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Pennsylvania School District to Defend Policy on Intelligent Design
The Christian Post ^ | 9/19/05 | Francis Helguero

Posted on 09/19/2005 3:32:34 PM PDT by dukeman

The Dover Area School district in Pennsylvania will soon defend its policy to require ninth grade students to hear a short statement about “intelligent design” before biology lessons on evolution.

Dover is believed to have been the first school system in the nation to require students to hear about the controversial concept. The school adopted the policy in October 2004, after which teachers were required to read a statement that says intelligent design is different than Darwin’s theory of evolution and refers students to a text book on intelligent design to get more information.

“All the Dover school board did was allow students to get a glimpse of a controversy that is really boiling over in the scientific community,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, which is defending the school district, according to the Associated Press.

The civil trial is set to take place on Sept. 26 and will only be the latest chapter in a long-running legal debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools.

The controversy over intelligent design in public schools has received national attention with statements by President Bush expressing approval for the theory to be taught in class, along with the recent approval by the Kansas Board of Education to give preliminary approval to science standards that allow criticism of evolution.

Intelligent design theory states that some parts of the natural world are so complex that the most reasonable explanation is that they were made as products of an intelligent cause, rather than random mutation and natural selection.

In contrast to "creationism," which states specifically that God is the creator, intelligent design is more general, simply saying that life did not come about by chance. The "designer" could be anything or anyone, though many place God in the position of the designer.

Experts on the case include biochemist Michael Behe of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, who is proponent of intelligent design. He holds that the concept of “irreducible complexity” shows that there is an intelligent creator. He cites the example of a bacterial flagellum, an appendage to a bacterium that allows it to move about.

"Whenever we see such complex, functional mechanical systems, we always infer that they were designed. ... It is a conclusion based on physical evidence," AP reported Behe as saying in testimony before the state legislative panel in June where he was asked to talk about intelligent design.

Critics of intelligent design have dismissed the theory as a backdoor to creationism, with some calling it pseudo science.

In a 1999 assessment of intelligent design, the National Academy of sciences said the theory was not science.

''Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science," the NAS stated.

The controversy over Intelligent Design has been so highly talked about that the debate was also featured last month as a cover story for Time Magazine. In the feature article, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) President Albert Mohler, Jr., tackled the controversy with three other scholars in a forum addressing the question “Can You Believe in God and Evolution?” Behe was also among those whose views were addressed in the article.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: behe; creationism; evolution; intelligentdesign
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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To: little jeremiah

I got a few hits and found something on an atheist website, of all places:


http://www.greatcom.org/resources/answers_for_atheists/ch_14/default.htm



The Vedas, for instance, which are the Hindu Scriptures, teach that the moon is about 150.000 miles higher than the sun and shines with its own light. that the earth is flat and triangular, and that earthquakes are caused by elephants shaking themselves under it.


181 posted on 09/21/2005 9:43:45 AM PDT by Kevin OMalley (No, not Freeper#95235, Freeper #1165: Charter member, What Was My Login Club.)
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To: whattajoke

Double sigh. Gravity is "just a theory."
***A theory explains why or how something works. We have a theory of gravity? I know we have things like Keppler's laws of planetary motion and the law of gravity, but I haven't heard that there is one settled theory that explains what causes gravity. A law is just basically an observation, usually accompanied by a nifty mathematical description such as acceleration due to gravity ~ 1/2at^2. I think there may be several gravity theories on the table at this point in time, including my favorite which has to do with electrogravitics.
http://amasci.com/freenrg/antigrav.html


182 posted on 09/21/2005 10:02:23 AM PDT by Kevin OMalley (No, not Freeper#95235, Freeper #1165: Charter member, What Was My Login Club.)
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To: Kevin OMalley

Could you please not ping me with this stream-of-consciousness crap?


183 posted on 09/21/2005 10:09:12 AM PDT by Right Wing Professor
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To: TheHound
There is no proof of evolution - there is alot of inference - but no proof.

29+ Evidences for Macroevolution

There are no 100% proofs in science, only evidences to support theories, and no evidence has been found that falsifies evolution. The range of evidence supporting evolution is immense - that is why the scientific community accepts it.

If someone wishes to challenge a theory, the proper forum for it is through science research, submission of papers for peer review, subsequent citation of papers, testing of the theory, then acceptance of it. Backhanded attempts to influence the politics of local schoolboards is not a proper forum to advance a scientific theory.

184 posted on 09/21/2005 1:24:33 PM PDT by Quark2005 (Where's the science?)
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To: Quark2005

I'll read yours if you will read mine:

http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/ResponseToAAAS.htm#BRIEF%20SYNOPSIS


185 posted on 09/21/2005 3:45:54 PM PDT by TheHound (You would be paranoid too - if everyone was out to get you.)
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To: TheHound
I'll read yours if you will read mine:

Sounds like a fair deal to me - but I won't have time to get to it until tomorrow.

Later

186 posted on 09/21/2005 4:13:00 PM PDT by Quark2005 (Where's the science?)
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To: TheHound
First off - my link was more extensive in quantity than yours, so hey, if you don't read it all, I understand (I barely have time for the one you gave me).

Understand, though, that creation science and intelligent design are two totally different arguments. I find the former to be totally abhorrent on solid scientific ground; your link only adresseses the latter though, so I'll address that.

I believe that ID is fine as a philosophical/religious concept. I believe that God is ultimately responsible for the "design" of the universe, so to speak, only I maintain that this is not a scientific conclusion, nor or we able to draw such a conclusion on solely scientific grounds. Section-by-section:

Life appears designed.

This by itself is a rather subjective observation, as explained. Basically, the comparison is made here between biological systems and manmade objects (e.g. clocks, factories, etc.). This is not really a valid comparison, as manmade objects are not able to reproduce on their own accord, and hence have no inherent means of self-modification, which is the entire premise of evolutionary theory. In any case, something having the "appearance" of design doesn't necessarily conclude it was "intelligently" designed.

Is the appearance of design just an illusion?

First of all, numerous comparisons are made to the SETI project in this article; it should be kept in mind that SETI is a project that is considered itself to be on the fringes of science - it is not universally considered to be on solid scientific ground as evolutionary biology is - so it really isn't a very good comparison, either.

The article goes on to say "If law and chance can adequately explain an apparently specified system, then a design inference is not warranted." The only problem is, one can never conclusively prove this - there are just too many boundary conditions on a biological system to draw a solid inference on a specific case - too many unknown factors to determine what the "probability" for evolution of a specific characteristic. If "design" is determined to be the best explanation, exactly what quantifiable consequences does that have?

No known natural law appears to account for the semantic character of biological information - the message bearing sequences in DNA.

I read this section a couple times, it appears to remain very vague about what they mean by "semantic character" and "information". If they mean that we don't exactly know the complete process of how DNA was originally formed, I believe they are correct. (This by itself, though, just shows a void in our knowledge - calling it intelligent design remains a premature conclusion.) If they are trying to say that new genetic information cannot naturally be added to DNA, this is quite untrue - the mechanisms through which this can happen (gene replication, etc.) are quite well understood, and our understanding is improving.

The extreme complexity of biological systems tends to rule out chance as a reasonable explanation for the origin of life.

The article is correct in stating that the chances of seeing the outcome that we observe for the specific protein sequencing that we see are astronomically small, but this does not mean the process wasn't natural or random. For one, it assumes the outcome that we see is somehow a preferred outcome - you cannot make inferences from probability retroactively. For example - draw any 5 cards from a deck and look at them. The odds for drawing those cards in that order in less than 1 in 300,000,000 - if you happen to observe a preferred pattern in that draw, it doesn't mean there was an "intelligent" plan for that to happen.

Conceptual Difficulties.

This section seems to exploit the "evolution hasn't explained everything, so there must be something else involved" argument. Well, I can't prove that wrong; the Theory of Evolution doesn't claim to have the instant answers to all biological quandaries. Its strength lies in the fact that it provides a consistent model, makes predictions which can be subsequently verified in many cases, and can be potentially falsified. ID provides explanations, but it doesn't give any predictions about what to look for to potentially verify or falsify it - that's where it falls short as science.

Evidentiary difficulties.

The article states" Darwinian evolution has not been adequately tested (a) because it is an historical hypothesis about singular events and processes occurring in the distant past that cannot be confirmed by experiment, and (b) because it has not been properly evaluated against all the relevant evidence" . Two points here (a) lab controlled experiments are not the only way evidence is collected in science, it is just one of many ways; the experiments that can be reproduced in a controlled setting do continue to lend credence to evolutionary theory. (b) is again vague - the theory has been evaluated against a great deal of relevant evidence; not all of it - this standard is impossible for any scientific theory to meet.

Darwinian Evolution has been protected from criticism.

This is not really true. The scientific community is active in protecting their theories from sectarian criticism, but scientific criticism is always welcome. In fact, the Theory of Evolution has been upgraded immensely since Darwin's time; it has benefited from scientific criticism; lateral gene transfer and genetic drift (among other mechanisms) are now known to contribute to evolution in addition to natural selection (this short link does a better job at (briefly) explaining some of the criticisms that have increased understanding of the theory.

Recent Polls and Congress Show a Demand For Objectivity in Origins Science

Not relevant - scientific theories aren't decided by a public vote; they are decided by research and subsequent review of the research by scientists.

In describing the AAAS statement, the author responds " Thus, rather than a true criticism of ID, the AAAS resolution is nothing less than an attempt to teach our children that methodological naturalism/scientific materialism is the only path to true knowledge about our past." This is a bit like complaining that "science is biased toward scientific explanations". Of course it is! Science rejects supernatural intervention as a cause of events because such intervention yields no predictable consequences and no basis on which to form a scientific theory. It's fine to discuss the supernatural, but this is a philosophical concept, and has no place in empirical scientific inquiry. Science is not about espousing a particular worldview, it is about providing falsifiable explanations of physical phenomena, that is all.

1. The AAAS claim is a "robust theory" is inconsistent with the AAAS proposal to protect it from criticism....

The paragraph goes on to state "a robust theory needs no protection". In that case, I'd like to know why ID proponents aren't submitting their articles to refereed journals for citation? There is a proper forum for scientific debate, like I said; a theory doesn't gain credibility through political means, but by data collection and subsequent testing. A robust theory has nothing to fear - if the Theory of Evolution was overturned based on scientific grounds I'd be the first to want to see it go out the window, but this has to be done legitimately. It's the scientific process itself that needs protection against political end-runs.

The AAAS fails to disclose the motivation for censoring ID...

I agree that science seeks to censor - it seeks to censor faulty science. If the paradigm of "Methodoligical Naturalism" (which is NOT the same thing as "Scientific Materialism", which is a worldview as oppose to a research method) is to be overturned, then a new method that retains predictive ability needs to be introduced, lest science lose its usefulness. This hasn't been done.

The AAAS resolution would ban ID from all discussion of biological origins...

The resolution doesn't "ban" anything, it only makes a collective statement that the concept currently known as ID is a political/philosophical movement as oppose to an empirical theory; this is because it hasn't presented the criteria by which it can be verified or falsified.

...evolutionary theory is scientifically controversial...

This is just blatantly untrue. Evolutionary theory is mainly the province of biologists, who are practically unanimous in their support of the theory. A perusal of peer-reviewed literature such as Nature or New Scientist reflects this. It is very, very few biologists indeed that believe the foundations of evolution are in jeopardy. (The Discovery Institute's famous list of "scientists who find evolutionary theory inadequate" shows no more than 70 biologists worldwide, the last time I checked a few months ago.) The NCSE's Project Steve makes a parodical point of this sort of statement. Once again, I know "might doesn't make right" for a theory, but I wanted to point out that this is a false statement.

The AAAS claim that the "ID movement has failed to offer credible evidence to support their claim is false..."

For reasons explained earlier, this isn't false - there's a lot of hand waving here - science requires more solid scrutiny of a theory.

The AAAS claim that a design inference is not testable is simply disingenuous...

A "design inference", as they call it, would only be potentially testable if you could really isolate all the variables known to influence the evolution of a specific trait, AND you could show that an unlikely outcome is actually a preferred outcome. ID proponents seem confident they can do this, but they have failed to convince anyone else (and generally don't seem to have made much effort to do so, based on the almost nonexistent number of journal submissions made on the subject). If this is really possible, they need to make their data available for scrutiny by other scientists. Considering how difficult it is to model even simple kinetic systems mathematically, this really isn't possible with today's technology. (If it someday is, I'm open to this field of inquiry, but till then....)

Implementation of the AAAS resolution will promote a naturalistic belief system that is antagonistic to theistic religions...

Most Christian and Jewish denominations seem to have no problem with the Theory of Evolution (including Roman Catholicism, the largest individual denomination in the U.S.). Science really has nothing to say about the religious implications of any theory, as I stated earlier. Science and religion address different spheres of the world - neither does the other a service by meddling in the other's affairs.

The AAAS resolution fails to address the constitutionality of state censorship of legitimate scientific views...

Like I said, scientific inquiry is not a democracy - some ideas work in its framework, others don't. Currently, the Supreme Court holds that religious views are not allowed to be taught in the science classroom. Like I said, I have no problem with ID in a philosophy setting (or perhaps as part of a discussion about the philosophy of science), but presenting it as scientific theory is inappropriate at this time.

...the ID movement...is advocating an objective un unbiased approch to the teaching of origins

The ID movement is advocating teaching a scientific controversy where none really exists. To use a rather extreme counterexample, if a few scientists out there believed the sun orbits the earth, should we advocate an "unbiased approach" to the teaching of astronomy to incorporate geocentrism? Science is necessarily biased toward scientifically derived conclusions.

I'm all for the objective and continual improvement of scientific theories. I also believe that God plays a crucial role in the universe as the Creator of everything, but it is important to recognize that this is not a scientific conclusion. I also fail to understand what some of the implications for ID are supposed to mean. Supposedly God designed the universe to make it look as if many of its features were naturally derived, but messed up on disguising some of them? We somehow have the means to discern this? Until the day comes that ID can clarify what it is can come up with specific falsifiable predictions, it will not gain a position in the scientific hierarchy of theories.

(Guess I went on for a while, but I wanted to thoroughly read and address the points in your link)

187 posted on 09/22/2005 11:24:16 AM PDT by Quark2005 (Where's the science?)
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To: Quark2005; jess35

I would like to ask the two of you, do you see a scientific controversy over the fine structure constant/speed of light, or not? If not, why not? If so, why the constant references to a lack of a scientific controversy? I see one, the public sees it, I from what I can see, GWB sees it.


I posted this assertion at #3 and it did not get answered until #123 (wrongly, as far as I can tell). And this doesn’t appear to be a peripheral sideshow in the debate, there is a distinct possibility that with light being faster in the beginning that many of our radiometric & other age-determining techniques could be skewed in the direction of there not really being the millions of years that evo supposedly had to take place.

Has project Steve been updated with this information? i.e. have all the Steves been approached and asked if they reconsider in light of these facts that there might actually be a real scientific controversy here? Reapproaching project Steve is actually germane to this whole debate, because if someone were to be confronted with real evidence that the aging techniques could be off by orders of magnitude, their response to that information is what comprises the inductive/philosophical processes that are a matter of internal faith. Their thinking goes perhaps something like this, “well, I really do have faith in my colleagues over there in nuclear physics land , and they will come up with something, they’re really smart. In the meantime, kids need to learn about evolution because it will prove itself out, I have faith in science to find the answers. So I can’t let on that I really do think there’s a scientific controversy here.” Can you see the faith element here? That is scientism, not science. Their own thinking that goes into answering the question is germane to the discussion, not just the result. At that point they are on the same level as any other religion. Their opinion is just an expression of a bias, not science. If it hasn't been updated, that makes Project Steve invalid on the inductive plane.



...evolutionary theory is scientifically controversial...
This is just blatantly untrue. Evolutionary theory is mainly the province of biologists, who are practically unanimous in their support of the theory. …. The NCSE's Project Steve makes a parodical point of this sort of statement. Once again, I know "might doesn't make right" for a theory, but I wanted to point out that this is a false statement.


Post #123
The speed of light is still constant and hasn't changed. What are you talking about?
***Here you go, for starters:

http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a37fb5b9f2bf6.htm

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1364833/posts

http://freerepublic.com/focus/news/729815/posts

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1381866/posts

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1163251/posts

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/generalscience/constant_changing_010815.html

http://www.btinternet.com/~ugah174/

http://www.photonics.com/spectra/tech/XQ/ASP/techid.1200/QX/read.htm


188 posted on 09/22/2005 3:55:31 PM PDT by Kevin OMalley (No, not Freeper#95235, Freeper #1165: Charter member, What Was My Login Club.)
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To: Kevin OMalley; jess35
I would like to ask the two of you, do you see a scientific controversy over the fine structure constant/speed of light, or not? If not, why not? If so, why the constant references to a lack of a scientific controversy?

This is a good question; the answer is yes and no, depending on what you think the controversy is over.

There is indeed controversy that the fine structure constant (and hence the speed of light) may have been diffferent in the distant past, however the maximum allowable difference is very small indeed; too small to have a significant effect on nuclear decay rates.

Some lines of evidence:

The emission/absorption spectra of elements can be calculated with physics; the observed spectra are dependent on the fine structure constant. Observations of gas clouds several billion light years away show spectra very slightly different than what is expected from the known value of the fine structure constant, indicating a possibility that the speed of light may have been different in the distant past. Link to article here However, the change that has been observed is on the order of 1 part in 100,000 over a time span of several billion years .

In any case, this is not a large enough change to affect nuclear decay rates, which are also dependent on the fine structure constant, in any significant way. In fact, measurements of the ratios of decay products at the Oklo natural reactor in Africa lend support to the fact that nuclear decay rates have been practically constant through Earth's natural history. ( Another link here; don't infer anything from the title until you read the article - the title is misleading.)

Other independent measurements of the speed of light show that it has maintained a practically constant value for a very long time; pulsar timing measurements show the constancy of the speed of light in the last 100-200 thousand years, at least. As we speak, experiments continue to search for a possible frequency dependence of the speed of light, so far with null results.

The bottom line - what does this all mean for physics laws (and hence decay rates)? It might mean that theories of physics may need some very fine tuning, but no major physics paradigms are about to be otherthrown. ( Another link on the effects these observations might have on physical theories) In fact, practically all "controversies" in physics (and all science, for that matter) involve the slight modifications of a theory to explain new data, not the possibility of overturning an entire general theory that has worked well for a long time. Newton's Laws of Motion, for example, were modified by quantum physics and relativity, not overturned by them; Newton's physics still works as well today as it did when he was alive. The same analogy applies here; our current physical theories may need some slight modification to accomodate the very slight changes we (may?) observe in the speed of light, but the controersy is over a very fine and complicated detail of a more general theory, not over the replacement of any existing physics.

189 posted on 09/23/2005 11:23:55 AM PDT by Quark2005 (Where's the science?)
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To: Kevin OMalley
Just for the record, I "like" the idea of an intelligent designer, too, and I do believe that we are here for a purpose. I also recognize that science can't prove this, tough.

Science deals with a lot of very minute details, that's why there's a proper forum for the introduction of new ideas in theories. As long as a new theory is introduced and accepted in that forum, I have no problem accepting it. My problem with ID is not that we know it's wrong (we can't know that), it's that it is essentially asking biology teachers to teach something in a classroom that they know science can't back up. What's a teacher to do in this situation?

190 posted on 09/23/2005 11:39:16 AM PDT by Quark2005 (Where's the science?)
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To: Quark2005
Thank you for your post, I scanned your link and it was what I had expected and as such did not refute ID - because one cannot, as you so noted. Please understand my self appointed role it this discussion - I am being an advocate for ID (I do not use the "devil's" because I believe I am doing otherwise).

Some prerequisites:

· I chose that link, specifically to counter the "not in school" argument, on a legal and philosophical basis. What is good for Darwin/Scopes is good for the proponents of ID.

· I cannot refute your link, because I agree with most of it and as I said it doesn't refute ID. I guess I could go through it and address all that, but, then you would not get this response until 2007. (haha)

· I would have to say I am an unspecialized scientist. I studied Chemistry for three years, biology for two - shifted to mechanical engineering and graduated "cum laude" from John's Hopkin's.

· I also do not support Biblical Genesis, nor a god with a white beard looking down from the heavens. I do believe in an omnipresent, omnipotent, universal force, I call GOD.

· I will rebut your rebuttal section by section.

Life appears designed.

While to you, this is rather subjective, to me, this is one of the strongest argument for ID. Everything is almost too neat. Your comparison to a man made clock is very appropriate. Man with all his tools and intelligence could not make a self-replicating clock yet we are supposed to believe that random chance produced self-replicating human beings, or a self-replicating ameba for that matter.

Is appearance of design just an illusion?

The SETI thing, I agree - have no idea why he kept bringing that up - who cares what SETI folks think.

Change your next paragraph to read: " If law and chance can adequately explain an apparently specified system. Then evolution is warranted." The rest of the paragraph reads the same. (Substitute evolution for design and vice-versa).

No known natural law appears to account for the semantic character of biological information…

Semantics: The study of the relationships between various signs and symbols and what they represent. (See genome projects - they have mapped it, but have no idea what 90% of it means).

Again you are stating what cannot be known as a denial of ID, but as support when the same premise applies to evolution.

Gene replication is well known and has been for years - what does that have to do with the question at hand?

The extreme complexity of biological systems tends to rule out chance as a reasonable explanation for the origin of life.

I agree one cannot make "a priori" assumption with probabilities - but when one is dealing with 10 to 124th or so it sort of makes sense (assuming that number is correct - it is beyond comprehension).

Conceptual Difficulties

Its strenght lies in the fact that it provides a consistant model, makes preditions which can be subsequently verified in many cases and can be potentially falsified.

Please give me a break, it can be verified, when, a million years from now and falsified then. How exactly could ID provide an explanation if an intelligence were behind it! That is not science.

Evidentiary difficulties

... this standard is impossible for any scientific theory to meet. But that is exactly the standard you insist ID to meet.

Darwinian Evolution has been protected from criticism.

If you cannot see that Darwin is one of the "new gods" and is totally protected from almost any decent, well what can I say.

I do not want to address any of the AAAS stuff because all of that has being pretty much been discussed, other than to say that parents have the right to have their children tought in a way they see fit and the government should not be taking their money by force to teach their children in a way they do not want so.

So here is my basic problem with all this. It has to do with sigularity events. I firmly believe in science, the study of the way things are - probing them to the fullest: chemistry, biology, math, classical physics etc. Once you start asserting (as fact) a singularity, whether it is "life" or the "big bang", I will hold that to be preconception and the denial of alternatives.

191 posted on 09/23/2005 8:22:09 PM PDT by TheHound (You would be paranoid too - if everyone was out to get you.)
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To: TheHound
Thanks for writing back- just a couple things I want to say:

Thank you for your post, I scanned your link and it was what I had expected and as such did not refute ID - because one cannot, as you so noted.

Doesn't that in itself seem to bring up a red flag? Potential falsifiability is an essential characteristic of any scientific theory. That's the biggest problem with ID.

I'm not sure that I properly conveyed what I meant by the "predictive" ability of the theory. I mean not that one can predict the future direction of evolution (that really can't be done) - I mean that prediction of future data finds have come true. Example - evolutionary theory predicts that should be transitional fossil forms between land animals and whales; lo and behold, such fossils have been found. Evolutionary theory predicts that organisms in rapidly changing environments should have higher mutation rates; this also has turned out to be true; the list goes on. ID fails to make any specific predictions in this manner - that's another problem with it.

If you cannot see that Darwin is one of the "new gods" and is totally protected from almost any dissent, well what can I say.

Darwin's "revered" status comes from the fact that his theory has worked so well. People make the same accusation of Einstein, as well, but the same holds true for him. It's not as if Darwin's theory hasn't been scientifically challenged (I provided a short link that showed some of the legitimate challenges against it). Lynn Margulis is one of the most interesting; she proposed that lateral gene transfer, not natural selection, was the prime cause of microbial evolution; her challenge was taken seriously, though it now is not generally believed to be true (though certain cellular structures such as mitochondria and chloroplasts are believed to have evolved in this manner). Also, Darwin was certainly mistaken about how genetics worked; findings of Mendel and other scientists required modification of Darwin's ideas. Darwinian evolution is hardly a sacrosanct idea; in fact it has had to survive a myriad of scrutinizing attacks from within the scientific community. "Alternative" theories are a welcome idea in science, but only if they have a scientific basis.

192 posted on 09/25/2005 11:34:06 AM PDT by Quark2005 (Where's the science?)
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To: Quark2005

Thanks for the links. That natural nuclear reactor was fascinating. So was the pulsar timing stuff, good writing.

One question before I go into criticism mode: Is the pulsar timing article considered exemplary? i.e., do I have to go & read more of those to get the full picture or will that one do? I do prefer to read both sides of a story but I can't find the rebuttal.

Well, if that article is exemplary, I still see a scientific controversy. Now while it certainly appears to be a slam-dunk against 6000 year creationism, the latest suggestions are playing with light being 2 to 10 orders of magnitude faster at the beginning, so it is conceivable that the universe could be 1 or 2 orders of magnitude younger. That article only disputed 6000 years old creation, not 6M or 600M year old creation.




Evidences of scientific controversy:

http://smccd.net/accounts/brenner/lsci106/ballein.html

LSCI 106: ONLINE RESEARCH 1: INTRODUCTION TO ONLINE RESEARCH

Student Project


RESEARCH QUESTION:

Is the speed of light slowing down over time?

The punch-line to the familiar joke says the only things you can count on are death and taxes. In the scientific world of physics one key fundamental that could be counted on is the speed of light remaining constant at a speed of 186,000 miles a second, over time. Much of physics is based on this assumption. But now “the times, they are a-changin', and so are the fundamental constants of physics, an international group of physicists reports. After analyzing light from distant quasars, the team has concluded that the fine-structure constant, which is related to the speed of light, has shifted over time” (Seife 1410).

Why is this such a big deal? Einstein’s Theory of Relativity would be wrong. The universe would not be as old as previously thought. While scientists cannot find over 90% of the matter needed to make the Big Bang a feasible theory, faster light speeds would explain it while rendering it unworkable. It would agree and substantiate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Much of astronomical theory would need to be rethought. One thing is for certain…there will be much debate and research regarding the constancy of the speed of light.




http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/11/4/2

In 1989 it was claimed that room-temperature, resonant-bar, gravitational-wave detectors saw events that correlated with supernova 1987A. But in the very paper that announced this finding, M Aglietta and co-workers said that if our current understanding was correct, the energy seen by the detectors was equivalent to the complete conversion of 2400 solar masses into gravitational waves (1989 Il Nuovo Cimento 12C 1 75) The authors agreed that this was incredible, but nevertheless thought they should report what they had found in print in case something odd was going on. Nearly everyone else thought that the result was wrong, and a critical paper was published that tried to show that it was the outcome of inadvertent statistical massage (1995 Phys. Rev. D 51 2644). Last year, in an internal report from the University of Rome La Sapienza, the original authors rejected the criticism.

Consider the deep disagreement about SN1987A discussed above. Observations, better experimentation, more knowledge, more advanced theories and clearer thinking have not settled the argument - at least, not to the satisfaction of all parties. What happens in deep disputes like this is summed up in the grim Planck dictum: scientists do not give up their disputed ideas, they only die.

from wizbangblog:
http://wizbangblog.com/archives/005452.php


Raina said: There actually is some real scientific controversy over whether or not the speed of light has changed.

This would not rescue Young Earth Creationism, note the bold font. Consider SN1987A: SN1987A was a supernova observed in the Large Magellanic Cloud in 1987. (The progenator was a star blue white supergiant catalogued as SK-69 202). SN1987A has a primary gas ring that allows us to calculate it's distance using simple triangulation. That distance is 168,000 light years. Ergo: SK-69 202 blew up 168,000 years ago or about 160,000 years before you believe the univrerse was created if you're defending YEC. So we know the universe is older than 6,000 - 10,000 years years, because in 1987 we observed the light of a super nova which actually occurred in 166,000 BC.
We also know the light from 1987A has not slowed down during transit because if it had, among other enormous physical problems, events on 1987A would be in 'slow motion' and they're not, again direct observation. SN1987A also gives us rock solid evidence that radiodecay processes operated at the same rate in the remote past as they do today. During the super nova explosion exotic isotopes were created with short half lives such as cobalt 56 and nickel 55. We can observe the decay sequence of those isotopes in the spectral emission of 1987A. They match exactly the empirically measured rates on earth which are also the theoretically predicted rates universally applicable in the entire universe. Thus SN1987A is a 'twofer' in falsifying YEC.



....
Startling Scientists, Plant Fixes Its Flawed Gene
In a startling discovery, geneticists at Purdue University say they have found plants that possess a corrected version of a defective gene inherited from both their parents, as if some handy backup copy with the right version had been made in the grandparents' generation or earlier.

The finding implies that some organisms may contain a cryptic backup copy of their genome that bypasses the usual mechanisms of heredity. If confirmed, it would represent an unprecedented exception to the laws of inheritance discovered by Gregor Mendel in the 19th century. Equally surprising, the cryptic genome appears not to be made of DNA, the standard hereditary material.

The discovery also raises interesting biological questions - including whether it gets in the way of evolution, which depends on mutations changing an organism rather than being put right by a backup system.

"It looks like a marvelous discovery," said Dr. Elliott Meyerowitz, a plant geneticist at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. David Haig, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard, described the finding as "a really strange and unexpected result," which would be important if the observation holds up and applies widely in nature.


My argument about evolution* is and will always be, that all you loud mouth people who accept as some sort of fact etched in stone that man evolved from some primordial ooze are just as religious as the people you bash.

The truth is --though you are loath to admit it-- that we don't know jack about the origin of the species. If there is indeed some mechanism built into organisms to repair flawed genes, the whole theory -which is already mathematically astronomically improbable- is now a few dozen more orders of magnitude more improbable. There is something other than DNA that apparently carries some sort of genome and we don't even have a name for it yet, much less understand it!

OK, you can now commence to ranting in the comments about how it is a fact and I'm just some ignorant fool. And make sure you bash religious people... If there is one thing I love to laugh at, it is one religious zealot claiming the other guy is just a religious zealot.

* The nomenclature will always bite you. I don't use "evolution" in the strict definition here, I mean evolution as in the theory that lighting stuck inorganic material and started life that a bazillion years later evolved into every life form on the planet. That version of "evolution" is seriously, seriously flawed.... And no amount of your typing in the comments section will make unflawed.


193 posted on 09/26/2005 6:29:06 PM PDT by Kevin OMalley (No, not Freeper#95235, Freeper #1165: Charter member, What Was My Login Club.)
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To: Kevin OMalley
Now while it certainly appears to be a slam-dunk against 6000 year creationism, the latest suggestions are playing with light being 2 to 10 orders of magnitude faster at the beginning, so it is conceivable that the universe could be 1 or 2 orders of magnitude younger.

Different issue entirely. What happened during the opening epoch of the Big Bang is definitely controversial in science; there are ideas all over the map on this one. But 1-2 orders of magnitude younger? That's not really possible, given the constancy of light observed over the order of billions of years. I've heard hypotheses that the speed of light may have been radically different at the opening instant of the universe, but in order for observations we see to hold true, it had to have "leveled off" fairly quickly.

Why is this such a big deal? Einstein’s Theory of Relativity would be wrong.

"Wrong" is kind of a misnomer; a better way to put it is the theory might need a very high order correction; just as the theory of relativity itself is a higher order correction to Newton's Laws. The basic theory of relativity works well under most circumstances; these observations won't change that.

Nearly everyone else thought that the result was wrong, and a critical paper was published that tried to show that it was the outcome of inadvertent statistical massage (1995 Phys. Rev. D 51 2644). Last year, in an internal report from the University of Rome La Sapienza, the original authors rejected the criticism.

To be honest, this isn't something I know much about. But it does go to show that science tries to correct its mistakes. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence - if "2400 solar masses were converted to gravitational waves", you need make sure what you're looking at isn't a trick of statistics. In any case, gravitational waves are a hot area of research (look up the LIGO detector if you have time); very complex stuff (these are very deep waters indeed).

What happens in deep disputes like this is summed up in the grim Planck dictum: scientists do not give up their disputed ideas, they only die.

Basically, you're saying a theory sticks around until someone comes up with a better model to replace it. I don't see the problem here.

My argument about evolution* is and will always be, that all you loud mouth people who accept as some sort of fact etched in stone that man evolved from some primordial ooze are just as religious as the people you bash.

Not really. Are you saying that there isn't overwhelming evidence to substantiate the theory of common descent? This isn't a consequence of faith, it's a consequence of consistent observation of data. A "strange and unexpected result" about plant genetics does not alone refute the entire body of knowledge we have supporting evolution, it only shows there are some things we still don't know about it yet. Surely it's no reason to stop looking for answers; saying "it's a miracle" is not a scientific answer.

The truth is --though you are loath to admit it-- that we don't know jack about the origin of the species

We know quite a bit. Read a biology textbook or two. There's a lot we still don't know, of course. I have no pretentions as to otherwise.

If there is indeed some mechanism built into organisms to repair flawed genes, the whole theory -which is already mathematically astronomically improbable- is now a few dozen more orders of magnitude more improbable.

That is a premature assumption. In any case, improbability does not refute a theory; it only means what it says, that it's improbable.

OK, you can now commence to ranting in the comments about how it is a fact and I'm just some ignorant fool. And make sure you bash religious people... If there is one thing I love to laugh at, it is one religious zealot claiming the other guy is just a religious zealot.

I didn't come here to bash you or anyone else. I thought this forum was a way to exchange ideas. The theory of evolution works and works well that much is factual; I'm not going to get caught up in the semantics of the difference between theories and facts here. Evolution has nothing to do with my religious beliefs. I've pointed out in many of my posts that I do believe God is the Creator of the universe. He also didn't give us a brain and not intend us to use it, though, IMHO - the theory of evolution is a conclusion we humble humans have derived from nature using our minds, not a religious assumption. I don't see the problem here - the religious experience and scientific inquiry are two totally different concepts, and should remain that way.

* The nomenclature will always bite you. I don't use "evolution" in the strict definition here, I mean evolution as in the theory that lighting stuck inorganic material and started life that a bazillion years later evolved into every life form on the planet. That version of "evolution" is seriously, seriously flawed.... And no amount of your typing in the comments section will make unflawed.

Only future research will tell what is flawed and what is not flawed. Right now, there is no complete theory of abiogenesis. There is a wealth of evidence documenting the subsequent evolution of life on earth, however. And you're right, no amount of typing here can really prove or debunk any theory - that's why we have scientific journals, conferences & research papers.

194 posted on 09/27/2005 9:09:13 AM PDT by Quark2005 (Where's the science?)
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To: Quark2005

Different issue entirely. What happened during the opening epoch of the Big Bang is definitely controversial in science;
***OK, sounds like a good place to start for someone like me who is saying that it sure looks like a scientific controversy.


there are ideas all over the map on this one. But 1-2 orders of magnitude younger? That's not really possible, given the constancy of light observed over the order of billions of years.
***I've really got a problem with this statement because we have not been around long enough to observe such constancy, we can only postulate that it has been constant. But now even that postulation is demonstrably untrue if we know that the fine structure constant has changed, so we are now in a position of trying to figure out how much it affects the origins hypotheses. That is another area where I see scientific controversy. Keep in mind that Feynman got his Nobel Prize in this kind of area, and a considerable measure of it was from NOT agreeing to what other scientists had to say when they were taking points from the far end of the curve (scientifically questionable to begin with), which is similar to where the controversy is today.


I've heard hypotheses that the speed of light may have been radically different at the opening instant of the universe, but in order for observations we see to hold true, it had to have "leveled off" fairly quickly.
***Yep, it looks like science is going to have to get some more data on this topic. In the meantime, does that mean that there is a scientific controversy or is there not one?

Why is this such a big deal? Einstein’s Theory of Relativity would be wrong....."Wrong" is kind of a misnomer; ...
***I am afraid that I might not have made myself clear at this point in my post, but I was quoting from the various websites to show that there was a scientific controversy in progress. I don't necessarily agree with what those folks said (mostly I do, but perhaps not in such magnitude). If you would like me to comment on your comments, let me know. I see a lot that I agree with in what you said.


195 posted on 09/27/2005 3:50:09 PM PDT by Kevin OMalley (No, not Freeper#95235, Freeper #1165: Charter member, What Was My Login Club.)
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To: Kevin OMalley
Yep, it looks like science is going to have to get some more data on this topic. In the meantime, does that mean that there is a scientific controversy or is there not one?

Keeping in mind that I am studying to become a physicist, but not specifically a cosmologist (though I have had some graduate course-level work on the subject), I can only tell you with certainty that there is no real controversy over the issue that the speed of light has been very close to constant over most of the age of the universe, but at the instant of the Big Bang (i.e. the inflationary epoch) it may have been (or may not have been) quite different. There is little controversy over whether or not the Big Bang actually happened; as we literally see the "afterglow" (i.e. cosmic background radiation); we see the kinetic expansion (i.e. cosmic expansion/galactic redshift); and the nuclear synthesis models of the Big Bang give the correct ratio of hydrogen<->helium observed in the universe; no other model explains these things correctly. As you point out, the model is not perfect; the debates are fierce as to what occurred during the opening moments of the Big Bang, and perhaps the further-reaching consequences of General Relativity (i.e. the dark energy problem you pointed out earlier).

As far as the total age of the universe goes, you point out, basically, that we can't know because we haven't been around long enough to know. I won't try to argue with that (you really can't!) However, what we do see is a universe with the appearance of great age; for the speed of light to have varied by "orders of magnitude", a lot of observations would have to have "conspired" to produce the difference. Could one produce a model that could explain a young universe? It may be possible, but such a model would be enormously more complicated than the one we work with. In science, the simplest model prevails, even though the "simplest" model may still be complex indeed.

What did God really do to make the universe? I don't know. No one really does. All we mere humans can do is create models to explain natural cause and effect - that is what science is all about. "Belief" in a scientific model is inconsequential, IMHO; it just has to work to empirically explain observations. If people could realize this, I think much of the debate between science and religion could be peacefully resolved.

196 posted on 09/28/2005 10:21:46 AM PDT by Quark2005 (Where's the science?)
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To: Quark2005

Thank you for your thoughtful post. Since I have run out of time on this round of freeping, it appears that the 4th graders' soccer strategy worked. Bummer.

I would like to encourage you in the same manner that I encouraged another Physics student about 10 years ago. He was looking for an area to explore in Physics to do his PhD and I suggested that the speed of light showed signs of not being a constant. If he had pursued my suggestion, he'd be at the top of his game right now. So here is my similar suggestion to you: Don't take for granted those points at the far end of the graph. If they all "conspire", it could mean that they are all dependent upon some variable that we have not yet discovered. One of the greatest physicists in our generation, Richard Feynman, won the Nobel prize following this line of attack. I'll reprint some of his story here, which I found also posted online at

http://www.zag.si/~jank/public/misc/joking_feynman.txt




The 7 Percent Solution

The problem was to find the right laws of beta decay. There appeared to be two particles, which were called a tau and a theta. They seemed to have almost exactly the same mass, but one disintegrated into two pions, and the other into three pions. Not only did they seem to have the same mass, but they also had the same lifetime, which is a funny coincidence. So everybody was concerned about this.
....
At that particular time I was not really quite up to things: I was always a little behind. Everybody seemed to be smart, and I didn't feel I was keeping up. Anyway, I was sharing a room with a guy named Martin Block, an experimenter. And one evening he said to me, "Why are you guys so insistent on this parity rule? Maybe the tau and theta are the same particle. What would be the consequences if the parity rule were wrong?"
....
So I got up and said, "I'm asking this question for Martin Block: What would be the consequences if the parity rule was wrong?"
Murray Gell-Mann often teased me about this, saying I didn't have the nerve to ask the question for myself. But that's not the reason. I thought it might very well be an important idea.
....
Finally they get all this stuff into me, and they say, "The situation is so mixed up that even some of the things they've established for years are being questioned -- such as the beta decay of the neutron is S and T. It's so messed up. Murray says it might even be V and A."
I jump up from the stool and say, "Then I understand EVVVVVERYTHING!"
They thought I was joking. But the thing that I had trouble with at the Rochester meeting -- the neutron and proton disintegration: everything fit but that, and if it was V and A instead of S and T, that would fit too. Therefore I had the whole theory!
That night I calculated all kinds of things with this theory. The first thing I calculated was the rate of disintegration of the muon and the neutron. They should be connected together, if this theory was right, by a certain relationship, and it was right to 9 percent. That's pretty close, 9 percent. It should have been more perfect than that, but it was close enough.
....
I was very excited, and kept on calculating, and things that fit kept on tumbling out: they fit automatically, without a strain. I had begun to forget about the 9 percent by now, because everything else was coming out right.
....
The next morning when I got to work I went to Wapstra, Boehm, and Jensen, and told them, "I've got it all worked out. Everything fits."
Christy, who was there, too, said, "What beta-decay constant did you use?"
"The one from So-and-So's book."
"But that's been found out to be wrong. Recent measurements have shown it's off by 7 percent."
Then I remember the 9 percent. ....

I went out and found the original article on the experiment that said the neutron-proton coupling is T, and I was shocked by something. I remembered reading that article once before (back in the days when I read every article in the Physical Review -- it was small enough). And I remembered, when I saw this article again, looking at that curve and thinking, "That doesn't prove anything!"
You see, it depended on one or two points at the very edge of the range of the data, and there's a principle that a point on the edge of the range of the data -- the last point -- isn't very good, because if it was, they'd have another point further along. And I had realized that the whole idea that neutron-proton coupling is T was based on the last point, which wasn't very good, and therefore it's not proved. I remember noticing that!
And when I became interested in beta decay, directly, I read all these reports by the "beta-decay experts," which said it's T. I never looked at the original data; I only read those reports, like a dope. Had I been a good physicist, when I thought of the original idea back at the Rochester Conference I would have immediately looked up "how strong do we know it's T?" -- that would have been the sensible thing to do. I would have recognized right away that I had already noticed it wasn't satisfactorily proved.
Since then I never pay any attention to anything by "experts." I calculate everything myself. When people said the quark theory was pretty good, I got two Ph.D.s, Finn Ravndal and Mark Kislinger, to go through the whole works with me, just so I could check that the thing was really giving results that fit fairly well, and that it was a significantly good theory. I'll never make that mistake again, reading the experts' opinions. Of course, you only live one life, and you make all your mistakes, and learn what not to do, and that's the end of you.


197 posted on 10/08/2005 11:01:27 AM PDT by Kevin OMalley (No, not Freeper#95235, Freeper #1165: Charter member, What Was My Login Club.)
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