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The Pseudoscience of Intelligent Design 3315

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 Kim0 ( 106623 ) * on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:10AM (#12406076)
    By this, I mean that the process of evolution is a thinking intelligent process. Or to state it another way: Evolution is intelligent.

    This means that all signs of evolution also will be signs of intelligent design, simply because evolution is a form of intelligence.

    So, instead of the intelligence reciding in the metaphysical head of a super
    natural being called God, it resides in DNA and their interactions with the
    world through life and death.

    All this according to the Kolmogorov Complexity definition of intelligence.

    Intelligence is the process of rationally building and testing theories about
    the world, and then using those theories for useful stuff. DNA is mutated,
    recombined, merged through sex, and otherwise changed. These changes are
    hypotheses about the world, in the form of new life forms trying to survive
    there. Thus life forms which do not reproduce are falsified hypotheses. The
    useful stuff is survival.

    As for those people preaching intelligent design:

    They are all religious, and do not know what theories or evolution are. They
    just pretend and believe they know. Remembering this, they are easily exposed,
    as long as you yourself really know what theories and evoution are.

  • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:10AM (#12406085) Homepage Journal

    "Intelligent Design" is nothing more than an effort by christian mythologists to keep their invisible man relevant. I'd like to ask these ID kooks just what god it is that developed all that they propose? Certainly they aren't speaking of Hindu gods or Egyption gods, they're pushing their own brand of myth on hungry minds. Any teacher that propagates that rubbish should have their teaching credentials revoked as they aren't putting the best interests of the students first.

    The "christian taliban" will stop at nothing to keep the money flowing to the coffers, perpetuating the ignorance for another generation is the only way to guarantee it.

    Hee, my "Friends/Foes" mail should be entertaining tonight. :)
  • OKAY! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by u-238 ( 515248 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:15AM (#12406127) Homepage
    why the fuck?

    here's a revelation:

  • It'll never end. (Score:3, Interesting)

    I have a coworker, a man I deeply respect, who has told me he has lived his life by listening to an inner voice that guides him.

    That, in itself isn't bothering. He's a story about how he was living semi-nomadic, moving from job to job, and when it came time to move south he went to take a position doing radio towers (he'd done it every year). This year, however, his 'voice' told him to skip it.

    The crew that ran the towers was killed when a freak gust of wind knocked them off. The owners brother, who was filling in because they were short handed, was killed as well.

    Which makes you not wonder why a repeated event like that would lead someone to believe there is a higher power granting directions to you.

    He also went on to tell me he believed in the great flood and that the bible talks about life on other planets, and how those aliens came to earth and impregnated our women to form the scourage that was wiped clean with said flood.... but like I said, I respect the man deeply.

    I just don't agree with him.
  • European school (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Councilor Hart ( 673770 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:18AM (#12406156)
    I spend my high school time (12-18) at a catholic school in Europe.
    In biology we spent a lot of time learning about evolution. When those classes where over, the teacher said he was obligated (well, don't know by who actually. School or govn.) to mention intelligent design. It took him no more than two minutes, and the entire class had a good laugh.
    At the time I was surprised that he had to mention it, though.
  • by rknop ( 240417 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:19AM (#12406173) Homepage

    "I have absolutely no idea why the universe is complicated, therefore God did it."

    Exactly. It's an argument through ignorance. It's just like many other things in the past which weren't explained by science, and have since been been explained by science. Well, not really, becasue we already do understand how complexity can arise from evolution, so it's even worse than that.

    As an atheist, I am alarmed when people try to mark religious belief as science.

    As a Christian, I am too.


  • by JohnFluxx ( 413620 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:20AM (#12406180)
    "looks" is considered a gift which if not used is considered sinful?
    Is this correct in the gist of it?

    Seems almost opposite to various other faiths, where women cover themselves almost completely.
  • by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:20AM (#12406185) Homepage Journal
    I'll start by saying I am a christian so you know where I stand.

    Intellegent design does not mean it was God who did it. Does not say who did it just that some intellegance did it. This is a viable theory. Don't attack it based on how religious organizations use the theory but on it's merits

    In the same way evolution, based on the science, has many holes and flaws. I'm not saying it isn't true but as it is stated and follwed, there are many flaws. But, for all I know they could be flaws in our logic as people

    In the end, my point is, Integgegant Design != God. It could be God, it could be alians, it could be somethign we havn't thought of.
  • A rational debate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by delirium of disorder ( 701392 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:21AM (#12406190) Homepage Journal
    Greg Graffin (of Bad Religion fame) has been working on a project to survey academic opinion on biological origins. You can check out some of the process here: []

    I have a copy of the dissertation itself...I might scan it and post it in the name of free exchange ideas, although it would be somewhat dishonnest.

  • ID people are not (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:21AM (#12406191)
    I've discussed with many a creationalist and intelligent design nut jobs.

    Funny thing is, every person i've ever met who believed in intelligent design, where the LEAST intelligent people I have ever met....

    Religions are for the weak minded simpleton cattle of the general society who have no concept or clue how the universe works, so it of course much easier to just say 'god did it'.
  • Re:Fair enough... (Score:0, Interesting)

    by acebone ( 94535 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:27AM (#12406277) Homepage
    Parent is not a Troll - it's a logical question

    Of course applying logics to test religion will often be considered trolling by those who believe

    I for one cannot believe that God would... eh... hang on - I do not even believe in God (or any other sentient omnipotent being)
  • by bflong ( 107195 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:33AM (#12406339)
    where exactly did they come from if the planet is in fact only 6000-odd years old?

    If you look at the original Hebrew, the word translated "day" in Genesis has the same meaning as if I said "In my fathers day, automobile fuel was 35 cents a gallon". It refers to a time period. The references to "morning" and "evening" are the same. If this was not the case, there would be no way to count the days until the 3rd "day", since thats when the sun and moon became visable on the surface of the earth.

    The earth is several billion years old. The universe is much older. Those who think that the bible claims the earth was created in 6 literal days simply have not done enough research on the matter.
  • by jag7720 ( 685739 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:35AM (#12406373) Homepage
    What is "zero times zero"?
    What is "zero plus zero"?
    What is "zero minus zero"?
    What is "zero divided zero"?

    Answer zero... you can't get something from nothing.
  • by Frobnicator ( 565869 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:37AM (#12406398) Journal
    ... They'll still be sued.

    If they say "It's the theory of evolution" they'll be sued by all the Fundamentalists who don't believe in science.

    If they say "It's possibly guided by some greater power that we aren't allowed to speak about" they'll be sued by both the Fundamentalists who will tell them they MUST say what power made it, or by the {insert four-letter-acronym} who says the schools are the state, and can't mention anything having to do with religion, even though religion is a HUGE part of the entire history (and present) of the world.

    If they say "It could be both", they'll still be sued, since Fundamentalists on both sides will say "Our Beliefs are the One True Way (tm)", and refuse to accept that any other view may have merit.


    I propose they just hand out little cards to the students that read:

    "Due to the threat of law suits, all classes will be terminated, effective immediatly.
    Please find the non-toxic, non-branded crayons in the back of the room, and color on your non-branded paper.*
    No students may talk or otherwise interact with other students.
    --- The School Board

    * Do not abuse the crayons or place them in any bodily oriface. Do not break crayons. Do not throw crayons. Do not color obscene picutres or images of anything that my offend any religion, race, geneder, species, or lawyer. Do not show your pictures to any other student or teacher. Assorted other warnings."
    While it doesn't allow for much learning, it doesn't detract from their education any more than the lawsuits are doing. And it will help the school board manage their budget a little better, rather than spending the (already tight) budget on legal fees.


  • by jonathan_ingram ( 30440 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:38AM (#12406409) Homepage
    Nope, no Christian-bashing is implied. If you move outside the USA, you'll find that the majority of Christians are quite happy to accept that modern science is not antithetical to religion. There are many Christian biologists -- and working in biology without accepting that evolution is an inescapable *fact* is like working as an architect without believing in gravity.
  • id & SCIENCE (Score:1, Interesting)

    by DarkSarin ( 651985 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:38AM (#12406414) Homepage Journal
    As someone who is definitely NOT atheist, I have a problem with both theories (ID & evolution). One (ID) uses poor science, bad logic, and more to try to discredit the other, while the other (evolution) discounts the possibility that there are other ways to reach the current situation.

    Evolution is a great theory, and it explains a lot. It is not perfect, and ignores the very simple concept that IF there is a God (which I beleive there is--I don't want to turn this into a flame fest regarding the supposed virtues of believing one way or another regarding God, however, and so let's just leave that to the side), he certainly COULD have done things a certain way.

    The very simple truth is that an evolved system and a designed system wouldn't look that different from the inside. The only way to absolutely certain would be to go outside the system and see it in it's entirety. We, however, can't do that. It may even be impossible to do so (that is, the system may, in fact, be infinite). What's worse, even if we think we are outside the system, we may not be.

    Here's where some good research would be helpful--create an evolving system (simulation), and design a system to do the same thing, and see if there is much difference. Now do it blind (that is, two teams work independently, so that those designing don't see the evolved system, and the evolving system can't see the designed system), and then compare them. I suspect that they wouldn't be that different. It would be interesting to see.

    The whole question is all really very silly, however. If you are atheist, what does it matter if someone wants to believe that the earth was created in 7 days? If you are Christian, what do you care if some choose to believe that it took billions of years? Now, I think that it is good that evolution is being taught in schools. I think that the ideas of change over time are important enough that everyone, even those who reject an evolutionary beginning to life, should be familiar with this--even if they don't like it.

    Personally, I believe one way, and I think that my particular (peculiar) take on the whole question is sufficient to encompass both God and the scientifically observable facts. I don't have time to post it all to /., however.

    Oh well.

  • by identity0 ( 77976 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:38AM (#12406421) Journal
    The difference is, none of those Sci-fi authors claimed to be writing anything but fiction.

    Except for L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology, who are widely regarded as kooks.

    The intelligent design guys are claiming that their theory is actually how life and humanity started, which is a whole different thing from writing a "what-if" story in Analog.
  • by archeopterix ( 594938 ) * on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:38AM (#12406422) Journal
    This means that all signs of evolution also will be signs of intelligent design, simply because evolution is a form of intelligence.
    There are differences between some products of evolution and intelligent design (human engineering). Accumulating many small locally improving changes can be worse than designing from scratch.

    Example 1: human eye. The nerves are connected to the photoreceptors from the outside - the blind spot is where they go through the retina. An engineer would obviously connect them from the outside.

    Example 2: Flatfish. An engineer designing a flat fish would probably come up with something resembling a stingray - straight spine plus symmetrical ribs on both sides. The flatfish is totally unlike this - strangely twisted, it ( "undergoes a metamorphosis that involves the migration of one eye across the top of the head to a position adjacent to the non-migrating eye on the right lateral side" [] It probably reflects the way it evolved from some kind of "non-flat" fish that had to lay on its side to hide from predators.

  • by cpotoso ( 606303 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:43AM (#12406481) Journal
    That's an idea! I'll be not so pissed of with churches trying to teach their junk in PUBLIC schools when they are forced to teach evolution in their own turf. Enough said... I see the US becoming more like IRAN in the next few decades...
  • by hahiss ( 696716 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:55AM (#12406624) Homepage
    Are you kidding me? Please tell me that this is a troll.

    No? Okay, so here goes:

    1. Atheism is not a religion because it has no religious doctrines---it is the denial, in fact, of any religious doctrine.

    2. Atheism is not a religion because it has no institutions, no worship, no articles of faith, etc.

    3. Finally, atheism is, as I understand it, the view that there are no good reasons for believing in a god, a goddess, many gods, or many goddesses. The arguments in favor of theism fail, and, given the success of the naturalistic worldview embodied in the sciences, it is only rational to deny the veracity of supernatural or theistic explanations. They need not be false so much as utterly irrelevant. (After all, my folks think that there's magic going on in their computer, and have a tough time grasping the whole computer programs just being 1s and 0s represented as electrical current. Their explanation is false, but it is utterly unnecessary, since we know that computers are electrical, and not magical, devices.)

    That ain't religion, which has at its core reliance on faith (belief without grounds), revealed truth (i.e. magical texts), and supernatural explanations.

  • Regarding the creation myth in Genesis, it's completely unimportant to Judeo-Christian beliefs. It was thrown in there as an example of the omnipetence of Yaweh, not as an explanation of how the world was formed and life was created. To claim that the purpose of Genesis is to inform you of the how's and why's of creation is to completely miss the point.

    You're correct about the meaning of the 5 books of Moses (Torah, Pentateuch) to Christians. It's a historical reference of the Israelites relationship with God. The point of the stories about Eden and the creation of man is to illustrate the relationship between God and the individual, not to tell you about a perfect Garden and the first man. The first man is unimportant, as is the garden of Eden, the relationship to God that they illustrate is the point.

    The existence of God cannot be proven or disproven, it is a question of faith. Religion deals with questions of faith, Science deals with questions of fact. Science does not ask one to take anything on faith, as religion does not claim to prove any facts.

    ID theorists are trying to mix the two and will be as unsuccessful as those who have tried before them.
  • The day that Popper and Bartley are assigned reading in schools is the day I've died and gone to heaven.

    I would love to see these ID folks up against a bunch of kids who've read The Postscript to the Logic of Scientific Discovery and The Retreat to Commitment. That would probably be enough fun to sell tickets to.
  • by FatSean ( 18753 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:15AM (#12406871) Homepage Journal
    I was raised in a 'Church of Christ'. These people were better than your usual fundie...they did analyze the bible and often used multiple translations/languages to get subtle nuances. They readilly admitted that they had to choose what to believe and that it was a matter of faith. You just had to read it and see what fell together in your mind. There wasn't a dogma for the church...there often was disagreement about the meanings of passages and what god meant about hot topics.

    The general feeling, even among these 'enlightened' christians was that micro-evolution (changes in a species like what Darwin saw) is true because it is aobservable. They could not accept the idea that humans evolved from fish, calling it Macro evolution.

    I thought that was an interesting position to hold .
  • Nah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FhnuZoag ( 875558 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:17AM (#12406885)
    Nah. ID parallels creationism's key flaws - it moves the action from that which can be examined to that which can not. Philosophically, and scientifically, we don't know what intelligence is. The definition of it shifts from person to person. There is no way we can test for it, no way we can measure it, no way we can explain it. In fact, there is no way we can even prove that intelligence by any definition actually exists. (especially not in other people) What ID does is to assume that certain aspects of life are tied up in the big black box of 'intelligent designer', and so can never be questioned. That's when the whole nontheory loses all scientific credibility.
  • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett&gmail,com> on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:21AM (#12406916)
    Except that ID is not a dissenting viewpoint to anyone with any scientific background.
    I am not suggesting ID should be included in a science textbook.

    As far as the theory/fact bit. I am well aware of the differences. But you should be careful about implying that evolution is perfectly understood, which of course, it's not. It is under constant refinement within the scientific world. About how speciation occurs, about the types of mutations that occur, about rates, about how certain species got to where it is now, etc. There are legitimate questions about evolution, and they should not be downplayed because it may open the door for religious explanations.

    Now, about your other points:

    literal interpretation of the bible forbids it
    Like I mentioned, even the Southern Bapists you mention do not literally believe every word of the bible. An uneducated one might, but that is not the teaching, the doctrine. The mountains do not literally sing with joy. Metaphors are all over the place in the bible. Parables. Etc.

    But because the bible is infallible (the word of God
    Christians of nearly every domination and faith refer only to the New Testament gospels are The Word Of God. The Old Testament books are in some parts the "divinely inspired word of God", which means just that.

    ID is nothing more than a sham to try to work around that pesky "separation of search and state" thing that our forefathers were bright enough to put into that pesky "Constitution."
    Discussing ID in school, or creationism, or even religion, does not violate the "seperation of church and state". What our founding fathers did do was forbid the estblishment of State religion, which was a glorious thing!

    You have to re-read what I wrote. I am not stumping for ID. I am stumping for a time and place in school for a reasonable discussion of what non-scientists believe. You can't understand anything about the world until you deal with this topic. The goal of removing all mentions of religion is out there, and it's harmful. The history of the Christian faith crosses over all topics: literature, science, mathematics!, western and american history, ancient history - it's all very deeply interwoven.

    It is a sad fact that most people graduated from public school with no conception whatsoever of what effect the Christian faith has had on American history, culture, world events, and the direction of the world! It's a travesty! Scientists have pushed so hard against religion it's almost absurd. Even if religion were scientically undeniably proven false it should be studied, understood, respected, by educators, scientists, schools, and students. It is a major force in so, so many ways!
  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:26AM (#12406998)
    In short, I don't have a problem with believing in both. When trying to understand the behavior of men and women, both the fall of man and the evolution of man present valuable lessons. Both explain how men and women will react to situations. Both explain the world as it is. And neither belief precludes the other.

    the problem is that you are subscribing to just ONE of many religions. there are so many to chose from! and how did you chose christianity? probably by birth - your parents were that, I would assume.

    imagine if this were shifted to another field. I am a painter because my parents were painters and that's the "correct" way to be and to see the world. sculpters are all wrong. they're lost souls. musicians, same thing. the only real way is painting.

    how absurd, right?

    well, you 'randomly' chose xtian. it can't be any more right than the others since its at the same level as the others. competing for who created the world. the jains believe one thing, the zoro-astrianaughts (heh) believe another. the xtians another. the sikks another. and so on. with so many randomly competing ideas, who are you to believe? WHY would you believe your parents' view simply because its how you were raised?

    otoh, science is science everywhere. the sikks and jains and xtians all see apples fall to earth due to gravity, they see water go from solid to liquid to gas as its heated, etc etc.

    so why is there the set of things that all can agree on and observe - yet we also want to give credence to things that no cultures can commonly agree on? and yet call those things 'facts' the same way that science produces facts?

    when whispering the chant to god produces the same result in all religions and languages, then I'll believe religion is on the same level as science. until then, its just hocus-pocus meant to impress and control primitive man.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:28AM (#12407024)
    Free will with an omnicient and omnipotent creator can't work. He made Adam and Eve and if he is omnicient then he knew everything that would happen, correct? He knew when he made Eve that she WOULD eat the forbidden apple, and he WOULD kick them out of Eden. It would be like me making a bomb, putting it somewhere, setting it to go off knowing that it WILL go off, but when it does go off saying 'Oh, the bomb had free will. It is to blame, not me'.

    Or maybe God is not omnicient?
  • by MilenCent ( 219397 ) * <> on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:29AM (#12407036) Homepage
    Hold on a moment there. I've been thinking about this for a bit, and....

    1. We don't know how much time elapsed between God's command to Adam not to eat the fruit and its actual consumption.

    2. Adam and Eve were immortal until the fruit was eaten.

    Immortal means: infinite length of life. There could have been thousands of millions of billions of years between the command and the act. But it *would* have happened eventually, because in infinity, all possible things happen. It was *inevitable* that they eat the fruit, it was only a matter of time.

    Now, that doesn't sound like a test of free will to me. And in fact, it seems that free will is not actually mentioned in the Bible. That's just something that arose during the centuries of obsessive meditation and re-meditation over the Bible there's been in the Western world. Think about anything that much, and you'll end up seeing all kinds of things implied by it as well, which is why some of the English papers I've been reading lately strike me as the products of a sprained mind.
  • i have the book (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ate50eggs ( 647594 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:31AM (#12407063) Homepage
    My mom gave me a copy of Darwin's Black Box and I've read the first 100 or so pages. It isn't at all what I was expecting. The tone is rational, thorough and intelligent, not knee-jerk apologetics.

    So far the basic argument is that it's easy to conceptualize step wise changes in a macroscopic level, like: light sensor -> cluster of light sensors -> eye


    beele -> beetle with poison -> beetle with concentrated poisen sack -> bombardeir beetle

    But actually the changes are so profound on a molecular level that they'd never occur by chance (or at least we'd have some evidence of intermediates)

    The most obvious problem to me is that this argument could also be used to prove that poodles and mastifs and bulldogs are not derived from the same common ancestor. They are so different and there are so many molecular changes separating them that they cannot be thought to be related. Even a creationist would have to agree that theese animals are all from a common dog ancestor since the divergence has happened while humans have been on the planet.

    Another argument he uses is "irreducable complexity." Some systems depend on every component to function so they can't have arisen by chance - in incomplete system would not function at all. The example he uses is a mouse trap which relies on every part to kill mice.

    The problem I see with this is that it ignores changes of function during evolution. Evoltion is not directional, it can take circuitous routes.

    an example he uses is a bicycle factory. The analogy to mutation is errors in bicycle production. Each mutation can cause a part of the bike to be duplicated or put in the wrong place or some similar transposition, but that's it. So how, he asks, can you evolve to bike to a motorcycle by making small stepwise changes? A caveat is that the changes must be improvements to the bicycle.

    there are several problems with this analogy. The most glaring is the restriction that changes must all be beneficial. If resources are abundant enough, neutral and even harmful mutations will likely be tolerated. to go back to te analogy, if bikes are in high demand, many people will buy bikes with slight manufacturing defects. changes in production that alter wheel size or gear ratio might be more preffered by some customers and less preferred by others.

    Another big problem is the lack of flexibility in this analogy. There is some validity in comparing a mutation to a slight error in bicycle assembly instructions, but bicycles are not organisms. In an organism, a small change can cause a big difference. This is especially apparent with mutations in developmental genes which can cause radical changes to the appearance of an organism as well as its overall gene expression.

    Some mutations can also be completely silent and may not be noticed until another mutation exposes them. if two genes are functionally redundant, one may be mutated randomly without affecting the organism. eventually it could be deleted, or even assume some new function.

    anyway, that's what I've gotten out of the book so far. maybe I'll even finish it.

  • yee-frickity-haw! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by subtropolis ( 748348 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:35AM (#12407101)

    A cogent argument sir (or madam). Now where are those mod points i threw away yesterday.

    And if you're not a religious nutcase but you are in the U.S., don't fucking apologise. DO SOMETHING. You are to blame for letting these rabid fundamentalists take over. YOU have to stop them.

    I agree absolutely with this. Hey intelligent Americans - TAKE BACK YOUR FUCKING COUNTRY! We are sick of this shit and many of us are tiring of NOT lumping you all in the same bunch. You are burning serious karma.

  • Answer this Question: "Was the Intillegent Designer intelligently designed?"
    If YES, then there is an endless recursion of intelligent designers.

    If you are LDS, then the answer is yes, and yes there is an endless recursion, or at least that is the implication. Of course if you are LDS, then evolution probably doesn't bother you much.

  • by rdmiller3 ( 29465 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:42AM (#12407185) Journal
    Here's a bit of Creationist cosmology that gets skipped over a lot by the fundamentalists...

    The "Young Earth" (more accurately, "young universe") viewpoint supposes that the universe was created about 6000 years ago. Okay, okay, quit laughing. That viewpoint HAS managed to turn up some interesting cases of rapid rock formation and "instant fossilization" which should really be examined with a more open mind. ANYway, they say that nothing is more than 6000 years old.

    Then these same people go on and on about how huge the universe is, with all those stars so far away... star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, galactic clusters, etc. The problem is, most astronomically observed objects are more than 6000 light-years away. So if the universe is only 6000 years old, how did the light from those objects get here?

    I've seen a couple ways to talk around this problem. The least idiotic one is, "God created everything in its finished form". They say that animals and people were created as adult creatures, and so the universe was created all-grown-up. Quit giggling and wait for the real obvious problem that they skip.

    Okay, so even if you buy into all that about creation, you still have a really, really big problem with measuring distances to the stars. The whole idea is based on the assumption that the light which we see actually came all the way from the star in a more-or-less straight line at the speed of light. We measure angles and we measure parallax to get even more accuracy but it's still based on the assumption that the light actually came from the distant object in the normal way. The problem is, according to the creation doctrine, no light could have been going anywhere for more than 6000 years because that would have been before the pronouncement of "Let ther be light."

    What that means is that according to creationist doctrine anything which appears to be more than 6000 light-years away is actually "faked" by God to look that way.

    So make a dot on a chalkboard. That's us. Now draw a circle around it. That's the 6k light-year limit of what we can really see and measure by what we know about light. Everything outside of that may or may not really exist because it had to be "faked" by God at creation for us to see it at all. Now for the real fun... Stellar events. Every supernova that we see, since it's more than 6k light-years away, never really happened! It's just a light show that God puts on just to make the universe look old. All those most-distant quasars and pulsars, high-energy signals from the beginning of the universe... none of it is real. It's a gazillion-year-long history falsified, for what purpose?

    The heavens declare that the god of these "Creationists" is a liar.

  • by jmvidal ( 21345 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:44AM (#12407217) Homepage Journal
    In my own life I have seen enough evidence to believe in God and in his son Jesus. As part of that, I believe I am called to believe in Adam, Eve, the garden of Eden, etc.

    Is that scientific evidence? You know, reproducible double-blind experiments?

    If so, then you should write a paper about it. You would get a Nobel prize, hands down. Imagine that, actual evidence for the existance of a supernatural being. You would be the new Einstein!

    More than likely, however, you believe because that is what your parents/teachers taught you, just like a billion or so muslims belive Mohammed is God and a billion or so Hindus believe in Shiba

    Please, stop and think. Why do you believe? Do you really have any evidence aside from some old stories? Why is your "Religion" the "one true Religion"?

    What the world needs now is more atheists.
  • by ewe2 ( 47163 ) <ewetoo@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:49AM (#12407286) Homepage Journal
    To comment on your Italian example, they go further than that. In rural Italy, it's not uncommon to have the local Communist/Socialist/Unionist posters on the church wall. They do go to church, it's true, but on the understanding that the men can smoke. The religious calendar is adhered to, not least because there are fireworks.

    In other words, the Italians are sensible people who prefer to enjoy their life rather than muck about with all that argument you Americans seem to prefer.
  • My Take on Things (Score:3, Interesting)

    by warmgun ( 669556 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:51AM (#12407303)
    An astronomer turned creationist named Hugh Ross ( []) came to speak at my university and I went to see it, curious to see what his arguments were and eager to ask some questions. The gist of his spiel is that anything that science can't explain can be explained by God or the Bible. He also touted things like Mitochondrial Eve [] and the anthropic principle [], perfectly legitimate scientifically secular ideas but twisted so that they are evidence that God exists.

    In the end, it was rather ridiculous. There were many people there and over 90% of them were over 50. Apparently, he was trying to start a chapter of his group in the city. Anyway, he wouldn't answer any questions from us youngsters, which left me feeling like I just wasted 2 hours of my time. In the end I was really offended by the man. He was a published astronomer, so as a man of science he must know how ridiculous these arguments are. He's abusing the public's ignorance of science and a yearning for proof of God's existence to advance his beliefs.

    Here's how he started his talk:

    "Who came up with the big bang theory: Einstein, Hawking, Araham, or Moses? Actually, there's some debate over whether Moses or Abraham was first, so both of those are correct." The man was saying that the big bang theory is in the Bible! If you need proof of twisting an idea, this is it. The school board in Dover is no different. Espousing a scientific theory that hasn't passed muster through the well-established journal peer-review system is an affront to science. I don't mind them believing in it or teaching it to their own children, but don't force it on me and mine.

  • Is it closed-minded to teach kids in science that Aristotle was wrong? Is it closed-minded in science to teach kids that the world is round rather than flat? Is it closed-minded in science to teach kids that the Earth orbits around the Sun, and that the Ptolemeic model is wrong? No! Because all of those things represent our best understanding today of how the world works, and to teach the kids otherwise would be to trick them with false understanding.

    No, it's not wrong to teach those things. But guess what - we DO teach Aristotle's original theories just to teach that they were disproved. We do teach that the earth was once thought flat. We do teach that once people thought the sun revolved around the earth. Teach one word of the idea of creationism or anything that in opposition to evolution, and the ACLU and parents sue the school district. Why is it wrong to teach that some believe in opposing theories?
  • Richard Dawkins (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tarindel ( 107177 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:56AM (#12407375)
    was just featured in an article on [], and had an interesting reductionist argument to make:

    For a long time it seemed clear to just about everybody that the beauty and elegance of the world seemed to be prima facie evidence for a divine creator. But the philosopher David Hume already realized three centuries ago that this was a bad argument. It leads to an infinite regression. You can't statistically explain improbable things like living creatures by saying that they must have been designed because you're still left to explain the designer, who must be, if anything, an even more statistically improbable and elegant thing. Design can never be an ultimate explanation for anything. It can only be a proximate explanation. A plane or a car is explained by a designer but that's because the designer himself, the engineer, is explained by natural selection.
  • Re:Occam's Razor (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GreyPoopon ( 411036 ) <gpoopon@ g m a> on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:58AM (#12407394)
    Exactly. The only logical alternative to infinite recursion is to accept the existence of an universe without a creator.

    Which brings up the question that I never got answererd when in school, and I'm hoping someone here with an advanced degree can answer... Where did all the matter and energy in the Universe come from?

  • Religion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by marshac ( 580242 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:07AM (#12407508) Homepage
    News for nerds indeed. Why is it that every 6mo or so, yet ANOTHER 'news' story on religion is posted to slashdot? Does Taco like watching someone thrust a stick in the beehive? Seriously, the same debates get played out over and over and over. Give it a rest. The only religious battles that should take place on here should be MSFT vs. Open Source, SCO vs Reason, etc.
  • by PsiPsiStar ( 95676 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:10AM (#12407534)
    Honestly, I'm a Christian, and I've never met another Christian who spouted crap like "God put them there to test our faith". That's just flaming stupid.

    Really? I have.

    Not being a geologist, I wouldn't know. Some of the geologists present care to elaborate?

    I have a biotech background, but don't practice in the field. When radioactive elements are found in rocks, the ratio between element and decayed element can be used to measure the age of the rock. If the ratio is constant throughout the sample, it's a good guess that the sample was originally pure, and not a mix to begin with.

    Rocks in the same layer, if they are layered, are usually close in age. This isn't the only method for dating rocks, but it was one of the earlier ones used (by Lise Meitner et all around 1910-20, roughly) and the one that I know about.

    However, most IDers look at it with something like Occam's Razor in mind - why would God introduce that much extra complexity to his creation process? If you presuppose an infinitely powerful being, evolution seems like so much wasted effort.

    So, for that matter, would historic religion. Why wait a few thoudand years to redem humanity.
    Why wait to send a savior?

    Occam's razor is seriously overused. The simplest explanation is often not the best. But if you have two explanations that are equally good and equally complex, only then would you choose the simpler.
  • by praxis ( 19962 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:15AM (#12407613)
    Although I philosophically agree with you, I have reservations when it comes to certain areas of societal life. What you are espousing is that the government stay out of the idividual life. There are areas where I feel the government has a duty to apply its values on others. The first that comes to mind is the environment. According to current economic theory (which ingores the societal aspect), each will do what is best for them. Many effects on the environment do not present a "clear and present danger" with long term and slow environmental changes. Its the government's job to study such changes and invoke a policy that permits a long term sustainability of this society of individuals free to persue their own happiness.
  • by jcdenhartog ( 840940 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:22AM (#12407708)
    Hmmm... so how do you know that your whole salvation is not a parable?... and how are we going to determine what in the Bible is a parable and what is not?

    How about: When Jesus taught in parables, it was obvious that he was doing so, such as "And he spake this parable..." (Luke 18:9, 5:36, 6:39, 8:4; Mark 12:1, etc.)... and how about Mark 4:34: "But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples"... sounds to me like he often spoke to large crowds in parables, but explained what he meant by the parable later. Why? Matthew 11:25 and Luke 10:21 might give you some answer.

    If you make the decision about what to take literally (i.e., not Genesis 1), you might as well throw out the whole Bible as open to whatever interpretation you see fit (i.e., evolution)

    Besides, are you denying that God could create the world in 7 days... or do you prefer to 'reduce' your god to evolution?

    Don't give me that line about... what about the fossils, and the carbon-dating age, etc., etc. Do you know what a 'brand-new' world would look like? God could create the world in whatever state he desired.

    "Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men." - I Corinthians 1:25

    "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;" - I Corinthians 1:27
  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:24AM (#12407722) Homepage Journal
    If you presuppose an infinitely powerful being, evolution seems like so much wasted effort.

    That sums it up nicely, I thank you.

    "Presuppose": preconceived judgment. Evolution contradicts what they were indoctrinated to believe as impressionable youths, therefore it MUST be wrong.
  • by learn fast ( 824724 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:25AM (#12407736)
    More evidence that they couldn't be literal days is that God lined up all the different species of animal on Earth so that Adam could name them. Given that there are actually millions of different species of animal on Earth (a fact the Bible's writers would not have known) there is no way it could have taken a literal day to do this.
  • by The Other White Meat ( 59114 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:25AM (#12407749)

    The general belief is that Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and eat of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. God smote them, and banished them from Eden and made Eve feel pain during childbirth as punishment, etc.

    I believe that this common belief is all wrong.

    In this parable, God gave Adam and Eve a choice. They could remain in Eden for all of Eternity, so long as they denied themselves knowledge. Eve chose Knowledge, and shared it with Adam. As _REWARD_, God set them free from Eden, and allowed them the to explore the world around them.

    If God really wanted to punish Adam and Eve, he would have struck them dead and started over. He didn't, and instead all of humanity has the opportunity to explore the Universe He created.

    Doesn't sound like punishment to me...

  • by Nate4D ( 813246 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:37AM (#12407939) Homepage Journal
    Nowhere in this entire chapter are we given to understand that Abraham believe that God would raise Issac from the dead after the fact, that renders the entire idea of a sacrifice pointless. No, Abraham had no reason at all to believe that Issace would be returned to him. Hebrews 11:17-20 is internally inconsistent with Genesis 22.

    No, it is not.

    For the passages to be internally inconsistent, it would have to say explicitly that Abraham did not expect Isaac to be raised from the dead.

    This is not said.

    And you know, if you believe that a sacrifice that ends in resurrection is pointless, you do not understand the Christian faith. All that we hold to hinges entirely on a sacrifice that ends in resurrection - Jesus' death on the cross.

    But, that's entirely OT.

    Here's some information on radiocarbon dating for you.

    So, what I got from that was, "Radiocarbon dating exists. It hinges upon some assumptions that can't accurately be made unless you've been around the object for the entirety of its existence. When you get radiocarbon data on an object, people often disagree on how to interpret it."

    It's about the Christians who want the Creationists dogma taught as fact side by side with evolution.

    I don't know any who want that. I'm sure some exist, but I don't know them. The people I know who would like ID taught in public schools simply want it mentioned as a possibility - not necessarily in conflict with evolution, not necessarily better, not "We know that evolution is false and WE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT!" They just want an acknowledgment that ID is a legitimate perspective to hold, and maybe a quick rundown of how the data we currently have can be interpreted in favor of ID, and possibly even a relatively young earth of 8 - 14000 years (ie, wide range of species comes from the creativity of the designer, not evolutionary means; large numbers of fossils in various locations could be the result of a worldwide flood; under catastrophic conditions, major geological revamps can happen fast, ref. Mount St. Helens, etc.).

    I think this is all from me today - finals this week...
  • by Krehbiel ( 708327 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:09PM (#12408388)
    Interesting to note that all of the world's human populations, even those that had been separated by oceans for thousands of years (before getting mostly re-accquainted by the 16th century) have some form of religion. I have to wonder if this tendency is a positive survival characteristic.

    Consider: once an animal becomes as intelligent as a human, it may occur to it that certain behaviors, though absolutely essential to the survival of the population, are personally very risky and/or expensive. Take reproduction; why become a mother? Why take the risk and expend the energy to produce and support a child, when it's not necessary for her personal survival? There's a good deal of instinct at work there, but humans are known to be able to suppress instinctive behaviors given training and/or a good reason. And why would a man fight to (re-)gain the resources his community needs from his neighbors when the fight might kill him? Even if the campaign is ultimately victorious and his community prospers, he's personally dead!

    It seems to me that such unselfish deeds of individuals strengthen the population at the expense of the individual - give rather than receive, trade fairly rather than kill and steal, etc. And in a Darwinian sense, it's the survival of the population that matters, and much less so the particular individual.

    So how do you convince a reasoning person to adopt selfless behaviors? One way is by plausibly promising a reward for good behavior. Do these "unselfish" things, and we'll give you these rewards. The spiritual person is generally promised an "eternal" reward - when your life is done, you get to live in heaven/valhalla/etc.

    The alternative is negative reinforcement. If you don't act unselfishly, we'll punish you. The effectiveness of this depends on the plausibility of the threat - "if I don't get caught, I don't get the punishment."

    So the "Theist" (spiritually-minded individual) is optimistically looking forward to a good reward. The Atheist is trying to avoid punishment. The Theist could be expected to give to the community beyond what the community could ever repay - even sacrificing his life. The Atheist will work for pay, so long as the work is low-risk.

    Even if the Atheist is right, I'm not sure it's a better choice for a population.

  • Out of Left Field (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gryf ( 121168 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:12PM (#12408431) Homepage
    Two things I find funny about this article and the ensuing discussion:

    - The assumption that teaching that our understanding of evolution ( as currently or popularly understood ) is flawed is somehow 'fundamentalist'. In fact, questioning theories is very scientific. The belief that our understanding of evolution is flawless is a basically fundamentalist mindset.

    Describing alternative theories of creation in a science class makes perfect sense. How can students learn about the controversy surrounding evolution without being taught that there are alternative theories. ( A science teacher should endorse scientific study of fact not dogmatic argument. That study includes studying ID, if only superficially. ) In my high school bio class we discussed 'spontaneous genesis' in a socratic, scientific fashion. The teacher did not tell us what to believe, only that there was no scientific support for the other theories.

    - The assumption that ID, or Creationism, is incompatible with evolution. I have met many Christian, and live with one, who believes that the Design in Intelligent Design mean that the Creator created the rules for evolution. Like building a wind up toy and letting it go do its own things.

    This idea attributes the development of fundamental natural laws to a Creator and that evolution is a natural outgrowth. No God design the sparrow, says this camp. The sparrow came about because of evolution on a world, in a universe created by God. The creator may have come up with the basic forces witnessed in the first moment of the Big Bang, and left the rest to sort itself out.

    This idea cannot be disproved, and has no scientific answer. Cosmology and quantum physics lead to more theological/philosophical questions than answers.

    I personally believe in a chaotic creation, but there is no scientific evidence of that either.

    In the end, as a secularist and atheist, I see no particular violation of any church and state boundary in the actions of the school, only bad science education if they refuse to explain the flaws in ID and present it as a True alternative.

  • by BytePusher ( 209961 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:16PM (#12408483) Homepage
    As a fundimentalist I think perhaps my views could be valuable. First, intellegent design does not contradict evolution. Intellegent design does not support evolution. It simply states that there probably was some intellegence involved in this phenominon we call "life." It does not go so far as to state where the intellegence resides, whether it is in God or mice.
    Secondly, regarding God needing a creator. Most fundimentalists consider God to be even outside time. Unchanging, simply existing. In fact the name given by God, which Israel was to refer to him by means something similar to "He who exists." This name is often times refered to as the tetragrammon, which is often times translated as Yahweh or Yehovah(YHWH), but no one really knows how it should be translated. Anyway, the point is that a God which simply exists, which is timeless and unchanging could not be created. Since the term "created" implies both change and some dependence on time. God therefore could not "spring" into existance, because "springing" implies some sort of change and dependence on time. He simply exists, timeless and unchanging.
    I would also like to address the issue of fossils. It's wrong to suppose that God created fossils to test men's faith. God is not cruel or deceptive. Many fundimentalists do not understand the nature of God as described in the scriptures, but rather the nature of God as described by poorly trained teachers. God is described as providing plenty of evidence for his existance, such that no man is without excuse to be without faith(Romans 1). Therefore, God's nature is quite the opposite. He is revealing the truth of himself, which men choose to ignore. We are the ones who are deceptive. God tests men's hearts by providing every reason to believe.
    I hope this clears things up a bit. My purpose was not to argue or refute anyone, but simply to provide an accurate understanding of what Christian Fundimentalists believe.
  • Re:yee-frickity-haw! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dan D. ( 10998 ) <> on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:18PM (#12408510) Homepage
    Dude! We came out in record numbers last time... there's just *less* of us. You think *you've* lost faith in our country... try being here *sure*, absolutely *sure*, there was no way Bush would win twice and then having to face up to that the next morning.

    Anyway what do you expect of people who's motto is "Be Rational" ... a coup d'etat? Ha ... I know its stupid and yet I *still* try to focus on logical arguments with the people who complained to me about Kerry killing Vets and trying to force us to buy his *five* million dollar homes. The "Be Rational!" group is going to run in fear and hide in your backyard before we *fix* anything. I mean come on... we've got Hilary Clinton coming... I don't see her converting masses...

    Back to the topic, (and just because its popular to try to "curb your expectations") I'm a Christian who does insert faith into his logic, but thinks that notion of Evolution *as* intelligent design (i.e. evolution is an intelligent process by kolmogorov complexity) is the coolest thing I've heard this week! :)

  • by RealSalmon ( 177174 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:52PM (#12408960)
    I found a beautiful painting of a great landscape in the ditch the other day. It was absolutely perfect and beautiful.

    I imagine that it was probably created when a paint truck drove by and hit a rock that was in that road, causing some of the paint to spill out. I never did find the rock, but I'm sure it was there.

    The wind and the rain must have blown and swirled the paint in just such a way that the clear images I saw in the painting were exquisitly displayed . . . although it was clear, calm, and sunny when I found it.

    I'm still not sure where the canvas came from, but I imagine that I'll figure it all out one day.
  • by mysticgoat ( 582871 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @12:55PM (#12409005) Homepage Journal

    Should school boards be required to look at potential liability issues when considering whether to incorporate intelligent design into science curricula?

    My thinking is that if a school district begins to teach intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution, it could be held culpable for the failure of its graduated students to achieve in the realms higher education and/or technological training. There might be massive class action suits by former students who can demonstrate statistically that they were unable to get the high paying jobs that students in similar schools with sound science curricula were able to get.

    I envision an argument something like this: the conflation of the scholastic reasoning of intelligent design with the empiricism of the scientific method had damaged the student's minds (or "reasoning", or "cognitive ability") to the degree that they were unable to compete successfully with students from other school districts in acquiring technological skills. Directly measured damages could be the costs of remedial schooling and the loss of income potential for those years that they played catch-up.

    I think there would also be very fertile ground for developing punitive damages, since the School Board could probably be shown to be egregiously negligent in causing this situation (purposefully blind to the risks they were putting the students in, despite being charged with minimizing those risks). And as I write this, I begin to wonder whether individual School Board members might be charged with criminal negligence for the recklessness they exhibited toward their obligations of office.

    It seems to me that if this line of reasoning is widely distributed now, it would increase the likelihood of success of the class action suits that might be brought in five or ten years. And might also cause School Boards to pause and consider this concern now, and therefore decrease the number of such potential suits later on.

    I would dearly love to hear from PJ or other paralegals or lawyers about this.

  • Ask Slashdot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by alex_guy_CA ( 748887 ) <> on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:04PM (#12409122) Homepage
    A good friend of mine was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. He has left the religion, and is an intelligent person, but he was raised on a lot of pseudoscientific anti-evolution mumbo jumbo. I was wondering if anyone knew of any good recourses, books, websites, articles, to debunk all of the standard Christian half truths that they use to debunk science. Here is an example just for fun. He refuses to believe that scientist have any idea how old the earth really is.

    I appreciate your help.

  • Re:Occam's Razor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by duane_robertson ( 69342 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:12PM (#12409224) Homepage
    I seem to recall Stephen Hawking came to the conclusion that the universe had no singularity at zero time because of an imaginary time (?) component that became dominant at the beginning. I don't have a problem picturing the universe as having no beginning, and it short-circuits this sort of mystery.
  • by Dread_ed ( 260158 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:31PM (#12409469) Homepage
    "It doesn't belong in a science class."

    Christian here and I couldn't agree more.

    It has a place in academia, however, and that place is PHILOSOPHY class where things like this are discussed and deconstructed as rational ideas that need evaluation in a rational manner, as they are not testable in a laboratory.
  • by noblesse oblige ( 840634 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:39PM (#12409591)

    The only change between the slashdot intro and the K5 intro is the sentance, "An article over at Kuro5hin discusses the controvery over the Intelligent Design movement." While not a gross error, unless Mime Narrator and benna are the same people, it should have been in quotes. Such inflamatory writing and unattributed quoting indicates incestuous propegation of problematic ideas.

    The quote, "a theory that has been shown to explain the origins of life time and time again" is an interjection of commentary in the reporter's passive third person voice and is not accurate. Surely it is a queue to illicit the contemtuous responses such as such as [] (Score 5: Insightful):

    Honestly, just what is the deal with these fundamentalists?

    If the author was wishing to be non-inflammatory, or better yet honest, they would have said, "a theory that has been accepted as an explaination of the origins of life time and time again." Many explanations are accepted in science that are unable to produce repeatable results (even one-off results) because as a framework they explain a lot of what we do see. The unverifiability is overlooked and clearly acknowledged to students. There is no shame in promoting a theory we still lack the ability to ultimately verify. For instance many aspects of Einstein's theory of relativity remain unverified.

    However, one may see in this dishonest attempt to reach beyond being "accepted" to being "shown" a peek at the motivation for the piece. It is also pretty indicative of the same mental gymnastics he attemps throughout the piece.

    Another example is the ommision of a mechanism for origin of life in the the next paragraph in the K5 article:

    To understand the problems with Intelligent Design, first it is important to understand the theory it is attempting to oppose, evolution by natural selection. The theory is this: If organisms reproduce, offspring inherit traits from their progenitor(s), a variability of traits exists, and the environment cannot sustain all the members of an increasingly large population, then those members of the population that have poorly-adapted traits (to their environment) will die out, and those with well-adapted traits (to their environment) will prosper (Darwin 459). Over a long period of time, this process leads to extreme complexity, and adaptedness.

    One would think this is a crucial item to develop after reading the inherent outrage against the situation "that high school science teachers teaching evolution tell their students that evolutionary theory [sic] is flawed, and that intelligent design is a valid alternative." Where "flawed" simply means it has many unverified elements as does Intelligent Design.

    Indeed, if all the author thinks of evolution is the ability for orgamisms/species to change traits over generations then there is no conflict. There is also no mechanism proposed to explain the origin of life with evolution either.

    So while outraged at the mear co-habitation of ID and evolution, the contradiction offered is abandoned so quickly? All that is left is just competition. The author chooses not to compete over verified applications of the two theories. Evidence is also skipped. The author instead chooses to make evolution and ID compete in clearly unverifiable ways. The author awkwardly chooses "complexity" as his chosen arena, and chooses mathematical theory as his weaponry.

    The rest of the article invokes its own pseudo-science in the use of highly specific mathematical models of statistcal theory as models of natural behaviour and law. At issue is "complexity" and he makes the mistake of using the complexity of a mathematical system to represent the complexity of a natural system, and they are not the same thing at all.

    Further damning the piece as a pseudo-intellectual work is his overly constrained focus on "complexity" i

  • by learn fast ( 824724 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:42PM (#12409654)
    The thing is we should be teaching reasoning skills and critical thinking.

    We spend too much time in school learning things that are not of optimal importance.

    Advanced abstract mathematics -- sorry guys, I and 99% of the people who took trig and calc will never need it in life. Accounting and statistics I could actually use in my life.

    Literary analysis -- No one has ever needed this is in real life. Decent writing skills and rhetoric and maybe even public speaking are important, but it seems like at least 85% of the English classes I took were spent discussing metaphors in classic literature. Needless to say I have never needed to do this outside of an English class.

    Civics -- we needed more of this. What little I had to study in my one government class I have probably used almost every day in understanding national events. Also I wish I had learned about the interesting properties of governments other than my own like a parliamentary system, which I still find baffling but am convinced cannot by definition be any worse than our current system.

    Science -- should be almost entirely on the methodology of science and scientific reasoning, rather than any specific facts that it reveals. What is science and what isn't? Being able to answer this question is more important than knowing how electron valency works or how alleles are passed on. I learned those things at one point and quickly forgot them, but how to use science generally everybody needs daily.
  • by anomaly ( 15035 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <3repooc.mot>> on Monday May 02, 2005 @01:48PM (#12409749)
    We agree violently about your Newton example above. Origins - specifically that of the universe is by definition untestable.

    Naturalists and Creationists agree that specific data has been collected. We both theorize about origins and have differing understandings of the MEANING behind the collected data.

    Since the scientific method cannot be used, let's stop calling speculation about origins science.

    As I said, once naturalists take their phiolosophy out of the science curriculum, I'll cease trying to get my philosophy in. If it's fair to apply materialism and naturalism, then theism is fair game, too.

    Until that happens, I think that the textbook stickers are a great idea. If nothing else, it gets people to think, and I hope we can all agree that a thinking populous is a good thing. I will also work to "call a spade a spade" with respect to philosophy in science class.

    It's not those 'neutral thinking scientists' versus 'those biased religious nuts' it's
    those 'biased materialistic naturalists' versus 'those biased people of theistic faith.'

    Let's be fair and acknowledge our bias.

  • by JohnFluxx ( 413620 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:13PM (#12410058)
    Here's a question that I've never heard answered or even asked before..

    The people laughed at Noah building his boat, right? So ergo they knew where his boat was. Now the boat was big enough that there was no way that he could move it.

    Now I don't know how much water would be needed to float a boat that big, but lets say as small as 1 meter.

    Now if you were bad and evil and all that, and the water level started coming up to your waist, _and_ you knew where there was a boat.. wouldn't you try to hijack it? And there would be a fair number of people too.
  • by Gleapsite ( 713682 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:32PM (#12410305) Homepage
    I've seen this argument before, let me boil it down to the essence and then present the counter (do correct me if i misrepresent you in any way).

    1. God is all powerfull and all knowing
    2. God allows evil to exist in the world.
    1. God is evil.

    That is in essence my understanding of the argument. The counter is quite easy, yet offers no resolution to the problem (as does approxamately all theological arguments)

    1. God is all powerfull and all knowing
    2. God allows good to exist in the world.
    1. God is good.

  • by Physics Dude ( 549061 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @02:55PM (#12410603) Homepage
    ... that evolutionary theory, a theory that has been shown to explain the origins of life time and time again ...

    Don't delude yourself. Evolution explains adaptation, change and selection but it most definitely does NOT explain the origin of life (biogenesis).

    Biogenesis is a PREREQUISITE for evolution. Evolution can't take place until you have a system that can metabolize energy and materials from its surroundings and use them to synthesize copies of itself.

    Some have tried to make claims about 'molecular evolution' and such, but I've never seen any sufficiently detailed (or even feasable) theory that holds water. Handwaving and speculation is SCIENCE!

  • by BytePusher ( 209961 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @03:12PM (#12410832) Homepage
    Frymaster, good thoughts. I think though, that your view is limited. I'll do my best to represent God in this case without saying something incorrect, but please realize that my understanding is limited as well.
    First, I would say that life and death must be viewed from a different perspective. From Isaiah 57 it is seen that, for some, death is not a punnishment, but a realease from the hardship of life. The point being is that our typical view of death does not fit God's view of death. The way God sees the world and the way we see the world is entierly different.
    Therefore, since the way we see the world is limited, because we lack information and understanding, we should be careful when judging God who sees all things.
    Another example is, that from God's view he would be completely justified if he decided to destroy the entire world. Yet he hasn't done it... yet. Men are the most evil kind of creatures. Those children aren't starving because there is not enough food in the world, but because some have too much and are unwilling to give to those in need. They are starving because men want power and money(Sudan for example). In 1st Peter we can read that God is patient, giving everyone the fullest chance to come to him and not be destroyed. From that view, he is kind if he only allows us to continue to live and does nothing to help or end oppression, hunger, injustice and so on.
    However, in his kindness and wisdom he chooses to be involved in this world in a way we understand as good, for our sake, that we would understand that he is good. He provides a way for us to be with him despite the fact that we deserve to be destroyed. That way is through Christ. He has provided for many who hate him their entire life. Why? Because he is kind.
    Think about children who often times(mostly in their teenage years) believe their parents are the most evil hateful people on the planet, but their parents are really doing the most loving and kind things they know how. They may not understand, perhaps they can't understand, but their parents still love them and care for thim. God is a much more loving father than any human father. We just often times can't see or understand what he's doing so we're angry.
    I hope that this clears up any confusion. Again, I am by no means skilled enough to represent God in a way that is complete, but I hope that what I've said is sufficient.
  • by BytePusher ( 209961 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @03:43PM (#12411263) Homepage
    Ok, so I'm gonna try to reply to a number of comments, but my time is limited. So, here goes:

    Anonymous Coward: I disagree with you on this. The ID theory, as espoused by its biggest advocates (I'm thinking of Dembski, Behe, and Johnson, specifically) constitutes an attack on evolution.

    Me: Dembski, Behe and Johnson perhaps stretch the concept further than it should be taken.

    Anonymous Coward: I would also like to address the issue of fossils. Except you did not. Where did those fossils actually come from?

    Me: The fossils came from animals... often times big ones. I do often ask myself how does my understanding of fossils fit into my understanding of the age of the earth as recorded in the bible. It doesn't so one of my understandings is flawed, but I tend to believe my understanding of fossils is the one that is flawed. An interesting note is the discovery of soft tissue inside a T-Rex thigh-bone. That discovery has caused many scientists to realize their understanding of fossils is flawed as well.

    tgibbs: objections to ID and "god did it"

    me: ID doesn't go so far as to say, "God did it." There are many who believe, "aliens did it," who are also proponents of ID.

    tjstork: There is a lot of those who use intelligent design to say silly things

    me: A lot of people say silly things. :)

    Verteiron: If more religious fundamentalists were as rational in the presentation of their beliefs as you are here, there would be fewer problems in the world. I disagree with you on almost every point you bring up, but it is your right to believe what you want. Thanks for presenting your point of view while respecting _my_ right to believe what I want.

    Me: Thanks and thanks for respecting me. I agree. Really the issue comes down to fear. There is fear on both sides, which causes much of the irrationality. If you respond calmly, sometimes others will calm down as well.

    VernonNemitz and hesiod: "Unchanging" defines a pretty static situation. As in "unable to Create", because some sort of Change must occur within the Creator for that Act to happen.

    Me: This is a sort of fun thing to think about. I borrow my understanding from flatworld explorers(please google it). If the physical galaxy including time is 4D(or perhaps higher), then God being of a higher dimension than time could create it all at once essentially creating all time and all space at once. In fact it's possible that all time and all space are simply an expression of a timeless God and there could be and likely are many more aspects to God which will never be seen.

    Sorry if my spelling or grammar is off... I'm kinda rushing through this. I'm also sorry if I offended anyone or wrote too harshly. Please know that I intended no insult.
  • by eufreka ( 793009 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @05:43PM (#12413087)
    It really is all in how you frame the debate.

    People create loaded buzzwords like Creationism and Intelligent Design with loaded connotations that far exceed the necessity of an agreed-upon denotation.

    Then they whip out the philosophy or whatever...

    Too bad it is not relevant.

    Read on for a more proper STARTING POINT for meaningful discussion.

    And God bless you.

    Here's a little quoteout from []

    3. Evolution and God Q5. Does evolution deny the existence of God?

    No. See question 1. There is no reason to believe that God was not a guiding force behind evolution. While it does contradict some specific interpretations of God, especially ones requiring a literal interpretation of Genesis 1, few people have this narrow of a view of God. There are many people who believe in the existence of God and in evolution. Common descent then describes the process used by God. Until the discovery of a test to separate chance and God this interpretation is a valid one within evolution.

    Q6. But isn't this Deism, the belief that God set the universe in motion and walked away?

    While it could be Deism, the Bible speaks more of an active God, one who is frequently intervening in His creation. If the Bible represents such a God in historical times there is no reason to assume that He was not active in the universe before then. A guiding hand in evolution could exist, even in the time before humans came around. Just because people were not there to observe does not mean that there was nothing to observe.

    Q7. So if God directed evolution, why not just say he created everything at once?

    Mainly because all the evidence suggests otherwise. If God created the universe suddenly, he created it in a state that is indistinguishable from true age. If he did create it that way there must be a reason, otherwise God is a liar. Whatever that reason may be, a universe that is exactly like one that is old should be treated as if it were old.

    Q8. By denying creation, aren't you denying God's power to create?

    No. Because God did not create the world in seven days does not mean that he couldn't. What did, or did not, happen is not an indication of what could, or could not, have happened. All evidence suggests that evolution is the way things happened. Regardless of what could have happened, the evidence would still point to evolution.

  • by Asakura_Joe ( 734770 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @06:08PM (#12413423) Homepage
    I don't understand why a large (or at least a loud) group of programmers like the ones here don't give Intelligent Design more credit. In particular, there have been a few arguments along the lines of "how would the designer evolve?"

    Look at the designer as a programmer. Heck, I'll use myself as an example. Lets say that I sit down at my really fast computer and create a little artificial world, a la The Sims. The world is populated by intelligent agents (humans) as well as less intelligent agents (animals). Nothing too crazy yet, right?

    The designer has complete control over the virtual world. The agents don't. They can only percieve other constructs within this world, and obviously have no idea that there's a fat guy with crumbs in his beard tapping away at a computer making all of this possible.

    I tell the constructs that I created them, maybe mention the few parts of myself that are comparable to the game world just so they can put it in their own perspective, and they're cool with that for a while. Eventually they bitch, but I smite them a few dozen times and watch the world progress.

    If these guys came up with their own little reasoning system that violently argued that I couldn't exist, I'd have a good laugh at them in their folly. They'd argue along the lines of "there are BILLIONS of 1's and 0's around me! Of course, over time, a few of them would randomly become the code that is me!" These little AIs would have no concept of what happened before the "Big Bang" (I turned powered on the computer), or how I could live outside of their rules of reality(which I laid down).

    If I really wanted to teach them something, I might log in as Jesus_Of_Nazareth01 and hack that character a bit so it's not as constrained by the rules the other AIs have to follow. That'd be fun. Heck, it goes a ways towards explaining the God/Son paradigm.

    If these people started noticing that monkeys shared similar structures to human agents, I'd roll my eyes and wonder why these AIs had against code re-use.
  • by ChaoticLimbs ( 597275 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @07:46PM (#12414491) Journal
    Okay, let's assume that we're actually interested in science instead of shilling our own particular disdain for those positions we do not hold. Then let's objectively ask "does the theory of evolution explain the origin of life?" Nah, it doesn't. Evolution is a theory which explains how living things change over time, and why doing so is beneficial to the living things. It's not intended to explain how vastly complex molecules somehow formed without oxidizing and just so happened to be able to feed itself and reproduce. What evolution explains is how we got from that first living thing to now. Science describes the what and how. We let theologists come up with the why. If we are going to act superior in our logic and lack of primitive superstition, let's at least be logical and not do the same thing that our opponents do. Mischaracterizing exactly how much of the origin is scientifically understood would be the same as creationists saying that NASA found the missing day in the book of Joshua. An intentional falsehood created to bolster an argument where facts are scarce.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:59PM (#12415585)

    The 2005 Edge Question has generated many eye-opening responses from a "who's who" of third culture scientists and science-minded thinkers. The 120 contributions comprise a document of 60,000 words.

  • by js290 ( 697670 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @11:02PM (#12416060)
    Intelligent design is philosophy, aka Teleological Argument for Existence of God. The Fundies know they don't want to have someone go philosophical on their asses. They won't argue the nature of God, arguments against the existence of God, problem of evil, etc. in their own churches. The main problem is you won't find qualified philosophy teachers in high school. Why can't religion just be a private thing?
  • Dear Eric (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @12:32AM (#12428873)
    It's interesting that you should mention Passover as an example of God's love. Passover is a celebration of the day Jehovah killed, and presumably sentenced to Hell, all the non-Israelite firstborn in Egypt.

    I think the hostility you sense is because there are many of us who find it chilling to hear mass murder described as "perfect love". It's not god we're afraid of, it's people like you. Sorry to be so blunt, but it's true.

  • Re:Obvious Fact???? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sickofthisshit ( 881043 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @12:08PM (#12432504) Journal
    This is a classic strawman. Incomplete wings allow some amount of inefficient gliding, like flying squirrels. Better wings allow for soaring and powered flight. This is also how you get gradual development of the eye.

    The other mechanism is changed purpose. Bones that used to be part of the jaw get adapted for hearing. Feathers that are useful for insulation become adapted to flight.

    The problem for ID is why ostriches still have wings that *are* useless. How intelligent is that?

    The fact that ID proponents keep trotting out these strawman arguments simply reinforces the impression that ID is about being willfully unconvinced by evolution, rather than having a truly more compelling idea of their own.

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