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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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To: nightdriver
Could you be a little more specific?

Post 95 is pretty specific.

101 posted on 02/15/2003 6:54:34 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: Southack
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.

Gee, missed this. It isn't arguable. Thanks for proving the reification. I can see I was right, this is a rather futile discussion.

102 posted on 02/15/2003 6:55:11 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: eabinga
These are earthly-perspective statements, and would fit a scenario of an earth that started out with a continuously cloudy sky, but later the atmosphere cleared and the lights became visible. Funny that astronomers continue to talk of sunrise and sunset to this day; isn't that unscientific too?
103 posted on 02/15/2003 7:05:49 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (more dangerous than an OrangeNeck)
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To: PatrickHenry
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.

True, not in and of itself. But it is ONE argument for a creator. And it certainly is not an argument against creation. So what's the point? It doesn't seem he really has one.

104 posted on 02/15/2003 7:07:19 PM PST by dubyagee
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To: All
Over 100 posts in 3 hours. Not bad. But hardly a record.
105 posted on 02/15/2003 7:10:02 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: PatrickHenry
Just thought this might be a good addition to the article you posted ;^)


"The Quixotic Message", or "No Free Hunch"

IDists...

On Intelligent Design...

On Darwinism...

On philosophy...

On the Evidence...


From: The Quixotic Message

106 posted on 02/15/2003 7:12:37 PM PST by BMCDA
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To: PatrickHenry
"Post 95 is pretty specific."

No, actually it isn't. If you can't read past that, there's really no reason for you to read any further in the Book. There are a lot more things than that to stumble you.

107 posted on 02/15/2003 7:14:53 PM PST by nightdriver
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To: dubyagee
Asimov:
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.

You:
True, not in and of itself. But it is ONE argument for a creator.

Actually, no. It's not an argument at all. Unless you want to claim that anything we can't explain today is an argument for a Creator. There have been too many previously-unexplained phenomena (disease, lightning, fertility, weather, etc.) that were once attributed to the Olympian gods, but which we now know to be natural phenomena. Will you allow the claim that things we can't yet explain are still good arguments for Zeus' existence?

108 posted on 02/15/2003 7:16:05 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: dubyagee
But it is ONE argument for a creator.

No, it is just an argument for not knowing. His point is that, in science, Assertions must be founded on something. and creationism isn't founded on any evidence at all. None. The whole argument comes down to, "Well, there isn't any OTHER explanation." Which isn't, logically speaking, an argument at all.

The concept of a 'creator' is not, by definition, cannot, be something that human beings 'experience' so the concept 'floats,' it is dependent upon nothing in human experience. This, as a basis for a scientific view, violates all the rules of logic, upon which science depends.

109 posted on 02/15/2003 7:19:31 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: PatrickHenry
This discussion has been a no-win discussion for years.

People believe what they believe because THEY WANT TO...

FMCDH

110 posted on 02/15/2003 7:25:43 PM PST by nothingnew (the pendulum always swings back and the socialists are now in the pit)
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To: BMCDA
Greater and greater numbers of scientists are joining the ID movement, which is why we keep referring to the same three year after year

The usual tiresome argument-from-consensus. PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!

111 posted on 02/15/2003 7:29:09 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (more dangerous than an OrangeNeck)
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To: Timmy
90%??? Where did you get that number from?
To be honest, I don't think it is that bad yet.
112 posted on 02/15/2003 7:29:50 PM PST by BMCDA
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To: HiTech RedNeck
Funny that astronomers continue to talk of sunrise and sunset to this day; isn't that unscientific too?

Funny you should mention that. Bucky Fuller pointed this out decades ago and tried his whole life to come up with better terms than sunrise and sunset. Never could. I ponder it once in a while, but would it really matter?

113 posted on 02/15/2003 7:30:30 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: PatrickHenry
It's interesting the way they always portray the bible thumpers as the "only" creationists out there. There is a whole center of esoteric spiritual thought and philosophies which stem from a creationist view point.
This isn't new either..it's been around for the last century. Theosophists, Rosicrucians, Gnostics and various esoteric orders all subscribe to creationist systems describing the birth of the universe as something other than a big bang from nothingness.
114 posted on 02/15/2003 7:34:45 PM PST by Katya
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To: eabinga
More than the physical paradox, I like the moral paradox of God commanding Adam to obey Him, when Adam could not know the difference between obeying and not obeying, since these imply moral concepts, and then condeming Adam for is 'Sin' - which Adam couldn't have committed because he was morally innocent.

If God couldn't foresee that Adam would fall, then He isn't omnipotent, and if He did foresee that, then He intended Adam fall, or He would have created Adam with more character, since Adam wasn't responsible for his character, God was. The whole thing is a philosophical morass and an outright contradiction.

115 posted on 02/15/2003 7:36:04 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: VadeRetro
I think--at least hope--that most scientists would be happy to let religion be religion if people will let science be science.

Its unfortunate that some think its either or, and a choice has to be made.

116 posted on 02/15/2003 7:37:55 PM PST by lucysmom
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To: HiTech RedNeck
Well, it's a claim I've heard from IDists but so far there haven't been a lot of scientists (especially biologists) who have joined the ID movement
117 posted on 02/15/2003 7:39:25 PM PST by BMCDA
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To: AntiGuv
RE: Post 12

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?

Yeah, being a creationist really hampered Sir Issac Newton, Michael Faraday, Louis Pasteur, Joseph Henry, Johann Kepler, Blaise Pascal, Ambrose Fleming .... We are so much poorer for the works of these ignoramouses who believed that the purpose of science was to learn God's thoughts by studying His creation.
Of course, Darwin inspired men such as Karl Marx (who wanted to dedicate one of his books to Mr. Darwin) and Adolph Hitler - and we are so much better for it... We can learn much from the communist countries that insist in the dogma of evolution and treat Darwin as one of their gods.

Of course we could also consider the words of Romans 1, and wonder if there truly isn't anything new under the sun:

Rom 1:18-24

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

118 posted on 02/15/2003 7:40:15 PM PST by El Cid
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To: Southack
[Base 4, aka quaternary] is an order of magnitude of greater complexity than Binary math (something for which we don't see forming except with Intelligent Intervention).

Not really. The inherent mathematical complexity is largely the same, in any base. Humans use base 10 as a notational convenience, no doubt influenced by the specifics of anatomy. Lacking pinkies, we would likely count in octal.

While not mathematically more complex, base 4 does have the advantage that it requires only half the digits as binary (e.g. 255 decimal == 11111111 binary == 3333 quaternary).

Humans are well past the early computational barbarism of programming in straight binary (or assembly for that matter, except where required in performance critical applications). High-level languages and compilers ease the painstakingly precise drudgery of transforming high-level code into machine code. It is straightforward to modify a compiler back-end or assembler to emit low-level machine instructions in quaternary instead of binary. Thus, the mere fact of base 4 as the basis of DNA computation is not conclusive proof of anything, although it is an elegant bit of engineering.

Moreover, the dominance of binary in human machine computing, while a current fact, is not the last word. Advances in quantum computing will inevitably yield architectures with qubits (quantum bits) having bases greater than 2.

You raise some interesting points, however, and in doing so expose the late Asimov's myopia. Asimov laughably failed to deal with the obvious, namely the "big bang" postulated some 15 billion years ago, and from which the full vastness of the universe is theorized to have emanated from an infintesimally small point. The question at the limit, of course, is "Caused by Whom, and Why?"

Try as we might, and with all the hubris for which humans are famous, realize this. We are as two-year olds trying to understand quantum physics. God exists, but it is pure foolishness for us to think we can understand all He knows. In time, if we survive long enough, we may travel to the stars. It bears reminding who made the stars, not to mention the universe that contains them.

119 posted on 02/15/2003 7:47:00 PM PST by captain11
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To: PatrickHenry
Despite {or, perhaps, through} your manifest arrogance and vitriol, it is apparent that you are clinging to the preposterous, threadbare creed of Evolution with the ferocious fervor of a fanatical, yet uncertain, religious zealot. Rant on at the altar of Darwin!
120 posted on 02/15/2003 7:49:18 PM PST by Cedric
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To: PatrickHenry
Re: Assimov post

Quite the screed. It's funny he mentions the Soviet Union and Red China as being 'unscientific':

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.

when both of these Godless nations (as all communist nations/prisons) treat darwinism as an inviolate religon...

I also don't get the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics defense. I guess I must plead to having a sub-Kindergarden level of intelligence because it sure seems like a violation of this law - and all observations - for a system to become more orderly without a blueprint (e.g., DNA template in a seed), or guiding hand. I am unable to grasp how undirected sunlight + time created -voila- increased order and complexity.

Thanks, though, for posting the links to answersingenesis.org and icr.org.

121 posted on 02/15/2003 7:55:26 PM PST by El Cid
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To: dishwasher
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

3117. yowm

yowm yome

from an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literal (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), always, + chronicals, continually(-ance), daily, ((birth-), each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone), + elder, X end, + evening, + (for) ever(-lasting, - more), X full, life, as (so) long as (... live), (even) now, + old, + outlived, + perpetually, presently, + remaineth, X required, season, X since, space, then, (process of) time, + as at other times, + in trouble, weather, (as) when, (a, the, within a) while (that), X whole (+ age), (full) year(-ly), + younger.

122 posted on 02/15/2003 8:00:26 PM PST by netman
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To: captain11
The question at the limit, of course, is "Caused by Whom, and Why?"

Begs the Question there was a 'Whom' but the point is well made. Read Hawkins recently and he said we can't concern ourselves with what happened before the BANG! because there were no rules, no natural laws, no time, no anything before that so it didn't exist! Oh, that explains things.

I like to put thus, "What went Bang!?"

You may assume God exists if you wish but it is all the same. Nobody really knows. That's the one thought nobody wants to accept.

123 posted on 02/15/2003 8:03:04 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: Cedric
Despite {or, perhaps, through} your manifest arrogance and vitriol, it is apparent that you are clinging to the preposterous, threadbare creed of Evolution with the ferocious fervor of a fanatical, yet uncertain, religious zealot. Rant on at the altar of Darwin!

Thanks ever so much for displaying the benevolent thoughts of those who adhere to Creationism. Rational, well put, devoid of personal attack. You tower among men.

124 posted on 02/15/2003 8:05:26 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: El Cid
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.

The Altruistic Premise of Communism/Socialism is dependent upon an abandonment of logic, which cannot be abandoned and so wreaks it havoc in consequences. The Communist paradigm of absolute control means they must, at given points, stifle the very innovation it takes for any society to progress. Societies either progress or regress, but they never stay the same. China is up against it once again with the Internet. They will stall if they don't give their people full access to the Internet, yet Communism cannot continue with full information exchange and open discussion.

Whether they treat evolution as 'an inviolate religion' or not is irrelevant. Go ask Osama, which post 118 reminds me of, whether accepting the existence of a Creator makes one reluctant to murder or not. Separate issues. I can't think of a system of thought that hasn't condoned some evil at some time.

125 posted on 02/15/2003 8:28:02 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: LogicWings
Begs the Question there was a 'Whom' but the point is well made. Read Hawking recently and he said we can't concern ourselves with what happened before the BANG! because there were no rules, no natural laws, no time, no anything before that so it didn't exist! Oh, that explains things.

Hawking, bless his heart, is a four year old among two year olds. Despite all his human intellect, he has nary a clue what happened before the "big bang" (assuming there was a "big bang"), and moreover, he is incapable of knowing. None of us are capable of knowing. It must gnaw at him to no end. If Hawking is good, God may tutor him on some truly advanced physics after he's checked out of this life.

126 posted on 02/15/2003 8:33:28 PM PST by captain11
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To: LogicWings
I can't think of a system of thought that hasn't condoned some evil at some time.

I have to correct myself. Objectivism has yet to condone any evil that I can think of. Peikoff notwithstanding.

127 posted on 02/15/2003 8:33:35 PM PST by LogicWings
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To: captain11
Yes, and he may also show us what's south of the south pole.
128 posted on 02/15/2003 8:40:29 PM PST by BMCDA
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To: LogicWings
[China] will stall if they don't give their people full access to the Internet

No they won't. As long as the Chinese are willing to manufacturer goods for American consumption at pennies on the dollar under sweatshop conditions, with few environmental strictures, and American businesses pursue same with little regard for the future consequences, China won't stall. Plus which, Americans have "full access" to the Internet, but most couch potatoes still get their news from the idiot box. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "The only man worse off than a man who can't read is one who can but doesn't."

129 posted on 02/15/2003 8:44:46 PM PST by captain11
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To: LogicWings
I always thought of the big band as God's hands, holding everything in the universe...squeezing tight, then releasing it, causing the infinite expansion..
God created the big bang...end of discussion ;)

BANG!!!!!
130 posted on 02/15/2003 8:51:32 PM PST by Capitalism2003
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To: Cicero
I happen to be somewhere in the middle. I think General Evolution is bad science, but I also think that when Genesis speaks of the six days of the creation it doesn't mean literal days, because the sun and the moon weren't created for the first several of them, and you can't have days without a sun.

On that point I could probably agree with you. However on the other hand, this is God we're talking about. His way are not our ways. If He wanted to do it in 6 days, then he could have. Our minds don't have the capability to comprehend His power and never will.

I do know one thing for certain. I didn't evolve from a fish, ape, monkey, duckbilled platypus or anything else. God made man in His own image. Now whether that was 6000 years ago or 6 million years ago isn't the issue as much as that was how man was made

131 posted on 02/15/2003 9:00:41 PM PST by billbears (Deo Vindice.)
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To: BMCDA
Yes, and he may also show us what's south of the south pole.

That's pretty amusing actually, considering that the South Pole hasn't always been where it is now, even on earth, and in the larger picture is hurtling through space in a complex motion deriving from Earth's rotation about the Sun, galactic expansion and rotation, etc. South of what? For all we know, universes are recursively nested at increasingly smaller scale. Once you've reached the exact "point" of the South Pole at this scale, perhaps you must shrink in height to a tiny fraction of a trillionth of a quadrillionth of a picometer, and start all over again, light years away from the "South Pole". Maybe there are seventeen levels of recursion, or maybe nine, or maybe I'm just having some fun here. What seems obvious and easy--may not be.

132 posted on 02/15/2003 9:10:53 PM PST by captain11
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To: LogicWings
I have to correct myself. Objectivism has yet to condone any evil that I can think of. Peikoff notwithstanding.

You were right the first time. While there are certainly worse philosophies than objectivism, a philosophy that holds self-interest as a (perhaps the) key ethical tenet has the evil built in.

133 posted on 02/15/2003 9:31:26 PM PST by captain11
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To: VadeRetro
"Where are the transitions?"

Sometimes transitions are seemless, and at other times each photograph in a motion picture scene will be staged and shot individually (e.g. claymation, stop-action, special effects).

When looking not at photographs but at sequential historical "fossil" evidence, one likeiwse has to ask if each sequential stage was deliberately designed/staged or evolved by chance, whether one is referring to the carcuses of cars rusting in old junkyards or old skeletons ossifying under ground.

Certainly concluding that both cars and skeletons "evolved" would be erroneous, as at the very least we know full well that it was the intelligent designers of the cars who improved each model, not the cars themselves "evolving"...

134 posted on 02/15/2003 9:43:16 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; VadeRetro
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.

So, Asimov is/was a bit of an evo-fascist, eh? How disappointing.

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.

Nice unintentional irony. What this is really about is control: Asimov wants it.

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.

Yet, secularism is the roughshod orthodoxy of the day. I wonder where Isaac is going with this...?

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.

So, Creationism is like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, all rolled into one?

OK...

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.

Oh, the sky is bloody falling. This is Asimov's Global Warming theory.

What a shrill little rant this is. Asimov is demonizing his enemies as much as much as any cultist, and more than the vast majority of preachers in this country. In so doing, he completely undercuts his credibility as one who might explain the merits of evolutionary theory. It's not enough to be right, one also has to have a clue.

I'm not the first to say it, but getting rid of government schools will solve this conflict... but I'll bet the intellectual heirs of Asimov will shriek the loudest against it.




135 posted on 02/15/2003 9:44:42 PM PST by Sabertooth
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To: LogicWings
"it cannot be shown that 'only' intelligent entities can be shown to be responsible for a process because the whole universe is nothing but process. You just want to take one process, that can be MAPPED with a mathematical system we call Base 4, and ASSUME because it can be mapped in this manner that it MUST be the result of some 'intelligent entity.' This is why I said you reified Base 4 because Base 4 is a CONCEPT not at THING, and exists only as a CONCEPT in your mind, which your are mistaking as a THING, - the error of which is called Mistaking the Map for the Territory."

Nonsense. One can easily show that every known instance of computer programming in Base 2 (i.e. Binary) has been created by an Intelligent Intervention (e.g. Man), and NOT by natural, unintelligent processes.

And as for your "reifying" sub-point, the literal Base 2 and Base 4 instruction sets are more than abstract. They are physically processed in the real world, after all.

That's how Life and Software work, you know...

136 posted on 02/15/2003 9:48:03 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
"But the analogy that DNA is a 'program' Begs the Question that it is one."

Rubbish. DNA is comprised of A, C, G, and T base pairs. These coding instructions are fundamental to how each unique gene (aka: subroutine) has its own functionality. Genes can be predictably altered, deleted, and copied (and we do this in the scientific lab every day) just as software programming subroutines can be altered, deleted, and copied.

"If it were as intelligently designed as you assert it wouldn't result in two headed snakes, or babies without brains."

Nonsense. Try to SHOW the specific wording that I used that could be interpreted to draw that conclusion (HINT: you can't, because I said no such thing).

Software has bugs. Environmental variables can also affect the output of software. Thus, this evidence is clearly contradictory to your claim above.

"I don't have to provide you with a Base 2 that is created by natural processes because there is a vastly more complex process, Base 4, that has been created by natural processes."

Oh please. Base 4 processes have never been proven to have come from ANYTHING except Intelligent Intervention. The only way that you could even claim otherwise is to be so intellectually dishonest as to assert that we "know" that evolution is true so therefor DNA must have been self-programmed naturally (i.e. a tautology, something that no honest intellectual would like to be caught using).

So it isn't that you "don't have to" provide such evidence, it is that you can not provide such evidence. It simply doesn't exist.

137 posted on 02/15/2003 9:59:14 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: captain11
"[Base 4, aka quaternary] is an order of magnitude of greater complexity than Binary math (something for which we don't see forming except with Intelligent Intervention). Not really. The inherent mathematical complexity is largely the same, in any base. Humans use base 10 as a notational convenience, no doubt influenced by the specifics of anatomy. Lacking pinkies, we would likely count in octal. While not mathematically more complex, base 4 does have the advantage that it requires only half the digits as binary (e.g. 255 decimal == 11111111 binary == 3333 quaternary)."

While I'm sure that you mean well, Base 4 IS literally an order of magnitude greater in complexity than Base 2.

0 , 1 vs 0, 1, 2, 3

In Binary you'd represent Base 2 as 10, while Base 4 would be 100.

100 is a single order of magnitude larger than 10, FYI...

But no matter. My point is that NEITHER Base 2 nor Base 4 software programs have ever been shown to have been formed by natural, unintelligent processes.

On the other hand, BOTH Base 2 as well as Base 4 software programs have been shown to have been formed EXCLUSIVELY by intelligent intervention (e.g. Man in the case of computer software).

138 posted on 02/15/2003 10:09:38 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
Designer = Creator
139 posted on 02/15/2003 10:16:37 PM PST by God is good
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To: Kevin Curry
Isn't Aasimov dead?
140 posted on 02/15/2003 10:21:12 PM PST by semaj
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To: LogicWings
To: PatrickHenry

Despite {or, perhaps, through} your manifest arrogance and vitriol, it is apparent that you are clinging to the preposterous, threadbare creed of Evolution with the ferocious fervor of a fanatical, yet uncertain, religious zealot. Rant on at the altar of Darwin!

BrokenLogicWings,
Now you're responding to replies not directed to you. You should consider quitting while you're behind.

141 posted on 02/15/2003 10:26:12 PM PST by Cedric
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To: Southack
My point is that NEITHER Base 2 nor Base 4 software programs have ever been shown to have been formed by natural, unintelligent processes.

How can anything be formed by an unintelligent process? Didn't Creator create everything?

142 posted on 02/15/2003 10:27:55 PM PST by Lev
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To: Arthur Wildfire! March; PatrickHenry; VadeRetro; longshadow
Piltdown Man- Declared to be 500,000 years old and the missing link. Turned out to be a orangutan jaw with the teeth filed placed with a human skull bone that had been doctored to make it look old.

Careful there...you are speaking of a relative.

143 posted on 02/15/2003 10:30:31 PM PST by Aracelis
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To: El Cid
I guess I must plead to having a sub-Kindergarden level of intelligence...

Your ignorance is does not necessarily indicate a lack of intelligence. It does, however, clearly indicate a lack of knowledge. Many real sub-Kindergarten children are very intelligent but their lack of learning makes them ignorant. Time and the application of their intelligence in a genuine quest for knowledge will make them less ignorant. The same principles could apply to you - God willing.

144 posted on 02/15/2003 10:33:04 PM PST by Jeff Gordon
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To: Lev
"How can anything be formed by an unintelligent process?"

Caves are formed sometimes from natural, unintelligent processes such as streams carving out a hole in rocks, and at other times by more intelligent processes such as Man digging or dynamiting said hole in rocks.

So some things can be created by either natural or by guided processes.

145 posted on 02/15/2003 10:35:36 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: eabinga
On one of the other posts it was mentioned that "day" is Hebrew for was "time" - so not a "day" like we think of it (needing the sun). I've come to think that the first Light that God created was pure energy - the "Big Bang". The energy later became the sun and the moon and everything else (e=mc2). Who knows? But, the "something out of nothing" discussed it the Bible sounds a lot like the "Big Bang" theory. (Beats the sun riding on the back of a turtle!)
146 posted on 02/15/2003 10:37:29 PM PST by geopyg
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To: Southack
Caves are formed sometimes from natural, unintelligent processes such as streams carving out a hole in rocks

Streams were created by Creator, how can they be considered unguided?

147 posted on 02/15/2003 10:47:54 PM PST by Lev
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To: Lev
"Streams were created by Creator, how can they be considered unguided?"

Even if what you claim is true, "creating" something does not imply infinite "control" over something.

You might build a car, for instance, but that doesn't mean that you (if even anyone) will be the one guiding it in 1,000 years.

So unless factually demonstrated otherwise, streams can be considered to be unguided.

148 posted on 02/15/2003 10:52:32 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: Southack
While I'm sure that you mean well, Base 4 IS literally an order of magnitude greater in complexity than Base 2.

Make that statement to a mathematician and best case, you'll get a puzzled look and a request to define complexity. Apparently you define it according to the number of values per digit.

In Binary you'd represent Base 2 as 10, while Base 4 would be 100.

You're confusing values represented in a base with the base itself. Stated precisely, this much is true:

100 is a single order of magnitude larger than 10, FYI...

Yes, it is. In any base, FYI.

149 posted on 02/15/2003 11:12:21 PM PST by captain11
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To: captain11
"Make that statement to a mathematician and best case, you'll get a puzzled look and a request to define complexity. Apparently you define it according to the number of values per digit."

Design an experiment in which random, agitated matter inside a container is observed over time.

Now ask yourself, for this experiment, is it equally likely, more likely, or less likely that I witness "order" spontaneously (and without intelligent intervention of any sort) form from this chaos in which a two item pattern (e.g. 0,1) emerges in contrast to a four item pattern (e.g. 0,1,2,3) emerging?

I think that you'll eventually agree that the two-item pattern is an order of magnitude more likely to form.

150 posted on 02/15/2003 11:19:26 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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