting to me. When someone wants to challenge me on my principles, I expect them to put a little effort into it. You seem like a nice guy, but you need to step off and you need to do a little reading. No, you need to do A LOT of reading. And yes, you need to read more than just this blog. Seriously, at least Google this stuff before you post it. It'll keep you from looking like a total idiot.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"But Neil keeps saying forget about Darwin."

Oh jeez, you can't even quote people right in the same thread.

I didn't say "Forget Darwin". I said that he's not a modern biologist. The point was that creationists often try use Darwin's words in an AUTHORITATIVE context, as if modern biologists are forbidden from havind ideas different from or more advanced than that of Darwin.

Like I said, Darwin is a not a prophet. He was a man. And now he's dead. ...For the last 150 years.

Quoting him in a conversation about modern biology would sort of be like quoting the Wright Brothers in a conversations about the aerodynamics of modern commercial air travel.

yanka said...

I am truly curious what you all think a world of atheists would look like. Not that there can't be moral atheists out there (without a God though, morality becomes relative). If you see a better car than you have, why not steal it, drive it away? Or if someone makes you mad, why not cause him harm?

I don't steal or harm because it's wrong - not by some ephemeral social/religious moral standard, but by my own, extremely clear understanding of what would feel "good" or "bad" to me. Stealing would definitely feel very “bad”, and wrong, on all sorts of levels. The potential gain from a brand new car would not outweigh the loss of self-respect, not to mention the plethora of other generally "bad" feelings - sadness for the guy that lost his car, inability to be proud that I've earned the car, the Kantian notion that I've perpetuated/endorsed theft, etc. etc. As far as physically hurting someone - that's even more extreme. I wouldn't want to hurt someone - that would make me sad, and unhappy, and guilty. Not only would it give me absolutely no pleasure - I don't see myself ever doing it (as in, I’m not either emotionally or mentally capable), period, so I can't even estimate the extent of discomfort I would experience. Seeing someone get harmed, and especially physically hurt makes me unhappy. If it were me doing it, I would probably feel even more unhappy – so why would I possibly do it?? I know all the reasons why I would NOT hurt someone, but I don’t understand why this question is even being asked. Why WOULD I hurt someone – what possible reason I, a reasonably well-adjusted, socially adapted, and mentally stable person, would have to contemplate hurting someone in the first place? I can’t think of any such reason.

That’s why I'm always baffled when I hear/see people ask questions like this. Why would YOU not steal from someone or harm someone? If you're honestly telling me that it's because your God told you so, that your God is your only reason not to steal or hurt people, than I'm really sad for you. And for myself, too. Because if your God's permission is the only thing holding you back, that means that if he told you it was ok, then you would steal and you would harm, right? Which, I guess, is bad news for me and my car.

There becomes no reason for self-control. For patience, for gentleness... for LOVE! (except the easy kind to those who already love you).

These statements are just as baffling. Your God is the only reason to be patient and gentle? What??? What about Plato who promoted these very values and, as lots of Christian scholars argue, was a huge influence on the Christian moral framework? His religion was pretty much the opposite of Christianity. And, I’m sorry, but when I think about “LOVE” for people that don’t necessarily love you, I find it difficult to ascribe it to the Western Christ with his sword and the hell fires. Dalai Lama with his insistence on non-violence, and patience, and gentleness towards everyone indiscriminately somehow seems to personify the concept a whole lot better. CLEARLY, it is not at all necessary to be a Christian, a monotheist, or even a theist at all to encourage people to be patient and gentle and loving.

And, you know, your “self-control” part is the most disturbing one. I don’t have to CONTROL myself not to steal or not to hurt to someone. I don’t have this desire, or even the inkling of a desire to begin with – there is simply nothing to control. For me, and for most (all?) people I know. But, I guess, there is for you – and I find that frightening. If you’re telling me that your faith is all about holding yourself back from wanting to do bad things, then I hope you never lose your faith.

Oh, and btw – “without a God though, morality becomes relative”. No, it doesn’t. With your particular God, morality already was relative, as we obviously no longer think that slavery or genocide or death penalty for adultery is alright. For that matter, I’d really like to know – what original, distinct moral values did Christianity invent?

yanka said...

“the only thing that will destroy Christianity is if Jesus’ body was found.”

Yeah, that is not correct. It might destroy [a] particular brand[s] of Christianity. It certainly would make the Gnostics rejoice – but there aren’t too many of them left, of course. They were taken care of by their loving brothers – the other Christians that found the Gnostic belief too heretical to be allowed to remain. Your statement would probably also be quite insulting to Orthodox Christians, whose concept of Christ’s body is quite different from the Western Christian one. I feel rather odd, as a non-Christian, to let you in on such things.

double2 said...

I don't have much time in the next couple days for blogging. So don't think the questions have silenced or scared me away.

But... yanka. What are you referring to in the Orthodox Christian church? I have read their creeds and they believe, just like Protestants, that Christ lived, died and rose again. And Christianity falling apart if Jesus' body were found aren't my words, but the Apostle Paul's. Point me in the direction that you get your statement from.

Jon, again, a bit confused. I'm going to try to get to the library today and get the Darwin book. But at one point you said "Darwin's work is important in a historical context, to be sure, but to think that reading his works give you an understanding of the topic today is similar to thinking that learning how log cabins were built will teach you how to make a skyscraper." And yet, is he the last one to try and explain where morality would come from?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

...Right. And that shows just how arbitrary Christianity is. It's hilarious to hear Christians talk about their faith as a moral standard when they CHOSE to believe it, and they can't even decide on which version is correct.

I was actually thinking about that myself. Ironically (and getting back to the topic here), one of the main reasons that people are trying to push for intelligent design in our school systems is because they see modern science's depiction of Earth's history as being directly contradictory of the account of creation as told in the book of Genesis.

The point being that if evolution happened, then the story of the fall didn't happen. And if the fall of man didn't happen, then Jesus' sacrifice on the cross didn't happen or wasn't necessary. After all, why would Jesus die on a cross for our sins if that sin didn't even occur?

Compartmentalizing Christianity down to just the death and resurrection of Jesus is an arbitrary and desperate attempt I've seen before where theists think that they're going to save Chrisianity by reducing it down to those components they think nobody will ever disprove.

After all, as long as nobody ever finds a dead Jesus (like we'd even know it was him if we found him!), Christianity can never be disproven. And this is the best physical evidence he has for Christianity.

That's sort of like saying, as long as we never find the body of Jimmy Hoffa, you can never disprove that he was abducted by space aliens and taken to Alpha Centauri.

Jon Voisey said...

double2

I think you're getting confused between Darwin and Dawkins. The former is the originator of the theory that is largely changed. The latter is a modern, living biologist and atheist and the one that's written the books I've referred you to.

Another book you may want to see if you can find is Creationism's Trojan Horse by Barbara Forrest. Since you've said you're pretty new to this "debate", this book is (of everything I've read) the one that most clearly puts the goals of the Intelligent Design movement into the clearest light. Sadly, I read that book (as well as Selfish Gene) before I began writing the summary/reviews. Perhaps at some point, I'll add it back to my reading list and do so then. Sadly, with the speed I read, my current reading list is already over a year long.

double2 said...

Thanks for the clarification. I would have been looking for Darwin. Dawkin's Selfish Gene and Forrest's Trojan Horse.

See you in a few days :)

double2 said...

Jon- have started reading. Will you have the same consideration, if your schedule allows? Will you read Francis Collins' Language of God and CS Lewis, Mere Christianity? Both fairly short and easy reads.
Thanks.

Michael said...

*Nowhere in any science (evolution, big bang, or any others besides quantum mechanics) does "something" come out of "nothing".

The big bang relied on raw material, where did that raw material come from? It is certain that the raw material is not eternal.

*no answer in the Darwin book

Michael said...

Here is another site (big-bang-theory.com)which believes in evolution) that also disagrees with your none darwin book answer...

The Big Bang theory is an effort to explain what happened at the very beginning of our universe. Discoveries in astronomy and physics have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that our universe did in fact have a beginning. Prior to that moment there was nothing; during and after that moment there was something: our universe. The big bang theory is an effort to explain what happened during and after that moment.

Jon Voisey said...

double2
Will you have the same consideration, if your schedule allows?
Again, I'll direct you to my reading list which is already quite extensive. If you truly wish me to read those, they will be added to the end of the list and will most likely take me at least a year to get to.

Michael
Sorry Michael. That site and its affiliates do not accept evolution. Additionally, it presents many falsehoods, including the one you are quoting.

I'll direct you to this post for a better explanation instead of wasting my time retyping it all here.

Bad said...

Michael, you are precisely the sort of confused person that this film is designed to create more of.

The "Darwin book" does not need or purport to explain the origin of the universe. That's just nonsense, and made even sillier given that that book, like all past works, is of historical interest only, not scientific authority. Science does not have "proof texts" or sacred writings.

As an aside, you are still quite wrong in insisting that any modern theory of the early universe claims that something came from nothing. The Big Bang describes the early universe (i.e. the origin of the universe AS WE KNOW IT), not the known ontological beginning of anythings' existence. Put simply, we do not know or even know how to begin to describe what the universe or anything else might have been like prior to the seeming singularity implied by the Big Bang. Declaring that it involved "nothing" is thus, and perhaps always, premature.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

I just had a thought, Jon. We've been talking about the God of the gaps a lot here. I forget sometimes that it doesn't just apply to science. Christians use the God of the gaps when talking morality, too. They use the exact same "God did it" mentality, because God forbid (pardon my ironic sense of humor) that there be a perfectly NATURAL explanation for human morality.

double2 said...

Neil,
Can you give me a list of the natural moral laws? What are they? The library had to "order out" for the Selfish Gene book. I assume that the list is in there. But can you give me a start? And then an example of what you mean by a moral gap that God fills in? Is there some natural moral law that is not one of God's laws that Christians break and then say it is God's will?

(Please do not include in there all the atrocities that have been committed in God's name! Remember, I am a historian, and well aware of all the black eye's the Church has created. So I'm not asking for examples of man making HUGE mistakes. But in the theory of it all. Are there laws that conflict?)

Anonymous said...

Dude, you're arguing with a cartoonist (Mr.Neil) not a scientist. He just regurgitates what he has been told.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"Dude, you're arguing with a cartoonist (Mr.Neil) not a scientist. He just regurgitates what he has been told."

Shut up, you fucking moron! I'm more than capable of standing on my own two feet.

By the way, thanks for the plug, but would it have hurt you to provide a link?

"Can you give me a list of the natural moral laws? What are they? ... Is there some natural moral law that is not one of God's laws that Christians break and then say it is God's will?"

I didn't say there were "natural moral laws". Stop projecting your bankrupt sky king morality onto me. I don't believe in authoritative morality that is decreed by law, or did you miss that from the last ten thousand times I said it?

I already explained to you the basis for morality and the consequences that follow from anti-social behavior. Destructive behavior has its consequences, because OTHER PEOPLE exist, too, and they will stop you if threaten them. Your well-being in a secular moral system is founded on your ability to be a stable member of society.

Do you understand? Your parody of secular morality doesn't hold up.

Stop trying to *win* and actually think for a change. You are wrong in your supposition of authority-based morality. And I've shown that you don't even follow it, anyway.


"And then an example of what you mean by a moral gap that God fills in?"

YOUR OWN ARGUMENTS! You've been using the God of the Gaps all along! That was my entire point for bringing it up!

Here are your own quotes...

"If there is not a single author of morality, then we all get to decide what’s right for us."

This is called an argument from personal incredulity. In other words, you don't see how morality can exist without God, so you make an assumption that there is no morality without him.

And here you are attributing morality to God, on the basis of absolutely nothing...

"I don’t think we share all of the same values, and I would beg to argue that they were long God’s before science’s."

GOD OF THE FUCKING GAPS!

I wasn't even talking about science. I was talking about the implicit morality that stems from the human condition. You do realize that science doesn't say anything about morality, right?

Seriously! I'm not kidding. Ditch this crap that you've read from apologetic websites. What you've been told about atheism simply is not true. You need a ground-up re-education about the nature of atheists.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Here are some more examples of you using God of the Gaps. The parts where invent gaps for God to fit into are in bold text...

"Jon had said that he thinks as science fills in the gaps, God will become superfluous. What are the repurcussions of that? What would the world look like if it was full of people who had no purpose? If there is no God who created the order, and the laws of the universe and the absolute truths of morality, then we would all live for our own interests. There would be no justice in the afterlife, nor would there be mercy and grace."

That's cute how you assume that order has to be "created" by an intelligent being who, ironically, doesn't have to answer to anybody. What would such a being know about morality?

Your suggestion is that we answer to no one other than ourselves, which is untrue.

God of the gaps. We answer to EACH OTHER.

Here's another one...

"There could be no higher calling of humanity to greater humanity. If a dictator wants to take out 6 million Jews, that's his perogative."

The implication being that unless God is there to fill the gaps for morality, there's no reason to stop evil genocidal monsters from committing acts of horror. And there are absolutely no consequences for complacency, are there?

Oh... except that there are. Letting murderers roam free without resistence means less civilized allies that we have, should someone do the same thing on our side of the Atlantic. I don't know about you, but I think it's in my best interests to keep Europe free of despots.

Just because you couldn't take the time to think it out doesn't mean that there aren't perfectly good reasons to act morally. And the fact that you didn't have imagination enough to do so is CERTAINLY no defense of Christian theism.

God of the gaps, again.


"I am truly curious what you all think a world of atheists would look like. Not that there can't be moral atheists out there (without a God though, morality becomes relative). If you see a better car than you have, why not steal it, drive it away? Or if someone makes you mad, why not cause him harm? There becomes no reason for self-control. "

In other words, you can't see a good reason for acting responsible, therefore you assume there is no reason. ...Oh, except for the fact that other people wouldn't put up with it. Isn't it funny how Christians always forget about the existence of OTHER PEOPLE. (What was that definition of a sociopath, again? ...Oh.)

Let's use your logic and show how bankrupt it is. Why do you pay your bills every month? Why not let them go? You can decide that your utility company doesn't deserve your cash this month. There's no reason to do so.

Other than the facts that it's the honest thing to do, there are perfectly objective reason for paying your bills that have nothing to do with following God's laws. For one thing, you get to keep the service going. Duh. Another is that it helps build your credit. In fact, the faster you pay, the better your credit.

It's in YOUR BEST INTEREST to cooperate with other people in society. You asked what the consequences would be of behaving immorally in a secular society. Well, I would argue that there are consequences if you DON'T.

The answer is to stop relying on the gaps and use your brain.

Anonymous said...

As a lover of science and physics specifically, I am always amazed that intelligent people CHOOSE NOT to see what is so obvious to the vast majority of people on this planet, that we have been created, and for a purpose! Such vitriolic protestation by athiests only confirms and strenghtens the observation that you "protest too much" if you really believed there is really nothing there.
The truth of this film only scratches the surface of the truth, so matter how many objections you try to concoct.
Steve

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Alright, Steve. You wanted a level response. You got it.

"As a lover of science and physics specifically, I am always amazed that intelligent people CHOOSE NOT to see what is so obvious to the vast majority of people on this planet, that we have been created, and for a purpose!"

Argumentum ad Hominem + Agrumentum ad Populum

By "choose not", you mean to imply that I and other atheists are deliberately denying the truth. You know, attacking your opponent isn't a very good scientific argument. Perhaps you'd like to try to give us the scientific model for intelligent design.

The fact is, you have nothing that supports intelligent design, and no appeal to the majority is going to change that. Or are you proud of being part of the heard? Ba-a-a-ahhh!

Most moms can defeat this argument from popularity. If the majority of the people on the planet jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too? If the majority of the people believed that the Earth was flat, would you, too?


"Such vitriolic protestation by athiests only confirms and strenghtens the observation that you "protest too much" if you really believed there is really nothing there."

How do you "protest too much" when that which you protest is dishonesty? You can never protest dishonesty enough. This movie is a disingenuous rotting turd that is trying to garner sympathy for people who betrayed the trust of the scientific community, and it does so by hiding the facts.


"The truth of this film only scratches the surface of the truth, so matter how many objections you try to concoct."

...Even if those objections are warranted and justified? Are you presuming the "truth" ahead of the facts there, pally? As an alleged lover of science, I think you would know better.

Jon Voisey said...

I am always amazed that intelligent people CHOOSE NOT to see what is so obvious to the vast majority of people on this planet, that we have been created

As Neil has already struck on, the "obvious" truths are not always correct. The Earth appears flat, but is not. Matter appears dense, but is not. The universe appears empty, but is not.

If you are truly a lover of science, I'm sure you can surely come up with countless examples of instances where the "obvious" answer was incorrect. As such, we scientists trust not the obvious, and instead, go with the empirically sound.

The truth of this film only scratches the surface of the truth, so matter how many objections you try to concoct.

What "truth" does this film contain? That people were fired for their pro-Creationist beliefs? My main post clearly shows that this is a falsehood (ie, not "truth").

That without Darwin there could be no Holocaust or Nazis? Again, analysis of history shows that genocide was committed long before the Beagle ever sailed. Again, an untruth.

So, Steve, please enlighten me as to what truths this film shows, for the only one that I'm capable of finding is that Creationists are astoundingly dishonest as is revealed by the facts I have highlighted in the main post.

Anonymous said...

It is a film depicting the beliefs and points of view of creationists and ideologies of darwinists. Yes the movie is aimed towards the creationist side of the story; however without watching it in its entirety it would be unjust to make any judgement calls. This film is along the lines of others that came before it; which question the existence of God and more than any other religion, Christianity. I am a Christian by faith; however I did not attack the DaVinci Code or ZeitGeist, for they are mere ideologies and theories formulated by men or women no better than I. A simple film, a documentary should not be of enough strength to shake anyone's faith or lack there of for that matter. I will watch this movie as objectively as I have watched films questioning the truth behind Christianity and God. As far as the dishonesty is concerned, glooming around this film and its producers' intent, I could see why they choose to stay objective until the interviews were completed. The interviewees, just as they stated themselves; would either have denied to conduct an interview, or would have done so in an aggressive stance in disagreement of the subject. In order to achieve true objectivity the interview would had to have been conducted on neutral grounds. I for one will be highly disappointed if any portions of the interviews are cut out of the film; as I often am more interested in the opposite side of the argument, especially on this topic. Protesting about this movie and complaining about the dishonesty of the producers are no better than fundamentalist Christians protesting at Harry Potter conventions. It is silly, the movie is depicted from a creationist point of view and is greatly outnumbered by darwinist documentaries; thus all I can say is let it be heard, and be judged so upon the conclusion through critical thinking instead of bias.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"however without watching it in its entirety it would be unjust to make any judgement calls."

Bullshit. The premise of the movie is explicitly dishonest, and those that the movie claims to be persecuted are known to be either inept, dishonest, or both.

Furthermore, Ben Stein has shown in various interviews that he clearly doesn't understand evolutionary theory.

And the movie is backed by one of the most notoriously dishonest creationist organizations in existence. Given that their previous film Icons Of Evolution, which I have seen, was a total abomination of lies and deception, why should I expect any less from them now?

Has intelligent design advanced in the six years since Icons? Not a bit! It's still the same untestable pile of crap it was back then. There is no theory, no model, no testability, and no honesty involved in Intelligent Design.

Unless they've somehow purged all of the stawman arguments against evolution (and I KNOW they haven't), then there's no reason to assume that this movie might contain even one stitch of accurate information.

And even if the movie somehow squeaks by without any of the usual evolution strawmen, there has still never been a theory of intelligent design published. Until then, the point of this movie is pretty much moot.

You can't grant scientific credibility to people who don't want to do science.


"I am a Christian by faith; however I did not attack the DaVinci Code or ZeitGeist, for they are mere ideologies and theories formulated by men or women no better than I."

Those are fictional books; not academic publications. I don't know much about ZeitGeist, but DaVinci Code is about as plausible as Jurassic Park is scientific. (...That is to say, not at all.)

Read: The DaVinci Hoax


"A simple film, a documentary should not be of enough strength to shake anyone's faith or lack there of for that matter."

No, and this movie will be entirely unconvincing to people who understand science. However, that's not the issue. The issue is that the movie is lying to an audience who doesn't have experience to detect the frequent inaccuracies and strawman attacks that litter your average creationist publication.

We SHOULD say something about that.


"As far as the dishonesty is concerned, glooming around this film and its producers' intent, I could see why they choose to stay objective until the interviews were completed. The interviewees, just as they stated themselves; would either have denied to conduct an interview, or would have done so in an aggressive stance in disagreement of the subject. In order to achieve true objectivity the interview would had to have been conducted on neutral grounds."

Oh, so you're saying that the ends justify the means. It's okay to lie to evolutionary biologists to achieve a desired goal. Why is this such a common theme for Christians?

Don't you think that the reason some scientists avoid interviews is because of dishonesty like this? Would you want to be interviewed by people who have to lie to get interviews?


"Protesting about this movie and complaining about the dishonesty of the producers are no better than fundamentalist Christians protesting at Harry Potter conventions."

Except that Harry Potter is a work of fiction and isn't intended to teach children that magic is real.


"It is silly, the movie is depicted from a creationist point of view and is greatly outnumbered by darwinist documentaries;"

What the hell is a "darwinist documentary". I think you mean SCIENCE documentaries.


"...thus all I can say is let it be heard, and be judged so upon the conclusion through critical thinking instead of bias."

The problem with that is that the movie's weaknesses are virtually invisible to a layman audience. Letting this movie be heard without a firm counter would be absolutely irresponsible.

double2 said...

Quick science question:
Is Pangea a concept that scientists think existed? or is it mythological?
Thanks. Been doing a lot of reading.

Jon Voisey said...

Yes. Pangea existed.

You didn't really need to come here to ask that. Google would have been just as easy.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

The classic example of the breaking of the continents is the fact that Africa pretty much fits right onto the side of Brazil. Amateurs like Kent Hovind like to pretend that that's the only reason anyone believes in it.

Actually, this is where the geologic column becomes quite fascinating, because the farther back you go, the more you see the convergence of species on land masses that were once joined.

And this is more or less the reason that you find older reptilian species, such as the crocodiles, pretty much everywhere in the world, but mammalian species not so much. Marsupials, particularly, are pretty much isolated to Australia, with only a few exceptions.

Additionally, fossil evidence has established that Antarctica was once lush and tropical, meaning that it wasn't always on the pole.

Anonymous said...

Can something come from nothing?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"Can something come from nothing?"

No. Fortunately, there's nothing in modern physics which claims that something comes from nothing.

...The only people who claim that something can come from nothing are CREATIONISTS!

Now go put on a dunce cap and write on a chalkboard a hundred times, "I will not repeat stupid bullshit creationist strawman arguments."

Anonymous said...

Before I go put on my hat and take to the chalkboard...

Please explain how the universe was created?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

It wasn't created. If you knew anything about physics, you'd know that time is relative. That means that time is a property of matter.

If you deny this fact, then you might as well also deny the theory of gravity. ...because that's exactly what you'd be doing.

Now put on your dunce cap and start writing.

Anonymous said...

Not just yet. So are you saying that the universe has always existed or did it have a beginning?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Additionally, the fact that science may not have a complete theory of the beginning of the universe does not work in your favor.

...unless you feel like employing that time-honored classic fallacy, the God of the gaps. ...Oh, and special pleading. And, of course, the argument from ignorance.

Go ahead. Do it.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Oh, you beat me to it. That's what I get for loading two Youtube videos while fielding comments.

"Not just yet. So are you saying that the universe has always existed or did it have a beginning?"

What do you mean by "always existed"? If you're asking if I think that the past goes on forever, then no. What I'm saying is that time exists WITHIN the universe. The universe itself is eternal.

If you go back in time, you don't go farther back than the big bang itself.

The human mind has this perception of time as it's this this transcendantal entity that, if you go far enough back, you can arrive at a period before the universe itself, but that's absolutely not what it is.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Niel,

I have yet to state my position. So, I would appreciate you showing some professionalism in keeping this discussion objective. All I am trying to gain is some clarification on your point of view. Again I asked, did the universe have a beginning?

Remember play nice!

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Stating your position isn't necessary. Your first question about "something coming from nothing" is a dead giveaway. A person who understand basic physics wouldn't ask something like that.

Again, it depends on what you mean by "beginning". There is a point of time at which you cannot go farther back. However, the universe itself is eternal and is not created.

There is a "beginning", but it's not a creation event. It's the point at which the universe begins to expand.

Jon Voisey said...

Anon: There is no way to know what happened prior to the big bang. The general notion is that something existed prior since, as you point out, something cannot come from nothing.

Thus, the most parsimonious position is to simply say the universe existed prior to the big bang. Introducing God(s) reduces the parsimony of the solution and thus, such extraneous bits can be trimmed with Occam's razor.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"The general notion is that something existed prior..."

It was always my impression that the big bang was the beginning, but you would certainly know better than I. Just to be clear, are you simply stating that there had to be something to go bang in the first place? Because I would definitely acknowledge that.

Okay, beyond that, I just have a little more to say about the nature of particular question. Yes, I have a habit of assuming that what kind of person I'm dealing with based on the nature of the question being asked, but this isn't entirely unwarranted. In my experience, 100% of the time, whenever someone has asked me if something can come from nothing, that person has turned out to be a creationist. Every single time.

It's sort of along the same lines as asking "Can a dog give birth to a cat?" The answer is pretty much the same. "No, because the prevailing theories say otherwise."

The problem is that the strawman versions of these theories are identical to the nature of the questions. I.e., the strawman of cosmology is "something comes from nothing", and the strawman of biology is "dogs can give birth to cats".

So yes, I am quite tuned to those questions when they come up.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Niel and Jon,

The point of the questions are to illustrate that there are things in this universe that have yet to be explained “absolutely” either by science or religion. Things that were considered scientific fact centuries earlier have changed and been redefined as new technology and theories have been developed to prove otherwise. That is to say that science is hopefully always moving forward towards the truth. To presuppose that we, as of April 7, 2008, have “absolute knowledge” of all things leads to arrogance and ignorance. I know that you would agree.

I am also not stating that religion, or God, is necessarily the answer. I respect the many points of views that I have read on this blog. We must always keep our objectivity. By this all possible explanations should be given the same weight and tested in light of ALL evidence. If you are taking it on faith that “Something” or “Chance” caused the big bang and that some form of the universe, which is unknown, existed prior to the big bang and the beginning of time, I will respect the argument. At the same time, I can’t knock someone for having faith that this “Something” was God.

I appreciate the opportunity for the dialog. You guys are obviously very schooled in this subject matter. Do I still need to put on the cap and head to the chalkboard?

Jared said...

Okay so for my two cents. Or a lot more
First so people can understand my background, I am a Christian. This is not however why I am posting. This entire argument has gone beyond the bounds of decency. I remain interested in the viewpoints of others but it seems to me that both sides are using circular logic, and repetitive arguments.
That having been said, here is my own view.

Both theories (ID and Evolution) have some major holes. I dont know the names of them because I dont subscribe or read any of the literature reviewing the two, only what they actually say.

I am by nature scientifically minded, and a very logical person. I arrived at my faith through my own examination of the world around me and examining the theories and belief systems that describe where it came from and how it got here. That having been said, ID fails to meet several standard scientific requirements and as such is a load of crap as a scientific theory. While I do believe everything was created, the actual stuff in ID is not up to a scientific standard.
As Isaac Aasimov said, (my paraphrase) You can not prove God exists and I can not prove he does not through science.

As for evolution, I was always under the impression that Darwin came up with Natural Selection, not evolution. As a Christian, to me Evolution is an acceptable theory as to how God created everything. Natural Selection to me is not. So to me the real problem seems to be a lack of understanding on both sides as to what bothers the other viewpoint. What bother's Christians (cant speak for others) is that The theory of Eveolution depends so much on Nature picking out who does and doesn't survive, and what bothers the other group (not all of whom are atheists) is that ID demands that everything else be thrown out the window.
However, the arguments on both sides focus on tossing out stuff that doesn't agree; the most unscientific way to argue that there is.

My own view is very simple, God created everything...I just don't know how. That I believe is where science comes in, it fills the holes in our understanding of an Infinite, Omnipotent, Omniscient being.

I don't mind if you disagree. I just want to see a lessening of the rhetoric (which means argument) and an opening of dialogue and honest looks at eachothers views.

I will respond to any honest and polite debate or questions. I will ignore flames or angry responses

The short and Deformed one known as Hideousdwarf
hope it didn't post twice

Anonymous said...

Jared,

As a Christian also, I ask respectfully; if I believe that the word of God is the truth, than any other argument for the creation of the world, and thus man, cannot be true as well. In other words, "evolution" of man from a non-created event cannot be correct at the same time the Bible; which states God created all. I only say this as a reason for the passion of those who argue each position. Therefore, I as a Bible believing Christian, can not in good conscience embrace any theory that does not start with God creating all. I believe that this point more that any other is why those that embrace evolution get aggravated with Christians and thus call us ignorant. On the other hand, I believe that those that embrace the scientific approach and evolution take the same stance; both cannot be true. They only choose to believe in those things that, in their opinion, can be scientifically proven or at least accumulate strong scientific evidence. Maybe some of the other guys that feel strongly about evolution can chime in on this point. I would assume they asked themselves, if strong (not absolute) evidence is pointing to evolution, how anybody rationally accepts any other position is beyond them; thus we must be ignorant. If Christians needed ALL to be proven beyond a doubt in order to believe, faith would be rendered useless. As you would probably agree Jared, faith is a major component and theme of the bible and resurrection of Jesus. I would love to hear other’s thoughts.

Sorry for any misspellings…I was in a rush.

Brian

Jon Voisey said...

Brian,

Keep in mind that although neither evolution, nor the big bang say that God was behind it, neither state anywhere that God wasn't involved or did not set these processes in action. Science cannot make claims either way since science cannot deal with things that are beyond nature (as presumably God is).

It is most certainly not true that those who accept evolution must reject religion. Ken Miller (who I've blogged about several times) is both a Christian and a Biologist that accepts evolution. There is no inherent contradiction unless you choose to take every word of the bible literally (which is a logical impossibility since this would require Genesis to contradict itself on the order of Creation).

However, although science doesn't stay, I, along with many other atheists, still consider the notion of God or religion to be logically indefensible given that science has rendered the entire position unparsimonious. In other words, God becomes superfluous and an unnecessary addition that can and should be trimmed with Occam's Razor. However, as I pointed out in this post, I recognize that this is a theological position and not a scientific one.

In regards to the comment about calling Christians ignorant, you're doing some poor conflation here. We don't call Christians in general ignorant, but rather, Creationists who reject evolution. This is not based on caprice, but rather a long standing history of Creationists (which includes ID proponents) to fail to even understand the basic principles of science or the theory which they are trying to rebut. As such, they must frequently resort to dishonesty as the film this topic is about does quite readily.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Brian is technically right. ...technically. If one follows the Bible to the letter, then it isn't compatible with modern biology. Of course, it's also not compatible with modern physics, which means you can kiss the theory of gravity good-bye.

I suggest a YouTube search for a video series entitled Why Young Earth Creationists Must Deny Gravity. It's long, but show that the YECs are up against more than just modern biology.

Brian is appealing to his arbitrary version of Christianity. Since religion is pretty much a hodge podge of plagerized myths, I tend not to bother Christians about how much of the Bible they take literally. In my opinion, it's still a compartmentalization, but at least the moderates aren't the ones so willing to arbitrarily reject our growing knowledge base depending on whether or not it affirms the creation myth.


"The point of the questions are to illustrate that there are things in this universe that have yet to be explained 'absolutely' either by science or religion."

Yeah, but science doesn't pretend to explain that which it doesn't know. Gaps in science remain gaps until they are filled with knowledge. ...if they're ever filled with knowledge.

The main problem with the God of the gaps is that it tries to fill in the gaps unjustifiably. If people feel comfortable doing this, that's fine, but it's not science.


"Things that were considered scientific fact centuries earlier have changed and been redefined as new technology and theories have been developed to prove otherwise."

So? Knowledge changes. That is the basis of scientific inquiry. Science, by it's very definition, is only a methodology of aquiring knowledge. It is not the infallible repository of truth.

The one thing taken for granted in science is that long established assumptions, could, in theory, be wrong. But that is why experimentation is a never-ending venture. The only theories in science that have ceased being tested are those that have been proven wrong.


"That is to say that science is hopefully always moving forward towards the truth. To presuppose that we, as of April 7, 2008, have 'absolute knowledge' of all things leads to arrogance and ignorance. I know that you would agree."

You're right, but science doesn't claim absolute knowedge, and it never will. That would be yet another strawman.


"I am also not stating that religion, or God, is necessarily the answer."

I would say that it's not an answer at all. It's meaningless conjecture to say "God did it".

Skipping ahead through all of the pretentious "fair and balanced" crap...


"If you are taking it on faith that 'Something' or 'Chance' caused the big bang and that some form of the universe, which is unknown, existed prior to the big bang and the beginning of time, I will respect the argument. At the same time, I can’t knock someone for having faith that this “Something” was God."

...Except that scientifically, it doesn't mean anything to say that. The movie is trying to stick up for people in academic positions who think that the meaningless conjecture that God (or an "intelligent designer") created the universe should stand as scientifically valid statement.

What it boils down is an appeal to ignorance. "I don't know, therefore I think it was God." A more appropriate statement is simply, "I don't know." Anything beyond that is unwarranted.

Scientifically.


"Do I still need to put on the cap and head to the chalkboard?"

Well, no, but you get a ruler slap on the back of the hand for being an enabler.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"...but it seems to me that both sides are using circular logic, and repetitive arguments."

Interesting point of view, but there's a problem with that...


"Both theories (ID and Evolution) have some major holes."

...and here's the problem.

Intelligent design is not a theory. Nobody has demonstrated that it is. In science, "theory" is not a synonym for "point of view", nor does it mean "guess" or "conjecture". Theories are supported by facts. They are testable and demonstratable. They are functional models. There is no model of intelligent design.

Now, in layman's terms, theory sometimes involves making guesses or having an opinion, but please keep in mind that when you say theory in a scientific context, those definitions are out.


"That having been said, ID fails to meet several standard scientific requirements and as such is a load of crap as a scientific theory."

Correctly stated. I would further posit that it is absolutely not a theory, because even for someone who believes in God, it says absolutely nothing about the natural world. It would be the same as asking a kid at a science fair how he made his volcano, and him answering "I made it.".


"As for evolution, I was always under the impression that Darwin came up with Natural Selection, not evolution."

Uh, natural selection is a component of evolution. The other component is random change or mutation. Darwin pretty much had both of those. What he didn't have, however, was knowledge of the genome itself.


"Natural Selection to me is not."

I don't understand this at all. Natural selection is actually the component by which the traits of a species are favorable in a given environment. Of the two components of evolution (mutation and selection), it is the more readily observable of the two. Do you know what MRSA is?


"What bother's Christians (cant speak for others) is that The theory of Eveolution depends so much on Nature picking out who does and doesn't survive..."

I've NEVER heard that before. Usually what gets their feathers in a ruffle is the idea of random mutation. Usually they IGNORE the part about natural selection. The typical anti-evolution argument is, "It couldn't have just happened by accident". They're referring to random mutation.

Besides, the term NATURAL SELECTION is somewhat of a misnomer, because the term "selection" implies that there's some sort of picking and chosing going on, and it seems as though there should be a sentient agent involved. However, what it's referring to is the environment itself being the factor in whether or not something survives.

I'm sure you've heard of the peppered moth. There are white moths and black moths, but the degree to which they blend into their environment depends on their survival. In a dark environment, the white ones stand out and are picked off by predators while the black ones remain hidden. This is a simplified example of how natural selection works.


"and what bothers the other group (not all of whom are atheists) is that ID demands that everything else be thrown out the window."

Well, sort of. What REALLY ticks the rest of us off is that ID demands credibility at the expense of scientific standards. In other words, science needs to loosen its stringent grasp on critique and criticism in order to allow intelligent design "a fair chance". (Even though that would be UNfair to virtually every other theory in existence!)

The problem is that ID proponents don't understand where this ultimately leads. They want to set the bar so low that you could basically teach anything. In fact, some politicians, particularly from Florida, are trying to write laws that say just that.


"My own view is very simple, God created everything...I just don't know how."

I understand that point of view, and "I don't know" is the single most honest and noble statement one could make. If there's one failing of the education system, it's that we've taught children that "I don't know" is not an acceptable answer.

The trick in this debate is for people to learn when to say "I don't know" instead of "God did it".

Anonymous said...

Jon and Mr Neil,

Thanks guys for keeping it professional. I appreciate the open dialog.

So your beef is not that I believe that God created everything (I have that right.) Your beef is that it should not be taught as a valid scientific explanation or "theory", correct?

If anything this dialog has at least made me want to investigate the arguments more closely.

As far as the authenticity of the bible; that is quite a dogmatic assertion. You state “religion is pretty much a hodge podge of plagiarized myths". I was not sure if you meant all religions or just the Holy Bible. Anyway, would you be willing to explain how you have reached such a conclusion? You can’t deny that there are places, people, and events documented in the books of the bible that have been proven accurate. As such, it would seem inappropriate to then confidently make a statement that it is a myth. If I have implied incorrect conjecture please let me know. That was not my meaning. I was seeking further clarification about you assertion.

I would like to clarify that I do not the entire bible literally; however I understand that it is an historical document written in several literary styles and must be interpreted using sound biblical hermeneutics. Therefore, as a Bible believing Christian I don’t have the luxury to pick and choose which biblical principles and facts I will believe and which ones I will not. I just can’t see how scientist like Kent Miller can believe in both, that seems contradictory.

One last question if I may, as an atheist how can one be so sure that God does not exist. I keep falling back to the fact that it seems like such an absolute answer. In order to rule that option out, you would have to be able to prove it beyond a doubt.

Later
Brian

double2 said...

I too am appreciating the dialogue, and the new tone. To Christians. Go read these two books. Owen Gingerich's God's Universe (a Harvard professor of astronomy who is also a believer) and Francis Collins's The Language of God (who was the director of the Human Genome Project, and a believer). These two books have given me an amazing education and insight. Evolution and Creation do not contradict each other (yet). It's Atheism and Christianity that are at odds. The belief, or non-belief in God are both beyond science.

Here's what Collins says about theory. "... the word 'theory' is not intended to convey uncertainty; for that purpose a scientist would use the word 'hypothesis'. In common, everyday usage, however, 'theory' takes on a much more casual context." I think one of the things that Christians are getting hung up on is the fact that we are using the same words as scientists/ evolutionists/ atheists, in the wrong way. Like Neil pointed out a long time ago, to me (in the blog) that atheist and evolution aren't interchangeable. I knew that, but I wasn't aware that I was doing it. Well, we also use theory incorrectly. Because science calls it the 'theory' of gravitivity, as well, but we don't doubt that there is gravity. This blog has helped to clarify WHY there is so much dissension out there. And a lot of it seems unnecessary. We're using the same words, with different meanings.

Anyway, if you want to really learn how God [could have] used evolution to create the world, I strongly suggest reading Collins book. He, afterall, mapped our DNA. Fascinating. And not too hard for us non-science folks.

Jon Voisey said...

Brian
would you be willing to explain how you have reached such a conclusion?

Since I wasn't the one that made that claim in this instance, I won't bother defending it, but will point to this post which does confirm that the bible is not entirely trustworthy. But you seem to have already gotten that.

I just can’t see how scientist like Kent Miller can believe in both, that seems contradictory.

Again, I can't defend Miller's position. The best I can do is refer you to his book, or at the very least, my summary/review of it. At the very least, I'd recommend looking at the part I quoted as it summarizes his position rather well.

as an atheist how can one be so sure that God does not exist

The same way you can claim that Invisible Pink Unicorns don't exist. Since we don't find any of the evidence for it at all convincing (especially Creationist nonsense), we use the default position of skepticism. Contrary to popular belief, it's not an absolute certainty, but rather a statement of insufficient evidence for belief. While you marvel at this, we marvel at the ability of theists to accept things without evidence.

double2
We're using the same words, with different meanings.

Quite true. And I think this again answers why we call Creationists ignorant. They claim to be using scientific language, procedures, and data, but either no idea what any of it means or outright lie in order to deceive people (again, see original post).

I hasten to add that the opposite is not often true. Many scientists that venture into this dialog (like Miller, Dawkins, and others) can speak "layman". Or even if you want to go to the extreme and discuss atheists being able to communicate, the overwhelming majority of atheists that I know (which is quite a few since I'm part of a national organization) were formerly religious. So we're able to talk to religious talk too.

Now if only the Creationists would catch up and be willing to actually work on such things...

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

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.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Sheet, I ain't-ah skared uh no lyin' liar cree-ay-shunist prop-uh-gandy, cuz! But I iz pist off about it.

You know, if every single thing you just said hadn't already been addressed, that post might actually warrant a serious response. I'll just assume that the last anonymous post was a parody. Very funny by the way.

I just can't tell if you're being ironically funny or intentionally funny.

Now, onto some real responses. First Jared...

"Thank you for clarifying Mr. Neil and no I do not know what MRSA is."

Well, since you clarified yourself, the point is moot, but I'll explain anyway.

I'm sure you've heard of strep throat. Strep is short for the medical term Streptococcus. It's one of many Gram-positive bacteria strains, meaning that it can retain a certain identifying stain or dye. in this group of Gram-positive bacteria is one particularly nasty strain called MRSA, which is short for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Unfortunately, it's becoming all too common these days. This particular strain of Staph came about when an earlier strain became resistant to the antibiotic methicillin, hense its full name. Essentially, a mutation within the bacteria enabled a new strain to emerge that is resistant to older forms of antibiotic treatment. The way in which the Staph has adapted to methicillin is an example of how natural selection works. The mutation survived because it was adaptable.

My father had it, and it's pretty nasty stuff. And it doesn't actually go away. You can fight it with antibiotics and make it go dorment, but if you cut yourself or do anything that opens the skin up, it can come back with a vengeance. And each time it comes back, you're basically hoping all over again that this stuff doesn't adapt to the newer antibiotic treatments, namely vancomiacin. When that happens, then that small pocket of resistance will be naturally selected to become harbingers of the next strain. Fortunately, that hasn't happened. ...Yet.

When you said that you had a problem with natural selection (perhaps a misstatement), my eyes widened. If you should ever find yourself infected with MRSA, you may want to adjust that assumption. It's pretty scary.

Maybe from this perspective, it's possible to see why I'm not particularly patient with creationists. In today's world, we're facing a changing climate pushing species into extinction and all sorts of new microbial threats, and yet we still have people who have the temerity to tell society that evolution doesn't happen. That's not okay.

And that's more or less why I feel that films such as this one are at the height of irresponsibility. Ben Stein has no right to tell people the things he's saying in this movie.

Anyway, onto Brian...


"Anyway, would you be willing to explain how you have reached such a conclusion? "

Because the mythical stories within the Bible are not unique at all. There were savior figures whose tales existed centuries before Jesus, such as Attis, Dionysus, Osiris, and Mithras, who basically all had the same basic architypal hero story. They were born of a virgin, resurrected on the third day, their father was God, and so on and so forth.

And these criticisms were around back in the days of early Christianity, too. Justin Martyr, in a classic case of special pleading, simply stated that the existence of prior savior figures was the work of the devil, trying to confuse the early Christians.

The fact that anyone takes the Bible seriously at all is just... strange.

You may want to go to your local library and check out books written by Robert M. Price.


"You can’t deny that there are places, people, and events documented in the books of the bible that have been proven accurate."

Well, of course. And there are people, places, and events documented in the Illiad and Odyssey, too. But do you think all the mystical crap that goes on in those books is real, too? Just because SOME parts are true doesn't mean EVERY part is true. That would be the fallacy of composition. Myth does not get a free ride just because it's packaged with historical fact.


"I would like to clarify that I do not the entire bible literally; however I understand that it is an historical document written in several literary styles and must be interpreted using sound biblical hermeneutics. Therefore, as a Bible believing Christian I don’t have the luxury to pick and choose which biblical principles and facts I will believe and which ones I will not. I just can’t see how scientist like Kent Miller can believe in both, that seems contradictory."

Well, it does seem to be a compartmentalization on Ken's part. I can't speak for Ken, but I do also find it strange that Dr. Miller can be a scientist with this body of evidence at his fingertips and somehow remain faithful to one particular religion. If he was a non-denominational theist, or a deist, I would find it less strange.

I would say that Ken Miller does have the ability to knock away which stories in the Bible are obviously mythical, but why he believes any of it at all, I couldn't say.


"One last question if I may, as an atheist how can one be so sure that God does not exist."

The same way we're sure that Zues and Thor don't exist. There's no particular reason to believe in any deity. Yahwey doesn't have anything going for him that any other god doesn't, except for the number of people who believe in him.

If we had to stop and conjure up an air-tight reason for doubting every arbitrary construct thrown in our direction, we'd be reduced to a catatonic state. It is the natural state to deny credibility to concepts that insist on authority rather than independent verification.

Besides, the world's creation that is described in the Bible clearly bears no resemblance to the real world. There are plenty of people out there trying very, very hard to explain how the archeological evidence some how supports the YEC version of history (i.e., Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, etc.), but none of it is very convincing.

...By the way, I'm perfectly well aware that mentioning Kent Hovind's name might actually be somewhat of a violation of Godwin's Law. Not all creationists/ID people like him or like being associated with him, so pardon me if you think he's as much of a buffoon as I do.

Jon Voisey said...

Neil (and others): Please do not reply to the obvious trolls. Their comments get deleted as soon as I see them so responses become out of context.

Anonymous said...

Why do you presume to dismiss the
ideas of the 'troll' as worthy of being deleted? Were his thoughts not designed intelligently enough for you? If all of the ancient history of the universe and life is a story of random, mindless, chaos, are we to believe that you, being a product of this mess, have now become the definitive gauge of properly ordered intelligent thought?

Will you delete these thoughts also Jon? Can you give good answers to these ideas without ad hominem responses?
Jon, even with our intelligence, modern science has not even come close to creating life. Let me say that again…even with all of the combined intelligence of all scientists in the world, man has failed to come even close to creating the most simple living organism. The Miller-Urey experiment only showed that with our intelligence, under unrealistic early earth atmospheric conditions, the best we could do is create a few amino acids, but not the right amino acids. Of course, even if the right amino acids had been produced, they would have needed to be sequentially arranged into complex protein machines, and they would have needed to be sequentially arranged into the integrated functioning mechanisms of the cell, but even then, only the ‘hardware’ of the cell would have been ready. A computer or cell with no software isn’t much good. The DNA would have to be placed into the cell hardware to enable its function and replication. So what came first, the living organism, or the information needed to make it? We are told to believe, and not to question, these men wearing lab jackets and pocket- protectors, who tell us that mindless dirt and chemicals created what they are unable to come close to creating. Come on guys, rise to the challenge, show us what you’ve got, and prove you are smarter than that dirt! As the proverb says… “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes; there is more hope for a fool than for him.”
The human eye has 136 million light sensitive rods and cones transmitting millions of electrochemical messages per second through a fiber optic cable called the optic nerve. Those messages, along with messages from billions of other cells are sent for processing by a three pound grey supercomputer which can store between 100 trillion and 280 quintillion bits of information and serves as a master control center, making trillions of decisions every second. Think dude, do you really believe such incomprehensible complexity is the product of wind, rain and erosion? Even if you throw in some lightening, it doesn’t happen on its own. Mind is only and always the product of mind…a Great Mind!

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. Plainly stated, if there is a God, some folks would have to face the reality that they are not ultimately in charge, and that they are accountable to One much greater than they…human pride and ego at work here.
Harvard Professor Richard Lewontin said "We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that 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, Billions and Billions of Demons, The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997. Also quoted in Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcy)
In other words, since we have dogmatically embraced materialism as a philosophy, we have had to redefine science to be a mechanism through which we can pump out only those materialistic theories which will support our assumptions. In so doing, we assure that any theory which may suggest design, no matter how reasonable and compelling the evidence it is built upon, must be rejected as ‘unscientific’ by definition. How convenient. Sadly then, much of science is not an open-minded search for truth, regardless of the spiritual implications that truth may suggest. It has been reduced to a search for only that evidence which reinforces the theories aligned with the reigning religious dogma of our day…atheistic materialism. Any scientist who rejects this dogma can expect an inquisition by its intolerant adherents, regardless of the strength of the scientific evidence presented. This is what the movie EXPELLED is all about. Obviously, just because someone wears a lab jacket and a pocket protector, doesn’t mean they are without presupposition, prejudice or the capacity to persecute those who differ with them.
C.S. Lewis said “Men became scientific because they expected Law in nature, and they expected law in nature because they believed in a Legislator”. Look at a list of the founders of entire branches of science, it is interesting to see that so many were believers in an Intelligent Designer…

Antiseptic surgery……………………………………….Joseph Lister
Bacteriology……………………………………………..Louis Pasteur
Calculus/ Dynamics……………………………………...Isaac Newton
Celestial Mechanics……………………………………...Johannes Kepler
Chemistry/ Gas Dynamics……………………………….Robert Boyle
Comparative Anatomy…………………………………...Georges Cuvier
Computer Science………………………………………..Charles Babbage
Electronics………………………………………………..John Ambrose Fleming
Electrodynamics………………………………………… James Clerk Maxwell
Electromagnetics/ Field Theory………………………….Michael Faraday
Energetics…………………………………………………Lord Kelvin
Entomology of Living Insects…………………………….Henri Fabre
Fluid Mechanics…………………………………………..George Stokes
Galactic Astronomy……………………………………….Sir William Herschel
Genetics…………………………………………………...Gregor Mendel
Glacial Geology/ Ichthyology……………………………..Louis Agassiz
Hydrography/ Oceanography……………………………...Matthew Maury
Hydrostatics……………………………………………….Blaise Pascal
Isotopic Chemistry………………………………………...William Ramsey
Model Analysis……………………………………………Lord Rayleigh
Natural History…………………………………………….John Ray
Non-Euclidean Geometry………………………………….Bernard Riemann
Optical Mineralogy………………………………………...David Brewster
Scientists who label as unscientific, all who conclude that the evidence points to the existence of a Designer, seem to have forgotten their roots.
I agree with what Denton says below...
"It is the sheer universality of perfection, the fact that everywhere we look, to whatever depth we look, we find an elegance and ingenuity of an absolutely transcending quality, which so mitigates against the idea of chance. Is it really credible that random processes could have constructed a reality, the smallest elements of which - a functional protein or gene - is complex beyond our own creative capacities, a reality which is the very antithesis of chance, which excels in every sense anything produced by the intelligence of man?"
(Dr Michael Denton, M.D., Ph.D. is a molecular biologist at the University of Otago, New Zealand.)

Jon Voisey said...

Why do you presume to dismiss the
ideas of the 'troll' as worthy of being deleted?


Because there are no "ideas". There's simply rehashed bullshit and poisoning the well fallacy.

modern science has not even come close to creating life.

Beside the point. Evolution has nothing to do with the origin of like. No strawmen. kthxbai.

The human eye has 136 million light sensitive rods and cones transmitting millions of electrochemical... blah blah blah... complexity....

No argument from ignorance/incredulity. kthxbai.

What motive might there be to reject such overwhelming evidence for the existence of an Intelligent Designer?

Only the lack of any evidence whatsoever. All you've given is logical fallacies. I'll start looking at it when there's some actual evidence.

The concept of a Designer or God carries with it certain metaphysical implications that to some would be quite unsavory.

Which is why atheists who don't have such restrictions, are less likely to commit crimes. Yeah. God makes people so good.

Regardless, I'm not interested in committing the Naturalistic fallacy. But don't let that stop you from throwing out more logical fallacies. That's all Creationists seem to be good at.

we have dogmatically embraced materialism as a philosophy

Another lie. We as a people have not. But in order to be testable (something Creationists have a good deal of trouble understanding) we must restrict ourselves to natural phenomenon.

Any scientist who rejects this dogma can expect an inquisition by its intolerant adherents, regardless of the strength of the scientific evidence presented. This is what the movie EXPELLED is all about.

If it's so simple, why have they had to lie so much to make their point? Why is it that when the cases are actually analyzed, they're not being persecuted for their beliefs? Why do other scientists like Ken Miller who believe in a God not get persecuted?

Sorry, your story fails.

Look at a list of the founders of entire branches of science, it is interesting to see that so many were believers in an Intelligent Designer

Yawn. More logical fallacies? A red herring this time? Pathetic.

There's a difference in saying you believe and saying something is science. Conflating the two isn't even as sneaky as the constant attempts to equivocate on the word theory.



If you want to post again, get rid of the stupid fallacies or I very likely will delete such nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Fallacies. Hmmmm. I can picture you putting your fingers in your ears and yelling 'fallacies, fallacies, fallacies'...Do you have any better rebuttals than that?

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.

Jon Voisey said...

Do you have any better rebuttals than that?

I'll start using better rebuttals when you start using real arguments.

double2 said...

And Merle, that is exactly the attitude that gives atheistic evolutionists the ammunition for saying that Christians are ignorant. Please go read. There are SO many believing scientists. Biologists, astronomers, chemists, physicists... do some research before you make those huge sweeping comments that really don't have any validity. The type of research you want to do is under 'theistic evolution'. It is the middle ground between atheism and Intelligent Design. There are thousands of scientists (real ones) that love the methods of science, but also believe in a Creator- a loving God who is intimately involved in His creation. You do so much damage making comments like that!

Jon Voisey said...

Again. We don't say Christians are ignorant. Rather Creationists are ignorant. And liars. And frauds. Etc....

double2 said...

Thanks for the clarification.

Anonymous said...

Intelligent Design is NOT a science. Therefore, it does not belong in science class. Another point is that most public school teachers have very little or no training in theology as compared to say, people in the clergy, i.e., priests, misnisters, pastors, etc. Sorry, I really don't think that these teachers are qualified to teach anything of religious substance.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"The type of research you want to do is under 'theistic evolution'."

I know what you're trying to say here, but, technically, there's not such thing as theistic or atheistic evolution. It's just evolution.

Theistic evolution makes about as much sense as theistic gravity.

double2 said...

Actually, Neil, there is such thing as theistic evolution. It's one of many things I have learned in my reading these past couple weeks. Evolution is science. It can be proven in a lab. In the science lab, you will never prove, or disprove God. Therefore, atheism and theism (the belief in God) remain outside of science. No logical argument will ever prove God, therefore it will always take faith. But the scientists who believe in God, like Asa Gray, Theodosius Dobzhansky and Francis Collins, subscribe to theistic evolution. Here's what Dobzhansky had to say: "Creation is not an event that happened in 4004 BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still underway... Does evolutionary doctrine clash with religious faith? It does not. It is a blunder to mistake the Holy Scriptures for elementary textbooks of astronomy, geology, biology and anthropology. Only if symbols are construed to mean what they are not intended to mean can there arise imaginary, insoluble conflicts."

It is not a "God of the gaps" theory. This sort of faith is destined for a dead-end, like Jon has been saying. The more science fills in those gaps, the less we need God. Rather, theistic evolution "proposes God as the answer to questions science was never intended to address, such as 'What is the meaning of life?' 'What happens to us after we die?'"

Francis Collins says that theistic evolution is the dominant position of serious biologists, who are also serious believers. Remember, he's the director of the Human Genome Project, so I'm sure he's had many religious conversations with his colleagues. He postulates that this theory is not more well known because it brings science and religion together in a way that creates harmony and we are a people who enjoy conflict and argument.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"In the science lab, you will never prove, or disprove God."

That's completely irrelevent.

What I meant was that there's only ONE theory of evolution. There is no divide. When people say "theistic evolution", they're splitting hairs based on whether or not the person who accepts evolution is a theist or not, which would be no different than arbitrarily categorizing any other theory in the same manner. (i.e., theistic gravity, theistic geology, theistic astronomy, etc.)

What should be noted is that whether or not one believes or disbelieves in God, evolution is the same process. In either case, God isn't stated as a factor in theory, not because the theory is antithetical to any sort of God, but because there's no reason to mention him.

In the same respect, if you look at the theory of relativity (E=MC²), you'll see that it states that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. Notice that God isn't in that theory either.

I understand that theistic evolution is the acceptence of evolution as a process that is governed by God, but if you're already a theist, calling it theistic evolution is kind of redundant.

double2 said...

I don't think it is splitting hairs. There is a big difference between the three philosophies. Atheism- there is no God. Creationism- there was no evolution. And theistic evolution- creation thru evolution. But like Fracis Collins says, it's a horrible name. He has proposed calling it BioLogos (life/word). The proponents of TE need to be able to label themselves something, no matter what you call it. Because if they say they are an evolutionist, that is only part true. I think it is a huge disservice to the Christian community that TE isn't more well known. I think the earlier comment of Merle (which Jon, I think you were totally appropriate in deleting) is not the belief of the majority of Christians. ie that there is NO evidence for evolution. However, I think that most of us don't know the extent to which science has actually proved the Big Bang and evolution. We hang on to that word of 'theory' and use it for uncertainity. Which, as already stated, is not the scientific definition or use of the word.

So, in all that, and of course, I still haven't seen the movie, but I'm assuming that it is actually going to do more damage to the ignornance already prevalent in the Christian community, regarding the scientific validity of these theories. It's going to get people angry and riled up against EVOLUTION!!! But they aren't going to do their own research.

The question that Christians need to grapple with, what is going to change about the character, or nature of God if it is proved that humans did evolve from chimps... on down to the simple cell? It turns the way we've been thinking about Him upside down, but really, from His perspective, what's the big difference? At some point, He would have to intervene to give us a soul, a conscience, the Moral Law. Of course, none of this will be proved with science. I think part of His creation intention was that enough would be left a "mystery" so that faith would always be a component.

So there will always be differing views. I just wish that there was some way for the two camps to come to some sort of harmonious existence. They don't have to be the polar views. The debates about the existence of God are interesting, but will never be settled with logical arguments. I never came here thinking I was going to convince atheists to believe that God existed. I came to learn. And wow! What a journey it has been. My faith in God is no less because I have learned so much about how the natural world works.

If nothing else, I hope that those who believe in God, who are reading this blog, can put aside some time to do some real researching. Stop throwing around the "scientific arguments" that are regurgitated within our community. Go do some reading. And for those who don't believe in God, that you can come to the table with a bit more patience, knowing why the miscommunication is happening... we use the same words, in the wrong way.

BTW, Jon, it is not very helpful, in the learning process, for you to just say "straw man" or "equivocation". Even though I know what the fallacy labels are, I don't know what part of the argument you are saying we are setting up unfairly. So, if you don't take it upon yourself to educate, you can just keep labeling them as you see them. But if you want to help people learn, it would be helpful if you gave the specifics.

Thanks for all your patience with me. Neil, too. I has been an incredibly enlightening experience.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a review of one of Moores movies. Anyone who thinks that ID is not a dirty word in acedemia today is a fool. ID is not religion, it's the reality of science finally realizing that there has to be a designer or creator. Call that religion or whatever, you cannot keep the discussion from eventually happening.
The problem with modern science today is that it is arrogant, and arrogance makes you blind and stupid.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Okay, I know Jon said not to respond to spammers, but this guy is asking for a pie to the face.

"Anyone who thinks that ID is not a dirty word in acedemia today is a fool. ID is not religion, it's the reality of science finally realizing that there has to be a designer or creator."

Yeah, and that creator just happens to be an athromorphic ghost who has a white beard, made a man out of dirt and a woman out of a rib, wrote a bunch of rules on a couple of stone tablets, sent his son/himself down in the flesh to die on the cross, and divinely authored a 66-volume collection of books that has been edited, mistranslated, redacted, and recanonized over several centuries bumbling theologians of the bronze age. Yeah, I think I know the identity of your intelligent designer.

Look, pally. Back in the 80s, there was this creationist text book entitled Of Pandas And People. It was explicitly creationist. But when creationism was shown for being the radical fundie Christian caca that it is, the authors of said book basically used the Find+Replace command on their word processor to change all references to creation and creationism to intelligent design. It was the exact same book only now it was "non-religious". (LOL!) And that book came up in the Dover trial, where it was instrumental in giving ID and its proponents the super atomic wedgie that they all deserved.


"Call that religion or whatever, you cannot keep the discussion from eventually happening."

Of course not. But this discussion will rage on for decades. But since the intelligent design movement has nothing to show for itself, it will never be called science.


"The problem with modern science today is that it is arrogant, and arrogance makes you blind and stupid."

Yeah, those scientists are really arrogant. That must be why science is always changing. Oh wait, if that's the case, then the opposite is true. Science isn't arrogant at all. One of the most important philosophies of science is that knowledge is ever growing, and we (the human race) must be willing to change our minds in the face of new data.

That would be the opposite credo of the intelligent design movement.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

And here's an interesting little tidbit from those "arrogant" scientists. This video comes from the nice young lady who runs the ERV blog. In this video, she explains, quite clearly, why it is that creationists and intelligent designers don't do science.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8433405459470913413&hl=en

And if you don't know what an ERV is, that would be short for endogenous retrovirus, and they are a slam dunk for evolution.

And yes, there are creationist responses to ERVs, but they all suck, and it's explained why on that blog.

Jon Voisey said...

ID is not religion

Really? I wonder what the founder, Phillip Johnson, of the entire ID movement has to say about that:

My colleagues and I speak of "theistic realism" -- or sometimes, "mere creation" --as the defining concept of our movement. This means that we affirm that God is objectively real as Creator, and that the reality of God is tangibly recorded in evidence accessible to science, particularly in biology.
- (source)

Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit, so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.
- Radio Broadcast, 2004

This isn't really, and never has been, a debate about science, it's about religion and philosophy.
- (Source)

The objective, he said, is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God. From there people are introduced to "the truth" of the Bible and then "the question of sin" and finally "introduced to Jesus."
- Church & State Magazine quoting Johnson at Coral Ridge Ministries

If we understand our own times, we will know that we should affirm the reality of God by challenging the domination of materialism and naturalism in the world of the mind. With the assistance of many friends I have developed a strategy for doing this,...We call our strategy the "wedge."
- Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds


And what does the "wedge" say again?

...replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan[sic] beings are created by God

And what about the textbook of choice? Pandas & People. Before EvA, it read

Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent Creator with their distinctive features already intact–fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1987, FTE 4996-4997, pp. 2-14, 2-15)

Immediately after, it read

Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact–fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1987, FTE 4667, p. 2-15)

Looks like a straight switch to me!

Hell, even this movie makes it clear that ID is a religious argument.

Come on troll. You'll have to do better than that if you want anyone to believe that ID isn't creationism's Trojan horse.

you cannot keep the discussion from eventually happening.

I'm not trying to. I'm just asking that the Creationists just stop lying. In the meantime, I'll just keep showing their arguments for what they are: Complete rubbish.

The problem with modern science today is that it is arrogant

Well, what can you expect when the best your side has to offer is so amazingly inept. There very well could be a bit of justified elitism there.

Anonymous said...

Is there no chance at all that ID could be true? Is that door shut completely?

I am a seeker and I am in the infancy of my journey. However, I put little stock in creationist who will not see evolution as an option or evolutionist who will not acknowledge creation as an option.

Even if it seems far fetched and it is a micro fraction of a percentage, at least there is room to be labeled "open minded" whether you are someone who supports ID or evolution.

Jon Voisey said...

Anon,

It's impossible to say whether ID/Creationism is true or not since it is an inherently supernatural proposition and there is no way to test such statements. I leave it open that it's a possibility but in no way is it probable or even worthy of honest consideration any more than Invisible Pink Unicorns are.

The door's not shut, but there doesn't seem to be any reason to suspect the door's actually there in the first place (setting aside the logical fallacies and lies from the Creationist camp of course).

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...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon Voisey said...

Sorry Julie. I'm not going to let you waste the space of 7 consecutive out of context and badly butchered quote mines.

Come back when you have a real and honest point to make.

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.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

I think you need some anti-troll spray, Jon.

Anonymous said...

Many excellent scientists are very spiritually fulfilled, and believe that I.D. has PHILOSOPHICAL validity but recognize that it does not have anything to do with science.

Of course, a lot of hacks prefer to buttfuck the scientific method and misuse scraps of data to put together the answers they want.

I'm sure Expelled would make Emanuel Velikovsky proud! (Any "Worlds in Collision" fans out there?)

epeeist said...

double2 - one of the things that atheists get thrown at them is "you can't disprove god's existence". Most atheists would accept this, all you can do is show that the probability of the existence of a personal god is rather low.

But theists don't practice what they preach. They take it for granted that Zeus, Apollo, Thor, Atum etc. do not exist. Not even a trace of effort to show this non-existence or low probability of existence.

Until you can demonstrate such a disproof then referring to your god as God is an act of hubris.

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.

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...

Nice projection. Would you like some cheese to go with that whine?

Dawna, go watch Ben Stein's movie. It's astoundingly religious. It's a rabble-rousing propaganda piece against atheism. There's barely any science in it at all. In fact, the movie doesn't even stop to define what the theory of evolution IS. In fact, it's clear from the get go that Ben Stein doesn't even have a high school level understanding of biology.

If there's anything to be afraid of, it's the way in which Ben Stein is characterizing people he doesn't even understand, and this isn't the first time he's done it. On 9-11, Ben Stein stated that ATHEISTS were responsible for the attacks. That's despicable! And now he's trying to associate the theory of evolution with NAZIS! Wouldn't you think that that is worth rebutting if you're the one being slandered? I do!

To answer your question, we're not scared of Ben Stein tearing down the mountain of evidence in favor of evolution (because he can't). If there's anything to fear, it's the amount of damage that people like Ben Stein and the Discovery Institute are trying to do to education system. Evolution is important science, and they're treating it with astonishing disrespect.

And no, we're not saying that we're more enlightened than anyone else. What we'd like, though, is for creationists to stop lying.

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.

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.

Anonymous said...

Can you enlighten me on what science has proved about evolution? In other words, what specific points(proofs) or stance are you, “Niel”, taking or submitting for discussion? This term has been thrown around rather loosely by many on this blog and I was trying to stay away from such general statements, which are impossible to expound upon. If we are going to debate, rationally, it might be nice to know what scientific certainties we are discussing.

dawna said...

On 9-11, Ben Stein stated that ATHEISTS were responsible for the attacks. That's despicable! And now he's trying to associate the theory of evolution with NAZIS! Wouldn't you think that that is worth rebutting if you're the one being slandered? I do

Neil, since you didn't define the theory of evolution, and I'm assuming you're not a Nazi, then why do you feel slandered? Again, why are you so angry?!

This is all very silly. Let's all get out of the sandbox. Let Ben Stein defend himself and his movie from anyone who was directly involved (i.e. PZ Myers, Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, etc.).

What we'd like, though, is for creationists to stop lying.

Since we only have control of our own actions, this is a moot point. BTW: I am an honest creationist. I don't condone or participate in lying.

Or useless debate for that matter.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Dawna: Troll.

1. I already told you why I'm angry. It's because of the lying and ignorance perpetrated by this movie and other creationist organizations. Ben Stein clearly lacks a basic understanding of biology to anyone whose ever picked up a science book, not only based on his movie but also the arguments he's presented in his interviews over the last several months. What he is saying bears no resemblance at all to what actual scientists say.

Your insinuation that I am angry because I am scared of creationist bullshit, as if it could ever overturn the evidence of evolution, is a pretty trollish ad hom and shouldn't even warrant response. And again, I apologize to Jon for doing so.

2, Did you miss all the other times that I defined evolution in this thread? It's a theory that models the dynamics of a biological system. It's the theory that random mutations are selected by environmental pressures. It's an applicable science in understanding the nature of germs, the ramifications of our impact on the environment, and so on. Not that difficult to understand. In fact, if you're still unclear on the topic, please stay tuned as I elaborate further while I evicerate Anon.

And did you somehow miss my point earlier that evolution has nothing to do with the social darwinist philosophy of Adolph Hitler, and the fact that they are completely contradictory? For a theory such as evolution that emphasizes benefits of genetic diversity, it seems somewhat counterproductive to commit genocide in the name of Charles Darwin. Apparently, Adolph Hitler thought that what the world needed was an uber race of inbred blonde-haired, blue-eyed people. Do I even need to explain why such an ideal would actually be an evolutionary dead end?

3. You have the audicity ask how Ben Stein slanders atheists when I gave you (and you then quoted) a perfect example.

Ben Stein: Nazis=Evolution=Atheism

Do I even NEED to explain why that's offensive?

Seriously, if you can't be bothered to read, then I'm not going to respond to you anymore.

Nnnnext?

Anonymous Troll:
"Can you enlighten me on what science has proved about evolution? In other words, what specific points(proofs) or stance are you, “Niel”, taking or submitting for discussion? This term has been thrown around rather loosely by many on this blog and I was trying to stay away from such general statements, which are impossible to expound upon. If we are going to debate, rationally, it might be nice to know what scientific certainties we are discussing."

First of all, "we" are not going to debate. You're not going to goad me into a debate, especially when there are resources far beyond my ability to cover the subject. If you want to learn about evolution, you can read a book. Layman, such as yourself, aren't in need of a debate, but an education. You seem to have missed my having said that already to someone who is far less snide as yourself.

Second, science hasn't "proved" anything about evolution that isn't any more observable to the average layman. In other words, you can actually go places in the world where species have diversified beyond the point of interbreedability (ironically, such a phenomenon regarding rabbits is identified in a Kent Hovind seminar). You can observe ring species by simply following the trail of gulls around the northern hemisphere, where most, but not all, of the populations in the ring species are interfertile. You can observe species of common ancestory that CAN interbreed that cannot produce fertile offspring. You can observe isolated populations of common descent that have become specialized to their environment, such as Darwin's finches. This phenomenon is CALLED evolution. What the theory of evolution proposes is a dynamic model that accounts for this phenomenon.

Of course, it helps that, since the entire genome of the chimpanzee has been published, that scientists can compare it to our own and find clear indications of common descent. Not only is our second chromosome a fusion of two chimp chromosomes, but we also share a damning number of endogenous retroviruses. Of course, if you really want to learn about evolution, you could, you know, read a book.

Third, my name isn't that hard to spell. Troll.

...

Okay, Double2:
By the way, thank you for showing the fruits of the spirit.

At the risk of going way off topic, I wanted to point out something you may find interesting. I know I mentioned it before, but you may want to pick up the books of Robert M. Price. Robert M. Price is an atheist religious historian and scholar. What's interesting about Dr. Price is that he considers himself an atheist Christian, which is completely bizarre, I know. But what Dr. Price has found is that there's inspiration to be found in the Bible without necessarily believing it as historical, and he attends church regularly. What Dr. Price does believe in is the good teachings of the Bible without necessarily believing that Jesus (or anyone) was or could be the son of God. And this is a fascet of religion moving into an inspirational movement (as opposed to a faith-based construct) is completely lost on the religious right, but it's something that's out there. Fundamentalist Christians assume that atheists are a bunch of angry monsters who want to destroy the Bible and hate God... yadda yadda... But in reality, the Bible could be something that we (all of us) could appreciate if we could just depolarize these issues.

In the same respect, I won't advertise myself here, but I happen to be a non-professional writer. As such, I find inspiration in fantastic stories, but it's very difficult for me to approach the themes of the Bible, because of the negativity being caused by people of fundamentalist, Bible-thumping faith. I even have C.S. Lewis books on my shelf, and I enjoyed the Chronicles Of Narnia when I was kid, and I was a non-believer then, too. They're wonderful stories, but I couldn't bring myself to see the movie in the theater. Maybe I'll see it on cable one day.

But nowadays, I find myself despising the stories in the Bible, not because there's anything particularly wrong with them, but because they're being offered up as literal historical facts, and I'm forced to read way more into them than was ever intended by the author. And that's the problem with a canonized Bible, is that we're forced to ignore context in favor of making everything fit into a meaningless, and often absurd, chronology.

I wrote an essay a while back (unfortuantely lost) that went through comparing Biblical inerrancy to people who take their favorite television programs and try to erase the contradictions. In doing so, they often undermine the points of the story.

For example, there's a scene in Return Of The Jedi, where Luke asks Leia a fairly obvious question about his biological mother Padme, who she then describes as being a beautiful and kind person who died in sadness. But, now that the prequels are out, we find out that Padme died before Leia could have been old enough to remember her. The Star Wars apologist way of harmonizing this discrepency is to say that Leia was talking about her adoptive mother, which destroys the context of the scene from Return Of The Jedi.

Similarly, you have the story about Eve biting into the apple, which Christian apologetics has totally destroyed contextually. Originally, the story was about God preventing man from attaining the power of the Gods, and he even kicks them out before they could eat from the tree of eternal life. In the Christian canon, however, the story turns into a story about sin coming into the world, and conclusion of the story becomes total nonsense.

This is a problem which Christian apologetics, because stories that otherwise had a relatively coherent narrative are rendered nonsensical by people who are trying desperately to make everything fit one canon.

Okay, I'm way off topic, but I just thought I'd share.

double2 said...

You can have issues with the canonization of the Bible. That's fair. As a believer, I happen to believe that what is in Scripture is there because God intended it to be. But from a non-believers point of view, it makes total sense that it was humans that choose to put stuff in and leave stuff out, blah blah blah. However, you are aware that original texts from much of the Bible have been uncovered and most of academia do not discount the validity of the text, right? Whether you believe in the contents or not is beside the point. The Bible in it's current form (specifically the NASB) is a really accurate translation from the original texts. How the Irish Saved Civilization is a great book on how all theses texts were preserved.

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

Oh, and for the circular reasoning, again that's a fair assessment, for a non-believer. If we knew one another, I could sit down with you and give you examples in my life of horrible experiences, that I now see as God purposing in my life. But that is only evidence for me. Again, I don't think that I will convince you to believe in God. I don't think anyone can do that for anyone. I like that we are learning from each other. It's always better to have an understanding of other people, rather than carry around unfair, over generalized, sweeping assumptions. Much of the hatred and wars is caused by this ignorance and intolerance. But please allow for it to not make sense to you, and yet make perfect sense to me. At the risk of being too repetative, it is not something provable in the lab. And yet it is clearly stamped upon the hearts of many believers- unshakably.

But back to evolution. Trolls- interesting word. Why are we using it? READ! Stop pestering. Read this thread. There is some great discussion. (Maybe Jon, delete out the nonsense? Did you delete the spaghetti guy?) Theory does not mean uncertainity. Evolution is a theory, not because it isn't proved, but because it IS! If it weren't it would be called a hypothesis. Nevermind the movie, it's this sort of insolence that gives fuel to the ignorance. I think believers are just comfortable with the status quo, so they don't have to grapple with the ramifications of change. As if God could be argued out of existence.

And as far as thinking atheists are immoral people... never said that, don't think it. I don't subscribe to the Dawkins thinking that the Moral Law came out of evolution, however, so I do think that if there were no God, we wouldn't have a Moral Law. But that's neither here nor there, because, again, it's an unprovable argument.

Here's another Scotsman for you... I think you can probably tell the real Jesus-loving Christians from those who "just believe" (and by the way, even the demons believe, according to Jesus) is how they respond to people they disagree with. If you know Jesus, and love Him, then you try and emmulate Him. Respect, and love. Not judging, not putting down. So alas, we come back to the earlier quote that you will know them by their fruit.

double2 said...

Btw, Neil, what do you propose to call those of us who believe God created, through evolution? I was just rereading some of the entries, and there is much indignation against "creationists". I don't dare put myself in that category now, although I still believe God created!

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...

"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.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

A real case of a scientist being EXPELLED.

...by creationism, ironically enough.

Anonymous said...

Mike "Tubbie" Moore gets and Oscar and you rail on Ben?? Seems a similar type of movie but from the right!

Jon Voisey said...

I don't recall Moore ever outright lying. Exaggerating things, yes (which is why few, even on the left like him), but in no way has Moore ever displayed the gross dishonesty that the Expelled producers have.

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.

bhave said...

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

Anonymous said...

I just saw the movie tonight and actually as a thinking person I didn't like this movie - it didn't present answers as much as attempts to entertain. It left itself open to much criticism. I don't blame opponents to ID for the comments on this site, but hope maybe they'll see that one should consider the source, and can we really expect a movie that refers to Ben Stein's role in Ferris Bueller's Day Off at the end (he ended with his famous "anyone?" mantra) to be something of rigorous intellectual meat? It's more of an appetizer to me, and the type of appetizer you eat then wish you hadn't. I'd rather read the books on ID than recommend this movie to anyone. But I do have to address the fact that some over-the-top anger is being expressed back and forth here in this blog... no one should be called names for trying to think... and no one should blame their personal philosophical anger on someone else's faults in reasoning. We should just seek truth. Even I though am sure I'll cause someone to dislike what I'm saying and I can't help that. I just think the issue is too important to leave up to Ben Stein. Peace out.

Anonymous said...

PS, Thanks blogger for having courage to have a site with your opinions on it. One of my favorite friends was an Atheist and we used to have great conversations. Anyway...

Hopper said...

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

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.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

I find it hilarious that creationist trolls can't read the content in this very blog post that already refutes their idiotic nonsense.

Another thing about scientists not wanting to appear in a creationist film, it's not like they weren't given plenty of chances. It's not like, oh say, there are videos where people have asked someone like Richard Dawkins a stupid and insulting question and then edited it to make it look like he didn't know the answer.

Furthermore, it's not like creationist organizations don't already have a long track record of distorting scientific quotes in their favor.

Here's some speculation for you. If you were an evolutionary biologist, would you want some crooked creationist organization to have film footage of you, to distort and edit in any way they want? Would you?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Anonymous 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.

When an atheist/evolutionist can propose for me a more reasonable alternative than a Creator God, then I will be happy to listen. Unfortunately "little green men from outer space" or amino acids piggy-backing on the backs of crystals...(however that is supposed to account from the jump from non-living matter to an infinitely complex collection of amino acids chained into proteins complete with feeding, excretory and perfectly replicating reproductive systems I don't quite track, but neither to the evolutionists) just aint it.

It is unbelievably arrogant that scientist after scientist will tell you they have no idea how life began but they are "certain it was not God".

Think for a minute that a person that was the most brilliant and knowlegable person ever in existence concerning all knowledge from the beginning of existence until now. Let's conjecture that this person was able to contain a massive 5% of all knowledge from all people, places, events, languages, science, technology, etc from all mankind. This would be an unbelievably large percentage when you consider the massive amounts of information lost throughout time but I am being generous. So now for even this brilliant, amazing person with 5% of the knowlege in the entire universe to state unequivocally that somewhere out in that other 95% of knowlege he does NOT have, could not be the evidence and knowlege of a Supreme Creator would be complete and utter arrogance and ridiculousness. It would be like a 5th grader saying that there is no such thing as Calculus because they have never heard of it and can't conceive of such a thing.

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.

Before jumping on the bandwagon of labeling this film "right wing propoganda" first at least have the intellectual honesty to consider the question posed. The origin of life requires such mathematically near impossibility to have occurred the way evolutionists propose but then this random act of chance would have to also have produced an ordered intelligence in the programming of the replication and digestive, locomotive, etc systems of this life form. In other words it would not have just had to randomly produce something capable of life, but also with a fully intact system of replication.
Beyond that it would have to survive the very destructive forces that evolution states cause adaptation.
Be intellectually honest about the questions and make sure your worldview is based on something a little more rational than "little green men did it" before you start hurling rocks at theology as insufficiently scientific to be considered an intellectual alternative.

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...

If you haven't seen it yet, check out this parody of Expelled on youtube. Funny stuff.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=-ThQQuHtzHM

yanka said...

Wow, this post is just loaded with misinformation, fallacies, and flawed reasoning. Let's start here:

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.

Apparently, he said no such thing. He was asked if he could come up with a circumstance under which "designed" life might have been possible. He doesn't think "design" is likely, or even necessary, but to humor the interviewer, he entertained the possibility of aliens "seeding" Earth. He was totally misquoted - shocker! - and, of course, now stuff like "Dawkins himself admits there is intelligent design" is bound to haunt him forever, thanks to this movie. Poor man.

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

Nobody has to propose anything to you, or prove anything to you. Your personal conviction is yours, and it is NOT the issue here. The issue is what is appropriate to be taught in academic institutions: personal convictions or science. And, once more with feeling, there is no persecution of personal convictions in academia. But anyone who cannot make a distinction between personal belief and scientific theory probably doesn’t belong in academia in the first place.

It is unbelievably arrogant that scientist after scientist will tell you they have no idea how life began but they are "certain it was not God".

So what? The “certainty” that it was not God is a personal conviction as well. It is not being taught, and there is a big difference between “Listen, kids, there is no God” and “Listen, kids, abiogenesis does not necessarily have to involve God.” I myself would have a problem with the former as well: no science can disprove the existence of God, a god, or gods. Anyone that insists that it can doesn’t belong in academia either (‘cause such insistence would just be st00pid). So… how does anyone’s personal belief or lack thereof relate to the issue with ID – namely, that it should it be taught/considered as a valid scientific alternative?

Be intellectually honest about the questions and make sure your worldview is based on something a little more rational than "little green men did it" before you start hurling rocks at theology as insufficiently scientific to be considered an intellectual alternative.

Well, Neil addressed the issue with intellectual honesty, but… so, you’re saying that theology is sufficiently scientific, obviously. Cool. I’d like to see some peer-reviewed research. Some experiments and testing. Some evidence (and, no, “well, God must have done it” or “isn’t it obvious that this must have been designed?” is not evidence). At least some evidence that “a fully intact system of replication” cannot have come to existence without God’s involvement (although, to be “scientific”, such evidence would have to support the claim that God was involved). Where is the ID theory? Predictions and testability – where? “God did it” is not a sufficiently scientific theory until it presents all of those aspects that are required of any other theory. So, where is all of this stuff? If you want to claim “God did it” as your personal conviction, you can have as little or as much proof as you like, but if you want to claim it as a scientific theory, then you have a little more work to do. And, btw, it is not TOE’s job to prove that there is no God or to disprove that there is, as it never made any such claim in the first place. It is, however, ID’s job, since it does make the claim. Some perverted version of “Evolution didn’t happen” – aside from the overwhelming body of evidence that it did - does not validate ID as a scientific theory, either. Even if one day all of this evidence was successfully refuted, all that would follow is that the theory of evolution is wrong. It still wouldn’t follow that ID is right by default. So, let’s muster up some intellectual honesty and chant, in unison “Intelligent Design is not sufficiently scientific.”

Anonymous said...

Neil and yanka,

Please stop quoting "evidence" without producing any. When you go back to the building blocks of life evolution is utterly impossible to function as proposed. First of all evolutionists can't even adequately define how their theory begins, have not been able to test or duplicate it, and have not brought forth a single solitary shred of evidence that supports the conclusions so please for heaven's sake lets all be "intellectually honest" and agree that neither side is discussing actual "science". Both sides are theology.

Science is something duplicatable and observable. The definition of science is "systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation". Experimentation and observation requires repeatable results to be called science and evolution has not and cannot produce anything of the sort so please stop misuing the word science when discussing the theology of evolution.

Now beyond the fact that true scientists proved in the 19th century the law of biogenesis, i.e. life comes from life, the starting point for evolution stands this scientific fact on its head and has to begin with the assumption common to the ignorant general consensus prior to that, that flies were formed by meat, that mold was formed by bread, etc. Must we also revert to "the world is flat" as well since that seems to be the direction evolutionary science is comfortable proceeding along.

Now I am not saying in any way, shape or form that belief in God is scientific either. I am saying if we are going to be honest here then lets call a spade a spade and admit that evolution is not one shred more worthy of being called science since it violates multiple repeatable and observable "scientific" facts.

Lets look at two of those facts quickly. There are two "vehicles" which evolutionists say drive evolutionary change. Mutation and Natural Selection. Both of these things creationists agree happen in nature and are responsible for changes within species over time. This is not, as evolutinists claim, a matter of degree (i.e. macro vs micro evolution). You have two opposite directions of change between these two items and what is required for evolution to work. Evolutionists look at these processes which everyone agrees cause speciation and make the colossally broken logical leap to state that these two processes caused the myriad of diverse life forms we observe today. The issue with this is that both of these processes result in a net LOSS of genetic information from the original parent organism. Yet for evolution to work, a net GAIN of information is required.

Mutation is a copying error in a genetic code which does not add new genetic information to the DNA sequence but instead results in something within the original subset of genetic information to be copied incorrectly so the net result is an organism genetically less functional than the parent organism. Now before you start guns a blazing here produce a single, solitary example in all of scientific history of a beneficial mutation which added new genetic information. Don't feel bad that you can't, because the leading scientists haven't been able to either. If you do find one, get ready for the Nobel Prize because you will be the new favorite son or daughter of evolutionists everywhere. You can't because it doesn't exist. Some whackjobs have proposed ridiculous things like "sickle cell anemia is a beneficial mutation as it reduces the ability to contract malaria", but come on, that is like saying someone born without feet is a beneficial mutation because this person now is immune to athlete's foot.

Second is natural selection. You don't need to be a brilliant scientist to see the issue with that one not producing the GAIN of information, you just need to have a command of the English language. Selection means selecting from what already exists. Natural selection selects out a subset of existing genetic traits and combines individuals already exhibiting those traits within the natural limits of variance and breeding to emphasize desireable traits and deemphasize undesirable ones. You can breed dogs together generation after generation and get toy breeds, large breeds, mild temperment, etc but no matter how many times you breed different combinations of dogs together, you will only get dogs. You won't get a different species because the information is not in the genetic code to select out what is needed to create a cat, or a lizard, or a fish. If the material isn't there, natural selection is not a process capable of providing it. It can only select from what exists.

So please, you brilliant evolutionary scientists, ask yourself one honest question. How can the two processes supposedly responsible for creating the vast diversity of life on earth, both of which are only capable of creating a net loss of information, have resulted in every increasing levels of complexity within the evolutionary process.

Look, guys, I am not claiming to be able to scientifically prove the existance of God, that is impossible. But if "scientists" are going to put forth a theory of a "scientific" alternative, at least have the intellectual honesty to address the scientific impossibilities in the theory before we dogmatically teach it as fact. And stop masquerading a theory that is filled with assumptions that are in direct opposition to true scientific facts and laws as somehow "scientific". Call it what it is, a different and currently dominant religion. Until those three questions are addressed, however, don't call it science. For those of you with ADD the three questions are:

1) the beginning of life from non-life
2) how mutation adds information (provide an observed scientific example)
3) how natural selection adds information (again provide an observed scientific example)

Until you address those flaws in the theory, it is no more scientific than any other religious beliefs. You choose to believe this because the alternative, for you, is unthinkable because it means you are accountable to a higher power so you choose to ignore the facts and believe anyway. That is faith, not science.

I have a well definined apologetic for why I believe Jesus Christ was who He said He was based on more observable evidence than the theory of evolution is, but this is a scientific forum and not a theological one so I will not enter that arena here, but will confine my comments to legitimate questions, as a scientist myself, to the proposed theory of evolution.

If this was science vs religion, there would be all scientists on one side and all religious whackos on the other, but there are thousands of degreed, accredited scientists who fall firmly on the side of ID or Creationism. Many I know were formerly atheists/agnostics and were actually led to ID/Creationism by their in depth study and observation of their field of study. The people I know have multiple PhD's in their respective fields of medicine, astrophysics, biology, chemistry and geology. While not specifically experimental science fields there are also friends who are noted paleontologists and archeologists (although arguably astrophysics is not truly experimental science either, simply observational science at least for now). If the observable evidence has led us to the conclusion that the current theory of evolution is insufficient to explain the variety and complexity of life then you have to examine the assumptions yourself, along with the data, in order to make an informed decision. Otherwise you are just a much spouting unfounded doctrine as the creationists for which you hold such contempt. And since I am sure the question will be asked, my field is astronomy but I have done a good bit of research into the biology after I found the observable evidence in astronomy and astrophysics to be in direct contradiction to the big bang theory. This prompted me to question other assumptions that were taken as "fact". I too found there was no place in the field for anyone who questioned the "party line" so I now work independently and am no longer dependent on the academic system to support me, but I hope that by asking these types of questions those who are actually capable of independent intellectual thought will be moved to prove me wrong by investigating the "facts" themselves and see that truly the Emperor has no clothes.

Blessings to you all for taking the time to read this response and I sincerely hope that you will get past your prejudice of anyone expressing an opposing opinion and actually address the questions posed for yourselves. Be sure of your position and what you rest your faith on, because when you do I assure you that if nothing else you will at least be a little less sure of the irrefutability of your position and hopefully a little less condescending towards those who dare to pose the questions.

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...

"Please stop quoting "evidence" without producing any."

Argumentum ad temper tantrum.

And just what do you expect us to do in a blog comment section that constitutes as evidence? The best we can do is point out your ridiculous strawman arguments and hope that you have the intelligence to go pick up a fucking book for once.


"When you go back to the building blocks of life evolution is utterly impossible to function as proposed. First of all evolutionists can't even adequately define how their theory begins, have not been able to test or duplicate it, and have not brought forth a single solitary shred of evidence that supports the conclusions so please for heaven's sake lets all be "intellectually honest" and agree that neither side is discussing actual "science". Both sides are theology."

Utter nonsense. Evolution is not a theory of how things begin. It's a theory that describes the dynamics of a biological system. I'm getting REALLY tired of typing that over and over.

Your statement is about as absurd as saying that Newton's theory of gravity doesn't account for the origin of atoms.


"Now beyond the fact that true scientists proved in the 19th century the law of biogenesis, i.e. life comes from life, the starting point for evolution stands this scientific fact on its head and has to begin with the assumption common to the ignorant general consensus prior to that, that flies were formed by meat, that mold was formed by bread, etc."

Strawman. Spontaneous generation is not abiogenesis. Stop quoting from Hovind seminars.


"Lets look at two of those facts quickly. There are two "vehicles" which evolutionists say drive evolutionary change. Mutation and Natural Selection."

You're a moron. There is no mechanistic difference between macro and micro evolution. They are the same process, and creationists such as yourself cannot identify any causation that prevents allele frequency change from going beyond the species level. In fact, there are already perfectly good examples in nature of this happen. One such example is a ring species. (again, ironically pointed out unwittingly in a Hovind video involving rabbits)

You know, I pointed out a number of evolutionary evidences that any layman can observe for himself a while back. Apparently, you didn't read that. Ignorance is not an argument.


"Mutation is a copying error in a genetic code which does not add new genetic information to the DNA sequence but instead results in something within the original subset of genetic information to be copied incorrectly so the net result is an organism genetically less functional than the parent organism."

And now you're shifting goal posts by adding the term "information" to the argument, which you will easily equivocate to imply that the genome is somehow a meaningful blueprint that says, "connect this to that", "build optical censors like so", and so on. THAT'S NOT WHAT MUTATION DOES. Mutation doesn't "add information". It produces VARIABILITY.


"Second is natural selection. You don't need to be a brilliant scientist to see the issue with that one not producing the GAIN of information, you just need to have a command of the English language. Selection means selecting from what already exists. Natural selection selects out a subset of existing genetic traits and combines individuals already exhibiting those traits within the natural limits of variance and breeding to emphasize desireable traits and deemphasize undesirable ones. You can breed dogs together generation after generation and get toy breeds, large breeds, mild temperment, etc but no matter how many times you breed different combinations of dogs together, you will only get dogs. You won't get a different species because the information is not in the genetic code to select out what is needed to create a cat, or a lizard, or a fish. If the material isn't there, natural selection is not a process capable of providing it. It can only select from what exists."

Oh my god, you ARE quoting from Hovind, aren't you?! You sad, sad little troll.

First of all, there is no "information". There is only variability. Second, your claim that the genome only selects from that which already exists is astoundingly question-begging. How do you know that? Because you've already assumed that God made everything the way it is. Circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because...


"So please, you brilliant evolutionary scientists..."

I'm a cartoonist.


"...ask yourself one honest question. How can the two processes supposedly responsible for creating the vast diversity of life on earth, both of which are only capable of creating a net loss of information, have resulted in every increasing levels of complexity within the evolutionary process."

Um, through random mutation and natural selection. Wow, that was easy. See, your misunderstanding of evolution doesn't cause us doubt. It just makes you look like a dumbass.


"Look, guys, I am not claiming to be able to scientifically prove the existance of God, that is impossible."

And yet you accused atheists of being intellectually dishonest for disbelieving in a construct that you have now just admitted cannot be proven. The amazing hypocricy that you've displayed on this forum is dumbfounding. Tell me, how do you even have the courage to type this nonsense?


"But if "scientists" are going to put forth a theory of a "scientific" alternative, at least have the intellectual honesty to address the scientific impossibilities in the theory before we dogmatically teach it as fact. And stop masquerading a theory that is filled with assumptions that are in direct opposition to true scientific facts and laws as somehow "scientific". Call it what it is, a different and currently dominant religion. Until those three questions are addressed, however, don't call it science. For those of you with ADD the three questions are:

1) the beginning of life from non-life
2) how mutation adds information (provide an observed scientific example)
3) how natural selection adds information (again provide an observed scientific example)

Until you address those flaws in the theory, it is no more scientific than any other religious beliefs. You choose to believe this because the alternative, for you, is unthinkable because it means you are accountable to a higher power so you choose to ignore the facts and believe anyway. That is faith, not science."


1. The theory evolution is a theory that describes the dynamics of a biological system, in much the same way that thermodynamics describe the dynamics of energy. Neither one of them need to account for an origin. Your first point is absurd. You are not only wrong, you are OBVIOUSLY wrong.
2. Loaded question. No scientists says that mutation "adds information". That is your caricature, and thus this point doesn't need to be met either.
3. Natural selection doesn't add anything. It refines from a variable. Again, strawman arguments are NOT valid, and can therefore be IGNORED.

Read a book.

Skipping ahead through the nonsense...


"Blessings to you all for taking the time to read this response and I sincerely hope that you will get past your prejudice of anyone expressing an opposing opinion and actually address the questions posed for yourselves."

Have you ever noticed how creationists are the masters of projection?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Anon, rather than belligerantly responding to us with your ignorance and lack of understanding, please PLEASE do some reading. It's quite obvious that you get all your information from creationist resources. We're not that stupid, you know. We know where the disinformation comes from.

If you want a crash course in evolution, the best recommendation I can give you is from an internet friend of mine, Dr. Zachary Moore. A while back, he hosted the Evolution 101 Podcast. He doesn't host it anymore, but the archive is still there.

www.drzach.net

Go there, please, so that you can learn WHAT evolution is, and WHY your arguments just don't hold up.

Additionally, I think it would be most beneficial, seeing as you seem to be quoting from "Dr." Kent Hovind, that you should visit a debunk site dedicated to the man.

www.kent-hovind.com

You should also head on over to Youtube and watch Thunderfoot's awesome documentary series, Why People Laugh At Creationists, as well as CDK's Why Creationists Must Deny gravity. And as long as I'm posting Youtube videos, here's one from a CHRISTIAN who points out how Creationism damages Christianity.

For more reading (admittedly with some humor) you should check out Things Creationists Hate, and a website by another internet aquaintance of mine, Durango Bill. Bill is the man who snapped that now-famous picture of the shabby home offices of Kent Hovind's diploma mill, Patriot University.

And of course, you need to visit the Talk.Origins archives. Here are some things you need to be aware of...

29 Evidences for Evolution
The Quote-Mine Project
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

I don't mean to throw a hundred different links at you so as to silence you. I merely expect you to at least spend some time reading up on the subject rather than just spewing nonsense. And really, what I've given you is basically a crash course. There's no way that I could expect you to spend the amount of time reading about evolution that I have and come back in any reasonable amount of time.

Of course, most of the reading material I've given you does provide references, and yes, I DO expect you to follow those references. That means you'll have to get up away from your computer and go to your local library. You may have to get some books online.

One thing is for certain. It's pretty offensive for someone like you to come in here throwing your weight around, displaying a clear lack of understanding of the subject matter.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Whoops! Durango Bill's website is www.durangobill.com

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jon Voisey said...

You are a cartoonist, why doesn't that surprise me. You are very arrogant for someone who has not spent 5 years earning a PhD. Once you do, lets talk again.

Try that crap again and I'll delete your posts. If you don't have the intellectual honesty to respond to the rebuttals to his comments, then go back to the kiddie pool. It doesn't take a PhD to realize the gaping holes in your logic and blatant misrepresentations you've tossed out.

Conflating evolution with abiogenesis? Lie #1.

Saying that evolution can't produce "information"? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you actually have a working definition of "information" that Behe, Dembski, and every other creationist has failed to produce, but still, that's Lie #2.

Claiming there's not a single example of a beneficial mutation? Lie #3. Here's 15. PZ discusses that particular bit of nonsense even more here.

Claiming that dogs can't become non -dogs? Given we've seen , I'll chalk that up as Lie #4.

Conflating PhD's that believe ID/Creationism as a theological position vs a scientific one? Lie #5.

Saying that if evolution is deemed insufficient that this necessitates design? Fallacy of bifurcation makes that Lie #6.

Saying there's no room for dissent in the Astronomical field? I think Edwin Hubble, Fritz Zwicky, Vera Rubin, the High-z Supernova Search team, and many other innovators in the field would call that Lie #7.

So, to answer your three questions:

1) the beginning of life from non-life: Irrelevant. It's not part of the theory and doesn't need to be any more than the theory of gravity need explain where mass came from or child development theory where children come from.

2) how mutation adds information (provide an observed scientific example): As shown in the link, gene duplication allows for repeated information which can be then changed.

3) how natural selection adds information (again provide an observed scientific example): You said yourself that if something's there to be played with, it's all ok. Since (2) demonstrated where this something came from, this argument is null too.

So after all that nonesense, I'm going to have to disagree with double2 (who has been one of the most gracious and intellectually honest theists I've ever had on my blog) when he says he finds your comment "refreshing". Nah. It's the same canned crap I've been hearing the past 6 years since I first got into this debate.

It's especially pathetic that you rail about how we should "stop quoting "evidence" without producing any" and then proceed to rant about how astronomy disproves the big bang without providing any of that thing you so arrogantly demand. And if you'll scroll through the comments (apparently you didn't since a number of the arguments you spammed in your little Gish Gallop have already been disabused), you'll see numerous links where we did provide the evidence. Liar and a hypocrite. If this weren't the common theme for Creationists (as again, the topic of this thread shows), I might be surprised. But that surprise wore off 5 years ago.

This will be my last post on this forum.

Sorry. If you're going to cut and run, playing the intellectual coward, even that post won't get through. Especially if you're going to point to Behe's Black Box and claim it's a good read. Given that it was summarized at his
talk at KU and I pointed out the major flaws here, Behe is just another charlatan in the ID parade.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Wow, I didn't even get to read it. Haha. Must have been a really winner.

So that's his last post, eh? After I gave him the resources he asked for? I went and tracked all that down for nothing.

You know, I hate to speculate on the motives of someone who runs away after being given ample data, but... you know... he ran away. What else am I supposed to think?

And they say we're scared of the truth.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TV's Mr. Neil said...

Yawn... old hat. You know...

E=MC² is also "just a theory". The second law of thermodynamics is also "just a theory". The nuclear fusion of the sun is also "just a theory". Gravity is "just a theory".

Not understanding the terminology is not an argument. Also, demanding proof against the existence of God is not an argument. The appeal to ignorance is not an argument.

Read a book.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

There aren't any questions in Ben Stein's movie that haven't been addressed and debunked YEARS ago. There aren't any "new questions" in Ben Stein's movie. Only the same tired shit based on the same tired strawman arguments.

You do realize that when you mischaracterize your opponents, it renders your arguments ineffective, right?

TV's Mr. Neil said...

http://meninhats.com/d/20040430.html

double2 said...

Can you give two specific examples of the strawmen that you keep referring to. But set it up. What the creationist "argument" is and why it is a strawman. I'm not learning anything thing from all these inferences. It's too general for me to wrap my mind around. So, the creationists say... and it is a strawman because... would be very helpful!

double2 said...

Neil, did you see the movie yet?

Anonymous said...

This blog is hilarious. Both sides have done nothing to further the discussions. There is not one original thought or argument that has been presented that does not have its counter argument and rehashed over the last 20 year.

Wasn't the purpose of the movie to try and promote academic freedom? If a scientist wants to study ID, let them. If they don't, fine. Whether or not they were fired or discriminated against is not for a 90 minute documentary to prove. Does it make a solid case, that will be determined by the individual. The question is should a scientists who wants to study ID be restricted, even if it goes against the establishment. I would say no, they should not. All scientists should have the same freedoms. To the Universities it is merely a business decision. If they perceive ID as hurting their image an effecting cash flow they will act accordingly. Why does this seem surprising? If the University won’t give you money to study, find one that will or find another way to get funded. If the funding is not available then we Christians have done a bad job of managing our resources and we need stop supporting universities that act as the universities in the movie.

double2 said...

Really Anon... if any of us had anything new to add to this old debate, I can guarentee you that we would not choose this blog as the place to disclose it.

And all these Anons are getting hard to keep track of. If it's worth taking the time to post, can't you come up with a screen name that will keep your identity anon?

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...

For the record, since Anon has shown that he will not follow the references that HE requested, I will not respond to any more of his ridiculous comments.

By the way, personal incredulity is not an argument, either.


"Neil, did you see the movie yet?"

I plan on seeing the movie when it comes to cable. From what I've seen of the extended trailer as well as various clips, the claims on the movie's website, Ben Stein's interviews, Ben Stein's blog, etc., it's the same repetative garbage presented as a "new" argument. Ben Stein cannot even talk about evolution without presenting it as a strawman. If he can't even identify what the theory of evolution is, then I don't see any reason to waste ten dollars.

And I know the creationists are going to jump all over that, but it's a simple matter of Ben Stein having no ground to stand on. If the base of claims are demonstratably weak, then what possible structure can we expect from a movie based on those claims?

Again, I'm not saying I won't see it, but it can wait.

Anyway, speaking of strawman arguments, I'll give you more than just two examples of strawman arguments. I'll give you several, and I'll even give you a few from Ben Stein's own mouth.

"Evolutionists claim that we came from lightning hitting a mud puddle."

Nobody claims that. Scientists don't even believe that the original replicator was a form of life. What they've hypothesized is that life can arise from self-replicating polymers.

...and even that is a gross oversimplification.

What Ben Stein is basing this ridiculous statement on is the Miller/Urey Experiment, which produced biotic compounds by introducing energy to a vat of simpler elements. What the experiment showed was that biotic compounds CAN emerge without intelligent guidance. And contrary to Stein's hand-waving and dismissal, the experiment was a HUGE success.


"Science disproved abiogenesis back in the 1800s."

A similar strawman. This one supposes that abiogenesis is the same as spontaneous generation. Spontaneous generation is the disproven hypothesis that life can instantly arise from non-life. Abiogenesis states, as I said earlier, that you need a self-replicating polymer to kick off the process.


"Dogs can not give birth to non-dogs."

No aspect of evolutionary theory states that one type of animal will suddenly give birth to a completely different type of animal. What it states is that isolated populations will eventually become genetically isolated, thus resulting in a new species. From there, superficial morphological differences will inevitably follow as the environment changes, and the two isolated populations will continue to diverge.

It is from this divergence that you get new species; not from sudden magic births, like Kent Hovind likes to say.


"Life cannot arise by random chance."

Again, nobody argues this, and this is one that Ben Stein abuses over and over and over and over. It's wrong, no matter how many times creationists repeat it. it's wrong wrong wrong!

The theory of evolution identifies a mechanism called natural selection, which is a means that determines whether or not a trait survives in a given environment. Nobody argues that everything fell into place by accident. That would be silly.

Basically, any time you hear a creationist use the terms "sudden", "random", or accident", you can be sure that it's a strawman.

Here's a real whopper from our anonymous friend...


"Mutation is a copying error in a genetic code which does not add new genetic information to the DNA sequence but instead results in something within the original subset of genetic information to be copied incorrectly so the net result is an organism genetically less functional than the parent organism."

He's correct in stating that a mutation is a copy error, but his claim that less information equal less functionality is a strawman. The theory of evolution states that the functionality of a genetic mutation is governed by the environment, not by the "bigger and better" criteria that our anonymous friend is attempting desperately to imply.

Here's a simplified version of the same argument...


"Evolution says we're getting bigger, better, stronger, and faster."

Um... no. That quote, by the way, is taken from Anon's hero, Doktor Kent Hogwind. ...er Hovind. Evolution says no such thing.

Adaptability is the key to evolution, not size, information, and complexity. The bias we humans have for ourselves produces the illusion that we are the appex of all creation. In reality, biology's greatest achievement is, has been, and always will be the simple microbe.


"The big bang says we just exploded out of nothing."

No it doesn't. The big bang is the beginning of time itself; time, being a property of the material universe.

What the big bang model actually proposes is that matter and energy are eternal and that time is relative.

The funny thing is, you'd think that would be a lot more alarming to creatinists than the theory of evolution. I guess nobody's told them yet that they don't believe in relativity.

So there you have it. Common creationist strawman arguments. And no matter how many times they get recycled, they all still suck.

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!"

TV's Mr. Neil said...

See? It'll be on cable sooner than you know it.

yanka said...

I'm not here to try to prove or disprove someone, but rather challenge you (whether you believe in ID or evolution) to introspectively consider your assumptions. What assumptions does the ID theory have? What assumptions does the evolutionary theory have? If you can name only a few (or, worse, none at all), then you'll know that you really do not understand the theory you believe. That's the place to start -- however, only courageous ever venture out into that dark and unknown territory where the very foundation of one's worldview is questioned. The alternative is to blindly believe and bash others...

I don’t know what assumptions the evolutionary theory makes. I don’t want to remain ignorant! I want to venture into the dark territory! Can you please tell me what the assumptions are?

double2 said...

Thanks. I can't tell you how much that helps.

Here's some of my thoughts...

"Evolutionists claim that we came from lightning hitting a mud puddle."

Dawkins infers this in his Selfish Gene book. He gives many chapters to the evolutionary process (to give the background for his theory that a selfish gene evolved) and in the beginning, he refers to the Miller/ Urey experiement, although he doesn't name it. And he says that is "speculative", but "probably not too far from the truth." and then he goes on to explain the primeval soup, the chemical raw materials that were probably around, and the energy sources. So here is one of your own who is espousing the lightening in primeval soup.


"Dogs can not give birth to non-dogs."

Fair explanation. But is strawman the correct fallacy to name that one? But from what I'm reading, the data is being intrepretted to support your explanation. A lot of the proven theory rests upon a comparison of chromosomes. So you look at a mouse's DNA and a human's and there are remarkable similarities. So, if you're a creationist, looking at this data, the dog from non-dog argument looks more like a sweeping simplification of the process.

Just think about this. If you look at ALL the life on the planet, the varied life, and say that it all started with simple cells, that got together, started mutating, one "spontaneously" (Dawkins, would, btw) got the capability to self-replicate... and those cells continued to get more complex as they kept hooking up and replicating. These then have the ability to come together in the simple forms of life, some becoming different organs, with varying functions and creating a simple organism. And this then, through a long process of natural selection, becomes the different forms of life? A fish, a bumblebee, a lizard, a crow, an elephant, a lion, and a human? And all of these species had to be isolated? The overarching order of evolution, from sea animal, to amphibian, to land animal is known. But within that, do we know? To have a mouse, dog, bear and chimp all on land, all with bellybuttons and with similar chromosomes... for this to have all happened naturally?

Here's my thing. If God chose to create through evolution- that's His creative perogative. He gave us brains, and He expects us to use them. So if He created, using evolution, He knew we would figure that out. If He got to humans, through the mouse and chimp, so be it. BUT, for that process to have happened, randomly? And there's that word you detest. Here's the definition, "proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern" If there is no God directing the process, then their was no aim, or goal. The process of evolution was lucky. As Dawkins says, it has to be stable. But there could have been a lot of different "stable" outcomes.

Like I've said, I'm just at the beginning of my research, so all this science talk, I'm sure, sounds very elementary. But I get what the creationists are trying to say, even if they are saying it poorly. For some reason, people feel threatened. The God I know and serve is a lot bigger than this debate, and His existence is not threatened by it.

But, again, Niel. Thank you for spelling it out so clearly. It gives me focus in my research.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"Dawkins ... refers to the Miller/ Urey experiement, although he doesn't name it. And he says that is 'speculative', but 'probably not too far from the truth.' and then he goes on to explain the primeval soup, the chemical raw materials that were probably around, and the energy sources."

I don't have that book close at hand, but be sure to read that carefully. If I'm not mistaken, Dawkins is talking about organic molecules, not life. Ben Stein is trying to say that LIFE arose from lightning hitting a mud puddle. Maybe I didn't make that clear, and I should have.

Also keep in mind that what Dawkins is saying is simplified, so even though the lightning/mudpuddle thing may represent a basic idea of what scientists are hypothesizing, it's not exactly a completely accurate description. In fact, it's just vague enough to be abused, taken out of context, and become extremely annoying in the hands of people who don't understand that he's putting things into layman's terms.


"And this then, through a long process of natural selection, becomes the different forms of life? A fish, a bumblebee, a lizard, a crow, an elephant, a lion, and a human? And all of these species had to be isolated?"

Well, by isolating, it means they're cut off from others of the same species, either by geographical limitation, water, or even distance. And it doesn't even have to be COMPLETE isolation. After all, we have ring species, where there's a long chain of species living simultaneously that, at each link, remain interfertile, while at the ends, they're not interfertile.

Basically, animals of the same kind that live in different environments will inevitably become dissimilar.

But to answer your question, (and taxing the lengths of my layman understanding of evolution) ...I don't THINK that isolation is necessarily as important as natural selection. Isolation is merely a way for divergence to occur which allows several otherwise similar species to evolve simultaneously and independently. Evolution will continue to occur, regardless, as environmental pressures force species to adapt.

But, as you mentioned the elephant, you are probably aware that asian elephants and african elephants are fairly isolated from one another, and they have some clear morphological differences. Not the most extreme example, though.


"The overarching order of evolution, from sea animal, to amphibian, to land animal is known. But within that, do we know? To have a mouse, dog, bear and chimp all on land, all with bellybuttons and with similar chromosomes... for this to have all happened naturally?"

Actually, I'm not as into mammals as much as I'm into dinosaurs. As far as what the sequence was for mammalian evolution, I personally haven't the foggiest idea. I kind of blank out after the Cretaceous.

I guess I have a bias for dinos.

Anonymous said...

Neil,
If you haven't seen the movie yet, how can you be sure it does not raise some new questions?

Jon Voisey said...

Because we're literate enough to read what other people have said the main points are that went to the previews. Really not hard to do basic research even without going to the primary now is it?

Anonymous said...

Jon,
Do you have a count of how many people have hit your site? I found it a couple of weeks ago when I googled it. Anyway, still getting my arms around all the information. Currently, reading a book by Gary Parker. Maybe you or Neil can give me a good book that deals with his agruments for ID but from a evolution stand point.

Neil, Gary Parker in his book makes claim that one evidence for creation is called "irreducible properties of an oraganization". I know you don't like this idea as an agrument (you term it strawman). Can you help me understand why? The examples in his book make sense and I was wondering where evolitionist stand in the idea. Dn other sciences use this process in thier observations?

double2,

what other books have you been reading on this subject?


Later
Brian





Thanks Guys
Brian

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"If you haven't seen the movie yet, how can you be sure it does not raise some new questions?"

You mean like the same belligerant ad hominem question that anyone can see right in the trailer? (i.e., "What are evolutionists so afraid of?") If this is the only amunition that creationists have been able to pull away from this movie, then they might as well be shooting blanks. (HA! That was a good metaphor. I should write that down.)

Really, I think I'll take my chances and save my gas money until I can see it for free. Somehow, I don't think I have anything to worry from a movie written by a guy who, in many, MANY interviews leading up to its release, has shown that he cannot even approach evolutionary theory without addressing it as a strawman.

Igor said...

[My post was removed -- I assume it was an accident...]

From what I'm reading, I can say that very few people here are interested in a dialog -- only in bashing one another. It is clear that the minds are not open and arrogance abounds (otherwise, why all this anger and hatred?).

I cannot be honest with myself to believe in the theory of evolution (i.e. the particles-to-man type). I grew up in the Soviet Union and was taught evolution from the early years and believed it with all of my heart. 6 years of biology, anatomy, and introduction to molecular biology, 2 years of inorganic and 2 years of organic chemistry had me entrenched in the evolutionary theory. I was going to study geology in college (in Ukraine) and passed the entrance geology exam (which tested heavily the understanding of evolution). However, I came to the U.S. and within a few years heard some alternatives to evolution. Upon closer examination, I began to doubt the evolutionary theory -- especially, with the latest discoveries in molecular biology. After years of being saturated in the evolutionary theory, it fell apart in my mind in a few months. Granted, I still have lots of unanswered questions and do not exclude the possibility that I am totally wrong -- but it will take something radically different than the Darwinian or neo-Darwinian variation of the same old stuff...

The biggest problem I think evolutionists face is not recognizing their presuppositions (i.e. unprovable premises). It is either out of deception, ignorance, or dishonesty, claims are made that the evolutionary theory is the only logical inference from the evidence we have. However, if we adjust our presuppositions, we arrive at a completely different conclusion based on the same set of evidence. This is where scientists wrestle all the time as any honest scientist will admit that it is difficult to treat facts as facts and presuppositions as presuppositions. After all, it is not the evidence that leads us to the evolutionary theory or ID but our interpretation (inference) of it. I'm not here to try to prove or disprove someone, but rather challenge you (whether you believe in ID or evolution) to introspectively consider your assumptions. What assumptions does the ID theory have? What assumptions does the evolutionary theory have? If you can name only a few (or, worse, none at all), then you'll know that you really do not understand the theory you believe. That's the place to start -- however, only courageous ever venture out into that dark and unknown territory where the very foundation of one's worldview is questioned. The alternative is to blindly believe and bash others...

All the best to all of you here...

TV's Mr. Neil said...

"Simply shouting 'strawman' every time a challenge is posted to one of the key assumptions to a theory is not actually answering the challenge, it is vetoing the question."

And how many times did I take the time to at least provide a cursory explanation what the strawman was and attempt to point you in the right direction? Some of your basic misunderstandings have been addressed here ad nauseum.

If you don't understand evolution, then you need to go to your local library and do some reading. As much as I enjoy taking the time to talk about it, I don't have the time to be your teacher.

The fact that you are throwing around wild "challenges" while showing an astonishing ignorance for the subject matter is YOUR FAULT, not mine.

You're not in need so much of a debate, but an education. I cannot simply give you the amount of invested time that I've had on the subject here. You're going to have to have to find the majority of the answers by yourself.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Oh, and Double, you're starting to ask question that are approaching the limits of my ability to answer them, and that's not fair to you.

However, I did mention Zach Moore a while back. Every now and then, if I have a question, I usually ask him. It probably wouldn't be very cool of me to post his email address here, but if you go to this page and look around very carefully, I'm sure you can find it.

I was also going to recommend Massimo Pigliucci, as he's a pretty respectful guy to dialogue with in emails, but he doesn't seem to offer that information on his site anymore. Oh well.

But Dr. Zach is as good an answer man as any. Just don't pester him too much. (lol) Zach's got the knack for evolution, Jack!

Oh god, that was corny...

Jon Voisey said...

deletedbyadmin: Quit trying to play martyr. It's pathetic. I welcome honest challenges, but as I pointed out, Behe's full of it and if that's representative of your sources (as I take it to be since I'm moderately familiar with "Starlight and time" and it is also scientifically hollow), then I'm under no obligation to allow you to foist such sources on those that don't know better.

And it doesn't matter whether or not you've seen Hovind. Ham and most of the rest of the Creationists all steal one another's flawed arguments. If you've heard one, you've heard them all.

It's also sad that you're the second creationist whining about being called for their logical fallacies. It's almost as if you had something against logic...

Igor: 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. 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. 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).

However, your second paragraph does ask a rather important question that I missed the first time, so I'll let it stand. The question is what assumptions ID/Creationism and evolution make. 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.

Do you have a count of how many people have hit your site?

Yes. Prior to Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy linking to me a few weeks ago, I averaged 200-300 hits a day. The day Phil linked to me, I got ~1,500 hits which died off within a few days, but left my average traffic somewhere closer to 300-500 hits/day, most of them to this page.

Currently, reading a book by Gary Parker. Maybe you or Neil can give me a good book that deals with his agruments for ID but from a evolution stand point.

I don't know who Gary Parker is. If you can provide more details on the arguments, we likely can address them.

one evidence for creation is called "irreducible properties of an oraganization".

It sounds like someone's ripping off Behe's "Irreducible Complexity" which says, if you have a complex system that has a "purpose" (which is never given any sort of scientific, quantifiable definition), and every part is required for that system to function, then it must have a creator since it couldn't have been built up by the process of natural selection which requires small steps.

The problem with this is that it's an argument from ignorance. It essentially says "I don't know how this was put together and it's really complex, so I'll just say a magic man done it." The real problem is that every system creationists have tried to come up with that would fit this definition, from the flagellum, to the blood clotting cascade, to the eye,.... They've all been shown to be able to break down to simpler functioning systems.

Behe's retort is that, at least for the bacterial flagellum, which can be reduced to the Type Three Secretory System (TTSS), it doesn't function as the same system. Why Behe demands this be the case, I have no idea. It makes no sense. Especially since we constantly see systems in organisms co-opted for other uses. Essentially, Behe is saying "Hey evolutionists! Show me how evolution could make (insert system here) without actually using evolution!" So yes. Since Behe's argument doesn't actually address how evolution actually functions, we would describe it as a "strawman."

Well sure, if you make a loaded challenge like that that can't possibly fulfilled, it'll look like you're winning. And other creationists buy it! Why? Because they don't understand evolution well enough to see just how stupid Behe's argument is.

It's precisely this reason that I deleted "deletedbyadmin"'s post. It's garbage intended to sucker the gullible and I'm not going to leave such nonsense floating around on my site. If he wants to pimp the liars, he can do so on his own webspace.

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