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Conservatives Acting like Liberals: The Foolishness of Intelligent Design

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Charles Krauthammer wrote good piece on intelligent design for the Washington Post. To a certain degree, it changed my mind on the subject.

First, Krauthammer outlines the stupidity of the whole debate — from both sides.

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“The two greatest scientists in the history of our species were Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, and they were both religious. Neither saw science as an enemy of religion. On the contrary. ‘He believed he was doing God’s work,’ James Gleick wrote in his recent biography of Newton. Einstein saw his entire vocation — understanding the workings of the universe — as an attempt to understand the mind of God. ”
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As liberals attempt to make science the enemy of religion, conservatives dignify this idiocy with intelligent design rather than by pointing out the flaws in the argument. The ID controversy doesn’t have to be an us versus them debate. Really, all we need to do is realize that “they” have hijacked and perverted the perspective from which they stand.

Two of the greatest minds in this world didn’t see faith and thinking to be contradictory, so why should conservatives allow the political minority in this country to tell us otherwise? Instead of spending time defeating the obviously twisted and misguided view that divinity and evolution can not coexist, those on the right invented a half-brain theory and attempted to force it down the throats of the public. Now, tell me: Whom does that sound like?

————————–
“Let’s be clear. Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological ‘theory’ whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge — in this case, evolution — they are to be filled by God. It is a ‘theory’ that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species but also says that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, ‘I think I’ll make me a lemur today.'”
—————————

Believe me, there are plenty of holes in the evolutionary theory, but instead of simply asking teachers to begin highlighting them, we alienated academia with our methods. By forcing intelligent design — at times upon unwillingstudents and parents — we shoot ourselves in the foot. Hell, we even invited Pat Robertson down for the obligatory “make a complete ass of yourself and religion” approach.

Dissatisfaction with evolution isn’t sufficient justification for the submission of an equally flawed new theory. If God has the random power to create new species, why wouldn’t he just do it all the time, rather than leave it up to evolutionary chance? Sporadic influence doesn’t sound too much like perfection to me.

Look, I completely understand the creationist argument. I even took that side when the debate came to my high school, but now I see that it’s becoming ridiculous.

“Why not teach both sides of the story?”

Because one side of the story doesn’t really fit in a science class. Its absurd to be teaching biblical tenets in a class based in mathematics and observation. It would be like a class on American history teaching the Japanese view just to keep things fair.

The compromise lies somewhere in the middle. You don’t have to be all-inclusive to be fair. Evolution is, in the end, just a theory. Thus, the balance lies in teaching it as such. There is no reason, nor available time, to teach both sides of the spectrum and everything in between. Merely presenting a simple allusion and mentioning repeatedly that there is in fact another side is all that it takes.

Conservatives feel so threatened by evolution (to be honest I have no idea why) that they have been making asses of themselves. Listening to the theory of evolution doesn’t make you a sinner, and no one is forcing anyone to believe it. You aren’t going to make any friends by forcing a countertheory on children. Do you really think that a science teacher teaching creationism against his or her will is going to change a lot of minds?

————————–
“How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God. What could be more elegant, more simple, more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to give us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein? Even if it did give us the Kansas State Board of Education, too.”
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Evolution doesn’t have to be the enemy of religion and conservatives don’t need to be the enemy of science. Faith may be an integral part of modern Republicanism, but it isn’t the only part. You may not believe that “separation of church and state” is provided for in the US Constitution, but you will find that most people do — and they agree with it. Politically, especially right now, this party needs to pick its battles — intelligent design sure as hell isn’t a strong enough theory on which to make a stand.

Instead of diplomatically presenting the cause, conservatives went around and made fools of themselves. Let’s leave that for the liberals. Let’s not move the public discourse backward with reactionary responses to things we don’t like. Remember, hearing the other side of the story every now and then never did anyone any harm.

More at:
Ryan Clark Holiday.com

Ryan Clark Holiday.com/Blog

Edited: nd

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  • http://ezsgblog.com/vtdawson/index.php Bennett

    I’m not sure where you’ve gotten the idea that this is a liberal versus conservative battle. Could you show anything that backs up this basic premise of your post?

    This is a Christian Fundie versus The Rest Of America battle. Both liberals and conservatives have spoken out against ID, and in rejection of the bastardization of science education through the infusion of ID into science classes.

    Although I applaud your willingness to embrace a new outlook on the subject, your presentation is filled with the same narrow mindset that had you arguing in favor of ID a few weeks ago.

    “Evolution is just a theory.” – No, it is a Scientific Theory. The difference has been explained here on BC dozens of times.

    “Intelligent Design sure as hell isn’t a strong enough theory” – It will not achieve Theory status until it has gone through the same rigorous tests and peer review that the Theory of Evolution has been subject to for the last 100 years.

    “Believe me, there are plenty of holes in the theory of evolution, but instead of simply asking teachers to begin highlighting them we alienated academia with our methods.” – What? You propose teaching a class that focuses on the things that are NOT known about a topic? How exactly does that work?

    “Class, today we’re going to discuss the fossils that have never been found.”

    Nice try Ryan, but your use of “we” and “them”, as in “us conservatives” and “them liberals” tends to outweigh any message here, other than more of the same dogmatic smear campaign against folk, of all walks of life, who just want the best science education for our children.

  • http://www.ebeefs.com Samboma

    I am amazed by the spuriousness of this argument, namely that because two great scientific minds found no contradiction between their religious convictions and scientific vocations, so Eureka!, both points of view are valid.

    One is supported by empirical data that has accumulated over the millenia, data that is as irrefutable as the fact that I wrote this sentence is self-evident. The other is based on faith, belief – and it is just that. I have no problem with people of faith – just don’t force it on others.

    And, why should the “unbelievers” force their views on others? There is no need for us to do so: when you are ill you go see your doctor, not your reverend, imam or rabbi.

    You may pray to God, but it is not him or her that actually cures you; it is the medicines and medical knowledge that are the product of the scientific method.

    Modern religion is nothing but the contemporary equivalent of sun-worshipping, shamanism and all the other religions of yore. But those who believe have every right to follow their calling – just don’t expect the rest of us to agree with you and say two and two is five. Count your fingers – that is the scientific method.

  • SonnyD

    Bennett, didn’t you come down a little hard on this piece? I read the same words you did and didn’t get the same meaning at all. I did not see any dogmatic smear campaign.

    Then you put words in his mouth that he did not say at all. A class on the fossils we never found? Holes in the theory of evolution can be explained as simply as saying that we learn what has happened on earth by dating and studying the various layers that have been left behind. Sometimes those layers have been destroyed by erosion-floods, ice ages, etc. We have no way of knowing what happened in this area at this time. That takes, What? Two minutes?

  • http://ezsgblog.com/vtdawson/index.php Bennett

    Sonny – I have no problem with accurate descriptions of geological history as we know it. But please read this paragraph carefully:

    “The compromise lies somewhere in the middle. You don’t have to be all-inclusive to be fair. Evolution is, in the end, just a theory. Thus, the balance lies in teaching it as such. There is no reason, nor available time, to teach both sides of the spectrum and everything in between. Merely presenting a simple allusion and mentioning repeatedly that there is in fact another side is all that it takes.”

    Is that a reasonable approach?

    Ryan seems to be pushing this hypothetical “other side”, ie a creationist viewpoint, to be mentioned “repeatedly” during a discussion or class on the Theory of Evolution.

    How is this a “new approach” any different from the very ID theory that he dismisses and ridicules.

    Tell me how I misread this Trojan Point buried in an attack piece against the “liberals” (and other malcontents) who want science class to be strictly the study of known science.

  • Alethinos

    It was a good post overall. I agree with Bennett though that it is a mistake to essentially wave a hand and call everyone “silly”. The Christian Right has an active agenda in this. The PC Left, for all the idiocy they can contrive is right to be alarmed on this one. Those that fall in the main curve should not few ID v. Evolution as a simple “can’t we all get along” matter.

    As a very wise man said over a century ago: SCIENCE WITHOUT RELIGION IS CRASS MATERIALISM, AND RELIGION WITHOUT SCIENCE IN NOTHING MORE THAN SUPERSTITION.

    Alethinos

  • Bliffle

    Seems to me that injecting any kind of religious quibble into a science course is inappropriate: it promotes the idea that religion has some kind of oversight privilege with regard to science, and I find that idea loathsome. Do we send scientists into the churches on sunday to quibble the spookism of preachers? When a preacher gives his sermon ought the Reason And Empiricism Police jump in and issue challenges?

  • Alec

    ID has (fortunately) split the ranks of conservatives since there are quite a few non-fundamentalist Conservative pundits who have supported the lame idea that ID be qiven “equal time” in schools. There is even a split within the Catholic Churche, with Jesuits and some British Church leaders denouncing ID, while the Vatican is taking a more hardline approach.

    But the larger issue is that ID is neither the “other side” nor a meaninful theory. It doesn’t explain anything, lacks a body of peer-reviewed research and always falls back on the idea that “God did it” should suffice. Every pro-ID article that I have ever read leans toward a view of a deity that is consistent with the Biblical God of the Christian Bible, but strictly speaking, the Kansas School Board re-definition of science to include the supernatural throws open the doors to an almost infinite range of options, from space aliens to a Wiccan view of human origins — all of course, utter nonsense.

    Then again, liberals should not be so smug, since the worst liberal claptrap that views Western science as a relativistic social construct, or which views the universe through the lens of “spirituality” without a central deity might also be amenable to the vapid blandishments of ID.

  • http://ezsgblog.com/vtdawson/index.php Bennett

    Alec – I would still argue that Conservative and Liberal are political generalizations, and have nothing to do with depth of religious conviction.

    Fiscal responsibility, civil rights, social welfare, business opportunity, education, farm subsidies, military spending, and international policy are some of the issues debated by political ideology.

    The reality of ID is that it’s a Fundamentalist Christian indoctrination program, nothing more.

    The is no “middle ground” or “compromise” available between those that wish to insert Biblical Teachings into the study of science, and those that reject polluting one of humanities greatest accomplishments with the fanciful suppositions and dogma of ANY religious belief system.

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    Until someone manages to prove without a doubt, the orgins of this earth, evolution remains a theory. Scientific or not, its a theory.

    My point simply was that teachers need to mention this, rather than teach it as both fact and as the only fact.

  • Alec

    Bennett — I see your point, and agree that “liberal” and “conservative” can be political generalizations, however the plain fact is that many commentators and pundits who describe themselves as Conservative and who are not Christian Fundamentalists have either heartily endorsed ID or have taken a blithe “what harm would it do to teach it?” attitude. Since many of these commentators have expressly stated the notion that some obeissance to a “Judeo-Christian” worldview is a necessary component of right-thinking patriotic American conservatism, they are at least tolerant of ID, especially when it downplays hard-core creationism.

    And as I noted, the Catholic Church (not strictly speaking a Christian Fundamentalist organization) is torn on the issue. A recent AP story notes that while the Vatican’s chief astronomer said that “intelligent design” isn’t science and doesn’t belong in science classrooms, another Vatican official, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, denigrated a 1996 statement by Pope John Paul II that evolution was “more than just a hypothesis” as being “rather vague and unimportant.”

  • Bennett

    This is classic, Ryan. You write:

    “Until someone manages to prove without a doubt, the orgins of this earth, evolution remains a theory.”

    Ryan, ya see, the thing is, The Theory Of Evolution has absolutely nothing to do with “the origins of this earth!”

    That’s a whole different issue. Evolution describes the accumulating knowledge of the progression and development of life on earth.

    Let’s start there, okay?

  • Baronius

    Ryan, you make a valid point about the compatibility of faith and reason. This used to be an important point in philosophy a half-dozen centuries ago. There is one truth; all means of understanding truth must point to the same thing. Where sources of knowledge appear to contradict each other, one of them is being misread. If scientific knowledge and one’s interpretation of the Bible are in contradiction, either the science is bad or the Biblical interpretation is bad.

    In the case of evolution versus creationism, I believe that the young-earth creationists are wrong. I also suspect that the ultra-Darwinists are wrong.

    I disagree with you about one point, that conservatives are threatened by evolution. Some Biblical literalists are. Most atheists are threatened by anti-evolution, at least the ones who don’t laugh it off. Theists can live with a 6 day, 6 hour, or 6 billion year timeline, as long as there is a deliberate creator. Atheists need a long timeline in order to accomodate a random creative process.

  • Anthony Grande

    Someone should pull out a Biology textbook and compare it to the first couple pages of Genesis.

    You would be surprised to see that they do not condradict eachother at all on the subject of formation of Earth and the order in which animals came first and how the gases seperated and how Earth was just a ball of fire before God touched it.

    Really, I am serious, try it. I did it last night and was surprised.

  • http://ezsgblog.com/vtdawson/index.php Bennett

    Alec – Valid and interesting points, but this blurring of description, this pigeon holing of people into tight little groups with expected attributes and opinions is a fallacy.

    America is too diverse to be stacked in like piles, and we don’t quite fit into the box, none of us. That there are conservative and liberal Christians is argument enough, but add in ethnic heritage – and the diversity of viewpoint that this brings?

    Who is a liberal, on all issues, or conservative on all? Thank goodness for the shades of gray, and the debate from many angles.

  • Alethinos

    Mr Grade… I, wow.. I’ve taken biology through college… I also have 5 Bibles in the house here including a Greek edition… Read Genesis numerous times and not once thought, “geez, this sounds identical to my biology text!” No where in the biology text is there mention of a diety. Nor in the biology text is there mention of live taking about 6 days to show up… In Genesis, given that it was written for humans – WRITTEN mind you -I’m not talking about the oral tradition – 3000 years ago when there was a dirth of biology texts, OR for that matter biology labs… No where in Genesis is their mention of DNA, genetic mutation, species differsification, etc.

    It’s ok AG… We can rationally accept science and still believe in God. Believing in God and that God DID create the Universe is fine. Delving into the mysteries of just how this Universe works is fine – the Lord gave us a mind to wonder about such things.

    But insisting that we TEACH – AS SCIENCE – that God created the Universe is a disservice to the students. It insults their natural intelligence. Because there is NO proof that it is so and there can NEVER be. The day someone announces that they have absolute PROOF – that they have God’s “fingerprints” on Existence – then whatever “God” that is will cease to be. Such a “God” isn’t. A Being capable of creating Existence has to – by the very logic that allows this – lie OUTSIDE of Existence as we know it. We would have no direct route to “prove” that Being’s existence… Hence FAITH…

    Alethinos

  • Anthony Grande

    Alenthinos,

    Genesis 1:1-3 When God began creating the heavens and earth, the earth was at first a shapeless chaotic mass…

    Now, wasn’t Earth at first just a ball of fire?

    Genesis 1:6-8 “Let the vapors separate to form the sky above and the oceans below…” (second day).

    Now, to have life and go through the processes don’t we have to have a habitable atmosphere and wasn’t water another thing that had to happen next?

    Genesis 1:9-10 “Let the water beneath the sky be gathered into oceans so that the dry land will emerge.” (third day)

    Now, wasn’t all Earth covered by water at first then the dry land began to emerge next in the process?

    Genesis 1:11-12 “Let the the earth burst forth with every sort of grass a kind seed bearing plant and fruit trees…” (also third day)

    Now, correct me if I am wrong but after the land emerged didn’t plant life form?

    On the fourth day it says God created light and darkness from the sun and the moon and that they will switch off.

    Genesis 1:20 “Let the water teem with fish and other life…”

    Now, didn’t life first begin in the ocean?

    Genesis 1:20 (cont) “…and let the skies be filled with birds…” (fifth day)

    Now, didn’t the birds come next in the cycle?

    Genesis 1:24 “Let the earth bring forth every kind of animal-reptile and cattle and wildlife of every kind” (sixth day)

    Right here a major part of the process of life is being summarized. First came fish, then reptiles, then cattle and other non-human mammals.

    Genesis 1:25 “Let us make a man…” (also sixth day)

    Now, wasn’t the human species the last on the list to form?

    Genesis 1:28 “Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; your are masters of the fist and birds and all the animals…”

    Now, isn’t this part true? Aren’t we dominant over all other life?

    How would the people writing the Bible 3,000+ years ago know all this when we, 3,000+ years later, are just learning it?

    About the 6 day thing, how do we know that this was a mistranslation or that this was a metaphor for 6 billion years?

    And maybe it actually was 6 days. Who knows? Biology doesn’t know for fact, it only has theories about the creation of Earth.

    “In Genesis, given that it was written for humans – WRITTEN mind you…” by Alenthinos

    No one knows this for sure. It is a complete mystery on who wrote the Old Testament.

    And don’t spin me, because I am not saying anything, I am only the messenger.

  • Alethinos

    AG… You’ve SPUN yourself…
    By this you are YOURSELF admitting that a.) the Bible quite often must be taken symbolically – which is fine, “Let he that hath eyes see” but b.) YOU are “reading” a HUGE amount, quite liberally INTO these opening sentences…

    Hmmmmm

  • Anthony Grande

    What do you mean “…quite liberally…”

    Please explain.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    You’d easily understand what “quite liberally” means, Anthony, if your mind had not been rendered incapable of processing the plain meanings of words. Set aside your prejudices and look into a good dictionary to find out what the word “liberal” really means. In particular, note that some of its contexts are entirely non-political. The word still carries simple and practical meaning, despite decades of dedicated effort to turn it into a brainless insult.

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    ——————-

    “Until someone manages to prove without a doubt, the orgins of this earth, evolution remains a theory.”

    Ryan, ya see, the thing is, The Theory Of Evolution has absolutely nothing to do with “the origins of this earth!”

    That’s a whole different issue. Evolution describes the accumulating knowledge of the progression and development of life on earth.

    Let’s start there, okay?
    ———————-

    Bennett, you might not remember high school science, but I do. Simple evolution is not the only thing taught–if it was ID wouldnt be in conflict. What is taught, however, is that science can explain our entire existence and where we came from.

    I’ll take responsibilty for wording it badly. When I said “teaching evolution” I meant the anti-thesis of creationism, or the big-bang theory.

    —————
    I disagree with you about one point, that conservatives are threatened by evolution. Some Biblical literalists are. Most atheists are threatened by anti-evolution, at least the ones who don’t laugh it off. Theists can live with a 6 day, 6 hour, or 6 billion year timeline, as long as there is a deliberate creator. Atheists need a long timeline in order to accomodate a random creative process.
    —————-

    You are exactly right..sort of. Conservatism isn’t the enemy of evolution, but its making it appear that way. Our tactics are self-destructive and that is my point.

  • JR

    Anthony Grande: Genesis 1:11-12 “Let the the earth burst forth with every sort of grass a kind seed bearing plant and fruit trees…” (also third day)

    On the fourth day it says God created light and darkness from the sun and the moon and that they will switch off.

    So plants formed before the Sun was created?

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    “As liberals attempt to make science the enemy of religion, conservatives dignify this idiocy with intelligent design rather than by pointing out the flaws in the argument.”

    On behalf of liberals let me correct some popular misconceptions. We don’t believe that science is the enemy of religion. We believe that God is the enemy of religion. In fact we believe that he detests it. We also believe that the person he detests the most is Pat Robertson. We advise anyone reading this not stand too close to Rev. Robertson during a thunderstorm or you may catch a little second hand smoke. Ultimately, we are moralists and we are deeply offended by the suggestion that God is a childish, vengeful, psychopath who retaliates against local communities based on the results of school board elections. We also are deeply offended by anyone who claims to be the one and only spokesman for God. And if you think that all wisdom flows from a single book then we advise to consider reading a second book. This week we’re recommending the Harry Potter series.

  • Anthony Grande

    So plants formed before the Sun was created?

    No, you see what it is saying is that God made it so the huge light source, the sun, would preside of daytime and the smaller one, the moon, would preside over darkness. It says nothing on the actual creation of the sun or moon.

    Also, my translation was incorrect of the fourth day. I see that now. Yesterday I was in a hurry. The one I gave above is the accurate one.

  • Luke

    Conservatives Acting like Liberals: The Foolishness of Intelligent Design

    Yes, but everything else the conservatives think is pure gold, unlike everything that liberals think, which is dumb DUMB DUMB!!!!! Therefore the only time a conservative has a stupid idea, he’s behaving like a ‘stupid foolish liberal’, instead of a ‘smart intellectual conservative’ <–mutually inclusive terms, as a stupid foolish conservative is an impossible entity, similarly a smart intellectual liberal is also an impossible entity, much in the way that you can’t have spicey mexican flavoured ice cream.

  • Luke

    “Bennett, you might not remember high school science, but I do. Simple evolution is not the only thing taught–if it was ID wouldnt be in conflict. What is taught, however, is that science can explain our entire existence and where we came from. ”

    “I’ll take responsibilty for wording it badly. When I said “teaching evolution” I meant the anti-thesis of creationism, or the big-bang theory.”

    Your post was about intelligent design and evolution, both are theories about biology, how the fuck is that anything to do with creationism vs the big bang, which is a completely different field of science, astronomy/astrophysics etc, and I don’t see how creationism has anything to say about that at all, scientists are mapping background mircowave radiation and measuring gravitational forces in other galaxies with space bound satelites and stuff, they’ve got entire libraries full a stuff written about it, creationism only has one phrase written in pretty bold letters “GOD DID IT”
    and after all that, when I was in high school, I don’t remember the science teacher ever saying that science is always right, i remember something being mentioned about the big bang, but they basically said, this is a hunch that science has, that there was this big bang which created all the matter in the universe, I never distinctly remember them saying the big bang is proven fact, having said that, what if god wanted to make a big bang, he could fuckin do it couldn’t he, so at the end of the day, creationism has nothing to say about it, unless you’re in a philosophy class, basically, my view is, if there is something we don’t know, we should never plug god into that empty space, scientists are trying to understand and explain the natural world, it’s counterproductive to continually try and stick a supernatural bandaid over the patch we don’t yet fully understand

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Spicy Mexican ice cream is delicious.

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    —————-
    if there is something we don’t know, we should never plug god into that empty space, scientists are trying to understand and explain the natural world, it’s counterproductive to continually try and stick a supernatural bandaid over the patch we don’t yet fully understand
    —————-

    you do realize that I agree with that, and in fact, that very idea is what motivated me to write my article right?

  • Maurice

    Nice job, Ryan. I got a kick out of the book reference. Long live overeducated white trash!

    This debate reminds me of the debate over light. Is it a wave or a particle? The wave people are very convinced that the particle people are idiots. The particle people can’t believe the wave people can ignore the scientific evidence.

    As far fetched as evolution appears to be, it should be considered in science classes as a possibility.

    Ignatius Reilly lives on in this thread.

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    Good point about the wave/particle theory being open to debate. I think each school board should decide for itself what to teach in a number of subjects including:

    — whether light is a wave, particle or small piece of linguini
    — whether to teach the Heisenberg uncertainty or the theory put forward by the guy who lives down the street from me and collects petrified dog shit in a coffee can in his living room
    — whether the earth is billions of years old or was created in 1958
    — whether President Kennedy was assasinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, or was killed in a smelting accident in Milwaukee
    — whether the US entered WWII after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor or after the Belgian navy attacked attacked Passaic, NJ

    Children have all the options presented to them so that they can decide for themselves what to believe.

  • Maurice

    TFD

    I am guessing you are a fan of Feynman.

    Don’t be so sure. There are very few absolutes in science.

    You strike me as a “tastes great!” guy. Ryan is a “less filling!” guy. I just like beer.

    Hope this is not too subtle for you….

  • gonzo marx

    just one bit on this Thread fer me ta chime in on…

    ya’ll are Aware that Krauthammer is one of THE founding neocons…with Wolfowitzh anbd Kristol, they studied under the Founder , Leon Strauss at thge University of Chicago

    just wanted to point this one out, especially since all those mentioned are reformed Jews and NOT christians…

    as for the rest…Bog knows i have ranted on it enough in other Threads…

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    Maurice:
    I wouldn’t presume to argue the merits of the ID / evolution “debate.” I am qualified to observe however that ID is accepted by the tiniest fringe of “scientists” in the field. You could probably find as many practioners of astrology as ID. It is patently absurd for a school board or other political institution to inject itself into a scientific debate which doesn’t even exist among real scientists. Such institutions should concern themselves only with distinguishing mainstream scientific thought from crackpot bullshit. I recognize that sometimes, the mainstream scientific community is wrong. Eventually, it rights itself. That’s when you adjust your curriculum.

  • td

    “Merely presenting a simple allusion and mentioning repeatedly that there is in fact another side is all that it takes.”

    Ummm, how about we don’t mention ID at all. That works better for me.

    Or if you’d like, maybe we can mention in religion class that many scientist don’t believe in any existence of god.

    You know, just present a simple statement about the other side is all it takes.

    For ex: “And now before Billy reads from the bible I would just like to remind everyone that many Scientist and historians believe the bible is just a bunch of bullshit written by peasants over 2000 years ago, that is only around today because the it was a conveniant means of controlling the poor.”

    I mean, if you want to compromise that is.

  • gonzo marx

    argh!!

    one last time fer the cheap seats…

    ID is NOT a scientific Theory by definition…look it up

    Evoloution IS a scientific Theory, also by definition…

    ID = Metaphysics

    Evolution = Science…as imperfect as it is

    in those HS biology classes the differences between a Law and a Theory ARE well defined and taught…then Evoloution is bought out in biology class as a THEORY

    sooOOOooOOOooo…where’s the problem here?

    the caveat that Evoloutionary Theory is NOT perfect, but does provide the best model at the moment, one that changes as new facts and data are discovered, is ALREADY being taught in the scince classroom..and at the college level the students are challenged to prove/disprove any of it that they can..( read:Thesis papers and Masters/Doctorate Dissertations)

    so the canard that it is being taught as “fact” is just so much horseshit flung by theofascists to further their agenda of bringing back the Dark Ages where the only Authority was the priest telling the flock what God wants them to do today

    fuck that

    ID makes for interesting sophistry and woudl be a blast to get into in a Metaphysics discussion…

    but it ain’t science..and it ain’t a Theory…in the terms of science it woudl be “an unprovable Hypothesis”

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    Gonzo:
    In my opinion, you are a genius.

  • Prospector Pete

    The compatibility argument makes sense, but there are three major problems with disallowing a Creation class for parents to send their kids to.

    First, there is the matter of choice. A parent pays for public school, not the government, not a random egghead, not the NSF, nor any political party, so the parents should be able to have a say in what their own kids learn.

    Second, science in general suffers from a widespread abuse of the concept of biological and geological time overestimation that the estimates they make at large become so unscientific it ceases to be science. Just to populate the PRESENT day species of earth evolution would have to crank out a biologically impossible amount of organisms at a physically impossible rate, now add in the PAST species and you come to a figure that is laughable. Problems like these aren’t peripheral for science, they are integral.

    Third, it is not well known that philosophy is the trunk of the tree of knowledge. So to argue that that religion “philosophizes” science too much is to misunderstand the structure of knowledge itself.

    Until this stuff gets worked out, I will be Creationist.

  • troll

    *First, there is the matter of choice. A parent pays for public school, not the government, not a random egghead, not the NSF, nor any political party, so the parents should be able to have a say in what their own kids learn.*

    In (pseudo scientific) theory – the government is ‘of the people’ and therefore the parents do have a say through some kind of representative process

    take your sedition off my bridge

    troll

  • troll

    * Just to populate the PRESENT day species of earth evolution would have to crank out a biologically impossible amount of organisms at a physically impossible rate, now add in the PAST species and you come to a figure that is laughable.*

    pains of improbabilities are basic to science – they let the scientist know that there must be physical laws yet to be uncovered

    IDers and creationists are quitters

    take your feint hearts off my ever so scientific bridge

    troll

    troll

  • Maurice

    I am not supporting ID at all. In fact I endorse Ryan’s second sentence.

    The point I was trying to make is that scientists are constantly wrong. Science is so boring that it doesn’t get air play when it falls on its face. Medical science on the other hand has gotten tremendous attention when things went wrong. Thalidomide is probably the most well known booboo.

    When scientists say they have a theory you can just about bet it will soon be supplanted by yet another theory.

    That is why Ryan’s second sentence caught my eye.

  • JR

    Prospector Pete: First, there is the matter of choice. A parent pays for public school, not the government, not a random egghead, not the NSF, nor any political party, so the parents should be able to have a say in what their own kids learn.

    Schools aren’t a simply a service for parents, catering to their every whim like a hired nanny. The government, funded by all of the taxpayers, not just the parents, provides schooling to further the goals of the nation as a whole. As a nation, we need a voter base knowledgeable in empirically demonstrated “truths”, or at least the best possible estimates. It is in our interest that students are exposed to ideas and politics broader than and often in direct contradiction to the often narrow views of their parents. Moreover, given the importance of technology, it is in the nation’s economic interest that students be educated in the most accurate technical knowledge and scientific theories, as can only be reliably determined by those who are already successful in the technical and scientific fields: scientists.

    Therefore, the science curriculum in public schools should be determined by proven experts like the NSF, rather than random parents.

    Second, science in general suffers from a widespread abuse of the concept of biological and geological time overestimation that the estimates they make at large become so unscientific it ceases to be science. Just to populate the PRESENT day species of earth evolution would have to crank out a biologically impossible amount of organisms at a physically impossible rate, now add in the PAST species and you come to a figure that is laughable. Problems like these aren’t peripheral for science, they are integral.

    I don’t get your objection. Proposing a very large estimate of elapsed time should bring down the rate of generation required to account for the number of organisms. Why do you have a problem with overestimation of time? Given your objections, shouldn’t you be accusing them of underestimating the time?

    (Or perhaps I misunderstand your objection; your writing is a little unclear to me. For instance, what exactly is the “concept of time overestimation” and how is it abused? What does it mean to populate a species? And what distinguishes the estimates they make “at large” from any other estimates they may make?)

    And how do you decide what constitutes “biologically impossible”? What would be a possible “amount of organisms”? And on what experimental results do you base your estimation?

  • td

    How do you confirm that something is “biologically impossible” without using science?

    Science based upon testable hypothesis. Which Creationsism is not. And therefore should not be in the Science class.

    When a you come up with a testable alternative hypothesis for explaining the development of life on earth then it can and should be presented in science class.

    Science class is about teaching kids the scientific method. A method that has worked to create all the wonderous technologies that we have today.

    Creationism fits into the scientific method once as a hypothesis for the development of life on earth. But since it cannot be tested it is deemed and untestable hypothesis and you move onto the next hypothesis.

    That’s it. You cannot keep proposing an untestable hypothesis. This defeats the purpose of what you are trying to teach students. Students who will go on to apply there scientific schooling in jobs, most of which will have nothing to do with evolution.

    Is it worth harming the scientific education of children just for your own beliefs. Beliefs that you can preach to your own children for hours every night if you so wish. And if evolution is so full of holes, why are you afriad that your children will believe it over creationism.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I read Ryan’s piece and have slogged through the comments here. It’s hand spreading time.

    I pull my data from the ideas of Dr. Gerald Schroeder, an oceanographer who studied physics and graduated from MIT. He teaches here in Jerusalem.

    I suggest that you ALL look at two books of his – “Genesis and the Big Bang”, and “The Science of God.” Both deal with the idea that science and religion are converging and are definitely not opponents in man’s search for knowledge and truth. I suggest a further book, “Cracking the Bible Code,” by Dr. Jeffrey Satinover. All three are available from amazon.com. In these books, you will see all that I say below.

    Not all Jews accept the assertions I make below. Haredím, in particular those who follow the teaching of the Lubavicher Rebbe, reject them.

    1. Evolution is a theory. As originally posited by Darwin, it just doesn’t work. The archaeological record does not indicate a slow, steady evolution of species, but rather sudden jumps and sproutings. Therefore, one needs to change the theory to fit the evidence – not the other way round. That is scientific method.

    2. According to Maimonides, the story of creation is hidden. The story we read in the text is essentially for those who can absorb their moral lessons no other way.

    3. The story of creation as related by Nahmanides, a Jewish scholar who derived it from hints in Torah, is a relatively close match to the big bang as described by physicists and cosmologists. One needs to bear in mind that Nahmanides was not a nuclear physicist, and his frame of reference was a bit different.

    4. The age of the universe, approximately 14.3 to 15 billion years, was determined by Jewish scholars some 2,000 years ago, and confirmed 800 years ago. This information was obtained from hints in the Torah and Tana”kh, NOT through astronomical observation.

    5. The ages of the universe can be roughly divded into six eras, each era half as long as the previous one, that roughly equal the “days” described in the first several chapters of Genesis. They end with the creation of Adam, which according to Jews is an event that occured 5,766 years ago. After that, you get into real time history.

    6. Adam was not the first man. According to Nahmanides, he was the first man with a “neshamá,” a soul capable of recognizing G-d. This solves a number of difficult questions raised in the Torah. Like why was Cain afraid that someone would kill him after G-d told him that his brother’s blood screamed up from the ground, and who Cain married.

    7. Finally, Ryan is right on the money about Isaac Newton. Newton was a theologian whose main work was trying to decipher the codes in the Bible that he suspected were there. Not having a computer to do all the math for him, he was unable to pull it off. His work on gravity was just stuff on the side.

  • JR

    Ruvy in Jerusalem: The archaeological record does not indicate a slow, steady evolution of species, but rather sudden jumps and sproutings.

    Really? How sudden? Like, does the archeological record indicate that dinosaurs sprouted wings in two generations, or what? Give us some references, please.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    JR, I gave you three references, if you were looking. Google up Gerald Schroeder on the net. I’m sure he has something about this in an article somewhere. Also, just for the heck of it, Google up “archeopterix.”

  • JR

    Schroeder highlights the Cambrian explosion but he gives no indication of how long he thinks the “event” was. How can he claim the appearance of several new forms was sudden without a timeframe? Sounds like an unfounded assertion until I hear some more numbers.

    He also seems to confuse the lack of new phyla (which are mere classifications specifically invented to impose categorical simplicity on the variety of life forms), or even his purported lack of new body parts (hmmm, what about wings?) since the Cambrian with an absence or decrease in biological evolution. Most musicians have been using the same twelve notes for hundreds or years now; does that mean there has been no musical innovation since the Renaissance?

    And his statistical arguments strike me as completely unfounded. He argues: “Nature has the option of choosing among the possible 10 to the power of 390 proteins, the the 1.5 x (10 to power of 12) proteins of which all viable life is composed. Can this have happened by random mutations of the genome? Not if our understanding of statistics is correct. It would be as if nature reached into a grab bag containing a billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion proteins and pulled out the one that worked and then repeated this trick a million million times.”

    This assumes that viable proteins are unrelated, which is patently untrue – once one good protein is found, many others can be close variations. And it says nothing about the number of tries nature makes in the course of a million years, so his numbers lack meaningful context. Even at that, unlikely things can happen in few tries. The odds of winning the lottery are hundreds of millions-to-one, yet some bozo often does it in less than twenty tries.

    He has a habit of making misleading references to things such as the Science article “Did Darwin Get It All Right?” (Neither the question nor the answer address whether the theory of evolution is significantly flawed). Loading an article up with what is essentially spin doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in the actual logic of his argument.

    And I can find no reference to tell me exactly how many years passed between Archaeopteryx and its nearest previous fossil ancestor; in fact, I can’t even find dates on the Archaeopteryx fossils to within millions of years. Sudden? Who knows?

  • Bucephalus

    Pete: You got a lot of snark off one post. Congratulations. Watching species numbers dwarf evolutionary time tables isn’t convincing evidence to some people, maybe it is their sense of duty towards science. I have to agree with the troll, if a disinterested gang of microphoned-up pressroom jockeys doesn’t stop that Creationism class from forming then Mr. Wizard HIMSELF will reap vengeance on us all. Science right or wrong I guess…

    SNARK ON!

  • Luke

    Science thinks that supernatural forces are bunk, that’s obvious, and then the creationists come along and say, that’s unfair, the definition of science is geared towards naturalistic processes, it doesn’t allow for other explanations, well when was the last time a science professor got up and said, ‘unfair, the definition of religion is geared towards supernatural forces, they don’t allow for the naturalistic alternative, we should be allowed equal time to put forth our view in the religious studies classroom’ and then when they’re teaching theology is the classrooms, who’s theology is it? does the judeo-christian god/muslim god/norse mythology/ancient egyptian gods get equal time? science says the earth is round, where’s the proof, I want to present the alternative view that the earth is a flat disc held up by 3 elephants standing on a turtles back, ok that’s a bit preposterous, but what about history, there are alternative views of history too, why don’t they teach the ‘man never went to the moon theory’ or the ‘jews convinced japan to attack pearl harbour to get america into the war theory’ or how about health class, why is there no explanation of energy centers or shakras, we need to get both sides of these things, japan needs to teach proper WW2 history, they need to know that japanese soldiers were slaughtering innocent women and children dammit, or else china will nuke them for not being sorry enough.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    JR,

    Thank you for looking.

    Like I said, this is hand spreading time. Biology is not my strong point, but looking at the numbers alone tells me something is not “kosher.” Dr. Schroeder implies that the universe was created 15.75 billion years ago, which is what 6 ages starting with 8 billion for the initial age and decreasing by half each age woirks out to. But 6 trillion days (divided by 365.25) works out to 16.427 billion years. He uses 6 trillion days to explain the six day concept. If you were at the center of the universe at its creation you would perceive the entire creation as taking place in Six Days – at least that’s what I think he meant. His book was a lot clearer.

    I’m no mathematician, but faced with the math he is faced with I’d have increased the length of the ages a bit to fit the model.

    The reason I present Sr.Schroeder’s work is that I think he is on the right track.

    Of course it could be that a billion years here and there don’t make a difference btween friends, but somehow that doesn’t seem like what Dr. Schroeder is getting at. I’ll have to e-mail him with some questions.

    Thanks again for looking.

  • gonzo marx

    Ruvy in comment #42 sez…
    *1. Evolution is a theory. As originally posited by Darwin*

    incorrect…Evolutionary theory was originally posited by Lamarck…Darwin addd to it, and what is used today is as far from Darwin’s original work as the Human Genome Project is from Friar Mendel’s work with fruit flies…

    Ruvy then sez…
    *They end with the creation of Adam, which according to Jews is an event that occured 5,766 years ago. After that, you get into real time history*

    well, the “iceman” found in the Italian alps a few years ago has been dated to approximately 7500 years ago…he had worked metal tools, as well as a bow and arrow…kind of throws off the 6000 year thing….as does other archeaological evidence….China being a big one, the HIstory and dating of the “Middle Kingdom” really screws up the timeline you propose…

    and then Ruvy sez…
    *Adam was not the first man. According to Nahmanides,*

    and here we get to the crux of the matter when it comes to dealing with any kind of “holy” text

    who is Nahmandies and why should we believe what he has to say?

    this can go on and on when it comes to ANY “holy” book…ALL of them were written by fallible Men…even tho some claim to be “divine revelation” or “prophesy”…i for one, remain skeptical…could have been bad mushrooms….a political ploy…a tool to keep “priests” from having to work for a living

    on and on

    but it does make for some fascinating discussions

    it also has very little to do with objective and empirical data gathering…you know…science?

    Excelsior!

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    Ruvy, you can always be counted on to throw in some of the most fascinating comments–no saracasm–I love your posts even when I disagree.

    But…my dear fellow posters and postees, how much longer must we keep having this debate? Except for the problem of misrepresenting liberal positions, I was pretty impressed with Ryan’s initial post. I read the same piece, and the fact that he admits that it changed his views shows an intellectual honesty and integrity that’s, alas too rare. Now if he’ll look as honestly at liberal vs. conservative philosophies and discover that both have long ceased to have any meaning, he’ll be doing just fine.

    And Sir Gonzo, alas, you labor mightily in the fields, but your sagacious wit is strewn among rocks and mud. They’ll never understand.

    Let’s be simplistic, shall we.

    One, scientific theories always evolve and change as new information is discovered. That doesn’t mean Darwin was wrong. That’s like saying Einstein’s theories were wrong when he posited the cosmological constant.

    Two, evolution says nothing about creation. Nothing. Nada. Bubkes. Zero.

    Three, no teacher or scientist I ever met would claim that evolution is perfect and complete.

    Forth, I have no problem teaching religion, ID, or creationism in school–as long as they’re in philosophy classes. They don’t belong in science classes because they ain’t science. That’s not bad–it’s just different.

    Five, I’m getting bored with this whole issue. We’re never going to change each other’s minds. Let’s all go out and drink and dance and think deep thoughts about the eternal and everlasting beauty of chocolate and fine Irish whiskey.

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Jewish tradition, which is what Dr. Schroeder draws on, says the following,

    Torah, the first five books were dictated to Moses letter by letter by G-d – excepting that portion at the end dealing with his death.

    The other portions of the Hebrew Bible were written by men.

    Thus, Torah is the word of G-d. Does this mean that it is the “literal truth” the way Christians seem to understand that phrase?

    No.

    There are many “errors” in the Hebrew – mispellings, grammatical irregularities and so forth. Did G-d need a spell-checker? Did He need a secretary or an editor?

    No.

    The mistakes are flags for those reading the Torah to look further and contemplate. In other words, there is more to the text than meets the eye.

    So Jewish scholars look into the text. One such scholar was Maimonides, who argued that the first 31 sentences of Genesis were truth – but under that truth was a further story to be looked for.

    Who is Nahmanides that we should pay any attention to him? Picked up the following on the net.

    Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (RaMBaN)

    Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (1195-1270), known as RaMBaN or Nachmanides, was one of the greatest medieval Jewish scholars.

    He was a rabbi and a physician who wrote commentaries to the greater part of the Talmud and Pentateuch. In his commentaries, he often brought Haggadic and Kabalistic interpretations to the plain text.

    Nachmanides tried to save European Jews of his time from a schism over the issue of the great philosopher Maimonides (RAMBAM). Nachmanides had duel feelings toward the Maimonides; on the one hand he had reverence for the work of Maimonides, and on the other hand he disagreed with Maimonides’ rationalizing of the Scriptures, his rejection of miracles, and his enumeration of the 613 Commandments. Nachmanides tried to reconcile the supporters and opponents of Maimonides. After King Louis of France burnt all copies of the Talmud in Paris, the opponents of Maimonides decided to back down from this matter and all matters that cause division among the Jewish People.

    After a series of public debates in which Nachmanides defended Jewish beliefs, he was banished from Spain on a charge of blasphemy. He traveled to Palestine, and settled in Acre. He spent the last years of his life trying to educate the Palestinian Jewish community.

    Gonzo, what I said was “Adam was not the first man. According to Nahmanides, he was the first man with a “neshamá,” a soul capable of recognizing G-d.”

    So where is the problem with finding the bones and remains of someone previous to this?

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    I must be some kind of throwback then; I’ve looked everywhere and don’t seem to have a neshamá.

  • gonzo marx

    thanx for the bio, Ruvy….a fine bit of info

    taken from what you have then i am to extrapolate that either ALL humans are descended from Adam and Eve OR is it just the tribes of Israel that come from them and the rest are descended from those who came before without “neshama”…or souls

    i ask from curiosity raised by DNA data and the minimum required gene pool for species propagation

    there’s also some severe Incest Questions to be raised…either some of these “neshama” folks were “doing” their sisters OR they mated with those who did not posess “neshama” (see:Lilith)

    again, allow me to assure you, Ruvy , that i mean no insult nor disrespect…i am truly interested in this exchange and the chance to expand Understanding….

    however, i remain….apostate and heretic

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    thanks mark.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Gonzo, Chris, the idea here is that Cain was afraid of the folks who did not have a neshamá killing him – and that he also mated with these folks. Pesumably Seth mated with them as well, creating a mixed race of sorts. One would have to dig a little deeper to find out who was sleeping with who, but some sources may exist on this as well. This is something I’m not sure about.

    You stumbled upon something interesting with your question on incest, Gonzo. The definition of incest must have been a bit different in the ancient world than it is now.

    The royal houses of Sumer and of ancient Egypt tended to have the sons marry half sisters, with kings taking more than one wife as a matter of normal practice.

    Abraham, who did come from a Sumerian royal house, married his half sister, Sarah (which means “princess” in Hebrew), and his brother married a woman named Milka (which means “queen” in Hebrew).

    Evidently, the Holiness Code in Leviticus was designed, among other other things, to mark a break from this practice.

    I’m not sure, but I think that the ancient houses of Sumer and Egypt were imitating those whom we westerners tend to think of as their gods. I’m not sure that the entities worshipped by the Sumerians and Egyptians were not real. The Torah talks about “nefilím,” fallen ones. G-d seems to be talking to somebody when He decides to kick Adam out of Eden and when He decides to confuse the languages of Babel.

    There are questions in Genesis big enough to drive a tank through. The normal response is to say that the Bible is a pack of bull. That used to be mine. That is Chris’s and apparently yours. There may an entirely different approach to it all.

    Got to run.

    Sabbath is almost here.

    Shabbat shalom,

  • JR

    The royal houses of Sumer and of ancient Egypt tended to have the sons marry half sisters…

    The way I heard it, the Pharoahs married full sisters. It works as long as they have no potentially detrimental recessive genes (and divine beings wouldn’t). In fact it’s a way of preventing recessives from entering the family line, at least until a mutation occurs.