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Darwinism Under Attack ( Intelligent Design Theory)
Chronicle of Higher Education ^ | 21December 2001 | BETH MCMURTRIE

Posted on 12/18/2001 7:05:45 AM PST by shrinkermd

When John L. Omdahl teaches a course on biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of New Mexico, he sets aside a portion of his last lecture to explain why he disagrees with a central tenet of evolutionary science: that Darwin's theories of random mutation and natural selection offer a reliable framework for understanding how life developed. In fact, throughout his course, the professor tries to avoid the word "evolution," which he calls a "loaded term."

To Mr. Omdahl, who has taught at the university since 1972, a more palatable explanation for the diversity of life is that an intelligent force has guided the evolutionary proc-ess. The universe is too complex, the conditions for life too exacting, to conclude that it could have developed in such a sophisticated way without help from some "external agent."

"In my department, 90 percent of the people here, or more, would be opposed to the position I have," he says. "They're very uncomfortable with me having these discussions. But I'm very comfortable."

For the vast majority of scientists, evolution through natural means is as much a fact as the earth's revolution around the sun. Yet a small but vocal number of biologists, chemists, philosophers, and mathematicians are determined to change that view. They believe that an intelligent agent -- most rigorously avoid the word "God" -- has guided the earth's history, and that scientific research can prove its existence. While most scientists are quick to dismiss the idea as religion cloaked in academic jargon, advocates of the concept, known as intelligent design, are making inroads into academe, thanks to their unconventional approach, sophisticated arguments, and scholarly credentials.

Intelligent-design theory has been greeted most warmly at evangelical Christian colleges, where it is sometimes taught as a viable alternative to Darwinian evolution. Other institutions have been far less sympathetic. Although intelligent design has advocates in some science departments, no secular or mainstream college teaches it as a legitimate theory. Scientists who do support intelligent design have been relegated to teaching it as a nonscience course, as at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Advocates have also organized conferences at such universities as Baylor and Yale, and have assembled a group of more than 100 scientists to criticize Darwinian theory in full-page advertisements in national publications. The New York Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have sponsored debates on intelligent design, and three academic presses are publishing books on the subject.

While some of that scrutiny is quite critical of intelligent-design theory, advocates see the mere mention of their ideas in academic settings as a victory. "The point is, you wouldn't have MIT Press bringing out a 780-page volume on flat-earth theory," says Paul A. Nelson, a philosopher of science at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that supports intelligent design. One of his articles is being reprinted in a book on intelligent design forthcoming from the press.

The growing visibility of intelligent-design theory troubles some academics. They say that through sloppy science and deceptive logic, its advocates are winning converts among students, professors in nonscientific fields, and the public. "I don't think intelligent design is a science," says Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences. "It's a way of restating creationism in a different formulation."

He and other scientists lay the blame for intelligent design's public-relations successes squarely on their discipline. They say that professors must do a better job of explaining not just the facts of science, but the process that undergirds it. A recent Gallup Poll found that 45 percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, and 39 percent believe that Darwin's theory of evolution is not supported by the evidence. "If so many students and science teachers are ready to buy into it," says Massimo Pigliucci, an associate professor of botany at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, "then obviously we failed somewhere dramatically in science education."

How It Began

The book credited with laying out the philosophical underpinnings of the modern intelligent-design movement was published in 1991 by Phillip E. Johnson, a law professor at Berkeley who claimed that Darwinian evolution is based on scant evidence and faulty assumptions. In 1996, a biochemist at Lehigh University, Michael J. Behe, offered scientific argument in favor of intelligent design. Mr. Behe introduced the idea that some living things are irreducibly complex, meaning that they could not have evolved and must have been designed.

Two years later, a mathematician who now works at Baylor University, William A. Dembski, claimed to have developed a mathematical "explanatory filter" that could determine whether certain events, including biological phenomena, develop randomly or are the products of design.

The intelligent-design movement attacks evolutionary theory in two basic ways. Philosophically, it argues that because science refuses to consider anything but natural explanations for things, it is biased against evidence of supernatural intervention. Scientifically, it criticizes the evidence for evolution through natural processes.

The movement has expanded by pitching a big tent. It includes people like Mr. Behe, who believes that all living things evolved from a common ancestor, as well as Mr. Nelson, a creationist who believes the earth is several thousand years old. What all agree on, though, is that an intelligent force, which many of them personally believe is God, has directed the development of life.

The movement coalesced in 1996, when the Discovery Institute established the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture. The center, which is largely financed by Christian foundations, spends about $1-million a year to support research, advocacy, and publications on intelligent design, and many of its most prominent advocates in academe are fellows there. Stephen C. Meyer, an associate professor of philosophy at Whitworth College who heads the center, says its primary goal is to establish academic credibility for intelligent design by publishing research on it. "I think there are going to be more and more younger scientists and philosophers of science who are going to be attracted by the idea," he says. "And they are going to want to talk about it."

So far, intelligent design has taken its greatest strides at religious institutions. Several evangelical Christian colleges have introduced intelligent-design theory into their science courses.

At Illinois's Wheaton College, a course for nonscience majors called "Origins" includes a discussion of intelligent design. Derrick A. Chignell, a chemistry professor, says that he and other science professors there tend to be more skeptical of the theory than are its advocates, but believe it raises important scientific and religious questions. "I've read the books, and I've been to the conferences, and I think it's intriguing," he says. "What I want to see is some science being done based on that paradigm that produces results that could not be produced by the Darwinian paradigm."

At Oklahoma Baptist University, Michael N. Keas, an associate professor of natural science, teaches intelligent-design theory in his science courses. In a freshman colloquium for biology majors, he uses Icons of Evolution: Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong to critique the conventional science textbooks students will use later, he says. "It allows them to critically evaluate the evidence pro and con for those books." Icons was written by Jonathan Wells, a molecular biologist and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, and has been discredited by a number of scientists. Mr. Keas says that the science faculty at Oklahoma Baptist holds a "diversity of opinion" on intelligent design, but that the consensus is that "it's a viable part of the conversation."

'Why Are We Here?'

According to both friends and foes of the theory, it has made no headway into the science curriculums at secular universities. The closest it has come is at Berkeley and Minnesota. Jed Macosko, a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley, created a course through a program that allows students to organize and run classes. Called "Evidence for Design in Nature?," the course, which has been taught several times, most recently last year, offered readings by a number of intelligent-design proponents and their critics. "We asked the real question -- why are we here, how did we get here?," he says. "We were answering it by looking at science."

With an undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate from Berkeley, both in chemistry, Mr. Macosko has sterling credentials, and his course is frequently mentioned by people in the intelligent-design movement. The class was given an identifier, ChemE 198, that suggested it was a chemistry course.

But the person who authorized it, Jeffrey A. Reimer, a professor of chemical engineering, says that students were not allowed to take it for science credit. The syllabus covered such topics as the big bang, Mr. Dembski's "explanatory filter," and the origins of life. Mr. Macosko made clear to students that he believes firmly in intelligent design, but Mr. Reimer says he made sure that Mr. Macosko did not push his views on them. "I did not allow Jed to run it as a lecture format," Mr. Reimer says.

"I thought it was appropriate for a scientist to host a discussion about these worldviews and to get students to reflect on their own worldviews," he adds, saying that while he is "curious" about intelligent design, he thinks it has "little technical content" and does not belong in a science course.

Mr. Macosko's father, Christopher, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science at Minnesota's Twin Cities campus, taught the Berkeley course last year with his son and is offering a similar one at Minnesota this fall. "Origins: Chance or Design," a freshman seminar, covers scientific theories on the origins of life, as well as readings in philosophy and theology. Like many intelligent-design advocates, Mr. Macosko argues that the belief that life's complexity can be explained through chance and natural selection is in itself a form of faith. "It's really the religion of naturalism," he says.

A number of other scientists who teach at secular or mainstream universities are also sympathetic to design theory. While agreeing that not much research has been done to prove the existence of an intelligent designer, they believe that Darwinian evolution is flawed and say science departments should "teach the controversy." Last month, the Discovery Institute published some of their names in full-page advertisements in The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and other high-profile publications. In the ad, which was created in reaction to a PBS series, Evolution, more than 100 science professors or people with doctorates in science declare that they are "skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life."

New Mexico's Mr. Omdahl was among them. He declines to label himself a proponent of intelligent design but says it has "some very credible arguments." He has always been wary of Darwinian explanations for how biological systems can advance from the simple to the complex. His notion of intelligent design also suits his religious faith, which he discusses as well in that last lecture to students.

"When you look to the idea that you and I are basically random events and random happenings, that left me feeling void and empty as a human being," he says. "That says there's no reason for laws, or for moral behavior."

Scott Minnich, a professor of microbiology and biochemistry at the University of Idaho, is another supporter of intelligent-design theory. Like others, he says he has no problem with microevolution, the small changes within species that develop over time. His dispute is with macroevolution -- larger transformations from, for example, reptiles to birds -- which he says is "full of speculation and assumptions."

Mr. Minnich brings up such ideas in his classes. He recommends, for example, that students in his introductory-microbiology course read Mr. Behe's book on "irreducible complexity." But he says he frames the discussion carefully. "If I make any statement that is on intelligent design counter to evolutionary theory, I make sure to tell students that this is my opinion, that this is controversial, that this is outside the consensus thinking, and they should know that."

This is good science, he says. "Is it wrong to ask students to stop and think, given time and what we know of biochemistry and molecular genetics, whether blind chance and necessity can build machines that dwarf our creative ability? Is that a legitimate question? I think it is."

Intelligent-design theory has also been taken up in philosophy, religion, and other liberal-arts courses. Some professors present it with skepticism; others find it intriguing.

Jeffrey Koperski, an assistant professor of philosophy at Saginaw Valley State University, in Michigan, teaches intelligent-design theory as part of a philosophy-of-science course that examines revolutions in scientific thought. In a section titled "the evolution debate," Mr. Koperski pre-sents the ideas of Mr. Dembski and Mr. Behe. He says they "raise serious challenges that should be addressed and looked at by all sides." That mainstream scientists reject design theory, he says, doesn't mean that it should be dismissed. Revolutionary theories, he notes, always begin as fringe movements.

A 'Non-Starter'

Scientists worry that because intelligent-design advocates like to make their case in the popular press, on the campus lecture circuit, or through nonscientific disciplines, their ideas may gain credibility among academics who do not have a strong understanding of evolutionary theory.

"It's a non-starter in the scientific community," says Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, which tracks the creationist movement. "But people in history, or social studies, or philosophy of science, who don't know that the science is bad, could very well be propagating this in the academic community. So there may be a lot of university graduates coming out of school thinking evolution is, quote, a theory in crisis."

A growing number of scientists have begun to respond to those challenges. "Kansas was definitely a wake-up call for many professors," says Brian J. Alters of McGill University, referring to a 1999 decision, since overturned, by that state's Board of Education to drop the teaching of evolution from public schools' science curriculums. As director of the Evolution Education Research Centre at McGill, Mr. Alters recently co-wrote a book on defending evolution in the classroom, to respond to an increase in requests for help from science teachers and professors.

Some scientists who have tackled anti-evolution arguments in the classroom say their discipline must do more on that front. "The other professors typically ignore it, and I think that's irresponsible, given the strategy of the creationists to infiltrate the school boards of the communities around the country, and pervert the undergraduate system that American kids are entitled to," says David S. Woodruff, chairman of the department of ecology, behavior, and evolution at the University of California at San Diego.

Last year, members of a student-run intelligent-design club handed out to Mr. Woodruff's students a list of 10 questions that disputed the evidence for evolution. One of the club's founders is now organizing intelligent-design clubs on other campuses.

Robert T. Pennock, an associate professor of philosophy at Michigan State University who has written about the movement, believes that an effective rebuttal to intelligent-design theory must include a discussion on the philosophy of science. While many scientists are loath to broach topics such as religion, materialism, and naturalism, he notes that design advocates often appeal to the public by arguing that Darwinism precludes the existence of God.

"Their central criticism is that science is dogmatically naturalistic, that it denies God's intervention by fiat, and that scientists are the gatekeepers and they won't let this in because they're all atheists," Mr. Pennock says. "One of the important things to explain is that science is not metaphysically naturalistic or atheistic. There's a difference between that position and the methodological rules it uses to conduct its work."

Many intelligent-design proponents believe there is a conspiracy to keep their ideas out of scientific circles. "I've been in public life a long time," says Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute. "This is one of the most blatant forms of viewpoint discrimination that I have seen."

Critics counter that the theory's advocates are the ones who are conspiring to curtail the debate. Rather than submit papers to respected scientific journals, critics say, they publish books. Rather than present papers at mainstream scientific conferences, they hold their own.

Lehigh's Mr. Behe is one researcher who says he has, in fact, submitted articles to scientific journals, and he adds that their rejection is a sign of the mainstream's close-mindedness.

Kenneth R. Miller, a professor of biology at Brown University and a leading critic of the intelligent-design movement, says such a view turns the scientific process on its head. If a researcher's theories are rejected, he says, that means that they have failed as good science, not that they're being suppressed.

Mr. Miller also wonders why Mr. Behe, a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, has never presented his ideas at its annual conference, which is his right. "If I thought I had an idea that would completely revolutionize cell biology in the same way that Professor Behe thinks he has an idea that would revolutionize biochemistry," he says, "I would be talking about that idea at every single meeting of my peers I could possibly get to."

Mr. Behe responds that he prefers other venues. "I just don't think that large scientific meetings are effective forums for presenting these ideas," he says.

Baylor's Mr. Dembski also has little interest in publicizing his research through traditional means. "I've just gotten kind of blasé about submitting things to journals where you often wait two years to get things into print," he says. "And I find I can actually get the turnaround faster by writing a book and getting the ideas expressed there. My books sell well. I get a royalty. And the material gets read more."

Last year, Mr. Dembski was at the center of what many intelligent-design advocates say was a clear case of discrimination. Baylor hired him to create a research center dedicated, in large part, to intelligent-design research. A faculty uproar ensued, leading the university to appoint an external committee to review the center's mission and structure. Eventually, the center was dismantled, although Mr. Dembski continues to work on intelligent design at Baylor.

Faculty members there said they were upset because the center had been created through administrative fiat rather than academic review. By doing so, they said, the administration had given intelligent-design theory a level of credibility it had not yet earned. Mr. Dembski says today that he has the university's support, including a five-year contract, a position as associate research professor in the conceptual foundations of science, and no teaching responsibilities. But he maintains that the center was destroyed by intense political pressure from outside the university.

Undeterred, Mr. Dembski has simply carved out another route. This month, the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design was born. In a news release, the group is described as a "cross-disciplinary professional society that investigates complex systems apart from external programmatic constraints like materialism, naturalism, or reductionism." As with established academic organizations, this one offers conferences, postdoctoral fellowships, research grants, and a journal, Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design.

Mr. Dembski, Mr. Behe, Jed Macosko, Mr. Nelson, and Mr. Minnich are fellows of the new society.

Richard Monastersky contributed to this article.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: crevolist
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FYI
1 posted on 12/18/2001 7:05:45 AM PST by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd
bump
2 posted on 12/18/2001 7:12:39 AM PST by dubyagee
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To: shrinkermd
(Romans 1:20-22 NKJV) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

{21} because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

{22} Professing to be wise, they became fools,

3 posted on 12/18/2001 7:14:18 AM PST by Delta-Boudreaux
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To: shrinkermd
The universe is too complex, the conditions for life too exacting, to conclude that it could have developed in such a sophisticated way without help from some "external agent."

So who guided the development of this "external" agent. Geeze, you think a professor would see the problem is one of "first causes." He just adds a layer. A turtle on a turtle -- and calls the problem solved. Don't they have any deep thinkers in the religious advocacy field???

4 posted on 12/18/2001 7:14:43 AM PST by jlogajan
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To: shrinkermd
bump.
5 posted on 12/18/2001 7:15:40 AM PST by zoso82t
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To: shrinkermd
Many intelligent-design proponents believe there is a conspiracy to keep their ideas out of scientific circles.

Yeah, there really is a conspiracy -- to keep junk science out. Good on them. When ID can do better than quote scripture from the Bible, when it can present some sort of affirmative evidence, it'll make the grade.

Right now ID is just a retreat-in-force from pure reliance on Biblical revelation -- which has been laughed out of court for being so naively wrong. "I guess we better look for some evidence, ehy boys?"

6 posted on 12/18/2001 7:18:21 AM PST by jlogajan
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To: *crevo_list
Not again bump
7 posted on 12/18/2001 7:19:07 AM PST by Gladwin
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To: jlogajan
Try to think of the universe as infinite in magnitude. There exist universes infinitely smaller and larger than ours. There is no end in either direction. We were created by one life form which was created by another, etc...
8 posted on 12/18/2001 7:20:41 AM PST by zoso82t
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To: shrinkermd
"I don't think intelligent design is a science," says Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences. "It's a way of restating creationism in a different formulation."

And guesswork into how blobs of cells evolved over billions of years to become humans is science? If there are scientists out there who wish to use scientific means to explore the "theory" of creationism, why is their work not as "legitimate" as that of those who wish to prove evolution. If evolutionists weren't afraid of the outcome of this work, they would not give "intelligent design" theorists the time of day. I smell an agenda....

9 posted on 12/18/2001 7:21:14 AM PST by dubyagee
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To: shrinkermd
The treatment of Dembski at Baylor was shameful and reflects the intolerance of the evolutionist establishment to any competing ideas. The editor of the French encyclopaedia has called evolution "a fairy tale for adults." As taught, it is indeed full of gaping flaws, but it is held to by academia as tightly as any religion.
10 posted on 12/18/2001 7:23:19 AM PST by Malesherbes
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To: shrinkermd
The universe is too complex, the conditions for life too exacting, to conclude that it could have developed in such a sophisticated way without help from some "external agent."

If the universe is so complex as to have required an "external agent" for its development, I'm afraid to ask who helped the developer get to the position where he could develop a universe.

It seems like the developer would, in some respect, be more complex than the thing he developed. How did that come to be?
11 posted on 12/18/2001 7:25:31 AM PST by abandon
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To: jlogajan
Geeze, you think a professor would see the problem is one of "first causes."

ummm, that's why God is uniquely called the "first cause." I sincerely doubt the professor hasn't pondered that--by definition God is unique and eternal...never having been caused in the first place...

Since physics nearly universally accepts the compelling evidence of the "big bang" theory were essentially everything came out of nothing (a singular point)-- ie. the Universe has a finite beginning...Who caused that?

Is the Universe "self creating?" What else do you know which has ever been self creating?

12 posted on 12/18/2001 7:26:17 AM PST by AnalogReigns
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To: dubyagee
And guesswork into how blobs of cells evolved over billions of years to become humans is science?

Yes. Because it is the cataloging of vast fossil evidence. The layering is always consistent with increased complexity over time. This is well beyond "guessing." The number of fossils are in the billions -- I have several right here on my desk. They aren't made up like biblical scripture was made up by goat herders 2000 years ago.

13 posted on 12/18/2001 7:26:23 AM PST by jlogajan
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To: jlogajan
When ID can do better than quote scripture from the Bible, when it can present some sort of affirmative evidence, it'll make the grade.

You might wish to read, say, Michael Behe's book for starters.

I have degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering, and though I'm a conservative evangelical Christian, I see no evidence in the Bible for anything more than "God created the Heavens and the Earth." If he chose to do it via evolution, I have no problem with that. However, the theory of evolution as currently taught is fraught with huge difficulties. Those who don't recognize those difficulties either don't understand the implications of the theory or refuse to face the facts. I don't believe that the earth was created 6,000 years ago (the Bible certainly doesn't teach this notion nor does evidence suggest it), but I'm more likely to believe that proposition than I would the idea that "chance" brought the universe into existence, as if "chance" were some kind of mystical force.

14 posted on 12/18/2001 7:27:20 AM PST by DallasMike
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To: jlogajan
Yeah, there really is a conspiracy -- to keep junk science out.

The evolutionary theory has craters throughout it. It was my understanding that science works to discover and can only do this by not knowing. The problem is so many are working to prove evolution, that any other answers out there are "bogus". That is not science, that is an agenda. Science LOOKS for answers, it does not attempt to make all fit into the box it has created. I would say those worshipping the evolutionary theory are the ones practicing "junk science".

15 posted on 12/18/2001 7:27:22 AM PST by dubyagee
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To: AnalogReigns
Is the Universe "self creating?" What else do you know which has ever been self creating?

We know the universe exists (well, I do, you may be confused about that issue.) We don't know God exists. Asserting God as creator doesn't solve the question of how nothing created something (God.)

If God can always exist, then the same logic applies to the much simpler dumb matter that makes up the universe.

16 posted on 12/18/2001 7:29:47 AM PST by jlogajan
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To: jlogajan
Being a native of New Mexico, and all too familiar with UNM and it's left-wing agenda, it amazes me that this professor hasn't been lynched in front of the UNM Bookstore. (Where the anti-war protesters like to hang out.) In defense of our slightly loony state, the New Mexico Creation Science Fellowship does have a really good program going out here.
17 posted on 12/18/2001 7:30:10 AM PST by NMVet
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To: dubyagee
If there are scientists out there who wish to use scientific means to explore the "theory" of creationism, why is their work not as "legitimate" as that of those who wish to prove evolution.

Because they offer no evidence for their theory other than the Big Book. Proponents of evolution have offered a significant body of evidence backing up their theory; fossils, geological samples, astro-physical evidence showing the universe to be ~20B years old, etc. Other than quoting scripture, the only contributions the Creation ``Science'' types can make is to find small inconsistencies in the theory of evolution.

18 posted on 12/18/2001 7:30:52 AM PST by Cu Roi
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To: abandon
It seems like the developer would, in some respect, be more complex than the thing he developed. How did that come to be?

This world would have to get to the point where it acknowledges a "developer" before any questions about the complexity could even be addressed.....

19 posted on 12/18/2001 7:32:19 AM PST by dubyagee
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To: AnalogReigns
What else do you know which has ever been self creating?

Virtual particles? They randomly come into existence everywhere all the time and then go back out of existence. That's how black holes evaporate, no?
20 posted on 12/18/2001 7:33:07 AM PST by abandon
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To: dubyagee
The problem is so many are working to prove evolution

Evolution was "proved" a hundred years ago. All the real work is in documenting the sequences it went through on the various species. Despite rants from the ID and young earth religious crowd, evolution is simply the accepted fact by any serious student. The debates and fights are over minor details. No one doubts the general nature of evolution or how it produced the multitude of species.

21 posted on 12/18/2001 7:33:13 AM PST by jlogajan
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To: Cu Roi
Because they offer no evidence for their theory other than the Big Book

The laws of nature are of themselves evidence.

22 posted on 12/18/2001 7:35:35 AM PST by dubyagee
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To: shrinkermd
At Illinois's Wheaton College, a course for nonscience majors called "Origins" includes a discussion of intelligent design. Derrick A. Chignell, a chemistry professor, says that he and other science professors there tend to be more skeptical of the theory than are its advocates, but believe it raises important scientific and religious questions. "I've read the books, and I've been to the conferences, and I think it's intriguing," he says. "What I want to see is some science being done based on that paradigm that produces results that could not be produced by the Darwinian paradigm."

Mr. Miller also wonders why Mr. Behe, a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, has never presented his ideas at its annual conference, which is his right. "If I thought I had an idea that would completely revolutionize cell biology in the same way that Professor Behe thinks he has an idea that would revolutionize biochemistry," he says, "I would be talking about that idea at every single meeting of my peers I could possibly get to."

Mr. Behe responds that he prefers other venues. "I just don't think that large scientific meetings are effective forums for presenting these ideas," he says.

Ding Ding Ding! If ID is going to make it as a scientific theory, then it better damn well start acting like one. The avoidance of a scientific setting for debate of ID makes the proponents of the theory look like charlatans. According to the scientific method, a workable theory has to have some testable hypothesis that can be worked over via an experiment. Does ID have any testable hypothesis? To be BETTER than evolution, it has to have a workable tested theory that explains something better than evolution? Does it do that?

23 posted on 12/18/2001 7:36:22 AM PST by ThinkPlease
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To: jlogajan
No one doubts the general nature of evolution or how it produced the multitude of species.

There are many who doubt it. But if they have any credentials at all they are immediately written off by the scientific community. EVERYONE of them cannot be completely incompetent. IMHO, this makes the scientific community itself look bad.

24 posted on 12/18/2001 7:38:16 AM PST by dubyagee
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To: shrinkermd
Evolution has been so thoroughly discredited at this point that you assume nobody is defending it because they believe in it anymore, and that they are defending it because they do not like the prospects of having to defend or explain some axpect of their lifestyles to God, St. Peter, Muhammed et. al.

To these people I say, you've still got a problem. The problem is that evolution, as a doctrine, is so overwhelmingly STUPID that, faced with a choice of wearing a sweatshirt with a scarlet letter A (Adulterer), F (Fornicator) or some such traditional device, or I (for IDIOT), you'd actually be better off sticking with one of the former choices because, as Clint Eastwood noted in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:

God hates IDIOTS, too!

The best illustration of how stupid evolutionism really is involves trying to become some totally new animal with new organs, a new basic plan for existence, and new requirements for integration between both old and new organs.

Take flying birds for example; suppose you aren't one, and you want to become one. You'll need a baker's dozen highly specialized systems, including wings, flight feathers, a specialized light bone structure, specialized flow-through design heart and lungs, specialized tail, specialized general balance parameters etc.

For starters, every one of these things would be antifunctional until the day on which the whole thing came together, so that the chances of evolving any of these things by any process resembling evolution (mutations plus selection) would amount to an infinitessimal, i.e. one divided by some gigantic number.

In probability theory, to compute the probability of two things happening at once, you multiply the probabilities together. That says that the likelihood of all these things ever happening, best case, is ten or twelve such infinitessimals multiplied together, i.e. a tenth or twelth-order infinitessimal. The whole history of the universe isn't long enough for that to happen once.

All of that was the best case. In real life, it's even worse than that. In real life, natural selection could not plausibly select for hoped-for functionality, which is what would be required in order to evolve flight feathers on something which could not fly apriori. In real life, all you'd ever get would some sort of a random walk around some starting point, rather than the unidircetional march towards a future requirement which evolution requires.

And the real killer, i.e. the thing which simply kills evolutionism dead, is the following consideration: In real life, assuming you were to somehow miraculously evolve the first feature you'd need to become a flying bird, then by the time another 10,000 generations rolled around and you evolved the second such reature, the first, having been disfunctional/antifunctional all the while, would have DE-EVOLVED and either disappeared altogether or become vestigial.

Now, it would be miraculous if, given all the above, some new kind of complex creature with new organs and a new basic plan for life had ever evolved ONCE.

Evolutionism, however (the Theory of Evolution) requires that this has happened countless billions of times, i.e. an essentially infinite number of absolutely zero probability events.

And, if you were starting to think that nothing could possibly be any stupider than believing in evolution despite all of the above (i.e. that the basic stupidity of evolutionism starting from 1980 or thereabouts could not possibly be improved upon), think again. Because there is zero evidence in the fossil record (despite the BS claims of talk.origins "crew" and others of their ilk) to support any sort of a theory involving macroevolution, and because the original conceptions of evolution are flatly refuted by developments in population genetics since the 1950's, the latest incarnation of this theory, Steve Gould and Niles Eldredge's "Punctuated Equilibrium or punc-eek" attempts to claim that these wholesale violations of probabilistic laws all occurred so suddenly as to never leave evidence in the fossil record, and that they all occurred amongst tiny groups of animals living in "peripheral" areas. That says that some velocirapter who wanted to be a bird got together with fifty of his friends and said:

Guys, we need flight feathers, and wings, and specialized bones, hearts, lungs, and tails, and we need em NOW; not two years from now. Everybody ready, all together now: OOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....

You could devise a new religion by taking the single stupidest doctrine from each of the existing religions, and it would not be as stupid as THAT.

But it gets even stupider.

Again, the original Darwinian vision of gradualistic evolution is flatly refuted by the fossil record (Darwinian evolution demanded that the vast bulk of ALL fossils be intermediates) and by the findings of population genetics, particularly the Haldane dilemma and the impossible time requirements for spreading genetic changes through any sizeable herd of animals.

Consider what Gould and other punk-eekers are saying. Punc-eek amounts to a claim that all meaningful evolutionary change takes place in peripheral areas, amongst tiny groups of animals which develop some genetic advantage, and then move out and overwhelm, outcompete, and replace the larger herds. They are claiming that this eliminates the need to spread genetic change through any sizeable herd of animals and, at the same time, is why we never find intermediate fossils (since there are never enough of these CHANGELINGS to leave fossil evidence).

Obvious problems with punctuated equilibria include, minimally:

1. It is a pure pseudoscience seeking to explain and actually be proved by a lack of evidence rather than by evidence (all the missing intermediate fossils). Similarly, Cotton Mather claimed that the fact that nobody had ever seen or heard a witch was proof they were there (if you could see or hear them, they wouldn't be witches...) The best example of that sort of logic in fact that there ever was was Michael O'Donahue's parody of the Connecticut Yankee (New York Yankee in King Arthur's Court) which showed Reggie looking for a low outside fastball and then getting beaned cold by a high inside one, the people feeling Reggie's wrist for pulse, and Reggie back in Camelot, where they had him bound hand and foot. Some guy was shouting "Damned if e ain't black from ead to foot, if that ain't witchcraft I never saw it!!!", everybody was yelling "Witchcraft Trial!, Witchcraft Trial!!", and they were building a scaffold. Reggie looks at King Arthur and says "Hey man, isn't that just a tad premature, I mean we haven't even had the TRIAL yet!", and Arthur replies "You don't seem to understand, son, the hanging IS the trial; if you survive that, that means you're a witch and we gotta burn ya!!!" Again, that's precisely the sort of logic which goes into Gould's variant of evolutionism, Punk-eek.

2. PE amounts to a claim that inbreeding is the most major source of genetic advancement in the world. Apparently Steve Gould never saw Deliverance...

3. PE requires these tiny peripheral groups to conquer vastly larger groups of animals millions if not billions of times, which is like requiring Custer to win at the little Big Horn every day, for millions of years.

4. PE requires an eternal victory of animals specifically adapted to localized and parochial conditions over animals which are globally adapted, which never happens in real life.

5. For any number of reasons, you need a minimal population of any animal to be viable. This is before the tiny group even gets started in overwhelming the vast herds. A number of American species such as the heath hen became non-viable when their numbers were reduced to a few thousand; at that point, any stroke of bad luck at all, a hard winter, a skewed sex ratio in one generation, a disease of some sort, and it's all over. The heath hen was fine as long as it was spread out over the East coast of the U.S. The point at which it got penned into one of these "peripheral" areas which Gould and Eldredge see as the salvation for evolutionism, it was all over.

The sort of things noted in items 3 and 5 are generally referred to as the "gambler's problem", in this case, the problem facing the tiny group of "peripheral" animals being similar to that facing a gambler trying to beat the house in blackjack or roulette; the house could lose many hands of cards or rolls of the dice without flinching, and the globally-adapted species spread out over a continent could withstand just about anything short of a continental-scale catastrophe without going extinct, while two or three bad rolls of the dice will bankrupt the gambler, and any combination of two or three strokes of bad luck will wipe out the "peripheral" species. Gould's basic method of handling this problem is to ignore it.

And there's one other thing which should be obvious to anybody attempting to read through Gould and Eldridge's BS:

The don't even bother to try to provide a mechanism or technical explaination of any sort for this "punk-eek"

They are claiming that at certain times, amongst tiny groups of animals living in peripheral areas, a "speciation event(TM)" happens, and THEN the rest of it takes place. In other words, they are saying:

ASSUMING that Abracadabra-Shazaam(TM) happens, then the rest of the business proceeds as we have described in our scholarly discourse above!

Again, Gould and Eldridge require that the Abracadabra-Shazaam(TM) happen not just once, but countless billions of times, i.e. at least once for every kind of complex creature which has ever walked the Earth. They do not specify whether this amounts to the same Abracadabra-Shazaam each time, or a different kind of Abracadabra-Shazaam for each creature.

I ask you: How could anything be stupider or worse than that? What could possibly be worse than professing to believe in such a thing?

25 posted on 12/18/2001 7:39:26 AM PST by medved
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To: medved
God hates

Medved -- always on message.

26 posted on 12/18/2001 7:43:01 AM PST by jlogajan
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To: dubyagee
The laws of nature are of themselves evidence.

Evidence of what? An ordered universe does lead one to believe that there may possibly be some form of intelligence behind it all, but you can make any conclusions to the nature of that intelligence (e.g., the universe was created in six days).

The fact that the current state of scientific research can't explain it all does not support one set of superstitions over another. The `holes' in evolutionary theory could just as easily point to humanity being created from ears of corn, as explained in the Popol Vuh of the Mayans.

27 posted on 12/18/2001 7:43:29 AM PST by Cu Roi
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To: ThinkPlease
Does ID have any testable hypothesis?

DOES EVOLUTION? BESIDES moths changing color and bird beaks growing larger? BESIDES microevolution??? The answer is NO.

I guess the truth of the matter in this instance is only TIME will tell....

28 posted on 12/18/2001 7:43:54 AM PST by dubyagee
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To: ThinkPlease
You have Freep mail! :)
29 posted on 12/18/2001 7:44:05 AM PST by RadioAstronomer
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To: jlogajan
suggest reading: < a href="http://www.origins.org/offices/thaxton/docs/thaxton_dna.html">
30 posted on 12/18/2001 7:48:13 AM PST by raptorite
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To: Cu Roi
An ordered universe does lead one to believe that there may possibly be some form of intelligence behind it all, but you can make any conclusions to the nature of that intelligence (e.g., the universe was created in six days).

I don't care what conclusions are drawn once the possibility of intelligence is acknowledged. It is those who wish to damn anyone who wishes to acknowledge intelligence, who wish to slam their "intellectual" abilities because they acknowledge that laws may of themselves be a sign of intelligent design. If there were no fear involved in this argument, there would not be the bitterness and name-calling that is also involved.

31 posted on 12/18/2001 7:49:58 AM PST by dubyagee
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To: shrinkermd
I made up a similar article... Round Earth Theory Under Attack...

A biochemist and molecular biologist who knows nothing about Geology reserves time at the end of his course to advocate the flat earth theory.

"90% of my colleagues would diagree with me, but I find their ideas unpalatable, and most of my church membership agrees with me..." comments the renowned scientist. I like to teach what I like to think is true; I don't worry objectivity in science education.

The fact that a molecular biologist knows nothing about geology makes him uniquely qualified to criticize it. First, he is blissfully unaware of the strength of the ideas he opposes or of the irrefutable data supporting them. Second, none of the professionals in the field in question will waste their time responding.

A recent poll states that 45% percent of Americans, completely unaware of the substance of the issue, are willing to believe the flat earth theory. Armed with public approval and a lack of resistance from professionals in the field, the views of our merry professor from a backwater university is destined to make waves in web forums and chat rooms.

The earth is flat, the sun rotates around it, and Darwin was wrong. A Triple Crown for ignorance.

32 posted on 12/18/2001 7:53:02 AM PST by Axolotl
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To: Cu Roi
The fact that the current state of scientific research can't explain it all does not support one set of superstitions over another. The `holes' in evolutionary theory could just as easily point to humanity being created from ears of corn, as explained in the Popol Vuh of the Mayans.

You have unwittingly stumbled upon the great basic truth of the evolution debate. The fact is that evolutionism with its requirement for an esssentially infinite sequence of zero-probability events is basically stupider than any doctrine or religion which had ever previously been devised. Literally ANYTHING, the Popul Vuh, Shamanism, Rastifari, Voodoo, the doctrine of the Great Punpkin and Pumpkinism, anything at all makes vastly more sense than evolution does. You could even devise a new religion by taking the single stupidest doctrine from each of the existing religions, and even that would be perfectly logical and intelligent compared to evolution.

Face it: Chuck Darwin was the stupidest white man who ever lived.

The dialectic is not between evolution and religion as the evos would have us believe: the dialectic is between evolution and modern mathematics. In order to believe in evolution, you have to take everything we know about modern mathematics, probability theory, and logic, and throw them all in the toilet. Personally, I'd rather flush evolution down the toilet of dead ideological doctrines and keep modern mathematics. Mathematics produces things like computers and automobiles; Darwinism produces things like naziism and communism.

33 posted on 12/18/2001 7:57:42 AM PST by medved
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To: Cu Roi
If you read "What is Creation Science" by Dr. Morris, he will not quote one scripture to you and shoot holes in several Darwin myths. None of these scientist are quoting scripture, they are just pointing out barriers they have encountered trying to explain the unexplainable, aka evolution. Most of the evidence creationists have is proving that evoluton is impossible and the evolutionist keeps adjusting their "religion" to explain away problems exposed by other scientists. If creationists can get a fair hearing, they always win the argument. That is where the vitriol of evolutionists come in. They say all we can do is quote scripture, and we say all you can do is call people morons. Well, more and more of these "morons" have PHD's in science and have won Nobel Prizes for their work. It is getting more difficult to relegate these people to mere "Bible thumpers".
34 posted on 12/18/2001 7:59:23 AM PST by chuckles
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To: dubyagee
DOES EVOLUTION? BESIDES moths changing color and bird beaks growing larger? BESIDES microevolution??? The answer is NO.

Even though you got the answer wrong, I'll give you partial credit for giving some of the early experiments that began to give evolution scientific credibility. There are four groups of evidence that give Darwin's theory of evolution great credibility, and that is the fossil evidence, biogeography, observed instances of speciation and evolution, and the hierarchical structure of taxonomy. Each of these groups are different parts of biology as a whole cloth theory, and show how Darwin's theory helps tie biology together as a whole. Two of these fields pre date Darwin. Linnaeus' classification of species was developed back in the 17th century as a means of classifying like species, and biogeography as a field came about because like species tended to be grouped in similar places. Evolution, to be a viable theory had to pass the test of explaining how speciation occured, as well as how differing species are spread out across the globe. It has passed each test quite well, and continues to pass new ones.

35 posted on 12/18/2001 8:03:18 AM PST by ThinkPlease
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To: jlogajan
...Evolution was "proved" a hundred years ago...

No, it has never been "proved". You even lost the case in the Scopes Monkey trial, but act as if you won. What particular event "proved" evolution?

36 posted on 12/18/2001 8:06:48 AM PST by chuckles
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To: ThinkPlease
biogeography, observed instances of speciation and evolution, and the hierarchical structure of taxonomy.

And I believe each of the above could also support the genesis account. When you say "hierarchical structure of taxonomy" I'm guessing you're referring to the common features of different species. (That's a wild guess. I'm no scientist and don't feel like looking it up) When man creates machines he uses similar parts to create machines with entirely different functions. I don't think it's a stretch to see a creator doing the same in various species. I've been slammed for using that comparison before but we are creators in our own right, are we not? We advance our technology by using old ideas and tweaking them a bit.

I don't expect scientists to trash evolution, but again, by giving no respect whatsoever to those who would study intelligent design does little to help their "public relations" debacle.

37 posted on 12/18/2001 8:14:05 AM PST by dubyagee
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Comment #38 Removed by Moderator

To: medved
Face it: Chuck Darwin was the stupidest white man who ever lived.

Why do you feel the need to qualify this by bringing up his race?

39 posted on 12/18/2001 8:16:20 AM PST by Cu Roi
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To: shrinkermd
bump for later read
40 posted on 12/18/2001 8:17:03 AM PST by brooklin
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To: medved; jlogajan, shrinkermd
Nice job, medved. If that's as good as the evolutionists can do, they're on shaky ground indeed.

jlogajan, I don't know if I can stand any more of your powerful, substative replies. (/sarcasm)

shrinkermd, nice post.

41 posted on 12/18/2001 8:18:47 AM PST by litany_of_lies
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To: chuckles
"Most of the evidence creationists have is proving that evoluton is impossible and the evolutionist keeps adjusting their "religion" to explain away problems exposed by other scientists."

Evolutionists cannot make their case. They advocate teaching scientific "fact" in schools but never point out to students that evolution is a theory. No one can go back in time to confirm their ideas of how life came to be so they are relying on "faith" every bit as much as they accuse creationists of doing. It would be laughable if it wasn't so pathetically sad. Any person with half a brain (evolved or not) can see that if evolution has indeed been occuring for billions of years, you couldn't dig a hole for an outhouse without unearthing thousands of fossils, transitionary or otherwise. Until they can tell us why the Missing Link is, well, missing, it's hard to take these debates seriously.

42 posted on 12/18/2001 8:23:59 AM PST by sheltonmac
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To: chuckles
Most of the evidence creationists have is proving that evoluton is impossible and the evolutionist keeps adjusting their "religion" to explain away problems exposed by other scientists.

Yes, the theory of evolution is constantly `evolving', so to speak. That is the nature a theory based on current scientific knowledge (which is imperfect), as opposed to ``revealed truth'' (aka blind faith).

If creationists can get a fair hearing, they always win the argument.

In the future I would reading something other than Charisma News and Jack Chick Comics if you want to get an indicator on the current state of scientific debate.

43 posted on 12/18/2001 8:25:04 AM PST by Cu Roi
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To: jlogajan
We know the universe exists...

You begin by pleading experience, so I will appeal to the same court: Is there anything of significant complexity in the universe that you "know exists" that, in your experience, came about by its own power or by the power of something less complex? (E.g., a pocketwatch or an eyeball or a Toyota or a loaf of bread.) By the very experience on which you rely, you must conclude that complexity is not spontaneous.

Asserting God as creator doesn't solve the question of how nothing created something (God.) If God can always exist, then the same logic applies to the much simpler dumb matter that makes up the universe.

You've missed the point entirely. The hypothesized "God" isn't just another natural layer of greater complexity (a turtle on top of a turtle). The point of the "God" hypothesis is that no series of natural causes suffices to explain nature as we perceive it. The point is, after however many layers of natural "creators" you want to assume exist, there will still be the unanswered ultimate question. The God hypothesis simply says because these things cannot be satisfactorily answered by the natural realm alone, we must conclude that there is also a supernatural realm. It's a whole different ballgame. Why do you assume that "nothing" must have preceded "God," when the very point of the supernatural hypothesis is that, in a way that is far beyond our natural experience, there must be an "unmoved mover" at the beginning of the chain of causes?

44 posted on 12/18/2001 8:26:36 AM PST by oahu
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To: jlogajan
Jesus loves you, and I'll pray for you.

Merry Christmas.

45 posted on 12/18/2001 8:26:44 AM PST by Gargantua
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To: jlogajan

"They aren't made up like biblical scripture was made up by goat herders 2000 years ago."

What your fossils fail to explain is why modern man was smart enough to take mastery over the earth. Your evolutionary theory will never work because there isn't a missing link that bridges the gap between ape and man! It will never be found, because it doesn't exist! But you can believe your distant cousins swung in the trees if you want. And they were preceeded in genetical heritage by the single celled amoeba. So they were first plant, then reptile, then mammal! First cold-blooded, then warm blooded.

Mine were created by an omnipresent God in his own image and likeness, He who breathed life into this earth.

46 posted on 12/18/2001 8:29:17 AM PST by Colt .45
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To: shrinkermd
Scientists worry that because intelligent-design advocates like to make their case in the popular press, on the campus lecture circuit, or through nonscientific disciplines, their ideas may gain credibility among academics who do not have a strong understanding of evolutionary theory.

"It's a non-starter in the scientific community," says Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, which tracks the creationist movement. "But people in history, or social studies, or philosophy of science, who don't know that the science is bad, could very well be propagating this in the academic community. So there may be a lot of university graduates coming out of school thinking evolution is, quote, a theory in crisis."

About sums it up.

47 posted on 12/18/2001 8:31:46 AM PST by Junior
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To: Junior
Ping! Right on, see my post #32...
48 posted on 12/18/2001 8:34:18 AM PST by Axolotl
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To: Cu Roi
In the future I would reading something other than Charisma News and Jack Chick Comics if you want to get an indicator on the current state of scientific debate.

There it is. This is why I typically lurk rather than post on these threads. You guys have the "intellectual" upper hand on all of us peons. Only you guys know the "right" books and the "right" letters behind the names. Not once have I been on one of the threads that someone wasn't derided because they didn't have the "right" sources. Only problem there is the only "right" sources to you guys are the ones who support your theory. It looks really bad when the most you people can do is refer to a comic book when faced with a source.

49 posted on 12/18/2001 8:35:57 AM PST by dubyagee
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To: DallasMike
I have been scientifically oriented (degree in Chemistry and science education), but after doing some research on issues in the evolution debate, I shifted to the Intelligent design side.

Issues like the lack of transitional forms (there should be billions of them), and the "evolution" of the bombardier beetle (insect which mixes two toxic chemicals to produce steam to scald its enemies) raise more questions than does Intelligent design.

How could random chance produce a beetle with storage facilities for not one but two toxic chemicals and a mixing chamber that can handle steam heat. Where is the transitional beetle that stores only one of the toxic chemicals (hydrogen peroxide)? And there are so many other examples. In fact, according to Stephen Jay Gould (leading proponent of "evolution"), the lack of transitional forms has led him to promote the "punctuated equilibrium theory" of evolution. This theory states that new species just suddenly appeared with no transitional form. This does not fit into Darwinism.

In terms of the Bible, there is a clear description of the creation of man and woman (non-evolutionary) and their fall from grace. (BTW, I became a Christian during college).

50 posted on 12/18/2001 8:36:56 AM PST by IpaqMan
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