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How Intelligent Design Hurts Conservatives (By making us look like crackpots)
The New Republic ^ | 8/16/05 | Ross Douthat

Posted on 08/18/2005 5:17:34 PM PDT by curiosity

The appeal of "intelligent design" to the American right is obvious. For religious conservatives, the theory promises to uncover God's fingerprints on the building blocks of life. For conservative intellectuals in general, it offers hope that Darwinism will yet join Marxism and Freudianism in the dustbin of pseudoscience. And for politicians like George W. Bush, there's little to be lost in expressing a skepticism about evolution that's shared by millions.

In the long run, though, intelligent design will probably prove a political boon to liberals, and a poisoned chalice for conservatives. Like the evolution wars in the early part of the last century, the design debate offers liberals the opportunity to portray every scientific battle--today, stem-cell research, "therapeutic" cloning, and end-of-life issues; tomorrow, perhaps, large-scale genetic engineering--as a face-off between scientific rigor and religious fundamentalism. There's already a public perception, nurtured by the media and by scientists themselves, that conservatives oppose the "scientific" position on most bioethical issues. Once intelligent design runs out of steam, leaving its conservative defenders marooned in a dinner-theater version of Inherit the Wind, this liberal advantage is likely to swell considerably.

And intelligent design will run out of steam--a victim of its own grand ambitions. What began as a critique of Darwinian theory, pointing out aspects of biological life that modification-through-natural-selection has difficulty explaining, is now foolishly proposed as an alternative to Darwinism. On this front, intelligent design fails conspicuously--as even defenders like Rick Santorum are beginning to realize--because it can't offer a consistent, coherent, and testable story of how life developed. The "design inference" is a philosophical point, not a scientific theory: Even if the existence of a designer is a reasonable inference to draw from the complexity of, say, a bacterial flagellum, one would still need to explain how the flagellum moved from design to actuality.

And unless George W. Bush imposes intelligent design on American schools by fiat and orders the scientific establishment to recant its support for Darwin, intelligent design will eventually collapse--like other assaults on evolution that failed to offer an alternative--under the weight of its own overreaching.

If liberals play their cards right, this collapse could provide them with a powerful rhetorical bludgeon. Take the stem-cell debate, where the great questions are moral, not scientific--whether embryonic human life should be created and destroyed to prolong adult human life. Liberals might win that argument on the merits, but it's by no means a sure thing. The conservative embrace of intelligent design, however, reshapes the ideological battlefield. It helps liberals cast the debate as an argument about science, rather than morality, and paint their enemies as a collection of book-burning, Galileo-silencing fanatics.

This would be the liberal line of argument anyway, even without the controversy surrounding intelligent design. "The president is trapped between religion and science over stem cells," declared a Newsweek cover story last year; "Religion shouldn't undercut new science," the San Francisco Chronicle insisted; "Leadership in 'therapeutic cloning' has shifted abroad," the New York Times warned, because American scientists have been "hamstrung" by "religious opposition"--and so on and so forth. But liberalism's science-versus-religion rhetoric is only likely to grow more effective if conservatives continue to play into the stereotype by lining up to take potshots at Darwin.

Already, savvy liberal pundits are linking bioethics to the intelligent design debate. "In a world where Koreans are cloning dogs," Slate's Jacob Weisberg wrote last week, "can the U.S. afford--ethically or economically--to raise our children on fraudulent biology?" (Message: If you're for Darwin, you're automatically for unfettered cloning research.) Or again, this week's TNR makes the pretty-much-airtight "case against intelligent design"; last week, the magazine called opponents of embryo-destroying stem cell research "flat-earthers." The suggested parallel is obvious: "Science" is on the side of evolution and on the side of embryo-killing.

Maureen Dowd, in her inimitable way, summed up the liberal argument earlier this year:

Exploiting God for political ends has set off powerful, scary forces in America: a retreat on teaching evolution, most recently in Kansas; fights over sex education . . . a demonizing of gays; and a fear of stem cell research, which could lead to more of a "culture of life" than keeping one vegetative woman hooked up to a feeding tube.

Terri Schiavo, sex education, stem cell research--on any issue that remotely touches on science, a GOP that's obsessed with downing Darwin will be easily tagged as medieval, reactionary, theocratic. And this formula can be applied to every new bioethical dilemma that comes down the pike. Earlier this year, for instance, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued ethical guidelines for research cloning, which blessed the creation of human-animal "chimeras"--animals seeded with human cells. New York Times reporter Nicholas Wade, writing on the guidelines, declared that popular repugnance at the idea of such creatures is based on "the pre-Darwinian notion that species are fixed and penalties [for cross-breeding] are severe." In other words, if you're opposed to creating pig-men--carefully, of course, with safeguards in place (the NAS guidelines suggested that chimeric animals be forbidden from mating)--you're probably stuck back in the pre-Darwinian ooze with Bishop Wilberforce and William Jennings Bryan.

There's an odd reversal-of-roles at work here. In the past, it was often the right that tried to draw societal implications from Darwinism, and the left that stood against them. And for understandable reasons: When people draw political conclusions from Darwin's theory, they're nearly always inegalitarian conclusions. Hence social Darwinism, hence scientific racism, hence eugenics.

Which is why however useful intelligent design may be as a rhetorical ploy, liberals eager to claim the mantle of science in the bioethics battle should beware. The left often thinks of modern science as a child of liberalism, but if anything, the reverse is true. And what scientific thought helped to forge--the belief that all human beings are equal--scientific thought can undermine as well. Conservatives may be wrong about evolution, but they aren't necessarily wrong about the dangers of using Darwin, or the National Academy of Sciences, as a guide to political and moral order.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: creationism; crevolist; education; evolution; hesaidcrackhehheh; immaturetitle; intelligentdesign; politics; science
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The most important part of the article:

If liberals play their cards right, this collapse could provide them with a powerful rhetorical bludgeon. Take the stem-cell debate, where the great questions are moral, not scientific--whether embryonic human life should be created and destroyed to prolong adult human life. Liberals might win that argument on the merits, but it's by no means a sure thing. The conservative embrace of intelligent design, however, reshapes the ideological battlefield. It helps liberals cast the debate as an argument about science, rather than morality, and paint their enemies as a collection of book-burning, Galileo-silencing fanatics.

1 posted on 08/18/2005 5:17:36 PM PDT by curiosity
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To: PatrickHenry

The list will probably be interested in this article.


2 posted on 08/18/2005 5:18:07 PM PDT by curiosity (.)
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To: curiosity

PLEASE, liberals are evolution, godless.


3 posted on 08/18/2005 5:19:37 PM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: curiosity
I don't get it...Leftists can respect Jihadists, Buddhists, Taoists and Satanists...but if someone believes in Christ the Savior and God the Father Almighty, they're "crackpots."

What's worse...other alleged conservatives buy into the Leftist double-standard.

4 posted on 08/18/2005 5:20:29 PM PDT by Prime Choice (E=mc^3. Don't drink and derive.)
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To: curiosity

You know, an awful lot of scientists, physicists, and non-right wingers think there might be something to the intelligent design theory, too. I resent the inference that anyone thinking along these lines is a "crackpot."


5 posted on 08/18/2005 5:20:35 PM PDT by MizSterious (Now, if only we could convince them all to put on their bomb-vests and meet in Mecca...)
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To: Just mythoughts
Evolution has nothing to do with godlessness.
6 posted on 08/18/2005 5:21:28 PM PDT by curiosity (.)
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To: curiosity; Dataman
Right!

Because it's so characteristic of conservatives to suspend their own independent, critical judgment when an oppressive establishment seeks to blot out all independent thought by brute force, intimidation, browbeating and deception, and demands unthinking compliance!

Brilliant!

And besides, the most important thing to a conservative at all times is to be well-thought-of by The Establishment!

< /s >

Dan
Biblical Christianity BLOG

7 posted on 08/18/2005 5:21:32 PM PDT by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: curiosity
The world will cease to exist before intelligent design becomes the norm.
8 posted on 08/18/2005 5:21:34 PM PDT by pro610 (Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.Praise Jesus Christ!)
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To: curiosity
But what you are saying is that rhetoric must prevail over reason.

Also, I do not think "the public" really cares all that much about it.

9 posted on 08/18/2005 5:21:57 PM PDT by CasearianDaoist
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To: Prime Choice
Believing in Christ the Savior has absolutely nothing to do with evolution or intelligent design.
10 posted on 08/18/2005 5:22:15 PM PDT by curiosity (.)
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To: curiosity

You make the false assumption that Intelligent Design is somehow a "crackpot" thing to investigate let alone believe in.

In the lefts view there is room for neither God or conservatives, don't tell me Conservatives are going down the same path?


11 posted on 08/18/2005 5:23:16 PM PDT by ICE-FLYER (God bless and keep the United States of America)
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To: curiosity
Believing in Christ the Savior has absolutely nothing to do with evolution or intelligent design.

I was illustrating my point.

12 posted on 08/18/2005 5:24:20 PM PDT by Prime Choice (E=mc^3. Don't drink and derive.)
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To: curiosity
I read the Book and there is nothing in it about evolving from a formerly believed primordial cold, recently discovered hot soup.
13 posted on 08/18/2005 5:24:43 PM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: curiosity

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/102-3898864-0857729


14 posted on 08/18/2005 5:24:43 PM PDT by CommieCutter
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To: curiosity
Do hardline evolution-backers accept Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" in economics?

Do they appreciate Michelangelo's Pieta, or Da Vinci's amazing scribblings of inventions?

Do they drive German cars? Or Japanese cars? Or even 55 Chevys, or mega-hp pickups?

They must understand what design is, and how much work goes in achieving it.

15 posted on 08/18/2005 5:24:54 PM PDT by bvw
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To: Prime Choice

exactly. It is the loony leftist evo's who will look like baboons before its over. Eventually all the macro evolution material will be pulled from the biology books they have infested.


16 posted on 08/18/2005 5:24:56 PM PDT by plain talk
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To: CasearianDaoist
Also, I do not think "the public" really cares all that much about it.

The public is aware of the importance of science, and how it is essential to making our lives livable. Becoming associated with the enemies of science (i.e. intelligent design "theorists") will be the political kiss of death in the long run.

17 posted on 08/18/2005 5:25:26 PM PDT by curiosity (.)
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To: curiosity
Embracing intelligent design does not make anyone a book burner or anything like it. It is a matter of faith and can be tied to many good scientific minds who believe likewise. As it is, the theories about how life originated remain just that...theories.

In the end, it is the moral issue and the faith associated with holding fast to them that have given this nation its true strength. The founders understood this. To whit:

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."- John Adams, Oct. 11, 1798
That truth still applies today. I do not believe for a moment that holding to that faith, even on this topic, will hurt us. Rather, and to the contrary, it will help us as the Hand of Providence which has long upheld this nation and its liberty remains inclined to do so.

Just my opinion on the matter.

18 posted on 08/18/2005 5:26:11 PM PDT by Jeff Head (www.dragonsfuryseries.com)
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To: curiosity

"The conservative embrace of intelligent design"

What?

All I've noticed is some noise in Kansas and Bush coming out about it once - typical Bush family tactic, throw to the "religious right" a bone of hope to keep them allied with the corporate conservative agenda. Schiavo, winking they might do something about abortion, if the other side gets scared, trot out a Bush wife to hint hubby thinks the opposite.

"Intelligent design" is way out there though, I don't see this appealing to hardly anyone.


19 posted on 08/18/2005 5:26:16 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: curiosity

Actually more and more of the scientific community is moving to the intelligent design theroy! Many have been athiests who have changed their mind. Some become full Christians who accept Jesus as their Savior, others may not quite grasp that Faith, but the recognize that Intelligent Design is more feasible then Evolution. Many wrap the Big Bang Theroy as the trigger of an Intelligent Creator.


20 posted on 08/18/2005 5:26:24 PM PDT by shoedog
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To: curiosity

http://www.caseforacreator.com/home.php

a very good book.


21 posted on 08/18/2005 5:27:03 PM PDT by CommieCutter
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To: curiosity
Key part of article:

Maureen Dowd, in her inimitable way, summed up the liberal argument earlier this year:

Exploiting God for political ends has set off powerful, scary forces in America: a retreat on teaching evolution, most recently in Kansas; fights over sex education . . . a demonizing of gays; and a fear of stem cell research, which could lead to more of a "culture of life" than keeping one vegetative woman hooked up to a feeding tube.

He loves Maureen Dowd. 'Nuff said.

22 posted on 08/18/2005 5:27:36 PM PDT by little jeremiah (A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, are incompatible with freedom. P. Henry)
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To: curiosity

No issue makes us look like a bunch of uneducated moonbats than the NUTS who push junk science known as "intelligent design" based on a fairy tale.


23 posted on 08/18/2005 5:27:37 PM PDT by Clemenza (Pirro is Hillary with an (R))
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To: curiosity

The left doesn't have a clue about anything intelligent. Let them get vociferous over something they know nothing about.


24 posted on 08/18/2005 5:27:43 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: CasearianDaoist
But what you are saying is that rhetoric must prevail over reason.

No, quite the opposite. Intelligent design is irrational, and that is why it will sink us in the end. Reason will prevail eventually.

25 posted on 08/18/2005 5:27:54 PM PDT by curiosity (.)
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To: VadeRetro; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Doctor Stochastic; js1138; Shryke; RightWhale; ...
EvolutionPing
A pro-evolution science list with over 300 names.
See the list's explanation at my freeper homepage.
Then FReepmail to be added or dropped.

26 posted on 08/18/2005 5:28:08 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
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To: curiosity

There are many arguments that evolution is part of intelligent design and a rather beautiful and elegant part of that design to boot. In the same way man guided the evolution of canines to todays great danes and chiuauas so too is there a divine hand in the evolution and creation of all the world's creatures.

What's funny is that some of the people who support intelligent design the most aren't ignorant bible thumping conservatives but pysisists and astronomers on the bleeding edge of science who must deal with the impossibility of all this being a random coincidence on a daily basis.

And that is why intelligent design will ultimately succeed because it's not just faith which backs it up its the fact that if the "settings" of the universe were off by a billionth of a billionth of a percentage point (speed of light, electron volt, etc) the life, the universe and everything would simply not exist at all.


27 posted on 08/18/2005 5:28:54 PM PDT by pcx99
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To: little jeremiah
He was only using Dowd as an example of how the Left is using ID against us.

Some people are truly blind.

28 posted on 08/18/2005 5:29:25 PM PDT by curiosity (.)
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To: curiosity
I'll add "crackpot" to the long list of other names Lefties call conservatives (to no avail with me): bigot, intolerant, racist, homophobe, right-winger, war-mongeror, Jesus freak, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah...
29 posted on 08/18/2005 5:29:43 PM PDT by DTogo (U.S. out of the U.N. & U.N out of the U.S.)
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To: curiosity
Take the stem-cell debate, where the great questions are moral, not scientific--whether embryonic human life should be created and destroyed to prolong adult human life. Liberals might win that argument on the merits, but it's by no means a sure thing.

What merits? The Utilitarian Code of Merit? Liberals, libertarians, and conservatives who support stealing my money to kill human beings don't argue the case on its merits, they lie, obfuscate and instill false hope and fear in those afraid of their own mortality.

30 posted on 08/18/2005 5:29:52 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: CommieCutter

Your link is broken.


31 posted on 08/18/2005 5:30:15 PM PDT by curiosity (.)
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To: plain talk
Personally, I believe that the theory of evolution is a good attempt by man to explain and predict the Divine Creator's construct.

Do I believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old? No. Do I believe God is built the universe and everything in it as He saw fit? You bet. And part of our job is to honor and celebrate this wondrous creation by appreciating it and trying to understand the sheer magnitude and magificience of its complexity.

32 posted on 08/18/2005 5:30:33 PM PDT by Prime Choice (E=mc^3. Don't drink and derive.)
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To: curiosity

Well, I think that, superficially, much of "the public" would agree with the notion that the world is "designed."


33 posted on 08/18/2005 5:31:38 PM PDT by CasearianDaoist
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To: Clemenza

still waiting for the scientist to duplicate evolution in the lab.


34 posted on 08/18/2005 5:32:19 PM PDT by pipecorp (Let's have a CRUSADE! , the muslims have already started. 1500 replies and not a single post!)
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To: Clemenza

So you believe in...what? The theory of willy-nillyism? Accidental everything?

How sad for you.

And how ignorant you will appear in a few years. Most of the scientific community is actually moving toward intelligent design, by that or several other names which mean the same thing.


35 posted on 08/18/2005 5:32:21 PM PDT by MizSterious (Now, if only we could convince them all to put on their bomb-vests and meet in Mecca...)
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To: Jeff Head
Embracing intelligent design does not make anyone a book burner or anything like it. It is a matter of faith and

Exactly, intelligent design is a matter of faith. Unfortunately, some crackpots are trying to push it off as science. That's the problem. That's what makes us look like moonbats.

36 posted on 08/18/2005 5:32:35 PM PDT by curiosity (.)
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To: curiosity

Outstanding find. Douthat eloquently expresses the fears that many of us here on FR have also held about what ID will do to conservatism.


37 posted on 08/18/2005 5:33:11 PM PDT by RightWingAtheist (Creationism is not conservative!)
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To: curiosity
Evolution has nothing to do with godlessness.

That statement was designed no understanding of what generations have considered godless.

38 posted on 08/18/2005 5:33:35 PM PDT by Zechariah11
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To: curiosity
What began as a critique of Darwinian theory, pointing out aspects of biological life that modification-through-natural-selection has difficulty explaining, is now foolishly proposed as an alternative to Darwinism

I know next to nothing about Intelligent Design.

Do all Intelligent Design proponents, nowdays, believe exactly the same thing -- that it is an alternative to Darwinism?

I do know I was taught in HS Biology, 40 years ago, that the theory of evolution was acceptable as long as one believed God was behind whatever evolution took place. That has always seemed, to me, like the common sense to way to look at the world.

Was what I was taught the same as "Intelligent Design"?

39 posted on 08/18/2005 5:33:54 PM PDT by syriacus (Cindy doesn't want our soldiers to shoot insurgent bombers who are murdering small Iraqi children.)
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To: MizSterious
Most of the scientific community is actually moving toward intelligent design, by that or several other names which mean the same thing.

Do you have references for this claim?
40 posted on 08/18/2005 5:34:06 PM PDT by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: MizSterious
Most of the scientific community is actually moving toward intelligent design

Really? Care to back up that assertion?

41 posted on 08/18/2005 5:34:20 PM PDT by curiosity (.)
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To: PatrickHenry
"And unless Even if George W. Bush imposes intelligent design on American schools by fiat and orders the scientific establishment to recant its support for Darwin, intelligent design will eventually collapse--like other assaults on evolution that failed to offer an alternative--under the weight of its own overreaching."
42 posted on 08/18/2005 5:34:34 PM PDT by AntiGuv ("Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick)
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To: little jeremiah

Yes, and I'm sure that if Maureen Dowd came out against Cancer, you would say that "cancer is good."


43 posted on 08/18/2005 5:34:39 PM PDT by Clemenza (Pirro is Hillary with an (R))
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To: curiosity
It helps liberals cast the debate as an argument about science, rather than morality, and paint their enemies as a collection of book-burning, Galileo-silencing fanatics.

Book burning? Perhaps the author forgot about the Nazis, as in National Socialists

44 posted on 08/18/2005 5:35:03 PM PDT by 6SJ7
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To: Prime Choice

I believe its a complex as is our creation. Evo's hide behind micro evolution such as slight changes in a bird's feathers or beaks and then extrapolate that to macro evolution for which there is little to no evidence. They prefer to argue it as a pacxkage deal - you swallow all of it because of evidence of micro evolution. Its the kind of sophistry game democrats play.


45 posted on 08/18/2005 5:35:09 PM PDT by plain talk
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To: Just mythoughts
I read the Book and there is nothing in it about evolving from a formerly believed primordial cold, recently discovered hot soup.

There is nothing in it about nuclear energy either.

46 posted on 08/18/2005 5:35:18 PM PDT by WildTurkey (When will CBS Retract and Apologize?)
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To: curiosity

If believing in God and believing in the Bible makes me a crackpot, then I proudly accept that label.


47 posted on 08/18/2005 5:36:30 PM PDT by mlc9852
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To: MizSterious

ID has never stood up to the scientific method. ID's proponents should be viewed as seriously as alchemists and baseball card economists.


48 posted on 08/18/2005 5:36:46 PM PDT by Clemenza (Pirro is Hillary with an (R))
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To: syriacus
Was what I was taught the same as "Intelligent Design"?

No. Intelligent Design proponents assert that the universe is too "complex" to have come into existence unless it was deliberately designed by some "designer" whose exact properties are totally unstated except that it (or they) is (or are) capable of creating universes and things in it. Ultimately it comes down to them arrogantly declaring supreme knowledge of how the universe works and deducing that because they can't work out the natural processes required for certain events to occur, an intelligent agent must be responsible.

ID as it is typically presented has no religious overtones, though you'll usually find that those pushing it are trying to secretly push a religious agenda.
49 posted on 08/18/2005 5:36:51 PM PDT by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: curiosity

The flaws of mankind are too obvious and too plentiful. These flaws alone should have squashed the ID theory.


50 posted on 08/18/2005 5:37:35 PM PDT by soupcon
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