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Intelligent designís long march to nowhere
Science & Theology News ^ | 05 December 2005 | Karl Giberson

Posted on 12/05/2005 4:06:56 AM PST by PatrickHenry

The leaders of the intelligent design movement are once again holding court in America, defending themselves against charges that ID is not science. One of the expert witnesses is Michael Behe, author of the ID movement’s seminal volume Darwin’s Black Box. Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, testified about the scientific character of ID in Kitzmiller v. Dover School District, the court case of eight families suing the school district and the school board in Dover, Pa., for mandating the teaching of intelligent design.

Under cross-examination, Behe made many interesting comparisons between ID and the big-bang theory — both concepts carry lots of ideological freight. When the big-bang theory was first proposed in the 1920s, many people made hostile objections to its apparent “supernatural” character. The moment of the big bang looked a lot like the Judeo-Christian creation story, and scientists from Quaker Sir Arthur Eddington to gung-ho atheist Fred Hoyle resisted accepting it.

In his testimony, Behe stated — correctly — that at the current moment, “we have no explanation for the big bang.” And, ultimately it may prove to be “beyond scientific explanation,” he said. The analogy is obvious: “I put intelligent design in the same category,” he argued.

This comparison is quite interesting. Both ID and the big-bang theory point beyond themselves to something that may very well lie outside of the natural sciences, as they are understood today. Certainly nobody has produced a simple model for the big–bang theory that fits comfortably within the natural sciences, and there are reasons to suppose we never will.

In the same way, ID points to something that lies beyond the natural sciences — an intelligent designer capable of orchestrating the appearance of complex structures that cannot have evolved from simpler ones. “Does this claim not resemble those made by the proponents of the big bang?” Behe asked.

However, this analogy breaks down when you look at the historical period between George Lemaitre’s first proposal of the big-bang theory in 1927 and the scientific community’s widespread acceptance of the theory in 1965, when scientists empirically confirmed one of the big bang’s predictions.

If we continue with Behe’s analogy, we might expect that the decades before 1965 would have seen big-bang proponents scolding their critics for ideological blindness, of having narrow, limited and inadequate concepts of science. Popular books would have appeared announcing the big-bang theory as a new paradigm, and efforts would have been made to get it into high school astronomy textbooks.

However, none of these things happened. In the decades before the big-bang theory achieved its widespread acceptance in the scientific community its proponents were not campaigning for public acceptance of the theory. They were developing the scientific foundations of theory, and many of them were quite tentative about their endorsements of the theory, awaiting confirmation.

Physicist George Gamow worked out a remarkable empirical prediction for the theory: If the big bang is true, he calculated, the universe should be bathed in a certain type of radiation, which might possibly be detectable. Another physicist, Robert Dicke, started working on a detector at Princeton University to measure this radiation. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson ended up discovering the radiation by accident at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., in 1965, after which just about everyone accepted the big bang as the correct theory.

Unfortunately, the proponents of ID aren’t operating this way. Instead of doing science, they are writing popular books and op-eds. As a result, ID remains theoretically in the same scientific place it was when Phillip Johnson wrote Darwin on Triallittle more than a roster of evolutionary theory’s weakest links.

When Behe was asked to explicate the science of ID, he simply listed a number of things that were complex and not adequately explained by evolution. These structures, he said, were intelligently designed. Then, under cross-examination, he said that the explanation for these structures was “intelligent activity.” He added that ID “explains” things that appear to be intelligently designed as having resulted from intelligent activity.

Behe denied that this reasoning was tautological and compared the discernment of intelligently designed structures to observing the Sphinx in Egypt and concluding that it could not have been produced by non-intelligent causes. This is a winsome analogy with a lot of intuitive resonance, but it is hardly comparable to Gamow’s carefully derived prediction that the big bang would have bathed the universe in microwave radiation with a temperature signature of 3 degrees Kelvin.

After more than a decade of listening to ID proponents claim that ID is good science, don’t we deserve better than this?


Karl Giberson [the author of this piece] is editor in chief at Science & Theology News.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: crevolist; evochat; goddoodit; idjunkscience; idmillionidiotmarch; intelligentdesign
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To: Junior

Noted.


201 posted on 12/05/2005 10:31:28 AM PST by catpuppy
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To: DoctorMichael
Ditto! CK is an amazing intellect and I savor his columns both on-line in in my local tabloid, The Boston Herald. I had a friend who was wheelchair bound and, though he was charmingly anti-intellectual, I grew to have great admiration for his personal courage and optimism. In Charles Krauthammer you have the best of both worlds. He has overcome daunting physical obstacles to share with the world his fine writing and elegant reasoning.
202 posted on 12/05/2005 10:35:49 AM PST by rootkidslim (... got the Sony rootkit on your Wintel box? You can thank Orrin Hatch!)
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To: Stultis

On the other hand, non-breeders may be helpful to breeders by aiding them in producing more offspring. Worker bees don't breed but they gather.


203 posted on 12/05/2005 10:35:53 AM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: catpuppy

Da Vinci had extensive training for the time. He worked 6 years as del Verrocchio's apprentice. So da Vinci did get both formal and informal training.


204 posted on 12/05/2005 10:38:55 AM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: js1138
Are you suggesting that counting could be part of an unbiased IQ test?

No, none of the IQ tests I have ever encountered included counting. However, Charlie's ability to count to ten can be measured by IQ testing. There are many instances in which someone with a low IQ has the ability to derive complex correct mathematical answers without training in mathematics but cannot do the simple tasks for everyday existence. I will agree that all tests are biased if the parameters are unlimited. However what purpose does it serve other than to make all tests invalid for a specific agenda.
205 posted on 12/05/2005 10:43:18 AM PST by jec41 (Screaming Eagle)
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To: Stultis
Consider this possible Darwinian irony, that whatever genetic component there is for homosexuality, they are less fit in a society that allows them to freely identify and act upon their preferences. In a more "repressive" society they are forced to hide their orientation and participate in reproductive activity in biologically viable ways. I'm sure Gregory Bateson would have fun with that idea.
206 posted on 12/05/2005 10:47:20 AM PST by rootkidslim (... got the Sony rootkit on your Wintel box? You can thank Orrin Hatch!)
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To: antiRepublicrat

What do you do when you forget a memory-aiding device?

Heck, I'm 64 with a major in math and a degree in chemical engineering and I couldn't remember it. Concepts are fine but details are a no no.


207 posted on 12/05/2005 10:49:17 AM PST by jec41 (Screaming Eagle)
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To: Doctor Stochastic
He worked 6 years as del Verrocchio's apprentice.

Until Verrocchio became a real boy.

208 posted on 12/05/2005 10:50:27 AM PST by Senator Bedfellow (Sneering condescension.)
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To: Junior

On the contrary, it is an easy matter to dismiss all phenomena as occuring "naturally." That does not make one's conclusions necessarily more reliable, true, or "scientific."


209 posted on 12/05/2005 10:59:23 AM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Junior

This whole "untestable assumptions" crap you (and other anti-E types) toss out willy-nilly to dismiss research you don't like just does not hold water when looked at objectively.

Change that to research they don't understand.


210 posted on 12/05/2005 10:59:33 AM PST by jec41 (Screaming Eagle)
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To: jec41
However, Charlie's ability to count to ten can be measured by IQ testing.

I sure that specific skills vary genetically, but I do not accept the concept of g. Any large population will have those factors that contribute to survival in that culture. We value counting and reading. It is circular to say that the factors we value define general intelligence.

All populations have exceptional individuals, by any standards. The frequency of these exceptional traits can shift rapidly if they become valuable to the population.

211 posted on 12/05/2005 11:06:43 AM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: jec41
"This whole "untestable assumptions" crap you (and other anti-E types) toss out willy-nilly to dismiss research you don't like just does not hold water when looked at objectively.

Change that to research they don't understand."

What research? When has ID ever been put to the test?
212 posted on 12/05/2005 11:07:29 AM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: jec41

Oops, I think I misread your post. Friendly fire alert!

Sorry. :)


213 posted on 12/05/2005 11:15:40 AM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: rootkidslim
The scary thing is that after Great Britain, America has the one of the highest, if not the highest, average national IQs. 98.

You'd soon shake yourself of that notion if you walked along some of the streets near my home. Either that or everyone else out there has the IQ of a fencepost. I'm not sure which prospect is more alarming. (anecdotal observations applying to population of many millions disclaimer, before Dr Stoch gets on to me)

214 posted on 12/05/2005 11:19:03 AM PST by Thatcherite (F--ked in the afterlife, bullying feminized androgenous automaton euro-weenie blackguard)
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To: rootkidslim; Stultis

Congratulations, the pair of you have come up with the first interesting and novel (to me) comments that have ever arisen as a result of creato homo obsession.


215 posted on 12/05/2005 11:22:15 AM PST by Thatcherite (F--ked in the afterlife, bullying feminized androgenous automaton euro-weenie blackguard)
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To: RogueIsland; liliesgrandpa
If you deal every card in a deck of playing cards out in front of you, what are the odds of you dealing the exact sequence of cards you end up with? Funny thing, those probabilities.

52! ~ 8.065 x 1067.

Of course that's only one deck, dealt one time.

216 posted on 12/05/2005 11:24:20 AM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
megatherium: We live in a universe that supports life, where the laws of physics and chemistry are not random and appear to have lead to the origin of life. There is where I personally see the Creator, a Creator who has chosen the most elegant way possible to create life.

CarolinaGuitarman: That is a very nice position, but it is not open to scientific investigation.

Indeed, that's just my point. You do not have to adhere to "creationism" or ID to believe in a God who created the universe and life, and you're right, this isn't open to scientific investigation. I might recommend the book Finding Darwin's God, by Kenneth Miller; he is a prominent biologist who is a Roman Catholic, who explains why evolution is compatible with Christian theology but why ID is bad theology and bad science.

217 posted on 12/05/2005 11:24:38 AM PST by megatherium (Hecho in China)
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Rampant agreement placemarker


218 posted on 12/05/2005 11:26:08 AM PST by Thatcherite (F--ked in the afterlife, bullying feminized androgenous automaton euro-weenie blackguard)
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To: rootkidslim

evolution works on populations, not individuals. There are examples of species with a high proportion of nonreproducing individuals. You can't simple deduce the correct answer to questions like this.


219 posted on 12/05/2005 11:28:41 AM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: antiRepublicrat
According to your perception, because you value that particular combination. But it's not statistically any less likely than any other combination.

No, but the probability of getting a combination that I value is extremely low, which is why I would find it astonishing to get one.

Take a better analogy: A lottery machine containing 100 billion blue balls and just one red ball. The lottery machine randomly selects a ball. If the selected ball is red I would find that astonishing because the odds of that happening were so low (this is entirely valid astonisment, showing that retrospective astonishment is not always a fallacy)

An argument parallel to your above argument would be that my astonishment at getting a red ball is only due to my perception because I value red balls, and pointing out that the red ball had just as much chance of being selected as any particular blue ball. But it isn't the particular ball that astonishes me, it is the particular color of that ball.

220 posted on 12/05/2005 11:31:20 AM PST by bobdsmith
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To: doc30
That means there are multiple Fester Chugabrew's and doc30's out there.

Didn't Giordano Bruno get burnt at the stake for this?

221 posted on 12/05/2005 11:32:49 AM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: Thatcherite
IQ And The Wealth Of Nations... a book I want to read when I get the chance. I've read some of Rushton's controversal stuff, but not yet IQ and wealth. I'm a little afraid to post this, very controversal... flame bait!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_IQ

222 posted on 12/05/2005 11:35:02 AM PST by rootkidslim (... got the Sony rootkit on your Wintel box? You can thank Orrin Hatch!)
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To: js1138; rootkidslim

In fairness RKS only ventured a hypothetical, and it was at least an interesting one. There would be a bizarre irony in the freedom to come out being bad for the homosexuality genes. Though I agree with you that I suspect it won't work like that. In evidence I cite that homosexuality hasn't died out in past human societies where it was openly practiced AFAIK.


223 posted on 12/05/2005 11:35:03 AM PST by Thatcherite (F--ked in the afterlife, bullying feminized androgenous automaton euro-weenie blackguard)
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To: Thatcherite

I don't know a lot of openly gay people, but one of my former co-workers had been married and had children. It's possible that in a world without closets, fewer gay men would get married and have children. I wouldn't bet either way on the outcome.


224 posted on 12/05/2005 11:39:36 AM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: Thatcherite
I don't know enough about it to speak with any authority, but I suspect that most exclusive homosexual tendencies are rooted in things like the hormonal environment in the mother's womb, rather than an identifiable gene. A "homosexual gene" that yielded lifelong, exclusive homosexual activity would be, by definition, lethal in its phylogenetic results.
225 posted on 12/05/2005 11:42:43 AM PST by rootkidslim (... got the Sony rootkit on your Wintel box? You can thank Orrin Hatch!)
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To: bobdsmith
... the probability of getting a combination that I value is extremely low, which is why I would find it astonishing to get one.

The point of my card-shuffle post is not that our particular biosphere isn't unlikely, because it is. It's just that whatever biosphere gets produced will be equally unlikely. Ours is no more unlikely than any other. If you went back to 4 billion years ago and started the whole thing up all over again, you'd probably end up with a totally different mix of species, none of them exactly like what we have now. But this "shuffle of the cards" is ours. We're unique. Which is why -- contrary to the endlessly repeated claims of the creationists -- the evolutionary point of view places a higher value on humanity than one where we could be wiped out and started up again at the whim of a deity.

226 posted on 12/05/2005 11:44:22 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: PatrickHenry
Under cross-examination, Behe made many interesting comparisons between ID and the big-bang theory...

Behe also said that ID requires NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE.

Which is appropriate since it doesn't have any.

227 posted on 12/05/2005 11:45:05 AM PST by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: bobdsmith
No, but the probability of getting a combination that I value is extremely low, which is why I would find it astonishing to get one.

That's the kicker, what you value. What we all value, of course, is our present existence, our present form of life. If things had worked out a bit different, there could be another form of life here, valuing its outcome.

If the selected ball is red I would find that astonishing because the odds of that happening were so low (this is entirely valid astonisment, showing that retrospective astonishment is not always a fallacy)

I would be astonished, too. However, now think of that tank having a billion different colors in it and you didn't care which one was picked. Are you now astonished that the red one came up?

228 posted on 12/05/2005 11:55:11 AM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: Fester Chugabrew

Are you changing the subject now? You made an unfounded assertion that a lot of research was based on "untestable assumptions." I pointed out that you were wrong, and now suddenly we're talking about phenomena "occuring naturally."


229 posted on 12/05/2005 12:02:16 PM PST by Junior (From now on, I'll stick to science, and leave the hunting alien mutants to the experts!)
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To: PatrickHenry
Which is why -- contrary to the endlessly repeated claims of the creationists -- the evolutionary point of view places a higher value on humanity than one where we could be wiped out and started up again at the whim of a deity.

I personally lean toward the rare earth hypothesis. If you look at the history of mass extinctions on this planet it seems unlikely that any planet would undergo the history that led to primates.

There are lots of big brains around, but only one species with syntactical language.

230 posted on 12/05/2005 12:14:42 PM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: rootkidslim
A "homosexual gene" that yielded lifelong, exclusive homosexual activity would be, by definition, lethal in its phylogenetic results.

Not if it were recessive.

231 posted on 12/05/2005 12:16:03 PM PST by JeffAtlanta
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To: js1138; rootkidslim; Thatcherite

One thing y'all may be overlooking is that relatively few homosexuals are exclusively homosexual. I've only known a few gay folks in my lifetime, and generally they were bisexual with a strong, though not exclusive, tendency toward attraction to members of their own sex.


232 posted on 12/05/2005 12:19:57 PM PST by Junior (From now on, I'll stick to science, and leave the hunting alien mutants to the experts!)
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To: Junior

Lots of gay men are married and have children. I imagine the same is true of women.


233 posted on 12/05/2005 12:23:39 PM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: MHalblaub
I read somewhere that left handed molecules are more stable against ultraviolet light than right handed ones.

Not necessarily. It depends on the polarization of the light. In one direction left-hand predominates, in the other direction, right-handed.

We don't know if it's possible for right-hand life to exist in the universe; Our one example, Earth, is exclusively left-handed.

234 posted on 12/05/2005 12:25:17 PM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: Junior; js1138; rootkidslim; Thatcherite

On that same note, if there IS a genetic component to homosexuality, the expression of it could be highly variable depending on the social environment that the individual was a part of. Present day expression, with the desire of gays to have pair bonding, is relatively new historically speaking. Trying to figure out in what way this genetic component (if it exists) was expressed in early Man is probably not possible.


235 posted on 12/05/2005 12:27:11 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: Senator Bedfellow

May your nose never need to grow longer.


236 posted on 12/05/2005 12:31:01 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: js1138
If you look at the history of mass extinctions on this planet it seems unlikely that any planet would undergo the history that led to primates.

Moties, on the gripping hand, would be easier, right?

237 posted on 12/05/2005 12:31:21 PM PST by Coyoteman (I love the sound of beta decay in the morning!)
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To: js1138; Rudder
... It [ID]says nothing about what to expect, projects no data and makes no falsifiable claims.

The research is readily admitted to be theoretical. In one of the articles, though, the scientist explicitly disagrees with the assesment that ID projects no data and makes no falsifiable claims.
link

Cordially,

238 posted on 12/05/2005 12:32:52 PM PST by Diamond (Qui liberatio scelestus trucido inculpatus.)
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To: Junior
One thing y'all may be overlooking is that relatively few homosexuals are exclusively homosexual. I've only known a few gay folks in my lifetime, and generally they were bisexual with a strong, though not exclusive, tendency toward attraction to members of their own sex.

Altogether now, "In the Navy..."

That was the thrust (arf arf) of one of my original replies to snowbelt, though not in so many words.

239 posted on 12/05/2005 12:33:12 PM PST by Thatcherite (F--ked in the afterlife, bullying feminized androgenous automaton euro-weenie blackguard)
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
Present day expression, with the desire of gays to have pair bonding, is relatively new historically speaking.

IIRC, the Persians of Alexander's time maintained a regiment composed solely of homosexual men and their lovers, the idea being that no man would want to appear cowardly in the presence of his significant other.

240 posted on 12/05/2005 12:33:27 PM PST by Junior (From now on, I'll stick to science, and leave the hunting alien mutants to the experts!)
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To: js1138
There are examples of species with a high proportion of nonreproducing individuals.

Canis Lupus, just as a mammalian example. There is an extreme example in the social insects. (Order Hymenoptera?) I didn't mean it to be serious proposition, just a conceit. I suspect the premise is flawed, that a gene or group of genes is responsible for inflexible, lifelong preference for one's same sex is unlikely. Probably it is just a "wild type" being acted on by unusual environmental factors. Even if were true, there is no reason to suppose that it would have an appreciable effect on gene frequency, necessarily. Then there is the question of why some societies, like The Greeks and Romans, didn't make the same rigid distinctions we do. It was useful in their societies to redirect the sexual drives of males, in certain circumstances, to boys, and then back to females for procreation. Some say that they had no heterosexuals and homosexuals, but I would argue that that pattern in society masked those who were different in the sense that they primarily responded to visual stimuli from same sex secondary sexual characteristics. My objection to public policy that allows same sex marriage is that it furthers the view that sex is primarily for pleasure rather than procreation. The declining birth rates of advanced Western societies should be of concern to us. (The Death of The West) Earlier Western societies did a better job of integrating homosexuality into their cultures than we do, to wit, the Castrati. Even though it was strictly banned by the Church, it was accepted as a part of high culture with a wink and a nod by the elite.

241 posted on 12/05/2005 12:33:52 PM PST by rootkidslim (... got the Sony rootkit on your Wintel box? You can thank Orrin Hatch!)
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To: Thatcherite
Just picture the Dallas Cowgirls, but somewhat less reticent in coming forward.

That'd be the Carolina Panthers cheer leading squad.

242 posted on 12/05/2005 12:35:49 PM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: PatrickHenry

These articles always fail to address the elephant in the room: Evolution has never adequately defended itself against the empirical evidence of punctuated equilibrium. If evolution as an explanation of the origins of life can't hold water, then how can one put the same burden of proof on any other theory.


243 posted on 12/05/2005 12:35:53 PM PST by dotnetfellow
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To: Thatcherite
Altogether now, "In the Navy..."

Hey! As an 18 year veteran of the (U.S.) Navy and Navy Reserve I was ever only aware of one homosexual incident at any of my duty stations. Of course it sucked that the two involved were in my department and I shared a 40-man berthing space with them...

244 posted on 12/05/2005 12:36:31 PM PST by Junior (From now on, I'll stick to science, and leave the hunting alien mutants to the experts!)
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To: Junior

I don't see what all the commotion is about. It really is quite simple. I do not understand how something works, cannot explain it with my present accumulation of experience and knowledge, therefore it is unexplainable and irriduceable. It is in fact, therefore, the will of the creator, ie, intelligent (more than me) design.
/sarc.


245 posted on 12/05/2005 12:38:13 PM PST by going hot (Happiness is a momma deuce)
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To: Junior

Sorry, I was aware of your Navy service, and I just couldn't resist.


246 posted on 12/05/2005 12:38:24 PM PST by Thatcherite (F--ked in the afterlife, bullying feminized androgenous automaton euro-weenie blackguard)
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To: dotnetfellow
If evolution as an explanation of the origins of life can't hold water, then how can one put the same burden of proof on any other theory

How can you expect evolution to adequately explain the origins of life when it's not even part of the theory? Your beef is with abiogenisis not with evolution.

Do you discount germ theory because it doesn't encompass how "germs" originated?

247 posted on 12/05/2005 12:39:29 PM PST by JeffAtlanta
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To: dread78645

Multiple times - yes, and, theoretically, multiple times - no.


248 posted on 12/05/2005 12:39:39 PM PST by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what and Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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To: Junior
I don't think that was the norm though. I am certainly not an authority on the subject. In Christian Europe I don't think though that there was the same type of exclusivity that we see (sorta) today. Of course, you had to put on an act for most of that time. At any rate, I don't think it is possible, for the time being, to explore the roots of such a complex behavior.
249 posted on 12/05/2005 12:39:39 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: dread78645
52! ~ 8.065 x 1067

It's a miracle!

250 posted on 12/05/2005 12:39:46 PM PST by RogueIsland
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