By Design

Posted Wednesday, October 7, 2009, at 10:52 PM
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  • The entire evolutionary cart can be easily upset by one question. How did the first amino acid form?

    Talk about a leap of faith, try believing evolution.

    -- Posted by Hugh Jassle on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 3:41 PM
  • Sam, enjoyed this very much, as you are correct that huge numbers of Scientists world wide are beginning to talk about the evidence for Intelligent Design. I am reminded of Ben Stein's movie, where Mr. Stein quizzed an official of Iowa State University. ISU had let go a professor who had come out with strong evidence for Intelligent Design. Amazingly, the official said that Iowa State U could not afford to have someone on their scientific staff who actually believed in God. Something else you have said in the past, that the left seemingly has no problem supporting, and even allowing Religions other than Christianity. They cry for us to be respectful of Islam, and liberals certainly support the Arabs against Israel in the Middle East. You are so right my redneck friend. There is no such thing as an atheist. They are simply haters of truth, and they love their darkness.

    -- Posted by RMontana on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 4:40 PM
  • Very well said RM.

    -- Posted by Hugh Jassle on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 6:10 PM
  • Well said, Sam.

    Guillermo has, IMO, half a point, when saying Christians cannot find the proper Scientific terms to express ID. The half going unsaid, is: Neither can the Scientists come up with the true Scientific terms, to express empirically how evolution can actually be accomplished.

    Perchance, none of us yet know true Science, sufficiently well enough to verbalize that actual truth? Christian's say God 'created,' and the scientific types say: 'Bang' started it. Enough about that over addressed aspect. We, mankind, simply do not know the truth about true science, the kind that allows God to create everything, in a physical six day period. An Artist can paint an old tree right next to a young tree, with the same oils lending the exact age desired, from the same palet, and brush.

    Once we learn that true science, if ever, we all will know which side wins. Actually, we do not have to wait that long. Many people learn that answer each and every day. Some, somehow come back to life, and relate their 'first hand' experience, but are quickly Nay-Sayed by the scientific types, as hallucination, at best. If the Bible is actually right, and I believe it is, we all will know in a very few years. Nuff-said.

    To one and all Christians, keep the watch, as redemption does draw nigh. To one and all scientific types, please don't be too surprised to find out how wrong you are (My opinion), as I cannot determine if your tears will be from error, or, uh, well, error.

    In Messiah, Jesus' blessings. Arley

    -- Posted by Navyblue on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 7:06 PM
  • I will always remember Professor Harlan Wyrick pointing out how the Biblical presentation of the order of creation and the theory of evolution do compliment one another.

    Granted, I am not convinced that one of God's days as the term is used in the story of creation as being a 24 hour period. Somehow, with all the problems there are in this world, rehashing creation vs evolution just doesn't seem like a pressing issue. Perhaps if both sides were a little less rigid they would see where their agreement on many points of both beliefs actually "mesh". The devil is in the details....and when you have separation of church and state, the religious angle is swept aside....and one would hope the churches are lovingly stating their view.

    Just as in the abortion debate, is a Christian called to try to change Cesaer's law or is it Christian duty to provide a loving alternative?

    -- Posted by ontheleftcoast on Fri, Oct 9, 2009, at 1:27 AM
  • *

    Since I've stated that ID works just fine for me in the past, my comment is strictly about Sam's statement...

    "Moreover, the left has a direct anti-God bias, it isn't that they don't believe in God, they hate God."

    Sam, I think you have over generalized the left here by a wide margin. By painting those on the left as God haters, you imply those (the majority of Americans surveyed as a matter of fact)that do believe in God but may have liberal leaning ideals (many/most because of their religious beliefs) are also God haters. We both know that isn't true, but your generalization is just wrong in this case to me.

    It's a good topic to explore though as it makes people explore their core values. God is my core value.

    -- Posted by Brian Hoag on Fri, Oct 9, 2009, at 8:47 AM
  • *

    Brian - Monte (RMontana)brought up the point that the left and atheists seem to have a bone against specifically Christ, and Christians.

    My mom and I were visiting last night, and I asked her about my belief that there is no such thing as an atheist. I believe that the Bible teaches that all are born with the knowledge of God within them, and that all anyone need do to have proof of His existence is honestly examine His creation.

    My mom replies, "I don't think it makes a difference."

    Maybe she is right. The lefts' war against Christian America has been going on for quite a while. They have taken over colleges and universities that were founded in Christs' name. They have tossed God out of our schools, and act like a child hearing the name of God in school is tantamount to abuse. They have corrupted our legal and political system that once honored God, to a system that kills children, and embraces perversion.

    Perhaps mom is right, what difference does it make. Christians are failing to stand, or they take a "let God handle it" position.

    That is why I fight for the right to have equal access to children in the state run schools, to at least try and get SOME truth to them.

    I will agree that calling every single leftist in America a God hater is over the line.

    Thanks for reading.

    -- Posted by sameldridge on Fri, Oct 9, 2009, at 10:31 AM
  • GI

    You're right!! God is not mentioned in the Constitution, "Separation of Church and State" also isn't mentioned. The only thing said about the subject is in the first amendment "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" The phrase "Separation of Church and State" was in a letter penned by Thomas Jefferson to a Cleric.

    -- Posted by marcus elvis erogenous on Fri, Oct 9, 2009, at 1:08 PM
  • I feel that I am unqualified to defend the idea of evolution by natural selection, not being a biologist/geologist/paleontologists/etc. But I will endeavor to provide an adequate defense. I fear that this will be an exhaustively long comment. So for those of you who do not wish to read it, I hold no grudge.

    The theory of evolution is undoubtedly a contentious one. It's very existence has incited a schism in society. A schism between those of faith, and those of science. The controversial theory has been the target of misrepresentation, misconceptions, and outright hostility since it gained widespread acceptance in the scientific community. I hope that I will be able to adequately explain these, as well as share my opinion on the matter in a well-written manner.

    First, I will address one of the most prominent misconceptions regarding evolution (and science in general). The use of the word "theory". In our common vernacular, the word theory connotes a "guess" or "conjecture". As in, "I have a theory that it was the butler that committed this heinous crime". Once we have determined with evidence that the butler is indeed the culprit, we consider it a 'fact' that the butler committed the crime, no longer a theory. This is strikingly different from scientific vernacular.

    In scientific circles, a theory is a coherent group of propositions used to explain phenomena. Theories incorporate scientific laws, observations, testable results, and other types of evidence to explain phenomena. A scientific theory is not a "guess" or "conjecture", but an explanation. To rewrite our previous analogy in scientific terms, "I have a hypothesis that the butler committed this heinous crime". A hypothesis is a proposition asserted as conjecture to explain phenomena. A hypothesis must be testable. Once we test our 'hypothesis' by examining the evidence, we can conclude that the butler is the culprit. A scientific theory, in this case, would explain the entire phenomena of the murder. The killer. The motive. The modus operandi. The discovered evidence. Etc.

    A common misconception is that a scientific theory is conjecture that "graduates" to a scientific law when proven to be true. This is also incorrect. Both scientific theories and scientific laws are typically well-supported by evidence and observations. A scientific law refers to a rule for how nature behaves under certain conditions, while a theory is a more comprehensive explanation of HOW nature works, and why it is the way it is.

    For instance, the general theory of relativity describes the phenomena of gravitation. It incorporates (and in some places supersedes) Newton's "Law of Universal Gravitation". And despite the fact that we have produced testable results that verify the general theory of relativity, it remains a scientific theory. It is not the law of relativity.

    This misconception is usually presented by anti-evolution advocates to bolster their argument that we don't have conclusive proof for evolution (we do). It doesn't help matters that scientists are frequently not careful enough with their words when explaining scientific ideas/principals to the general public. Some things are lost in the translation between "science-speak" and the way most of us talk.

    You see, I've just barely started and my comment is already too long! Don't worry if you want to bail out now, I still won't hold it against you.

    Another misconception is that science is inherently atheistic. Or that science intentionally promotes atheism. While some scientists, such as Richard Dawkins, are proponents of atheism, and there is undoubtedly a higher prevalence of atheism in the scientific community, science does not promote the disbelief in gods.

    Science simply attempts to explain the world using logical thinking, repeatable experimentation, observation, and well-supported explanations. Most people would admit that it's not possible to test for god. God is, by most definitions, outside of our observable reality, and cannot be accounted for by science. Similarly, his purported works our claimed to be outside the capability of our understanding. Creating the universe from nothing, creating man from dirt, etc. These are all things that most believers would claim that we can never understand. They are, for lack of a better word, magic.

    This is why science is mute on the topic of god. It doesn't purport that he exists, or that he does not exist. Because the very question is unscientific. The "god hypothesis" can never be tested. God cannot be observed. So science has nothing to say about it. Until a 'god' is defined, and testable hypotheses are proposed about his existence, science is simply silent about god.

    I will add a caveat. Certain scientists, like the aforementioned professor Dawkins, have taken on the mantle "proponent of atheism". And other scientists have proposed certain experiments to test for design, but science in GENERAL is silent and uncaring about questions that are claimed to be unanswerable.

    Yes, many scientists ARE atheists. Certainly there is a higher prevalence of atheism in the scientific community than the general populace. It's likely due to the manner of thinking that scientists are used to. Belief in a deity requires faith, belief without evidence. (after all, if god offered proof of his existence, faith would be unnecessary) This is contrary to the way science works. Any fact must be supported by evidence and observations. It's simply contrary to their general state of mind. However, many scientists ARE believers. There are thousands of scientists who profess a belief in god, while also accepting scientific facts like evolution. A prominent example being Francis Collins, an accomplished scientist and Christian that President Obama recently appointed to head the NIH. Many Christians are able to reconcile their beliefs with the evidence and observations of modern science.

    Which brings me to the next misconception I'd like to discuss, the idea that evolution is inherently atheistic, or that it promotes an atheistic worldview. Actually, I do have a tenuous agreement with this proposition, in the following respect. Historically, belief in deities has been used to explain the inexplicable. Thor was responsible for lighting, Poseidon was responsible for the waves, Ra lorded over the sun. God created the world and everything in it. It becomes easier and easier to not believe in these deities when we explain the world. Lightning is the buildup of electricity in the atmosphere, waves are a result of tides and other gravitational forces, the sun is a burning ball of hydrogen 8 light minutes away. All of these things allow us to cast off supernatural beliefs we have about natural phenomena. Similarly, the theory of evolution provides us a natural understanding of the plethora of life on this planet, supplanting the supernatural view that it was created spontaneously. In this way, it allows us to be intellectually fulfilled atheists. It doesn't support atheism, but it does make it easier (for lack of a better word) to be an atheist when we have a natural understanding of phenomena. The more we know about our natural world, the easier it is for us to doubt that the unknown is supernatural.

    Certainly, atheism existed before the theory of evolution, but atheists of that era had no explanation for the diversity of life on earth. They just didn't believe that god was responsible. They simply didn't know how to explain it, and chose to accept that. We find ourselves in a similar position today, with questions about the origins of life, and the origins of the universe. The fear that many religious people hold is that should we discover the answers to these questions, that there will not be any room left for god. And that society will abandon the proposition of a deity. But I would point again to scientists who believe in both evolution AND god. Even the Catholic church recognizes evolution). Any increase in our knowledge of the natural world removes the need for supernatural interference. This is as true with any other scientific explanation as it is with evolution. But this does not mean that we cannot believe in god and science simultaneously.

    If you've made it this far, congratulations. This is an exceptionally long-winded comment. Apologies.

    Now, to address the perceived lack of debate between mainstream science (evolutionists, as you would call them) and intelligent design proponents. I would point out, that there have been debates. Admittedly, there have been few. But I think the number of debates is appropriate, for several reasons.

    Firstly, only a very small percentage of scientists are Intelligent Design (ID) proponents. All major well-respected national and international scientific organizations support the theory of evolution. Of course, the Discovery Institute stands out. The Discovery Institute was founded to promote ID, among other things, and it was their website that Sam linked in his post. Allow me to link another

    As of 2007, the Discovery Institute listed over 700 scientists worldwide who are skeptical about the current Theory of Evolution. Note that this is not a list of scientists who support ID, but are skeptical of evolution. And there have even been scientists who claim their names are on the list in error (e.g. Stan Salthe). Lists like this abound in the pro-ID world, and are intended to fool the public into believing there is an actual heated debate going on in the scientific community, and that evolution is a "theory in crisis".

    But let's assume that all 700 of them are actually ID proponents, and that none are on that list in error. Enter Project Steve. Project Steve is a "tongue-in-cheek" satire of the Discovery Institute's list. It is a list of scientists that support the theory of evolution. The stipulations for being on the list are simple:

    1) You must be a scientist.

    2) You must be named Steve (or some derivative of Steve: Steffanie, Stephen, etc).

    It's estimated that only about 1% of scientists are named Steve, yet Project Steve's list currently sits at well over 1,000 scientists (about half of which are biologists). Of course, scientific consensus doesn't make something true, evidence does. But it's certainly a counter to the argument that a large number of scientists support ID.

    The issue is that there are astoundingly few scientists who promote ID. Just as there are very few who believe in astrology, or the hollow earth hypothesis, or alchemy. But the ID proponents have been handed a political microphone from which to profess their ideas

    Additionally, there have hardly been ANY pro-ID articles printed in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Now, you could claim that's because they are being purposefully kept out of the journals, but I don't think that's the case. Solid peer-reviewed evidence falsifying evolution, or proving ID, would be groundbreaking. It would probably be Nobel Prize winning work.

    Interestingly, the article that Sam linked is one of the first (if not the first) pro-Intelligent Design argument published in a peer reviewed journal, 'Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington'.

    But I would point out that there was quite a controversy about how this article was published. The editor who approved its publication, Richard Sternberg, has been accused by the journal of not following proper editorial procedure in publishing the article. The article was published in the last issue he was scheduled to publish. Sternberg is an ID proponent, and acted as one of the peer reviewers for the article, and did not seek review from an associate editor. He claims that the article was reviewed by four other well-qualified biologists, but refuses to release their names. The journal has actually issued a repudiation of the article because proper peer-review procedures were not followed, calling the paper "inappropriate" for the journal.

    Lastly, I'd like to point out that the 'left' is not 'anti-god'. How could it be? The numbers don't add up. By most polls/surveys, self-described atheists make up a tiny percentage of our country's population. According to Pew, less than 2%. Even add in agnostics and the percentage is about 4%. Certainly the 'left' is quite a bit bigger than 4% of our population. Depending on how you define it, it must be quite a bit bigger. Most of the left is made up of Christians, just like the right.

    I could go on and on. But should probably stop. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. Looking back on this, it seems to be way too long for a comment. It's practically a blog post unto itself. But seeing as I don't have a blog, I guess I'll just have to hope people read the comments here.


    -- Posted by jhat on Fri, Oct 9, 2009, at 1:52 PM
  • I just do not believe evolution and Intelligent Design (ID)can co-exist,they are at the opposite ends of the faith spectrum. One could argue ID and micro-evolution (natural adaptation) can exist. Natural adaptation does fit in with Biblical teachings, once the animal were set free from the ark, they spread throughout the world, adapting to the environments they live in.

    This would require great genetic diversity because natural adaptation requires species to adapt very quickly, one or two generations, to fully adapt to a new environment, not the millions and/or billions as required by evolution.

    -- Posted by Hugh Jassle on Sun, Oct 11, 2009, at 6:25 PM
  • Creationism and Intelligent Design are religious concepts and should be taught by family and religious teachers.

    Logically, this includes church supported schools.

    ID is a matter of personal faith.

    Science is fact based research and should be taught as such in public schools.

    There are millions of scientists who are devoutly religious. They follow scientific method religiously in their work.

    They follow their religions faithfully outside of their professional applications.

    Iran has devout Muslims . precise science within their nuclear programs.

    The Soviet Union had many Jewish scientists in every field working in military, industrial and university settings. They served an athiest dictatorship, while secretly practicing their religious faith.

    Doctors in "Christian Hospitals" assidiously apply scientific principles to treat disease and serve people -- then go to their churches and practice religious faiths which may or may not insist upon absolute belief in I.D.

    There are educated people who totally believe their religious faith precepts.

    The vast majority of all people believe -- EXCEPT for a few areas where they cannot agree with the religion they follow in most things.

    Consider the religion which ABSOLUTELY PROHIBITS any form of "artificial birth control" -- while as many as 80% of its members practice birth control.

    Sec. of Agriculture Butts was forced to resign because he used humor to illustrate a thought among friends on a commercial airline.

    Speaking of birth control and religious prohibition by the Catholic Pope, Butts quoted an Italian lady, using a heavy accent.

    "He no playa de game, he no maka de rules."

    And therein lies a fundamental problem, which has caused many to question all the world's established ancient religions.

    How can men who believed women were totally subject to men, who believed the earth is a flat plane and is the center of the universe -- be totally correct in religious thought?

    -- Posted by HerndonHank on Thu, Oct 15, 2009, at 4:29 AM
  • No responses at all to my comment? I suppose I was pretty long-winded. I wanted to also leave a rebuff of the article Sam linked, "Survival of the Fakest". But, the response is in itself long-winded, and adding it and my previous comment would have been way too much. And in case anyone actually read my previous comment, I wanted to discuss that before moving on, to this:

    It is at least an interesting read. Though I'd take exception at many of its conclusions.

    Firstly, a minor quibble. The usage of certain words in this piece distresses me. Particularly the word "Darwinism", in reference to evolution. This is distressing for several reasons. Primarily because it seems to liken belief in evolution to the belief in the teachings of Charles Darwin, almost as if it is a religion based on the teachings. This is not the case. Darwin's ideas and research have certainly been important in the field of evolutionary biology, but they are by no means 'gospel'. And secondly, referring to the study of evolution as 'Darwinism' is a serious discredit to the myriad of scientists who have researched and contributed to our understanding of evolution. It is the theory of evolution by natural selection. Or simply, the theory of evolution. Or even more simply, evolution. Or sometimes, 'Darwinian' evolution (to indicated you're referring to natural selection).

    He also refers to people who accept evolution as 'Darwin's followers'. This is a strange phrase to use. People who believe in the law of gravitation aren't called 'Newton's followers'. People who accept General Relativity aren't 'Einstein's followers'. It is again (apparently) an attempt to craft a perception that evolution is the following of one man's teachings.

    Minor quibbles aside, the author demonstrates what I believe are several misconceptions about evolution and natural selection.

    He begins by criticizing the popular Miller-Urey experiment. This was an experiment performed in 1953 that attempted to generate simple amino acids in what (at the time) was thought to be early-earth conditions. Eventually, it was discovered that early earth conditions were likely very different from the ones Miller and Urey recreated. The author presents this as a blow to evolutionary theory. Except this experiment has very little to do with evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory does not attempt to explain the origin of life, only the origin of species (sound familiar?). Evolution is not concerned with how life began, but rather how speciation occurs.

    The Miller-Urey experiment was presented as potential proof of one hypothesis of how life began. There are many, many, hypotheses about how life began on this planet. And it is a field that is currently being researched intensely (it's called abiogenesis). There is not yet a unifying theory on the origins of life. And despite the fact that it's now know that their experiment did not accurately recreate early earth conditions, it's findings are still considered to be hugely important in the field of abiogenesis, proving that it is possible for amino acids to be created spontaneously from other matter.

    When referring to Darwin's finches, he talks about how the changes noticed in finch beaks eventually were undone after the food supply returned to normal. He criticizes that there was no 'net evolution'. I may be misreading him, but I think this is another misunderstanding. Evolution is not a line that necessarily begins with simple creatures and ends with more advanced creatures. It's not a line of progress to a 'final' perfect species. Evolution is not some slow lumbering march towards the top. It is adaptation to an environment. Species that are perfectly adapted to their environment will not evolve (substantially, anyway). The finches changed to suit their environment, whatever it was. When the food supply changed, they adapted to compensate. When it changed back, they adapted again to compensate. That's exactly what the theory of evolution predicts they should do.

    And he criticizes the fossil record. Particularly for it's gaps before the Cambrian Explosion. He makes the claim that most modern animal groups appear suddenly during the Cambrian period. The fossilized animals we've discovered from that era would hardly be considered modern. You'd be hard pressed to recognize any of it's animals in today's world. It was a period where many of the characteristics of modern animals appeared. Though the most well known animal groups (amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals) appeared after the Cambrian. The Cambrian Explosion lies near the very roots of the tree of life. It was a period in which many adaptations that still persist today were formed.

    And as far as finding few fossils before the Cambrian, there are a myriad of explanations for that. Fossilization is an extremely rare occurrence. Only in very rare cases are animal remains preserved as fossils. We're lucky to have as many as we do. The Cambrian explosion saw an unparalleled expansion of life on this planet, it only stands to reason that we'd find significantly more fossils from after life expanded in such a manner than before.

    He also seems rather fond of attacking scientific frauds and mistakes. Particularly picking on Piltdown man, Haeckel's embryos, and the staged pictures of peppered moths. Yes, some individuals in the scientific community have committed fraud (they're only human after all). But these frauds were uncovered by other scientists using rational inquiry. Spend any time following science, and you'll realize there are two ways to the respect and admiration of your peers:

    1) Make a ground breaking discovery.

    2) Prove someone who made a groundbreaking discovery to be wrong, or a fraud.

    Haeckel's embryos have long since been discredited. As has Piltdown man. And evolution does just fine without them.

    The author spends much time lamenting the fact that things like Haeckel's embryos, and the peppered moths, and the Miller-Urey experiment are still in science books. But of course they are! They are important experiments in the history of the study of science, regardless of whether or not their findings still hold weight today. The Miller-Urey experiment may not have been as accurate as they were attempting to be, but the results are still important, and astounding. The Peppered Moth experiment may not have been a completely natural experiment in natural selection. But it's still educational and informative.

    Having graduated from high school relatively recently, I will attest that I was fully aware of the circumstances of these experiments long before I read this article. They were explained both by our textbooks and by the teacher. Any science textbook still pushing Haeckel's embryos as accurate is probably very old (wouldn't surprise me). But even new textbooks should explain the significance of Haeckel's embryos while explaining that they were later discredited.

    And ultimately, my largest complaint about the article; the author does not focus on the MOUNTAINS of other evidence supporting the theory of evolution. He picks on information that for years has been old and discredited, in favor of new data discovered more recently. Haeckel's embryos have been discredited, but new advances in embryology show that his basic premise was correct. The Miller-Urey experiment took place over half a century ago. Do you think scientists stopped investigating after that? Packed up and went home? Similar experiments continue to this day. (and there is still controversy about whether or not the original experiment actually did accurately recreate early earth conditions).

    He doesn't talk at all about the evidence of geographical distribution, which show speciation patterns across the globe. He barely even touches genetics, which is perhaps the most important field of evidence. Comparative genetics shows relations between species in their genes. This is an amazing field of work that has only recently become possible.

    In short, the author not only displays a lack of understanding about evolution, but attacks tired old evidence for it that has long since been discredited and supplanted by more modern studies. He laments that our children are being taught such rubbish as truth (which is counter to my experience). And if he is correct, and students are being taught (among other falsehoods) to believe that Haeckel's embryos were accurate, than I heartily agree that something must be done. They should be taught that Haeckel's embryos were not accurate, and that the Miller-Urey experiment was important, but may not have accurately recreated early earth conditions. And most of all, they should be taught about the mountain of other evidence that supports the theory of evolution.

    An addendum: The author posed a list of 10 questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution. The National Center for Science Education has been kind enough to provide a thorough response.

    An addendum:

    I am not a scientist. But I have studied science, and particularly evolution, in my short years here. And, I have access to friends/colleagues who are scientists. So if anyone would like to ask any questions about evolution, or present a challenge to it, I'd be glad to do my best to answer your question.

    -- Posted by jhat on Thu, Oct 15, 2009, at 3:41 PM
  • Well said Sceptre!

    Hank, you seem to have a very strong dislike of religion, in particularly Christianity. Why?

    -- Posted by Hugh Jassle on Fri, Oct 16, 2009, at 10:10 PM
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