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Tough Assignment: Teaching Evolution To Fundamentalists
Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette ^ | 03 December 2004 | SHARON BEGLEY

Posted on 12/18/2004 5:56:30 PM PST by PatrickHenry

Professional danger comes in many flavors, and while Richard Colling doesn't jump into forest fires or test experimental jets for a living, he does do the academic's equivalent: He teaches biology and evolution at a fundamentalist Christian college.

At Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., he says, "as soon as you mention evolution in anything louder than a whisper, you have people who aren't very happy." And within the larger conservative-Christian community, he adds, "I've been called some interesting names."

But those experiences haven't stopped Prof. Colling -- who received a Ph.D. in microbiology, chairs the biology department at Olivet Nazarene and is himself a devout conservative Christian -- from coming out swinging. In his new book, "Random Designer," he writes: "It pains me to suggest that my religious brothers are telling falsehoods" when they say evolutionary theory is "in crisis" and claim that there is widespread skepticism about it among scientists. "Such statements are blatantly untrue," he argues; "evolution has stood the test of time and considerable scrutiny."

His is hardly the standard scientific defense of Darwin, however. His central claim is that both the origin of life from a primordial goo of nonliving chemicals, and the evolution of species according to the processes of random mutation and natural selection, are "fully compatible with the available scientific evidence and also contemporary religious beliefs." In addition, as he bluntly told me, "denying science makes us [Conservative Christians] look stupid."

Prof. Colling is one of a small number of conservative Christian scholars who are trying to convince biblical literalists that Darwin's theory of evolution is no more the work of the devil than is Newton's theory of gravity. They haven't picked an easy time to enter the fray. Evolution is under assault from Georgia to Pennsylvania and from Kansas to Wisconsin, with schools ordering science teachers to raise questions about its validity and, in some cases, teach "intelligent design," which asserts that only a supernatural tinkerer could have produced such coups as the human eye. According to a Gallup poll released last month, only one-third of Americans regard Darwin's theory of evolution as well supported by empirical evidence; 45% believe God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago.

Usually, the defense of evolution comes from scientists and those trying to maintain the separation of church and state. But Prof. Colling has another motivation. "People should not feel they have to deny reality in order to experience their faith," he says. He therefore offers a rendering of evolution fully compatible with faith, including his own. The Church of the Nazarene, which runs his university, "believes in the biblical account of creation," explains its manual. "We oppose a godless interpretation of the evolutionary hypothesis."

It's a small opening, but Prof. Colling took it. He finds a place for God in evolution by positing a "random designer" who harnesses the laws of nature he created. "What the designer designed is the random-design process," or Darwinian evolution, Prof. Colling says. "God devised these natural laws, and uses evolution to accomplish his goals." God is not in there with a divine screwdriver and spare parts every time a new species or a wondrous biological structure appears.

Unlike those who see evolution as an assault on faith, Prof. Colling finds it strengthens his own. "A God who can harness the laws of randomness and chaos, and create beauty and wonder and all of these marvelous structures, is a lot more creative than fundamentalists give him credit for," he told me. Creating the laws of physics and chemistry that, over the eons, coaxed life from nonliving molecules is something he finds just as awe inspiring as the idea that God instantly and supernaturally created life from nonlife.

Prof. Colling reserves some of his sharpest barbs for intelligent design, the idea that the intricate structures and processes in the living world -- from exquisitely engineered flagella that propel bacteria to the marvels of the human immune system -- can't be the work of random chance and natural selection. Intelligent-design advocates look at these sophisticated components of living things, can't imagine how evolution could have produced them, and conclude that only God could have.

That makes Prof. Colling see red. "When Christians insert God into the gaps that science cannot explain -- in this case how wondrous structures and forms of life came to be -- they set themselves up for failure and even ridicule," he told me. "Soon -- and it's already happening with the flagellum -- science is going to come along and explain" how a seemingly miraculous bit of biological engineering in fact could have evolved by Darwinian mechanisms. And that will leave intelligent design backed into an ever-shrinking corner.

It won't be easy to persuade conservative Christians of this; at least half of them believe that the six-day creation story of Genesis is the literal truth. But Prof. Colling intends to try.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: christianschools; christianstudents; colling; crevolist; darwin; evolution; heresy; intelligentdesign; nazarene; religionofevolution; richardcolling; scienceeducation
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To: Havoc
Actually, my belief system fits nicely with the facts and evidence.

...then why is it that whenever you attempt to list some of these "facts and evidence", you keep getting them wrong?

What it doesn't fit with is your spin on them - that's an entirely different matter; but, you're not objective on the matter and will refuse to see it.

Oh, sure, right, of course, whatever you say.

That aside, I'm not the one begging people to accept the notion that my belief system is science - you are.

No, actually, we're not. But just for fun, feel free to quote where you mistakenly think we are.

None of you have proved it, nor have your colleagues in the profession.

And there's yet another example of just how badly you misunderstand science. Science does not deal in "proofs". To think that it does is to reveal a deep, fundamental misunderstanding of it.

They have rather failed to and instead proved that it is a belief system by ignoring facts that contend against them,

Such as? Name your best one or two examples, so that we can determine whether you have a point, or have no real idea what in the heck you're talking about.

suppressing evidence that disproves them, etc.

Same as above: Name your best one or two examples, so that we can determine whether you have a point, or have no real idea what in the heck you're talking about.

The argument isn't my belief system vs. yours. The argument is that your belief system isn't science

Because...? And no, contrary to your belief you have not yet made a case for that assertion on this thread. At most you've made misrepresentations about science and/or evolution, and then stamped your feet and blustered about how you've already proven your point.

and doesn't belong in the schools.

Science always belongs in the schools. And yes, evolutionary biology *is* science.

I understand you'd like to make it about something else; but, it ain't gonna happen. And I'm not sorry.

Support your claims, or retract them. The ball's in your court.

801 posted on 12/21/2004 2:16:18 AM PST by Ichneumon
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To: jennyp
Think of it as 1000 Zulu.

It's so much more civilized sounding that way.

802 posted on 12/21/2004 2:17:26 AM PST by Hoplite
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To: Havoc
And I'm going to help see to it that you're defunded and run out of the schools if it's the last thing I do on this earth.. which may be sooner than later; but, God willing, sooner.

803 posted on 12/21/2004 2:36:20 AM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Havoc
It will end up being run out most likely on that basis.. that it's a belief system, not science. And that's where it's headed now.

Okay, you've repeated this until you're blue in the face, but it's time to put up or shut up. State exactly what you think science constitutes, and then explain *specifically* and *with citations* why you are under the impression that evolutionary biology doesn't qualify as science. If you make any claims, you are expected to support them, by citing actual evidence from reputable sources for your claims.

And no, "so-and-so says that..." does not count. Nor am I interested in any tirades, speeches, or denunciations. You are expected to lay out an actual case for your position, using facts and logic, if you know how.

804 posted on 12/21/2004 2:40:59 AM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Havoc
[Are you of the opinion that the speed of light has been modified in the laboratory?]
That is my understanding.

Your understanding is poor.

If light can be slowed down that drastically,

It can't. It can however be delayed. No, this is not the same thing.

then one cannot state that the speed of light is necessarily constant or equal when coming from any given source compared to any other source.

One can state that it is constant, because it is.

Between that and the red shift issue, that pretty much blows any confidence in results based on light time

Try again.

You sure go out of your way to look for excuses to avoid having to accept the most straightforward implications of the evidence, don't you?

and leaves only Geometric projections which are of no confidence over infinite distances.

Wow! Your misonceptions about geometry are as amazing as your misconceptions about biology! No, the distances are not "infinite" -- do you even know what the word means? And yes, geometry is still valid over "really really big" distances". How on Earth did you get the mistaken impression that it's not?

The precision of the angles at base become a guess and thusly precision in general erodes.

The hell they do... You haven't the faintest clue how the angles are determined, do you?

Furthermore, there are many geometric methods for determining distances which do not rely on "precision of the angles at base", but then I guess you're unaware of *that* as well...

805 posted on 12/21/2004 2:48:03 AM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Havoc
There is no date stamp on the solar system requiring it to be older than scripture claims it is. 6000 years give or take a few. [...] There is no physical evidence that disputes Scripture.

Oh? Let's start here... The following is from a debate between Chris Stassen (the author) and a young-earth creationist:

(B) Methods scientists use to give an age for the earth/universe.

I will present three ways to derive an age for the earth:

  1. We can try to find the oldest rocks on the earth. While this doesn't guarantee an absolute age (for the original rocks need not be available), it can at least give a lower limit for the age of the earth. (Unlike Bob's limits, these are derived by dating a specific object.)

    The oldest rocks exposed on the surface of the earth are 3.5 to 3.8 billion years in age. Consider the various dating methods applied to the Greenland Amitsoq Gneiss:

    	  Rb-Sr isochron	3.70  +-  0.14 billion years
    	  Pb-Pb isochron	3.80  +-  0.12 billion years
    	  U-Pb discordia	3.65  +-  0.05 billion years
    	  Th-Pb discordia	3.65  +-  0.08 billion years
    	  Lu-Hf isochron	3.55  +-  0.22 billion years
    Note that all of the methods agree (3.68-3.70 is within all of their ranges of error). Isochron and discordia methods also have an internal check which identifies undateable samples. Similar formations which give similar ages can be found as well in North America, India, Russia, Australia, and Africa. This date therefore merits some confidence.

    If Bob wishes to object to these dates, he will have to explain why a 10,000-year-old rock was "created" so that five independent dating methods would all yield the same fictitious age.

  2. We can try to date other objects in the solar system. Both sides of the debate believe that other objects in the solar system formed at about the same time as the earth, and therefore an age for one of those objects is an age for the earth.

    The moon is not as geologically active (dating should be more reliable, as rocks have less complex "histories"). Again, the original rocks need not be available, so the age will only be a lower limit; the moon must be at least as old as the oldest rocks we've found on it.

    Lunar basalts were collected by six different Apollo expeditions, from six different sites. These samples all give ages ranging from 3.16 to 3.96 billion years, by both Rb-Sr isochron and Ar-Ar dating methods. When both methods are applied to one sample, the results agree to within 3%.

    Meteorites are not geologically active at all; there is good reason to expect that most are undisturbed since their formation with the rest of the solar system. Faure has a chapter on meteorite dating in Principles of Isotope Geology (this book is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand radiometric dating).

    Chondritic meteorites consistently give an Rb-Sr isochron age of 4.49 +- 0.07 billion years. Achondritic meteorites consistently give an Rb-Sr isochron age of 4.36 +- 0.11 billion years. A combined method using samples of minerals from many different meteorites gives an Rb-Sr isochron age of 4.46 +- 0.08 billion years.

    Note that a small percentage of meteorites give ages younger than 4.5 billion years. This is to be expected when events such as collisions cause melting and recrystallization, which would "reset" the radiometric "clocks." Still, most meteorites give the same age, and none give ages older than that.

    This arrangement of data is expected if the solar system is indeed 4.5 billion years old. I can't imagine how to explain it if the actual age is 10,000 years. But that is Bob's task - not mine.

    Again, if Bob wishes to disagree with the methods, he will have to give specific objections. He will have to explain why meteorites were created to give isochron ages of 4.5 billion years rather than, say, 91 billion years. He ought to have a reason why a 10,000-year-old sample could be expected to give an isochron at all.

  3. Finally, since we figure all of the objects in the solar system formed at about the same time (as do the creationists), we can construct a "model lead" age. This is a calculation which is performed on various Pb isotopes (some of which are the result of uranium decay, and others which are not). We will plot [207]Pb/[204]Pb vs. [206]Pb/[204]Pb of samples from several different objects (meteorites and earth sites).

    If these objects were all formed at the same time from a shared pool of materials, these points should lie on a straight line, and the slope of the line should give the age at which these objects became separated.

    If these objects instead had separate origins (for example if they were created out of nothing), then there is no reason to expect the data points to lie on a straight line. Since the age is determined from the slope of the line, a scattering of points prevents any age from being determined at all.

    In addition, if some of the samples were contaminated after the separation event, then those points should be moved away from the straight line, and again a meaningful age could not be determined. The fact that the samples do indeed lie on a straight line provides evidence that the resulting date is accurate, and that the samples have not been contaminated.

    Y-axis: ratio of Pb[207]/Pb[204]; X-axis: ratio of Pb[206]/Pb[204]. Data points: (1) Iron Meteorites; (2) Beardsley; (3) Modern sediments and young Galenas; (4) Saratov; (5) Elenovka; (6) Richardton; (7) Nuevo Laredo. I can't really do it justice in ASCII, I recommend interested parties to get the original. All of the points lie on (or very near) a straight line. The slope of the line represents an age of 4.55 billion years. The only reasonable explanation for this arrangement of the data is that (1) the objects in the solar system all formed from a common pool of matter, and (2) they became isolated from each other about 4.55 billion years ago.

    I doubt Bob has a convincing explanation for how young, "independently created" objects from all over the solar system could have their lead contents form an isochron. I wonder how he will account for the fact that the resulting age matches other dating methods' results for the solar system.



We have examined Bob's method for dating the earth. The method has many insurmountable problems, yet it is repeated in several creationist books which argue for a young earth. We have also examined some creationist complaints about the validity of the scientific methods for finding an age for the earth. All are either irrelevant or simply wrong. These are not the hallmarks of an enterprise which has reached its conclusions on careful study of the evidence. These are not the hallmarks of an enterprise which even understands the evidence.

Some accuse "scientific" creationists of ignorance or dishonesty. That may be true in some cases (e.g. Morris trying to palm off wildly inaccurate dust influx rates as reasonable values). A more reasonable explanation is that most of these mistakes are born out of desperation to support a view that the evidence flatly contradicts.

Perhaps Bob can do better than the leaders of the movement. Since Bob usually seems content to work directly and trustingly from their books, I do not expect it. Bob may surprise me and produce a reasonably convincing method which gives a young age for the earth. But if he manages to do so, it will not be a method found in popular creationist literature.

Bob's age for the earth differs by about six orders of magnitude from the value that scientists propose. This is not a minor difference. One of our two positions is like arguing that Alpha Centauri is closer to the Earth than the Sun is, or that one can buy a nice house in California for a quarter. The positions are so far apart that it should be trivial to choose the one that the evidence supports. It is. I have presented some solid pieces of this evidence. Bob needs to propose some evidence of his own, but he must also have testable explanations for how my evidence fits into his position.

Bob will have to offer an explanation for how a collection of young rocks from different parts of the solar system could form an isochron giving an age of 4.5 billion years. He will also have to offer an explanation for how the Amsitoq Gneiss could give the same (incorrect) date by 5 independent methods, all of which passed internal checks.

No matter how many "rocks" Bob throws at radiometric dating, he will need to present an explanation for the curious agreement of all of the varying methods. Proposing a deceptive creator is an admission of failure to do so. [...]

In my opening statement, the dating methods I used were all radiometric. I used radiometric dating because it is the only quantitative method I know for giving an age. There are plenty of geological formations which I could discuss (e.g. varves, fossil reefs and stromatolites, limestone and chalk deposits) that are very difficult to explain as features of a young Earth. I mentioned a few in my rebuttal (e.g. ocean floor sediments). But these formations cannot be used to date the entire earth - which is our topic.

I am somewhat disappointed that Bob didn't provide better objections to the radiometric dating methods. He mostly reused materials that he had posted previously to (I was loaded for bear, but faced gnats. :-) )

I presented only isochron and discordia methods. Bob gave objections to K-Ar methods, which he incorrectly generalized to all methods. For K-Ar dating methods, there is an "assumption that no parent or daughter product has entered or left the system" (technically, the assumption is that it won't happen without leaving detectable evidence of contamination). There is no analogous assumption for isochron methods, as a systematic contamination is the only reasonable explanation for a bad date which keeps the points on a line. That sort of contamination ("the mixing model") is detectable, was tested for, and was found not to be present.

Bob makes the claim that "radiometric dating methods are known to give very inaccurate (6-7 orders of magnitude) results." But this is in a tiny minority of cases. If these methods are so wildly inaccurate, how do five of them agree on the same age? If the five methods gave results similar to the metals-in-the-oceans method (scattered randomly), I would be first in line to call the Amsitoq Gneiss sample "undateable." (By the way, I presented the "raw" results of the methods; no "corrections" necessary.)

Bob also objects that the dates "have never been shown to be correct." They show a strong correlation with each other, with position in the geologic column, and with dates derived by other means. The methods work practically all the time on samples of known ("historical") age which pass contamination tests. I don't know what more Bob expects. He argues we can't "know" the age, but lack of absolute certainty doesn't make 10k years a palatable alternative. (Bob would need to explain how the dates could consistently be so far out of whack. Without that explanation, such an argument is worthless.)

I also want to take issue with Bob's argument against deceptive creation, which was to say that "the Creator didn't design the dating methods." All radiometric dating methods I presented are straightforward mathematical equations derived directly from half-life and isotope measurements (yes, even isochron methods). Agreement of the five methods is "appearance of age" just as surely as if the rock were labeled "3.7 billion years old" (perhaps even more surely, as a label is easier to fake). Bob pleads "misinterpretation," but fails to present any intepretation at all which could account for the sample's actual age being nearly six orders of magnitude lower.

Bob is asking me to believe that the Creator (without deception - by accident?) "initialized" or an unidentified process (acting for <10,000 years) "changed" isotope levels in the Amsitoq Gneiss so that five self-checking methods would yield the same (wrong) age. If this is creationist "science," it's unteachable in public schools even without religious reference. Arguments like that would justifiably get laughed out of any respectable refereed journal. But one can find lots of arguments like that in creationist "scientific" journals. :-(

An old earth provides the best and simplest explanation for the Amsitoq Gneiss dates, the Solar System model Lead results, the pattern of ocean-floor sediments, and the youth of short-period comets (see my rebuttal for the last two). A 10,000-year-old earth does not explain any of these things easily. [Note that I can use Bob's own evidence to contradict his proposed age!]

If the Earth were young, and the Creator wanted us to believe it, then all five methods applied to the Amsitoq Gneiss would give an age of 10k years. Anyone examining the evidence independent of religious conviction cannot escape the conclusion that the Earth is very old (Harold Coffin, a creationist witness at the Arkansas trial, admitted that under cross-examination).

In summary, Bob dismisses radiometric dates mainly "because they are not known to be correct." This argument holds no water because he failed to explain how the dates could systematically be wrong. It is merely a naked handwave, without any "scientific" hypothesized mechanism to support it.

Furthermore, this dismissal (on the grounds of "lack of certainty") implies that Bob's belief in a young earth is based on something which will override "non-certain" - but solid - evidence. I wish Bob had discussed whatever it is he finds so convincing. His seven dating methods certainly don't merit such an investment of confidence; I bet he would still believe in a young Earth even if he were forced to admit his methods to be unreliable.

806 posted on 12/21/2004 2:57:03 AM PST by Ichneumon
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no, it doesn't "piss me off", that you and I *believe* differently. How 'bout you? >>

good question. nah. I dont even know you.

as to what PISSES ME OFF, and actually makes me question my metaphysical assumptions as to justice in the universe, consider for a moment that Auburn is not going to the Orange Bowl. THAT is enough to make anyone who yearns for moral certitude tremble with righteous indignation.

The point I was snarkily making was that in conversations like these, there are empirical monists who wave around the collective opinions of the "scientific community" as if it were a talisman to ward off questions. It is a religious faith, arrived at like many religious faiths (not all), by absorbing the worldview of those around you. My illustration of this is the quasi universal acceptance of "global warming" among the scientific community. Never has there been a bigger collection of bullshit dressed up as "science" than this, and yet it is swallowed down with nary a protest in most disciplines (gotta get that funding and tenure, ya know!).

You bring this up and people react with the same righteous indignation as if you called Mary a prostitute to Roman soldiers. It's a religious thing...., you wouldn't understand [wink].

A final note: The insistence of 20th and 21st century science to "leave home" and insist on empiricism as a basis for scientific inquiry cuts the ground out from under "science" itself. Empiricism can never demonstrate the validity of formulating scientific laws of behavior. The bright scientists realize this. It is the chowderheads who think because they have a masters from West Apopka State that they do not have to examine the basis for their assumptions and go merrily on spouting nonsense about the uniformity of matter and the universal application of "laws" of physics. Again, it is a religious thing. They just don't realize they have a different catechism.

807 posted on 12/21/2004 3:00:07 AM PST by chronic_loser (Go to my blog:
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To: Just mythoughts
Please offended, you cried about insults and all I said was that E' are obsessed with the flesh.

Could I get that in English?

And the astute reader will note the large difference between the current version, wherein JMT asserts that "all he said" was that we are "obsessed with the flesh", and the original, "they are completely obsessed with their flesh".

All you seek to do is to lay a snare,

Paranoid much?

want to know what I believe, start with Genesis, as written in the original before man started playing word games and telling little children the fruit eaten came from an apple tree.

That's nice and all, but it fails to answer the question I posed. You wanted to see an evolutionist address a certain point you were interested in, and I'm trying to answer it, but I need clarification on what specifically you're asking about.

Once again, are you going to provide the clarification, or are you going to admit that you don't really want an answer after all? If the latter, are you going to stop complaining that "The E crowd never addresses this either they are completely obsessed with their flesh", since it's becoming apparent that you run away from honest attempts *to* address it?

808 posted on 12/21/2004 3:08:07 AM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Havoc
Beyond that, there are multiple dating systems that do not verify anything any more than they give any kind of accurate basis to judge a date on anything to begin with. When dating methods place skin on a beast 30k years apart from bone, that isn't substantiating anything, much less arguing for accuracy of the system.

Havoc is lying, and he knows it

A few days ago he made the same claim in this post on another thread:

"Nor can you account for how the sking of a beast could be dated 20k years apart from it's bones."
I responded by pointing out that he was quite mistaken:

"Sure I can, that's an easy one: THAT ISN'T TRUE EITHER. Creationist Kent Hovind was lying -- he falsely claimed that two different dates measured for TWO DIFFERENT ANIMALS were from the same mammoth, when they were NOT."

The link was in my original response to him. It documents very thoroughly that Hovind's claim was false, by getting a copy of the source that Hovind *himself* cited in support of his claim, and quoting it to show that it SAID NO SUCH THING. The skin and the bones were dated to different eras, but that's no big surprise because they were FROM DIFFERENT FINDS -- not the same "beast" as Havoc falsely asserts.

And Havoc can't even claim to have not seen my exposure of his falsehoods, since he *responded* to it here at 12/20/2004 00:49:58 AM PST -- a few hours *before* he turned right around and made the same false claim *again* in this thread at 12/20/2004 4:18:07 AM PST in this post...

Havoc, would you care to explain why you're bearing false witness to your fellow Freepers?

809 posted on 12/21/2004 3:24:49 AM PST by Ichneumon
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To: ExGeeEye
It's pigeon Latin from Terry Pratchett's Disc World series. It's the motto of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.
810 posted on 12/21/2004 3:28:01 AM PST by Junior (FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC)
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To: Ichneumon

"Obsessed with the flesh" placemarker.

811 posted on 12/21/2004 3:46:52 AM PST by PatrickHenry (The List-O-Links for evolution threads is at my freeper homepage.)
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To: BJungNan

That's not what he said. His implication that Fundamentalists are willfully ignorant has no bearing on Fundamentalists' intelligence, as the two are not the same thing. Maybe you should work on your reading comprehension.

812 posted on 12/21/2004 3:53:44 AM PST by Junior (FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC)
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To: Ichneumon
How about "kinds" where variety A can interbreed with B, and B can interbreed with C, but A cannot interbreed with C?

Can you give me an example? I'm learning while I lurk!

813 posted on 12/21/2004 4:51:26 AM PST by shuckmaster
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To: Ichneumon
A scientist is one who engages in science, by definition. Therefore, if the creationists or intelligent design advocates utilize flawed methodology, they are not engaging in science. A baker would not bake a cake using a belt sander. There have been numerous posters who claim that certain creationists (Henry Morris and Kent Hovind, for example) report dishonest findings.

However, mainstream science really disagrees not with their findings, but with their conclusions.

814 posted on 12/21/2004 5:18:43 AM PST by Wallace T.
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To: Ichneumon

Funny. I thought creationists liked the Second Law of Thermodynamics because in their opinion, it proves that more complex life forms cannot develop from simpler ones.

815 posted on 12/21/2004 5:22:01 AM PST by Wallace T.
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To: general_re
The limits of natural science are those of the perceivable, tangible universe. However, if naturalism, which assumes the non-existence or non-relevance of a higher being, is a procedural assumption for a given scientist, has that scientist not started out with a bias? If some evidence exists that indicates that a higher intelligence is necessary to design life forms, is the naturalist not faced with the same dilemma as the young earth creationist who finds evidence that indicates that the earth is 4.5 billion years old?
816 posted on 12/21/2004 5:57:25 AM PST by Wallace T.
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To: BJungNan
Start with this: What size pump would you need to elevate 160 gallons of water 300 feet up?

Starting with the observed fact that the rewood's pump works, Id say that one long enough to reach the ground would sufice. Are you suggesting that God personally intervenes with a miracle each and every moment in the life of a redwood?

Just for information, vacuum pumps can't lift water more than thiry feet. So the word pump is irrelevant here, as it is in every large tree.

817 posted on 12/21/2004 6:13:44 AM PST by js1138 (D*mn, I Missed!)
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To: Cvengr
Should we use the methods in Wien's article for nuclear weapons safety, or should we use Creationists Dating Mathematics? Safety computations are based on the same science as radiometric dating. Do you feel lucky?
818 posted on 12/21/2004 6:15:01 AM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Havoc
No just ignoring you. I have a pet aversion to anklebiters.

I guess that means you don't know and therefore your whole hypothesis is out to lunch.

819 posted on 12/21/2004 6:18:37 AM PST by WildTurkey
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To: VadeRetro

Thank you for directing me to the Web site.

820 posted on 12/21/2004 6:20:12 AM PST by Wallace T.
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To: Havoc
Asked and answered - for the last time.

I have been reasonably polite with you. I asked a series of questions and am unable to locate your answers. I have looked back several hundred posts without finding anything other than a generalised disdain for science.

I asked specific questions, not general ones.

821 posted on 12/21/2004 6:22:45 AM PST by js1138 (D*mn, I Missed!)
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To: Havoc
There are multiple points of authority on this question, not the least of which is the Bible ...

What is your authority for citing the Bible as an authority? What would your authority have been if you lived in 300 A.D.?

822 posted on 12/21/2004 6:29:59 AM PST by js1138 (D*mn, I Missed!)
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To: All

Havoc writes:

"...You'll never own up to being wrong even if it's pointed out clearly that you are wrong."

I could not help but smile at this snippet by Havoc.

Havoc posted on a thread earlier in the year that:

"a theory is still an opinion"

Luckily, there was a correction to that statement by FReeper Ophiucus:

"Incorrect. A theory is "An entire body of knowledge associated with a particular area of study, including the basic postulates, predictions based on these postulates, observations and experimental data, and their interpretation. [Cal Poly Physics Colloquium, 9/23/99]Theories are well described, repeatedly observed, and verified statements. When they have repeatedly confirmed over a long period of time, the theory for all practical purposes is used as true or fact, (sometime referred to as superb theory such as quantum mechanics)."

"Theory does not imply uncertainty or opinion - not in science."

see -

I don't know if there was any owning up to the incorrect statement that "a theory is still an opinion". Oh well.

Concerning the "anklebiter" name Havoc throws around later in the thread, it's not the first time the term has been applied to posters. When you can't argue facts, logic and reasoning, some folks resort to name calling.

823 posted on 12/21/2004 6:31:58 AM PST by Fury
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To: Wallace T.
However, if naturalism, which assumes the non-existence or non-relevance of a higher being, is a procedural assumption for a given scientist, has that scientist not started out with a bias?

It's a methodology, not a philosophy. There is no declaration that the universe is an impersonal place, only that it should be treated as an impersonal place unless and until that assumption leads to some contradiction or otherwise proves inadequate. In large part, this is because ascribing material effects to non-material causes doesn't carry much explanatory power along with it. You can easily say "God did it", or "because that's how God wants it" about virtually any aspect of the natural world, but that doesn't really tell you anything you didn't already know. If the question is, for example, "Where does lightning come from?", and the answer is "God did it," well, you're done - your investigation is over, because there's no hook to investigate material causes for this material phenomenon, and hence you don't ever learn anything about the material world beyond the bare fact that it exists and that God is responsible for said existence.

Now, when I said much the same thing on another thread, someone pointed out that you could undertake to investigate how God did these things, and thereby come to investigate the material world. Of course, such an assumption of an external entity does not appear to me to be necessary, nor do I find it plausible that such an assumption would necessarily result in better science, but I think you can do that and still be an honest scientist.

It's a hell of a narrow road to walk, though, because science demands a certain amount of objectivity and intellectual honesty, which may or may not be conducive to maintaining your particular worldview. If you, as a scientist, set out to discover how God brought about the diversity of life on earth, and it begins to look to you like "evolution" is the answer to your question...well, at that point, it may be decision time for you - revise your worldview, or abandon science. Or maybe your worldview is such that evolution being the "how" isn't a problem in the first place - personally, I don't like to tell God what he can and can't do, but that's just me ;)

If some evidence exists that indicates that a higher intelligence is necessary to design life forms...

Here's the problem with all such hypotheticals in this area - nobody has yet managed to explain what the hypothetical evidence would look like. How do we know evidence of ID when we see it? How do we spot intelligent design - especially nonhuman intelligence - in biological structures?

It's one of those questions that looks easy enough to answer at first, but upon closer examination, it proves exceedingly difficult - intractably difficult, in my personal opinion. Maybe you'll have better luck, but the track record thus far is not promising.

824 posted on 12/21/2004 6:35:24 AM PST by general_re ("What's plausible to you is unimportant." - D'man)
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To: shuckmaster
Ring Species: Unusual Demonstrations of Speciation
825 posted on 12/21/2004 7:07:17 AM PST by Junior (FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC)
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To: Wallace T.

Their findings are their conclusions. Neither Morris nor Hovind have ever done any actual research. Instead, both rely on data grazing on others' works trying to lift snippets out of context to support their conclusions.

826 posted on 12/21/2004 7:09:47 AM PST by Junior (FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC)
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To: Havoc
Havoc's Indignant Dismissal of What He believes to be the Theory of Evolution: "In at least the last 3000 years, no one has ever witnessed a chimp giving birth to a human being or anything similar. Argument sunk.. period."

My Question: "What does this have to do with the theory of evolution?"

Havoc's Answer: "Everything"

Oh dear. All that righteous indignation expended railing against a concept that is nothing more than a figment of your own imagination. I hope you realize that you are indulging in recreational wrath, swatting furiously at flies that are not there.

But perhaps you don't realize it. The phenomenon is curiously common amongst creationists. I suppose it could be a kind of self-induced delusion that, over time, becomes irremediable. It's as if you need a fight to justify your faith, and if you can't find a real one, you'll make do with an imaginary one. It's morbidly interesting to watch at first, but it gets old and kind of sad after awhile.

827 posted on 12/21/2004 7:48:20 AM PST by atlaw
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To: Wallace T.

You are exactly correct. Nobody here has ever claimed that there is conclusive proof of evolution. What the creationists want is for their ideas to be taught as science. If that's what you want, then come up with an alternative SCIENTIFIC theory which does better than evolution at explaining the observed data. For it to qualify, it must make predictions, and those predictions must be consistent with all known evidence. The predictions must be such that if it is found that the predictions aren't true, the theory will be modified or abandoned. It also should be able to explain why it is that the theory of evolution does such a good job of explaining known data even though the new theory is better.

828 posted on 12/21/2004 7:52:50 AM PST by stremba
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To: general_re
If you, as a scientist, set out to discover how God brought about the diversity of life on earth, and it begins to look to you like "evolution" is the answer to your question...

That sounds awefully familiar. It sounds exactly like what happened between 1800 and 1860.

829 posted on 12/21/2004 7:58:42 AM PST by js1138 (D*mn, I Missed!)
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To: Wallace T.

Actually, science must assume that a designer is not necessary to describe the world because there is no way to test for the presence of a designer. If there is a designer, then science will never be able to detect the presence of the designer. It just isn't in the realm of science to do so. That should not cause problems for creationists unless they believe that all truth must come from science. Since they are required to believe in God by faith alone, and science doesn't allow its findings to be based on faith, then logically creationists must not believe that all truth comes from science. I have no problem with teaching the idea that the universe is designed. I DO have a problem, however, with calling this idea science. It is not a scientific idea, and therefore should not be taught in a science class. Personally, I believe that a high school class dealing with the beliefs of all of the major world religions would be of immense value for students. (Much more so than most of the crap that's being taught in "social studies" classes today.) In such a class, teaching the idea of a designed universe certainly has its place.

830 posted on 12/21/2004 7:59:37 AM PST by stremba
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To: Junior

A very interesting article. Thank you!

831 posted on 12/21/2004 8:07:33 AM PST by shuckmaster
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To: js1138

Well, yes, but let's make sure the rest of the class has caught up ;)

832 posted on 12/21/2004 8:10:10 AM PST by general_re ("What's plausible to you is unimportant." - D'man)
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To: Wallace T.
The statement that the various species of life developed over a period of hundreds of millions of years through a series of evolutionary events, unguided by a superior intelligence

You know, much of the problem with the whole debate about creationism vs. evolution comes from statements such as this. An accurate statement of the theory of evolution would be everything in italics above that comes BEFORE the comma. Everything after the comma is simply stuff that's added by the creationists to get themselves all into a snit. The theory of evolution nowhere says that there was no intervention from a superior intelligence. (Of course, nowhere does the theory say that there was such intervention.) The whole idea of guidance by a superior intelligence is outside of the scope of science. While it may very well be true that there was intelligent design behind evolution (and I do believe that is the case) science will never be able to detect this design. Consider that a limitation of science if you want to, but let's at least debate the same ideas and not some version with additions that don't belong there. I think that too often these debates get so heated because we are talking past each other and debating false versions of the arguments.

833 posted on 12/21/2004 8:13:05 AM PST by stremba
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To: stremba
Creationism will have a difficult time establishing itself as a scientific alternative to evolution. Creationists may, here and there, bamboozle the idiot housewives who seem to predominate on school boards, but such "victories" are shabby indeed.

Evolution is supported not only by fossil evidence and a study of comparative anatomy, which was available to Darwin (showing hierarchical groupings), but also by several independent lines of evidence that turned up later, which could have -- but didn't -- give results that are inconsistent with the TOE:

* genetics (the inheritability of mutations),
* comparative biochemistry, including DNA (showing genetic relationships among species),
* geology (the age of the earth),
* plate techtonics (continental drift that coincides with fossil evidence),
* physics (radiometric dating of fossils and rock strata),
* astronomy (the age of the solar system and universe), and
* other supporting lines of evidence (tree rings, ice cores, ocean-floor cores, etc.).
Only one "teaching" is inconsistent with all these independent lines of evidence -- creationism.
834 posted on 12/21/2004 8:13:34 AM PST by PatrickHenry (The List-O-Links for evolution threads is at my freeper homepage.)
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To: Wallace T.

And evolution has what exactly to do with the origins of life and the universe? It has no more to do with the origins of life and the universe than meteorology has to do with the origins of the atmosphere and the water vapor in it. Again, let's at least debate the same ideas.

835 posted on 12/21/2004 8:19:24 AM PST by stremba
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To: js1138
Just for information, vacuum pumps can't lift water more than thiry feet. So the word pump is irrelevant here, as it is in every large tree.

FYI: Pumps can push water up hundreds of feet if you place them at the bottom of the well instead of the top.

836 posted on 12/21/2004 8:20:45 AM PST by balrog666 (The invisible and the nonexistent look very much alike.)
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To: BJungNan
Some people believe evolution is how the world was created

Actually, nobody that I've ever met or talked to believes this. I've dealt with two types of people:

1. Those who believe that evolution is false.

2. Those who believe that evolution is a useful scientific theory backed by a great deal of evidence.

Now certainly those in category 1 would not agree with the statement that evolution is how the world was created. Those in category 2 (at least those I have dealt with) understand that the theory of evolution has absolutely nothing to do with the origin of the world, the universe, life or anything other than the origin of the diversity of life. Evolution is only applicable once there is a reproducing organism and explains how that one organism can reproduce and change over time to produce the diversity of life seen today.

837 posted on 12/21/2004 8:23:44 AM PST by stremba
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To: Just mythoughts

I would think that most biological scientists would be very interested in finding scientific evidence for the existence of the soul. It would probably lead to immense fame, Nobel prizes, wealth, etc.

838 posted on 12/21/2004 8:28:44 AM PST by stremba
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To: chronic_loser
>"as to what PISSES ME OFF, and actually makes me question my metaphysical assumptions as to justice in the universe, consider for a moment that Auburn is not going to the Orange Bowl."<

-Ha! yes...Auburn got screwed...go Oklahoma!
oh...sorry; it's a religious thing! ;^D

>"The point I was snarkily making was that in conversations like these, there are empirical monists who wave around the collective opinions of the "scientific community" as if it were a talisman to ward off questions."<

-I was just pointing out that scientists aren't in agreement, I wasn't trying to use them to support any point of view.
But I understand what you are saying, THIS:

leads to this:

839 posted on 12/21/2004 8:38:02 AM PST by FBD (Report illegals and their employers at:
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To: balrog666

Yes, but they wouldn't be vacuum pumps, would they? Perhaps my terminology is defective.

840 posted on 12/21/2004 8:51:46 AM PST by js1138 (D*mn, I Missed!)
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To: stremba
Unguided, random evolution presumes that all things in nature, including the origin of life, are explainable through natural processes that may be measured or at least positively identified. There is no need for the intervention of a intelligent designer. An advocate of such a position, when reaching an area that he cannot solve, considers it a "black box" that future scientists may unravel. For example, Darwin developed his theory of the evolution of species prior to present day knowledge of genetic theory. The mechanism of evolution was not known to him and was a mystery. Since his day, evolutionists believe they have solved at least some of that mystery.

The advocate of such a position basically does not need the existence of God to explain the origins of the universe. If God exists, he would be an even more detached being than the "watchmaker" god of Deists like Thomas Paine or Thomas Jefferson. For someone who is an atheist, a skeptic, or a believer in a supernatural being who is less than omniscient or all powerful, the evolutionary process and an old earth and old universe are necessary elements for his cosmology.

OTOH, a theist, one who believes in an all-powerful and omniscient God, would believe that this being would not control the development of the universe through whatever mechanism he chooses: fiat creation, intelligent design, or guidance of the evolutionary process.

The position held by mainstream science, that of random, unguided evolution, reflects the philosophies of naturalism and materialism. Because of these presuppositions, the position does directly address the origins of life and the universe. It is also in conflict with any theistic system.

841 posted on 12/21/2004 8:52:43 AM PST by Wallace T.
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To: Wallace T.
The position held by mainstream science, that of random, unguided evolution, reflects the philosophies of naturalism and materialism.

Not quite. This has all been addressed many times before. You keep using the expression "random, unguided evolution." Mutations only appear to be random, because we can't predict them (too many variables), but they are determined by the laws of physics and chemistry. Natural selection isn't random either. The survival and reproductive success of various individuals is likewise determined by their ability to deal with their environment. It seems random, but only because of all the factors involved. In principle it's predictable.

Science does not embrace the philosophy of "naturalism and materialism." But procedurally, science has no choice but to work with the materials at hand. If you can figure out a way to verifiably work with spiritual phenomena, science will explore your evidence.

842 posted on 12/21/2004 9:07:13 AM PST by PatrickHenry (The List-O-Links for evolution threads is at my freeper homepage.)
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To: Havoc

We have been thru all this before:

843 posted on 12/21/2004 9:07:54 AM PST by RadioAstronomer
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To: BJungNan

Capillary action.

844 posted on 12/21/2004 9:10:38 AM PST by stremba
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To: BJungNan

If they are both religions, then I am waiting for a fundamentalist pastor to start presenting evolution from the pulpit on Sunday morning. When that happens, then I will be okay with creationism in a science class.

845 posted on 12/21/2004 9:20:53 AM PST by stremba
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To: BJungNan

It doesn't matter if EVERY learned, credentialed scientist believes that God created the universe, the earth and all life on it. That idea is still not science. Please do not confuse the personal beliefs of scientists with the theories of science. Even if all scientists believed in creationism, the theory of evolution would still be the only scientific theory that explained the diversity of life (or there would be no scientific theory, as was the case pre-Darwin.)

846 posted on 12/21/2004 9:34:42 AM PST by stremba
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To: chronic_loser

Auburn = Alabama Usually Beats Us Red Necks.

847 posted on 12/21/2004 9:37:10 AM PST by Junior (FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC)
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To: PatrickHenry
Your point, then, is that what currently appears to be random may at some future date be explained via the "laws" of physics and chemistry. But "laws" in the customary sense imply a lawmaker. The USA Patriot Act, for instance, was drafted by the Bush Administration, debated, modified, and then passed by the U.S. Congress, and finally signed by the President. To an orthodox Christian or an observant Jew, the moral law in the Old Testament was created by God and transmitted via Moses and the prophets to humanity. "Laws" in the sense you use the term do not imply a lawmaker, however. Scientific law and theory are based on observations and conclusions drawn by scientists, who define, but do not make them. Their validity is only as good as the supporting research and the reasonableness of the conclusions.

If nature is proven to be a closed system, entirely supportable through observable scientific laws without the need for a "watchmaker", then any sort of theism, in the sense of an all powerful, omniscient God, is invalid. This view may not necessarily preclude the existence of supernatural phenomena. For example, the Soviets studied the existence of ESP and "auras" of human souls while being firmly materialist in ideology. However, this area would be essentially irrelevant, except as a curiosity. The only valid metaphysics would be that of materialism and naturalism. If that is the case, theism of any sort would be invalid. If the propositions of Scripture are false, Christians would then be, in the words of the apostle Paul, the greatest of fools.

848 posted on 12/21/2004 9:47:19 AM PST by Wallace T.
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To: Dr. Eckleburg

LOL. I heard the religion moderators are scientologists, not to be confused with "christian" scientologists

849 posted on 12/21/2004 9:49:07 AM PST by D Edmund Joaquin (Karenga says Kwanzaa is an "oppositional alternative" to Christianity - which he calls "spookism")
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To: Wallace T.
From an NSF abstract:

“As with all scientific knowledge, a theory can be refined or even replaced by an alternative theory in light of new and compelling evidence. The geocentric theory that the sun revolves around the earth was replaced by the heliocentric theory of the earth's rotation on its axis and revolution around the sun. However, ideas are not referred to as "theories" in science unless they are supported by bodies of evidence that make their subsequent abandonment very unlikely. When a theory is supported by as much evidence as evolution, it is held with a very high degree of confidence.

In science, the word "hypothesis" conveys the tentativeness inherent in the common use of the word "theory.' A hypothesis is a testable statement about the natural world. Through experiment and observation, hypotheses can be supported or rejected. At the earliest level of understanding, hypotheses can be used to construct more complex inferences and explanations. Like "theory," the word "fact" has a different meaning in science than it does in common usage. A scientific fact is an observation that has been confirmed over and over. However, observations are gathered by our senses, which can never be trusted entirely. Observations also can change with better technologies or with better ways of looking at data. For example, it was held as a scientific fact for many years that human cells have 24 pairs of chromosomes, until improved techniques of microscopy revealed that they actually have 23. Ironically, facts in science often are more susceptible to change than theories, which is one reason why the word "fact" is not much used in science.

Finally, "laws" in science are typically descriptions of how the physical world behaves under certain circumstances. For example, the laws of motion describe how objects move when subjected to certain forces. These laws can be very useful in supporting hypotheses and theories, but like all elements of science they can be altered with new information and observations.

Those who oppose the teaching of evolution often say that evolution should be taught as a "theory, not as a fact." This statement confuses the common use of these words with the scientific use. In science, theories do not turn into facts through the accumulation of evidence. Rather, theories are the end points of science. They are understandings that develop from extensive observation, experimentation, and creative reflection. They incorporate a large body of scientific facts, laws, tested hypotheses, and logical inferences. In this sense, evolution is one of the strongest and most useful scientific theories we have."

850 posted on 12/21/2004 9:57:59 AM PST by RadioAstronomer
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