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Darwin loses again
www.evolutionnews.org ^ | 4/13/07 | Michael Egnor

Posted on 04/17/2007 8:13:01 PM PDT by conmanning1

Dr. Steven Novella doesn’t think much of people who disagree with him about Darwinism. Dr. Novella, a Yale neurologist, assistant professor and specialist in neuromuscular disorders, is also a ‘skeptic’ and co-founder and president of the New England Skeptical Society. He’s quite unskeptical about Darwinism:

…evolutionary theory is complex. Evolution is a beautiful and subtle theory – one of my favorite scientific theories to study. I have spent years reading about it, learning from the best like Dawkins, Leakey, and Gould…

He took issue recently with those of us who doubt the adequacy of Darwin’s theory to account for all natural biological complexity:

…there is enough complexity in all of this that if someone smart and eloquent – like ID’ers Behe or Demski [sic] – want to create confusion they easily can. They pull an intellectual three card monte and the evolutionary rubes buy it.

I’m an "evolutionary rube" myself. Dr. Novella insists:

This is not an excuse for Dr. Egnor’s ignorance – he threw his hat into the ring, he deserves what he gets. He should have had the proper humility to stay out.

Actually, all I did was ask a question: how much biologically relevant information can Darwin’s mechanism of chance and necessity actually generate? I didn’t settle for hand-waving or for reassurances that "Darwin’s theory is a fact." I wanted a measurement of biological complexity, with empirical verification, in a way that was meaningful to biology. I never got an answer to my question.

Nonetheless, Dr. Novella is disdainful of Darwin-doubting "evolutionary rubes" who lack his immersion in the field:

Now I don’t blame the rank and file for not having read dozens of books and hundreds of articles on evolution. But I do blame them for thinking they deserve to have an opinion if they haven’t…

It seems that those of use who "don’t deserve to have an opinion" also haven’t been thinking the right way:

Also, it is obvious in their arguments that they do not have a proper mental image of what genetic information is like.

He tells us that "a proper mental image" of genetic information is books:

Each time this volume of books is copied there is the potential to make mistakes. Because of the complexity, the arrangement of paragraphs in a chapter can change, altering the meaning of the chapter in some way. Entire chapters that are active can become skipped, and vice versa. Entire chapters can be copied twice, and rarely entire volumes can be duplicated. Imagine the text of these books. A change might cause a sentence to go from “today is a sunny day” to “today is a foggy day” (remember, in this language every possible three letter combination has meaning – there are no nonsense words).

With a reasonable working model of genetics, it is much easier to imagine how shuffling around information, duplicating, and altering the information could easily result in meaningful and even useful new information.

Distancing himself from his literary metaphor (it's hard for rubes to relate), he switches to a farm-machinery metaphor. Dr. Novella explains how Darwin’s theory of chance and necessity can account for all natural biological complexity:

Evolution is like a two-cycle engine: mutations increase the amount of information and then natural selection gives that information specificity.

Dr. Novella is missing a much better example of random mutation and natural selection that’s not metaphorical at all. Cancer is a test of Darwin’s theory. Cancer is real biological evolution by random mutation and natural selection, writ fast. There’s no reason to invoke encyclopedia typos or tractor engines in order to understand what "chance and necessity" can do to a living system. Brain tumors are perfect little Novellian "two-cycle engines" nestled inside the skull, "random mutations" coming out the ears, and "natural selection" like there’s no tomorrow (excuse the metaphors). Brain tumors are constantly generating new biological variation, and they are avatars of natural selection. They provide a tremendous spectrum of variation, from "variation jet-engines" like malignant glioblastoma multiforme to "variation tortoises" like benign pilocytic astrocytomas. Cancer wards are full of patients brimming with "two-stroke engines" of evolutionary change.

Dr. Novella, again:

…it is [easy] to imagine how shuffling around information, duplicating, and altering the information could easily result in meaningful and even useful new information.

The best real biological test of "shuffling around information, duplicating, and altering the information" is cancer. According to Dr. Novella’s reasoning, brain tumors ought to be generating quite a bit of "meaningful and even useful new information." Better neuroanatomy and better neurophysiology ought to be popping up "easily." Better frontal lobes and cognition, from cancer. Better temporal lobes and memory, from cancer. Better cerebellums and coordination, from cancer. If random mutations and natural selection—Dr. Novella’s "two stroke engine"—is the source of all functional integrated biological complexity, brain tumors ought to help our brains evolve in some way.

Perhaps Dr. Novella has data that show real evolutionary improvements in the brain caused by brain tumors. If he has, he should show us.

I'm just a rube, not a Darwinist from Yale. But I’ve never seen cancer make a brain better.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: creationism; darwin; evolution; idjunkscience; luddism; yecapologetics
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This guy's a neurosurgeon at Yale. Beat that Darwin!
1 posted on 04/17/2007 8:13:03 PM PDT by conmanning1
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To: conmanning1

Welcome to...


2 posted on 04/17/2007 8:17:06 PM PDT by SteveMcKing
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To: conmanning1

yawn, I’ve taught physics for premeds. for the most part, doctors are smart in that they can learn from experience.

theoretical physics is beyond them and actually theoretical anything is beyond them.


3 posted on 04/17/2007 8:17:10 PM PDT by staytrue
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To: staytrue

And what makes you think doctors can’t be scientists? Many of us were scientists before we were docs.


4 posted on 04/17/2007 8:22:37 PM PDT by arkfreepdom
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To: staytrue
I’ve taught physics for premeds. for the most part, doctors are smart in that they can learn from experience. theoretical physics is beyond them and actually theoretical anything is beyond them.

I have taught physics for premeds as well, before going to medical school. I am not sure what you are saying. There are just as many idiot MDs and Ph.Ds as there are non doctor idiots.

5 posted on 04/17/2007 8:26:28 PM PDT by outofstyle
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To: staytrue
I’ve taught physics for premeds

Physics was possibly my toughest course in College. Differential Equations and Finite Element Analysis seemed a snap in comparison.

6 posted on 04/17/2007 8:26:59 PM PDT by Michael.SF. (In this (political) War, Republicans are gutless appeasers. -- Ann Coulter)
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To: staytrue

But, I’d bet you wouldn’t want to be treated by someone
trying a “theoretical” cure on you or anyone you
love.

Also you shouldn’t use the term “theoretical” since
the root word is “theos”(i.e. God)... in science
you should never use anything that smacks of belief in God.
Right? Maybe the term should be anthroretical, or perhaps
cerebroretical, or phrenoretical, or rna-oretical, or
string-oretical.


7 posted on 04/17/2007 8:29:31 PM PDT by Getready (Truth and wisdom are more elusive, and valuable, than gold and diamonds)
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To: conmanning1

They pull an intellectual three card monte and the..................rubes buy it.

algore, gungrabbers, SCOTUS, etc, have learned this same game well.


8 posted on 04/17/2007 8:31:19 PM PDT by Vn_survivor_67-68
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To: conmanning1
Interesting.

It appears that one must be seriously insecure in one's faith in order to post such drivel.

9 posted on 04/17/2007 8:31:28 PM PDT by elkfersupper
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To: staytrue

I would think a neurosurgeon should know a thing or two about biology.


10 posted on 04/17/2007 8:32:09 PM PDT by conmanning1
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To: elkfersupper

Faith? That’s a neurosurgeon speaking. Not a priest.


11 posted on 04/17/2007 8:35:07 PM PDT by conmanning1
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To: conmanning1

What sad drivel.


12 posted on 04/17/2007 8:37:02 PM PDT by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: conmanning1

actually, a really good neurosurgeon loses a lot of general scientific knowledge as time goes on.

the same is true of a lot of phds, they know a lot about a narrow subject but were actually a much more rounded scientist before they got their doctorate.


13 posted on 04/17/2007 8:39:58 PM PDT by staytrue
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To: conmanning1
Faith? That’s a neurosurgeon speaking. Not a priest.

I wasn't referring to the occupation(s) of the people referenced in the article.

Why exactly did you post this?

14 posted on 04/17/2007 8:40:52 PM PDT by elkfersupper
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To: conmanning1
Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Real Question Is Would You Want Egnor As Your Doctor?

Our esteemed creationist M.D., Michael Egnor, continues distorting evolutionary theory and its relationship to medicine. In a Evolution News and Views piece yesterday, Egnor makes fun of an Alliance for Science essay contest for high school students where they are asked to answer the follwoing question: "Why would I have wanted my doctor to have studied evolution?". PZ (several times) and Orac (again, several times) demonstrate Egnor's ignorance on the topic of evolution as well as the relationship between evolutionary biology and medicine.

continued

15 posted on 04/17/2007 8:41:00 PM PDT by Coyoteman (Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.)
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To: conmanning1
"I would think a neurosurgeon should know a thing or two about biology."

Biology is a big field. To quote Egnor himself...

Doctors don’t study evolution. Doctors never study it in medical school, and they never use evolutionary biology in their practice. There are no courses in medical school on evolution. There are no ‘professors of evolution’ in medical schools. There are no departments of evolutionary biology in medical schools.

Now to be honest there are many doctors who do study and use evolutionary biology, but clearly Dr. Egnor admits to having no such background himself.
16 posted on 04/17/2007 8:41:28 PM PDT by ndt
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To: conmanning1
Another thing that makes Darwin so preposterous is the fact we can’t find anything close to Earth anywhere in the Universe. And we never will because God said he created “the Heavens and the Earth (singular).
17 posted on 04/17/2007 8:45:51 PM PDT by HisKingdomWillAbolishSinDeath (Christ's Kingdom on Earth is the answer. What is your question?)
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To: HisKingdomWillAbolishSinDeath
Another thing that makes Darwin so preposterous is the fact we can’t find anything close to Earth anywhere in the Universe. And we never will because God said he created “the Heavens and the Earth (singular).

The day is still young...

You don't mind if scientists continue looking, do you?

18 posted on 04/17/2007 8:50:06 PM PDT by Coyoteman (Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.)
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To: HisKingdomWillAbolishSinDeath
"Another thing that makes Darwin so preposterous is the fact we can’t find anything close to Earth anywhere in the Universe. And we never will because God said he created “the Heavens and the Earth (singular)."

WTF?
19 posted on 04/17/2007 8:50:16 PM PDT by ndt
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To: Getready

“Also you shouldn’t use the term “theoretical” since
the root word is “theos”(i.e. God)...”

I didn’t know that. The potential implications are quite interesting.


20 posted on 04/17/2007 8:54:22 PM PDT by RussP
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To: conmanning1

“Perhaps Dr. Novella has data that show real evolutionary improvements in the brain caused by brain tumors. If he has, he should show us.”

If evolutionary theory predicted that brain tumors would lead to improvements in the brain, he might have a point.

Sort of a long screed to set up such a pathetic strawman.


21 posted on 04/17/2007 8:54:49 PM PDT by somniferum (Annoy a liberal.. Work hard and be happy.)
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To: elkfersupper

I posted it because I thought it was interesting. I’m familiar with the common arguments back and forth - irreducible complexity, not enough time for evolution, etc. This is a new one I’d never heard before and I wanted to hear other people’s thoughts on it. If you think it’s a crap idea, I’d rather have you explain why than have you just call it drivel and insult my “faith.”


22 posted on 04/17/2007 8:55:44 PM PDT by conmanning1
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To: conmanning1
This guy's a neurosurgeon at Yale. Beat that Darwin!

The neurosurgeon quoted in the article supports Darwin. Although, the way you have removed the formatting of the blockquotes, it may be hard to see that.

23 posted on 04/17/2007 8:57:26 PM PDT by Caesar Soze
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To: HisKingdomWillAbolishSinDeath
the fact we can’t find anything close to Earth anywhere in the Universe.

You need to study a bit more astronomy. The fact that we haven't seen any earth like planets is because of optics, not because they're not there. If we were sitting on a planet around another near by star, we would not be able to see the Earth with our existing equipment.

24 posted on 04/17/2007 9:00:47 PM PDT by narby
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To: conmanning1
You mean this guy from the Discovery Institute?
25 posted on 04/17/2007 9:00:53 PM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: RussP; Getready
"Also you shouldn’t use the term “theoretical” since the root word is “theos”(i.e. God).."

"I didn’t know that. The potential implications are quite interesting."

Probably because it is not true.

Theory
1592, "conception, mental scheme," from L.L. theoria (Jerome), from Gk. theoria "contemplation, speculation, a looking at, things looked at," from theorein "to consider, speculate, look at," from theoros "spectator," from thea "a view" + horan "to see." Sense of "principles or methods of a science or art (rather than its practice)" is first recorded 1613. That of "an explanation based on observation and reasoning" is from 1638. The verb theorize is recorded from 1638."
26 posted on 04/17/2007 9:00:56 PM PDT by ndt
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To: conmanning1
I’d rather have you explain why than have you just call it drivel and insult my “faith.”

I should have known better to post to one of these medieval fear threads, but occasionally I find it irresistible.

I'm sure you are strong in your faith.

The whole argument over Darwin as the antichrist is just misdirected.

27 posted on 04/17/2007 9:00:59 PM PDT by elkfersupper
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To: ndt
Doctors...never use evolutionary biology in their practice.

Whaddaya know. You can actually have a productive career in a science-based field like medicine without finding evolution useful. But...but...surely this can't be. Fanatical devotees of evolution have told us repeatedly, right here on FR, that teaching of evolution, even at the middle school level, is absolutely necessary, because it is "basic science," "absolutely fundamental," and we will sink into technological backwardness if we don't.

28 posted on 04/17/2007 9:02:28 PM PDT by hellbender
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To: HisKingdomWillAbolishSinDeath
Another thing that makes Darwin so preposterous is the fact we can’t find anything close to Earth anywhere in the Universe. And we never will because God said he created “the Heavens and the Earth (singular).

Hope it will be OK with you if I clarify something. Evolutionary theory does not address creation of the Heavens and Earth. That is not its goal.

Biological evolution is commonly defined as followed:

change in the frequency of alleles in a gene pool from one generation to the one that follows it.

29 posted on 04/17/2007 9:07:24 PM PDT by freespirited (Resentment, redistribution, and re-education. The three Rs of liberalism.)
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To: hellbender

Yeah, and isn’t it ironic that our utterly pathetic public schools teach evolution religiously, whereas many academically high-performing Christian schools teach creation. (I’m not claiming that I believe in literal biblical creation; I am merely stating an observed fact.)


30 posted on 04/17/2007 9:08:58 PM PDT by RussP
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To: ndt

Your post does not say that that the word “theory” does not derive from “theo” or “God.” What is your source?

Also, what does “L.L. theoria (Jerome)” mean?


31 posted on 04/17/2007 9:13:42 PM PDT by RussP
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To: conmanning1
Actually, all I did was ask a question: how much biologically relevant information can Darwin’s mechanism of chance and necessity actually generate? I didn’t settle for hand-waving or for reassurances that "Darwin’s theory is a fact." I wanted a measurement of biological complexity, with empirical verification, in a way that was meaningful to biology. I never got an answer to my question.

Uh, excuse me, but it's the "Intelligent Design" crowd who claim that they can measure that. Take it up with them.

32 posted on 04/17/2007 9:13:46 PM PDT by Physicist
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To: hellbender
"You can actually have a productive career in a science-based field like medicine without finding evolution useful."

I assume his career doesn't require a good grasp of Early American History either. Do you think we should remove that too?
33 posted on 04/17/2007 9:15:52 PM PDT by ndt
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To: Caesar Soze

No. The neurologist supports Darwin. The neurosurgeon wrote the article. “Although, the way you have removed the formatting of the blockquotes, it may be hard to see that.” I didn’t edit at all, just cut and pasted. You should read more carefully. It’s really not hard to see it. Again, why doesn’t anyone explain why it’s wrong?


34 posted on 04/17/2007 9:16:50 PM PDT by conmanning1
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To: conmanning1

Some people are so beguiled by the obvious—the flux of things—that they ignore how fixed things generally are. Books that are copied down a thousand different times remain subantially the same. We know how Aristotle thought, even though that thought came, not from him buty from his students. Thought has a certain fixity, because the “structure” of it must be respected, and too many changes simply destroy it, make it meaningless. A cancer is meaningless life.


35 posted on 04/17/2007 9:18:10 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: RussP
"What is your source?"

I'm using Etymology Online

"Also, what does “L.L. theoria (Jerome)” mean?"

I think that L.L. is Late Latin and theoria being the word in Latin and Jerome a reference to another source, but double check the key at the website to be sure.
36 posted on 04/17/2007 9:19:19 PM PDT by ndt
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To: RussP
I just double checked. L.L. is "Late Latin, the literary Latin language as spoken and written c.300-c.700."
37 posted on 04/17/2007 9:20:22 PM PDT by ndt
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To: Caesar Soze

Sorry. I just re-read it. The way it came out, it’s not that clear. The whole article was written by Dr. Egnor, the neurosurgeon. The guy he quotes is a neurologist collegue of his. None of it is mine.


38 posted on 04/17/2007 9:20:26 PM PDT by conmanning1
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To: ndt

Quite possible that Earth is unique. But since we are afraid of death, we are afraid of being alone, of the idea that we are alone in the universe, that all the worlds except ours is dead. Having banished spirits, we are left to long for visits from men from “Mars”. We turn our instruments to the skies and look, and listen, and long for familiar sights and sounds.


39 posted on 04/17/2007 9:22:28 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: conmanning1; Caesar Soze
It is a little confusing.

Dr. Steven Novella is from Yale, is the person being interviewed and is part of the Grand Darwinian Conspiracy.

Dr. Michael Egnor is a professor of neurosurgery and pediatrics at State University of New York and is a fighter for truth justice and spreading propaganda for the the Discovery Institute.
40 posted on 04/17/2007 9:31:25 PM PDT by ndt
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To: ndt
American History is fundamental to being a good citizen and understanding our political system and culture...the kind of things we're supposed to be concerned with as conservatives on FR--not obsessing about some theory of rather limited utility to most people, even most scientists.

Besides, American history, at least the non-revisionist, pro-American variety, is one of the things disappearing from middle and high school education. Evolution and other materialistic themes are not disappearing or threatened. Far from it.

Evolution is not "basic science." Quit claiming it is.

41 posted on 04/17/2007 9:49:03 PM PDT by hellbender
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To: RobbyS
But since we are afraid of death, we are afraid of being alone, of the idea that we are alone in the universe, that all the worlds except ours is dead. Having banished spirits, we are left to long for visits from men from “Mars”.

Or, some of us are driven by a burning desire to learn as much as we can about the world(s) around us.

42 posted on 04/17/2007 9:50:28 PM PDT by Coyoteman (Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.)
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To: RussP; Getready

I may have to eat my words. The Latin theoria does in fact appear to be based on the root theo (God). Getready, you seem to be correct.


43 posted on 04/17/2007 9:51:58 PM PDT by ndt
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To: Coyoteman

And pretend we will never die.


44 posted on 04/17/2007 9:52:15 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: RobbyS
And pretend we will never die.

BS. That is your biased, apologetic, interpretation of what scientists do.

It has no necessary relationship to the real world.

45 posted on 04/17/2007 9:55:25 PM PDT by Coyoteman (Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.)
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To: hellbender
"American History is fundamental to being a good citizen and understanding our political system and culture not obsessing about some theory of rather limited utility to most people, even most scientists."

That's nice, but what does American history have to do with being a professor of neurosurgery? Nothing. Yet it is still important that he learn it.

Unlike American History, evolution really is the backbone of modern biology. There is no way to understand biology without it. Whether evolution comes into play in his day to day activities, which it does now that he is a professional propagandist, it is critical that doctors understand it because without it they do not understand biology.

"Evolution and other materialistic themes are not disappearing or threatened."

I recall several recent organized attempts to make evolution disappear.

"Evolution is not "basic science." Quit claiming it is."

Would you prefer the term "cornerstone of biology"?
46 posted on 04/17/2007 10:01:14 PM PDT by ndt
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To: ndt

Thanks for your honesty. The next question is: what does theory have to do with God? Do we become a bit like God when we understand a theory (a correct one, that is)?


47 posted on 04/17/2007 10:12:19 PM PDT by RussP
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To: ndt
American History may have nothing to do with neurosurgery, but everything to do with being a good citizen, one smart enough not to fall for liberal lies. That makes it useful to everyone, neurosurgeons as well as the rest. Neurosurgeons need basic biology also, yet they can get away without evolution. So evolution is not critical even to biology.

What kids should be learning in middle school is math and basic physics and chemistry. Those are what biology is based on. Evolution can come later, and only for those who need it. I think the real reason for teaching it to young impressionable middle school students is to inculcate a materialistic, reductionist view of human nature, which is encouraged by evolutionary thinking in the absence of other values; values which have been purged from our schools.

There is no serious, massive threat that evolution will be purged from the curriculum. That's hype and paranoia. However, American students are woefully deficient in hard science and math.

48 posted on 04/17/2007 10:16:43 PM PDT by hellbender
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To: RussP
"The next question is: what does theory have to do with God?"

Beyond the etymology of the word, nothing.

"Do we become a bit like God when we understand a theory (a correct one, that is)?"

Well, you are talking to an atheist so you might as well ask me if we become a bit more like Thor. Simple answer, no, although I would like to get my hands on Mjolnir.

When we understand a theory, we are a little less ignorant, no more no less.
49 posted on 04/17/2007 10:23:10 PM PDT by ndt
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To: hellbender
"What kids should be learning in middle school is math and basic physics and chemistry. "

Skipping evolution in biology is equivalent to skipping Atomic theory in chemistry. You might still be able to make wintergreen oil by following the directions, but without Atomic theory, you just don't get chemistry. Without evolution you just don't get biology..

"...the real reason for teaching [evolution] is to inculcate a materialistic, reductionist view of human nature."

No, it's really not. It really is the cornerstone of biology. No sinister plot.

"There is no serious, massive threat that evolution will be purged from the curriculum."

This article is from the Discovery Institute. Purging evolution and materialism in general is their stated goal.

"That's hype and paranoia."

No, thats the thread you are reading.

"However, American students are woefully deficient in hard science and math."

Well I can agree with that.
50 posted on 04/17/2007 10:32:43 PM PDT by ndt
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