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The "Threat" of Creationism, by Isaac Asimov
Internet ^ | 1984 | Isaac Asimov

Posted on 02/15/2003 4:18:25 PM PST by PatrickHenry

Scientists thought it was settled. The universe, they had decided, is about 20 billion years old, and Earth itself is 4.5 billion years old. Simple forms of life came into being more than three billion years ago, having formed spontaneously from nonliving matter. They grew more complex through slow evolutionary processes and the first hominid ancestors of humanity appeared more than four million years ago. Homo sapians itself—the present human species, people like you and me—has walked the earth for at least 50,000 years.

But apparently it isn't settled. There are Americans who believe that the earth is only about 6,000 years old; that human beings and all other species were brought into existence by a divine Creator as eternally separate variations of beings; and that there has been no evolutionary process.

They are creationists—they call themselves "scientific" creationists—and they are a growing power in the land, demanding that schools be forced to teach their views. State legislatures, mindful of the votes, are beginning to succumb to the pressure. In perhaps 15 states, bills have been introduced, putting forth the creationist point of view, and in others, strong movements are gaining momentum. In Arkansas, a law requiring that the teaching of creationism receive equal time was passed this spring and is scheduled to go into effect in September 1982, though the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit on behalf of a group of clergymen, teachers, and parents to overturn it. And a California father named Kelly Segraves, the director of the Creation-Science Research Center, sued to have public-school science classes taught that there are other theories of creation besides evolution, and that one of them was the Biblical version. The suit came to trial in March, and the judge ruled that educators must distribute a policy statement to schools and textbook publishers explaining that the theory of evolution should not be seen as "the ultimate cause of origins." Even in New York, the Board of Education has delayed since January in making a final decision, expected this month [June 1981], on whether schools will be required to include the teaching of creationism in their curriculums.

The Rev. Jerry Fallwell, the head of the Moral Majority, who supports the creationist view from his television pulpit, claims that he has 17 million to 25 million viewers (though Arbitron places the figure at a much more modest 1.6 million). But there are 66 electronic ministries which have a total audience of about 20 million. And in parts of the country where the Fundamentalists predominate—the so called Bible Belt— creationists are in the majority.

They make up a fervid and dedicated group, convinced beyond argument of both their rightness and their righteousness. Faced with an apathetic and falsely secure majority, smaller groups have used intense pressure and forceful campaigning—as the creationists do—and have succeeded in disrupting and taking over whole societies.

Yet, though creationists seem to accept the literal truth of the Biblical story of creation, this does not mean that all religious people are creationists. There are millions of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews who think of the Bible as a source of spiritual truth and accept much of it as symbolically rather than literally true. They do not consider the Bible to be a textbook of science, even in intent, and have no problem teaching evolution in their secular institutions.

To those who are trained in science, creationism seems like a bad dream, a sudden reveling of a nightmare, a renewed march of an army of the night risen to challenge free thought and enlightenment.

The scientific evidence for the age of the earth and for the evolutionary development of life seems overwhelming to scientists. How can anyone question it? What are the arguments the creationists use? What is the "science" that makes their views "scientific"? Here are some of them:

• The argument from analogy.

A watch implies a watchmaker, say the creationists. If you were to find a beautifully intricate watch in the desert, from habitation, you would be sure that it had been fashioned by human hands and somehow left it there. It would pass the bounds of credibility that it had simply formed, spontaneously, from the sands of the desert.

By analogy, then, if you consider humanity, life, Earth, and the universe, all infinitely more intricate than a watch, you can believe far less easily that it "just happened." It, too, like the watch, must have been fashioned, but by more-than-human hands—in short by a divine Creator.

This argument seems unanswerable, and it has been used (even though not often explicitly expressed) ever since the dawn of consciousness. To have explained to prescientific human beings that the wind and the rain and the sun follow the laws of nature and do so blindly and without a guiding would have been utterly unconvincing to them. In fact, it might have well gotten you stoned to death as a blasphemer.

There are many aspects of the universe that still cannot be explained satisfactorily by science; but ignorance only implies ignorance that may someday be conquered. To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.

In short, the complexity of the universe—and one's inability to explain it in full—is not in itself an argument for a Creator.

• The argument from general consent.

Some creationists point at that belief in a Creator is general among all peoples and all cultures. Surly this unanimous craving hints at a greater truth. There would be no unanimous belief in a lie.

General belief, however, is not really surprising. Nearly every people on earth that considers the existence of the world assumes it to have been created by a god or gods. And each group invents full details for the story. No two creation tales are alike. The Greeks, the Norsemen, the Japanese, the Hindus, the American Indians, and so on and so on all have their own creation myths, and all of these are recognized by Americans of Judeo-Christian heritage as "just myths."

The ancient Hebrews also had a creation tale—two of them, in fact. There is a primitive Adam-and-Eve-in-Paradise story, with man created first, then animals, then women. There is also a poetic tale of God fashioning the universe in six days, with animals preceding man, and man and woman created together.

These Hebrew myths are not inherently more credible than any of the others, but they are our myths. General consent, of course, proves nothing: There can be a unanimous belief in something that isn't so. The universal opinion over thousands of years that the earth was flat never flattened its spherical shape by one inch.

• The argument of belittlement.

Creationists frequently stress the fact that evolution is "only a theory," giving the impression that a theory is an idle guess. A scientist, one gathers, arising one morning with nothing particular to do, decided that perhaps the moon is made of Roquefort cheese and instantly advances the Roquefort-cheese theory.

A theory (as the word is used by scientists) is a detailed description of some facet of the universe's workings that is based on long observation and, where possible, experiment. It is the result of careful reasoning from these observations and experiments that has survived the critical study of scientists generally.

For example, we have the description of the cellular nature of living organisms (the "cell theory"); of objects attracting each other according to fixed rule (the "theory of gravitation"); of energy behaving in discrete bits (the "quantum theory"); of light traveling through a vacuum at a fixed measurable velocity (the "theory of relativity"), and so on.

All are theories; all are firmly founded; all are accepted as valid descriptions of this or that aspect of the universe. They are neither guesses nor speculations. And no theory is better founded, more closely examined, more critically argued and more thoroughly accepted, than the theory of evolution. If it is "only" a theory, that is all it has to be.

Creationism, on the other hand, is not a theory. There is no evidence, in the scientific sense, that supports it. Creationism, or at least the particular variety accepted by many Americans, is an expression of early Middle Eastern legend. It is fairly described as "only a myth."

• The argument of imperfection.

Creationists, in recent years, have stressed the "scientific" background of their beliefs. They point out that there are scientists who base their creationists beliefs on a careful study of geology, paleontology, and biology and produce "textbooks" that embody those beliefs.

Virtually the whole scientific corpus of creationism, however, consists of the pointing out of imperfections in the evolutionary view. The creationists insists, for example, that evolutionists cannot true transition states between species in the fossil evidence; that age determinations through radioactive breakdown are uncertain; that alternative interpretations of this or that piece of evidence are possible and so on.

Because the evolutionary view is not perfect and is not agreed upon by all scientists, creationists argue that evolution is false and that scientists, in supporting evolution, are basing their views on blind faith and dogmatism.

To an extent, the creationists are right here: The details of evolution are not perfectly known. Scientists have been adjusting and modifying Charles Darwin's suggestions since he advanced his theory of the origin of species through natural selection back in 1859. After all, much has been learned about the fossil record and physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, ethology, and various other branches of life science in the last 125 years, and it was to be expected that we can improve on Darwin. In fact, we have improved on him. Nor is the process finished. it can never be, as long as human beings continue to question and to strive for better answers.

The details of evolutionary theory are in dispute precisely because scientists are not devotees of blind faith and dogmatism. They do not accept even as great thinker as Darwin without question, nor do they accept any idea, new or old, without thorough argument. Even after accepting an idea, they stand ready to overrule it, if appropriate new evidence arrives. If, however, we grant that a theory is imperfect and details remain in dispute, does that disprove the theory as a whole?

Consider. I drive a car, and you drive a car. I do not know exactly how an engine works. Perhaps you do not either. And it may be that our hazy and approximate ideas of the workings of an automobile are in conflict. Must we then conclude from this disagreement that an automobile does not run, or that it does not exist? Or, if our senses force us to conclude that an automobile does exist and run, does that mean it is pulled by an invisible horses, since our engine theory is imperfect?

However much scientists argue their differing beliefs in details of evolutionary theory, or in the interpretation of the necessarily imperfect fossil record, they firmly accept the evolutionary process itself.

• The argument from distorted science.

Creationists have learned enough scientific terminology to use it in their attempts to disprove evolution. They do this in numerous ways, but the most common example, at least in the mail I receive is the repeated assertion that the second law of thermodynamics demonstrates the evolutionary process to be impossible.

In kindergarten terms, the second law of thermodynamics says that all spontaneous change is in the direction of increasing disorder—that is, in a "downhill" direction. There can be no spontaneous buildup of the complex from the simple, therefore, because that would be moving "uphill." According to the creationists argument, since, by the evolutionary process, complex forms of life evolve from simple forms, that process defies the second law, so creationism must be true.

Such an argument implies that this clearly visible fallacy is somehow invisible to scientists, who must therefore be flying in the face of the second law through sheer perversity. Scientists, however, do know about the second law and they are not blind. It's just that an argument based on kindergarten terms is suitable only for kindergartens.

To lift the argument a notch above the kindergarten level, the second law of thermodynamics applies to a "closed system"—that is, to a system that does not gain energy from without, or lose energy to the outside. The only truly closed system we know of is the universe as a whole.

Within a closed system, there are subsystems that can gain complexity spontaneously, provided there is a greater loss of complexity in another interlocking subsystem. The overall change then is a complexity loss in a line with the dictates of the second law.

Evolution can proceed and build up the complex from the simple, thus moving uphill, without violating the second law, as long as another interlocking part of the system — the sun, which delivers energy to the earth continually — moves downhill (as it does) at a much faster rate than evolution moves uphill. If the sun were to cease shining, evolution would stop and so, eventually, would life.

Unfortunately, the second law is a subtle concept which most people are not accustomed to dealing with, and it is not easy to see the fallacy in the creationists distortion.

There are many other "scientific" arguments used by creationists, some taking quite cleaver advantage of present areas of dispute in evolutionary theory, but every one of then is as disingenuous as the second-law argument.

The "scientific" arguments are organized into special creationist textbooks, which have all the surface appearance of the real thing, and which school systems are being heavily pressured to accept. They are written by people who have not made any mark as scientists, and, while they discuss geology, paleontology and biology with correct scientific terminology, they are devoted almost entirely to raising doubts over the legitimacy of the evidence and reasoning underlying evolutionary thinking on the assumption that this leaves creationism as the only possible alternative.

Evidence actually in favor of creationism is not presented, of course, because none exist other than the word of the Bible, which it is current creationist strategy not to use.

• The argument from irrelevance.

Some creationists putt all matters of scientific evidence to one side and consider all such things irrelevant. The Creator, they say, brought life and the earth and the entire universe into being 6,000 years ago or so, complete with all the evidence for eons-long evolutionary development. The fossil record, the decaying radio activity, the receding galaxies were all created as they are, and the evidence they present is an illusion.

Of course, this argument is itself irrelevant, for it can be neither proved nor disproved. it is not an argument, actually, but a statement. I can say that the entire universe was created two minutes age, complete with all its history books describing a nonexistent past in detail, and with every living person equipped with a full memory; you, for instance, in the process of reading this article in midstream with a memory of what you had read in the beginning—which you had not really read.

What kind of Creator would produce a universe containing so intricate an illusion? It would mean that the Creator formed a universe that contained human beings whom He had endowed with the faculty of curiosity and the ability to reason. He supplied those human beings with an enormous amount of subtle and cleverly consistent evidence designed to mislead them and cause them to be convinced that the universe was created 20 billion years ago and developed by evolutionary processes that include the creation and the development of life on Earth. Why?

Does the Creator take pleasure in fooling us? Does it amuse Him to watch us go wrong? Is it part of a test to see if human beings will deny their senses and their reason in order to cling to myth? Can it be that the Creator is a cruel and malicious prankster, with a vicious and adolescent sense of humor?

• The argument from authority.

The Bible says that God created the world in six days, and the Bible is the inspired word of God. To the average creationist this is all that counts. All other arguments are merely a tedious way of countering the propaganda of all those wicked humanists, agnostics, an atheists who are not satisfied with the clear word of the Lord.

The creationist leaders do not actually use that argument because that would make their argument a religious one, and they would not be able to use it in fighting a secular school system. They have to borrow the clothing of science, no matter how badly it fits, and call themselves "scientific" creationists. They also speak only of the "Creator," and never mentioned that this Creator is the God of the Bible.

We cannot, however, take this sheep's clothing seriously. However much the creationist leaders might hammer away at in their "scientific" and "philosophical" points, they would be helpless and a laughing-stock if that were all they had.

It is religion that recruits their squadrons. Tens of millions of Americans, who neither know nor understand the actual arguments for or even against evolution, march in the army of the night with their Bibles held high. And they are a strong and frightening force, impervious to, and immunized against, the feeble lance of mere reason.

Even if I am right and the evolutionists' case is very strong, have not creationists, whatever the emptiness of their case, a right to be heard? if their case is empty, isn't it perfectly safe to discuss it since the emptiness would then be apparent? Why, then are evolutionists so reluctant to have creationism taught in the public schools on an equal basis with evolutionary theory? can it be that the evolutionists are not as confident of their case as they pretend. Are they afraid to allow youngsters a clear choice?

First, the creationists are somewhat less than honest in their demand for equal time. It is not their views that are repressed: schools are by no means the only place in which the dispute between creationism and evolutionary theory is played out. There are churches, for instance, which are a much more serious influence on most Americans than the schools are. To be sure, many churches are quite liberal, have made their peace with science and find it easy to live with scientific advance — even with evolution. But many of the less modish and citified churches are bastions of creationism.

The influence of the church is naturally felt in the home, in the newspapers, and in all of surrounding society. It makes itself felt in the nation as a whole, even in religiously liberal areas, in thousands of subtle ways: in the nature of holiday observance, in expressions of patriotic fervor, even in total irrelevancies. In 1968, for example, a team of astronomers circling the moon were instructed to read the first few verses of Genesis as though NASA felt it had to placate the public lest they rage against the violation of the firmament. At the present time, even the current President of the United States has expressed his creationist sympathies.

It is only in school that American youngsters in general are ever likely to hear any reasoned exposition of the evolutionary viewpiont. They might find such a viewpoint in books, magazines, newspapers, or even, on occasion, on television. But church and family can easily censor printed matter or television. Only the school is beyond their control.

But only just barely beyond. Even though schools are now allowed to teach evolution, teachers are beginning to be apologetic about it, knowing full well their jobs are at the mercy of school boards upon which creationists are a stronger and stronger influence.

Then, too, in schools, students are not required to believe what they learn about evolution—merely to parrot it back on test. If they fail to do so, their punishment is nothing more than the loss of a few points on a test or two.

In the creationist churches, however, the congregation is required to believe. Impressionable youngsters, taught that they will go to hell if they listen to the evolutionary doctrine, are not likely to listen in comfort or to believe if they do. Therefore, creationists, who control the church and the society they live in and to face the public-school as the only place where evolution is even briefly mentioned in a possible favorable way, find they cannot stand even so minuscule a competition and demand "equal time."

Do you suppose their devotion to "fairness" is such that they will give equal time to evolution in their churches?

Second, the real danger is the manner in which creationists want threir "equal time." In the scientific world, there is free and open competition of ideas, and even a scientist whose suggestions are not accepted is nevertheless free to continue to argue his case. In this free and open competition of ideas, creationism has clearly lost. It has been losing, in fact, since the time of Copernicus four and a half centuries ago. But creationism, placing myth above reason, refused to accept the decision and are now calling on the government to force their views on the schools in lieu of the free expression of ideas. Teachers must be forced to present creationism as though it had equal intellectual respectability with evolutionary doctrine.

What a precedent this sets.

If the government can mobilize its policemen and its prisons to make certain that teachers give creationism equal time, they can next use force to make sure that teachers declare creationism the victor so that evolution will be evicted from the classroom altogether. We will have established ground work, in other words, for legally enforced ignorance and for totalitarian thought control. And what if the creationists win? They might, you know, for there are millions who, faced with a choice between science and their interpretation of the Bible, will choose the Bible and reject science, regardless of the evidence.

This is not entirely because of the traditional and unthinking reverence for the literal words of the Bible; there is also a pervasive uneasiness—even an actual fear—of science that will drive even those who care little for fundamentalism into the arms of the creationists. For one thing, science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpretations, and scientists quarrel among themselves. This is disillusioning for those untrained in the scientific method, who thus turn to the rigid certainty of the Bible instead. There is something comfortable about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful necessity of having to think.

Second, science is complex and chilling. The mathematical language of science is understood by very few. The vistas it presents are scary—an enormous universe ruled by chance and impersonal rules, empty and uncaring, ungraspable and vertiginous. How comfortable to turn instead to a small world, only a few thousand years old, and under God's personal and immediate care; a world in which you are his particular concern and where He will not consign you to hell if you are careful to follow every word of the Bible as interpreted for you by your television preacher.

Third, science is dangerous. There is no question but that poison gas, genetic engineering, and nuclear weapons and power stations are terrifying. It may be that civilization is falling apart and the world we know is coming to an end. In that case, why not turn to religion and look forward to the Day of Judgment, in which you and your fellow believers will be lifted into eternal bliss and have the added joy of watching the scoffers and disbelievers writhe forever in torment.

So why might they not win?

There are numerous cases of societies in which the armies of the night have ridden triumphantly over minorities in order to establish a powerful orthodoxy which dictates official thought. Invariably, the triumphant ride is toward long-range disaster. Spain dominated Europe and the world in the 16th century, but in Spain orthodoxy came first, and all divergence of opinion was ruthlessly suppressed. The result was that Spain settled back into blankness and did not share in the scientific, technological and commercial ferment that bubbled up in other nations of Western Europe. Spain remained an intellectual backwater for centuries. In the late 17th century, France in the name of orthodoxy revoked the Edict of Nantes and drove out many thousands of Huguenots, who added their intellectual vigor to lands of refuge such as Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Prussia, while France was permanently weakened.

In more recent times, Germany hounded out the Jewish scientists of Europe. They arrived in the United States and contributed immeasurably to scientific advancement here, while Germany lost so heavily that there is no telling how long it will take it to regain its former scientific eminence. The Soviet Union, in its fascination with Lysenko, destroyed its geneticists, and set back its biological sciences for decades. China, during the Cultural Revolution, turned against Western science and is still laboring to overcome the devastation that resulted.

As we now, with all these examples before us, to ride backward into the past under the same tattered banner of orthodoxy? With creationism in the saddle, American science will wither. We will raise a generation of ignoramuses ill-equipped to run the industry of tomorrow, much less to generate the new advances of the days after tomorrow.

We will inevitably recede into the backwater of civilization, and those nations that retain opened scientific thought will take over the leadership of the world and the cutting edge of human advancement. I don't suppose that the creationists really plan the decline of the United States, but their loudly expressed patriotism is as simpleminded as their "science." If they succeed, they will, in their folly, achieve the opposite of what they say they wish.

( Isaac Asimov, "The 'Threat' of Creationism," New York Times Magazine, June 14, 1981; from Science and Creationism, Ashley Montagu, ed., New York: Oxford University Press, 1984, pp. 182-193. )


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: creation; creationism; crevolist; darwin; evolution; evolutionism; intelligentdesign
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1 posted on 02/15/2003 4:18:25 PM PST by PatrickHenry
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To: VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; *crevo_list; RadioAstronomer; Scully; Piltdown_Woman; ...
[This ping list for the evolution -- not creationism -- side of evolution threads, and sometimes for other science topics. To be added (or dropped), let me know via freepmail.]
2 posted on 02/15/2003 4:19:13 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: PatrickHenry
Asimov was always way too wordy.
3 posted on 02/15/2003 4:20:37 PM PST by Kevin Curry
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To: PatrickHenry
When the creationist 'scientists' have as many tons of fossil evidence for their view as REAL scientists have for evolution, then and only then will I give them a respectful hearing.

I'm waiting......

4 posted on 02/15/2003 4:23:19 PM PST by LibKill (FIRE! and LOTS OF IT!)
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: Kevin Curry
Thank god he was, since he used those words so well.
6 posted on 02/15/2003 4:25:05 PM PST by ChicagoRepublican
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To: PatrickHenry
Dear Isaac,

"Why" do I think that some intelligent entity predates Man's existence?

Base 4 math.

You've got your A, C, G, and T bases paired up to comprise the instruction sets in the genes that reside inside DNA strands. To me, that's 0,1,2,3 = Base 4 math.

That's an order of magnitude of greater complexity than Binary math (something for which we don't see forming except with Intelligent Intervention). This math is how programming instructions are stored, replicated, and activated. In fact, not only does DNA store and replicate data, but it also interacts with a processing mechanism that handles programming instructions in a manner that is remarkably similar to how we currently have CPU's processing our instruction sets.

Moreover, we see evidence of code re-use in various other species.

If I saw Binary math representing programming subroutines in a piece of computer software, and knew nothing else about it, I would presume that it was an intelligent entity such as Man that created said program, rather than presuming that natural forces managed to eak out the program by pure chance.

Likewise, I make the same presumption about the Life that we see on our planet.

Evidence of God or at least an intelligence that pre-dates Man? Base 4 math in DNA.

Is this conclusive evidence? No.

Is it persuasive evidence? Perhaps to some, maybe even most.

Sadly for you, Isaac, your mind has already concluded that such evidence has no place in science. Your mind was already made up, and heaven help anyone who dares let such tangible facts get in your way...

7 posted on 02/15/2003 4:27:32 PM PST by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: All
A very few links from the famous "list-o-links" (so the creationists don't get to start each new thread from ground zero).

15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense (from Scientific American).
Arguments we think creationists should NOT use from Answers in Genesis.
300 Creationist Lies.
Site that debunks virtually all of creationism's fallacies. Excellent resource.
Creation "Science" Debunked.

The foregoing is just a tiny sample. So that everyone will have access to the accumulated Creationism vs. Evolution threads which have previously appeared on FreeRepublic, plus links to hundreds of sites with a vast amount of information on this topic, here's Junior's massive work, available for all to review:
The Ultimate Creation vs. Evolution Resource [ver 20].

8 posted on 02/15/2003 4:30:16 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: PatrickHenry
A pox on both their houses. Neither side gets it.

The necessity of an uncaused Creator is shown not by the design of the universe, but by the existence of the universe. The design of the universe is proof of a designer. But the existence of a universe filled with things which are of their nature contingent is proof enough of an uncaused, noncontingent Creator.

The Creationists make religion ridiculous, with the absurd notion that the STORY of Creation is the same as the FACT of Creation ex nihilo, which is all that Scripture teaches. God made the world by SAYING So, by a creative act. There is no indication in the OT or the NT that one of God's purposes in revelation was the teach us any scientific facts.

9 posted on 02/15/2003 4:32:01 PM PST by Arthur McGowan
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To: PatrickHenry
BTW: All of this would be a non-issue if we would shut down the government schools. The prayer-in-school issue, the pledge issue, and the creationism issue, would all evaporate overnight.
10 posted on 02/15/2003 4:33:09 PM PST by Arthur McGowan
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To: PatrickHenry
The usual tiresome puffery from the evo's. "TA-TA-TA-TAA!! We've proved that naturalistic evolution is true -- look at our massive tome -- so don't bother to argue with us."
11 posted on 02/15/2003 4:37:19 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (more dangerous than an OrangeNeck)
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To: PatrickHenry
How alarming! I generally have little more reaction beyond complacent derision for creationism, but this essay delivers a powerful wakeup call. If America slides inexorably back into the grips of creationist obscurantism, it will slip into the twilight much the same as the Ming and Qing dynasties oversaw China's demise in a past era. But, what to do?

Are we now, with all these examples before us, to ride backward into the past under the same tattered banner of orthodoxy? With creationism in the saddle, American science will wither. We will raise a generation of ignoramuses ill-equipped to run the industry of tomorrow, much less to generate the new advances of the days after tomorrow.

We will inevitably recede into the backwater of civilization, and those nations that retain opened scientific thought will take over the leadership of the world and the cutting edge of human advancement. I don't suppose that the creationists really plan the decline of the United States, but their loudly expressed patriotism is as simpleminded as their "science." If they succeed, they will, in their folly, achieve the opposite of what they say they wish.

12 posted on 02/15/2003 4:37:20 PM PST by AntiGuv ()
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To: Arthur McGowan
BTW: All of this would be a non-issue if we would shut down the government schools. The prayer-in-school issue, the pledge issue, and the creationism issue, would all evaporate overnight.

I'll second that motion....

13 posted on 02/15/2003 4:37:47 PM PST by longshadow
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To: PatrickHenry
Bored?
14 posted on 02/15/2003 4:38:05 PM PST by ancient_geezer
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To: Arthur McGowan
All of this would be a non-issue if we would shut down the government schools.

Agreed. But taking on the teacher unions is at least as difficult as debating with the creationists.

15 posted on 02/15/2003 4:39:36 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: Southack
I'm uncertain I understand your point. Are you suggesting that both our mathematic principles & our genetic biology arise from the laws of physics? If so, you're most certainly correct...
16 posted on 02/15/2003 4:41:45 PM PST by AntiGuv ()
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To: ancient_geezer
Bored?

Not any more.

17 posted on 02/15/2003 4:42:58 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: PatrickHenry
The Bible says that God created the world in six days, and the Bible is the inspired word of God. To the average creationist this is all that counts...

The creationist leaders do not actually use that argument because that would make their argument a religious one, and they would not be able to use it in fighting a secular school system. They have to borrow the clothing of science, no matter how badly it fits, and call themselves "scientific" creationists.

It starts right here, becoming a Liar for the Lord. It's so obviously about what church you attend, but creationists can't admit that. Oh, no! It's about the science, really!

Like hell!

18 posted on 02/15/2003 4:43:14 PM PST by VadeRetro
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To: PatrickHenry
Interesting that this was written in 1984, when the contemporary besiegement of school boards by creationists was in a relatively nascent state. It seems much more timely in the present setting than it should have two decades ago.
19 posted on 02/15/2003 4:44:29 PM PST by AntiGuv ()
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To: AntiGuv
Interesting that this was written in 1984

Actually, it was written in 1981, but published in 1984. And the creationists haven't changed a word of their "science." They just get more strident.

20 posted on 02/15/2003 4:46:22 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: Southack
In fact, not only does DNA store and replicate data, but it also interacts with a processing mechanism that handles programming instructions in a manner that is remarkably similar to how we currently have CPU's processing our instruction sets.

And that is because it is a fact that every machine invented by man is an imitation of a natural process taking place within man. Base Math 4 doesn't imitate our computers, our computer imitate the natural process. Got it backwards.

Likewise, I make the same presumption about the Life that we see on our planet.

And your presumption is 'Begging the Question' that it is evidence of that which YOU have already decided must exist, based upon nothing more than your own presumption.

Call it what you will, that is not science.

21 posted on 02/15/2003 4:55:42 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: PatrickHenry
"Does the Creator take pleasure in fooling us? Does it amuse Him to watch us go wrong?"

Actually yes. In this case, God is laughing at both sides. The sun was not created on the first day. The Days of Genisis are not solar. How long were the Six Days? God only knows.

The Great Learned Ones of both the universities and the churches are floundering in a mud hole of self-humiliation, the same as the philosophers of old who said the earth was held up by elephants. That is the way God wants it. Jesus once told the Father that it was good that the world was made that way.

Also note that Asimov never mentions the "Missing Link", which means that the theory of evolution cannot honestly include humans as 'just another animal'. The "Missing Link" is religiously avoided by many.
22 posted on 02/15/2003 4:55:58 PM PST by Arthur Wildfire! March (LIBERTY or DEATH!)
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To: Arthur Wildfire! March
Also note that Asimov never mentions the "Missing Link", which means that the theory of evolution cannot honestly include humans as 'just another animal'. The "Missing Link" is religiously avoided by many.

Not as big a problem as you might think: Welcome to the Hall of Human Ancestors.

23 posted on 02/15/2003 5:00:45 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: LogicWings
"And that is because it is a fact that every machine invented by man is an imitation of a natural process taking place within man. Base Math 4 doesn't imitate our computers, our computer imitate the natural process. Got it backwards."

On the contrary, Man made computers prior to learning how DNA processed genetic instruction codes.

Issue 11-50 Tuesday, December 11, 2001 Scientific Papers of Co-Discoverer of DNA to be Housed at UCSD Copies of the collected scientific papers of Nobelist Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA and a member of the faculty of The Salk Institute, will be housed in the special collections section of the Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). The collection is coming to the UCSD library as part of an agreement in which the original papers will go to the Wellcome Library in London for about $2.5 million. The sum is believed to be the largest paid to a contemporary scientist for his or her archives, according to UCSD.

Crick and James Dewey Watson were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 for unraveling the double helical structure of DNA, the fundamental unit of heredity, in 1953. Crick was based at Cambridge University from 1947 to 1976, and subsequently left Britain for La Jolla and The Salk Institute, where he has worked for the last quarter century.


24 posted on 02/15/2003 5:00:53 PM PST by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: PatrickHenry
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
25 posted on 02/15/2003 5:01:22 PM PST by balrog666 (When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain)
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To: PatrickHenry
Actually, it was written in 1981, but published in 1984. And the creationists haven't changed a word of their "science." They just get more strident.

Actually, Aximov also wrote "In the Beginning", his account in scientific terms about how the Book of Genesis may be made compatible with early man's observations. Quite interesting, however my rabbi did not like it.

26 posted on 02/15/2003 5:01:26 PM PST by KC_for_Freedom
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To: VadeRetro
Oh, no! It's about the science, really!

Except when a Creationist student is denied a letter of recommendation to bio-science grad school by a professor.

THEN it becomes religious "bigotry" and "discrimination."

Reminds me of the epic Miller Lite Beer ads: "Tastes great!" "No! Less filling!" "Tastes great!" "Less filling!"......

The difference, of course, is that Lite beer is more nutritious and intellectually honest than Creationism.

27 posted on 02/15/2003 5:02:21 PM PST by longshadow
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To: LogicWings
"Call it what you will, that is not science."

I call it simply what it is, Base 4 math.

If math isn't scientific enough for you, then what is?

28 posted on 02/15/2003 5:02:25 PM PST by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: PatrickHenry
When I was a kid, I thought Asimov was smart. Now I think he was just a show off..afraid to debate the dreaded 'creationists'. Anyway, modern science and mathematics have proven darwinism is just AN OLD FASHIONED MYTH
29 posted on 02/15/2003 5:03:04 PM PST by metacognative
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To: Arthur McGowan
The necessity of an uncaused Creator is shown not by the design of the universe, but by the existence of the universe. The design of the universe is proof of a designer. But the existence of a universe filled with things which are of their nature contingent is proof enough of an uncaused, noncontingent Creator.

Once again, where did you get the idea of a 'Creator' independent of your decision, without any evidence, that there is one? There is no 'proof' of anything, other than what exists exists. Anything else is a Assumption, an Assertion without Proof, a Begged Question, a Smuggled Premise.

I found it interesting that each of Asimov's 'Arguments' were really fallacies in the creationist argument. Like the guy the I responded to earlier, he just went back the same, Argument by Analogy Fallacy the Isaac had already discounted with his 'Base 4' argument. Either one abandon's creationism or one abandon's logic. There is no other option.

30 posted on 02/15/2003 5:03:35 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: metacognative
When I was a kid, I thought Asimov was smart.

You peaked too soon.

31 posted on 02/15/2003 5:04:13 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: Southack
I call it simply what it is, Base 4 math.

There is an old saying that describes your error here:

The map is not the territory.

32 posted on 02/15/2003 5:05:17 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: Southack
Base 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc computational methods were all explored in mathematics prior to any real computers being built or analysis of DNA. The reasons are obvious to any mathematician and have nothing to do with any religions, gods, or similar mythological beliefs.
33 posted on 02/15/2003 5:06:36 PM PST by balrog666 (When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain)
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To: PatrickHenry
I used to like Asimov a lot when I was a teenager. Then I grew up.
34 posted on 02/15/2003 5:07:23 PM PST by Trickyguy
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To: LogicWings
"There is an old saying that describes your error here:"

There is no error, only math.

35 posted on 02/15/2003 5:07:24 PM PST by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Southack
On the contrary, Man made computers prior to learning how DNA processed genetic instruction codes.

And we made levers before we cracked open bodies to see how joints work, but it is still on the same principle. You intentionally missed the point. Figures.

36 posted on 02/15/2003 5:07:32 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: balrog666
"Base 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc computational methods were all explored in mathematics prior to any real computers being built or analysis of DNA. The reasons are obvious to any mathematician and have nothing to do with any religions, gods, or similar mythological beliefs."

That's very clever of you to notice! There's hope for you yet!

37 posted on 02/15/2003 5:08:35 PM PST by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: PatrickHenry
God is not dead. Neitzche is, and so is Isaac Asimov. Get over it.
38 posted on 02/15/2003 5:08:57 PM PST by 537 Votes (Don't let Saddam go nuclear: Fight now or glow later!)
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To: Southack
There is no error, only math.

The error is you are reifying math.

39 posted on 02/15/2003 5:09:05 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: Trickyguy
I used to like Asimov a lot when I was a teenager. Then I grew up.

Your biography is thrilling. Please continue.

40 posted on 02/15/2003 5:09:23 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: Arthur McGowan
Very good idea development.
Hard to teach the joists and beams about the ways of the Architect.
41 posted on 02/15/2003 5:10:05 PM PST by hocndoc (Choice is the # 1 killer in the US.)
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To: LogicWings
"And we made levers before we cracked open bodies to see how joints work, but it is still on the same principle. You intentionally missed the point."

Still on the same principle?! The same principle as the reverse engineering of nature that you claimed?!

Nonsense! Levers were not reverse engineered from nature.

Moreover, levers have nothing to do with either math, creationalism, or even evolution.

You've gotten yourself off-topic.

42 posted on 02/15/2003 5:11:45 PM PST by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Southack
Still on the same principle?! The same principle as the reverse engineering of nature that you claimed?!

I did not say it was reversed engineered, although I can see why you took it this way. Anymore than repeater stations are intention reproductions of synapses, but clearly imitate the principle.

Moreover, levers have nothing to do with either math, creationalism, or even evolution.

Your Assertion that Base 4 and Base 2 use in computer software created the analogy that I debunked. Takes tying together a few logic chains to see this though, not something I expect a creationist to be capable of.

You've gotten yourself off-topic.

The Topic is that creationism is irrational, illogical, and ultimately damaging to science. Demonstrating how your analogy was faulty was strictly on topic.

43 posted on 02/15/2003 5:20:06 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: 537 Votes
God is not dead. Neitzche is, and so is Isaac Asimov. Get over it.

Yes, but we have indisputable evidence that both Isaac Asimov and Neitzche were here and made a contribution to the world.

44 posted on 02/15/2003 5:21:38 PM PST by balrog666 (When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain)
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To: LogicWings
"The error is you are reifying math."

Nonsense. Even if I was treating abstract math as material (i.e. reifying), there would still be no error in the logic postulated above (reifying per se is never sufficient evidence of a logical fallacy), and it's rather arguable that even treating mathematical instruction sets as material would be incorrect even on its face, to boot.

The programming code exists, after all (hence, you have actual A, C, G, and T bases in real strands of physical DNA).

45 posted on 02/15/2003 5:22:27 PM PST by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: LogicWings
"Your Assertion that Base 4 and Base 2 use in computer software created the analogy that I debunked. Takes tying together a few logic chains to see this though, not something I expect a creationist to be capable of."

Debunked where, exactly? Certainly not yet on this thread...

46 posted on 02/15/2003 5:24:09 PM PST by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Arthur McGowan
The design of the universe is proof of a designer.

Then who designed the designer?

47 posted on 02/15/2003 5:25:24 PM PST by jlogajan
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To: PatrickHenry
Actually, it was written in 1981, but published in 1984. And the creationists haven't changed a word of their "science." They just get more strident.

I'm surprised I haven't seen this composition before, since I've always been such an Asimov fan. I'm even more surprised to find that I disagree with some of his analysis, especially regarding the second law of thermodynamics as it applies to the question of evolution.

However, rather than argue all the points of creationism vs. evolution, I would just like to point out an intersting aspect of this whole discussion.

Those who believe in Creationism do so as an article of faith. It cannot be proven, anymore than the existence of God can be proven. This is well known, and one of the main reasons that believers of Evolution scoff at Creationists. However, how many people out there, who unquestioningly accept Evolution as the answer to our existence, really understand the nature of the theory? Even Darwin's theory is not generally taught in any great depth in high school or college (undergraduate level), and the modern theory of evolution is different from Darwin's original theories by leaps and bounds. Therefore, most fervent supporters of evolution, lacking any real understanding of what current evolutionary theory is, are accepting the theory on a basis that resembles faith rather than a true understanding of science. Why, then, are they so disdainful of those who accept creationism based on faith?

I will say that I think the 'scientific' approach to Creationism is more of an attempt to bypass the current extremely anti-religious interpretations of the Constitution than it is real science, since the best that Creationist science could hope to achieve is to disprove evolution.
48 posted on 02/15/2003 5:26:53 PM PST by fr_freak
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To: Arthur McGowan
The Creationists make religion ridiculous

Had to go back and agree with this part.

49 posted on 02/15/2003 5:27:24 PM PST by balrog666 (When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain)
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To: LogicWings
"I did not say it was reversed engineered, although I can see why you took it this way. Anymore than repeater stations are intention reproductions of synapses, but clearly imitate the principle.

...

43 posted on 02/15/2003 7:20 PM CST by LogicWings

Really?!

"And that is because it is a fact that every machine invented by man is an imitation of a natural process taking place within man. Base Math 4 doesn't imitate our computers, our computer imitate the natural process. Got it backwards."

...

21 posted on 02/15/2003 6:55 PM CST by LogicWings


50 posted on 02/15/2003 5:28:00 PM PST by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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