Anti-Evolution in Georgia (Again)

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Today, Representative Ben Bridges of the Georgia House, introduced a bill, HB 179, that would require evidence against evolution be taught in Georgia’s public schools whenever evidence for evolution is taught. (However, his fairness is a one-way street.)

Word has it that the Republican leadership will not support the bill, which ensures it will have a short life.

The news is fresh, but it should be covered by the evening news and tomorrows papers. The only story on it so far is a short one.

I’ve gotten a hold of the meat of the bill and addressed it on my blog, De Rerum Natura.

Read it atGA HB 179: Bridges’ Ding Bill.”

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The Georgia GOP is racing through the legislative session, and there's some very weird stuff going on. Take House Bill 179, introduced by Rep. Ben Bridges of Cleveland, GA.Part 2 of Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of... Read More

137 Comments

I have not previously examined a bill like this before but to a lawyer, the proposed language is fascinating. In particular, the clause, “…factual scientific evidence supporting or consistent with evolution theory and factual scientific evidence inconsistent with or not supporting the theory shall be included in he course of study” is a juicy chunk of meat for the litigation grinder. The first issue being, of course, what is “factual scientific evidence” and who gets to decide. If Bridges’s bill were to pass, it would be delicious irony to use the quoted language to slam the first person who tries to bring ID into a Georgia classroom.

The proposed bill is also incoherent, because it is logically impossible to teach both evidence consistent with a scientific theory and evidence inconsistent with that scientific theory. A scientific theory is a theory that is falsifiable. A theory is abandoned when there is scientific evidence that disproves the theory. The theory is then falsefied and no longer a valid scientific theory. So, if there is evidence inconsistent with a certain theory, that theory is no longer a valid theory (because it has been falsified).There is either a scientific theory, or prove against it, in wich case it is no longer a scientific theory. It is of course possible to advance a scientifically valid argument that would disprove the theory if the argument could be proven, as the ID people are trying to do. But if their argument isn’t proven, it isn’t scientific evidence.

if there is evidence inconsistent with a certain theory, that theory is no longer a valid theory (because it has been falsified)

That’s so-called “naive falsification”, but reality is more complex than that.

There is lots of (quantum) evidence that is inconsistent with General Relativity, and vice-versa; but those are probably the most successsful scientific theories ever, and certainly are valid theories in the domains in which they are known to apply.

a) Whenever any theory on the historical origins of modern religions is included in a course of study offered by a local unit of administration, factual scientific evidence supporting or consistent with the existence of Mohammed and other major non-Christian religious figures, and factual scientific evidence inconsistent with or not supporting their existence shall be included in he course of study.

b) The method of instruction described in subsection a of this code section is intended to strengthen the analytical skills of students by requiring the presentation of a broad range of scientific evidence regarding theories of the origin of modern religions and the existence of their key founders. The requirements of subsection a) of this code are not intended to authorize or promote the presentation of religious beliefs.

What’s the difference?

There is lots of (quantum) evidence that is inconsistent with General Relativity, and vice-versa; but those are probably the most successsful scientific theories ever, and certainly are valid theories in the domains in which they are known to apply.

They give accurate predictions in the domains in which they are known to apply. But that is a different thing. They may have practical value, but as far as they are inconsistent with empirical evidence, they do not correspond to the truth.

A scientific theory is a theory that is falsifiable. A theory is abandoned when there is scientific evidence that disproves the theory. The theory is then falsefied and no longer a valid scientific theory. So, if there is evidence inconsistent with a certain theory, that theory is no longer a valid theory (because it has been falsified).There is either a scientific theory, or prove against it, in wich case it is no longer a scientific theory.

I’m certainly no expert in the field of evolutionary science, but my knowledge of the scientific investigative process says this isn’t quite accurate. Evolution (the process) is quite a multi-faceted field with a lot of data points. At any given time, a particular aspect of evolutionary theory might be under scrutiny due a particular discovery that presents challenges to the prevailing view. This is quite welcome in science and does not necessarily mean the entire theory should be chucked out the window. Revisiting, rehashing and reformulating theories in light of new data is not just good science. It’s the way science is supposed to work.

As usual most evolutionist have failed to grasp what the people who believe in ID are actually saying. Scientists that believe in ID do not have the ‘evidence’ that disproves evolution. We all have the same evidence - it’s just how we interpret that evidence. People who believe in evolution just look at the evidence from a different perspective than I do. There will never be ‘proof’ for either side of the argument, but sometimes a different perspective fits better in what we are seeing in the here and now. There is a phrase that seams to apply here, “Seeing is not believing, believing is seeing”. If more scientist actually start from a blank page when looking at evidence then they might just discover something new.

GodsOwn, your science is as good as your English.

There is no scientist who believes in evolution. Evolution is science, and science is a study of evidence that demonstrates things so no belief, no faith, is required.

If there is a scientist who believes in ID, it is a faith statement, and not a statement of science.

As usual, sadly, the IDists have failed to distinguish between hope of evidence for deity, and reality.

If more anti-evolutionists took the Boy Scout Law’s imprecation to be trustworthy more seriously, we wouldn’t have otherwise sane, rational and friendly people claiming that scientists are all deceived by the creation God made – a statement which is ultimately the opposite of the faith the IDists claim to wish to promote.

What a tangled web, indeed.

GodsOwn Wrote:

As usual most evolutionist have failed to grasp what the people who believe in ID are actually saying.  Scientists that believe in ID do not have the ‘evidence’ that disproves evolution.  We all have the same evidence - it’s just how we interpret that evidence. 

So what you’re saying is, when the bill calls for the teaching of “factual evidence” that is consistent with evolution, as well as “factual evidence” that is inconsistent, then the bill’s author has failed to grasp what ID people believe in?

I somehow doubt that’s really the case, but feel free to send him an angry letter anyway.

On a more general note, I’ve heard this “different interpretations” argument quite a bit in the past. The two problems are, firstly, there is indeed a strong disagreement over basic facts. When IDists claim that “information” can’t evolve, and then they’re proven wrong, and then they have to resort to vague and mathematically imprecise meanings for “information” to rescue their argument, they’re on the wrong side of the facts, plain and simple.

Secondly, this whole notion that it’s all just a matter of interpretations smacks of extreme relativism (something that IDists claim to hate, but readily adopt when convenient.) It’s true that one can interpret a given set of facts however one wishes, but it’s not true that all interpretations are equally valid, or equally truth conducive. Some interpretations are illogical, ad hoc, question begging, untestable, inconsistent with other accepted interpretations, or at odds with other accepted facts. Since there is usually only one correct interpretation, science is all about trying to find the right one while avoiding the wrong ones.

GodsOwn:

Steve Rueland: “It’s true that one can interpret a given set of facts however one wishes, but it’s not true that all interpretations are equally valid, or equally truth conducive.”

I would add that the interpretation that counts in biology is the one held by a near consensus of professional biologists. Science is determined by experts in the field. For example, brain surgery techniques are determined by experts in that field.

But this bill is unnecessary! Biology teachers all across the country are already presenting all the factual evidence that is inconsistent with evolutionary theory. Presenting all the factual evidence that is inconsistent with evolutionary theory, in fact, is one of the easiest tasks in any biology course. All you need to do is maintain total silence for approximately zero seconds, and you’re done!

Steve Reuland wrote

It’s true that one can interpret a given set of facts however one wishes, but it’s not true that all interpretations are equally valid, or equally truth conducive. Some interpretations are illogical, ad hoc, question begging, untestable, inconsistent with other accepted interpretations, or at odds with other accepted facts.

Not to mention occasionally lethal, as when one (mis)interprets the fact of a cliff’s edge at one’s feet as an opportunity to learn to fly or interprets the presence of a predator as a cue to pet the nice pussycat. Natural selection in action!

RBH

Re the comments of “GodsOwn” -

Suggesting that scientist (sic) start with a blank slate flies in the face of how science is done. Scientists approaching this problem bring with them an extensive background in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, etc. The “blank slate” approach ignores the working tools of scientists. Further, the notion that one can arbitrarily choose a set of assumptions (i.e., a “perspective”) without testing their validity is also a wrong one. I detect the influence of AiG in your post.

The “blank slate” is a synonym for “bible”, but cleaned up for legal purposes.

We evolutionists struggle in this argument because we fail to go far enough. Letting the ID proponents define evolution as a theory lets them aver the presence of doubt. What we need to point out is that evolution (lower case “e”) is an indisputable fact: it is a fact that life on earth today is different than it was in the geologic (or in the case of antibiotic resistant bacteria, the recent) past. Any reasonably intelligent person who argues to the contrary lacks intellectual perspicacity, or intellectual honesty, or both.

The ‘theory’ applies to the proposed mechanism of this change, ID (like it or not) being a mechanism. The reason ID does not belong in the science classroom is that it’s support is founded on the principle of “res ipsa loquitor.” To it’s supporters, ID must be factual as no other explanation is fathomable. A ‘minor’ flaw of ID is that there isn’t a shred of data (or is it a particle of datum?) to establish the existence of an intelligent designer. “The thing speaks for itself,” to them IS the fact. But to anyone who believes observation of evidence is a fundamental part of theorizing, theory in the absence of observation equals an article of faith; and that would be religion.

We very much need to define the parameters of this debate if we are to prevail. Insist on presenting the FACT of evolution. Examine dilligently the theories of its mechanism. Include as science those based on observation, and dismiss those which are based on the notion that “it couldn’t have happened any other way.

A final note: when Darwin first proposed his theory of Natural Selection, his skeptical contemporaries criticized him: selection requires a Selector, they insisted.…the more things change…

from Bob Park at What’s New:

4. CREATIONISM: SHOULD WARNING MESSAGES BE REQUIRED ON BOOKS? Manufactures are required to include warnings on labels. Why not text book publishers? Besides, the stickers Cobb County wanted on biology texts weren’t exactly wrong evolution really is “just a theory.” http://www.aps.org/WN/WN05/wn011405.cfm Science is open. If someone comes up with a better theory, the textbooks will be rewritten. Although requiring warning labels on medicine bottles is vital, on books they become official doctrine. Several readers suggested stickers for bibles in Cobb County:

“This book contains religious stories regarding the origin of living things. The stories are theories, not facts. They are unproven, unprovable and in some cases totally impossible. This material should be approached with an open mind, and a critical eye towards logic and believability.”

Short and to the point - I love it.

To GodsOwn, When you talk to this group about Intelligent Design, you will be attacked. It brings to mind a comment I read that goes like this: “I am reminded of a Russian believer who said he always suspected that the Bible must be important because the government tried so hard to get them not to read it.” I think that we have nothing to fear. Just as children in the fictional story saw that the Emperor had no clothes, children will see that where there is order, structure, and design, one must look around for a Designer. Evolution may be a word chosen to describe adaptation and change within a species, but it takes creation to bring matter into being. Creation suggests a Creator. We know that everything is made of matter, which consists of the basic natural elements, but where did matter come from? How did it cover the universe in the form of planets and stars? And how did the laws which govern matter originate? I do not believe that evolutionist have satisfactory answers to these questions and while they may be successful in keeping the mention of a creator or of intelligent design out of public schools, the intellectual processes will continue. The day will come, if not in this country, in other countries where the questions will arise and there will be those who will know and serve the Creator.

To GodsOwn, When you talk to this group about Intelligent Design, you will be attacked. It brings to mind a comment I read that goes like this: “I am reminded of a Russian believer who said he always suspected that the Bible must be important because the government tried so hard to get them not to read it.” I think that we have nothing to fear. Just as children in the fictional story saw that the Emperor had no clothes, children will see that where there is order, structure, and design, one must look around for a Designer. Evolution may be a word chosen to describe adaptation and change within a species, but it takes creation to bring matter into being. Creation suggests a Creator. We know that everything is made of matter, which consists of the basic natural elements, but where did matter come from? How did it cover the universe in the form of planets and stars? And how did the laws which govern matter originate? I do not believe that evolutionist have satisfactory answers to these questions and while they may be successful in keeping the mention of a creator or of intelligent design out of public schools, the intellectual processes will continue. The day will come, if not in this country, in other countries where the questions will arise and there will be those who will know and serve the Creator.

And how did the laws which govern matter originate?

Brahma, babe. It’s all about Brahma.

http://www.sanatansociety.org/hindu[…]es/shiva.htm

Any other questions?

To GodsOwn, When you talk to this group about Intelligent Design, you will be attacked.

Poor logic, invalid or unsupported assertions - these will be attacked. People will not be attacked. That would require the use of ad hominems; which are bad form.

It brings to mind a comment I read that goes like this: “I am reminded of a Russian believer who said he always suspected that the Bible must be important because the government tried so hard to get them not to read it.” I think that we have nothing to fear. Just as children in the fictional story saw that the Emperor had no clothes, children will see that where there is order, structure, and design, one must look around for a Designer.

Your personal opinion does not, unfortunately, constitute evidence of anything… except, of course, your opinion.

Evolution may be a word chosen to describe adaptation and change within a species, but it takes creation to bring matter into being.

Since the Theory of Evolution does not deal with the creation of matter, your comment is a non-sequitur. The Modern Synthesis does not deal with market value predictions, either.

Creation suggests a Creator.

Once you demonstrate that creation ex nihilo - which I what I presume you are referring to - actually took place, then perhaps your comment will be more meaningful.

We know that everything is made of matter, which consists of the basic natural elements, but where did matter come from?

I don’t know. The Theory of Evolution does not deal with this subject.

How did it cover the universe in the form of planets and stars? And how did the laws which govern matter originate?

I don’t know. The Theory of Evolution does not deal with this subject.

I do not believe that evolutionist have satisfactory answers to these questions and while they may be successful in keeping the mention of a creator or of intelligent design out of public schools, the intellectual processes will continue.

Intelligent design and a creator can be mentioned in schools now. Apparently you aren’t keeping up with the American educational system.

The day will come, if not in this country, in other countries where the questions will arise and there will be those who will know and serve the Creator.

So? The Theory of Evolution makes no statement for or against a creator of matter.

Perhaps you should spend some time educating yourself in what the theory of evolution actually says before offering inaccurate advice to others?

Your acknowledgement brings us back to the beginning of my first question to an evolutionist. If evolution does not deal with the origin of the species, why are evolutionist fighting the mention of creation or the mention of intelligent design in a classroom? I believe you have given lengthy answers to the effect that none of the scientist who study either of the above are truly “scientist” regardless of the fact that many have doctorates. You have spent a great deal of time expounding your theories of how and why any scientific evidence or theories outside of evolution should be discounted and not allowed in a classroom. In your opinion, this means that the mere idea of anything outside of “evolution” is anathema. (Please, I really do understand your position, even with my limited intellect.) My thinking on this subject is that the origin of the species is indeed a worthy topic for a science class. If the presence of a Creator or the evidence of Intelligent Design in some way causes “evolution” to be brought into question, questions should be allowed in a science class.

Jan,

You said, “My thinking on this subject is that the origin of the species is indeed a worthy topic for a science class.”

My thinking on this subject is that this is exactly what evolution addresses - the origin of new species through mutation and accumulated change over time, subsequent to the Origin of Life.

From the studies that I have read, I see evolution as change over time within a species. How do evolutionist explain the original species? Even so,I fail to see the origin of new species. I do not believe that mutations create NEW genetic material? To accept evolution as the origin of new species, you still have to deal with the origin of the original species. This must mean that at some point non-living things gave rise to living material, i.e., spontaneous generation occurred OR a Creator called life into existence. If educators choose to just not address this issue due to the religious nature of the presence of a Creator, it will not stop students from wanting to know. I see absolutely no conflict with the first admendment and the mention of the possiblity of a Creator in a classroom. The idea that life could have been called into existence is not establishing a state religion. The first amendment stated in its entirety reads:

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

Perhaps we will someday have federal judges who are able to read and understand what this means. Until then, our children may have questions that we are forbidden to answer.

Your acknowledgement brings us back to the beginning of my first question to an evolutionist.

It’s not clear who your comment is addressed to. I’ll exhibit my usual lack of modesty and presume it’s me.

f evolution does not deal with the origin of the species, why are evolutionist fighting the mention of creation or the mention of intelligent design in a classroom?

Evolution does not deal with the Origin of Life; it certainly deals with the origin of species. And the two other topics you mention are perfectly acceptable fare - just not in a science class until such time as they have scientific evidence and theories to suppor them. These things are currently lacking.

I believe you have given lengthy answers to the effect that none of the scientist who study either of the above are truly “scientist” regardless of the fact that many have doctorates.

They are arguing from a conclusion to interpretation of evidence - they have abandoned the scientific method. In that sense, they are not doing science. Consider Dembksi: name any actual science he has done.

You have spent a great deal of time expounding your theories of how and why any scientific evidence or theories outside of evolution should be discounted and not allowed in a classroom.

You are begging the question and being factually incorrect; we are pointing out that no scientific evidence or theories EXIST that supercede the Modern Synthesis. None.

In your opinion, this means that the mere idea of anything outside of “evolution” is anathema.

Incorrect. You misinterpret our position; any scientist with integrity welcomes the existence of contrary scientific evidence. But none has been presented.

(Please, I really do understand your position, even with my limited intellect.)

You appear to be incorrect; you do NOT understand our position - based on your comments above.

My thinking on this subject is that the origin of the species is indeed a worthy topic for a science class.

And it is taught in science classes. The Theory of Evolution answers this question very nicely.

If the presence of a Creator or the evidence of Intelligent Design in some way causes “evolution” to be brought into question, questions should be allowed in a science class.

I’m glad you qualified that. “If”. There is no evidence either of a creator or of Intelligent Design. Should such evidence become available, scientists will certainly consider it.

jan said,

From the studies that I have read, I see evolution as change over time within a species.

You need to read more studies. Try this definition,

In the broadest sense, evolution is merely change, and so is all-pervasive; galaxies, languages, and political systems all evolve. Biological evolution … is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual. The ontogeny of an individual is not considered evolution; individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are inheritable via the genetic material from one generation to the next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportion of different alleles within a population (such as those determining blood types) to the successive alterations that led from the earliest protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions.

Douglas J. Futuyma in Evolutionary Biology, Sinauer Associates 1986

How do evolutionist explain the original species?

Every species represents a divergence from a prior species, back to the original replicators. The origin of the replicators is a question of abiogenesis, which is not dealt with by the theory of evolution.

Even so,I fail to see the origin of new species. I do not believe that mutations create NEW genetic material? To accept evolution as the origin of new species, you still have to deal with the origin of the original species. This must mean that at some point non-living things gave rise to living material, i.e., spontaneous generation occurred OR a Creator called life into existence.

The theory of evolution says nothing about the means whereby the original replicators arose. For all we know, God might have done it. But if God did it, it’s not the subject of scientific investigation.

If educators choose to just not address this issue due to the religious nature of the presence of a Creator, it will not stop students from wanting to know.

No, they don’t deal with it because (a) it’s not part of the theory, (b) the field is not terribly advanced yet, and (c) to offer a creator as an option is to cross the line into religion. And whose religion?

I see absolutely no conflict with the first admendment and the mention of the possiblity of a Creator in a classroom.

Then you would be wrong. The teacher, speaking on government money, should not make a statement concerning religion in a science class.

The idea that life could have been called into existence is not establishing a state religion. The first amendment stated in its entirety reads:

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

No one ever said it was. Shall we then state in all science classes that the universe might be the vomit of cosmic dragon? That’s equally plausible - and equally acceptable, according to you.

Perhaps we will someday have federal judges who are able to read and understand what this means. Until then, our children may have questions that we are forbidden to answer.

Any such question can be dealt with - in the proper milieu; a science class is not the place to discuss religious possiblities.

Jan Wrote:

If evolution does not deal with the origin of the species

As you have been told, probably repeatedly, (1) evolution does deal with the origin of the species –it is in fact the only explanation we have for it, and (2) it does not deal with the origin of life or matter.

Jan Wrote:

… why are evolutionist fighting the mention of creation or the mention of intelligent design in a classroom?

For the last time “evolutionist” (why do you insist on the singular when the context implies the plural?) do not fight the mention of creation or the mention of intelligent design in “a classroom,” they fight the misrepresentation of science in science class.

Jan Wrote:

If the presence of a Creator or the evidence of Intelligent Design in some way causes “evolution” to be brought into question, questions should be allowed in a science class.

The presence of a Creator does not cause evolution to be brought into question. Only pseudoscientific misrepresentation does. Conversely, evolution does not cause the existence or participation of a Creator to be brought into question either.

BTW, are you ever going to answer my comments on the Bathroom Wall?

Jan something you need to realize is “Species” is just an arbitrary designation. There is no line where one species becomes another. It is a big grey line. The “You’ll never see a dog give birth to a cat” type of statement made by Creationists is not refuted by any scientist. This is because the genetic changes that occur from one generation to the next are not expected to be that drastic. Yet over many generations these changes can build up to the point where the original “species” and the new “species”, many generations later, would not be able to interbreed.

What happens often is that a population, a.k.a. “species”, breaks off into 2 separate populations, still the same “species”, completely genetically compatible. These 2 populations continue to get, different, mutations but their genetic material is no longer shared between the 2 populations. These mutations keep building up over time and you’ll see that over time it becomes harder and harder for these 2 populations to interbreed. Some of it is genetic and some of it physiological and some of it social.

We see this clearly in Zebras, Horses and Mules. They all have a common ancestor but over the years their social and genetic changes prevent them from breeding very successfully. Actually their social changes prevent them from breeding in the natural almost full stop but there genetics allow different levels of success when interbreeding.

Do you consider a Horse, Mountain Zebra, Grevy Zebra, Plains Zebra, Mule all the same “species”? Do you consider Lions, Tigers, Leopards and your house cat the same “species”? Do you consider Chickens and Pheasants the same “species”?

Many creationist would say that Equids are all the same “Species” and only micro evolution has occurred on them. But there is more difference between the Equid members, including the 3 types of zebras, then there is between Chimps and Humans.

All of these “Species” above can interbreed to some extent genetically. Socially non of them interbreed naturally.

As for your “I do not believe that mutations create NEW genetic material?” is that a question or statement.

Define New. If I make an exact copy of your car is that “NEW” car? How about if I take out the engine and put in a different one? What if I then put a body kit on the car? Change the transmission from manual to automatic. Tint the windows. Add an air conditioner. Put in a new stereo.

In biological terms what if I take a gene that is 400 nucleotides long but in copying itself it has a problem and the gene ends up 600 nucleotides long? Is that “NEW genetic material”? What if a whole chromosome duplicated itself? Is that “New genetic material”? What if I take a gene and insert a random nucleotide in the middle of it…is that “New genetic material”?

All of these, and more, occur. We’ve seen them occur. We’ve seen organisms create “NEW” and, more importantly, functional genetic material. Things a species couldn’t do before it could do after the mutation.

You give us your definitions of “Species” and “New genetic information” and we can go from there.

Like others pointed out Evolution isn’t concerned with where life originated from just like biology isn’t concerned with where the Universe originated from.

Jan Wrote:

Perhaps we will someday have federal judges who are able to read and understand what this means. Until then, our children may have questions that we are forbidden to answer.

This is was pisses of people the most when creationist that are not expert in the field pretend they know more about something then the experts. I’m pretty sure that judges at all levels understand the law better then the average layperson.

I’ll assume that you are looking at the “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” This does not give you the right to practice your religion where ever you want and be funded by the government while doing it. Also being in the USMC for 6 years I get quite annoyed when people don’t even understand the concept of free speech. Free speech does not allow me to run out anywhere I want and say anything I want.

And “Until then, our children may have questions that we are forbidden to answer.” No one forbids you to answer anything. We do object to answering your religious beliefs in science class Just like I’d object to the Civil war being taught as a mathematical proof in Trig. Religion in a public school could be taught in a comparative religion class. Would you object to your children learning about the Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and other religions along with Christianity being objective and saying they could all be valid?

So please once again don’t confuse Abiogenesis and how it happened which we admit we know very little about with Evolution for which there is a mountain of data for.

Wayne, you said, “We do object to answering your religious beliefs in science class”. (What does that mean, anyway?)

You misunderstand me on the statement concerning the interpretation of the first amendment. Because of the wording of the first amendment, I stand by my statement that it has been misinterpreted. I am not a lawyer, but I did minor in Political Science and I do feel that I am able to read and interpret written material. First let me say that I do not approve of government schools. I believe that private schools, when affordable and competitive, can be much more effective and less political. But for now, we must work within the framework of government schools. When I speak of the interpretation of the first amendment, I am not referring to the ‘free exercise thereof’ reference. Personally, I do not feel that Hinduism, Buddism, the religion of Islam, Judaism or any other religion is a threat to Christians. I am not advocating that any religion be taught per se in a classroom, Christianity included. It is my belief that the first amendment was never intended to prevent a teacher from acknowledging the presence of God. It rather was intended to: a.) make sure our schools do not endorse a particular religion b.) prevent our government from requiring that we belong to any particular religion or worship in any way prescribed by government and c.)ensure that our tax dollars not be used to support any particular religion.

You stated, “Abiogenesis and how it happened which we admit we know very little about…”

Because so little is known and so little can be known outside of faith, is it not wrong to deprive children of the fact that many believe in a Creator? This is not teaching religion or prescribing a particular religion, it is telling students the truth. It is not instructing them in how they should believe, it is stating a fact; the fact that many people do believe in creation. I realize that my simple statements here cause others to write volumes, and I plan to get off and leave this website to others, but I do hope that those who read this will consider what I have written and maybe just one will rethink their position on this.

The probability of the universe being “fine tuned” for us to exist, given that we exist to observe it, is one.

David Heddle,

until you demonstrate that the present universe is the only possible one in which life can exist - not only life as we know it, but life in any possible form, your argument will remain useless. For all your hand waving, your only point is that changing the universe’s constants would mean that we couldn’t have existed. But as long as there is a state of non-entropy (i.e. there is usable energy) I am pretty sure that “life” would evolve to make use of it. And nothing you have said makes me think otherwise. Mainly because you have not tried to defend your reasoning at all.

Your argument, in fact, is: I assume this universe is the only one capable of suporting life, thus it is the only one that can support life. Since it is the only one that can support life, it must have been designed.

Or, in logic terms: A: this universe is the only one capable of supporting life B: This universe was designed A->A A->B —- B

Notice how you simply assume your antecedent. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, that makes the conclussion useless - unless you manage to demonstrate that A is true. When you manage to do that, then we’ll get to the shacky A->B

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

PD: For comparing: If all men are intelligent, and Socrates is a man, Socrates is intelligent. This can only be true if “All men are intelligent” is true. Since there are some that are not, the logic fails to convince - even if it is flawless. Heddle’s argument fails similarly, since you need his faith in the fact that this universe is special to accept that this universe is special

until you demonstrate that the present universe is the only possible one in which life can exist - not only life as we know it, but life in any possible form, your argument will remain useless.

Demonstrating that wouldn’t help his argument any. There being only one possible winner of a lottery doesn’t make it any more likely that the winner won by virtue of the lottery being unfair.

If all men are intelligent, and Socrates is a man, Socrates is intelligent. This can only be true if “All men are intelligent” is true.

I don’t know what “This” refers to, but whatever it refers to, that second sentence is false. What is true – and what you apparently meant to say – is that, while the argument is valid, it is only sound if all men are intelligent. Soundness requires that the premises be true.

ts

What about the fact that the 762-768th digits of pi are 999999 — is that evidence for design? What about the fact that, somewhere in the decimal expansion of pi, a decimal encoding (in fact, an infinity of such encodings) of “God exists” occurs?

No, and no, for obvious reasons. Now if galactic formation would not have occurred unless the 762-768th digits of pi were 999999, I would view that as evidence for design. (It’s the improbale AND beneficial thing)

And if we decide that something or another is evidence of design, what do we do next? How does that judgment affect the course of science?

Just like Krauss said. We investigate.

If I offer to pay you huge amounts of money if you guess a number that I’ve written down between 1 and google, and you do guess it, and I do pay you the money, would you conclude that the outcome was “forced”? And if it turns out that this was a lottery and I was playing the same game with huge numbers of people and you were one of the few people who won, would you still conclude that the outcome was “forced”?

Absolutely. If I have just bet on a 1 in 10^100 chance, and it happened, I would immediately assume it was somehow forced. You would consider it more reasonable to assume that you had just witnessed a 1 in a 10^100 event? An event 10^20 time less likely than picking out a special proton from anywhere in the universe? (there are about 10^80 protons in the visible universe). Oh yes, I would definitely suspect design. And I’m the one who does not understand probability? (by the way, 27 royal flushes is something like 1 in 10^174)

AFAICS, saying that you have no clue what I’m talking about, rather than addressing the point, proves that you are either a moron or that you are acting in bad faith.

As I stated before, I do not believe either you or GWW are really scientists.

It’s a fine-tuning problem because the actual value doesn’t fall out of any physical theory — it seems completely arbitrary.

Wrong, wrong, oh so wrong. Did Krauss say that? No. Did Flint’s paper say that? No.Here is what Flint’s link stated:

If dark energy is in fact the vacuum energy implied by a cosmological constant, then we have a serious puzzle called the cosmological constant problem (Weinberg 1989). As the universe expands, regions of space expand along with it. A cosmological constant implies a constant energy density, and the total energy inside a given region of space will increase as the volume of that region expands. Since the end of inflation, volumes have expanded by 120 orders of magnitude. This implies that the cosmological constant was “fine-tuned” to be 120 orders of magnitude below what it is now, a tiny amount of energy. If the vacuum energy had been just a hair greater at the end of inflation, it would be so enormous today that space would be highly curved and the stars and planets could not exist.

(Emphasis added) He then goes on to mention the quintessence idea as a possible route toward an explantion. Oh, if it were only arbitrary as you suggest. It is in fact the extreme opposite of arbitrary. Neither Krauss nor Flint’s paper makes a big deal out of the precise value. Neither one agrres with you that “It’s a fine-tuning problem because the actual value doesn’t fall out of any physical theory”. They understand that the actual value (apart from 0) is irrelevant, given that regardless of its value lemme say it again: REGARDLESS of its value (other than zero) if it differed by more than one part in 10^120 there would be no stars, no life.

You could not have misstated Krauss’s position more if you tried.

Grey Wolf,

No it doesn’t help. And you also are trying to make this into a debate over design, when it is a debate over whether or not physicists see fine tuning. And I love the recourse to other universes. Evolutionists here are always asking for evidence for ID and claiming there is none.

Have you ever seen another universe? Do you know how to do ANY experiment that will detect another universe?

The answer is no and no. So why bring them into the discussion? Why bring up a theory that has no evidence?

And your logic diagram is silly. Even if we were talking ID, I have never claimed that the evidence “proved” the universe was designed, and so you are attributing a conclusion to me that I never made.

Mr. Heddle:

as several people, including myself, have pointed out already, “beneficial” is a value judgement that begs the question.

To use your faulty metaphor, you assume that the hand we received was a royal flush, when in fact you don’t know that. For all we know, maybe the five cards we were dealt were meant to build a tiny card castle, so their “value” is exactly the same as any other set of five cards.

It is by now quite evident that you refuse to drop that additional, unwarranted premise, because of extrarational considerations. Fine. I won’t waste any more of your time arguing science. As I said before, apples and oranges.

Beneficial is not a value judgement. A universe without stars or a universe with stars? I think everyone would agree that a universe with stars is beneficial. And, and Krauss and many others have stated, there is some apparent fine tuning that led to a universe with stars.

Mr. Heddle:

No, a universe with stars is not beneficial per se. You keep mistaking our narrow point of view for an absolute. But I think you already know that. Have a nice life.

I disagree that a universe with stars is beneficial. And I disagree that one without is not beneficial. As I said, life as we know it might require stars, but that doesn’t stop other kinds of life from existing in a universe where the constants were different. For example, were all there was is plasma. I am not the one that is trying to convince the rest of the world, I am only presenting counter examples, David.

If all dealt hands in Poker are equally valid, we would have one very boring game were you would always receive a winning hand. For your argument to have any basis, you first have to demonstrate that the current fine tunning is the only one that will produce life - i.e. that there is only one winning hand. If any other fine tunning produced life too - different form of life, but life - then your argument would be void. And you have not yet even tried to explain how this is not so.

Oh, also, I have read very carefully my post, and I see no mention of alternative universes anywhere, David. You say that if the universal constants were different, life wouldn’t be able to exist. I claim that as long as there is usable energy, life will exist. Many, many different tunnings of universal constants will produce a universe with usable energy.

And I wonder, why are you bringing this up? You say you’re not trying to say that the universe is designed. How could the universe be specifically created for life as you seem to claim without being designed? Someone has already pointed out that all your “quotes” are either private beliefs or quote mining. I don’t care about what physicist believe. I care what they observe and what they conclude from those observations. Please enlighten me, what *is* your conclusion from the fact that the universe has the current values for the constants? Why should I care that light speed is 300000 km/s instead of 400000 km/s? Particularly since you won’t even consider that it is irrelevant - that life might exist even in an Universe where light moved faster?

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

And if we decide that something or another is evidence of design, what do we do next? How does that judgment affect the course of science?

Just like Krauss said. We investigate.

Krauss said nothing about intelligent design. The depths of your intellectual dishonesty is astounding. Krauss is investigating based on the assumption that there’s some natural causal explanation – the exact opposite of a judgment that it was designed, which would make investigation pointless.

Absolutely. If I have just bet on a 1 in 10^100 chance, and it happened, I would immediately assume it was somehow forced.

And so you think the winner of a lottery should assume that the lottery was forced by virtue of their winning it. This illustrates the patent absurdity of your claims.

REGARDLESS of its value (other than zero) if it differed by more than one part in 10^120 there would be no stars, no life.

Which is relevant because there being stars and life is a known fact,, and scientific theories must account for such facts, not because it’s “beneficial”. Sheesh. That the value seems to just happen to account for the known facts, rather than being a prediction of physical theory, is what makes it a mystery. The point is not to say “hey, that shows that God set the value to be just that so we lucky dogs could exist”, it’s to try to figure it out, to come up with some physical theory that could explain why the value is what it is. That’s what scientists do. But if no one manages to come up with such a theory, that won’t justify a conclusion that the value was “forced” in order to produce a world with us in it. That is so self-centered as to boggle the mind.

I think everyone would agree that a universe with stars is beneficial.

You just offended a lot of black holes, Heddle.

Grey Wolf wrote

If all dealt hands in Poker are equally valid, we would have one very boring game were you would always receive a winning hand. For your argument to have any basis, you first have to demonstrate that the current fine tunning is the only one that will produce life - i.e. that there is only one winning hand. If any other fine tunning produced life too - different form of life, but life - then your argument would be void. And you have not yet even tried to explain how this is not so.

As I said, if every universe is fertile, then there is no fine tuning. Life could exist in other types of universes is, of course possible, but not obvious. As many have pointed out, a reasonable assumption about life is that it requires complex chemistry. That requirement alone forces you into a universe something like ours.

Oh, also, I have read very carefully my post, and I see no mention of alternative universes anywhere

Before you wrote:

until you demonstrate that the present universe is the only possible one in which life can exist - not only life as we know it, but life in any possible form, your argument will remain useless.

I took that as an oblique reference to the possibility of other universes. If I misunderstood, I apologize.

David. You say that if the universal constants were different, life wouldn’t be able to exist. I claim that as long as there is usable energy, life will exist. Many, many different tunnings of universal constants will produce a universe with usable energy.

You can make that dogmatic statement, but I agree with the majority that says that life would not exist in a universe that had no stars. All universes would have energy.

And I wonder, why are you bringing this up? You say you’re not trying to say that the universe is designed. How could the universe be specifically created for life as you seem to claim without being designed? Someone has already pointed out that all your “quotes” are either private beliefs or quote mining.

Yes, someone said it, that the quotes were meaningless. That certainly makes it true.

I don’t care about what physicist believe.

That’s obvious.

I care what they observe and what they conclude from those observations. Please enlighten me, what *is* your conclusion from the fact that the universe has the current values for the constants?

My conclusion is that the universe was designed. But that is not what this is about. What this is about is biologists telling physicists that there is no apparent fine tuning, when many of them are conducting research to explain the apparent fine tuning.

Ts wrote

Krauss said nothing about intelligent design. The depths of your intellectual dishonesty is astounding. Krauss is investigating based on the assumption that there’s some natural causal explanation — the exact opposite of a judgment that it was designed, which would make investigation pointless.

That’s true—but from everything I wrote a reasonable person would know that what I meant was “apparent” design or “apparent” fine tuning. When faced with that, as Krauss said, we investigate.

And so you think the winner of a lottery should assume that the lottery was forced by virtue of their winning it. This illustrates the patent absurdity of your claims.

Bzzt. Sorry, that is bait and switch. You asked me about a 1 in 10^100 lottery and are now making claims about a regular lottery, which is more like 1 in 10^6. That’s kind of you to extrapolate my response 94 orders of magnitude and show how I am absurd. If you asked me about winning a regular lottery, I would have said that I would not view that as design, because of the much lower improbability. People live about 40 million minutes, and if there is roughly an event per minute then we all expect to see some one in a million events. Now if I won the lottery 16 times in a row, which is still less likely than your 1 in 10^100, I would most definitely suspect design.

Which is relevant because there being stars and life is a known fact,, and scientific theories must account for such facts, not because it’s “beneficial”. Sheesh. That the value seems to just happen to account for the known facts, rather than being a prediction of physical theory, is what makes it a mystery. The point is not to say “hey, that shows that God set the value to be just that so we lucky dogs could exist”, it’s to try to figure it out, to come up with some physical theory that could explain why the value is what it is. That’s what scientists do. But if no one manages to come up with such a theory, that won’t justify a conclusion that the value was “forced” in order to produce a world with us in it. That is so self-centered as to boggle the mind.

This mishmash might be a reasonable attack on an IDer, but it doesn’t address the question that none of you has answered: if there is no apparent fine tuning, why are physicists trying to explain it?

Heddle asks a question about human nature:

if there is no apparent fine tuning, why are physicists trying to explain it?

These guys might know the answer: http://www.bfro.net/

That’s true…but from everything I wrote a reasonable person would know that what I meant was “apparent” design or “apparent” fine tuning. When faced with that, as Krauss said, we investigate.

The two are radically different. Fine tuning is about the lack of physical theory that predicts a observed results – we investigate to try to come up with such a theory. The notion of design is metaphysical blather that has nothing to do with science and doesn’t motivate anything. Your association of Krauss with the concept of “design” – whether “apparent” or not – is transparently dishonest.

Bzzt. Sorry, that is bait and switch. You asked me about a 1 in 10^100 lottery and are now making claims about a regular lottery, which is more like 1 in 10^6.

The odds don’t matter – in both cases they are lotteries in which someone is likely to win, and it is irrational to think that, because you won, the lottery must be fixed.

There’s really nothing left to say about such silliness so, as Emanuele Oriano put it, Have a nice life.

GWW:

I beg to differ. As I see it, the “apparent fine tuning” Mr. Heddle talks about and the “apparent fine tuning” real physicists are talking about are NOT one and the same thing.

In other words, if you strip away the anthropocentric belief that this universe is somehow “beneficial”, it is perfectly sensible to try and understand why it is one way rather than another.

If, on the other hand, you start with the assumption that this universe is somehow “special”, then you end up attaching a purpose to the universe. But it is circular reasoning: “since we are so special, anything that coincidentally made our existence possible must also be special; and something so special cannot have occurred by mere chance”.

Sounds familiar?

The comments have gone away from the topic of the original post. Please post your final statements because the comments are going to be closed soon.

WOW I leave for 18 hours and 69 posts build up.

I’m now in the process of listening to the posts.

Let me start by saying I’m agnostic. When I look up to the sky above I’m in awe.

I’ll put my view of the universe on the table. I don’t know. Why is it the way it is? I don’t know.

Now lets go on to experts.

I’ve been listening/reading a lot of discussions with people like Steven Weinberg, Martin Rees, Stephen Hawkings and many others.

Hoyle is a well known theist. His statements clearly show this, not there is anything wrong with that. The Steady State Theory he contributed was in part a merging of data and his theology that our existence dictates how the universe shall be. He of course accepted that the SST was faulty when we started to find quasars and the CMB. Now with the discovery of super massive black holes it shows how old theories while good at the time are let go of when new data comes on the scene. While he was a brilliant man he was also controversial. Given the opportunity he’d probably wanted scientists in charge of the world and put scientists above the common people. Does that mean he’s always right? Nope and he accepted that too.

Many physicists believe in the anthropic principle and most make comments like Heddle says they do. But many, I’ll provide some references when I get home later tonight, look at the principle very differently then the common lay person. Some associate it with divine intervention. Others try to find out if there is just something inherent in the universe that would make it just so without a supernatural agency. Hawkings continually changes his position as he learns more. Martin Rees entertains hypothesises from multiple universes to the universe being a possible simulation. Steven Weinberg looks to string theory as a unifying theory that, at the moment, can not be experimentally be verified. He’ll point out that while its so mathematically elegant that he believes some version of string theory will be proven right he’s disappointed that it doesn’t seem to be answering the cosmological constant.

The goal of physics is to answer more and more about our universe with as few variables as possible. At this time we go “Wow, look at all these variables. If we changed this one by this amount the universe would be so much different”

I agree that they marvel at the fine tuning but the papers and conferences I’ve seen show most physicists are reluctant to just let it go with the anthropic principle. This includes the possibility that our universe is designed. Usually they express their problem with this in that acceptance of it ends the search. Others come right out and say it that the AP “smells of religion” something they recognise doesn’t lead anywhere useful for them because it is a dead end road in science.

The problem I have with the AP is the same. It leaves us no where. Hawkings currently looks at AP in the view that we should tackle of the universe from the top down. We should start with what we have and work backwards. If the universe is designed I say it is designed badly. It is much to complicated for my liking.

Why have the universe expanding? Does it need to? Why does the expansion rate fluxuate? Why are our calculations of energy in empty space so far off? Why does the best unifying theory on the horizon need more dimensions then we observe?

On the pro side you can say, well things are just right. But it is not “just right” we happen to live in a universe kind of near the centre of a suggested range of histories. We are not in the optimal universe and there are many others that would do for human life. But for me it isn’t a question of human life here we need to be questioning but life in general and not just organic life as we know it. That’s where the AP comes in. Is there something that allows for intelligence to be in a universe or is it just a emergent property of some universes.

We can theorise all we want about are we here for a reason or not but science needs to go on the way it always has. Looking for answers of why.

If David Heddle can point out how entertaining supernatural design aids us in any scientific way, cosmologically or biologically, then great. But history has shown us the hasn’t been the case ever.

So the issue of “Is there fine tuning in the universe” I believe most physicists say might say “Yea” but not in the way you mean. You say its fine tuning because you are alive. But while you being alive is fortunate for you I don’t think it is a factor in the scheme of the universe. This is where your argument of

David Heddle Wrote:

If I drop a ball from the Goodyear blimp into a stadium it is not fine tuning that it lands in an improbable spot, as you state all spots are improbable. It is at least apparent fine tuning if I’ll die unless the ball lands on the right hash mark on the 5o yard line, and that’s where it lands.

I disagree, While it might be fortunate for you it is just luck. I’m reminded of what Tom says in Comment # 13689. No matter who gets out they’ll feel lucky.

While the question “is life inevitable” is entertaining I really don’t think it has a bearing yet on “why is the universe the way it is”. This 2nd question is the job of physicists. The 1st is a puzzle that many like to dabble in.

Another way to look at it is this. What happens if some comet hits the earth 2 weeks from now and destroys almost all life on earth? Would this be by design? Or could it be that some Kuiper belt object started it journey towards the inner solar system and we just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Is that by design or could it just happen. While there are no documented cases, which I know of, of anyone being struck and killed by a meteor it is a remote possibility. We don’t assume that no one getting hit is by design and if someone was to get killed we wouldn’t attribute that to design either no matter how unlucky. Why? Because we are talking about a natural phenomena. I treat the laws of the universe the say way and I’d say most good physicists do to. They try to understand and explain the phenomena. The fact that they feel lucky that they are alive isn’t that big of a part of their research.

If I have just bet on a 1 in 10^100 chance, and it happened, I would immediately assume it was somehow forced.

Reminds me of this joke. A very well dressed man walks up to a woman and says “Will you sleep with me for $10,000,000?” The woman says “Yes I will!” The man then says “Will you sleep with me for $1?” The woman gets upset and says “What kind of woman do you think I am?” The man says “We’ve already established that! We are just negotiating a price now.”

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on January 27, 2005 4:34 PM.

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