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Citizen MD [American Medical Association op-ed against Intelligent Design]
American Medical Association ^ | 12/02/2005 | Paul Costello

Posted on 12/03/2005 6:18:54 AM PST by Right Wing Professor

I’m afraid we live in loopy times. How else to account for the latest entries in America’s culture wars: science museum docents donning combat gloves against rival fundamentalist tour groups and evolution on trial in a Pennsylvania federal court. For those keeping score, so far this year it’s Monkeys: 0, Monkey Business: 82. That's 82 evolution versus creationism debates in school boards or towns nationwide—this year alone. [1]

This past summer, when most Americans were distracted by thoughts of beaches and vacations or the high price of gasoline (even before the twin hits of Katrina and Rita), 2 heavy-weight political figures joined the President of the United States to weigh in on a supposedly scientific issue. US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Arizona Senator John McCain, and President George W. Bush each endorsed the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution in the science classroom. Can anyone reasonably convince me that these pronouncements were not just cynical political punditry but, rather, were expressions of sincere beliefs?

So you have to ask yourself in light of all of these events, are we headed back to the past with no escape in the future? Are we trapped in a new period of history when science, once again, is in for the fight of its life?

In times like these, as inundated as we are by technical wizardry, one might conclude that American technological supremacy and know-how would lead, inevitably, to a deeper understanding or trust of science. Well, it doesn’t. Perhaps just the opposite is true. Technology and gee whiz gadgetry has led to more suspicion rather than less. And a typical American’s understanding of science is limited at best. As far as evolution is concerned, if you’re a believer in facts, scientific methods, and empirical data, the picture is even more depressing. A recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Science found that 64 percent of respondents support teaching creationism side by side with evolution in the science curriculum of public schools. A near majority—48 percent—do not believe that Darwin’s theory of evolution is proven by fossil discoveries. Thirty-three percent believe that a general agreement does not exist among scientists that humans evolved over time [2].

What if we become a nation that can’t chew gum, walk down the street, and transplant embryonic stem cells all at the same time? Does it matter?

New York Times journalist Cornelia Dean, who balances her time between science reporting for the Times and lecturing at Harvard, told me that she believes that science stands in a perilous position. “Science, as an institution, has largely ceded the microphone to people who do not necessarily always embrace the scientific method,” she says. “Unless scientists participate in the public life of our country, our discourse on a number of issues of great importance becomes debased” [3].

Others, such as journalist Chris Mooney, point to the increasing politicization of science as a pollutant seeping into our nation’s psyche. In his recent book, The Republican War on Science, Mooney spells out the danger of ignorance in public life when ideology trumps science.

Science politicization threatens not just our public health and the environment but the very integrity of American democracy, which relies heavily on scientific and technical expertise to function. At a time when more political choices than ever before hinge upon the scientific and technical competence of our elected leaders, the disregard for consensus and expertise—and the substitution of ideological allegiance for careful assessment—can have disastrous consequences [4].

Jon D. Miller, PhD, a political scientist on faculty at Northwestern University’s School of Medicine, believes that the sophisticated questions of biology that will confront each and every American in the 21st Century will require that they know the difference between a cell and a cell phone and are able to differentiate DNA from MTV. For decades, Miller has been surveying Americans about their scientific knowledge. “We are now entering a period where our ability to unravel previously understood or not understood questions is going to grow extraordinarily,” says Miller. “As long as you are looking at the physics of nuclear power plants or the physics of transistors [all 20th Century questions]…it doesn’t affect your short-term belief systems. You can still turn on a radio and say it sounds good but you don’t have to know why it works. As we get into genetic medicine, infectious diseases…if you don’t understand immunity, genetics, the principles of DNA, you’re going to have a hard time making sense of these things” [5].

Culture Wars and 82 Evolution Debates

Yet in some corners today, knowledge isn’t really the problem. It’s anti-knowledge that is beginning to scare the scientific community. Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, calls 2005 “a fairly busy year” when he considers the 82 evolution versus creationism “flare-ups” that have occurred at the state, local, and individual classroom levels so far. According to a spring 2005 survey of science teachers, the heat in the classroom was not coming from Bunsen burners or exothermic reactions but rather from a pressure on teachers to censor. The National Science Teachers Association’s informal survey of its members found that 31 percent of them feel pressured to include creationism, intelligent design, or other nonscientific alternatives to evolution in their science classroom [1]. Classrooms aren’t the only places feeling the heat. Science museums have also become conflict zones. In her New York Times article, Challenged by Creationists, Museums Answer Back, Dean detailed special docent training sessions that will enable the guides to be better armed “to deal with visitors who reject settled precepts of science on religious grounds” [6].

These ideological battles aren’t likely to vanish any time soon. If anything, an organized and emboldened fundamentalist religious movement buttressed by political power in Washington will continue to challenge accepted scientific theory that collides with religious beliefs. So one must ask, is it too farfetched to see these ideological battles spilling over into areas of medical research and even into funding at the National Institutes of Health?

Now I am not asking for a world that doesn’t respect religious belief. My education as a Roman Catholic balanced creed and science. In the classroom of my youth, one nun taught creationism in religion class while another taught evolution in science, and never the twain did meet.

Where Is the Medical Community?

The medical community as a whole has been largely absent from today’s public debates on science. Neither the American Medical Association nor the American Psychiatric Association has taken a formal stand on the issue of evolution versus creationism. When physicians use their power of political persuasion in state legislatures and the US Congress, it’s generally on questions more pertinent to their daily survival—Medicare reimbursement, managed care reform, and funding for medical research. Northwestern’s Miller believes that the scientific community can’t fight the battle alone and that, as the attacks against science accelerate, the medical community will have to use its privileged perch in society to make the case for science. “You have to join your friends, so when someone attacks the Big Bang, when someone attacks evolution, when someone attacks stem cell research, all of us rally to the front. You can’t say it’s their problem because the scientific community is not so big that we can splinter 4 or more ways and ever still succeed doing anything” [5].

So what does one do? How can a medical student, a resident, or a physician just beginning to build a career become active in these larger public battles? Burt Humburg, MD, a resident in internal medicine at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center, is one role model. He’s been manning the evolutionary ramparts since his medical school days in Kansas in the late 1990s when he became active in Kansas Citizens for Science. On a brief vacation from his residency volunteering as a citizen advocate for the federal trial in Pennsylvania, he said education is the key role for the physician. While he realizes that medical students, residents and physicians might not view themselves as scientists, per se, he sees himself and his colleagues as part of the larger scientific collective that can’t afford to shirk its duty. “The town scientist is the town doctor, so whether we want it or not, we have the mantle—the trappings—of a scientist” [7].

It is time for the medical community, through the initiative of individual physicians, to address not only how one can heal thy patient, but also how one can heal thy nation. There are many ways to get involved; from the most rudimentary—attending school board meetings, sending letters to the editor, and volunteering at the local science museum—to the more demanding—running for office, encouraging a spouse or partner to do so, or supporting candidates (especially financially) who are willing to speak out for science. As Tip O’Neill, the larger-than-life Speaker of the House of Representatives, famously declared, “All politics is local.” Speak out for science. Isn’t that a message that should be advanced in every physician’s office?

Northwestern’s Jon Miller concedes that speaking out may come with a price, “It won’t make…[physicians]...popular with many people but is important for any profession, particularly a profession based on science” to do so [5]. Consider this: shouldn’t civic leadership be embedded in the mind of every blooming physician? In the end, doesn’t combating this virulent campaign of anti-knowledge lead us back to that old adage of evolutionary leadership by example, “Monkey see, monkey do?” Seize the day, Doc.

References

1. Survey indicates science teachers feel pressure to teach nonscientific alternatives to evolution [press release]. Arlington, Va: National Science Teachers Association; March 24, 2005. Available at: http://www.nsta.org/pressroom&news_story_ID=50377. Accessed November 21, 2005.
2. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press: Reading the polls on evolution and creationism, Pew Center Pollwatch. September 28, 2005. Available at: http://people-press.org/commentary/display.php3?AnalysisID=118. Accessed November 21, 2005.
3. Dean, Cornelia. E-mail response to author. September 27, 2005.
4. Mooney C. The Republican War on Science. New York, NY: Basic Books; 2005.
5. Miller, Jon D. Telephone interview with author. September 29, 2005.
6. Dean C. Challenged by creationists, museums answer back. The New York Times. September 20, 2005. F1.
7. Humburg, Burt C. MD. Telephone interview with author. October 3, 2005.
Paul Costello is executive director of communications and public affairs for Stanford University School of Medicine.
The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: ama; crevolist; idisjunkscience
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To: 2ndreconmarine

Another way IDer and Creationists are liberals: They're pushing an affirmative action program. I don't see much difference between teaching ID and teaching Afrocentric history or Ebonics.


251 posted on 12/03/2005 6:16:19 PM PST by Virginia-American
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To: mdmathis6

Not in any science class I teach.


252 posted on 12/03/2005 6:18:23 PM PST by From many - one.
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To: balrog666

We could invent our own if you like. Trolls that is.


253 posted on 12/03/2005 6:18:51 PM PST by b_sharp (Science adjusts theories to fit evidence, creationism distorts evidence to fit the Bible.)
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To: balrog666
I can't seem to find a reference to it now.

Thanks for looking. Please let me know if you come across more.

254 posted on 12/03/2005 6:22:38 PM PST by Rudder
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To: furball4paws
Did you misspell 'Fleaing Cur'?

Is the cur male or female? (I know it's not PC, but I'm an old fart and generally take it easier on females)
255 posted on 12/03/2005 6:22:47 PM PST by b_sharp (Science adjusts theories to fit evidence, creationism distorts evidence to fit the Bible.)
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To: furball4paws

Finally, somebody who knows the difference.

It drives me crazy when people include drivel like Star Wars in with Science Fiction.


256 posted on 12/03/2005 6:24:41 PM PST by b_sharp (Science adjusts theories to fit evidence, creationism distorts evidence to fit the Bible.)
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To: b_sharp

My dictionary doesn't attach a sex to cur. I suppose you could use curette and cure' to distinguish them.


257 posted on 12/03/2005 6:32:36 PM PST by furball4paws (The new elixir of life - dehydrated toad urine.)
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To: b_sharp

Hey!

I thought Star Wars was great fun and the cantina at Mos Eisley was right out of Astounding Science Fiction ('50s versioof Analog).


258 posted on 12/03/2005 6:34:29 PM PST by From many - one.
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To: furball4paws
"My dictionary doesn't attach a sex to cur. I suppose you could use curette and cure' to distinguish them.

I suspect nothing will cure the cur's currishness like a currette applied to the cur's colonic cavity. I'm glad I'm not a religious man, I'd hate to be the cure applying the cure.

259 posted on 12/03/2005 6:55:27 PM PST by b_sharp (Science adjusts theories to fit evidence, creationism distorts evidence to fit the Bible.)
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To: From many - one.
Yes, Star Wars was great fun, especially when you take the time to figure out where all the ideas come from. But it ain't science fiction!

I stand by my opinion. :^P

260 posted on 12/03/2005 6:58:37 PM PST by b_sharp (Science adjusts theories to fit evidence, creationism distorts evidence to fit the Bible.)
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To: Right Wing Professor
Oh well. Better give up then.

No, you may be able to detect terrorist body odor.

261 posted on 12/03/2005 7:06:43 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: b_sharp

Maybe you'd prefer "space opera"

(space for imaginary emoticon of me looking down my nose at folk who look down their noses at the sf of my day)


262 posted on 12/03/2005 7:06:56 PM PST by From many - one.
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To: Rudder
I forget which Justice it was, but "I know it when I see it," was his test for pornography.

I don't have a test for pornography myself. I don't even own a pornograph.

263 posted on 12/03/2005 7:09:19 PM PST by Gumlegs
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To: Right Wing Professor
...we are fighting for...integrity...

The rest was superfluous.

264 posted on 12/03/2005 7:14:20 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Stultis
Look, I think we've all resigned ourselves to the fact that you're going to make quibbling or enigmatic interjections that you never explain, but could you please do it WITHOUT 770772 byte graphics?

Sorry to trouble you. But in future to prevent your discomfort, you can choose not to display images. Then 770772 byte graphics won't hurt.

265 posted on 12/03/2005 7:19:56 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: VOA

Well Chopra does rhyme with Oprah.


266 posted on 12/03/2005 7:25:32 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: VOA

Much of this is due to Orrin Hatch's bill forbidding regulation of "natural" things as opposed to "unnatural things" like synthetic drugs. Belladonna is natural.


267 posted on 12/03/2005 7:27:16 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: b_sharp
It's unethical to change the meaning of a quote.

However, Creationists do this religiously.

268 posted on 12/03/2005 7:30:56 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Stultis
So? We are not "Darwinists" as that word is understood by antievolutionists-who-claim-not-to-be-creationists-and-call-anyone-who-accepts-mainstream-science-a-"Darwinist".

There are two kinds of antievolutionists: people who don't lie about being creationists and people who do.

269 posted on 12/03/2005 7:33:01 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: furball4paws

You forgot to "Cry Havoc!" first.


270 posted on 12/03/2005 7:38:21 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Stultis
re: The antievolution movement doesn't now, and never has, had a damn thing to do with how evolution is taught, only that it is taught.)))

Well, if your side could ever stop its infernal, terrified caterwalling, you might take a lesson from diplomacy and shift the terms of debate. It's this adolescent refusal to even hear another POV that's going to defeat you. People who don't particularly give a hoot about your status as Scienceman (the superhero!) at least pay attn to how you frame an argument.

271 posted on 12/03/2005 7:44:32 PM PST by Mamzelle (evogracious#6--you unbelievably ignorant clown!)
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To: Virginia-American

Maybe they'll get the grant after they get the attention. "How to make an evo scream without touching him." Should be a great followup to Pavlov.


272 posted on 12/03/2005 7:45:52 PM PST by Mamzelle (evogracious#6--you unbelievably ignorant clown!)
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To: longshadow

On the other hand, there once was a school board member from Dover, who couldn't remember, when it was over, what he about finance....


273 posted on 12/03/2005 7:50:52 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: From many - one.

Damn you are a handsome fellow. Heh.

Quite the nose.


274 posted on 12/03/2005 7:51:49 PM PST by b_sharp (Science adjusts theories to fit evidence, creationism distorts evidence to fit the Bible.)
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To: Doctor Stochastic

Damn, every one in a while you get me to laugh with my mouth full of water. I'm just glad it isn't coke.


275 posted on 12/03/2005 7:54:34 PM PST by b_sharp (Science adjusts theories to fit evidence, creationism distorts evidence to fit the Bible.)
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To: b_sharp

Here I try to avoid posting drug jokes, and there you go with your post 275 just daring me.


276 posted on 12/03/2005 8:00:16 PM PST by Gumlegs
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To: b_sharp

Modest acknowledgment of your perceptiveness....and a perfect time to take leave for the night

May the force be with you while you live long and prosper.


277 posted on 12/03/2005 8:12:07 PM PST by From many - one.
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To: b_sharp

Oops, forgot

8,999,999,999 and counting


278 posted on 12/03/2005 8:13:33 PM PST by From many - one.
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279 posted on 12/03/2005 8:17:50 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: AndrewC
Hey! He's got my hat!

(Thanks for posting, AC). G'night.

280 posted on 12/03/2005 8:19:42 PM PST by Gumlegs
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To: JCEccles
Evolution has grave weaknesses that its proponents have struggled mightily to paper over or ignore from the time of Darwin forward by employing the Kiplingesque approach of "just so" myths. "Some chemicals bubbled happily in a rock crevice in on a paleolithic earthscape. An aimless bolt of lightning struck and the chemicals said, 'I got it! let's become DNA!""

The theory of evolution says nothing like the above. If you don't understand what evolution says, then you have no credibility when speaking on any alleged "weaknesses".
281 posted on 12/03/2005 8:24:04 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: balrog666

Looks like JCEccles is already ignoring anyone who points out that his or her rants are nothing but lies.


282 posted on 12/03/2005 8:28:26 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: Mamzelle
Well, if your side could ever stop its infernal, terrified caterwalling, you might take a lesson from diplomacy and shift the terms of debate.

Indeed. How dare we require that arguments be founded in logic, rationality and reality!
283 posted on 12/03/2005 8:30:14 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: b_sharp
It's unethical to change the meaning of a quote. How many others of your quotes are similarly presented as disingenuously?

It's generally safe to assume that any quote that Matchett-PI is being presented in a dishonest out-of-context fashion. You'll find that the only ones that aren't presented that way are the ones that she has fabricated outright. Matchett-PI is well-established as a completely shameless liar.
284 posted on 12/03/2005 8:31:42 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: JudgemAll

Remember how "scientific" the AMA was about ulcers for so many years?


285 posted on 12/03/2005 8:35:42 PM PST by AmericanVictory (Should we be more like them, or they like us?)
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To: Gumlegs
G'night.

God bless you and goodnight. Remember "Don't Panic."

I'm in a good mood now and you make it even better. Prokofiev's violin concertos do wonders for my mood.

286 posted on 12/03/2005 8:37:12 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: JCEccles
Evolutionists, on the other hand, quite clearly name and identify their organizing deity. It is none other than Chaos.

Your whole post is a pack of non-sense. And there is no "ID Theory," they won't commit to whether the universe is 6000 years old, or 6 billion years old. All they say is, "It's too complicated." Well, it isn't.

287 posted on 12/03/2005 8:37:12 PM PST by MRMEAN (Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of congress;but I repeat myself. Mark Twain)
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To: Gumlegs
I don't even own a pornograph.

lol! All I have is some 8-track cassettes left and nothing to play them in.

288 posted on 12/03/2005 8:38:31 PM PST by Rudder
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To: MRMEAN
they won't commit to whether the universe is 6000 years old, or 6 billion years old. All they say is, "It's too complicated." Well, it isn't.

Okay, it's not complicated. So we'll make it even more simple. Can you make a bacteria from simply combined elements in a week? Life does it in minutes.

289 posted on 12/03/2005 8:59:06 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: PatrickHenry

Thanks for the ping!


290 posted on 12/03/2005 10:04:20 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: JudgemAll
Chesterton already said decades ago that the naturalistic explanations for evolution are actually the theory of spontaneous generation cloaked in millions of years. But then the debate might have to be renamed, if it is really a contest between advocates and opponents of spontaneous generation. It might be useful to remember that spontaneous generation old style was regarded as the scientific theory before Pasteur's experiment. Now, we have a modern theory of spontaneous generation which does not lend itself so easily to experimental refutation. But unless a scientist can make life forms emerge from a reproducible experiment, to what extent can it be said that spontaneous generation new style has been confirmed by experimental science? It seems rather that spontaneous generations seems more scientific because it is the only explanation compatible with the basic postulates of experimental science — more a philosophical contention than a conclusion from observations. The no less philosophical reply would then be that spontaneous generation implies that information can come out of its absence, a violation the basic postulate of metaphysics that nothing can come out of nothing. Another basic postulate of experimental science is that the systems it studies are subject to constant laws. If really new information appears in the system, such laws may change during the period considered and then no general conclusions may be drawn any longer. Thus experimental science must postulate that no really new information can really appears in the systems it studies. The question then arises as to whether experimental science can logically account for a phenomenon — the appearance of new information — it has to assume do not take place in the systems it studies. For what it calls "evolution" — and we may follow that practice — is nothing but the progressive appearance of new information in the biosphere.
291 posted on 12/03/2005 10:20:40 PM PST by Hunden (Email)
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To: Mamzelle

When I first read the article I was struck by its overwrought hysteria. Evidently, if you teach high school students the theory of evolution without the proper reverence and even hint that there might be some phemonena it cannot explain, it will inevitably lead to scientists being burned at the stake.

I'm an atheist. If it were proved that the first living cell was the product of intelligent design, it would no more establish the existence of God than would the discovery of a four billion year old space probe on the moon.

All of this is just dancing around the political question -- why should a federal judge be able to tell a local school board what it should teach?


292 posted on 12/03/2005 11:12:30 PM PST by Alain Chartier
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To: Gumlegs
I forget which Justice it was, but "I know it when I see it," was his test for pornography.

Justice Potter Stewart

293 posted on 12/03/2005 11:47:39 PM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: From many - one.

Let me try to make my point a little more clear. The fact that humans are more similar to chimpanzees (on the macroscopic and the molecular level) than they are to baboons is something that a responsible doctor should have taken into account before he undertook his risky experiment, regardless of his opinion on common descent.


294 posted on 12/04/2005 1:02:04 AM PST by Alain Chartier
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To: Alain Chartier
Evidently, if you teach high school students the theory of evolution without the proper reverence and even hint that there might be some phemonena it cannot explain, it will inevitably lead to scientists being burned at the stake.

Who is going nuts at the prospect that evolution can't explain everything? Evolution can't explain planetary orbits, but I know of no one foaming at the mouth to keep that little piece of information quashed.
295 posted on 12/04/2005 1:06:59 AM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: Mamzelle
That's OK,-I stopped arguing with Democrats when I quit Compuserve.

Creationist lie #254: all who accept evolution are Democrats (rephrased from all who accept evolution are Leftists)
296 posted on 12/04/2005 1:08:52 AM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: From many - one.; balrog666

So nothing should be discussed in science but just science according to you?...Science class should be an exercise in compartmentalized thinking in which the other subject of life, politics,philosophy,religion, emotions have no part?


297 posted on 12/04/2005 6:08:00 AM PST by mdmathis6 (Proof against evolution:"Man is the only creature that blushes, or needs to" M.Twain)
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To: mdmathis6; balrog666
You missed a word:

"So nothing should be discussed in science but just science according to you?..."

No, nothing should be discussed in science class but just science...

Sort of like doing math in math class and not bringing up the weather, doing Shakespeare in Shakespeare class and not discussing the geology of the Grand Canyon.

Not music, not current events, not local car repair shops, not philospophy...

What's your problem with this?

298 posted on 12/04/2005 6:18:08 AM PST by From many - one.
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To: PatrickHenry

Oh so the great PH chimes in.


299 posted on 12/04/2005 6:22:25 AM PST by mdmathis6 (Proof against evolution:"Man is the only creature that blushes, or needs to" M.Twain)
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To: Alain Chartier

No, there is no non-evolutionary rationale for that bit of apparent common sense.

God had no need to create biochemical similarities to match the phenotypic ones. Think about covergent evolution for a moment and you will realize that.


300 posted on 12/04/2005 6:24:59 AM PST by From many - one.
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