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The Pseudoscience of Intelligent Design 3315

Posted by Hemos
from the mixing-things-that-shouldn't-be dept.
Mime Narrator writes "An article over at Kuro5hin discusses the controvery over the Intelligent Design movement. The Dover, Pennsylvania school board recently adopted a policy requiring that high school science teachers teaching evolution tell their students that evolutionary theory, a theory that has been shown to explain the origins of life time and time again, is flawed, and that intelligent design is a valid alternative. The ACLU, along with the AUSCS (Americans United for the Separation of Church and State), and 11 parents, are suing the school board, accusing the board of violating the separation of church and state. "
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The Pseudoscience of Intelligent Design

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:12AM (#12406101)
    Intellegent Design is equivilent to saying the world was created magically.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:14AM (#12406114)
    "good academic discussion" and anything involving "creationism" or "intelligent design" are mutually exclusive.

    ID-proponents wouldn't know a good, academic discussion if they evolved from it.
  • by Xrikcus (207545) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:22AM (#12406199)
    Yes it is a theory, by the scientific definition, in the same way that ID does not qualify as a theory, it is merely a hypothesis. Theory in science does not mean "unproven", remember.
  • by danheskett (178529) <danheskett AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:25AM (#12406239)
    One, if a literal interpretation of the Bible is correct

    Very, very, very few Christians believe that the bible is literally correct. If the Bible says "and the mountains sang with joy", does that mean that they grew wind pipes and sand a song? No. The Bible deals in metaphor, and a huge percentage of Christains believe so.

    Scientists have clear evidence of the evolutionary process throughout history via these fossils...where exactly did they come from if the planet is in fact only 6000-odd years old

    Scientists have clear evidence, but you should be clear. It is not perfect. Anomolies that are currently unexplained do pop up from time to time.

    Of course, this is the same god who told Abraham to sacrifice his only son to Him, and waited until the knife was actually descending to say "Psych!".

    Depends on which faith you subscribe to. Many Christians follow a line of teaching that describes the Old Testament like you would a work of fine literature. Instructive. The Old Testament, especially the The Law or pentateuch, are considered to be of value only for historical reasons: they applied only to prepare the Chosen people for the coming of Christ. So the story, for example, of Abraham and creation were preperations for the coming of Christ. This is why, for example, even devout Christians do not keep kosher while devout Jews do: the period of preperation and sacrifice ended when Christ was recognized as the saviour.

    This is important. For many Christians, the creation story is unimportant. It is part of the Old Testament, and to be regarded as a piece of historical - aka old - literature. It is useful in establishing tradition, and in learning how our ancestors lived, but otherwise, it is not The Word Of God.

    Even for the gospels - the New Testament - we have four recognized versions.

    For most Christians, this is not an issue. Evolution is a thoery that seems close enough to fact. Creationists will argue against the merits of Darwinian evolution all day, and will be right. The working theory of evolution is based on Darwinian thinking, but it didn't just stop there. It is highly refined, and able to empiraclly observed.

    However, the real issue is, what do we teach? You teach the fact, with respect for dissenting viewpoints, just like any other topic. If you are discussing the birth place of a famous person, and there exists some doubt about the location, most decent textbooks discuss the question. Evolution and counter-evolutionists should work the same way. There are holes in the most complete theory of evolution. They should be addressed. You can point out it is a theory that is not able to entirely proven, like a mathematical equation might be.

    You are right to say evolution doesn't disprove the existence of God.
  • by mo26101 (518770) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:26AM (#12406257)
    With Intelligent Design, the proponents start with a conclusion and try to find a way to get the facts to fit the conclusion. With Evolution, the proponents are taking the facts and trying to find a conclusion that fits the facts.

    The theory of Evolution is not perfect, but as a theory based in the scientific method, it is able to change as we learn.
  • by torndorff (566594) <tommy&orndorff,com> on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:29AM (#12406291)
    No, Intelligent Design is not science because it doesn't use observer or recorder to prove theories. Instead it uses statements like "it cannot be recreated in a lab" to mean "it will never has been and never will be recreated in a lab -- you don't know, I don't know we don't know... so God did it!"

    The basis of science is that collectively we can one day understand Nature. Intelligent Design says that because a Higher Power did it there is no way we can understand it. Hence, ID doesn't qualify as science.

    That is as "academic" as this debate will ever come from the science side -- don't ask for more. For something to qualify as "science" and therefore be taught in a "science" class it has to adhere to the rules of "science". Weird how that works.
  • by MathFox (686808) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:30AM (#12406301)
    There are more "minor" geological issues the creationists have to deal with. If you take a look at the mid-Atlantic ridge: Europe and America separate at the rate of 4 cm/year. Which would give a separation of 240 meters in 6000 years. I'ld say they are off by a factor of 10000 at least. (I'ld like to have a creationist explanation about the magnetic patterns in the ocean crust, other than God did it to make us think.)
  • Re:Open mind? (Score:3, Informative)

    by JohnFluxx (413620) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:38AM (#12406419)
    Wikipedia has quite an extensive range of articles on this. (See the NPOV pages etc).

    Basically it boils down to would it promote an even more open mind if we suggested that perhaps invisible unicorns did it?

    Speaking of Galileo, it was the church the suppressed him...
  • by Airline_Sickness_Bag (111686) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:39AM (#12406429)
    Fossils came from the catastrophic, world wide flood described in Genesis 7:17 through 7:24. (Reference) And if you study fossilization, I believe that you would find that the catastrophic answer makes more sense (I am not a Geologist or Palentologist, however.)

    No, you are obviously not a Geologist or a Palentologist. The order and uniformity of the fossil record is completely different than what you would get from a "world wide flood".

    Check peer reviewed scientific journals covering the fields of geology or palentology. You will see no papers that support the idea of the fossil record created by a "world wide flood" - or for that matter, any paper supporting the idea that a "world wide flood" ever occured.

  • Re:European school (Score:5, Informative)

    by papik (677463) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:44AM (#12406492)
    Actually the Vatican is starting to acknowledge Evolution. "La civiltà cattolica" [], a jesuitic journal, "censored"/"approved" by the Vatican, recently (april 2nd) issued an article pro evolution. Here is the summary:

    L'ORIGINE DELL'UOMO. Evoluzione e creazione - Giuseppe De Rosa S.I.

    L'articolo rileva che l'apparizione dell'uomo sulla Terra è avvenuta lentamente e per successive modificazioni. Quindi l'ominizzazione è avvenuta per evoluzione, che può considerarsi oggi non più una semplice ipotesi, ma una vera e propria teoria, anche se taluni aspetti di essa restano ancora oscuri. Di questo processo evolutivo, l'articolo presenta le linee essenziali, mostrando che con l'Homo sapiens sapiens si è certamente raggiunta la soglia umana: egli, infatti, pensa, progetta il futuro, parla, ha senso artistico e religioso. Ma il raggiungimento della soglia umana è stato reso possibile dall'infusione, da parte di Dio creatore, dell'anima umana in una materia disposta a riceverla. L'azione di Dio però non sopprime la contingenza, il fortuito e il caso, ma nella sua provvidenza li dirige al fine.

    It is more or less saying that evolution is a fact, but it's God that drove evolution to man and gave him the soul.
  • by shaitand (626655) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:52AM (#12406589) Journal
    ID is a hypothesis with no evidence to support it. Evolution has a great deal of evidence to support it, that is why we call it a 'theory'.

    Teaching a random hypothesis with no scientific basis is as pseudoscientific as you can get.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:56AM (#12406646)
    argh, i may get flamed for this but i have to mention it since this phenomenon makes me cringe whenever i hear the terms jumbled. (and i can't count how many times it's professors and other suposedly learned people who foul this up.)

    EVOLUTION is not a "theory". Nowhere in Darwin's Origin of Species or Descent of Man does the phrase "theory of evolution" appear. Evolution is a biological occurence. At one point in the history of the planet there were certain species, now at this present period of existance there are other species. The intervening eons brought with them biological changes which ARE THEMSELVES evolution.

    The MECHANISM by which these changes came about can be debated in Philosophy of Science classrooms (NOT Biology classrooms) and students can discuss theories such as Natural Selection, Intelligent Design, etc. Darwin's theory was Natural Selection.

    Anyone who uses the phrase "Theory of Evolution" is either badly misinformed, actively trying to mislead people, or just a plain old moron.
  • by Sique (173459) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:04AM (#12406749) Homepage
    ID has no merits other than being non-Darwinist. There is no evidence supporting a designer being active to generate creatures (interestingly though we still call individual lifeforms 'creatures' even when we claim that they don't have been created by a creator ;) ), there is no conclusion we can draw out of ID that helps us deal with a problem we have with a single or a group of lifeforms.

    We all know the problem with antibiotics: If you use them, and you are not reaching every single lifeform you want to wipe out with a deadly dose, some of the lifeforms might survive long enough to have offspring, which in turn might survive the antibiotics too. They even might be able to survive a low dose of antibiotics without any harm, so if you use the antibiotic again, they survive all competing lifeforms, which die due to the antibiotic, making the field free for a growing population of the slightly antibiotic resistant lifeforms.
    In the end your antibiotic is not able anymore to harm the resistant lifeform, and all that happens if you use it: You increase the growing of the species, because the antibiotic helps battling all those other lifeforms once competing.
    This is evolution at work, and there are enough antibiotics which are not effective anymore, because there are lifeforms resistant to them.

    It does not only work for bacterias and other single cell organisms: Exactly those evolutative mechanisms were at work when coca plants grew resistant to RoundUp []: The spraying of RoundUp on Columbian coca plantages had a strange effect: Because spraying from an airplane is quite incorrect, and you can't make sure that all plants you want to hit are hit with a full dose, and the one's you don't want to hit aren't, the coca growing pawns in Columbia faced a strange problem after a spraying attack: Most of their crops, coca and other crops, died. Most tomatos, most corn, most vegetables and fruit, and most coca plants.
    But some survived, having only got a low dose and were able to survive.

    Coca plants are mostly multiplied by the pawns by cutting small twigs and planting them into the earth rather than sowing the coca seeds. After a spraying attack almost the complete plantage of a pawn is destroyed, and only the coca plants which have survived can be used to plant anew, just cut some twigs and regrow your crops. Most cultural plants need to be grown again from seeds, and you have to wait until the RoundUp is washed out of the earth. In the end the whole coca plantages once attacked were replanted with twigs from coca plants that survived a RoundUp attack. And they were growing faster than before because the weed normally growing with the coca plants was suppressed by the RoundUp remains in the soil.

    Within four years a coca plant was covering large areas which was completely immune against RoundUp. No genetic engineering (a.k.a. intelligent design) was necessary to outwith the DEA and Monsanto: Just having evolution go its way and taking the survivors of RoundUp attacks and replant the field with them.

    You might love or hate Darwinism. But evolution is all around you every day.
  • by lovebyte (81275) * <lovebyte2000@ g m a i l .com> on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:21AM (#12406917) Homepage
    Not entirely correct:

    . Evolution happens in other ways than mutations. Horizontal gene transfer from one species to another via viruses for instance.

    . Your blood clotting reference is the same as the evolution of the eye and many other things. You do not know if one and only one ancient protein could not do the job albeit poorly. This gene was then helped by others and did a better job. You do not know this and your ignorance (and ours) cannot justify a supreme being interference.

    As a scientist, I do not need any God hypothesis.

  • by Skt Haldi (859975) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:23AM (#12406954)
    I am a Ph.D. Molecular Biologist. I am also a Christian. I've studied both sides, and the ID argument (as stated) is generally deranged and foolish. However, the opposed side is equally stupid, mainly because we have non-scientists mucking about with things they don't understand. What many people seem to miss in all of this is the definition of theory. Scientific method calls for hypotheses to be proposed, which are intended to be disproven. If you can't disprove the hypothesis, it eventually becomes a theory. This does not mean the theory is fact. It just means it hasn't been disproven yet! If our schools taught students the definition of theory, we wouldn't have this problem to begin with. The theory of evolution is a theory. At this point, we have no reason to say it is false. That doesn't make it fact. Just not-disproven-so-far. As a biology teacher, an annoying quote often in the news (by school boards and biology teachers) is "I refuse to teach students anything but FACTS." Hahaha! What a joke! And this is what we have teaching our students science? No wonder America is so far behind the curve. Our science teachers don't understand the BASIS of science! On the other hand, the theory of intelligent design is NOT a scientific theory. If your hypothesis is un-disprovable, it is not a hypothesis. As said above, faith can't disprove a theory of science. It's like refuting trigonometry by quoting Shakespeare. These ID folks give us more educated Christians a bad name.
  • by gladmac (729908) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:28AM (#12407016) Homepage
    GF attended the IB program - International Baccalaureate. There is a mandatory class, "Theory of knowledge". It deals with stuff like this and should, as you suggest, be given to each and every kid.
  • by jonathan_ingram (30440) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:46AM (#12407237) Homepage
    Let me just stick to evolution here. We as a species have been unable to cause evolution to happen. We cannot make a more advanced life form from a less advanced life form via mutation and natural selection. All we can do is make a life form that is the same species have more useful traits (that were previously recessive, or at least seldom seen, though still part of the genes).

    First, you need to stop talking in terms of 'more' or 'less advanced'. The idea of a 'ladder of life' is a very Victorian one -- our evolutionary history has few neat progressions, and our position on the tree is nowhere the top :).

    Second, you don't seem to realise the timescales involved even to make quite small macro changes through selection pressure. To take a simplistic view, our species has been capable of influencing the destiny of others (through selective breeding, for example) for no more than around 50,000 years -- on a geological timescale this is nothing at all. Even a million years (20 times longer than the maximum range of human activity) is nothing compared to the age of the planet we all live on.

    Third, I'd argue that even in the small time we've had, we've influenced many species in a very significant fashion. Like many things in life, species boundaries are not hard-and-fast binary things -- and you could argue that, for example, our selection pressure on dogs is well on the way to splitting them into incompatible groups. There are already breeds of dogs that would find it very difficult to mate without outside assistance -- if nothing else, because of the height difference :). We know that one of the major causes of speciation is lack of interbreeding.
  • by switchfutguy (880698) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:00AM (#12407428) Homepage

    Is creation or evolution more credible? In order for an opinion about something to be credible, it must adequately explain the existing evidence. This is especially true for ideas about the long ago past.

    Who saw it? Let's keep in mind that no one saw the origin's events; there are no living eyewitnesses. (Actually, there is one Eyewitness, and He wrote a Book about it, but this Testimony has been ruled inadmissible by opponents of His view.) We must try as honestly as we can to reconstruct the past by studying the evidence in the present and the results of past events.

    Living organisms. We can look at living organisms and see that they are incredibly complex, with well-designed, interdependent parts, each aspect far beyond our own human ability to understand fully, let alone duplicate. Each living thing is governed and energized by the information-loaded DNA molecule, consisting of myriads of genes and proteins of intense precision, each doing its job and each depending on the other to do its job. Evolutionists say it all happened in a step-by-step sequence by a totally random process. Creationists say it was designed.

    Mutations. Never has a truly beneficial mutation been observed, a random alteration which produces a new and better gene. Creation teaches that there shouldn't be, evolutionists assure us there have been billions and billions, but they are still looking for an example. What is needed is new and increased information in the DNA information code, but all science can show is that over time information is lost in such a system. Creationists point to the never-violated Second Law of Thermodynamics--the scientific law of increasing disorder over time--while evolutionists continue to maintain that certain chemical reactions produce order that changes ameba-to-man. This spontaneous generation has long ago been disproved, but evolutionists say it happened at least once. (But they were not there.)

    Transitional links. The fossil record is overflowing with "gaps"--no organisms bridging the span between basic categories have ever been found. Creationists say such organisms never existed, and there shouldn't be any transitional fossils. Evolutionists explain this lack of transitional links away by punctuated equilibrium (evolution happened faster at different times during these transitional link periods) and hope to find them someday.

    Evolutionists spend great effort to propose mathematical models for the Big Bang. The evidence consists of varied points of light that don't move, that change only when they destroy themselves. Never do we see stars evolving from gas. Evolutionists, in order to save their mathematical models, propose imaginary cold, dark matter comprising 90% of the mass of the universe. The search for black holes continues. Millions are spent in a vain attempt to find extraterrestrial life for which there is no clue. But the evidence can much more easily be understood within the context of a created universe, with each star differing from the other.

    Neither the evolutionary or creationist view of life can be proved in a concrete sense with mountains of hard evidence. But when the two competing historical views are looked at--creation is far more credible.


    The creationist worldview says that God made the universe about six thousand years ago. The evolutionist worldview teaches that the universe made itself from nothing about twenty billion years ago. One of these opposing worldviews obviously is wrong.

    The entire theory of evolution is built upon the faulty assumption that the origin of the universe was "billions of years ago"
    Questions to ask evolutionists:
    1. In the Big Bang, what exploded? And where did it come from? When they admit they don't know, ask, "Which is easier to believe: 'In the beginning God,' or 'In the beginning Dirt'?"
    2. Do you believe in spontaneous generation (life coming from nonliving matter)?
  • Re:Not quite (Score:5, Informative)

    by lukesl (555535) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:08AM (#12407527)
    DNA sharing is also used to show by some who misunderstand evolution that we came from monkeys.

    Your argument about "DNA sharing" is technically incorrect. It is possible to demonstrate that we "came from monkeys" using DNA evidence because it is possible to distinguish between convergent evolution and common ancestry at the DNA level. One of the reasons this is true is because there are many DNA sequences that can code for the same protein sequence, so if the DNA sequences are more related than would be expected by chance, that implies common ancestry (because functionally, only the protein sequence matters much). There are also other things, such as position of genes on the chromosomes, that can not be attributed to convergent evolution. Not only can it be shown that chimps and humans share a common ancestor, but there are algorithms that can predict the approximate time that the most recent common ancestor existed for humans, mice, flies, horseshoe crabs, flowering plants, etc.

    Even if it were somehow proven that man evolved from lower primates, ...

    It HAS been proven that man evolved from lower primates. The fact that many people in the US do not believe this is due to widespread ignorance of just how strong the data is.
  • by brandre (730820) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:11AM (#12407553)
    By the people who have posted in this thread I am a neocon, a fundamentalist christian and a lot of other things they detest. Their venom in this points out clearly the lack of objectivity. As a 61 year old born again christian who holds a college degree in Math with a lot of science including Biology and Geology I clearly see holes in BOTH the theories of intelligent design and evolution! They are there. They are clear. And in both. But let me clarify this. The origin of things like the end of the age are complex subjects. To think our finite minds can grasp them totally is just plain arrogance and pride. This has been the flawed reasoning of the intelligent design and evolution theorists as well as the ent time theorists. I believe the basic story of creation in the scripture is true. But most if not all of the sideboards that the creationists have placed on the biblical account just don't wash. I believe much of Darwin's theory has credibility. But there is some of it that has never been proven that is being taught in schools. Please, I have sat in hundreds of hours of class. I know what was taught. I have held fossils. I have looked a rock strata. I know what I see. But I have also looked at the scriptures. And I know what I see there. We must remember that the bible is a book about God and his love for man - not a science book. We must remember that Darwins theory is just that, AN UNPROVEN THEORY, and it is a finite picture of something that is close to infinite. We are trying to place the work of the God of the ages in a small box that has a size of less than 1/4 of a cubic foot, our minds. He doesn't fit. Ironically I just threw out the last two sentences in another forum yesterday, the prayer time before our Sunday Morning Church Service and it was as appropriate there as here! We try to put God in the box.
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:16AM (#12407624) Homepage Journal
    As I already answered in another thread having a god that we cannot even start to comprehend is much much more difficult in terms of explanation how things work than not having a god and simply using logic and observation to deduce that energy+time will be enough to create what we see in the universe.

    It is worth noting, however, that science has not yet witnessed evolution in action. Until it does, evolution will continue to be no less a theory than creation. - that is just wrong. Scientists as well as non-scientists witness evolution every day. Every time a germ mutates to offset our attempts to destroy a germ we witness evolution. Every time a fetus is created from a couple of cells we can witness evolution of the fetus. We can even direct evolution in our science labs and create mutants by changing environment of their habitat or by playing directly with their genes. That for the first sentence that I quoted.

    The second sentence is completely without merit though. Evolution is about an infinite number of times more of a theory than creation will ever be. What I mean is that evolution is a scientific theory while creation is merely a philosophycal discussion without any merit of a real scientific theory. Look up what a scientific theory means one of these days.

  • Re:Not quite (Score:2, Informative)

    by rawb (529039) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:29AM (#12407808) Homepage
    Dawkins tries to describe how life originated in his book "The Selfish Gene". Basically, he starts by suggesting that survival of the fittest really started as survival of the most stable. Crystals and rocks are his examples here. Non-stable patterns break down, stable patterns stay together. Before rocks and crystals, everything was liquid, a part of the primordial ooze. And at some point, somewhere, a molecule formed that could replicate. It didn't have a cell wall. It didn't produce proteins. It didn't do anything. As a matter of fact, it was almost no different than crystals, as crystals also attract the same molecules on top of it in much the same pattern. The big difference here is that the new layer of the molecule would break away from the old. It'd be seperate, and could then attract its own new layer. Copying errors at this point resulted in probably a very quick destabalization of the molecule and potentially even breaking apart... unless it was a better result that could perhaps stay stable longer. If you think about it, these early replicators, the first at least, didn't even need to stay stable for all that long at all. It just needed to stay stable enough to make a handful of copies, some of which would not stay together, and others would be better or the same. I know I haven't given Dawkins the justice he deserves, but I thought this might explain some of the correlaries to Darwinism.
  • by everphilski (877346) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:30AM (#12407829) Journal
    You are misteaken, most Lutherans identify with a literal interpretation of the scripture and an anti-evolutionary stance. You must just know ELCA lutherans, who are known to be liberals.
    Wisconsin Synod lutherans: WELS Evolution []
    Lutheran Church Missouri Synod:Evolution []
    ELCA however does not make a formal stance on the issue. They are the more liberal branch of the Lutheran church and are almost roman-catholic in their practices.
    There are about 20 Lutheran branches but these are the big three. Lutheranism is most popular in the midwest, particularly Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota. Lutheranism is a conservative sect that follows a literal interpretation of the scripture. -philski-
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:33AM (#12407893)
    > We as a species have been unable to cause evolution to happen.

    Really? Curious, then, how my father's house is plagued by bugs which are immune to the pesticides used over the last 40 years.
  • Re:yee-frickity-haw! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Arhat (779830) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:41AM (#12408000)
    And how do you propose we do this? In case you hadn't noticed, we are seriously outnumbered.
  • Pfft. (Score:3, Informative)

    by porkchop_d_clown (39923) <mwheinz&me,com> on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:45AM (#12408054) Homepage

    This is incorrect. First, mutation is not "random." The driving force is genetic diversity within a population, filtered through natural selection. The process of genetic diversification is not fully understood, and this leads a *lot* of otherwise-intelligent people to assume there is something fundamentally wrong with the theory of evolution through natural selection.

    I'd say the original poster has a better handle on evolution than you do.

    Yes, mutation is random. By any sane definition of the term. The genetic diversity within a breeding population is a function of the accumulation of randomly occurring genetic changes.

    Claiming that the process of genetic diversity isn't fully understood is misleading, at best. We understand it fairly well - which is what allows us to do things like use the genetic variation in mitochondrial DNA to work out the spread of homo sapiens across the planet, or to understand that at one time in the (geologically) recent past, cheetahs almost went extinct - which we know because modern cheetahs are almost genetically identical to each other.

  • by Distinguished Hero (618385) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:48AM (#12408094) Homepage
    Except that neo-conservatives aren't all that religious. Religion has never been and probably never will be a central tenet of neo-conservatism. Just because neo-conservatives hate Christians a little bit less than they hate socialist peaceniks doesn't mean that they are the same thing.

    Maybe you should look up what a term means before you use it. From wikipedia:
    "But domestic policy does not define neoconservatism; it is a movement founded on, and perpetuated by an aggressive approach to foreign policy, free trade, opposition to communism during the Cold War, support for beleaguered liberal democracies such as Israel and Taiwan and opposition to Middle Eastern and other states that are perceived to support terrorism. Thus, their foremost target was the conservative but pragmatic approach to foreign policy often associated with Richard Nixon, i.e., peace through negotiations, diplomacy, and arms control, détente and containment (rather than rollback) of the Soviet Union, and the beginning of the process that would lead to bilateral ties between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the U.S. Today, a rift still divides the neoconservatives from many members of the State Department, who favor established foreign policy conventions."
  • by saltydogdesign (811417) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:52AM (#12408148)
    I'm no apologist for either neo-cons or fundies, but you need to keep your facts straight:

    neoconservative != fundamentalist

    The former has nothing to do with religion, and the two are in bed together only because they share certain goals, namely the establishment of a strong Israeli state.
  • by MilenCent (219397) * <johnwh@ g m a i> on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:54AM (#12408174) Homepage
    We have an upper bound on that time, though, and it's 130 years (see Genesis 5:1). That's how long Adam had been around when Seth was born, and that was after they got kicked out of Eden. I'm pretty sure x less than 130 years is not quite long enough that all probabilities approach certainty.

    Well, if the *possible* frame of time was truly infinite, then it would have happened eventually. Then, the amount of time that passed could be considered a measure of how probable it was. So, the measure of time before Adam succumbed to the pleasures of Granny Delicious could just be quite short. (I'd imagine there's not all that much to *do* in a perfect garden, anyway, especially if you don't know about S-E-X.)

    If I'm in an infinite time frame, then all the possible-things-that-can-happen-and-do have a different, finite amount of time that passes before they occur. The number of zeroes might overflow the universe before it occurs, but it'll still happen after a finite time.

    Oh, and re: quantified pin-dancing angels -- twelve.
  • You're completely misunderstanding the second law of thermodynamics. It only applies to a closed system (meaning there is no external source of energy).

    The Universe as a whole is probably a closed system, so on average for the whole universe at once, entropy is increasing. But that does not keep individual areas of the universe to have decreasing entropy, or increasing complexity. The earth is one such system, because we have a huge burning energy source beaming down on us, the sun. Someday yes the sun will burn out, and perhaps the whole universe will die a whimpering heat death. But in the meantime the sun still shines, and we still get a lot more energy than we need to increase complexity on this small planet.
  • Minor Clarification (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:14PM (#12408455)
    I agree with your post in general, but wish to clarify the Catholic belief... If you read this comment, please read it in its entirety, or risk getting a mistaken impression.

    Catholicism does not per se believe in evolution. Catholicism believes that nothing in the Catholic Faith contradicts the theory of evolution. Catholicism does not make claims regarding the validity of a specific scientific theory or law, such as the law of gravity. They are outside the purview of religion.

    Catholics are therefore free to judge the truth of any scientific principle based upon its own merits. Catholics as inidividuals generally believe in evolution, but it is their individual viewpoint, not a tenet of the faith.

    Now, any knowledgable Catholic believes in the law of gravity. Similarly, I believe that knowledgable Catholics generally accept that the theory of evolution is the current best explanation. (Newtonian physics was "supplanted" by Einsteinien physics, but the "approximations" made in Newtonian physics are more than good enough for practical purposes in almost all settings. I would consider the theory of evolution to be on the Newtonian Physics level, in general correct, but it would be nice to have another smart person refine the theory.)
  • Re:String theory... (Score:3, Informative)

    by DavidTC (10147) < ... > <>> on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:41PM (#12408812) Homepage
    The problem is that 'string theory' isn't a theory in competition with, say, quantum mechanics.

    Right now, it's mathmatically identical to quantum mechanics , or at least 99.999999% identical, and no one is sure where it's not.

    The only reason string theory exists is we know quantum mechanics can't explain the universe, because it falls apart at macroscopic levels.

    And we have no useful theory of what's actually going on in QM...or, rather, we have too many of them. Transactional and Many Worlds are the best two quantum theories.

    We have the math, and nothing behind it, we have no idea what it means. Hence calling it quantum 'mechanics' instead of quantum 'theory'. Quantum mechanics is not hard, we had that like 60 years ago. Quantum theory is some crazy shit, and working on it makes no sense when we don't know why QM breaks at the macroscopic scale. (Aka, collapsing the wave function, which we don't understand at all.)

    So we need a theory that works exactly, or almost exactly, like quantum mechanics. Except it needs to stop working like that at a certain scale for an explicably reason.

    So someone realized that, hey, you can explain that if particles are actually strings...

    String theory is a theory that needs to exist and be testable, but really isn't all the way there yet. They've got some math that matches QM, but that's it.

    In fact, I think they've basically turned that into m-brane theory, where these 'strings' are actually two n-dimensional plains that intersect with each other...

    And if they were teaching string theory in schools, scientists would probably have a problem with that, too. ;)

  • by yetanothertechie (699283) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:52PM (#12408959)
    Christianity isn't even the *dominant* religion on the planet, in terms of number of believers.

    Yes it is []
  • by Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:30PM (#12409452)
    I myself am Finnish and lutherian so I quess I can comment on this one. In Finland lutherians are quite moderate, sometimes very liberal.

    The church teaches about creation and it's supposed to be taken as symbolical event of man turning to bad. They don't say there wasn't big bang or evolution, they just say that god made this. The point is that evolution nor big bang conflict with bible. In school evolution is teached, but it's not preaced. Again they just say that science says that this happened, and there are this and that evidence of it. In religion classes creation is thought. No conflict.

    As a generalisation, in Finland it's up to each one to decide what he/she believes in, or if one choce to not to believe. Same thing in scandinavian countries.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:33PM (#12409503) Homepage Journal
    Some explainations of how the universe works may be correct but are unprovable. This is one of them.

    Such theories are the domain of philosophy and religion, not science. They may have a place in a philosophy class, not in a science class.

    Personally, I think the universe is a figment of CowboyNeal's imagination, and I was predestined to write this post. I think the Dover, PA school board should give my world view equal time in their schools. *joke*
  • Re:We don't know. (Score:3, Informative)

    by B'Trey (111263) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:41PM (#12409629)
    I suspect you're trolling, and I probably shouldn't feed you, but there may be those who fail to see the fallacies in your arguments. I'll respond for their sakes.

    True, we do not know where time and matter came from. That doesn't mean it's unknowable. There are lots of clues about the origin of the universe in the way the universe behaves and the form it currently has. To put it simply, all of them indicate a universe that begain in an explosion at a single point and expanded to its present size and consistency. As our knowledge expands, we gain the ability to interpret the existing clues and evidence more accurately. We may never know the exact origin of the universe, or we may someday develop a theory that convincingly explains it. But to say that we don't currently know a detailed explanation isn't the same as saying that the knowledge is unknowable, or "outside the realm of possible study."

    But lets suppose that you're correct. Let's suppose that both the origin of matter and the origin of a Creator are unknowable and "outside the realm of possible study." Where does that leave us? It leaves us with one of two possible unanswerable questions. The first possiblity is "There exists a universe which consists of energy in various forms, including matter. This universe follows basic, fundamental rules, and the application of those rules to the energy and matter is capable of explaining life and human intelligence. We have no explanation for how that universe originated." The second possiblity is "There exists a universe with energy in various forms, including matter. It follows fundamental rules but those rules are incapable of explaining the presence of life and human intelligence. We therefore assume that there exists a greater intelligence of unimaginable and unknowable complexity who authored this universe. We have no idea where this greater intelligence originated. Indeed, we claim that we cannot know it because it is too grand and complicated for the human mind to comprehend." Which possibility is simpler? Which better fits with the scientific process? What, exactly, does the believing in the second possibility buy you in terms of scientific knowledge?

    Creation is pseudosciene because it is not science, but merely religion dressed up in scientific-sounding clothing. What makes it not science is not any bias or prejudice on my part. What makes it not science is that it does not follow the principles of science. Despite all of the posturing and blustering by creationist, there is no scientific evidence for creationism. None. Furthermore, even if most of the creationist claims were true, there would be precious little evidence for creationism. Creationist seem to think that challenging evolution somehow strengthens the evidence for creationism. It doesn't. The origin of species isn't an "either/or" proposition. It is not the case that either evolution is true or creationism is true. Both could be false, with the true explanation some third alternative. Disproving that the sun revolves around the earth didn't make the theory of epicycles any more true. If creationism were a theory, it would have to stand on its own merits, without reference to evolution. It doesn't. (Of course, it is extremely unlikely that evolution is false. The "problems" that creationsist bring up to challenge it are generally either complete misunderstandings of the theory, such as attacking the claim that "men came from monkeys," or they're assertions that real questions about the details of the mechanisms of evolution somehow challenge the validity of the overall theory.)

    Scientists generally don't bother challenging the "evidence" that creationsist present for two reasons. One, doing so grants creationism a respectability that it doesn't merit as a scientific theory. The general public tends to see debates of that sort as comparing two equally tenable alternatives. Creationist would love to see scientists debate them in public because it gives the perception that creationi
  • ICR (Score:2, Informative)

    by wrast (870263) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:41PM (#12409633)
    Good info at [].
  • by OwnedByTwoCats (124103) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:06PM (#12409984)
    Young-Earth Creationists and their modern counterparts frequently pull out the "Last Thursday" argument, without knowing it. God made the earth with the fossils in it, with starlight from distant galaxies already en route, etc. There is no scientific evidence that could refute such an assertion. Similarly, there is no scientific evidence that could refute the notion that the universe was created Last Thursday, by my cat, Sidney []. (Yeah, my site is ancient and moldy.) Any bit of evidence you could think of was created that way by God 6,009 years ago, or Last Thursday. Occam's razor cuts the argument off, though.

    Old-earth creationists frequently argue that the biblical order in Genesis is exactly the order that geologists found. Except it isn't. Genesis has land plants before fish, and birds before land animals. So it's exactly correct, except for where it is wrong.

    "Intelligent Design" is just creationism after the lawyers figured out a way around the 1987 case (whose cite escapes my poor brain.) The arguments in Behe's _Darwin's_Black_Box_ and Dembski's Explanatory Filter (that's a concept, not a title) have been refuted many times over.

    Still, the American Taliban wants what it wants, and will keep getting it until a majority of American voters have their eyes open and see what they're doing to our country.
  • by jfengel (409917) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:08PM (#12410005) Homepage Journal
    Some geologists support a theory by Thomas Gold [] which says that petroleum has a non-biological source. The gist is that non-biological methane is converted into longer-chain hydrocarbons by bacteria deep in the crust.

    There's a bunch of evidence to support the theory. It may or may not be sufficient to explain all of the petroleum we see, but it could be; it's not a complete crackpot theory.

    I'm not supporting ID or creationism here; I think that the intelligent design people are nut jobs and/or hypocrites. But you don't get to call yourself a scientist without taking all the facts into account. Abiogenic petroleum doesn't constitute a shred of evidence against evolution or for intelligent design. It just means that the irony you cite isn't quite as funny as it could be. Sorry.
  • by EllisDees (268037) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:22PM (#12410193)
    >I have not seen any evidence that shows new traits having been added to a genome

    Well then, you haven't [] looked [] hard [] enough! []
  • by ttfkam (37064) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:33PM (#12410324) Homepage Journal
    How to prove or falsify the theory of evolution:

    1. Genetics

    If traits are not inherited, evolution cannot occur

    2. Mutation

    If no trait of children can differ from both parents, evolution cannot occur

    3. Random mutation

    If changes cannot occur without clear design or intention, evolution cannot occur

    4. Speciation

    If two isolated groups cannot become distinct from one another (no more interbreeding even if brought back together geographically), evolution cannot occur


    *ALL* of the above have been tested, observed, documented, reproduced, etc. If by "proof" you mean that we haven't yet built time machines, then yes, evolution is not proved. By all other measurements, even though scientists haggle about the details, evolution is an accepted fact.

    For fun, run a Google search on Lysenkoism. It's evolution in action; repeated, published, and proved.
  • Exactly right (Score:3, Informative)

    by ttfkam (37064) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:47PM (#12410480) Homepage Journal
    Life from non-life is what's known as abiogenesis. Creationists and ID proponents often bring up the early Miller experiments as proof that abiogenesis cannot happen.

    I highly recommend reading up on the recent work of Dr. Sidney Fox. The short version is that not only can life be created from non-living chemicals, it can consistently be done and result in near ideal conditions for the development of RNA (and later, DNA).

    Google Fox and abiogenesis for more info.
  • by ifwm (687373) on Monday May 02, 2005 @03:02PM (#12410688) Journal
    While I don't disagree, I could easily refute you by saying Hitler was from Austria.

    The fact that the origin of those terrorists was in Saudi Arabia is only relevant if they were supported by the kingdom. (I think they were, are, and will be in the future)

    By the way, I agree with your point.
  • Re:FFS be fair (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @03:21PM (#12410968)
    All scientific theories are half-finished.

    Even gravity is only a theory.

    When someone disproves it, it'll be amended to deal with it -- in the same manner that classical newtonian physics (F=ma and that sort of thing) isn't good for very small or very fast bodies since Quantum Mechanics and Relativity were postulated.

    The sciences are in a constant state of revision and experimentation and improvement, in an attempt to explain the world as accurately as is possible -- that's the nature and the goal of science.

    Creationism and ID are simply not even the same thing -- they are rejections of that process. They are resignations to the idea that not only do we not know, we should never even try to know, because it's obviously so complex that only God could do it.

    (Furthermore, there a difference between the term "theorem" in the context of the scientific community and the term "theory" in common usage. While they are both based on observable evidence, the latter does not require any amount of experiment and validation to be done.)

  • by Alsee (515537) on Monday May 02, 2005 @03:24PM (#12410999) Homepage
    The theory of evolution meets Occam's Razor. But is it falsifiable?

    Evolution has made MANY predictions, and every single time it has passed with flying colors.

    I would say the single biggest prediction was back when DNA was first discovered. Evolution PREDICTED that DNA analysis across species would fall into a tree pattern. In fact all life on earth falls into a extremely strong DNA tree pattern. A tree that strongly points to a single root. Sure we're still working out a few details of the tree, but the overall structure is extremely distinct.

    Evolution could have very easily failed that prediction. That was perhaps the single biggest test of evolution, and the single strongest strongest evidence. It was certainly not the only test.

    Hmm, actually I'd like to add a second test here. One that I have in fact done myself. Evolution predicts that mutation and heredity and selection in a population is sufficient to CREATE INFORMATION and produce great complexity and optimisation. I have run this test myself. I have witnessed the power of evolution in action. In a computer I established the simplest elements - a population, mutation, heredity, and survival selection to an arbitrary environment - and I have proven those minimal elements are sufficient to generate information. Sufficent to create complexity. Sufficient to produce powerful optimization to any enviornment you throw at it. In fact this optimisation process is so powerful that at times it can find designs better than the best designs of human experts. It has been used to find more efficient jet engine designs that save millions of dollars in fuel costs.

    So I have given you the single strongest test and validation of evolution, and my personal test and experience validating evolution. Again, these are hardly the only tests evolution has passed.

  • Re:yee-frickity-haw! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jonas the Bold (701271) on Monday May 02, 2005 @03:41PM (#12411227)
    Can't. War's over, sanity lost.

    This is a lesson America will only learn the hard way, or not at all. But don't worry, rest of the world: It will directly lead to America no longer being the lone superpower, economically or otherwise. Another bush brand Republican or two, and our economy will no longer be anything to be feared, and the government will be so massively in debt it can no longer afford its military superiority, or waging pointless wars.

    Meanwhile, I've moved to Canada, and don't really feel any need to go back.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @05:00PM (#12412538)
    ...because like all mentally ill folk, they need their support groups...the more they indoctrinate, the more they feel that they are in the right...
  • by bbtom (581232) on Monday May 02, 2005 @05:21PM (#12412828) Homepage Journal
    Not Secular Humanist (though the ID folks do occasionally throw that card out there), but there is the National Centre for Science Education []. There are also local groups in Georgia [], Michigan [], Alabama [], Kansas [] and Colorado [] (and probably a few others, but nothing that a quick Google search can't turn up: try $state citizens for science or some derivation.

    You can also use Talk Origins [], Talk Reason [], Talk Design [], EvoWiki [] and Panda's Thumb [] to find lots of info on why these people are wrong. If you want to donate money, donate it to the NCSE or Talk.Origins, or perhaps buy some of the books of creationism refuters - I'd reccomend Robert Pennock's book 'Tower of Babel' as quite a good introduction.

    Even my lowly blog [] has a few things on the ID/creationism debacle.

  • by ttfkam (37064) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @05:29PM (#12425272) Homepage Journal
    Drug resistant strains could also be produced from a population of bacteria which had the capability of resistance latent within it. Those strains that are killed off more quickly have less of a chance to continue their line, and those that survive by virtue of already having greater latent resistance, end up appearing as a "new strain" of drug resistant bacteria.

    Almost right. This seems to be one of the hardest concepts for some people to grasp. You are absolutely, positively, 100% correct that the resistance was already in the population of bacteria (and bees) before the limiting factor was introduced. That's the good news.

    The bad news is that a month ago, that resistance may not have existed.

    Random mutation does not happen with a purpose. No strain of bacteria "tries" to be immune to antibiotics. No bees "try" to be immune to the effects or Varroa mites. That's not how it works and is generally the hardest thing for most people to get. You are trying to substitute the will of God for the collective will of bacteria and the model fails.

    It actually goes something like this:

    * Copy errors during reproduction/replication give rise to what we call mutation.

    * That random mutation is not sought out. It's remarkably similar to the game of Telephone where the message that comes out is not the message that went in. All participants in the game can try to reproduce the input exactly, but inevitably, variation occurs. The DNA of bacteria tries to copy exactly, but inevitably, variation occurs. (Random mutation occurs precisely because we live in an imperfect world.)

    * Those copy errors can occur for just about any reason: too much sunlight, too little sunlight, exposure to certain chemicals, isolation from certain chemicals, etc.

    * Those variations can have a good effect (aid survival), a bad effect (kill the organism or hinder survival), or no effect at all. On the other hand, a mutation that has no effect at all at first -- or even a slightly bad effect at first -- may somewhere down the line provide benefits or drawbacks like drug resistance for example.

    So in summary, yes, the trait was already there. However, the trait was not always there. Big difference! We only know the trait was there some time before exposure to the antibiotics.

    For more info on this, check out the early genetic study of fruit flies. Random mutation is clearly documented in these early experiments and repeated ad nauseum by others.
    Regarding radioactive decay, while the decay rate remains constant, the unknown is the original ratio of isotopes (e.g., C-14 to C-12) that are used for measurement. What is assumed is that the ratio has remained the same throughout history, but this is clearly an assumption we cannot prove one way or the other. There are multiple possibilities as to how the original ratio could have been different.
    Once again, absolutely right. This is why scientists use more than one radiometric dating method at a time. While it is, for example, possible for two different dating methods to be wrong, it is highly unlikely that both will be wrong at precisely the same rate. If you use three or four different isotopic decay models for dating, the possibility that all of them are wrong in exactly the same amount becomes infinitesimal. Add in that others will repeat the results in their own labs and get the same results lends itself to the conclusion that the dates are indeed valid.

    Remember, this is not just about C14 decay. This is about the myriad different isotopes used. ...and the fact that they come up with the same answer given the relative half-lifes.
    Exactly. Millions of dead things, buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth. Maybe there really was a worldwide flood.
    Aaaargh! I have been trolled.
  • by benna (614220) <mimenarrator@g m a i l .com> on Thursday May 05, 2005 @01:36AM (#12438845) Journal
    The fossil record claims are false and over simplified. See here [], here [], here [], and here [].

    There are plausible evolutionary models for Flagellum. See here [].

    Abiogenesis statistics are bullshit and its not like an entire prokareotic cell needs to be be the first self-replicating molecule. See
    here [].

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison