Double standards of evolutionists
Mike Gene at Telic Thoughts has an interesting imaginery exchange between a Scholar and a student on the streets. Mike notes that the universities rushing to distance themselves from Intelligent Design because a professor at their university support ID are guilty of double standards because they do not also make the same effort to distance themselves from other comments they also think are false or misleading. In this case Dr Provine's comments about how most evolutionary biologists are atheists and evolution has clear implications that no God worth having exists.
Scholar: Look, I do not agree with Dr. Provine’s statement nor does Dr. Provine speak for most scientists.One of the commentors to the post also points out another contradiction.
Streetperson: Then why don’t you have a petition to show me? You said it was important for faculty at ISU and LeHigh to issue public statements distancing themselves from controversial positions because of a potential impression that may arise. But here we have real-world impressions that do exist and that are being propped up by a colleague at your own school.
When evolutionists argue that evolution and religion are compatible, then explain how the scientific progress of the past has gotten rid of ideas about how God causes things like rain and thunder or Atlas holds the world on his back, they clearly contradict themselves.
I wonder how many other double standards and contradictions there are out there.
The Nonwar between science and religion
With all the current fracas about Intelligent Design (ID) and attempts to force the cardinal sin of mentioning it in a science class, the old meme of Science and Religion being at war is being cast about as if it was fact. The problem is, much like the flat earth myth, this meme is false.
Nancy Pearcey has an article about Christianity's role in starting science, but near the end she also mentions the supposed war between religion and science.
Today the majority of historians of science agree with this positive assessment of the impact the Christian worldview had on the rise of science. Yet even highly educated people remain ignorant of this fact. Why is that?So the enlightenment and the war between science and religion was just a propaganda campaign. Today however, it is very convenient for evolutionists/humanists/atheists to cast the debate in a science versus religion way, as these posts over at Telic Thoughts have noticed.
The answer is that history was founded as a modern discipline by Enlightenment figures such as Voltaire, Gibbon, and Hume who had a very specific agenda: They wanted to discredit Christianity while promoting rationalism. And they did it by painting the middle ages as the "Dark Ages," a time of ignorance and superstition. They crafted a heroic saga in which modern science had to battle fierce opposition and oppression from Church authorities. Among professional historians, these early accounts are no longer considered reliable sources. Yet they set the tone for the way history books have been written ever since. The history of science is often cast as a secular morality tale of enlightenment and progress against the dark forces of religion and superstition.
Stark puts it in particularly strong terms: "The ‘Enlightenment’ [was] conceived initially as a propaganda ploy by militant atheists and humanists who attempted to claim credit for the rise of science." Stark's comments express a tone of moral outrage that such bad history continues to be perpetuated, even in academic circles.
Sermons, verbal attacks, conspiratorical moves to have their own people placed in key positions, and the rewriting of history. Wow, that almost sounds as what the ID movement is being accused of doing. Yet it was carried out by a group of people that is today remembered as the front line defenders of science and progress. If that isn’t ironic, then I don’t know what is.
Given that Cornell’s first president did much to “instill in the public mind a sense of the adversarial relationship between science and religion,” it doesn’t help to have its current Interim President mentioning Cornell’s Will Provine in two places. Provine, after all, is the guy who teaches the public that “Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.”
And ID The Future also chimes in.
This is a real knee-slapper. As an account of the relations between science and Christianity, White's History was long ago discredited as a work of anti-Christian propaganda. (See, for example, James R. Moore's The Post-Darwinian Controversies, Cambridge UP, 1979.) Among other things, White's book played a major role in presenting the infamous flat Earth myth (the fiction that Columbus was opposed by Christians who believed his ships would sail off the edge of the Earth) as though it were actual history. (See Jeffrey Burton Russell's Inventing the Flat Earth, Praeger, 1997.)
It seems that Karl Popper's comments that the Common Descent 'Theory' of evolution was a metaphysical research program (as opossed to a scientific theory) are not far off. Although it would have been more apt to call it a metaphysical (atheistic) propaganda campaign.
Update: Link to Pearcey Report Corrected
Francis Shaeffer's Ministry Model
Nancy and J Richard Pearcey have created a new website. The Pearcey Report. There are many useful articles there to check out, but one article by J Richard is worth discussing.
Francis Schaeffer: A students appreciation of a distinct approach recounts how Schaeffer built his ministry. In essence, he didn't. He let God do all the work and you have only to look at the influence of his work to see that God knows what he is doing (In case there was any doubt).
Several of the methods Schaeffer used seem counter to our own wisdom, but have ultimately succeeded in doing more than anyone could have imagined.
Schaeffer took God seriously, and he wanted to show others that God was indeed there and because of this he had the following principles
1) Make our financial and material needs known to God alone, in prayer, rather than sending out pleas for money.
2) Pray that God will bring the people of His choice to us, and keep all others away.
3) Pray that God will plan the work, and unfold His plan to us (guide us, lead us) day by day, rather than planning the future in some clever or efficient way in committee meetings.
So Schaeffer didn't fund raise. He didn't advertise for staff or people to minister to and he didn't make big long term plans. Talk about a recipe for disaster. Yet, his reliance on God and his expression of the love of God from within him has produced much fruit.
How many of us or our churches have the courage and conviction to do the same?
Evolutionists lack of arguments
The lack of arguments in defending evolution continues to amaze. Creation Safari's has a good roundup. All it really comes down to is the evolutionists are trying to force their opinions rather than provide a justification for them. personally, I think all of us who think common descent evolution is fatally flawed are being done a great favor by the lack of serious argument, because the general public is allowed to see how shaky evolutionary theory really is when it's proponents do not defend it with science and reason.
Answers in Genesis has a good response to a medical journals promotion of anti-theism. Of particular interest is one comment they make
Note that when evolution was largely banned in schools during the alleged scientific nadir for decades after the Scopes Trial, American schools produced more Nobel prizes than the rest of the world combined. In fact, America produced twice as many as all other countries—this was especially pronounced in the biological arena of the Nobels (physiology and medicine), supposedly a field that can’t do without evolution.That puts paid to many of the complaints about teaching creation or ID doesn't it. Of course, I would like to see the basis of this claim.
Steve Jones, a retired biologist from Western Australia has a great set of responses to a journalist about Intelligent design. Of particular note is his generous use of evolutionists own claims. Of course, the zealous evolutionist will claim that he is quoting out of context. Judge for yourself
"I well remember how the [Neo-Darwinian] synthetic theory beguiled me with its unifying power when I was a graduate student in the mid-1960's. Since then I have been watching it slowly unravel as a universal description of evolution. The molecular assault came first, followed quickly by renewed attention to unorthodox theories of speciation and by challenges at the level of macroevolution itself. I have been reluctant to admit it-since beguiling is often forever-but if Mayr's characterization of the synthetic theory is accurate, then that theory, as a general proposition, is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy." (Gould S.J., "Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?," Paleobiology, Vol. 6, No. 1, January 1980, p.120). Read the whole (long) post.
Unravelling Iraq and the US
For the last 2 years I have heard more than my share of complaints over the US invading Iraq. For the record, I supported the action because it was the best hope to free the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant. Of course, many on the left of the political spectrum repeat the mantra that bush lied about weapons of mass distruction and that Saddam wasn't a threat (Tell that to the Iraqi's).
Over the last couple of days however, I am seeing more and more of the shenanigans that have been going on unravelling to give us all a clearer picture of the motives and character of many of those who opposed the war.
Firstly, George Galloway, the arrogant British MP is being shown to be a liar, a hypocrit and firmly in Saddam's pocketbook. Christopher Hitchens has all the info. Investigators have confessions from people directly implicating him as well as having tracked the money from the oil-for-food bribes to his accounts and organisations. It seems that he not only lied to congress, but his own court system as well. Perjury charges await, amongst other things.
More evidence has come to light about the infamous forged niger/uranium documents. It seems the person who created them was in the employ of France, who wanted to discredit the US's justifications for using force against Iraq. What a lovely thing for our allies to do. I guess they would have preferred to keep their lucrative oil contracts and bribes with Saddam.
Stephen Hayes outlines the Joseph Wilson (He claimed to refute the aforementioned niger documents) scandal. Somehow, the Main stream media continues to fawn over wilson, even though it is clear from public record that he lied, repeatedly.
Best of web also reports on an interesting interview with Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser in the Ford and Bush père White Houses:
Scowcroft, in his interview, discussed an argument over Iraq he had two years ago with Condoleezza Rice, then-national security adviser and current secretary of state. "She says we're going to democratize Iraq, and I said, 'Condi, you're not going to democratize Iraq,' and she said, 'You know, you're just stuck in the old days,' and she comes back to this thing that we've tolerated an autocratic Middle East for fifty years and so on and so forth," he said. The article stated that with a "barely perceptible note of satisfaction," Scowcroft added: "But we've had fifty years of peace."
From best of the web
Now let's see. Between 1953 and 2003, here are the Mideast wars we can think of off the top of our head: the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, the two Palestinian intifadas against Israel, the Algerian Civil War, the Yemen Civil War and two Sudanese civil wars. That doesn't even count acts of terror against non-Mideastern countries, from the Iranian invasion of the U.S. Embassy to the attacks of 9/11.So much fo 50 years of peace?
Oh well. So much media time has been wasted on these things, and still people continue on oblivious to any new knowledge
Rigging the game of reality
I have lost track of how many times I have come accross people who believe they are objective and neutral when talking about what is real and what isn't. Time and time again they justify this by talking about how they are open to any belief..for instance in this post by someone calling himself 'The Alchemist'. He says
I am not an evolutionist, materialist, nor a humanist, my philosophy accepts all reasonable things that can be qualified or quantified.Yet looking at his comments, what sort of things does he class as reasonable? Science, not religion. His ideas of how we know things (epistomology) obviously have restricted what he classes as 'reasonable' and so this leads into the complete opposite of 'open' and 'neutral'.
Reading a handful of his comments, you can see how any conclusion about God, especially the Christian God, existing is considered automatically false (illusion/fantasy), even if it is backed by logic or science. Truly, it seems that his epistomology rigs the game so that only non-religious conclusions are possible. Ultimately, it is a naturalism of the gaps belief, a logical fallacy of begging the question that decides the outcome by definitional fiat.
Look out for it, because it is common, especially amongst academia, to use this tactic in order to appear neutral, rational and objective.
Another Dating Method Bites the Cosmic Dust
Creation safari's has reported that the 'age old' of dating planets by the number of craters has taken a serious blow. It seems that the impact of a bit meteorite can cause a whole lot of secondary impact craters as well. From the post
As a result, they conclude that “any attempt” to age-date surfaces or characterize the population of impactors may suffer “a significant and perhaps uncorrectable bias” due to the contribution from secondaries. They ended with that case of the single Martian impact that generated 10 million secondaries from 10 to 100 meters in diameter.
Just another example of the faulty assumption of long ages causing problems when we start to understand a bit more about the universe. How hard can it be to work out that their long ages are based on questionable assumptions? After all, it isn't rocket science.
The Motivations of the 'Defenders of Science'
Brian Pollard has an article on Online Opinion about Intelligent Design (ID) and whether it should be taught in schools. Throughout the article Brian makes some very good points such as
Before approaching an answer to this question, it is worth considering the areas of lack of precision in the popular presentations of both these concepts.This of course is sadly lacking, especially in light of consistent misrepresentations of ID by the 'defenders of science'. Consistently we hear that ID is just creationism in a cheap tuxedo, or it is a religious stance. A quick look at any of the comments for this article will show how often this happens.
Brian's makes his best point when he says
As to whether the designer was the one we call God or not, it would be prudent to leave that to theologians and philosophers, but the possibility of the existence of God cannot simply be denied. It must remain true that God exists or not. To dismiss outright even the possibility of God’s existence, because the issue had already been prejudged in the negative, could only rest on prejudice.This is the most common problem with the anti-ID crowd. It isn't an objection against ID itself, but against the ramifications that flow from it. Their bias and religious/metaphysical beliefs do not let them consider anything that might suggest that God exists. This is why so often you see responses that do not deal with the concepts of ID itself, but instead just seem to be a knee-jerk reaction to anything with anything other than atheistic metaphysical ramifications. Commenter Maracas (the first comment) highlights this well, saying "What a diatribe of non scientific obfuscation. Leave science to the Scientists who are prepared to prove their theories. You have the bible to push your 'intelligent design' creationist theory. Be satisfied that it has not been banned as unscientific, non proven propaganda."
Of course, even when the anti-ID crowd try to deal with the actual arguments of ID, they still seem to fall short of understanding what ID is really talking about. For instance, 2 of the commentators easily highlight this.
A criticism of the design of the mammalian eye (the retina is the wrong way round, and not attached to the back of the eyeball) is immediately met by a special plead that the intelligence behind its design is beyond our current understanding.This is not only a serious misrepresentation of the ID position, it is also wrong according to current scientific understanding and logic.
In other words, ID does not even claim that the intelligence used in the design will be recognisable for what it is. This begs the question of whether the proponents of the idea even know what they mean by intelligence.
Firstly, using this argument, unless you have a perfect design, you cannot conclude that something was designed. This is obviously illogical. You only have to look at FORD motor cars.
Secondly, ID does not respond to this point by saying 'it is beyond current understanding', but instead says that design does not have to be perfect to be designed.
Thirdly, current science shows the design of the mammalian eye to be highly effective for it's requirements. Answers In Genesis has a good, but technical article about the well designed mammalian eye.
Another commentator makes a bad blunder when he says
as a student teacher I am looking forward to contrasting ID with the scientific method, and might throw in Norse creation stories and Flying Spaghetti Monsterism for good measure. They have similar merit to Intelligent Design.Notice the scorn in the comments. The lack of understanding of different religions or equating them with recently made up ones like the Flying Spagetti Monster (FSM) is obviously driven by an anti-God bias. What is worse is this bias has made them make bad logical mistakes. Simply put, as ID does not talk about the identity of the designer (as this is outside the scope of science at this stage), then ID is completely consistent with FSM and Norse myth. ID is simply the postulation that Intelligence was involved in the design of certain observation objects. As such, it is consistent with any religion that has an intelligent agent. Obviously, this means it is also not consistent with atheism, which is where the real opposition coming from.
Ultimately, much of the opposition to ID is coming from people who adhere to materialist assumptions about reality, and those assumptions are being challenged. It seems that the 'defenders of science' are really just defenders of their own metaphysical(i.e. religious) assumptions. Brian's man point is that we should be looking for truth, not begging the question by only allowing non-intelligent explanations. It's a pity the commentators don't take this on board.
Media bias shock
Every so often you hear some left wing, socialist darwinist complain that the media is a right wing pupper. And this from those who call themselves the 'reality based community'. Apparently their reality is not quite real.
Here is a simple little exercise to help identify which way the media is biased on the Intelligent design(ID) issue. A recent Gallup/CNN/ABC poll identified that over 80% of americans believe in some kind of intelligent design. If the U.S. media was unbiased, or even neutral, you would expect to see over 80% of U.S. media reports being either favorable to ID or neutral on the topic. Of course, the reverse is true. For instance, just look at the York Daily Records coverage of the Dover ID trial. You can quickly notice how the paper reports any comments against ID as positively factual and any positive ID statements as dubious. Other papers continue to try and cast ID proponents as anti-science and religiously motivated.
Simply listening the the media is obviously a bad way to learn about any topic. They are not neutral and often biased strongly compared to the general population. Take everything you hear with large grains of salt.
Urinating in the office is not a sackable offense
An Australian worker who urinated in a waste paper bin at work, was reprimanded many times for coming back from lunch drunk, and failed to show up many times was awarded $10,000 (+ termination payments and costs) because his employer firing him was discrimination against his Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
This just highlights how much we need Industrial relations reform. The victim mentality culture is getting out of control and people somehow think they are entitled to rights like a paycheck and job, even when they do not complete their responsibilities. That our legal system supports this sort of rubbish is a good indicator that our legal system needs fixing.
What is the basis of objective morality
Jim Ryan, a conservative atheist has a couple of posts which include his ideas of what Christian/Theistic morality is. In these posts he makes a couple of points which misrepresent the Christian position on the source of objective morality.
Divine command theory may have been refuted 2500 years ago....God’s moral value is a choice. Leave aside the 2,500-year-old logic-chopping about whether something is right because of God’s decision or on the contrary chosen by God because it’s right....“Because God says so” isn’t just chopped liver; many genuine moral aspirations are partly aspirations not to disappoint God. The upshot of Plato’s Euthyphro is that to the extent to which God has an important role in morality, moral value depends upon God’s command.and continues with the idea in his second post
Conservatives choose a way of life because either it suits them, or it is commanded by God and it suits them to follow God’s commandOne of the biggest problems with this, is that it isn't even remotely accurate.
It may be true that divine command theory has been refuted. This is not the Christian position. The objective moral standard is not dependent on God's preferences or commands. It is dependent on his unchanging nature. As his nature is truthful, then we can trust us when he says whether something is good or not. So, in some ways, God's commands are moral, but it is due to his nature, not his commands or preferences.
As it is not a preference, and it is unchanging, and based on a existing object's nature, it is truly objective.
Health - UN opposes AIDS reductions in Uganda
It seems that the success of the abstinence program in Uganda has ruffeled a few feathers in the UN. Although the UN has admitted that condoms have a significant failure rate in preventing the aids infection, that hasn't stopped them from slamming a program that has worked better than anything the UN has done.
Ironically, the United Nations envoy to Africa, Canadian Stephen Lewis has complained that "To impose a dogma-driven policy that is fundamentally flawed is doing damage to Africa.". Of course, the UN doesn't have any dogma of its own. Other than the mostly secular humanist worldview they espouse that is. It seems the UN is imposing a dogma-driven policy that is more fundamentaly flawed.
Science - Quick Links
Jonathan Wells has a great reply to Jerry Coyne's comments on Intelligent Design (ID) and Dover. It's well worth reading the whole thing to see just how often evolutionists like Coyne don't deal with what ID really says or the true status of evidence for evolution.
In an interesting twist, people are bringing suit against a federally funded website for endorsing religion, by asking teachers to use religion to encourage belief in evolution or even the compatibility of religion and evolution.
A new fossil is possibly rewriting the dino-bird history. Ignoring contrary evidence, the scientists involved think it may imply feathered flight evolved convergently a couple of times. Let the story telling pseudoscience begin! Creation Safaris has more on the topic.
The Guardian has a review of Robert Winston's new book 'The Story of God'. Of course, don't expect an unbiased article or book. Even though the article says that Winston is "pondering the biggest question of all", really all he is doing is making an irrational assumption that God doesn't exist and then trying to explain the data to fit his conclusion. Other clearly laughable comments abound, such as "They studied certain fringe religious groups, such as fundamentalist Baptists, Pentecostalists and the snake-handlers of West Virginia, to see if they showed the particular type of psychopathology associated with mental illness." and also struggle to explain the obvious benefits of truly religious people.
Dark matter may not exist. Scientists now think that dark matter may not be necessary to explain the rotation and orbits of galaxies. Of course, creationists have been saying that Dark matter didn't exist for years. Another successful prediction?
More evidence of an abortion/breast cancer link from China. Maybe someday the pro-abortion crowd will stop trying to suppress this knowledge.
Abortion - Government funding changes
It is quite possible that the Australian Government is moving to stop medicare funding of abortions. A recent bill, title the Health Leglisation Amendment Bill 2005 (search for it in the pdf) has a stated purpose to
clarify the scope of the power to make Medicare Tables; and enable
the Minister to make legislative instruments determining that Medicare benefits are not
payable for professional services in specified circumstances.
Whilst this certainly seems to enable the stopping of medicare funding for abortion, it does not necessarily mean it will.
I hope the government does stop medicare funding of abortions of convenience, as not only are these abortions killing an innocent, the government has been asking for us to pay for others being able to do so.
Of course, some people are getting very concerned about the possibility of no longer having the general public pay for peoples abortions. I like how the author of this article complains
What is not reasonable is the imposition of the Health Minister's ideological point of view on this or any other issue, by “legislative instrument”, without proper public awareness and the necessary debate.You mean like the judiciary deciding the issue had the proper public awareness or necessary debate? Please. She is just upset because someone who thinks differently to her view is getting to callt he shots.
Evolution - Feathered Dinosaurs get plucked
Evolutionary Scientist, Dr. Alan Feduccia has released a fairly damning report on whether any dinosaurs really had feathers. Dr Feduccia
found no evidence for the existence of protofeathers on dinosaurs and no evidence in support of the morphogenesis of the feather from putative filamentous protofeathers. They suggest that 'protofeathers' described on fossil findings "are probably the remains of collagenous fiber 'meshworks' that reinforced the dinosaur integument." Based on their examination of fossilized remains of dinosaurs with no relationship to birds, they suggest that decomposition of skin can lead to patterns resembling feathers.
Dr Feduccia also laments that
the publication and promotion of feathered dinosaurs by the popular press and by prestigious journals and magazines, including National Geographic, Nature and Science, have made it difficult for opposing views to get a proper hearing.The scientific establishment trying to crush dissent. No suprise there.
Of course, Dr Feduccia still agrees that birds and dinosaurs are related via a common ancestor. He just disagrees that birds evolved from advanced theropod dinosaurs. Part of the argument is that we have fully formed birds from before any 'feathered' dinosaurs have been found. What I find ironic is this is the same comment that creationists have made in debating skeptics (for instance, in this debate which I personally attended)and yet the skeptics in question insult the creationist for 'not understanding science' when they make the comment.
Not suprisingly, Answers In Genesis also made another similar observation to Dr Feduccia, which was never dealt with by their opponent Paul Willis and indeed he avoided my question about it in questions afterwards by claiming it had been overturned by more recent research. A blatant falsehood. Anyways, onto the important observation...
Birds have been thought to be related to theropod dinosaurs because both groups have a hand reduced to three digits. Theropods are known from fossil evidence to exhibit a hand with digits 1-2-3, the thumb and next two digits. However, the researchers found that the vast majority of evidence supports a 2-3-4 digit identity for bird wings. The bird hand "appears different from that in theropod dinosaurs," they say, and casts doubt upon the theropod derivation hypothesisThis observation has been ignored by the pro dinosaur-bird crowd for years. So much for a theory explaining all the observations. Apparently, if you are pushing dino-bird theory, you can ignore inconvenient facts at your leisure.
Just think. If it wasn't for Dr Feduccia (an evolutionist), then all the attempts by creation scientists to point out this observation would be ignored and derided.
I'll leave you with one of Dr Feduccia's comments for you to contemplate how evidence really doesn't speak for itself
With the advent of ‘feathered dinosaurs,’ we are truly witnessing the beginnings of the meltdown of the field of paleontology. Just as the discovery a four-chambered heart in a dinosaur described in 2000 in an article in Science turned out to be an artifact, feathered dinosaurs too have become part of the fantasia of this field. Much of this is part of the delusional fantasy of the world of dinosaurs, the wishful hope that one can finally study dinosaurs at the backyard bird feeder.
Science - What are they really afraid of
The trial in Dover over references to Intelligent Design (ID) in a science class continues to keep the ID issue in the limelight.
Many evolutionists cry about how teaching ID would be ignoring science and dooming our children and society to the wastebin of scientific progress. The american scientist article highlights how the current standing of science students in the US is very low compared to the rest of the developed world. The dire warning is then that we can't allow ID into the classroom as this would make things worse! Never questioned is why US students are doing so badly...Maybe when you don't teach kids how to think about science, but instead ram the current paradigm down their throats whilst brooking no discussion has something to do with it (Outcomes based education may also be to blame). Considering how the US is high on the list of places where questioning of evolution is not allowed by teachers, there is probably a correlation there.
What i find really interesting however, is the inability to simply let selective pressures take their course. If ID and criticism of evolution in the classroom is so bad for science, then the students turned out will be less likely to be able to do good science. It also seems as if they are scared to let their scientific ideas compete in an open forum. Don't they think their ideas have enough merit to stand up in the marketplace of ideas without them trying to suppress alternate views?
Quite often, they will complain that they can't compete in the marketplace of ideas, because children will be disadvantaged (i.e. the first argument above). Yet, considering we are discussing science, where is the evidence that this will happen? They have no research to show this is the case. So much for their faith in science...
It seems quite obvious they are scared....I just wonder what they really are afraid of.
Science - What is science and science stoppers
Stephen Meyer has a good overview of what science is and how that relates to Intelligent Design. Meyer responds specifically to the idea that science must exclude a designer and highlights several problems with the idea.
One problem is that it ignores areas of scientific investigation where intelligent design is a necessary explanatory concept. The Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is one example.
A second problem with limiting science to blind, natural regularities is that it confuses laws with explanations--an error that philosopher of science William Alston calls "a 'category mistake' of the most flagrant sort." Laws and explanations are often two different things.
In addition to confusing laws with explanations, it assumes a cookie-cutter view of science, in which all disciplines ask similar questions and use the same "scientific method." This belies the rich diversity of methods that scientists use to understand the natural world.It is well worth reading the whole thing.
Tech Central station also has an article up on the Intelligent Design (ID) controversy, with the usual ID = religion = ignorance rubbish that continues to come out of evolutionist evangelists. Yet one thing that the author said caught my attention.
Natural selection has two steps, in evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr's description (What Evolution Is). First is the largely random variation of genes within a population. Second is the largely non-random reproductive success of individuals whose generations of offspring survive to keep particular genes (and thus traits) in the population.Curiously enough, evolutionists and materialists often try to claim that to appeal to a supernatural cause is a science stopper. That you no longer need to investigate the world because 'God did it' that way. Whilst I don't think this accurately portrays the situation, I did find it interesting that evolutionists have their own science stopper. Did you notice in the definition above?
What is it? Randomness. Think about it for a second. If something is random, it cannot be predicted by natural law. As such, it logically stops investigation. You might be able to study what causes random mutations to happen, but not what mutation will happen where. All you can really say is that it just happened.
So if scientists already appeal to a science stopper concept such as randomess, why do they object to something else they see as doing the same?
Culture - Guts, logic and character
Noah Riner, president of the Dartmouth student body has shown great character, guts and logic in his speech to the new students at his uni. From his speech
Character has a lot to do with sacrifice, laying our personal interests down for something bigger. The best example of this is Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just hours before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." He knew the right thing to do. He knew the cost would be agonizing torture and death. He did it anyway. That's character.I would suggest that Noah has done something along the same lines. He knew that there would be a bad reaction to his speech from many people who were 'outraged' that someone dare mention Jesus in a public speech, yet he did it anyway.
Read the whole speech and note just how humble Noah is in it. He doesn't exempt himself from criticism or pretend to be sinless and his bold speech is all the more eloquent for it.
Worldmag has more about the criticism Noah received and his very Christian handling of it.
Morality - Absolutes
Jeremy Pierce, over at Parableman, seems to have a bit if a pet peeve over just what Absolute Morality is. Which is fair enough. It is important to use a term accurately so as to communicate effectively.
The term absolute morality is used imprecisely and with great variation by people from philosophers to street sweepers. The question is, what does the term really mean?
Jeremy it seems, defines it as saying that an actions morality is unaffected by the context. Killing a person is always wrong, regardless of whether it was for self-defense or any other reason is an example of this idea of Absolute Morality. Now if this is the definition of absolute morality that is accurate, then I have to agree with Jeremy. I don't think many people would agree that all or even most morality would be absolute.
Others seem to equate absolute morality with meaning that morality is simply objective. That is, morality is not simply a personal preference.
Yet others think that absolute morality refers to objective morality that does not change over time and applies equally to everyone. The context of an action can matter, just not someone's preferences. If I remember correctly, this was Plato's view.
All in all, I believe the best definition of absolute morality is the last one. I believe this is the definition that most people think of when they talk about absolute morality.
I think the second definition is flat out incorrect, firstly because it does not reflect any real definition of the word 'absolute' (unlike the other 2 definitions). Also, it says nothing different to objective morality, and does not restrict morality in any way as to applying equally to all persons accross time. For instance, morality could be objective and yet still mean that it was moral for me to kill an innocent, and not moral for someone else to do the same.
The first definition, whilst it is an appropriate definition with regards to the term 'absolute' seems to be arbitrary in its delineation of context. Let me explain. To say that 'killing' is an action that we can ask moral questions about means that we already have a particular context. For instance, if I shoot a gun, is it the same action if the bullet hits an inanimate target or a person? I have performed exactly the same movements in both. Yet one is 'killing' and one is not. There is already a context. So why do we use this context, and not the context of motive etc? Surely by talking about killing, we are already saying that the morality of the action is relative to something (i.e. the target or effect?) To say that morality is truly 'absolute' (In the sense it is being used in this definition) it would have to be not relative to anything other than the action (Pulling a trigger etc).
Ultimately, there is no great definition of absolute morality. I think there is definitely scope to make clear just what you are referring to when you use thw words because of this. In general however, I feel most people, when using the term, mean a lot closer to the 3rd definition I gave than to the first 2.
Cosmology - Inflation falsified
Scientists have found no evidence for gravitational lensing, which was a direct prediction of the inflation hypothesis. The inflation hypothesis was created to explain how the cosmic background radiation (CBR) could be uniform in a universe that is too young for light to travel the universes span (Which is required to get the uniform CBR).
As at this point, this should cast serious doubt on the CBR supporting the big bang hypotheis, yet I assume most scientists will simply continue to accept big bang, whilst trying to fit some other hypothesis into it to explain the uniformity of the CBR. I was say that this will force the changing speed of light hypothesis to gain supporters.
Of course, as always, there is always the chance that the gravitational lensing will found to be 'not necessary' for inflation, due to error or assumption. It is also possible that this study will be shown to be flawed. But, at this time, it certainly casts great doubt on inflation, and therefore big bang theory.
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Quick Links - It's a mad mad world
Tim blair has a few good comments on some out of control political correctness in the UK. Truly the mind boggles.
Darwinian Phylogenic tools are apparently mathematically flawed. So much for all that 'hard' evolutionary science that HAS to be taught in schools.
Canada is getting an early start on its eugenics program. How long before they expand the program is anyone's guess. It is more a question of when than if though.
The Catholic Church in the UK is advising people that the bible isn't historically accurate. Obviously they think the writers were only a little bit inspired by God. Chalk another one up for the once great institution.
A mothers care is best for toddlers. Amazing how thousands of years of history needs to be validated by research. Remember of course that state raising of kids was all part of the communist plan. Just another area they had horribly wrong.
Science - Academic Authority and Bias
One of the biggest problems today is that scientists and academics have too much authority and not enough accountability. 'Expert' opinion is bandied around in support of any and all positions until both sides of an argument are so committed to their own opinions because those opinions are based on 'science' or 'experts'. This is why today, more than ever it is important to gain a broad understanding of many important fields.
I would suggest, at a minimum, gaining a good understanding of basic logic and philosophy, statistics, scientific method, critical analysis and rhetorical tactics are necessary in order to be able to make an informed opinion on current events and supposed 'scientific' findings.
The problem is, there are many, many more fields that have important information. At some point, we all have to depend on authority, as we cannot know everything. Which brings us back to needing a minimum standard of understanding. It seems prudent to be able to evaluate a person's character, ability and biases before accepting their comments as authorative on weighty topics. And you don't need to be an expert in their field to evaluate their opinions.
Case in point. A recent article appeared in the UK paper, Times Online, which claimed that Religious Beliefs Can Cause Damage To Society. This article refers to a recent paper published in the Journal of Religion and Society. The Journal, according to it's website is a refereed journal. (That's important for a later point). The article also refers to the paper's author, Gregory Paul, as a 'social scientist'. In fact, Gregory Paul is a Paleontologist, a secular humanist and a recommended debater in the evolution/creation controversy.
It gets better though. The article in The Times also claims more than Gregory Paul's paper did. The actual paper only mentions correlation. It is also important to note that no alternative opinion is givenSo, for a start, in terms of the Times author, it seems clear that she is either sloppy, biased or both sloppy and biased. Either way, it is clear that trusting this author's opinion is not a good idea.
Taking a look and see if any other papers reported on this new 'scientific study' and found that the ABC has a transcript from their 'The world today' program. In this transcript, the credentials of Mr Paul are accurately reported. They note he is 'an independent researcher' and also do not misrepresent the claims of his paper. They also get an alternative view point from a Professor of Sociology, identifying him also as an anglican priest. I have to wonder why they didn't identify Mr Paul as a secular humanist, but that is a minor gripe. In general, this article is much more balanced (I was suprised, as this is the ABC).
So does Mr Paul's paper actually show a correlation between religious belief and negative social indicators such as murder, abortion and such? I was skeptical at first, because of previous survey's showing that the US's christianity is one that no longer believes in moral absolutes. As such whilst people identify themselves as christian in the US however in reality only a small percent have not taken on board the secular humanist ideas of moral relativism. So at best, Mr Paul's paper could conclude that Religion that has been significantly tainted by secular humanist ideas correlates with harmful social indicators.
Stand to reason has a good summary of various logical problems in the paper and Statguy at Magic Statistics has 2 great posts showing just how sloppy Mr Paul's 'scientific' paper really is. Whilst I haven't done a detailed analysis like Statguy, I do know enough about statistics and research to agree that the points he highlights are serious problems and should not have been allowed in a refereed paper. That it is incredibly sloppy and poor scholarship weighs negatively against Mr Paul as someone that people should listen to. It seems clear that he has an axe to grind and his objectively is seriously in question.
That the paper was published at all tells heavily against the Journal of Religion and Society. Occasionally however, things can slip through the cracks, even in refereed journals, so I would not conclude that everything in the journal is hopelessly biased on this one instance. I would however check to see if other articles are sloppy research as well, and if so, relegate it to the bin of academically prestiged bias.
Science - The web of long ages
Science Daily is reporting that a 20 Million Year old spider fossil has 2 droplets of preserved blood. Of course, no question has been asked about how blood could survive 20 million years. The last thing that an evolutionist can do is question long ages, no matter how shattering the evidence before them.
The scientists involved are hopeful that they can get DNA from the blood. Which brings me to my latest prediction. I predict that in the near future (5 to 10 years) that scientists will find DNA from a fossil at least 5 million years old. They will sequence the DNA and compare it to a living example of the same species and find that no appreciable mutation/evolution has taken place.
The scientists will then continue on their evolutionary way as if nothing has happened, thus proving how empty evolutionary theory really is.