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Let's restore civility to the debate on evolution and intelligent design
Washington Examiner ^ | 11/13/2009 | Casey Luskin

Posted on 11/14/2009 8:48:19 AM PST by SeekAndFind

In his new book, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” biologist Richard Dawkins brands those who doubt Charles Darwin’s ideas on evolution as “history deniers,” even stooping to compare them to “Holocaust deniers.”

In today’s highly charged political climate, scientific debates over controversial subjects such as climate change and evolution increasingly substitute such overblown rhetoric for careful analysis.

We commonly see one side depicting the other as not only wrong, but as unreasonable, irrational, or immoral. As a result, two terms are presently in vogue to describe those who question scientific ideas: “Skeptic” and “Denier.”

In practice, the terms have virtually the same meaning – a person who questions an idea - but vastly different connotations are associated with each. “Skeptic” is used when one wants to sound like a critical thinker, portraying oneself as a rogue academic who bucks the trend in order to break new ground.

In contrast, “denier” has all kinds of pernicious connotations and is used to dismiss critics as close-minded, relying on sinister motives to reject some obvious fact.

These connotations often slip by unnoticed, subconsciously shaping public perceptions of an issue. They are powerful tools of persuasion in our conformist culture, where everyone wants to be a chic, hip, and intelligent skeptic, but no one wants to be a clumsy, dimwitted, or even worse, morally deficient denier.

To be sure there are deniers of certain recent historical facts who hold unquestionably false and abhorrent views. But evolutionists abuse those connotations when co-opting the denier rhetoric into the debate over intelligent design (ID).

Dawkins’ latest diatribe notwithstanding, examples of this rhetoric abound. In an oped published by The Los Angeles Times in 2007, Chris Mooney and Alan Sokal gloated that, “Antibiotic-resistant bacteria do not spare deniers of evolution.”

P.Z. Myers, an outspoken evolutionary biologist, calls pro-ID biochemist Michael Behe an “evolution-denier who claims that there is no evidence for evolution.”

I submit that labels like “denier” are meaningless, conversation-stopping terms. The only information they convey is that the person levying the insult is so supremely intolerant (and unconfident) that they must assert that anyone who disagrees is in denial.

Scientists who challenge Darwin do not discard all of his ideas. No serious “evolution denier” disagrees that natural selection is a real force, and that antibiotic resistance must be fought by modern medicine.

Rather, scientists like Behe observe that the only way to combat anti-biotic resistance is to intelligently design drug cocktails based upon the fact that there are limits to evolutionary change.

Behe is not alone in his views. Over 800 Ph.D. scientists have courageously signed a “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” declaring that they are “skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.”

Such scientists commonly cite the inability of blind and unguided Darwinian mechanisms to generate complex cellular machinery and the billions of bits of language-based information encoded in our DNA.

As one signatory, Stephen C. Meyer, argues in his new book, “Signature in the Cell,” the discovery of the specified digital information in the DNA molecule provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a role in the origin of DNA.

In place of rhetorically charged labels like denier, I suggest using more civil terms like “critic” or “skeptic,” even when describing one's opponents. ID proponents are critics of Darwinian evolution.

And many evolutionary scientists are skeptics or critics of ID. Such terms accurately reflect that both sides have serious scientific reasons for their positions.

Once the rhetoric is toned down, perhaps we can have a real discussion about the evidence and find out which side’s skepticism is most convincing in this intriguing debate.

-- Casey Luskin is an attorney with the Discovery Institute, working in public policy and legal affairs.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: creation; darwin; evolution; intelligentdesign; scientism
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1 posted on 11/14/2009 8:48:20 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind; GodGunsGuts
Dawkins brands those who doubt Charles Darwin’s ideas on evolution as “history deniers,”

And on FR, many brand anyone who believes in evolution as an atheist.

Stupid really.

2 posted on 11/14/2009 8:53:13 AM PST by humblegunner
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To: SeekAndFind
As one signatory, Stephen C. Meyer, argues in his new book, “Signature in the Cell,” the discovery of the specified digital information in the DNA molecule provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a role in the origin of DNA

Unless and until ID proponents produce actual scientific results. FR will be the only place they are taken seriously.

3 posted on 11/14/2009 8:54:08 AM PST by HospiceNurse
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To: SeekAndFind

“Civility”? Dream on! Things are far beyond the possibility of friendly discussion!


4 posted on 11/14/2009 8:55:19 AM PST by SWAMPSNIPER (THE SECOND AMENDMENT, A MATTER OF FACT, NOT A MATTER OF OPINION)
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To: SeekAndFind

That’s all well and good, but I’m always “skeptical” of calls for civility that mention only one side’s transgressions. Then it becomes just another form of criticism.


5 posted on 11/14/2009 9:00:06 AM PST by Ha Ha Thats Very Logical
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To: All

Why should I be civil when I know I’m right and everyone else is wrong? { insert picture of BipolarBob jumping up and down }


6 posted on 11/14/2009 9:01:02 AM PST by BipolarBob (Thailand?)
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To: SeekAndFind

I am a proud critic of Darwinian evolution. No Darwinist has ever produced scientific evidence that shows random mutations can create such a vast array of wonder and magnitude. I’ll give some of them credit for trying, but they are far too arrogant about their philosophical beliefs seeing they lack science to back it up.


7 posted on 11/14/2009 9:01:15 AM PST by Jaime2099 (Human Evolution and the God of the Bible are not compatible)
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To: HospiceNurse

bttt


8 posted on 11/14/2009 9:01:50 AM PST by Matchett-PI ("The Role of Government is to Secure Our Liberty, Not to Seize It" ~ Rush 6/26/09)
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To: SeekAndFind

The only evolution I care about is the evolution of my soul and TRYING to make making myself a better person in the eyes of God.


9 posted on 11/14/2009 9:03:23 AM PST by Le Chien Rouge
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To: SeekAndFind

The only evolution I care about is the evolution of my soul and TRYING to make making myself a better person in the eyes of God.


10 posted on 11/14/2009 9:03:27 AM PST by Le Chien Rouge
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To: humblegunner

> Stupid really.

Case in point.

Evolutionists, like other elitists, just can’t help themselves.

They are so much better and smarter, and, well, more evolved, than the low-life knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, pie-eyed Creationists, right?


11 posted on 11/14/2009 9:03:42 AM PST by Westbrook (Having more children does not divide your love, it multiplies it.)
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To: Jaime2099

>>No Darwinist has ever produced scientific evidence that shows random mutations can create such a vast array of wonder and magnitude.<<

And you know this how?


12 posted on 11/14/2009 9:13:38 AM PST by freedumb2003 (Communism comes to America: 1/20/2009. Keep your powder dry, folks. Sic semper tyrannis)
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To: SeekAndFind

There is no “debate.”

To debate you must be talking about the same subject using the same framework. ID and Creationists are talking philosophy and theology. People who understand TToE are talking science.

It is like saying there is a “debate” between astrology and astronomy.


13 posted on 11/14/2009 9:15:19 AM PST by freedumb2003 (Communism comes to America: 1/20/2009. Keep your powder dry, folks. Sic semper tyrannis)
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To: Westbrook

If you say so.


14 posted on 11/14/2009 9:18:21 AM PST by humblegunner
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To: BipolarBob
{ insert picture of BipolarBob jumping up and down }

Done. ;)


15 posted on 11/14/2009 9:21:15 AM PST by Riodacat (Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.)
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To: Jaime2099
I'm confused at how trying to objectively figure something out is more arrogant than "knowing it, and that's that"
16 posted on 11/14/2009 9:26:21 AM PST by Psycho_Bunny (ALSO SPRACH ZEROTHUSTRA)
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To: Westbrook
[Evolutionists] are so much better and smarter, and, well, more evolved, than the low-life knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, pie-eyed Creationists, right?

Thou sayest.

17 posted on 11/14/2009 9:27:20 AM PST by Caesar Soze
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To: SeekAndFind
Behe is not alone in his views. Over 800 Ph.D. scientists have courageously signed a “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” declaring that they are “skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.”

Funny how they always leave natural laws out of the mix.

18 posted on 11/14/2009 9:33:33 AM PST by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: humblegunner
This reeks of the "Religion of Peace" / "Moderate Muslim" nomenclature.

As well as the dogmatism of the global warming fanatics, or the traditional medicine / holistic nutritional medicine wars.

There are flaming moonbats on both sides: and Myers and Dawkins *are* self-fellating atheists.

It'd be nice to find more people with even *half* of the level-headed consideration of the late Dick Feynman showing up.

As it is, I'll get the popcorn.

Cheers! Cheers!

19 posted on 11/14/2009 9:37:00 AM PST by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: humblegunner
And on FR, many brand anyone who believes in evolution as an atheist.

It's not just FR. Quite a few folks on that side try to conflate subscribers to evolution with atheism. :(

20 posted on 11/14/2009 9:53:38 AM PST by EveningStar
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To: EveningStar
Quite a few folks on that side try to conflate subscribers to evolution with atheism.

I suppose it's a no-brain way to wave off dissenting opinions.

Kind of like someone crying "you're a DU troll!" due to a differing opinion.

It's easy, it costs nothing in terms of thought and there isn't a logical response to it.

21 posted on 11/14/2009 9:59:22 AM PST by humblegunner
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To: SeekAndFind
No serious “evolution denier” disagrees that natural selection is a real force, and that antibiotic resistance must be fought by modern medicine.

I see posts that deny natural selection every day here.

22 posted on 11/14/2009 10:06:25 AM PST by DManA
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To: Psycho_Bunny
'I'm confused at how trying to objectively figure something out is more arrogant than "knowing it, and that's that"'

Are you saying Darwinists say, "I know it, and that's that" or are you saying Creationists say that. Darwinist know for certain that everything happened the way they say, and if you disagree your called ignorant of science.
23 posted on 11/14/2009 11:26:42 AM PST by Jaime2099 (Human Evolution and the God of the Bible are not compatible)
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To: HospiceNurse

800 phds disagree
80,000 phds agree
but your point is appreciated.


24 posted on 11/14/2009 11:44:00 AM PST by genghis
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To: SeekAndFind

“Let’s restore civility to the debate on evolution and intelligent design”

“Civility” ?

What fellowship hath Christ with Baal?


25 posted on 11/14/2009 11:44:50 AM PST by RoadTest ( For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. - I Cor. 3:11)
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To: freedumb2003

“>>No Darwinist has ever produced scientific evidence that shows random mutations can create such a vast array of wonder and magnitude.<<

And you know this how?”

Believe me, it would jammed in our faces by the aetheistic mass media! We’d know it instantly.


26 posted on 11/14/2009 11:47:02 AM PST by RoadTest ( For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. - I Cor. 3:11)
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To: HospiceNurse
Unless and until ID proponents produce actual scientific results. FR will be the only place they are taken seriously.

And on FR only by a couple such as metmom and GGG. Yes metmom. I didn't do a courtesy ping.

27 posted on 11/14/2009 11:49:23 AM PST by ColdWater ("The theory of evolution really has no bearing on what I'm trying to accomplish with FR anyway. ")
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To: freedumb2003

The problem is the anti-evolutionists want to replace science with debate.


28 posted on 11/14/2009 11:50:38 AM PST by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: RoadTest; Jaime2099

>>Believe me, it would jammed in our faces by the aetheistic mass media! We’d know it instantly.<<

We would indeed, since TToE dies not say that random mutations are involved.

That is why I want to know where the OP gets his idea.


29 posted on 11/14/2009 11:54:37 AM PST by freedumb2003 (Communism comes to America: 1/20/2009. Keep your powder dry, folks. Sic semper tyrannis)
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To: Moonman62

The more I study this matter (and I have read a lot on both sides of the issue), the more I am convinced that Thomas Jefferson had it right from the beginning.


30 posted on 11/14/2009 11:55:18 AM PST by DavidAccord
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To: Jaime2099

>>Darwinist know for certain that everything happened the way they say, and if you disagree your called ignorant of science. <<

Since that isn’t what anthropologists (and others in the life sciences) say, it must be Creationists.

For someone so vehemently opinionated, you sure do have all your facts wrong.


31 posted on 11/14/2009 11:58:04 AM PST by freedumb2003 (Communism comes to America: 1/20/2009. Keep your powder dry, folks. Sic semper tyrannis)
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To: Jaime2099

“Are you saying Darwinists say, “I know it, and that’s that” or are you saying Creationists say that. Darwinist know for certain that everything happened the way they say, and if you disagree your called ignorant of science.”

—To find absolute certainty and self assurance, it’s best to go to Creationists. Even Darwinists like Dawkins and Gould have room for doubt.

“Moreover, “fact” doesn’t mean “absolute certainty”; there ain’t no such animal in an exciting and complex world. The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are not about the empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us falsely for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science “fact” can only mean “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent.”” –Gould

“Darwin may be triumphant at the end of the twentieth century, but we must acknowledge the possibility that new facts may come to light which will force our successors of the twenty-first century to abandon Darwinism or modify it beyond recognition.” -Dawkins


32 posted on 11/14/2009 12:25:22 PM PST by goodusername
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To: Riodacat

Thanks.


33 posted on 11/14/2009 1:01:26 PM PST by BipolarBob (Thailand?)
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To: goodusername
"Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us falsely for a style of argument that they themselves favor)."

You are sympathetic at best to Darwinism and delusional at worst. You paint a picture that is much too bright and cheery then the average Darwinists. Most would never accept Biblical Creationism under any circumstance. They are far from open minded in their beliefs.

"Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do"

This is completely false. If anyone questions evolution in anyway academically they are mocked as Luddites, science ignorant, uneducated, or called a lunatic. You live in a dream world if you think Darwinists are open minded.

'“Darwin may be triumphant at the end of the twentieth century, but we must acknowledge the possibility that new facts may come to light which will force our successors of the twenty-first century to abandon Darwinism or modify it beyond recognition.” -Dawkins '

Really Mr. Dawkins? What if the scientific evidence shows that the Bible is right, the earth is too young to allow for vast evolutions, and all species did not evolve from one? What if the evidence shows that human simply were always humans and never evolved from any other species or living thing? Would you embrace it? I seriously doubt it.
34 posted on 11/14/2009 2:21:25 PM PST by Jaime2099 (Human Evolution and the God of the Bible are not compatible)
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To: Jaime2099
What if the scientific evidence shows that the Bible is right,

What scientific evidence would you accept showing the Bible is wrong?

35 posted on 11/14/2009 3:29:22 PM PST by Toddsterpatriot (Math is hard. Harder if you're stupid.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Since it does not affect my life, I do not give a damn. lol
36 posted on 11/14/2009 3:35:11 PM PST by verity (Obama Lies)
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To: SeekAndFind

Yet another Evolution vs. Creation thread to divide and conquer. That, even though the article attempts an end to the division. “Fellow conservatives in-fighting on FR” headlines on DU would be so globally warming.

Both belief systems take faith that is only partially supported by science. We all should pay attention to the discoveries the differing camps reveal. If for no other reason than to twist it into our own agendas. 8^)


37 posted on 11/14/2009 4:15:09 PM PST by Blue Collar Christian (I forget the last time I made a mistake. It's handy. ><BCC> NRA)
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To: Toddsterpatriot
How about 3 chimps having a conversation on the orign of life? When I see that I'll become a believer in evolution.


38 posted on 11/14/2009 4:21:27 PM PST by WhatNot ( Healthcare Bill-the other man-made object large enough to be seen from outer-space.)
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To: Toddsterpatriot
"What scientific evidence would you accept showing the Bible is wrong?"

If scientists can prove Human Evolution using science, then they can say without a doubt that the Bible is wrong. They have not done it, and I am confident they never will.
39 posted on 11/14/2009 5:42:05 PM PST by Jaime2099 (Human Evolution and the God of the Bible are not compatible)
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To: SeekAndFind; All

You can’t be “civil” with EVIL or it will kill you!!

When are people going to get it ..??


40 posted on 11/14/2009 7:53:29 PM PST by CyberAnt (Michael Yon: "The U.S. military is the most respected institution in Iraq.")
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To: SeekAndFind

“Let’s Restore Civility to the Debate”

You can’t argue with a psychotic Leninist...it’s just not possible.

IMHO


41 posted on 11/15/2009 5:11:13 AM PST by ripley
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To: SeekAndFind
Once the rhetoric is toned down, perhaps we can have a real discussion about the evidence and find out which side’s skepticism is most convincing in this intriguing debate.

I'd like to point out that the above sentence would be more accurate if the words "facts are" replaced "skepticism in" ... giving us ...

Once the rhetoric is toned down, perhaps we can have a real discussion about the evidence and find out which side’s facts are most convincing in this intriguing debate.

42 posted on 11/15/2009 1:14:39 PM PST by OldNavyVet
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To: HospiceNurse

The following are a few of my favorite quotes on Intelligent Design, dedicated to the geniuses who cannot find any “evidence” of it in nature.

“This most elegant system of the sun, planets, and comets could not have arisen without the design and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.” —Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), The Principia

“The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation ... His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.” —Albert Einstein

“Overwhelmingly strong proofs of intelligent and benevolent design lie around us. ...the atheistic idea is so nonsensical that I cannot put it into words.” —Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)

“The more I study nature, the more I am amazed at the work of the Creator.” —Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

“One cannot be exposed to the law and order of the universe without concluding that there must be design and purpose behind it all. ... The better we understand the universe and all it harbors, the more reason we have found to marvel at the inherent design upon which it is based. ... I endorse the presentation of alternative theories for the origin of the universe, life, and man in the science classroom.” —Wernher von Braun, father of the American space program

“I have said for years that speculations about the origin of life lead to no useful purpose as even the simplest living system is far too complex to be understood in terms of the extremely primitive chemistry scientists have used in their attempts to explain the unexplainable that happened billions of years ago. God cannot be explained away by such naive thoughts.” —Ernst Chain, Nobel-laureate biochemist

“So if one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure of order must be the outcome of intelligent design. ... The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.” —Sir Fred Hoyle, British astonomer (and self-professed atheist), from a lecture in 1982

“A superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology.” —Sir Fred Hoyle

“The Darwinian theory has become an all-purpose obstacle to thought rather than an enabler of scientific advance.” —Robert B. Laughlin, Nobel-laureate physicist

“Much of present-day biological knowledge is ideological. A key symptom of ideological thinking is the explanation that has no implications and cannot be tested. I call such logical dead ends antitheories because they have exactly the opposite effect of real theories: they stop thinking rather than stimulate it. Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause!” —Robert B. Laughlin, Nobel-laureate physicist

Do you think any of these guys have “produced any “actual scientific results”?


43 posted on 11/16/2009 12:17:43 AM PST by RussP
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To: RussP
Do you think any of these guys have “produced any “actual scientific results”?

Not a single drop on "intelligent design". If you are aware of any scientific literature on ID, I would love to see it.

44 posted on 11/16/2009 8:46:06 AM PST by HospiceNurse
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To: HospiceNurse

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” —Voltaire

That’s why people like you scare me.


45 posted on 11/16/2009 9:36:34 PM PST by RussP
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To: RussP
That’s why people like you scare me.

I am a Christian. I also believe that science is important. Intelligent Design, up until now, isn't science. Intelligent design is faith. I'm sorry I scare you. In my real life, I comfort far more than I scare. God bless you and your faith in intelligent design.

46 posted on 11/17/2009 2:28:18 AM PST by HospiceNurse
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To: HospiceNurse

I am a Christian too, and I am not one to judge others, but I simply cannot understand how anyone, let alone a Christian, could possibly deny the obvious reality of Intelligent Design. Do you believe that God didn’t design the universe, or do you believe he designed it in such a way that we cannot determine that it was designed? If it’s the former, then you are not a Christian. If it’s the latter, then you are at odds with the greatest scientists who ever lived, several of whom I quoted earlier in this thread and on my FR home page. With Christians like you, who needs athiests? As for your underhanded “blessing,” thanks but no thanks.


47 posted on 11/17/2009 4:30:24 AM PST by RussP
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To: RussP
I simply cannot understand how anyone, let alone a Christian, could possibly deny the obvious reality of Intelligent Design

There is NO scientific literature on ID and yet ID claims to be scientific. Have faith in creationism, at least it is Biblical. ID is political nonsense.

48 posted on 11/17/2009 5:32:09 AM PST by HospiceNurse
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Comment #49 Removed by Moderator

Comment #50 Removed by Moderator


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