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Evolution Nazis- Don't Let Children Think

Say What?

Judge Rejects Georgia School Board Evolution Stand

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday ordered a Georgia school district to remove stickers challenging the theory of evolution from its textbooks on the grounds that they violated the U.S. Constitution.

In a ruling issued in Atlanta, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper said Cobb County's school board had violated the constitutional ban on the separation of church and state when it put the disclaimers on biology books in 2002.

The stickers read: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

Where in the constitution exactly does it preclude children from thinking?

If we are to teach our children to accept flawed theories without thinking critically about them aren't we indeed teaching religion?


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Comments (127)

Evolution has been proven ~... (Below threshold)
Yankette:

Evolution has been proven ~fact~ ..... when???

The sticker language mentions religion ..... where???

At its simplest, evolutiona... (Below threshold)

At its simplest, evolutionary theory states "gene alelles change over time". In other words, the information found within our genes changes from generation to generation, from placement to activation.

Is this in dispute?

If we are to teach our c... (Below threshold)
Sean:

If we are to teach our children to accept flawed theories without thinking critically about them aren't we indeed teaching religion?

Yes. That's what "accepted science" has become. Anyone that challenges what is accepted by a "consensus" of scientists is a "skeptic" (scary quotes included).

Evolution is a fact. The or... (Below threshold)
Rusty Wilson:

Evolution is a fact. The origin of living things via evolution is a theory. Intelligent design is a hypothesis. Lets all try to keep our facts straight.

Very well stated, Rusty.</p... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

Very well stated, Rusty.

Hey Rusty, can you give me ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Hey Rusty, can you give me one example -just one- where one species evolved into another.

Just tell me what they were when they started, what they changed into and when (plus or minus a few million years) it happened.

"Flies evolved into birds" won't cut it. Exact species please.

It is a fact right?

The only motivation for cha... (Below threshold)

The only motivation for challenging evolution is based on Christian religious doctrine.

Don't try to pretend that questioning evolution is about free thought. Why not question the periodic table of the elements? Or Newton's Law?

No, it's strictly a religious motivated slogan, and the court was right to rule that this was a comingling of church and state.

The only motivation for ... (Below threshold)
Rascal:

The only motivation for challenging evolution is based on Christian religious doctrine.

How does your brain still function enough for you to breathe?

No, it's strictly a reli... (Below threshold)
AJ:

No, it's strictly a religious motivated slogan, and the court was right to rule that this was a comingling of church and state.

I loudly applaud you and completely agree. If you want your kids learning about creationism, put them in a Christian school.

Tis strange how there's no ... (Below threshold)
AJ:

Tis strange how there's no mention on this site about the halt for looking for WMD. Strange indeed.

AJ- Can you tell me how it ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

AJ- Can you tell me how it establishes a state religion?

For the first time since I've been at Wizbang, I'm saddened by the IQ of some readers.

The sticker contains a simp... (Below threshold)
Elisa:

The sticker contains a simple statement of facts and an admonishment to think. On its face, it is in no way religious. The only way it can possibly be perceived to be religious is in considering the motivations of the people who put them there. The fact that judges are now basing rulings on people's motivations instead of the facts of the matter should alarm everyone, regardless of your thoughts on evolution.

Well, since the belief of c... (Below threshold)
AJ:

Well, since the belief of creationism is primarily pushed by the Christians, then I would argue by teaching my kids that, you are prostletizing a religion (and one that I find very offensive by the way).

Libertarian Girl, I think y... (Below threshold)

Libertarian Girl, I think you're being clever with your comment (and I mean that). But just in case...

The Periodic Table has been "questioned", revised, and modified pretty reglarly since it was introduced in the 1890's. That was the point, really, since the arrangements of know elements into a table helped to predict the existence and properties of unknown elements.

Newton's Law, of course, was largely supersceded by Einstein's theories. Newton's observations were as good as they could be at the time and they work ok as an approximation of human-scale stuff, but not for very large or very small scale phenomenon.

I like Rusty’s statement be... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

I like Rusty’s statement because he breaks this out into several issues. I have argued for hours on this topic in the past.

Check out the definition of evolution:

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=evolution&r=67

“A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.”

Best as I can tell, this has been duplicated in the lab with bacteria and other simple organisms. So many scientists accept it as “proven.” I can buy that. Applying evolution to the origin of species requires a little more faith in science though, at least at this point in time. But that makes sense to me too.

But evolution is a completely (well, almost completely) separate issue from the question of origin of life. This is where people can argue for hours, and technically both sides can be correct.

I agree with the stickers in this case. I think they are 100% spot on. And contrary to the thought Nazi’s arguments, I’m not stating this from any religious perspective.

Evolution has been proven. Evolution as the origin of life hasn’t. That’s a cold hard scientific fact.

Keep in mind it is taught a... (Below threshold)
AJ:

Keep in mind it is taught as the THEORY of evolution, because as of now, it's the most plausible explanation.

Jmaster??"Best ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Jmaster??

"Best as I can tell, this has been duplicated in the lab with bacteria and other simple organisms. "

Can you tell me when exactly? Your whole premiss is critically flawed.

Evolution has been proven. Evolution as the origin of life hasn’t. That’s a cold hard scientific fact.

Do you have any clue what you are talking about? Who proved it?

Newton's "Law"was questione... (Below threshold)
Richard Heddleson:

Newton's "Law"was questioned. And found wanting. By Einstein. Actually several had found Newton's "Law"wanting. Einstein was the one who created a theory that addressed the shortcomings of Newton's laws for very small and very large objects, only 100 years ago.

It would be a miracle of biblical proportions if our current understanding of life and evolution were without error. The source of progress is raising questions about the anomalies of any current theory and displacing them with new theories that more accurately describe reality. To ask these questions requires an open mind. The motivation behind those questions is of little importance if they lead us to a better theory.

Paul, you wanted some examp... (Below threshold)
magnetism87:

Paul, you wanted some examples of observed speciation?

In 1905, Hugo deVries observed speciation in the plant Evening Primose, known by its scientific name Oenothera lamarckiana. He named the new species Oenothera gigas.

Faeroe Island house mouse has speciated since its introduction to the island 250 years ago.

Speciation has also been observed in cichild fishes in Lake Nagubago.

There are many, many more examples. In fact a simple search of Google Scholar (scientific paper database) will show you multiple other results.

Evolution is a fact. Natura... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Evolution is a fact. Natural selection is a theory. Gravity is a theory. Relativity is a theory. There are, in actuality, very few scientific laws. This is clearly an attempt to single out evolution because of a particular subset of religious thought -- in the US represented by Biblical Creationism.

However, the biggest irony is that Biblical Creationism, aka Young Earth Creationism (with deluxe world-wide flooding action), does not only require evolution, but it requires a rate of evolution (from one species to another, natch) that is many hundreds of thousands of times faster than any biologist has ever proposed in the past several generations.

Evolution from one species to another has been observed ad nauseam. What Paul is really asking for is evolution between 'kinds' -- which is itself a Biblical, not scientific, distinction.

I would recommend looking up the Therapsids.

Jeezuz Paul,I woul... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

Jeezuz Paul,

I would think you would give me a little more credit SINCE I AM AGREEING WITH YOU!!!

A lot of this is just semantics. Unfortunately, I don’t have the links right now for the bacterial studies. I went through this very same argument about 6 months ago, and I was “converted”. I have to hit the road right now, but I’ll try to dig them up and send them to you later.

The problem when discussing... (Below threshold)
Joseph:

The problem when discussing evolution is to define it.
"Evolution is a fact" is both true and false.

Evolution defined as:

* "change over time" - this statement is obviously true since bacteria can become resistent and breeding in just the last century change cows and horses etc.

* "Common descent" - also true to in a sence. Dogs, wolfes and hyenas probably came from a original "dog creature" although giraffes and sharks are harder to place in the "evolutionary tree"

* "Life from non-life with common descent" - now this definition has som major problems and can hardly be considered a fact. Give me o-n-e viable theory on how life come from non-life. Then show how life develop to more complex creatures and where this i-n-f-o-r-m-a-t-i-o-n comes from and propagates through the DNA.

Paul:Done. Here's ... (Below threshold)

Paul:

Done. Here's some documented speciation events.

Hauffe, Heidi C.. Searle, Jeremy B.. A disappearing speciation event? (response to J.A. Coyne, Nature, vol. 355, p. 511, 1992). Nature. V357. P26(1) May 7, 1992. Basically, two breeds of mice speciating through hybridization. The new mice are unable to breed with the parent stock, but can reproduce amongst themselves.

Dobzhansky, T. 1973. Species of Drosophila: New Excitement in an Old Field. Science 177:664-669 Laboratory observation of a speciation event in fruit flies. The author of that paper has several other events recorded in peer reviewed journals.

Two events right there, one occuring naturally and the other in the laboratory. Both occured in human timescales.

Note: You asked for speciation events. This isn't "flies into birds", but two disparate species unable to mate with each other after the event. The dictionary definition of species is: a fundamental category of taxonomic classification, ranking below a genus or subgenus and consisting of related organisms capable of interbreeding.

One request: Don't move the goalposts.

I can sum up my post as: Ev... (Below threshold)
Joseph:

I can sum up my post as: Evolution is true, kind of =)

I've always believed that G... (Below threshold)
Master of None:

I've always believed that God created evolution. That makes everybody happy!

Question: Were the stickers... (Below threshold)
CrowScape:

Question: Were the stickers forced to be placed in the textbooks by a law that Congress passed? No? Then someone please tell me what is unconstitutional about it.

But now I'm waiting for the following sticker to be placed in physics textbooks:

"This textbook contains material on thermodynamics. Thermodynamics is a theory, not a fact, regarding the the transformation and conservation of energy. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

How about this for chemisty:

"This textbook contains material on the charge-cloud model. The charge-cloud model is a theory, not a fact, regarding the distribution of electrons around a nucleus. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

Or this for American history:

"This textbook contains material on Lee Harvey Oswald. That Lee Harvey Oswald killed John F Kennedy is a theory, not a fact, regarding the assassination of the 35th President of the United States. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

Evolution has nothing to do... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Evolution has nothing to do with the creation of life. Evolution has as a prerequisite that there is already some form of self-replication that is going on. Abiogenesis is what you are trying to say when you say 'evolution of life.'

Also, evolution has nothing to do with organisms being 'better' or 'more complex.' Evolution is just that there are differences between parents and offspring. Period. Natural selection is the idea that natural processes allow for certain traits to be preserved at the expense of others. This does not mean what thrives is more complex or 'better.' It just means that the traits that survive are generally better suited for the current environment.

This is brief, and not meant to be the 'definitive' definitions of these concepts, btw, but are intended as a guide. Refer to a good biology text for better definitions.

The notion that the only... (Below threshold)
Drew - Dallas, TX:

The notion that the only motivation revolves around religion is dismissed. Although it is the primary driver as they are fundamentally contradictory of one another. It is about proof. For example, as physicists continue their quest for unification, the good ones will be the first to tell you that they are prepared to accept that what they know as fact - may not be.

As Paul asks, where is the proof of Evolution? Killer Bees maybe? By the same token, where is there proof that Evolution is not a fact, as the sticker in question clearly states? Are any of us entirely prepared to accept the idea that what you know to be fact is really not?

That said, the idea that it's strictly a religious motivated slogan might be right. After all, it's a pretty hip thing for a parent to say that they are involved in how the state teaches their kids, all the while not giving TV, movies, video games and other factors a second thought.

Does anyone really think that the parents involved care about what the public school system teaches their kids? If they did, they would be home schooled, or elsewhere in private school.

And yes, these types of rulings are indeed disturbing every single time. I truly believe that these parents, the ACLU and the court alike don't give a damn about what's in the best interest of the intended audience of the book itself.

It also should be noted that the ACLU has pushed the church and state conflict into both red and blue states, but always on non-Christian or atheist grounds.

No, it's strictly a reli... (Below threshold)
Sean:

No, it's strictly a religious motivated slogan, and the court was right to rule that this was a comingling of church and state.

I loudly applaud you and completely agree. If you want your kids learning about creationism, put them in a Christian school.

There is nothing - nothing - in the U.S. Constitution requiring "separation of church and state". What the Constitution does prohibit is the establishment of a State Religion. (See: Church of England).

Notice how the Constitution says absolutely nothing about the acknowledgment of God by the State. In fact, God is acknowledged by our founding documents. This whole "separation of church and state" is a load of hooie. There are guidelines (set up by judge's, mind you) that are meant to prevent the State from becoming so entangled with a particular religion that it is an endorsement of that one religion. Notice, however, how even this procription does not disallow the acknowledgment of God.

Therefore, if every religion believes in Creationism/ID then teaching that theory is not a violation of the Establishment Clause of our Constitution for the simple reason that it would not so entangle the State with just one religion to the point where the State is implicitly endorsing just one religion. All the State would be doing is acknowledging God. Something our Founding Fathers not only did, but believed was a necessary criteria for a successful democracy.

Quote from Rusty: Evolution... (Below threshold)
Septeus7:

Quote from Rusty: Evolution is a fact. The origin of living things via evolution is a theory.

From from the "unconstitutional" sticker.: Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things.

Uh..what you just said according that Judge is unconstitutional as what you said and what the sticker says are the same. Apparently you forgot that the word "regarding" is on the stickers.

Quote from Jason: At its simplest, evolutionary theory states "gene alelles change over time". In other words, the information found within our genes changes from generation to generation, from placement to activation. Is this in dispute?

Yes, in regards to origins of living things as gene (DNA based) alelles didn't yet exist in the alleged RNA world which the theory claims in every textbook on Evolution to be the process by which the abiotic become the biotic about 3.8 billion years ago. Please describe the exact mechanism of Evolution from RNA to Archea?

Quote from Ignortarian Girl: the only motivation for challenging evolution is based on Christian religious doctrine.

Really? I guess that is why Berlinski, Denton, Morowitz, Tipler, and even Crick are ID? If you known so much about ID why don't you refute the EAM mechanism? Also from which laws of Physics does MS derieve? Please show those derievations.

Quote: Ignortarian Girl: it's strictly a religious motivated slogan, and the court was right to rule that this was a comingling of church and state.

Oh...and where does the Constitution forbid the comingling of church and state? This is the problem with you stupid Libertarians, you can't read. I know, I used to be a libertarian but then I learned to how to read and become a conservative.


In conclusion, I wonder how anybody can think that a sticker by itself can be "unconstitutional." I mean where does the constitution talk about what stickers are "constitutional" and which are a threat to democracy and a functioning republican form of goverment?

Of what are you afraid? Are you afraid the sticker is gonna peel itself off the page and beat a religious confess out of you? This is asburd....stickers can't be declared "unconstitutional" as they are just stickers.


Drew,Go back and r... (Below threshold)
Jesse:

Drew,

Go back and read CrowScape's last post. So what if evolution "is not a fact", as you and the sticker say? We can all agree it's a theory. But the truth is science is a theory-based field. If you're going to single out one theory with a warning sticker, you'll need to do it to all of them. Which, as CrowScape points out, would lead to a pretty huge, ridiculous list of disclaimers on all science books. (And, has been pointed out already, Intelligent Design is *not* a theory.)

Not sure if this is a good ... (Below threshold)
Lysander:

Not sure if this is a good way to go with this, but 'ere it goes....

(and one that I find very offensive by the way).

Is it the practice or the practitioners you find offensive? I'm not one of 'em, so don't go lookin at me with that pitchfork. :)

There are three problems, I... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

There are three problems, IMHO, with the premises stated in the MSM (anything besides evolution as fact = hostile takeover of science by religion) and subsequent discussions on evolution vs. creationism vs. whatever else passes on this subject as theories, relgious dogma, or mental excrement:

1. While science deals with facts, human beings that interpret those facts are flawed, and the Newton/Einstein discussion above is a good example about how what humanity accepts as "proven fact" at one point in time can change, as more becomes known about the background of what makes a thing a "proven fact".

2. Studies of biology cannot stray from either the laws of chemistry (as is currently known, per point 1 above) or physics. Current science dictates that in the realm of physics, systems must be acted upon by forces outside themselves in order to be either maintained over time or improved (Laws of Thermodynamics 1, stasis, and 2, entropy). As biology requires chemical reactions to maintain energy levels, and even "self improving" systems require outside energy to avoid entropy over time, life itself therefore must seemingly require some kind of maintenance to overcome eventual entropy and dissolution. Blind evolution alone cannot explain the existence of the need to maintain systems against entropy, much less explain what, or perhaps who, would be able to do such a thing.

3. Inductive logic as a problem solver can only work when mental or computational simulations can reasonably account for all the possibilities in a given situation. This guideline for using inductive logic sets up a difficult paradox: one can only use inference to solve a problem if one knows every possible variable to the problem. If one knows every variable about the problem, then one knows the problem completely, and complete knowledge of the problem demonstrates the solution to the problem. Therefore, using inductive logic must assume that there is always the possibility, however remote, that a variable exists that could completely change the solution.

Therefore, one may conclude from the points above that facts known to humanity are always open to improved recording methods or interpretation; therefore, the possibility must be retained that facts can change. Furthermore, anyone who makes definitive statements about systems that cannot be completely reverse engineered or deconstructed and understood, or who makes definitive statements about events that took place without anyone present to corroborate those events, leaves themselves open to the possibility that they will be someday proven wrong.

So I ask these questions of our libertarian friend, and of anyone else who cares to discuss them politely:

* If no one was there to record or corroborate the data or theory, how can you be completely sure that what you say happened in fact took place in the way you believe it did, or even at all?

* How can scientists use laboratory results gleaned over days, weeks, or even decades, to prove how events happened, or that they happened at all, thousands of years ago?

* How is it that recognizing human limitations of recording and interpreting data (theories) is dismissed as "religion"? And more to the point, how is it that one person's theory of origins is called science (again, assuming that the facts can be independently corroborated) and another is dismissed as religion?

* Given that no one has yet completely mapped out a complete DNA sequence and learned how to replicate its construction in a way that works, how can anyone suggest that lab studies that suggest evolution on a micro level are truly scaleable?

* Why is it not possible to recognize that there is much doubt in terms of what the data suggests, regardless of one's personal beliefs, and allow that some new information may come along at some point to fundamentally change the "facts" as we believe we know them today?

Food for thought...

G-d, I hate this stuff, it ... (Below threshold)

G-d, I hate this stuff, it always devolves into something.... idiotic (idiodic?)

Pual, kudos for at least trying to keep this on an even keel without knee jerk ideologies. *sigh* I think you're tilting at windmills, but, hey - your blog, your rules!

Nevertheless:

Eric said: "However, the biggest irony is that Biblical Creationism, aka Young Earth Creationism (with deluxe world-wide flooding action), does not only require evolution, but it requires a rate of evolution (from one species to another, natch) that is many hundreds of thousands of times faster than any biologist has ever proposed in the past several generations."

Nope, sorry. Biblical Creationism does NOT require evolution. The biblical account to which creationists refer, and the orthodox view held by the historic church, says six days: birds, sea creatures, land animals (including creepy crawlies, etc), man. Just to set it straight.

Now, I believe in MICROevolution - bacteria getting resistant, mice and fruit fly speciation. That's provable and observable. (Notice how it happens in the lab, though. No intelligence there, right?)

*I* want proof of how we get from amino acids to cells to fish to amphibians to birds/reptiles to mammals to man. THEN I'll believe in MACROevolution, and "evolution" as it's commonly thought of by the average person on the streetwill be fact, and not theory.

Quote: Here's some document... (Below threshold)
Septeus7:

Quote: Here's some documented speciation events.

Hauffe, Heidi C.. Searle, Jeremy B.. A disappearing speciation event? (response to J.A. Coyne, Nature, vol. 355, p. 511, 1992). Nature. V357. P26(1) May 7, 1992. Basically, two breeds of mice speciating through hybridization. The new mice are unable to breed with the parent stock, but can reproduce amongst themselves.

Dobzhansky, T. 1973. Species of Drosophila: New Excitement in an Old Field. Science 177:664-669 Laboratory observation of a speciation event in fruit flies. The author of that paper has several other events recorded in peer reviewed journals.

Two events right there, one occuring naturally and the other in the laboratory. Both occured in human timescales.

Note: You asked for speciation events. This isn't "flies into birds", but two disparate species unable to mate with each other after the event. The dictionary definition of species is: a fundamental category of taxonomic classification, ranking below a genus or subgenus and consisting of related organisms capable of interbreeding.

One request: Don't move the goalposts.


How does this represent a increasing in both the quantity or quality of the genetic information?

Don't your examples fall into the catagories of :

1. “new” species that are “new” to man, but whose “newness” remains equivocal in light of observed genetic “variation” vs. genetic “change” (as discussed above), and/or because a species of unknown age is being observed by man for the first time.
2. “new” species whose appearance was deliberately and artificially brought about by the efforts of intelligent human manipulation, and whose status as new “species” remain unequivocally consequential to laboratory experiments rather than natural processes. (aka ID)?

And these are irrevelent to the question of major changes which would effect the major body plans. We started with mice and we still have mice so what you cited is simple variation catagorized as speciation for taxonomical purposes.

Whups! It occurs to me I wa... (Below threshold)

Whups! It occurs to me I was unclear clarifying the creationist view: creationists (generally - Hugh Ross is an exception, I believe) do NOT say God transitioned the birds, sea creature, etc., from one form to another.

Sorry about that.

As always, there's more to ... (Below threshold)
Elisa:

As always, there's more to the story...The court order is here: It looks like an interesting read - I've only skimmed it.

Oh, please. You're being ve... (Below threshold)
Orac:

Oh, please. You're being very disingenuous (and building a straw man to boot) by asking "Where in the Constitution does it preclude children from thinking? You insult your readers' intelligence (this reader, at least). That is not what the ruling said, and you know it. Moreover, "encouraging thought" is not the purpose of that idiotic sticker. (The sticker is even incorrect. Evolution is not a theory about the origins of living things. Evolution says nothing about how life began. It only describes how life has evolved over time.)

In fact, for a great humorous skewering of this sticker, see "Disclaimer stickers for science textbooks" at http://www.swarthmore.edu/NatSci/cpurrin1/textbookdisclaimers/

No, these stickers rely on the lay public's misunderstanding of what the word "theory" means in science in order to make them "question" evolution, in hopes of offering them creationism as the alternative. In colloquial usage among lay people, a "theory" is often little more than a hunch. To scientists, the word has a much more specific meaning. In science, a theory is a set of principles that the vast majority of scientists agree best describes a set of phenomenon. Another way of putting it is that theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. In fact, in science, a "theory" is as close to "fact" as science gets. No set of principles is granted the title of "theory" without an absolutely enormous amount of supporting data.

Theories can change over time in response to new data or be supplanted by new theories. The best example is Einstein's Theory of Relativity. It's radically different than Newtonian theory, but at speeds that are slow relative to the speed of light (the sorts of speeds that Newton could observe), Relativity closely approximates Newton's laws, meaning that Newton wasn't wrong. If the theory of evolution is ever supplanted, the new theory will have to take into account all the old observations.

I doubt anyone would want to place a sticker on a physics textbook stating: "This textbook contains material on Relativity. Relativity is a theory, not a fact, regarding the motion of objects. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered." Saying the same thing about evolution is equally ridiculous.

Creationism exists for only one reason: To disguise religious believes as science.

Oops. That's "beliefs" not ... (Below threshold)
Orac:

Oops. That's "beliefs" not "believes." (Overeager to hit the "post" button.)

What I've gathered from my ... (Below threshold)
Elisa:

What I've gathered from my quick skim of the court order is that the stickers were NOT placed on the books in order to call evolution into question, but to placate the many Cobb County parents who didn't want evolution taught at all, and to encourage the children to give it serious consideration. Sorta puts a different spin on things...

Wanderlust --Good ... (Below threshold)
Jesse:

Wanderlust --

Good post, good points. I'm no libertarian, but I'd like to try to tackle at least two of your questions:

* How is it that recognizing human limitations of recording and interpreting data (theories) is dismissed as "religion"?

Recognizing limitations of theories should definitely never be dismissed as "religion" -- as pointed out here numerous times, that's how science evolves (bad pun intended). However, dismissing a theory (a testable, predictive statement/set of principles) in favor of a non-theory (something not based on substantive research) might be reasonably called religion. At the very least, it's not science; and since this is a science textbook we're talking about...

* And more to the point, how is it that one person's theory of origins is called science (again, assuming that the facts can be independently corroborated) and another is dismissed as religion?

I think it's important we talk about "theory" not in the colloquial sense (as in "what one believes") but in the strict scientific sense, i.e., "A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena." In this sense, ID or creationism is not a theory.

* Given that no one has yet completely mapped out a complete DNA sequence and learned how to replicate its construction in a way that works, how can anyone suggest that lab studies that suggest evolution on a micro level are truly scaleable?

Plenty of genomes have been fully mapped, right? And DNA is replicated in the lab on a regular basis (PCR which got the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1993). Or am I missing your point?

J

Listen brainiacs.....whatev... (Below threshold)
Jim Hines:

Listen brainiacs.....whatever we "think" we know about ourselves or our universe .....is but a grain of sand...and that is being generous.

Regardless the so called measurable scientific evidence...nobody knows dick.

They had to create a whole new geometry to "invent" the atomic bomb.

Every so called fact is subject to revision given the proper circumstances.

We are looking at a solid brick wall and guessing at what is on the other side.

That's the truth, you know it, I know it, a lot of people know it.

creation....evolution....intelligent design.....a beautiful mirage.....they could all be the truth simultaneously.

All we really know for sure is that nobody knows for sure.

Jesse, here's a bit of back... (Below threshold)
Drew - Dallas, TX:

Jesse, here's a bit of background on me, in case you care. I'm not religious, I'm not a scientist, I don't have kids and I believe that the ACLU, when addressing pertinent and worthwhile issues, can be a good thing. So why am I commenting?

* because the sticker is a joke - you can't say that something is a theory and NOT a fact in the same sentence. Besides can you imagine this conversation?

Child > Mommy, what does this sticker mean on my textbook? I didn't start reading it because I wanted your input first.

Mom > Well, it means that your school is going to teach you about evolution while at the same time acknowledging God.

Child > Mom, I'm glad because it would be a damn shame if I didn't have to read some bulls**t disclaimer before cracking my 7th grade Biology book...

* because the parents' and ACLU's arguments are a pointless waste of time and money. If they really cared, a prerequisite for Biology would be a history class on why the separation church and state exists and the fact that it's a problem that is thousands of years old that will never end.

* because the proper forum for this is indeed a friendly discussion with strangers on the Internet as opposed to the Courts or incessantly badgering friends, family or co-workers about it.

* I like this blog

So, I didn't say that evolution is or is not a fact, and if someone can dismiss one or the other outright, frankly they don't have a very good imagination.

The thought that this case wasn't laughed out of court is troubling, but it makes for good discussion anyway.

Septeus7, I believe Paul as... (Below threshold)

Septeus7, I believe Paul asked for speciation events. These were provided. Now you want me to provide something else, changes in "major body plans".

Didn't I ask quite clearly not to move goalposts?

If I went around asking "derive the mass of the electron from first principles", I wouldn't get very far, would I? Nevertheless, I can still introduce you to some voltage across the nipples should you suddenly have a heart attack. There are problems with the theory, although we can provide you with a measured mass of the electron.

Gene alleles change over time. I can't show you fish crawling onto land and devloping lungs and legs, but I can show you other things, from fossils, gene sequences, comparative morphology and developmental biology.

It might surprise you to know that there is more evidence for evolution than there is for electromagnetic theory. If you want to set the same standard for the standard model that you want to apply for evolution, I suggest you break out some stickers and plaster them all over your monitor, because it's all running on theory shakier than evolution.

I suspect I'll get a lot of flack for that last paragraph, but so what? Gene alleles change over time. Is this in dispute? Crying about body design and quibbling over what is considered change in information (variations or change? Please!) is not evidence to the contrary, I'm afraid.

Romeocat sez: "Nope, sorry.... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Romeocat sez: "Nope, sorry. Biblical Creationism does NOT require evolution. The biblical account to which creationists refer, and the orthodox view held by the historic church, says six days: birds, sea creatures, land animals (including creepy crawlies, etc), man. Just to set it straight."

Um, you really need to read up on your Biblical YEC dogma. Not to mention your Genesis. There was a world wide flood (according to the Bible) about 4000 years ago. The only animals who survived the flood were in Noah's ark. He did not bring sets of each species, he brought sets of each 'kind.' The meaning of the word 'kind' is somewhat loose, since it pre-dates the science of biology by several thousands of years. Since there would have been no room on the ark (as impossibly large as it was supposed to have been) for a set of each species, current Biblical YEC thought is that the different 'kinds' saved by Noah experienced a period of 'rapid evolution' into the species that are currently observed. For example, instead of saving hundreds of different sets of the various bovine species, Noah only had to save one set of 'Bovine Kind' which rapidly spread all over the world, and incidentally evolved into hundreds of species.

If you think this is stupid, don't blame me. Take the issue up with them. This summary is sound. See http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i2/animals.asp
though if you have any sense at all, I would advise you to not have any fluids in your mouth as you read it, since said fluids will likely exit your nose and end up on your (presumably) rather expensive computer system.

In fact, in science, a "... (Below threshold)
Sean:

In fact, in science, a "theory" is as close to "fact" as science gets.

I that a natural/scientific "law" is as close to "fact" as science gets.

Brushing the dust off my science classes it goes, in ascending order: hypothesis, theory, law. Some theories are stronger than others and have more support than others. That does not make them, (ahem) Gospel. So there is much proof for evolution you say? I say, so what? Does that mean every other hypothesis/theory/whatever out there automatically gets dismissed? If you say yes, then you are dogmatic and evolution has become your religion.

Science is all about asking questions. I would think real scientists would not only be willing to listen to evidence that disproves evolution - they would actively seek it out in order to ensure they know the truth. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that doesn't seem to happen anymore.

wanderlust sez: "2. Stud... (Below threshold)
eric:

wanderlust sez: "2. Studies of biology cannot stray from either the laws ... physics. Current science dictates that in the realm of physics, systems must be acted upon by forces outside themselves in order to be either maintained over time or improved (Laws of Thermodynamics 1, stasis, and 2, entropy). As biology requires chemical reactions to maintain energy levels, and even "self improving" systems require outside energy to avoid entropy over time, life itself therefore must seemingly require some kind of maintenance to overcome eventual entropy and dissolution. Blind evolution alone cannot explain the existence of the need to maintain systems against entropy, much less explain what, or perhaps who, would be able to do such a thing."

It's called 'the Sun.'

Thank you for proving once again that those who think the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics has anything to do with evolution know little about either.

Flawed theory? No, religio... (Below threshold)
Derik:

Flawed theory? No, religion's explanation of things is flawed. So flawed that it contradicts itself.

sean sez :Science is all... (Below threshold)
Eric:

sean sez :Science is all about asking questions. I would think real scientists would not only be willing to listen to evidence that disproves evolution - they would actively seek it out in order to ensure they know the truth. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that doesn't seem to happen anymore.

The thing is, these are the same questions that were asked in the 1880's. 1890's. 1900's. 1910's. 1920's. Etc, etc, etc. These questions HAVE been answered, the problem is that the answers are not enough to unseat religious dogma. Period. 99% of what you hear Creationists say is false. Demonstrably and clearly false. But they are repeating what people want to hear. People like to hear what they want to hear, and thus the answers are drowned out by willfull ignorance.

Very powerful, Eric. Here ... (Below threshold)
Drew - Dallas, TX:

Very powerful, Eric. Here here.

In science theories are muc... (Below threshold)
Orac:

In science theories are much closer to laws than they are to hypotheses. They are also dynamic. Laws tend to be "one trick ponies," describing a discrete natural phenomenon, whereas theories tend to describe a broader phenomenon.

You obviously aren't too aware of how science work, particularly if you think scientists are so monolithic. Scientists ARE looking for evidence. It is scientists who are working on what are described as the "flaws" in evolution. However, the arguments are NOT about whether or not evolution occurred and continues to occur. That evolution occurred is accepted as fact because the evidence is so utterly overwhelming that it did occur. The disagreement is over the mechanism that drives evolution. Darwin postulated natural selection. With time, that mechanism is being refined.

You are also constructing a straw man argument. No scientist has said that theories are "gospel" (which is very much unlike creationists whose "theory" IS gospel). But that does not stop you from expanding on your strawman argument by asking: "Does that mean every other hypothesis/theory/whatever out there automatically gets dismissed? If you say yes, then you are dogmatic and evolution has become your religion."

Oh, and no one has said that every other "hypothesis/theory" gets "automatically dismissed," either. However, there is very good reason to dismiss creationism, because it depends upon a condition that cannot be falsified by evidence: the existence of a higher intelligence, which can never conclusively be disproven by science.

There is plenty of proof fo... (Below threshold)
Rusty Wilson:

There is plenty of proof for evolution. If you ever bred animals for a particular trait, or roses for that matter, then you have proved evolution.

What hasn't been proven is that evolution can turn a fish into a frog. However, there is a lot of evidence.

For what it is worth, if evolution is the process that accounts for the creation of life, or the ability for one species to evolve into another, it would not disprove the existence of God. The reason is as follows;

When God created life there would have been a process. If man discovered that process, he would name it. Now let's assume evolution is the said process. Then all man has done is identify the process. One could view science as looking into the eye of God.

There has been a lot of talk about science on this post. Science is not a religion. Science is constantly in flux, religions are static.

All science doses is give an idea that explains all the known data. If more data is found that contradicts the explanation, then we modify the explanation.

There have also been posts on creating larger parts of matter from smaller parts. This post was about evolution, not about the origin of the universe. My previous comment about God's process still applies here. What gets me is this is not a science against religion argument. They are not opposed.

Think about it this way. If you are looking for a creation point, or a moment of creation when God made everything from nothing, then science has given you proof for your argument. After all, what do you think the big bang is?

For those that care, I do have a master's degree in Geophysics.

I hope this answers all the comments that I recived.

Rusty

United States Constituti... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

United States Constitution - Amendment I:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Text of stickers:
This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.

I wish I wasn't so stupid. Then I could be all smart and stuff like those federal judges and find all those fancy words where noone else can see them.

Creationists always try ... (Below threshold)
CrowScape:

Creationists always try to use the second law,
to disprove evolution, but their theory has a flaw.
The second law is quite precise about where it applies,
only in a closed system must the entropy count rise.
The earth's not a closed system' it's powered by the sun,
so fuck the damn creationists, Doomsday get my gun!

-MC Hawking, Entropy

Paul, Paul, Paul,I... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Paul, Paul, Paul,

I knew you were not as rational as you claimed to be, but I really wasn't expecting this from you. Is evolution a proven fact? No. Neither is Relativity, Newton's Laws of Motion, Quantum Mechanics, or anything else in Science. Science isn't math and it never has nor ever will prove anything. For a theory to be scientific it must be falsifiable. Theories become accepted as near fact as they withstand the attempts to find holes and disprove them. Evolution has done a remarkably good job explaining the details of biology.

The only reason for those stickers are religious ones, not scientific. Let the scientists teach science and the ministers teach the gospel.

Let the scientists teach... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Let the scientists teach science and the ministers teach the gospel.

There's the problem. Atheist scientists with chips on their shoulders started the fight by attempting to destroy religion. The entire ID movement was not an attack on such scientists, but a counterattack.

The fact that a federal judge is overturning the will of the people in a school district in Georgia shows that the attack continues. Especially since there was no religion mentioned on the sticker and there is nothing in the Constitution that forbids religion in public schools.

Telling someone that evolution is not a fact is not establishing a religion.

I don't want to get embroil... (Below threshold)

I don't want to get embroiled into the whole Evolution vs Creation debate, but it seems to me that this is less related to that issue than to something more (or less, depending on your personal view) basic. That sticker, regardless of the intent, says something that should probably be on every textbook.

However, who the heck told these judges that they can write our school textbooks? Since when does the constitution apply to this? Argh.

There is nothing - nothi... (Below threshold)

There is nothing - nothing - in the U.S. Constitution requiring "separation of church and state". What the Constitution does prohibit is the establishment of a State Religion. (See: Church of England).

First, I AGREE WITH THIS, but would add that not only can the state NOT form a "State Religion" it also is PROHIBITED from "restricting the free excercise thereof" - meaning, if I want to read the Bible, pray, and sign hymns at school, and I am NOT disrupting class in any way, shape, form, or fashion, NO ONE CAN STOP ME!

The "establishment clause" is just as I quoted above, to prevent the "state" from establishing a "state religion" (IE - the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church, back when Rome was a country and not a city). What that "clause" does NOT say is that no one is allowed to even mention anything religious while on government property, not allowed to pray in school (or at a Presidential Inauguration), or pass out candy canes at school, and so on and so on.

If you were to tell me that I am NOT allowed to wear a Christian t-shirt or a cross pendant, carry a Bible, pray (on my own), or in any way speak of or make reference to my religion while at school, that would be RESTRICTING THE FREE EXCERCISE THEREOF! If you don't want to hear me pray, move where you can't hear me! If you don't like my shirt/necklace, DON'T LOOK! The simpe act of wearing a Christian shirt/piece of jewelry, praying (on my own), carrying a Bible, ect.....DOES NOT force my beliefs on you any more than you wearing a Star of David forces Judaism on me!

I think that there should b... (Below threshold)
Drew - Dallas, TX:

I think that there should be NO stickers on any books - is that acceptable? It costs less and is more effective anyway. A textbook doesn't need instructions on how to think on the front of it. That's usually "in_the_text" of the book.

Does anyone care that anyone, anywhere with friends on the school board can spend money trying to "advertise" on a public school textbook with a message that wasn't included by the original publisher? It's frightening, really.

You can argue one way or the other about evolution or creationism, but the bottom line is that someone on the school board needs a kick in the ass, as does probably everyone involved. It should have never gone to court - I'm sure the left will consider Bush responsible by the time it's all done. The more I think about it, the more it irritates me.

Lysander: To answer your qu... (Below threshold)
AJ:

Lysander: To answer your question:

Not sure if this is a good way to go with this, but 'ere it goes....

(and one that I find very offensive by the way).

Is it the practice or the practitioners you find offensive? I'm not one of 'em, so don't go lookin at me with that pitchfork. :)

It is not the practice but is indeed the practitioners. If find them a hypocritical lot. (Not all, but MANY). I don't like anything the preaches judgement and intolerance.

As for the creationists, you have your platform (your church) you can preach about this to your heart's content in that arena. I don't understand the objection to teaching evolution, other than it does open kids minds to question what they have heard and consider an alternative. The only thing that it threatens, is your religion.

The reaction to any breath ... (Below threshold)

The reaction to any breath of a suggestion that the theory of evolution may not be perfect, is exactly like the reaction of the authorities in Tennessee when Scopes tried to teach evolution in the first place.

We have come full circle -- now the evolutionists are the book-thumping, fire-breathing fundamentalists who will brook no dissent and tolerate no questions.

It is not the practice b... (Below threshold)

It is not the practice but is indeed the practitioners. If find them a hypocritical lot. (Not all, but MANY). I don't like anything the preaches judgement and intolerance.

<holds up a mirror to AJ>

Were you looking for this?

Does anyone care that an... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Does anyone care that anyone, anywhere with friends on the school board can spend money trying to "advertise" on a public school textbook with a message that wasn't included by the original publisher? It's frightening, really.

School boards are local and (as far as I know) elected. School taxes are also local. So what they want to plaster all over their textbooks should be a concern to noone but the people in that school district.

You frighten too easily. You should be more frightened of power-hungry federal judges and other busybodies who want to tell other people how they should educate their children.

Eric said: "...curre... (Below threshold)

Eric said: "...current Biblical YEC thought is that the different 'kinds' saved by Noah experienced a period of 'rapid evolution' into the species that are currently observed. For example, instead of saving hundreds of different sets of the various bovine species, Noah only had to save one set of 'Bovine Kind' which rapidly spread all over the world, and incidentally evolved into hundreds of species."

Um, Eric, I'm actually a pretty big fan of AIG..... But I think we're talking at crosspurposes. The "bovine kind" all developed into, um, bovines of one sort or another. They did NOT evolve into horses or pigs. They kept within their own "kind."

MACROevoluton is where I have major reservations. How is it that I supposedly evolved from pond scum? How did the pond scum evolve from inert matter? Where are the proofs for amoeba to man?

I am really not trying to be obstructive or obnoxious (or "religious"), but I just can't swallow MACRO evolution: I haven't seen/been exposed to compelling evidence which gives me a plausible reason to accept pond-scum-to-man evolution.

Oh, and Paul, see? I do know how to spell your name! PIMF

Lysander: To answer your... (Below threshold)

Lysander: To answer your question:

Not sure if this is a good way to go with this, but 'ere it goes....

(and one that I find very offensive by the way).

Is it the practice or the practitioners you find offensive? I'm not one of 'em, so don't go lookin at me with that pitchfork. :)

It is not the practice but is indeed the practitioners. If find them a hypocritical lot. (Not all, but MANY). I don't like anything the preaches judgement and intolerance.

As for the creationists, you have your platform (your church) you can preach about this to your heart's content in that arena. I don't understand the objection to teaching evolution, other than it does open kids minds to question what they have heard and consider an alternative. The only thing that it threatens, is your religion.

Here is my problem with this. While my pastor does not preach about evolution, and in fact does not say anything about it, this case was NOT about teaching Intelligent Design, it was simply a sticker which basically said "think for yourself" and that was interpreted as religious, HOW?

I have to echo several othe... (Below threshold)
Carrick Talmadge:

I have to echo several other people and compliment Rusty on his explanations.

I had a few things to add on. First, let's establish the terms used:

1) A "fact" is a generalization from a set of observations or experimental measurements that has been established beyond any reasonable doubt. Note that we distinguish observation, which is made passively, from "experimental measurement".

2) An experiment implies a manipulation of one or more physical quantities in such a way as to test one or more hypotheses. An experimental measurement implies the measurement of a dependent variable (e.g. voltage), upon manipulation of one or more independent variables (e.g. current).

3) A "theory" is an explanation for a fact or set of facts, usually with some experimental or observational predictive power. If it doesn't have any predictive power, then it is just a description, and not a true theory.

4) A "hypothesis" is a prediction of a particular outcome from a particular observation or experimental manipulation, and usually follows logically from a theory. If you aren't basing your hypothesis on a theory, then we call it "guessing".

Given these definitions of the terms as used by scientists, the "fact of evolution" is the body of evidence pointing towards an increase in complexity of life forms over time. See Rusty's sources for examples, but the facts really overwhelmingly support this process.

When people say "theory of evolution" in lay circles they usually mean the theory of "the origin of man", which is a very different thing from the more generic "origin of species" which predicts that ecological pressures evoke evolutionary changes in species resulting in generally new, more complex species.

However, this said, evolution as a theory is useful in biology because it provides an explanation for characteristics of species based on the concept of adaptation. The evidence for evolution in the form of adaptation to local "evolutionary pressure" is woven into the pattern of life that we see, and is ever pervasive. Evolution (as fact) is as important to biology as relativity is to physicists.

Putting it bluntly, those of you who argue that evolution has not been established as a fact, simply don't know what you're talking about. I like to keep an open mind, but not so open my brain falls out.

If you were to tell me t... (Below threshold)
CrowScape:

If you were to tell me that I am NOT allowed to wear a Christian t-shirt or a cross pendant, carry a Bible, pray (on my own), or in any way speak of or make reference to my religion while at school, that would be RESTRICTING THE FREE EXCERCISE THEREOF!

True, but Constitutionally it only matters if it is Congress restricting the free excercise thereof. A local school board can declare Christianity or Judaism or Budhism or Athiesm the official religion of their public school system and forcibly exclude all others from the premises and it's completely OK under the US Constitution (although state constitutions may have something to say about that). 14th Amendment doesn't apply because the First Amendment does not affirm any rights; it is simply a direction to Congress limiting its powers. Heck, the only thing called a right in the First Amendment is the right to peacably assemble.

“This book contains materia... (Below threshold)
RicardoVerde:

“This book contains material on scientific theories. All scientific theories, and scientific thought that may be presented as fact, should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered”
Although the above note is not placed in textbooks by means of a sticker, the statement seems to be implicit, or at the least should be implicit, in any science textbook.

Not to drag on but as to Su... (Below threshold)
RicardoVerde:

Not to drag on but as to Sue at 10:07
"Congress shall make no law....." was the founding father's attempt (IMO) to keep the busybodies from meddling, but I suppose there was nothing said about judges. I guess they have appropriated that service for themselves!

paul...first of al... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

paul...

first of all i agree that we should always teach our children to think critically, to question, and to keep an open mind. yes.

second, we both know that there is an agenda behind the stickers...we all know it.

in an ideal world science is supposed to be all about keeping an open mind, about constantly analyzing and making corrections, based on new evidence.

i agree that some people are as fanatic about their belief in science as others are about religion. fantatics abound.

for me, a great deal of evolutionary ideas and concepts make sense, and help explain some things, but not ALL things. its a good start, but its not finished, or definitive, IMO.

i have nothing against christian creation stories, and i dont think they're stupid, or useless, and i dont think that people who subscribe to them are insane. creation stories are explanations, and cultures all over the earth have passed them down for thousands of years.

im not sure why creationists feel threatened by scientific ideas that challenge literal interpretations of biblical events, however. that has never made sense to me. as far as i can tell, the most imporant message in the bible is the message of Jesus, not some fanatical belief in a 5600 year old earth. i dont see how evolutionary ideas in any way challenge the message that jesus gave to his followers, and honestly i am always surprised when i see christians get so worked up about this subject. they seem paranoid, as if their religion is teetering on the accuracy of very old, very subjective, and highly editted 3-6000 year old documents. hell, we cant even trust many of our reporters today, and christians want to believe that the early hebrew texts are literal and absolute fact?

never mind the probability that hebrew origin stories were more than likely passed down orally before ever being written down...

christians are a funny lot, and they want to be the only right ones. however, they borrowed a good chunk of their ideas from judaism, which in turn borrowed or incorporated concepts and ideas from others, like zoroastrians and mesopotamians (check out the Epic of Gilgamesh for some neato flood stories and others that are very similar AND PREDATE hebrew texts).

creationists often try to put forth this strange absolute and unchanging truth, which i dont believe in at all. thats the whole faith thing, which is not based on evidence, logic, etc. its faith. scientific truth should always be open to analysis and revision. just ask copernicus and newton.

my 2 cents, nothing more...

Romeocat sez: Um, Eric, ... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Romeocat sez: Um, Eric, I'm actually a pretty big fan of AIG..... But I think we're talking at crosspurposes. The "bovine kind" all developed into, um, bovines of one sort or another. They did NOT evolve into horses or pigs. They kept within their own "kind."
That's what I said. Unfortunately, that still remains a much more rapid rate of variation than has ever been recorded or observed -- which is my point. I specifically said that the represented 'kinds' evovled into the species we now see, according to the YEC's. Maybe if I used the completely made up and unscientific term 'microevolution' you would have caught my meaning. Whether you call it micro, macro, or marco-polo evolution, the YEC deluge (or catastrophy) theory falls apart like wet tissue because of the vast range of species within the so-called 'kinds' that have had only 4000 years to 'microevolve' or whatever.

Romeocat sez: MACROevoluton is where I have major reservations. How is it that I supposedly evolved from pond scum? How did the pond scum evolve from inert matter? Where are the proofs for amoeba to man?
Frankly there probably aren't any proofs you'll accept anyways, I suspect, so why bother asking? Nevermind there is a fairly clear (though admittedly incomplete) reptile => mammal => primate => homonid => human progression* in the fossil record -- I doubt strongly that you even accept the fossil record. Or the geologic record, for that matter.

The incomplete bits in the progression* I gave above don't bother me. I studied history. Our understanding of what was happening in vast areas of the world are amazingly incomplete even if you just go back a few hundred years. DNA comparisons between species are confirming many of the links that the fossil record has hinted at....while also bringing up some unexpected surprizes. Also the 'inert matter => pond scum' link is, as I have said before, not related to evolution. That is abiogenesis, and it is a completely different thing.

* I don't like that word, it implies 'progress' which is NOT how the process works, but it is what I think I am stuck with due to the 'evolution' of the English language. If someone else can come up with a better word that recognises causality, but without the implication of improvement, I'd be much obliged.

I used to be an athiest. N... (Below threshold)
Newman:

I used to be an athiest. Now I believe God exists. As a result I've had to rethink my beliefs about the origins of life and even the universe. I believed the standard scientific explanations I learned at college, and I still think they are clever, even ingenious theories of how things came to be the way they are. But since they can't or won't consider the possibility of an Intelligent Designer, I have to discount them. It's ultimately a spiritual issue. I can no longer believe that the universe and life on earth just happened without any purpose or reason. It's rather sad to see this view being forced on people today, especially the young who are more easily indoctrinated. But, I can remember the way I used to think, and understand why the scientists of a nation that is gradually turning away from God, as the US is doing currently, would want to have a theory that can dispense with God (especially the God revealed in the Bible.) However, I still think they are wrong.

Don't get me wrong, I belie... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Don't get me wrong, I believe in God quite strongly. The idea of blindly relying on any ancient manuscript as an infallible scientific reality is what I reject.
Don't confuse science with atheism. Atheism is as much a 'faith' as any religion in so far as it is a belief that cannot be proven or disproven by any scientific means we yet have available. Science is a tool, or a method.

Actually they did map out t... (Below threshold)

Actually they did map out the entire DNA sequence (of humans, too)...just recently in fact.

Eric, I do appreciate scien... (Below threshold)
Newman:

Eric, I do appreciate science and the scientific method of study. I just can no longer slavishly follow scientists down a pathway that I think is wrong. Scientists can be wrong and/or misguided.

If you don't rely on the "ancient manuscript" (by which I believe God has revealed Himself) how do you know anything about God at all? I'm not saying the Bible should be used as a science text, but it does tell us about God. If He did indeed create the universe, then theories which say that life, and even the universe itself, developed through blind chance and meaningless accident, are wrong.

A very nice book book on th... (Below threshold)
Pigilito:

A very nice book book on the subject is Chance and Necessity (a reference to two tenents of evolution: mutation and natural selection). Written by Nobel prize winner J. Monod, it is wide ranging and incisive.

Additionally, Stephen Gould has authored many books which explain evolution.

Hmm, funny thing about scie... (Below threshold)
Rob Hackney:

Hmm, funny thing about science and evolution is, it tends to change when better information comes to hand. maybe not overnight, but it does. "Creationism" ISN'T a BETTER explanation. ( Unless you're a fundimentalist of course ) The scientific process is how we progress. So far, it's given us all the wonderful things we currently enjoy...a lot of them, yes, becuase of theories most of us might not understand.

What most people of the western educated world DO understand, that that system has a better chance of explaining things and questing for the answers, than a story written several thousand years ago that amalgamates several religions and apparently speaks of a being ( or a being who's relatives ) that likes to appear on oyster shells and old toasted cheese sandwiches.

These musings over ID are great and all, but intelligent people don't get philosopy and science mixed up generally. Philosophically you might even have an argument for creationism, but leave it out of text books, and stop attacking the knowledge that allows us to progress as a civilization.

Faith and logic do not mix. Faith, by it's very nature is illogical. Stick to one, and let the other be.

I await the papal inquisition.

Mark, Orac and Rusty get it... (Below threshold)
laocoon:

Mark, Orac and Rusty get it right on how science relies on falsifiable hypotheses. But there are two points to add.

Depending on what you think of the writers' motives, either (A) the sticker is deliberately designed to fool those who think science is divided into "known facts" and "dubious theories", or (B) the sticker is written in good faith by people who have no understanding of the difference between "scientific theory" and "unsupported speculation". I suspect the latter, supported by a healthy dose of "this supreme goal justifies any means."

Gravity (Newtonian or Einsteinian) is a theory. We can all observe that rocks fall when we release them - but those are just a bunch of discrete and disconnected observations. Any statement that attempts to present a pattern covering multiple cases is a "theory". One theory of gravity is that everything seeks its proper place. The proper place of rocks is the ground, the proper place of water is the ocean (that's why water falls into rivers, and rivers flow into the ocean), and the proper place of fire is the sky (see the sun and stars?). In fact, that was the accepted theory of gravity from Aristotle onward, as vigorously supported by the Catholic Church. Another theory is that the Earth has the magical property (shared by no other body) of exerting a constant downward pull on everything near it. This latter theory ("practical gravity") is good enough for almost all day to day purpose (e.g. computing the lift an airplane must generate in order to fly, computing strength of beams in skyscrapers, etc.)

But is it "True"? Of course not. Neither is Einstein's theory of gravity, which demonstrably makes false predictions and reduces to pure nonsense if you really push hard. Ask any quantum mechanic.

Aristotelian gravity, practical gravity, Newtonian gravity, Einsteinian gravity: all these theories are somewhat useful, but all are demonstrably False.

The issue in science is not "Truth" but "predictive power". The theory which does the best job of correctly making falsifiable predictions is the one we use. Not "the belief we hold to be Truth" but "the tools we use". No theory can pass the Truth test - but (to varying degrees, for varying purposes) many are useful tools in practical contexts.

Atoms are a theory - and only recently (early 1900's) did unequivocal evidence surface. For most practical purposes, it is quite sufficient to regard matter as continuous and infinitely divisible (even in mixing chemicals, such as household cooking: even a little child can do it with no need for atomic theory). I could multiply theories endlessly to make the point that ALL of science works that way.

In 1979 I saw Marvin Minsky debate a creationist at MIT. First, the creationist gave the standard lines attacking evolution, such as "creation of life by purely physical means is as likely as a tornado hitting a junk yard and assembling a 747!" He went on, in many different veins, for about 15 minutes. Then Minsky stood up, and essentially said that the theory of evolution was useful in deciding how to breed and hybridize crops and animals, creationism was not useful for any practical purpose, and therefore he would use evolutionary theory for practical purposes. And he sat down after about 30 seconds, to a cheering crowd. The creationist was apoplectic.

And that is the issue. Do you wish to defend a religous belief by pointing out how theories fail to meet an impossible standard of Truth? Or do you wish to obtain and use practical tools?

The former is "the indirect approach" (apologies to J. F. C. Fuller) to establishing religous thought, while the latter is science. Hence, the court was absolutely correct.

"This ruling contains mater... (Below threshold)
Neo:

"This ruling contains material based on jurisprudence. Jurisprudence is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of truth and justice. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

These musings over ID ar... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

These musings over ID are great and all, but intelligent people don't get philosopy and science mixed up generally. Philosophically you might even have an argument for creationism, but leave it out of text books, and stop attacking the knowledge that allows us to progress as a civilization.

You presume that Darwinism is helping us progress as a civilization. You confuse Darwinism with the entirety of science and the scientific method which indeed have been instrumental in civilized progress.

I don't see Darwinism as helping civilization at all. If anything, it has caused much more harm than good. Below are two examples that should illustrate my point.

Darwin wrote in the Descent of Man (1871):

At some future period, not
very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it
will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

Daniel Dennett wrote in Darwin's Dangerous Idea (1995):

Those whose visions dictate that they cannot peacefully coexist with the rest of us we will have to quarantine as best we can. . . . If you insist on teaching your children falsehoods--that the Earth is flat, that 'Man' is not a product of evolution by natural selection--then you must expect, at the very least, that those of us who have freedom of speech will feel free to describe your teachings as the spreading of falsehoods, and will attempt to demonstrate this to your children at the earliest opportunity. Our future well-being--the well-being of all of us on this planet--depends on the education of our descendants. What, then, of all the glories of our religious traditions? They should certainly be preserved, as should the languages, the art, the costumes, the rituals, the monuments

Back to Rob Hackney:

Faith and logic do not mix. Faith, by it's very nature is illogical. Stick to one, and let the other be.

That would be great. Tell that to those "scientists" like Dennett who want to relocate Christians to reservations, or to those like Darwin who want to kill off those pesky negroes and aborigines.

I await the papal inquisition.

If the federal judiciary keeps overstepping its bounds, you won't have to wait very long.

History shows us that governments which destroy religion go after intellectuals soon thereafter.

I let the Bible tell me WHY... (Below threshold)
Master of None:

I let the Bible tell me WHY, and science tell me HOW.

Problems only tend to arise when people mix up this assignment of responsibilities.

One other note. Very few Christian denominations require an adherence to the dogma of creationism.

(A) A problem with the stic... (Below threshold)
laocoon:

(A) A problem with the sticker is that it assumes there are "proven facts" and "speculative theories". That's not how science works, even if scientists sometimes act or talk that way. It's like the difference between a mathematicians speculative insight and the formal proof. To setup that distinction is itself an implicit rejection of the scientific method - quite apart from any particular quibble about evolution. The sticker is the "indirect approach" because it undermines the conceptual foundations of science, rather than directly attacking evolution.

(B) Sue,

You seriously misrepresent Dennett in two fundamental ways. First, he refers to a strictly intellectual 'quarantine', somewhat like MoN's comment "I let the Bible tell me WHY, and science tell me HOW."

Second, "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" is not evolution. DDI is that Aristotelian "essences" do not really exist. For example, there is not bright line between black people and white people. They blend together imperceptibly, like two mountains, even though the peaks of each are quite distinct. Similarly with species, which is why "chicken and egg" puzzles are fallacious: there was no first chicken (i.e. the one which first had the essential, defining characteristics of chickenness), just a gradual change. There is no discrete transition from feathered reptile to bird, or even between non-life and life. Are viruses alive? Prions? Jon Baez has a webpage on subcellular things that are not obviously either alive or not-alive. Another example of DDI: there is no bright line between alive and not-alive. Some things are clearly alive (me) and some things are clearly dead (my first puppy), but it is impossible to give a general definition of "alive" or "not-alive". Again, though the mountains have clearly distinct peaks, it is very hard to say precisely where one ends and t'other begins.

Evolution is merely one example of things lacking true essences. I could go into quantum mechanical examples, wherein Fock space is found to be a much more parsimonious representation than Hilbert space, but that would require a diversion into quantum field theory. BTW, QFT is just one reason why "atoms do not really exist", in the sense of being separate from each other and having separate constituents (electrons, quarks, etc.). Paul Teller wrote an excellent book, "an interpretive introduction to QFT". I suspect a lot of Creationists believe atoms are real, even though they are just a theory (and demonstrably better ones exist).

Darwin's Dangerous Idea is much more profound than evolution, as is evinced by its appearance in such profoundly un-biological areas as QFT.

" ... feathered dinosaur to... (Below threshold)
laocoon:

" ... feathered dinosaur to bird ..."

It is not the practice but ... (Below threshold)
AJ:

It is not the practice but is indeed the practitioners. If find them a hypocritical lot. (Not all, but MANY). I don't like anything the preaches judgement and intolerance.

Were you looking for this?

Sorry, you've got me wrong. I don't go to a gathering each week and profess to be a Christain (whose purpose is to love, forgive, etc.) and then turn around and spew hate (against gays, anyone who doesn't agree with them, people who wear jeans to church) etc. In my experience the Christians are the height of hypocrisy.

Smokeeater said: it was simply a sticker which basically said "think for yourself" and that was interpreted as religious, HOW?

Because the ONLY thing they could be implying is that a "God" created the universe.

Sue, if the local school bo... (Below threshold)
Drew - Dallas, TX:

Sue, if the local school board doesn't like the recommended textbooks - they need to take it up with the State board of Education.

I don't disagree with you about the way that the Judicial system is behaving lately, and busybodies, as I indicated earlier, don't really care about what's in the book.

The whole thing stems from some group of jackasses affiliated with or directly on the school board who took offense at the material. Instead of simply taking the time to explain to their own kids about the difference and moving on, they made an attempt to thrust a religious message on everyone else and pursue it until it gets out of hand and all the way to the courts.

What would the real benefit have been from this had the school board won? Does it involve tangible benefits for the students in any way, shape or form?

laocoon wrote:... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

laocoon wrote:

You seriously misrepresent Dennett in two fundamental ways. First, he refers to a strictly intellectual 'quarantine', somewhat like MoN's comment "I let the Bible tell me WHY, and science tell me HOW."

Strictly intellectual quarantine? You wish. You can keep apologizing for Dennett all you want, but let the good people here decide what Dennett meant from this other DDI quote:

Dennett:

What, then, of all the glories of our religious traditions? They should certainly be preserved, as should the languages, the art, the costumes, the rituals, the monuments. Zoos are now more and more being seen as second-class havens for endangered species, but at least they are havens, and what they preserve is irreplaceable. The same is true of complex memes and their phenotypic expressions. ... Shall we deconsecrate these churches and turn them into museums, or retrofit them for some other use? The latter fate is at least to be preferred to their destruction. ... And there's the rub. What will happen, one may well wonder, if religion is preserved in cultural zoos, in libraries, in concerts and demonstrations? It is happening; the tourists flock to watch the Native American tribal dances, and for the onlookers it is folklore, a religious ceremony, certainly, to be treated with respect, but also an example of a meme complex on the verge of extinction, at least in its strong, ambulatory phase; it has become an invalid, barely kept alive by its custodians.

Dennett doesn't want to merely partition religion from science. He wants relegate religion to a tourist attraction, at best. "Hey Bob, we should take the kids to the Evangelical Reservation this weekend and watch those fundies dance around with snakes! Maybe we can get some of that quaint cross jewelry too, what do you think?"

Back to laocoon:

Second, "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" is not evolution.

[stuff about transitions, lines, "dead/not dead"]

Darwin's Dangerous Idea is much more profound than evolution, as is evinced by its appearance in such profoundly un-biological areas as QFT.

That's great. So because this idea can be applied to many scientific fields, it should be applied to society and civilization as well? Seems to me that the doctrine of keeping religion and science separate is ignored by people like Dennett when science encroaches on religion. And saying something along the lines of "you will believe this or you will suffer consequences," in my opinion, does encroach on religion.

Interesting discussion.... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Interesting discussion.

I think there are serious problems with evolution as a theory for the origins of life.

I think that there are many scientists married fully to the theory of evolution, solely because it is currently the only explaination they have to explain life that removes God.

I think many evolutionists are scared to have the theory questioned, they are just as dogmatic about their religion of science as many a Christian is to their belief.

I think evolution more than anything is proving that our schools have moved away from teaching critical thinking, and moved towards pure indoctrination. If evolutionists believed in criticial thinking skills, they wouldn't care if evolution and its shortcomings were discussed and they wouldn't feel threatened by the mere suggestion that there is some other explaination and one that might include some type of God.

Drew wrote:... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Drew wrote:

The whole thing stems from some group of jackasses affiliated with or directly on the school board who took offense at the material. Instead of simply taking the time to explain to their own kids about the difference and moving on, they made an attempt to thrust a religious message on everyone else and pursue it until it gets out of hand and all the way to the courts.

First, I don't about an "attempt" but I do know that there is absolutely no religious message on the sticker! If you and others want to keep saying that there is a religious message on the sticker, please tell me what the religion is!

Second, so what about "a group of jackasses" on a school board? They are allowed to do anything they want in that school district, and noone else outside of that district has any right (except an invented one) to say otherwise! Why? Because of democracy. If they want to teach that the moon is made of cheese, and the parents don't agree with it, the parents can protest and/or vote the "jackasses" right off of the board. If that doesn't work, then it's easier than ever in this modern age to move to another more hospitable district. Voting with one's feet, as it were.

What would the real benefit have been from this had the school board won? Does it involve tangible benefits for the students in any way, shape or form?

Yes. It would allow them to be taught in a fashion that the majority of parents in that district want them to be taught.

How about the opposite question: what benefit is there from the judicial intervention? None. If anything, there is harm to our uniquely distributed form of government. It creates a kind of Procustes' bed, where a group of elites decides that one size of education (or justice, or what have you) fits all, and you're damned if your legs hang over the footboard.

I think there are seriou... (Below threshold)
Sean:

I think there are serious problems with evolution as a theory for the origins of life.

I think that there are many scientists married fully to the theory of evolution, solely because it is currently the only explaination they have to explain life that removes God.

I think any scientist worth his salt will tell you that evolution is certainly not a theory about the origins of life. It is a theory about the origin of species.

I have a serious question regarding speciation that I thought of last night after reading Jasons post about the mice and fruitfly speciation:

Why hasn't there been any speciation in humans? (I'm referring to homo sapiens). Please correct me if I'm wrong, but h. sapien has been around for many thousands of years. The "indigenous" people of the Americas arrived via a landbridge some 20,000 years ago. In all that time, why has there been no speciation? I say there has been none because when Europeans arrived inter-breeding was, and is, possible. Seems like in 20,000 years and several thousand generations speciation should occur. Is there a reason it hasn't? (Like I said, this is a serious question, if you're only response is "You're too stupid and unscientific to understand" then please refrain from replying. Thank you.)

"The whole thing stems from... (Below threshold)
Elisa:

"The whole thing stems from some group of jackasses affiliated with or directly on the school board who took offense at the material."

Hey, if I want to be ignored I'll just go talk at my teenagers! READ THE ORDER. The sticker was NOT an attempt by the school board to promote creationism. It was an attempt by the school board to placate creationist parents who did not want evolution taught at all. The school board was adamant that it would be taught and was looking for a way to please everyone, which is not out of line given that, even in public schools, parents have the legal right to direct their children's educations.

What I find disturbing about the order is that their reasoning is based on the idea that the sticker in some way marginalized non-creationists by making them feel like "outsiders." I can certainly see their point, but theoretically the creationist parents could bring suit for the same reason due to the lack of education regarding any alternate theories on the origins of life. They've set up a situation that can't be resolved.

there is no bright line ... (Below threshold)
Sean:

there is no bright line between alive and not-alive. Some things are clearly alive (me) and some things are clearly dead (my first puppy), but it is impossible to give a general definition of "alive" or "not-alive"

Impossible to give a definition of "alive" or "not-alive"? Really? Let's see: eats, grows, reproduces = "alive"; doesn't eat, grow, or reproduce = "not alive". That seemed simple enough. Now, where did I go wrong?

Good point Elisa about the ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Good point Elisa about the origins of the sticker, and this decision.

Sean I have wondered the same thing about humans. One of those things that science probably can't answer.

I think what is troublesome about this decision is that the court has basically seemed to decide that any criticism of evolution automatically has a religious base, that is a big whoops which will have other ramifications than this decision alone.


Thanks, Just Me. I needed t... (Below threshold)
Elisa:

Thanks, Just Me. I needed to know I wasn't invisible ;)

I'd also like to add how disturbing I find it that complex theories like evolution are apparently being taught BEFORE the students are taught the basics of science, such as what "theory" means in scientific terms. If everyone is clear on what "theory" means in science then the stickers become moot.

(A) I'll respond non-bellig... (Below threshold)
laocoon:

(A) I'll respond non-belligerently to belligerent comments. Some of my ancestors were forced onto real reservations by the US Army, and that's not what Dennett is talking about.

Second, read what you quoted: "The latter fate is at least to be preferred to their destruction." He is not advocating the destruction; he is describing how people have behaved in the past and are likely do so again. They lurch from one extreme to another: one year the Church and Monarchy are ruling society with an iron fist, and the next year they reject everything and the Jacobins are burning the churches and proclaiming the Church of Reason. Dennett is clearly bemoaning the loss of culture which he values. You, he, and I may value it for the same or differing reasons, but we all value it.

Third, churchs in Europe already are pretty much museums, attended only by an ever-dwindling population of pensioners, and maintained by the State for their 'cultural heritage' value. The situation Dennett describes came about a long time ago, and I don't recall seeing any "Catholic Reservations" the last few times I was in France. I don't like the situation of Christianity in Europe, nor would I agree with people who advocate it, or who criticize Americans for going to church too much.

I'm not defending Dennett's every word as you implied (I disagree with a lot); I was disagreeing with the assertion that he advocated separate reservations for religious folks. Besides, who ever said I was non-religous? Whoever said I was anything but pro-Christian? In short, be careful about shooting at people you do not know well: you might be shooting at one of your natural allies.

(B) Responding to Sean. It's obvious that a rough definition catches most of it: most of the mountain is pretty obvious. The problem comes in making a precise technical definition. "Eats, grows, reproduces" comes close, but you can immediately get into the typical gradeschool debate as to whether or not fire is alive. It eats the raw material around it, grows like wildfire, and reproduces by sending out little bits of itself. Sounds kind of like a slime mold (or even the life cycle of a forest). And what about crystals of a compound? It consumes the raw material around it, grows by producing new crystalline structure, reproduces, etc.

And what do plants "eat"? Light, H2O and CO2. As long as they are in a suitable environment, they grow. But they don't "eat" in any discernible sense.

"Growth" is obvious, but it gets a little unclear what counts as "eating" and "reproduction". What's the difference between "eating" and "consuming" - except to say that living things "eat" while crystals and fires merely "consume"? Then you are back at a circular defintion: living things are those which do what living things do. Useless.

The usual objection to the fire and crystal examples is that they have no stored record of their own structure, hence every 'offspring' is just a perfect static duplicate of the 'parent', with the structure dictated by basic chemistry.

One might almost say that they are not alive because they lack the ability to pass on their structure, possibly modified, to their 'descendents'. That is, they are not alive precisely because they could never evolve.


Many people say viruses are not alive, as they are usually seen as strictly parasitic and unable to exist on their own. They are just a bit of DNA wrapped in a coat of protein molecules. They have to be in a bath of the right chemicals (like a plant?). Also, their chemical structure is simple enough that they crystallize like minerals when dried out. And yet, Spiegelman's Monsters (google it) lived completely outside any other organism, and evolved at a furious rate. And viruses have been completely assembled from raw chemicals - at which point did they suddenly become 'alive'?


What about things like prions? These are just individual bare proteins that reproduce. They have a internal record sufficient to reproduce their own structure, they consume chemicals from their environment, and they reproduce until they completely choke a cow's brain and produce mad cow disease.

But wait ... they are just one bare protein, a mere chemical with no structure (no nucleus, no cell walls, etc.) Even a virus is vastly more complex (DNA wrapped in proteins).

The usual objection is that they can not live on their own; they have to be inside the right part of the right animal. Unless they are placed in just the right environment, they disintingrate. But wait ... isn't that "eating" in exactly the sense in which a tree "eats"? After all, all a plant needs is raw energy and a bath of two simple chemicals.

If you have a set of chemical reactions, that feed each other in a cycle of reactions, each of which accelerates and catalyzes one of the others, is that life? Such "autocatalytic sets", or ACS, are not hard to create (even at random; google it) - but how are they essentially different from a much larger ACS that relies on light, H2O and CO2? Darwin's Dangerous Idea is that there is no "essential" defining difference in many cases, including this one.

Anyway, "eats" and "reproduces" is a start, but it is very, very hard to fix the problems with those rough, common sense definitions.

sean sez: Why hasn't the... (Below threshold)
Eric:

sean sez: Why hasn't there been any speciation in humans? (I'm referring to homo sapiens). Please correct me if I'm wrong, but h. sapien has been around for many thousands of years. The "indigenous" people of the Americas arrived via a landbridge some 20,000 years ago. In all that time, why has there been no speciation? I say there has been none because when Europeans arrived inter-breeding was, and is, possible. Seems like in 20,000 years and several thousand generations speciation should occur. Is there a reason it hasn't?
This actually isn't that dumb of a question. 20,000 years is about 1,100 generations give or take a couple hundred, not 'thousands' but 'a thousand.' But that is just quibbling, in a way. There are several issues with speciation: isolation with resulting inbreeding, environmental changes, and a lot of time. The population that lived in the pre-columbian Americas was fairly large from the beginning. There were also successive 'waves' of immigration from Asia, which led to a number of communities with different 'gene pools' living in different areas. There was still a certain amount of travel throughout both continents, which kept the several gene pools from getting too isolated. Humans are deeply conditioned against inbreeding -- the incest taboo is very strong in most cultures.

Impossible to give a definition of "alive" or "not-alive"? Really? Let's see: eats, grows, reproduces = "alive"; doesn't eat, grow, or reproduce = "not alive". That seemed simple enough. Now, where did I go wrong?

What about a virus? A virus eats nothing, does not grow, and can only replicate by invading another cell. However, it is at least based on a DNA or RNA fragment. Prions aren't even made up of any genetic code, they are just rogue protiens. Again, they don't eat or grow, either.

If you were to have a virus get into your bloodstream, but it wasn't a virus that could be taken into a human cell, then it'll pass right though you because it is inert. Unliving. But if a virus gets into your cell, then it takes over the cell and reproduces. No eating, no growing, just rapid reproduction. Even then, is the virus alive, or not?

Elisa wrote:I c... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

Elisa wrote:

I can certainly see their point, but theoretically the creationist parents could bring suit for the same reason due to the lack of education regarding any alternate theories on the origins of life.

they could i suppose, but they would be on less than solid ground in doing so.

theory: A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.

-from the american heritage dictionary

the biblical creation story isnt a theory, as there is no evidence that proves or demostrates any of it. of course, someone can say that the sun is evidence enough or something like that, but really there isnt any empirical evidence that points to those 3-6000 year old documents as containing the literal truth about the creation of the earth.

granted i have a hard time with teaching current evolutionary theory as absolute fact, and thats not how science is supposed to be taught anyway. copernicus had some ideas that made sense, but galileo really hit the nail on the head. darwin and wallace had some good ideas, but gould and eldridge, and others, have refined things more so. i dont doubt that more people will come along and figure things out that make some current ideas obsolete. it happens, and thats whats good about science.

for me evolution doesnt explain the beginning of life as well as it explains the diversity. the beginning part is still pretty sketchy, but then, its more efficient than "Let there be light."

the christian creation story is interesting. its an origin myth that dates back 3 thousand or so years, created by pastoralists in the desert. i just dont understand the modern christian insistence on the literal truth in those texts. is that really what they should be worried about? does a 4.6 billion year old earth really challenge the sermon on the mount, or christian philosophy? i dont think so, but what the hell do i know?

One tradition states that Lao Tsu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star, was carried in his mother's womb for 82 years, and was born as an old man.

is that literally true? does it matter? does the fact that the origin story isnt true invalidate the wisdom of Lao Tsu and Taoist thought? Nope.

i dont know why some christians get so worked up about all this. nobody has all the answers, but some people have some pretty good ones.

Sean wrote:... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Sean wrote:

Impossible to give a definition of "alive" or "not-alive"? Really? Let's see: eats, grows, reproduces = "alive"; doesn't eat, grow, or reproduce = "not alive". That seemed simple enough. Now, where did I go wrong?

I'm mostly on your side, Sean, so don't hate me for doing this...

Fire. It consumes (eats), grows, and reproduces, and "dies." Is fire alive?

(A really old trick answer from a really old broad here.)

Point taken, r.a. - there a... (Below threshold)
Elisa:

Point taken, r.a. - there are currently NO other viable scientific theories regarding the origin of life. Creationism and ID are religious/philosophical theories. But the creationists could still argue that point - that the only theory on the origins of life being presented to their children is the scientific theory of evolution.

I'm not advocating any particular course of action in terms of what is taught, I'm just interested in the potential legal ramifications.

well, virus reproduces, so ... (Below threshold)
Sean:

well, virus reproduces, so I'd say on a very basic level it is alive, yes. My definition was eats, grows, or reproduces. Any one of them defines life at its most basic. Otherwise you have nothing more than an inert chemical.

As for the speciation of humans. This is where my ignorance shines. I understood that the land bridge to North America disappeared 20,000 years ago. Unless there is some theory that people in boats crossed the oceans some 10,000 years ago, I would think the entire North American population would speciate from the rest of the world, same for the indigenous people of Australia.

It sounds from your explanation Eric that speciation only occurs with very small populations of animals that are inbred. Is that right?

Problem is that you assume ... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

Problem is that you assume that people who have issues with evolution want creationism taught. Some might, but most people like me who object to evolution being taught object to it being taught the way it was taught to me, which is that it was taught as a basic dogma.

I never had a single teacher or proffessor tell me where the weaknesses in the theory were-something I think should be part of the general teaching of the theory. Also, much of what was used as examples of evolution are now known (and some were known then) to be false examples-like the peppered moths, the horse evolution, etc.

The scientific community seems to be so wedded to the concept that evolution is the only explanation out there, that they are threatened by anyone questioning the theory, when there are holes all in it, especially when you get to the part where you try to explain how non living particles turn into people and other animals. These holes should be discussed openly and honestly in all science classes where the theory is taught. Students should be able to look at this information, think about it, and reach their own conclusions, but the general position at this time, and as indicated by this decision is that any and all questioning of the theory is religious in nature and shouldn't be brought up.


Seems to me the scientific community is more into indoctrination than teaching young students critical thinking.

That's a good one Sue, I'll... (Below threshold)
Sean:

That's a good one Sue, I'll have to think on it. My off the cuff answer is that no, fire isn't alive, because it doesn't truly grow or reproduce, and it doesn't "eat" - I know "consume" is used to describe what a fire does to flammable materials, but in that usage it is not synonomous with "eat". That isn't a great explanation by me, but I don't have time for more. I'll think on it though.

But you see, the problem I ... (Below threshold)

But you see, the problem I have here, is that with this ruling, the judges are basically telling this school district that they MUST teach evolution (and only evolution) as ABSOLUTE FACT! The sticker did NOT say that ID/Creation was even an alternative. I agree that the science textbook itself should define what a theory is and so on, and beyond that should state what parts of the text are theories, but do you really think this school board would have been able to use that book (which basically said the same thing as the sticker, only in the text) and not have some busybody judge have to rule on it? How do you think the Judge found out? Some parent probably got "offended" when they saw the sticker and didn't want their child to be taught ANYTHING that would even remotely suggest that evolution might be wrong, and therefore prompt them to think for themselves and where would that lead, to OTHER theories (and yes, I know, I/D is the only other one out there).

As for the comments about how does creation being "wrong" invalidate the message of Jesus? The Bible is not a collection of essays, it is an account of history from Creation to a certain point (sorry I don't have Old Testament with me) then it is the account of the life of Christ and his apostles and their message. If the O/T is even IN PART untrue, then the prophecies about the Messiah are untrue, and therefore there is no Messiah and every Jewish man, woman, and child are living in a false religion. Also, if Christ isn't the Messiah, then Christians are doing the same. By even one part of the Bible not being true (after all it is the "word of God") then the rest of it falls away. I believe creation as the origin of life, but I also believe that when the world was created and life began, that the species (with the exception of humans) looked VERY different, and thus evolved to what we have today, how elses would each species have survived? And, as for the question about the "rapid speciation" after the flood, with my belief in a God that created the planet and all life on it, I believe also that he could guide the speciation of each animal on the ark to happen overnight if he wanted to.

sean wrote:Plea... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

sean wrote:

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but h. sapien has been around for many thousands of years. The "indigenous" people of the Americas arrived via a landbridge some 20,000 years ago. In all that time, why has there been no speciation?

H. sapien has been around for some 100-200,000 years, depending on who you ask. the oldest dates of human occupation in the americas with solid evidence are in the 13,000 year timeline. (see Brian Fagan's "Ancient North America" ch. 4)

speciation requires a great deal of time, especially for organisms with fairly long life cycles like us. apparently more than 13,000 years is required for humans to speciate.

of course, new finds could completely change all of that.

Sean,I can only en... (Below threshold)
laocoon:

Sean,

I can only encourage you to think carefully about the fire and crystal examples. But I warn you, these examples have been debated for hundreds of years, and I doubt any of us here are smart enough to think of something that has eluded lots of smart, dedicated people for a long time. As I mentioned above, the usual answer to the fire and crystal examples is that they lack an internal record of their own structure. Thus, the structure of their "offspring" is determined entirely by the disembodied, unchanging laws of physics, not by the particular, local *structure* of the parents.

One thing that strikes me about this whole discussion is that people keep assuming that only a narrow range of positions are possible:
(A) Hard Creationism, Intelligent Design, etc.
(B) Bible says WHY; Science says HOW
(C) Christian ethics is independent of old pastoralists' metaphors
(D) Dogmatic scientism (I won't dignify it with the term "science")
(E) Tentative and self-critical science

There are some radically different other positions. For example, I know a VERY French lady who ridicules Americans for not teaching evolution in high school, but she herself is adamantly anti-evolution! She, and many other Europeans, is extremely put off by the "dogmatic scientism" and heartless brutality of "survival of the fittest". She, and many other Europeans, strongly believe in the Roussauian nobility of the human spirit, and find Rousseau to be simply incompatible with the vision of evolution she was given.

Such people are adamantly anti-evolution, and adamantly anti-religion. You might wish to consider how such people fit into your conceptual scheme. I've poked around in various European circles, and I've found they are not rare. If this dialog is a debate between religion and science, how can so many people be both "anti-religion" and "anti-science", when those two are supposed to be (exclusive and exhaustive) opposites?

So I think this whole debate is rather too narrow, as it is based on a set of assumptions (religion vs. evolution) that are not as widely held as some would you believe.

smoke eater:i dont... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

smoke eater:

i dont think that untrue parts of the old testament or new testament automatically falsify christian philosophy, but thats my opinion.

old testament texts have elements that come from other influences. check out the "Epic of Gilgamesh," a mesopotamian myth that has some very biblical ideas, but PREDATE the old testament. there's even a boat thats built by the hero, animals are loaded onto it, etc.

my point is that lots of cultures have creation stories, very old creation stories. assuming that ONE version is the only correct version is a little short sighted to me.

i guess what you're telling me is that christian faith hinges on an absolute literal interpretation of the bible. so "jonah and the whale" is a literal story, or is it metaphorical???

lacoon wrote:So... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

lacoon wrote:

So I think this whole debate is rather too narrow, as it is based on a set of assumptions (religion vs. evolution) that are not as widely held as some would you believe.

Survival of the fittest: that term has been misunderstood and misused in more social darwinist terms by alot of people. many people think that it is some brutal view of "how life works" and that it refers to the survival of the strongest and most brutal. not so.

"fitness" is reproductive success, thats all.

and by all means, open up the debate. i dont think that the debate is about religion vs. evolution, but more about a small sect of christians vs. some scientific ideas. the issue here is whether or not christian texts are to be taken literally or not, and whether they should be taught as scientific theory.

From Sue:"You pres... (Below threshold)
Rob Hackney:

From Sue:

"You presume that Darwinism is helping us progress as a civilization. You confuse Darwinism with the entirety of science and the scientific method which indeed have been instrumental in civilized progress.


I don't see Darwinism as helping civilization at all. If anything, it has caused much more harm than good. Below are two examples that should illustrate my point."

Why are you quoting Darwin? I never said anything about Darwin. We're talking about evolution, not the intricacies of one man of his time who errs into the realm of moral judgement himself.

Don't assume I trust in everything Darwin says, and I won't assume all Christians who value the bible also advocate slavery or that eating shellfish curses you in the same way to God as apparently being a Homosexual does. Simple.

From Sue again:
"That would be great. Tell that to those "scientists" like Dennett who want to relocate Christians to reservations, or to those like Darwin who want to kill off those pesky negroes and aborigines."

Why do so many christians feel persecuted? They are still the huge majority in the states. Do you honestly think you're in danger of being put into a 'reservation' ? And yes, obviously society is about to perform mass genocide on particular ethnic groups becuase they don't conform to an 18th century or so view of things. We have things called morals and ethics.

The only people who advocate GENOCIDE in North America are Christian Reconstructionists. Look them up. Complete nutjobs.

And a scientist sticks to what he/she does. Science. Anythnig they might say beyond that..well. Being intelligent doesn't make you wise. Again I think you're confused.

Sue:
"If the federal judiciary keeps overstepping its bounds, you won't have to wait very long.
History shows us that governments which destroy religion go after intellectuals soon thereafter."

Are you comparing Bush to a facist regime? You're implying they share similar traits there. ( Untrue of course as Bush is NOT destroying religion ) And no one else is either. I assume you must be outraged at how courts and the neocon govt are currently stickingtheir noses into your bedroom and personal lives though. So much for "small govt" there sadly.

BTW, the Fed Judiciary is an arm of govt. You might want to read up on how it works in relation to tempering the other pillars of power. Laws will always need to be interpreted. Sometimes ruling go against what you might personally believe in. Don't hate them for it, find a better argument to change a ruling or stack the court with people of your view. Don't worry, that will happen soon.

Very well, Sue, but allo... (Below threshold)
Drew - Dallas, TX:

Very well, Sue, but allow[ing] them to be taught in a fashion that the majority of parents in that district want them to be taught is not a benefit for the students. You are right however, the jackasses in question can do anything they want in that school district, including, apparently using state funds to purchase any textbook for their local school system. While the two ideas cannot be taught alongside each other, why not a proposal for optional after school study of one or the other?

Obviously, I don't really know the answer to this, but if the school board has to indicate that any textbook has to be carefully considered with a sticker, and that actually pleases, in this case a handful of creationist parents as Elisa pointed out, I've got a problem with that because there is seemingly no end to this. The creationist parents/school board should have gone a different route. A sticker? I still don't buy it.

I'm not trying to be snarky about it - and it's a difficult issue, but to me it reeks of activist parents like Newdow who don't really care about the way that this type action impacts their own kids.

I am also enjoying this discussion and especially the interpretations of the order, which is in no way using the mask of creationism for religious purposes - right?

You people have to stop. Th... (Below threshold)
TC:

You people have to stop. This is more critical thinking than the courts wanted.

Enough already. If one read... (Below threshold)
Rusty Wilson:

Enough already. If one reads all the earlier posts, including two of my own, then one can see we are talking about science class. Guess what they teach there? They teach Science, not religion. If you want religion taught, add a religion class, or for that mater a philosophy class. Of course, to add such a class would be a waste of tax payer money. High school is collage prep. The questions and comments that everyone raises are meant to be tackled in Collage, and they are, not junior high or high school.

Every criticism that has been leveled can be aimed at every scientific principal. The teachers understand this. They explain the scientific method in class. You can’t single out one item. Maybe you don’t want science taught? Then every other country will bury us economically. American diplomas won’t be worth the paper they are printed on.

Do you want someone coming into church and placing warning labels on religious text books? Of course not. You say school is different? Well if you can interfere there, shouldn’t someone be able to interfere with Sunday school or bible school?

Science and religion are not opposed, (see my earlier post). Intelligent design is not a theory, nor should it be taught.

Why is our sight so bad? Other animals have great sight. Why is our hearing so bad? Our land speed? Our ability to jump? Climb? Fly? Other animals have advantages in these areas also. Is the addition of aids, flu, strep, ect., such an intelligent idea?

When God created the Universe, there was a process. We call finding that process that God used Science. Therefore, when we talk about the formation of life, the universe and everything, we are talking about the process that God used to create the universe. Metaphorically, science is the process of locking into Gods eye.

We might be able to create a sun some day. However, if we could, that still wouldn’t disprove God.

When God gave us the qualities that make us human, they were in his image. He was able to limit them. We can see, but not for 500 hundred miles. We can hear, but not a pin drop three miles away. You get the picture. There was however one quality that he could not limit. That endowment is free will.

There is no way to limit free will. Therefore, we have the whole enchilada. Since we have free will, God can not interfere. If he intervened, we would not have free will.

Do you have free will? If you do there is a God. If you believe there is no God, only science, then you have no free will. You are only responding to a complex set of stimuli that have caused you to respond the way that you have. In that case, in the future, we will identify all the stimuli that affect you. Then we will tell you how your entire life will unfold.

After all, if it is just a complex system, like the weather, humanity will one day figure it out.

This is my last post on the subject. Please reference my two earlier posts.

Rusty

Drew wrote:... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Drew wrote:

Why are you quoting Darwin? I never said anything about Darwin. We're talking about evolution, not the intricacies of one man of his time who errs into the realm of moral judgement himself.

Someone who can connect religion to a sticker not mentioning religion cannot connect Darwin to evolution.

Why am I not surprised?

Don't assume I trust in everything Darwin says, and I won't assume all Christians who value the bible also advocate slavery or that eating shellfish curses you in the same way to God as apparently being a Homosexual does. Simple.

I'm sure Christians will thank you for not assuming that.


Why do so many christians feel persecuted?

Maybe because there are people who have implied that they want Christianity (and all other religion, for that matter) eliminated, and mainstream opinion doesn't call them nutjobs. Instead, they have supposedly sane people defending them - fanatically.

They are still the huge majority in the states. Do you honestly think you're in danger of being put into a 'reservation' ?

My people were put into camps once. One would have thought that six million or so of us would have been enough to stop it from happening. One would have been wrong. It took armies consisting of mostly Christians to stop it. Thank God for the Christians.

The madman who masterminded it wrote a book years before implying that such a thing needed to be done. People defended him too, saying he was misunderstood and misinterpreted.

And yes, obviously society is about to perform mass genocide on particular ethnic groups becuase they don't conform to an 18th century or so view of things. We have things called morals and ethics.

When there is no God, there is only Man and Man's law. What they did to my ancestors was perfectly legal. They made the laws, then rushed off to implement them.

Some would say their only mistake was that they went too fast.

The only people who advocate GENOCIDE in North America are Christian Reconstructionists. Look them up. Complete nutjobs.

If these people were being held up as the brightest and most forward-thinking minds of our time, I would be worried about them. I'm not.

And it's funny that how much you're assuming here. You assume I'm a Christian, then you think you're insulting me by painting Christians with a broad brush - the very thing you warned me against.

And a scientist sticks to what he/she does. Science. Anythnig they might say beyond that..well. Being intelligent doesn't make you wise. Again I think you're confused.

How is advocating racial genocide "sticking to science?" How is applying Darwinism to culture and society "sticking to science?"

It's not. That's my main complaint. If you want a fair demilitarized zone between scientists and religion, then a lot of scientists should stop invading.

Are you comparing Bush to a facist regime? You're implying they share similar traits there. ( Untrue of course as Bush is NOT destroying religion ) And no one else is either. I assume you must be outraged at how courts and the neocon govt are currently stickingtheir noses into your bedroom and personal lives though. So much for "small govt" there sadly.

Bush is not the judiciary. You're all over the place here. You also sound like a leftist. I also hope the little "neocon" snipe there isn't what I think it is.

BTW, the Fed Judiciary is an arm of govt. You might want to read up on how it works in relation to tempering the other pillars of power. Laws will always need to be interpreted.

BAHAHAHAHAAAA! You crack me up. First you can't connect Darwin to evolution, now you think that it's okay for the judicial branch to create laws from nothing while misnaming it interpretation.

Sometimes ruling go against what you might personally believe in. Don't hate them for it, find a better argument to change a ruling or stack the court with people of your view. Don't worry, that will happen soon.

What's my view again? You seem to know it better than me. Oh right, that's that assumption thing again.

Thanks for the entertainment! This is the most fun I've had in months.

Shit, sorry Drew, my bad. I... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Shit, sorry Drew, my bad. I meant Rob Hackney.

A lot of comments center on... (Below threshold)
Tony:

A lot of comments center on the premise that the stickers were put there by religious fundamentalists to promote creationism at the expense of evolution. Is it not also plausible that many promote evolution as an immutable truth not because of "facts", but in an effort to discard creationism? Let's not be naive and think that only one side might have impure motives.

OK, in order to save my inb... (Below threshold)

OK, in order to save my inbox and also to save my own sanity (or what's left of it), I am going to open a pure discussion thread separate from this one. This thread was started because of a sticker, and turned into a discussion of "science vs. religion" which by the way, is NOT a real fight. The "Church" (meaning pretty much ALL faiths) embrace science because there are things that must be studied, and so on, but to say that "there is no God" or "we came from monkeys" or "life started from a big bang" is NOT true science, because those things CAN NOT be proven beyond all doubt. But, as I said, I am going to start a thread at Science Vs Religion and I've also put the URL below so you can copy and paste as well. Anyone with other topic ideas please leave a comment on the post at the top of the page and I'll get back to you on those if I need further info.

http://science-vs-religion.blogspot.com/

"fitness" is reproductiv... (Below threshold)
Sean:

"fitness" is reproductive success, thats all.

Actually, fitness refers to an animals ability to adapt to its surroundings. You may have meant that with "reproductive success", but your term sounds like success at mating alone.

sean-success at ma... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

sean-

success at mating is a good way of measuring how well an organism has adapted to a specific environment.

Quote from Jason: Septeus7,... (Below threshold)
Septeus7:

Quote from Jason: Septeus7, I believe Paul asked for speciation events. These were provided. Now you want me to provide something else, changes in "major body plans".Didn't I ask quite clearly not to move goalposts?

Thats assumes there was an agreed upon goalpost. You're examples are just playing semantics with the taxnomical catagories and you know it. You know perfectly well the "reproductive isolation" is a relative concept so don't appeal to it as objective.

Quote: If I went around asking "derive the mass of the electron from first principles", I wouldn't get very far, would I?

Nice try, that is a catagory error because 1. mass like force is a primative concept (i.e. it derives from the equivalence principle which is primary) and 2. the unit
measurement of an object is something that is raw data not a mechanism to be explained. Theories are explainations of things and every mechanism of every theory of science can be derived from the first principles except for MS; maybe because its to complex or maybe MS doesn't work but please don't pretend that anything in biology is comparable to physics.

Quote: A Nevertheless, I can still introduce you to some voltage across the nipples should you suddenly have a heart attack. There are problems with the theory, although we can provide you with a measured mass of the electron.

Thats no theory, thats a very imprecise measurement protocol. Do you even know that you are talking about?

Quote: Gene alleles change over time. I can't show you fish crawling onto land and devloping lungs and legs, but I can show you other things, from fossils, gene sequences, comparative morphology and developmental biology.

Please, I could should you that my teaspoon looks my handled measuring cup which looks like my frying pan, which looks like my kettle. It doesn't follow that my teaspoon's descendants evolved into modern kettles. Morphology and developmental biology can show nothing about true biological relationships. Its just an example of the interpetative construct being imposed apriori.

Fossils show complex hierarchies which could be interpeted many ways. The Evoluationary prediction record regarding the fossil has been terrible which is why you decided to introduce punkEk. You know perfectly well it is spurtz and statis which Darwin didn't predict.

Quote from the idiot Jason: It might surprise you to know that there is more evidence for evolution than there is for electromagnetic theory. If you want to set the same standard for the standard model that you want to apply for evolution, I suggest you break out some stickers and plaster them all over your monitor, because it's all running on theory shakier than evolution.

Really? Tell that to a physists. Here's the website of a random engineer ....http://mrminority.blogspot.com/ *Snickers* Its the quality of the evidence my friend not volume that counts in Science. If the evidence is so good please derive MS mechanisms from first principles. I'm still waiting...

Quote: I suspect I'll get a lot of flack for that last paragraph, but so what? Gene alleles change over time. Is this in dispute?

No, its not it disputed and it has NOTHING to do with the "origins of livings things" Learn to read.

Quote: Crying about body design and quibbling over what is considered change in information (variations or change? Please!) is not evidence to the contrary, I'm afraid.

No its evidence that you didn't show any evidence in the first place. It is you theory buddy, defend it with actual evidence next time.

I'm just going by the intro... (Below threshold)
Sean:

I'm just going by the intro to Origin of Species.

Someone please explain to m... (Below threshold)

Someone please explain to me why the origins of life are excluded from the theory of evolution. I just don't understand that. The theory revolves around species changing over time from less complex to more complex. Why does the theory stop at the first one-celled organism? Doesn't the theory include how that organism came into being? If not, why not?

smoke Eater asserts: The... (Below threshold)
Eric:

smoke Eater asserts: The "Church" (meaning pretty much ALL faiths) embrace science because there are things that must be studied, and so on, but to say that "there is no God" or "we came from monkeys" or "life started from a big bang" is NOT true science, because those things CAN NOT be proven beyond all doubt.
There is absolutely and exactly NOTHING that can be proven beyond all doubt. Ever. Don't believe me? Prove to me that you exits, and stand by....because this will be the thread that never dies.
Then again, only if anyone could prove that it existed in the first place, I reckon.

By the way, there is no standard that something must be 'proven beyond all doubt' for it to be 'true science.' In fact, in science, there is absolutely and exactly NOTHING that is considered to be proven beyond ALL doubt. You are confusing science with faith. They are two completely different things.

Jinx McHue requests: Som... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Jinx McHue requests: Someone please explain to me why the origins of life are excluded from the theory of evolution. I just don't understand that. The theory revolves around species changing over time from less complex to more complex. Why does the theory stop at the first one-celled organism? Doesn't the theory include how that organism came into being? If not, why not?
Two problems here. First one is easy, because you answer it yourself: "The theory revolves around species changing over time ..." Evolution has nothing to do with the creation of the first species. If there is no species, then it cannot change. Abiogenesis is the study of how life can come from lifeless matter. Until the life is there to be a species, it cannot change. In case you skipped the class, the literalist Christian theory regarding abiogenesis is that God said "Let there be tubeworms," and lo! tubeworms were manifest.

Second problem is the bigger one. I clipped your sentence in the first answer, because the rest is based on a misunderstanding. "... from less complex to more complex." No. That is not it at all. Complexity has nothing to do with it. Fish and other animals who live deep inside sunless caverns derived from critters that had functional eyes. Now they don't have functional eyes, they are blind. This is an example of an evolutionary path to less 'complexity.' Evolution is simply change over time.

Sometimes I think people th... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Sometimes I think people think too small.

A couple points:

First, the idea of energy from the sun powering the closed system I referred to earlier (the ability of a species to grow beyond it's specifications; the specifications being the closed system) is analogous to suggesting that a computer can be powered by anything that has energy, regardless of the form.

Try putting coal into your PC box (coking coal, for high calorific value) or gasoline or even electrical current (that is, current rated at other than the 110v/60Hz or 220v/50Hz used by the typical system). Energy, yes. But useable energy for the PC? No. Your PC will only operate when fueled with the electrical current it was designed to operate with.

Some kind of energy force has to make the instruction set of the genome grow beyond its capabilities. Otherwise, you may as well suggest that shining the sun on an organism makes it "evolve".

Oops, then that means the sun did it...does that then make the sun "god"...?

Second, without complete knowledge of the organism's genetic structure (assuming there isn't yet some undiscovered additional mechanism resident at the cellular or subcellular level that controls physical characteristics of developing organisms), one cannot assume that changes attributed to selective breeding or exposure to varying climates or other conditions constitutes "evolution".

Who is to say that the changes attributed to evolution cannot be just as easily attributed to pre-designed variances in the basic system?

There is only one thing certain in this life, and that is the fact that we will always have to deal with uncertainty. Oh, and that the MSM will always side with the Palestinians against Israel (oops, that makes two...)

Septeus7:Next time... (Below threshold)

Septeus7:

Next time at Starbucks, ask for less foam, there's a bit of froth on your chin. Lay off the "idiot" label, makes you look like a crank.

Again, I state, Paul asked for speciation events. I provided two. Obviously you don't like my definition of this, you are entitled to your opinion, but well, I trust the dictionary on definitions. If you want something more, you can always ask nicely, but you aren't doing that.

Instead, you say something like this: "Morphology and developmental biology can show nothing about true biological relationships. Its just an example of the interpetative construct being imposed apriori" which would come as a complete surprise to any biologist who specializes in developmental biology.

I also note you seem to think the inability of current theory to explain the mass of the electron (or any other fundamental particle) is trivial, when it fact it is not. There is no theory on the books, right now, not superstring or supersymmetry or SU(3) or anything that can derive the mass of the electron from first principles. You try it, and you get infinite mass...very messy. Not just in everyday units, mind you, it's infinite in grams as it is in other derivative units, such as Planck masses, if you want to be so first order about it. It's one of the big reasons we can't unify the forces beyond what we have done, it's a limiting factor in tying together electroweak, strong interactions and gravity, for crying out loud. At least in biology, you can breed fruit flies to spec and sequence the genome, a luxury denied physicists. There's an entire world of biology out there, and only a handful of synchrotrons that can probe for Higgs. "Tell that to the physicists"? Haha! That's what physicists have told me!

Then there was this: "Fossils show complex hierarchies which could be interpeted many ways. The Evoluationary prediction record regarding the fossil has been terrible which is why you decided to introduce punkEk. You know perfectly well it is spurtz and statis which Darwin didn't predict."

The evolutionary prediction record is terrible? Did someone find a therapsid living in pre-Cambrian times? No? Tyrannosaurus in Devonian strata? Hmm? Perhaps you think there might be human and dinosaur footprints on a stream bed in Texas. The fossil record isn't the reasons punctuated equilibrium was proposed, it had to do with population dynamics in existing species. And Darwin couldn't have said much about the fossil records because, and this may come as a BIG SURPRISE to you...the fossil record hadn't been studied all that much, certainly not with an eye for what it actually was. There was hardly ANY fossil record at all, because there was no science of paleontology yet. Will you castigate Newton for his laws of motion because he had no means of accelerating objects to near c?

But let's lay it all to rest. Your last line was: "No its evidence that you didn't show any evidence in the first place. It is you theory buddy, defend it with actual evidence next time."

and the line before it was: "No, its not it disputed and it has NOTHING to do with the "origins of livings things" Learn to read."

That's not my theory. Rather than attempting to criticise me on my literacy, you could benefit from some reading comprehension? Evolutionary theory, as it has been stated time and time again on this thread, has nothing to do with the creation of life. Are you in the business of constructing strawmen? No? Then I'm glad we agree, gene alleles change over time, the very fact that allows us to begin theorizing on the nature of evolution itself.

There's a word for people who promote the idea that "evolution is about the creation of life" or think it answers the question of ultimate origins. That word is "ignorant".

And for Sean, who asked a great question on the nature of human evolution: Mostly, it's time. From a genetic standpoint humans haven't changed much in the past 20,000 years, mostly because we have a lot of taboos on inbreeding and other such relationship, and the impact of human culture on that is also a great big who the hell knows. The impact of our technology is also a muddling factor...many environmental pressures for evolution have been removed by the use of simple tools and fire...plus, there is the question on how we evolved with our technoligy in a sort of nature vs nurture concept. I'm afraid we just have to answer "we don't know yet, we have speculations" and that's as far as we can go with it.

r.a. at January 14, 2005... (Below threshold)
Pigilito:

r.a. at January 14, 2005 01:35 PM wrote: i dont know why some christians get so worked up about all this. nobody has all the answers, but some people have some pretty good ones.

r.a., I think that explains in part many creationist attacks on evolution. Their strict constructionist brand of religon does claim to have the answers (at least on this topic). By challenging their "answers", evolution places their faith in doubt. Or worse.

I’ve noticed as of late tha... (Below threshold)
Phil Goodwin:

I’ve noticed as of late that we never see any description preceding judges anymore. For example, it used to be that whenever the MSM reported a ruling from a conservative judge it was “Reagan appointed” or H W Bush Judge Smith and then lead into a case decision. This always hinted to the readers how biased the decision was. Now a day, like the evolution case in Georgia, no “moniker” is used. I’ll bet Judge Clarence Cooper was appointed by a democrat. But I guess there is no bias or prejudice on the left. Just like evolution being taught as fact, the left’s decisions are likewise rooted in truth and grounded in precedent…not

Phil Goodwin alias “cocktailwienies”

Some people claim that evol... (Below threshold)
Newman:

Some people claim that evolutionary theory "has nothing to do with the origins of living things'" and those who think it does are "ignorant."

The theory says all life on earth - whether a tubeworm or a human being - evolved from a single celled common ancestor. This apparently must be accepted as a fact, if you don't want to be called ignorant.

But, where this magical original creature came from, evolutionary theorists can't say. They just don't know and they wouldn't like to speculate.

So the progression from bacteria to slugs, sharks, alligators, eagles, whales, and humans etc. is an undeniable fact, on a par with the law of gravity, no less.

But the progression from inert matter to the first life form is a mystery. Can't tell you where it came from and don't care.

Whatever happened to the primordial soup and the pond scum human beings supposedly arose from? Since the best answer evolutionists came up with was this inadequate "chemical evolution" - a type of spontaneous generation - it looks like the solution was to say evolutionary theory doesn't have to deal with the origins of life. That's called abiogenesis, and evolutionary theory "has nothing to do with it."

Seems to be a devious cop out.

Also, it's obvious that microevolution (variation within species) takes place. This is as provable as the law of gravity. Consider all the breeds of dogs, for example.

But macroevolution (change between families, orders, classes and phyla) is what evolutionists are teaching.

"There is obviously an enormous difference between the evolution of a color change in a moth's wing and the evolution of an organ like the human brain; and the differences among the fruit flies of Hawaii, for example, are utterly trivial compared with the differences between a mouse and an elephant or an octupus and a bee." Michael Denton

It seems kind of arrogant to claim the theory of macroevolution is as proven as the law of gravity.

JESUS PEOPLE!!!!Th... (Below threshold)
Joe Schmo:

JESUS PEOPLE!!!!

This is the point:

Where is it written that one can't believe in God if one believes in 'evolution'? Where is it written that one can't believe in science if one believes in Scripture?

The universe is so infinitely and utterly complex that we will likely NEVER fully understand it. Isn't God just a bit MORE complex than that?

So don't try to claim you can put God in a box -- you evolutionists OR creationists -- because neither of you can.

And more importantly, IT DOES NOT MATTER how God chose to create; merely that he did.

Sigh...




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