Grey Thoughts
Morality - Those Wacky Slippery Slopes
In news from the Netherlands, the first Polygamus Civil Union has been done. This is hardly suprising as Gay Marriage and many other permissive ideas have brought in a culture that adheres to the idea that Marriage is just something we can redefine on whatever lobby groups whim.

The logic of the homosexual lobby about gay marriage applie it to any other possible concept of marriage and so if you grant the logic it obviously leads to this sort of thing. A true slipperly slope in actions. Somehow, 'progressive' ideas have taken us back to the dark old days of polygamy and abortion.
Science - Big Bang Migraine Continues
Another old looking young galaxy found. This one is only 800 million years old, but "gigantic" for it's age. Once again astronomers are saying they "may have to adjust their ideas on when galaxies and other cosmic objects form"

Seriously...Big Bang theory has got major issues. Finding after finding continues to go against predictions. This is the fifth finding this year (Creation Safaris has links to details on the other 3 that I haven't reported on).

It seems Russell Humphrey's White Hole cosmology is a better predictor of these findings. I wonder how many observations it is going to take before serious questions are asked.
Humourous - Band wagons and lemonade stands
If you read more about the book 'Help Mom, The Liberals are under the bed' that I referred to yesterday you would have known that the book revolved largely around children trying to sell lemonade and having the big government liberals making it very hard for them to do so.

Best of the web has provided two news paper articles reporting that police had to shut down lemonade stands because they 'didn't have a permit' and people had complained. Art imitates life in this instance, but then, I guess the liberal "reality based community" has never been big on reality.
Science - Big Bang Headaches
Many months ago in a discussion with David Heddle here and at his blog, he said in the comments of this post that
There are enormous, insurmountable problems with Humphrey's white-hole model. Among them, but not the only problem by any means, is that in Humphrey's model the farther we look into the universe, the older it should appear.
More evidence continues to come in of very old structures at the edge of the universe. This casts serious doubt on the Big Bang theory and would seem to support the prediction of Humphrey's White Hole Model.

From the article
"These observations will demand a profound reassessment of our theories of the formation and evolution of galaxies in a changing Universe", says Gianpaolo Vettolani, the other co-leader of the VVDS project, working at INAF-IRA in Bologna (Italy).
My guess is the 'profound reassessment' will never call into question the big bang.
Morality - Relativism and irrationality
Many months ago, Jeremy Pierce dealt with the question about whether ethical relativism was self-refuting. Jeremy, being the philosophically correct sort, relabelled ethical relativism to ethical subjectivism (I will use the terms interchangeably here) I.e. Ethical relativism means that Morality is a subjective preference.

Jeremy's post correctly points out that Ethical subjectivism is not self-refuting, but as my post yesterday points out, one of the first things that ethical relativists do is say that 'morals are relative so we all should tolerate other beliefs'. This statement as a whole IS self-refuting as it implies a universal obligation whilst stating that universal obligations do not exist.

It has to me that whilst ethical subjectivism itself is not self-refuting, it is indeed a nonsense statement. Much the same as if we start talking about square circles. Subjectivism and ethics cannot relate together. Think of it this way. Morality is the question of what we should and shouldn't do. What we 'ought' to do. But, if ethical subjectivism is true, then there can be no 'ought' or 'should', even for our own behaviours.

Let me explain it more. To say that a person 'should' follow their own morality is making a moral claim. If ethical subjectivism is true then a person doesn't need to follow that particular moral principle. A person may like the taste of coffee, but that person cannot make a rational claim saying that they 'ought to' like the taste of coffee.

A person's preferences have no 'ought' or 'should' component, they just are. To put it in more philosophical jargon, a persons preferences are descriptive, not prescriptive. As they are descriptive, there can be no obligation involved (no 'should'). So the statement is sayng that something prescriptive is not presciptive. That is why the statement that morals are relative/subjective is nonsense.
Philosophy - Bias and band wagons
A recent book has been making waves with the leftists. Help Mom, The Liberals are under the bed is a somewhat humorous childrens book that puts forward conservative ideas and takes a swipe are the leftists.

Of course, this book has many of the vocal left up in arms and crying bloody murder. Andrew Sullivan, the homosexual activist journalist, blogger and writer has likened the book to Mao's propaganda and complains that
Whatever else this kind of ideological indoctrination is about, the notion that it is promoting freedom of thought is risible.

Not only is Andrew Sullivan wrong, as he is comparing state sponsored and/or enforced indoctrination with an individuals efforts of a single book, but Andrew also shows his hypocrisy. You see, Andrew doesn't care about 'ideological indoctrination' when it adheres to his own ideology. I have never heard Andrew complain about children's book on homosexuality ("King & King" and "Daddy's Roommate"). Indeed, just today life Site news has an article about enforced "diversity" training in elementary school's in Massachusetts (With no parental notification required!). I don't see Andrew on his band wagon about that. Apparently freedom of thought doesn't apply to his pet issue.

Andrew is allowed his opinions, but pretending to be for 'freedom of thought' and against 'ideological indoctrination' is hypocritical. The attempt to be seen as 'neutral' is the cheapest tactic of debate. Always remember that no one is neutral.
Science - Gay penguin goes straight
A set of gay penguins that has often been used to defend homosexuality as a morally neutral choice have now thrown all of that posturing into chaos by having one of them give up the gay lifestyle.

I guess he chose a different much for all the genetics claims.

Worldnet daily's conclusion is well worth the read
Six years ago, when Roy and Silo became an item, reports began coming in from around the world about "gay" animals at zoos. Books are now being published by homosexual scientists about "gay" animals in "all species." Activists actually use this as a prime talking point in debates on same-sex "marriage." Conveniently, they decline to derive lessons for humans from other animal behaviors, such as incest, cannibalism and, well, the Law of the Jungle.

I'm not sure where the penguin tale goes from here, but I can guarantee one thing: Silo, and probably Roy, will be dropped from the media "A" list faster than you can swallow a smelt.

You would think people would remember not to work with children and animals.
Morality - Words Moral Relativists Shouldn't use
Moral relativism is the belief that morals are not some objective standard that apply to everyone, but are instead decided by an individual or a society. Essentially, in this belief, morality is reduced to a series of preferences, much like your favorite color or favorite food.

Whilst I plan on addressing a more formal refutation of moral relativism another time, for now, I want to highlight several things that moral relativists cannot consistently do. That is, if moral relativism is true, then the following statements and actions will contradict it.

A moral relativist cannot

  1. Accuse others of wrongdoing, unfairness, injustice, use words like should, ought, good or bad in reference to others, or praise or blame others (Or other cultures for society relativism)
    • If morality is a preference, then all they can say is they do not like an actionm be it racism, rape or murder. They cannot expect others to change their beliefs simply because they don't like it.

    • This is tantamount to saying that simply because I do not like pecan nuts, you shouldn't either. A nonsense statement.

    • Or, because you like pecan nuts you are a bad person

  2. Complain about the problem of evil
    • This is like saying that you don’t believe in God because you don't like vegemite

  3. Improve their morality
    • If morality is relative, then there is no such thing as a moral reformer. In societal relativism he would be immoral until society changed, then once society changed he would be considered moral. All for holding exactly the same beliefs.

    • There can be no such thing as moral improvement or growth (So much for 'progressives'!) as it is merely changing a preference, not coming closer to some objective standard.

  4. Hold meaningful moral discussions
    • You cannot differentiate between moral systems much like you may like cookies and cream icecream and I like Rum N Raisin, but we can’t discuss it other than to say we like it. This is because when you make a relative claim you are merely refering to yourself, and so your statement does not have a common subject with the other person

  5. Promote the obligation of tolerance
    • Imposing an all encompassing moral standard of tolerance implies relativism is false, and so is self refuting

Of course, I have neber heard a moral relativist who can avoid doing these things in discussion. Everybody seems to hold the opinion that at least some morality should apply to everyone. But if this is the case, and they are trying to hold that morality is relative, then all that is left to them to impose their morality is argumentum ad baculum, persuasion from the barrel of a gun, might makes right.
I am on holidays from today and so I doubt there will be any posts for the next week.

As a parting gift, here are a couple of links that might interest.

FIRE comes to rescue a professor from the leftist thought police.

The corner points out the hypocrisy of those on the left who want to invoke stare decisis only in cases where they support the ruling.

The LA Times shows that the current legal standing of abortion in america was not the intention of the judges in Roe Vs Wade.

The Christian Mind has comments on some letters to Newsweek over their spiritualtiy feature. Check out the irrationality and bigotry of some of the letters.

Boundless is commenting on the pervalance and acceptance of 'female porn'. Those chick flicks and romance novels which badly mangle expectations of men (much like that which is complained of male pornography). It is worth thinking about at least.

Creation Safari's reviews recent 'advances' in the problem of the origin of life and highlights how there is nothing change the impossibility of life from non-life.

Joe Carter has a thought provoking post on whether the words 'under god' and 'in god we trust' in the US pledge of allegiance and on their currency have any real christian meaning.
Knowledge - Deconstruction Blinkers
Life Site reports on the many quetions Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts is receiving. What is interesting though is the unhappiness that many groups have with his answers. From the report
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America was not happy with Roberts' answers. She complained, "John Roberts failed to state whether he believes the right to privacy includes a woman's right to choose as recognized in Roe v. Wade." Ralph Neas, head of the notoriously pro-abortion People of the American Way also complained about Roberts' abortion issue answers stating, "He's obviously playing a game of dodgeball."

Responding to a challenge that his Catholic faith could serve as an impediment to impartiality in matters of morality, Roberts responded that, “There’s nothing in my personal views based on faith or other sources that would prevent me from applying the precedent of the court faithfully under the principles of stare decisis.”

Cleaver Ruse also weighed in on the matter of Roberts’ Christianity. “Unfortunately, Judge Roberts’ religion has already been brought up on this first day of hearings. Judge Roberts testified that nothing in his personal views based on faith or other sources would prevent him from applying the law faithfully. This should be the end of the matter, for any interrogation into Judge Roberts' faith would be tantamount to an unconstitutional religious test.”

Roberts, in introductory remarks made Monday, said, “Mr. Chairman, I come before the committee with no agenda, I have no platform. Judges are not politicians who can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes,” he said. “Justices are like umpires; umpires don't make the rules, they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical—they make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire.”

Think about this for a second. Roberts comments are saying that he plans on interpreting the law apart from his personal views. However to many of the left, including the pro-abortion crowd, interpreting the law by itself is not what they are after. They are proponents of a living consistitution where the document is reinterpreted based on the judges beliefs about society.

So really, when Roberts says he will simply try to apply the law as written, it will fail to placate the left/pro-abortion crowd specifically because
1) They do not want the law interpreted this way, and
2) There own ideas about how to interpret preclude the notion of not using your own beliefs.

Point 2) is worth a little extra attention however, because if they believe that law should be interpreted as a 'living' document, they are obviously unhappy that someone with different beliefs than them should be the one doing the interpretation, but they have no grounds on which to judge between their beliefs and John Roberts. There can be no immutable legal principles in this line of thinking, so why should John Robert's views be less valid than theirs?
Worldviews - Turtles all the way down
Joe Carter has a great summary of the beliefs of an evangelical christian. Although some may disagree with some of the calvinist beliefs, I think this is more of a lack of clarification of what those beliefs really mean. It is definitely worth checking out.

Joe starts with an interesting illustration that is worth looking at from Stephen Hawkings 'A Brief History of Time'
He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise."

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?"

"You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down."
There are actually quite a few pages in that same book that seek to show why big bang is not a belief on par with turtles going all the way down. Stephen Hawking never really comes to a clear conclusion as to why it isn't.

The belief that the universe has a beginning creates the question as to what caused the universe. Which brings us back to the Kalam Cosmological Argument. I.e. There must be an uncaused cause, and this cause must not have a beginning (so at to not require a cause). This is why theism, or deism is much better as the default belief, as other worldviews continue to have the problem of turtles all the way down.
Education - How the school's were lost
Quebec has just gotten rid of religious education in the public school system. Whilst this may not be that different to America at first glance, it is important to note that the private school system was removed in Quebec in 1997 via a legislator imposed constitutional amendment. Of course, they assure us that religious education will again be available in 2008.

Already in Australia there have been calls to get rid of private schools. This is just the first step in the secular humanist plan. As citizens in a democracy, it is our duty to oppose such rubbish.
Science - How not to argue
Peter Sellick argues that Intelligent Design (ID) damages good science and good theology over at online opinion. I believe his article is a great example of how not to argue your case.

The problem starts at the very first paragraph where he states that
The idea of intelligent design is that the universe, particularly the life contained therein, is too complex to have happened by chance as the theory of evolution would have it.Therefore its sole basis lies in a negative: the failure to imagine how natural selection could arrive at the complexity of life we see all around us.
This is what is known in logic as a straw man. You could stop reading Peter's article right there and then as it really isn't dealing with intelligent design, which according to the Discovery Institute claims that "The scientific theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection....All it proposes is that science can identify whether certain features of the natural world are the products of intelligence."

Notice the difference. Peter is claiming ID is simply an argument from ignorance, which is not how the ID people themselves define it. But there is a deeper problem as well. Peter is essentially doing what he accuses ID of doing. He is using his own argument from ignorance. He believes that a chance/natural law explanation is the default explanation. He believes that as we cannot prove it had a designer, it must of not been designed.

Another way of explaining it is if you argue that you cannot detect whether something was designed, then you cannot positively show that it was or wasn't designed. The group of causation types that are possible when something is not designed is chance and natural law. So if you cannot tell whether something was designed, then you cannot tell whether it happened by chance.

This is the conundrum that ID seeks to solve. It puts forward several criteria to detect design (Note these are positive evidences) so that we can tell whether something is or is not designed. ID seeks to formalise the ideas inherent in other scientific fields such as forensic science, archaeology or SETI.

But back to Peter's article. We have already seen him commit the straw man fallacy, but it doesn't get much better as he continues
Nonetheless, modern biology continues to grow from strength to strength in fields as disparate as palaeobiology, neurophysiology, evolutionary psychology, molecular biology and genetics to name but a few.

It seems that biology is doing very well with only one underlying theory, Darwin’s theory of evolution. There is therefore no pressure from science to incorporate another theory, especially one for which there is no positive evidence.

This is a non sequitor. What that means is that it does not necessarily follow from the premise that it is using the underlying theory of Darwin's "theory" of evolution that modern biology continues to grow from strength to strength. As Philip Skell recently said in an article in the secular journal 'The scientist', "I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin's theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No." It seems that Darwin's "theory" is not the base that allows all this progress to happen.

Peter continues with more logical errors, saying
The push to teach intelligent design theory, the idea that there was a guiding hand involved in evolution, is an effort to insert God into the teaching of science and to correct nihilistic conclusions that flow from it.
Yet another straw man. ID has not attempted to include God in any of their work. Their findings may be consistent with the idea of God, but this is beside the point. It makes it no more or less religious than any other scientific finding that is consistent with a religion (e.g. many theistic evolutionists feel that big bang is consistent with Christianity, but the fact that it is consistent with their religious beliefs DOES NOT make the big bang religious).

Peter continues again with his poorly argued article saying
Creationism is derived from a literal reading of the first two creation narratives and would have it that the universe was created in seven days a few thousands years ago - and that God placed dinosaur bones is the fossil record to amuse palaeobiologists. In the face of the discoveries of modern science this is just too silly for words
Once again, Peter uses a straw man. The most popular creation science theories do not claim that God placed dinosaur bones in the fossil record to amuse anyone. Is Peter's argument so weak that he cannot actually deal with what those he is arguing against are saying?
Notice Peter also fails to give any reason other that 'discoveries of modern science' that make the young earth creation idea 'too silly for word'. Poor Peter can't even give one example of why this is so, he just expects us to accept it. This is a classic case of poisoning the well. Rather than dealing with the argument, it simply attempts to cast the ideas in a negative light.

Peter continues with another straw man
Intelligent design is a more sophisticated version that attempts to escape from the absurdities of creationism. To do that it has had to jettison the biblical texts that creationism relies on and relies instead on an unadorned concept, the idea that God created the heavens and the earth. It is as if the biblical texts are an embarrassment and have been disregarded in order to make the theory more palatable to the modern mind.
ID is not any type of version of young earth creation science. Peter continues to redefine ID in order to suit his argument. Consequently, all he can possibly succeed in doing is refuting his own, incorrect version of ID and in no way addresses ID proper. He obviously hopes his readers will not realise the difference and think he has actually said something useful.

Of course, Peter also talks about bad theology in his title. It becomes increasingly obvious however, that Peter's bad logic causes his own theology to be bad. For instance
First, it is entirely wrongheaded to identify the creation stories that we find at the beginning of the Bible as being about the creation of the material world. What God creates is not a thing, a cosmos, but the setting for the covenant between Him and his people. “God does not create a world that subsequently has a history but a history that is a world.”
So the bible doesn't really mean what it says because science tells us something different (remember this, as I will come back to it). But it is worse than that. Apparently, according to Peter, this gets us off the hook as God does nto create a 'thing' but a 'setting'? I'm sorry Peter, but the mental gymnastics to accept that the 'setting' God has created for his covenant is not a 'thing' is beyond me.

Reading further, we see Peter is even more confused
When the prophet stands in the community and says, “Thus says the Lord,” the creative speech of God is present and active to create a new future for the people. When God raised Jesus from the dead he did not perform a medical miracle but vindicated the one in whom His Word dwelt in its fullness and thus created a new heaven and a new earth. The creative act of God is not confined to the beginning but is present throughout history creating the holy people Israel and the church and at the end fulfilling all things at the end of history. A theology that narrows the creative act of God to the first two chapters of the Bible mistakes what is actually created.
So Peter thinks that Jesus rose from the dead, but this was not a miracle? How did God vindicate Jesus if not by raising him from the dead? How is raising Jesus from the dead not a medical miracle? It certainly is more than just a medical miracle, but this means it is at least a medical miracle, because if it was not, then God did not vindicate Jesus. Peter's logic is as wrong headed as his theology.

Note that once again, Peter also creates a Straw Man in arguing that God's creative acts were limited to the first 2 chapters of genesis. (I can only assume he is talking about ID or YEC here)

Peter also has a second reason why, if God designed the world as us we can't see any evidence of his handiwork, invoking Karl Barth
The second objection to the attempt to seek God in nature has been strongly formulated by Karl Barth. He makes the point that any attempt by humanity to find God will inevitably result in us looking in a mirror. Any god that is proven cannot be God because we make the terms for his discovery and we stipulate his properties. God becomes an object at our disposal and therefore cannot be God.
Unfortunately, this objection rests on the premise that we are attempting to discover ALL of God. It is clearly fallacious because if you think of a man who meets God (or jesus), then Karl Barth's argument would apply equally to that situation. The logical conclusion of Karl Barth's position as stated by Peter is that you cannot know God at all.
I have to wonder at Peter using this argument as it is clearly not biblical. Romans 1:20 tells us "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." Continuing on to verse 22 we get "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Rom 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools". Futile in their thinking seems to describe Peter's article quite well.

When peter tells us that nature can't tell us anything about God, and only scripture can, then he is uttering a self-refuting statement, as scripture tells us that nature can tell us something about God.

Peter in his concluding paragraph's shows just how poor his reasoning is when he says
I think we should leave science to the scientists. If we want our children to learn about God let them be taught from the Bible not from a pseudo theology that has conformed itself to the world of science. Let us tell them the stories of old, about Noah and the ark, about Moses and the burning bush, about slavery in Egypt and escape through the waters.
According to Peter, YEC is silly. Yet we should teach children stories that only make sense within a YEC framework. Noah and the ark talks about a global flood. But of course to Peter, the actual history is irrelevant, so the bible simply becomes a book of stories much the same as any other 'holy' book.

Peter rails against easy theism, and a pseudo theology that has conformed itself to science. Perhaps he should recognize that he is really talking about his own theology. Remember how he felt that the first 2 chapters of the bible were not about history because modern science has shown that view to be silly? He is the one who has conformed his theology to science. What that really means is that he is placing the authority of nature (natural theology) above that of scripture. Talk about folly.

Peter has left rational discussion at the door. He has created straw men and arguments from ignorance and poisoned the well. He has shown himself guily of the very thing he rails against. This is not the way to argue your point.
Law - Religious Vilification Laws
Bill Muehlenberg gives a great round up of the reasons why religious vilification laws are bad. The most appropriate I think is
The seventh problem with religious vilification is that the whole idea of bringing up concepts like offence and vilification is quite bizarre. Religious truth claims by definition imply that some religions are true, while some are false. They imply that some actions are good, some are bad. And they imply that some religious activities are appropriate, while some are not. Of course a Muslim will be offended if a Christian says that Jesus is God. Of course a Hindu will be offended if a Muslim claims that only Islam is the final and true religion. Of course an atheist will be offended if a Jew insists that God exists. Of course a Christian will be offended if a Muslim says Jesus did not die on the cross and rise again. How could a devout believer not feel offended in such ways?
This I think also links in very well to Bill's comments on choice versus something the person cannot help, although not quite in the sense that Bill has made the distinction.

Religions ALL make truth claims (I include atheism/secular humanism in this), and as such there is a grounds to discuss those claims. Some of the claims could be considered irrational or stupid. When you look at race or gender however, there is no truth claims to discuss. Because it is just a simple fact that the person is a woman, or left handed or african american, there are no ideas behind these facts. They just are. Notice the difference... with religions, there are ideas behind the religions, with gender or race, there is no ideas behind them. There is nothing to discuss.

It is important to remember however that there may be ideas 'in front' of both religions and innate things like gender and race. What I mean by that is that there might be a case to state that, on average Christian's are more likely to start charities (because of the ideas inherent in christianity) and on average, women have less muscle strength than men (because of their genetics).

What is really interesting to note is that, in Australia it is actually legal to discriminate on these 'in front' ideas when they are based on gender, but not on religion. A clear example is in car insurance. Research has indicated that women are less likely to have major accidents than men, and so car insurance for women is generally cheaper. What a strange twist. Consider the public outcry that would happen if Christian's were given a discount on car insurance.

So this raises a question. Why do we allow people to be discriminated against with car insurance on the basis of gender, but not on the basis of religion?
I'm not dead...although my computer seems to be. Should hopefully be up and running tomorrow, but till then, The Evangelical Outpost has gathered some interesting perspectives on the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
Science - Evolution stops progress
The history of science is the history of inferring new knowledge and entities from observations and existing knowledge, and then testing to see if the inference is accurate. What has just occured to me however is that some of the arguments I have seen against ID by evolutionists imply that any inference to new knowledge or entities is invalid.

Take this comment by poster GCT over at a He Lives thread of which I was participating.
Forensics and Archaeology are the search for intelligent causes THAT WE KNOW OF. We are looking for things that in which we already know the identity of the designer. SETI looks for things that are close enough to human design that we can infer that the signal in question was similarly designed. Now, enter ID. ID refuses to say anything about the designer. Since we can't know anything about the designer, how can we divine if anything was designed by this designer or not? The reason they can't say anything about the designer is that the designer is supernatural, and would therefore betray the fact that ID is religiously based and therefore not science and not allowed in schools.
There are a couple of things to note about this comment..
1) ID does say something about the designer...that they have intelligence. That is the whole point.
2) By trying to limit science to not be able to infer to new or unknown entities, we are stopping the progress of science.
Evolution - Teaching ID in schools
Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop, George Cardinal Pell has come out in favor of teaching ID in school after recent comments by Australian Education Minister, Brendan Nelson also supporting the idea.

Of the many leftie evolutionist remarks that come out regarding the idea of teaching ID in schools, is that it should be taught in religion classes. Which has gotten me thinking. Perhaps we should teach evolution in religion as well? Clearly, the metaphysical assumptions that underly common descent evolution and drive the interpretation of all observations qualify it to be taught. I can just hear the howls of protest now. Joy to the ears!
More Myths
After the medical myths yesterday, I visited Wiki and found the episode list from the Myth Busters TV show. Lots of interesting myths have been tested on this show and it is well worth checking it out. A small selection

Evolution - Intelligent Design Keeps in the News
Creation safari has a good roundup of recent comments on intelligent design, including reporting on a recent article in The Scientist where Dr Philip Skell tries to put to bed the myth that common descent evolution is an essential foundation to all of modern biology. The Scientist article is available to non-subscribers via the Discoverie Institute. This article is well worth reading and in it Dr Skell also replies to charges of quote mining that some people seem all to eager to accuse him of.

The Pew research center has released a recent survey which finds that nearly 2/3 of americans think creation science should be taught alongside evolution in the classroom. I am sure many evangelistic evolutionists will be mortified.

David, over at He Lives also provides a fairly blunt rebuttal of a recent John Derbyshire article opposing Intelligent Design. Amongst other things he feels John, whilst moderately clever, thinks of himself as 'an intellectual giant among men; a person who makes at most a marginal effort to hide his sneering contempt for those whom he considers his inferiors, a group which includes, in his mind, nearly everyone.' Ouch.

ABC TV has put up a transcript from one of its interviews regarding Intelligent Design. The anti-ID people make the usual comments such as
DR DAVID YOUNG, MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY: I think the main reservation I would have is that it explicitly seeks to take the explanation of things outside science, so its argument is that these things are so complex that they can't be explained by known causes, therefore we must step outside science to the supernatural, and so, in that respect, it can't really be called science.
David misrepresents ID and so creates a straw man. In terms of life on this planet, there is no requirement for the designer to be supernatural. I have to wonder at the magical powers of random mutation and natural selection, which without any experimental proof are claimed to have created complex features with the appearance of design, perhaps theirs is a supernatural belief too?

ROBERT MARSHALL: There are still people who pray for rain, in fact, even though those same people probably with another part of their mind recognise that meteorology is a well-advanced science and there's no point in praying for rain in the middle of a drought. It's not going to happen. But there is a human need, a very deep-seated human need, to believe that everything is being done by something else, and of course that's why the concept of God is found everywhere, all around the world.
Robert seems to have a deep seated need to avoid any notion of being morally accountable to a higher power. See, I can disparage the motivations of evolutionists too! How bout we deal with the arguments instead of throwing stupid ad hominem attacks? Of curious note is that Robert seems to forget a recent city-wide pray for rain day that happened here in brisbane in the middle of a drought. I seem to recall it rained a whole lot after that. But of course, that must only be a coincidence.

The distinct lack of addressing ID arguments in all of these anti ID comments is somewhat telling. Evolutionists are trying to win by imposition not by persuasion, a sure sign of the weakness of their evidence.
Science - Medical Myths
Spinach is not so great for iron? Like most people, I learned when I was young that spinach was high in iron and too much salt was bad for you, but John Stossel over at Town Hall has an article that has just blown that childhood knowledge out of the water. From the article
It turns out that spinach is an OK source of iron but no better than pizza, pistachio nuts or dried peaches. The spinach-iron myth grew out of a simple mathematical miscalculation: A researcher accidentally moved a decimal point one space, so he thought spinach had 10 times more iron than it did. The press reported it, and I had to eat spinach.

It seems that spinach has around the same amount of iron as other similar vegies and also contains oxalate which binds to the iron and makes it undigestable. The good news is that spinach is still high in other useful things like vitamin A,E and beta-caretone, so it isn't all in vain.

A little more research turns up this medical website that busts a series of other myths that many of us have been taught such as

Whilst I didn't believe all of these, I certainly thought some were true. I have to wonder how many other childhood medical myths there are....
Science - Chimp DNA Fully Sequenced
Chimp DNA has been fully sequenced (previously draft sequenced a year or 2 ago) and compared with Human DNA. Not suprisingly, most of the news articles assume we evolved from apes. What is interesting is that it doesn't seem to matter just how different we are, it is still taken as good evidence for having a common ancestor (Can you say tunnel vision?). It doesn't seem to matter whether it is 1%, 2%, 4% or 5%. It is apparently all the same...we are obviously related. Some "scientists" go even further with their bold, pseudo-scientific pronouncements
"Darwin wasn't just provocative in saying that we descend from the apes—he didn't go far enough," said Frans de Waal, a primate scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. "We are apes in every way, from our long arms and tailless bodies to our habits and temperament."
Apes in every way, well, except for the differences between hair and fur, that whole knuckle walking versus fully upright walking thing, abstract thought, morality, science, blushing, running and a host of other differences.

Maybe it was his mutation caused brain that made Frans make such an obviously wrong statement. Should we really trust our brains if they arose through copying mistakes?

Another interesting thing to note
Despite the similarities in human and chimp genomes, the scientists identified some 40 million differences among the three billion DNA molecules, or nucleotides, in each genome.
Since we apparently diverged from a common ancestor 6 million years ago, that is roughly 6.6 mutations per year that get fixed within the genome (or 3.3 per year if you divide them equally amongst the 2 branching species). Given a conservative estimate of average generational time of 10 years, this means that 33 new mutations had to be fixed within the population every generation.

This seems fairly high to me. The current human mutation rate is around 3 or 4 mutations per organism. It becomes a very messy math exercise to test whether this rate is even possible, but you can be sure of one thing - the evolutionists won't bother studying this scientific question unless they are pushed by those anti-science creationists who want to stop all science being done.

Update: Most of the news articles I read state the size of the chimp genome at 3 billion base pairs (BP) (the same number as humans are reported to have), yet checking into the actual values of the two species makes this claim of equal sized genomes as false. The human genome (homo sapiens) has a CV of 3.5, which equates to roughly 3.423 Billion BP. The chimp genome (pan troglodytes) has a CV of 3.76, which equates to roughly 3.6773 Billion BP. (although there is a range of CV figures from 3.63 to 3.85 - this range equates to 3.55 billion BP to 3.77 billion BP)

So at the outset, the chimpanzee genome has 250 (or taking the lowest of the range 122) MILLION additional base pairs over the human genome. So why is the difference only reported only 40 million? It seems the difference MUST be a lot higher than commonly referred to. This would also make the required mutation rate about 3 to 6 times higher as well.

Why is this never mentioned?

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