New news from Dover

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The York Daily Record is once again outdoing itself in coverage of the story on the Dover ID policy and court case. In the Dover Biology section, Lauri Lebo has done another major story on intelligent design, this time on Of Pandas and People and the problems with it.

The story is entitled, “Furor breathes new life into aging ‘Pandas’: Book used in Dover a dated look at intelligent design concept.” The fact that the second edition of Pandas is 12 years old is a major theme (actually, the book is basically composed of creationist criticisms of 1980’s science, and the book couldn’t even get that right – see the comprehensive NCSE Pandas page).

It turns out that even Jon Buell, head of the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, the group that produced Pandas, would not have recommended his own book:

Even Buell doesn’t recommend the book.

“If they would have contacted me, I would not have encouraged the people in Dover to use it because of other tools that are more up-to-date,” he said. “The idea of intelligent design and the evidence that supports it has gotten extraordinarily more strong than when it was originally printed.”

Michael Behe was also quoted. The fact that Behe wrote part of the 1993 Pandas – several years before Darwin’s Black Box was published – may be news to some people:

Behe wrote the book’s chapter on blood clotting, in which he states that any one of the many components needed to stop bleeding on its own is like “a steering wheel that is not connected to the car.”

There is much more, so just go read the whole story. See also the story from yesterday, “Parents kept out of Dover suit” – some motions by the Rutherford Institute and the Thomas More Law Center were denied by the judge in the case.

85 Comments

From the article:

“Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins,” hasn’t been updated since 1993, and other publications have moved to the forefront of the intelligent-design movement.

And from oP&P “producer” Buell:

“If they would have contacted me, I would not have encouraged the people in Dover to use it because of other tools that are more up-to-date,” he said. “The idea of intelligent design and the evidence that supports it has gotten extraordinarily more strong than when it was originally printed.”

But they forgot to mention what these new updated materials are! Behe’s book? Dembski’s? Wells’? If so, Designer help us!

From the article “ In the chapter on “Biochemical Similarities,” the book points out that biochemical analysis of the bullfrog and the horse show that they are the same distance on the evolutionary ladder from the carp. The book says this shows a flaw in Darwinism because the bullfrog should be more closely related to the fish. But Miller said that’s an inaccurate interpretation of Darwinism. “Are these guys intentionally distorting this to mislead readers?” he said. “Or do they just not get it?””

Good question. That’s really bizarre. This sort of stuff really bugs me. There’s a religious radio station here that has a “Creation Moment” providing outdated, wildly inaccurate attacks on evolution. Same kind of nonsense. For me, it represents either ignorance or a complete lack of respect for both truth and their audience. Bad policy, too - what happens if someone who believed you finds out what kind of shoddy arguments you’ve used? And what does it say when you have to buttress your belief with bs? Although I think ignorance (unwilling or willing) is usually the more accurate explanation. I almost respect the AiG page (is that who has it) listing arguments NOT to use - except it really is just arguments not to use - strategic moves. Geez.

Nic Wrote:

Michael Behe was also quoted.  The fact that Behe wrote part of the 1993 Pandas — several years before Darwin’s Black Box was published — may be news to some people:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought DBB was published in 1996. That would make 1993 edition of Pandas three years before DBB.

Dan S. Wrote:

In the chapter on “Biochemical Similarities,” the book points out that biochemical analysis of the bullfrog and the horse show that they are the same distance on the evolutionary ladder from the carp. The book says this shows a flaw in Darwinism because the bullfrog should be more closely related to the fish. But Miller said that’s an inaccurate interpretation of Darwinism.

What am I missing here? First of all.…there is no ladder, and since the bullfrog and horse would share a common ancestor, and that ancient common ancestor would then have a common ancestor with the carp.…would not the horse and bullfrog be expected to be equa-distant from the carp according to Common Descent?

Help me out here…

The York Daily Record really is doing a fine job. If anyone wants to read the judge’s order in this, I have it here. I’ll warn that it’s mostly dense legalese. I’m struck by the thoroughness of the judge - he was probably a bit more thorough than necessary in dismissing both motions. Which is a good thing, because the law is on the plaintiffs’ side not only as to the above motions, but the merits of the case.

I’ll guess that the parents who attempted to intervene will appeal this court’s decision, because the point of the attempted intervention, in my opinion, was to weigh down the ACLU with both cost and time. Remember that the DI was not thrilled with the timing of this case - ideally, it would arrive at a ‘friendlier’ Supreme Court than the present one. Federal cases move through the system much more deliberately too than in state court (read: slower) - so delay could be part of the overall strategy here. Even under optimal conditions, any contentious federal case would take at the bare minimum one year to reach the Supremes.

I don’t know what the defendants will do as to the motion to dismiss (wrt an appeal), but I don’t think they even thought that it had a chance of succeeding.

Ken Shackleton Wrote:

What am I missing here? First of all . …there is no ladder, and since the bullfrog and horse would share a common ancestor, and that ancient common ancestor would then have a common ancestor with the carp . …would not the horse and bullfrog be expected to be equa-distant from the carp according to Common Descent?

Help me out here …

You’re 100% correct. Rough equidistance in this case is what common descent predicts. In this example, bullfrog and horse are sister taxa and carp is the outgroup. Just as two brothers are equally related to a common cousin, bullfrog and horse should be equally related to the carp.

This particular error seems to have been started by Michael Denton in his book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. It really demonstrates a woeful lack of understanding concerning the very basics of evolution. Denton later repudiated his mistake, but it didn’t stop every creationist under the sun (including the ID crowd) from repeating it.

Re “there is no ladder, and since the bullfrog and horse would share a common ancestor, and that ancient common ancestor would then have a common ancestor with the carp.…would not the horse and bullfrog be expected to be equa-distant from the carp according to Common Descent?”

That agrees with my take as well. The argument was simply fishy. (Pun fully intended.)

Henry

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought DBB was published in 1996. That would make 1993 edition of Pandas three years before DBB.

That’s what I said, I think…

It really sounds like they are assuming evolution says:

mammal ^ reptile ^ frog ^ fish ^ worm (or something) ^ blobby thing

and therefore froggies should be closer to fishies then horsies.

If we just wait long enough, creationists will start attacking *modern* evolutionary theory. That is, if we don’t die of old age first …

You know, if they win, it’s like we got attacked by tiny helpless babies and lost. Of course,that would be tiny helpless babies with a very good grasp of pr and instant support because lots of people *want* to believe in tiny helpless babies … plus they can cry really loud.

“Has anyone commented on these yet:

http://www.greatestpursuits.us/gp/w[…]s/vox_apologhttp://www.greatestpursuits.us/gp/w[…]s/vox_apolog … “

Oy vey. So far, same old same old. Just read one that said - evolution says might makes right!Nazis!reproduction instead of marriage!!God is good!!I don’t understand either evolutionary theory or the idea that it’s a scientific theory, not a moral primer (let alone the concept that because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s wrong!!!!!)

Sigh.

Dan S. Wrote:

Bad policy, too - what happens if someone who believed you finds out what kind of shoddy arguments you’ve used?

I’ll tell you what happens. That person becomes shocked, and undertakes a thorough search for good arguments for creationism. Finding none, a crisis of faith occurs and that person ends up being a lifelong evolutionist, who only returns to Christianity some time later if at all.

Yes, I checked out the first link which led me to “C v E - What’s the Fuss?” I posted a comment under the name “hybrid,” but what I want to point out here is that the author of this post, R. Stewart, seems to be onto something. I tried to put up the direct link for the post but for some reason the rules prevented me from posting it, so if you are interested just go through the first link above and find the title.

R. Stewart, though mistaken on many points, has a good main point. From a Christian perspective, there are more important things to do than pursue the evolution witch hunt.

Wait a minute, something funny happened, if you click on the link within the quote from my comment, it takes you somewhere different than clicking on the same link on cutornix’s comment. Sorry, I don’t know what happened, but please click on the first link in cutornix’s original comment to get to the page.

Wait a minute, something funny happened, if you click on the link within the quote from my comment, it takes you somewhere different than clicking on the same link on cutornix’s comment. Sorry, I don’t know what happened.

http://www.greatestpursuits.us/gp/w[…]_apologia_7/ should be right

Does anyone know a good grade school level book that explains the basics of evolution? Great schools where I live but they do side step evolution so I teach it to my kids myself. renae

Nic Wrote:

That’s what I said, I think …

Well, you said “several” years, which I usually take to mean more than 3. I’m just being nitpicky.

While you’re learning about education in the York area you should also check out entertainment -

http://www.yorkdispatch.com/Stories[…]3171,00.html

Dan S Wrote:

And what does it say when you have to buttress your belief with bs?

Are you talking about Piltdown man, peppered moths, or Haeckel’s embryo drawings perchance?

It doesn’t say anything good would be the answer.

What says something even worse is when your bs beliefs are so obviously flawed that criticism of it in 9th grade public school classrooms has to be censored through legal chicanery.

Note that one of the newly-appointed Dover school bored members is one of those parents who tried to enter the lawsuit on the side of the school board. I forget if he is one that used to home-school his kids.

Although the article mentioned Buckingham’s “stand up for Jesus” quote, it did not mention his convenient amnesia regarding that quote when he gave deposition. The article did mention him saying he wanted to balance the normal (mentioning evolution) text with a creationist text.

DaveScot, do you allege there is some problem with the peppered moth as an example of natural selection in action, in real time, in our time?

That’s the problem with with creationists, a problem I had hoped you wouldn’t fall for. Simply calling something a problem doesn’t make it a problem. Calling something a hoax doesn’t make it a hoax.

There is no scientist working with moths, or especially with peppered moths, who disagrees that peppered moths are a fine example of natural selection in action. There are those who wonder about exactly what the selecting agent is (Kettlewell did his field experiments where titmice were the chief predators, but apparently the moth is not the principal prey of any titmouse).

Interstingly, there is also not a single scientist working on that problem who is not misquoted by Jonathan Wells. Judith Hooper wrote in Of Moths and Men that some creationist, bent on distorting the truth, would no doubt claim her book questions evolution, though it does not in any way (see pages 308 through 312). True to form, within weeks, Jonathan Wells had edited his diatribe against Kettlewell to cite Hooper as a scientist who claims the moths don’t show natural selection.

So is that your claim, that Kettlewell was wrong? By all deities, such repeated excremental argument is maddening.

Ed Darrell wrote

Interstingly, there is also not a single scientist working on that problem who is not misquoted by Jonathan Wells. Judith Hooper wrote in Of Moths and Men that some creationist, bent on distorting the truth, would no doubt claim her book questions evolution, though it does not in any way (see pages 308 through 312). True to form, within weeks, Jonathan Wells had edited his diatribe against Kettlewell to cite Hooper as a scientist who claims the moths don’t show natural selection.

Did Wells really cite Hooper (who is a journalist) as a scientist? Do you have a reference?

RBH

This question is somewhat off topic, and I apologize for that. The relevant topic could appear tomorrow or never, so better (for me) to briefly hijack a thread in the same neighborhood.

As far as I can tell, the evidence (i.e., confirmed predictions) for common descent all concern one type of structural similarity or other, e.g., similarity in cell structure, organ structure, body structure, etc.

Suppose a creationist were to claim that structural similarities are logically implied (predicted) by creation, i.e., the products of a single hand (so to speak) are expected to be similar to each other.

A reasonable reply would be that any biological fact, similarity or no, could follow from creation (i.e., the creator “works in mysterious ways”), and therefore, structural similarity is not an implication of creation any more than dissimilarity. I grant that this argument would have to be countered, and I’m not sure it can.

Nevertheless, assuming that similarity is a prediction of creationism, are there any predictions that follow from common descent that do not also follow from creationism?

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Michael Finley Wrote:

Nevertheless, assuming that similarity is a prediction of creationism, are there any predictions that follow from common descent that do not also follow from creationism?

Convergent evolution Genetic/genomic comparisons The relation of anatomical similiarities to what is seen in the fossil record Biogeography

Probably I missed a few…

To Michael Finley and Bayesian Bouffant:

You both have fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the anti-evolution book. That is, inferring two different meanings from an anti-evolutionist weasel word (“creation,” aka “special creation,” “common design” etc.). A fence-sitter might interpret your disagreement as another weakness of “Darwinism.”

Fact is that, designer or not, the alternative to common descent (CD) of any two species is independent abiogenesis (IA) of them. Until anti-evolutionists clear up what they mean, and propose even a sketchy mechanism for it (I’d love to see their proposed mechanism for abiogenesis of a multicellualar eukaryote), there is nothing that can falsify it. As it stands, we cannot even rule out that they still mean common descent but won’t dare call it that. Note that they rarely challenge CD directly, but rather “macroevolution.” It’s all a scam to play on common public misconceptions and confusion of terms (they have a field day with “theory”).

Granted, most of what follows from CD, given the theory we have , would not necessarily follow from IA - or even from saltation, which would still be CD. But the onus is on anti-evolutionists to come up with something positive rather than the same stale old arguments from incredulity.

Salvador Wrote:

The hope was we would get a nice smooth transition going from fish to amphibian to reptile to mammal as somewhat illustrated (however imperfectly) by the toy polymers above.

Salvador, what on Earth gives you this idea? As has already been explained (repeatedly, I might add), it would be contrary to common descent to see what you describe as a “transitional” pattern. Such a pattern might be expected from a “great chain of being” evolutionary scheme, in which “higher” organisms evolved from present-day “lower” organisms. But it’s definitely not what we’d expect to see from common descent, where all present-day organisms have been evolving since they last shared a common ancestor. Given common descent, we expect to see a hierarchical pattern, which is what we see.

Your musings on why “Darwinism”, whatever you mean by that term, wouldn’t maintain a hierarchical pattern are nonsensical. It’s true that you’ll lose a phylogenetic signal after a period of time in some cases (such as with rapidly evolving mtDNA), but it’s not true that this should occur under any and all circumstances. The fact that we can still see a hierarchy is a good indication that not all signals (be they morphological or molecular) have been wiped out. Moreover, even if we did expect them all to get wiped out (which we don’t) the fact that they still exist isn’t evidence against common descent. At most, it would just be an unexplained phenomenon.

And finally, your assertion that the presence of hierarchies is indicative of “common design” is just plain silly. From an ID perspective (assuming independent creation here) there is no expectation of a relationship at all. Indeed, how do you predict a relationship when they’re not related! Since for any given protein, most observed differences in sequence are not functionally significant, there is no reason why an Intelligent Designer would bother making them different at all. If they are different, there’s no reason why they should differ from each other in any manner other than randomly. A nested hierarchy is the last thing I’d expect if some Intelligent Designer independently created all living organisms.

Michale Finely Wrote:

Nevertheless, assuming that similarity is a prediction of creationism, are there any predictions that follow from common descent that do not also follow from creationism?

A nested hierarchy is one.

But as we see here, even this fairly straight-forward prediction doesn’t stop some creationists from claiming, bizarrely, that creationism predicts it too.

Salvador writes: “The discussion of the bio-chemical transitional comes out of Michael Denton’s chapter “Biochemical Echo of Typology”.”

All of my colleagues with whom I’ve discussed this believe Denton totally missed the boat on that issue. I can’t imagine why people are still parading that corpse of an argument around.

“Douglas Theobald and Edward Max touts such “evidence” as proof of Darwinism, when actually such an architecture is suggestive of common design.”

It’s not an either/or argument. Common descent *is* a particular case of common design (specifically, common descent is modification of “designs” over time). What’s the beef with that?

post #20129 Ed “What the” Heckman wrote:

Who would you rather have near you? An evolutionist who believes there is no absolute standard of right and wrong? Or a christian who believes that God has given us an absolute standard of right and wrong (based on the golden rule), who sees what we do in secret, and who we will have to answer to?

Would this be the same god that said:

For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Exodus 20:5

Behold the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger…Whoever is found will be thrust through and whoever is caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed in pieces before their eyes, their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished. Isaiah 13:9, 13:15

Pass through the city after him, and smite; your eye shall not spare and you shall show no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women…” Ezekiel 9:5

Samar’ia shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open. Hosea 13:16

The particular quotes above don’t convince me that “God has given us an absolute standard of right and wrong.” In fact these quotes are very very dark.

So I’ll adjust (or correct if you will) my metaphor to say that in addition to black and white, there is a lot of grey in between and the position of the line will depend on current circumstances. Some things are plainly wrong regardless of the context such as genocide, but other times right and wrong will depend on context. It puts me in mind of the statue of the Greek goddess in some courts, blindfolded with scales and sword. Justice is blind, tempered by mercy, with punishment in proportion to the crime.

Give me the evolutionist every time.

Oh and I’ll admit freely that there are some good morals within the bible, I’m just using a few selective quotes to emphasize that it’s not always so.

A recurrent theme in this thread is the notion that morality has to be enforced in this world or the next in order to be valid.

I guess I’m naive. I wasn’t aware that people would generally go in for violence and fraud without the threat of sanctions in this world or the next. Which is not to say that some people really do need to be herded with real or imaginary cattle prods.

Well, you religous folks know your own black hearts. Maybe irrationalist religion has a special appeal for dangerous characters.

Heckman wrote: It sounds like you might have read my entry. You are correct when you state that the theory of evolution isn’t a moral primer. That was my point. If evolution is true, then there is no such thing as a “gold standard” of morality. There is only what we can get away with. […] The theory of evolution is based on the idea that humans exist only by mere chance. If there is no reason why humans exist, there the answer to those questions is simply, “There is no reason why.”

Evolution is a science, just like gravity, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, etc… Why does no one ponder the “moral ramifications” of ionizing radiation theory? The reason is simple, it is irrelevant. So, why then, do you think morals are relevant to evolution. The theory of evolution does not destroy the theory of morality.

Now that I’ve explained myself, let me give you a different explanation. Evolution is responsible for the characteristics of intelligence and reason in humans. Humans used those and developed the ability to work with their environments, such as agriculture. This led to specialization in humans, e.g. farmers, blacksmiths, scientists, etc. Now a farmer couldn’t spend his whole day farming, while spending his whole day smithing the tools he used in farming, while spending his whole day in the market selling his goods, while spending his whole day in a bank performing his own accounting needs, while spending his whole day in the lab developing new and better fertilizers and pesticides, while spending his whole day in a biology lab, developing new and improved strains of wheat, so he can grow wheat more densely while being less sensitive to watering variations, while spending his whole day building houses and wagons, while spending his whole day domesticating animals for farm work and food, while spending his whole day inventing new machines to speed up his farming, while.…

The point being, is that humanity has specialized, and has become highly interdependent. This gives rise to society and civilization, and this gives rise to certain codes of conduct. In other words one cannot go around stealing and murdering and expect society to hold together. So morals are a rational extension of the development of specialization in humanity which is due to evolution of intelligence, reasoning, and wisdom. Thus, morals are in fact a result of evolution.

This is proven further, in the human record, by the simple fact that different societies developed different codes of conduct (morals).

Finally, this is not even unique to humans. For example, ant colonies depend on strict “moral” codes for their very survival! If, for example, all worker ants stopped following their “morals” and quit working, the colony would quickly die.

In conclusion, I think, from your final statement, that morals are not the issue that annoys you, but rather, that evolution does not require that there be a creator god, who in addition to creation, assigned a specific code of morals, and dictated a given “purpose” to humanity.

Ed “What the” Heckman wrote:

Why should we choose self-sacrifice, especially if we never benefit from it?

That’s easy, from an evolutionary point of view. Organisms that don’t sacrifice to help their young survive all died out long ago, leaving the rest of us “selected” for caring for our young. In other words, we can’t help it.

And everyone who wonders why Heckman worries about violent raging people who aren’t constrained by Fear of the Lord, should remember that he belives in Original Sin, by which all people are evil.

(BTW, my Christian parents taught me that saying “heck” was a sin; what’s your excuse?)

Heckman wrote: According to the Bible, literally everything that exists does so because of the will of God. In a sense, that means that God is more real than matter itself

I take it then that you trust that some mere book will give you proof of god. I am guessing that you believe the Bible to be literally true and infallible (if not, how can you know what you claimed to be true?). Well here’s some science from that book:

Jude 1:12 speaks of “waterless clouds” Now obviously science has proven this one false, since clouds are made of water vapor, by definition (on earth), the Bible is flat out wrong. It gets even more silly when those who claim that the Bible meant (i.e. they interpreted it to mean somthing it did not say) clouds that were not rain clouds. since they interpreted the bible, simply to match it to reality, it loses its infallibility instantly. Thus it is wrong; one cannot claim that it can be correct about the characteristics (morals) of God, or his existence. Besides, modern science can seed non rain clouds with silver nitrates and make them rain. God was wrong even then.

James 3:12 proudly proclaims two scientific falsehoods: First, James, God’s voice in this book of the infallible Bible, falsely claims, “Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs?” Need I remind anyone that this is a trivial matter for genetic engineering to accomplish. The only reason it has never been done, is, “what would be the point?” Indeed, there is no need to do the gene splicing necessary to make a fig tree produce olives, so why bother. But since it requires no new technology, just the genome maps of figs and olives, to accomplish, this one is wrong as well. Science CAN do it, there is just no reason TO do it! But just like we’ve made zebra fish that glow, engineered plants that produce their own pesticides, bacteria that eat oil, etc., and etc.; we could make a grape vine prodice figs. Science proves the bible wrong, and if it is wrong, then it is fallible.that “Nor can salt water produce fresh”.

Second, that fresh water cannot be produced from salt water. I guess God forgot to mention that us mere humans would be building huge desalination plants in the future to do exactly that. James was wrong, thus God was wrong. Another incorrect piece of science that proves David’s “infallible Bible” very fallible indeed.

Heckman wrote: Who would you rather have near you? An evolutionist who believes there is no absolute standard of right and wrong? Or a christian who believes that God has given us an absolute standard of right and wrong (based on the golden rule), who sees what we do in secret, and who we will have to answer to?

For the record, I’d like someone a little more tolerant near me than many Christians. Heck, my father and stepmother (who are both fundie Christians) act so vile to me simply because I stated that I don’t believe in God and that in spite of that I still find the universe beautiful and wondrous. There’s Christian love for you. And then there’s a minority of Christians like the fag-hating Christians who kill homosexuals, and fundie Christians who kill abortion doctors. Do those sound like people you would want around you – self-professed murderers and proud of it??? You don’t have to be atheistic to be bad, and since Christians tend to want to “force” their beliefs on others, that is not a good way to foster the very morals they profess to; a “I’ll kill you if you don’t agree to obey my moral code” way of morality.

Thank you, but I’ll take an evolutionist/athiest every time!

Heckman wrote:

“Who would you rather have near you? An evolutionist who believes there is no absolute standard of right and wrong? Or a christian who believes that God has given us an absolute standard of right and wrong (based on the golden rule), who sees what we do in secret, and who we will have to answer to?”

It seems to me that many theists claim that right and wrong are defined by God. That is, if God says some action is right then that action is right by definition.

There are in the Bible a number of actions that I would consider immoral such as:

“Pass through the city after him, and smite; your eye shall not spare and you shall show no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women … “ Ezekiel 9:5

This and similar examples from the Bible are argued to be morally right since God, the source of all morals, says these actions are right.

So the question that comes up in my mind is: If a Christian was told by God to kill me and this Christian was 100% certain that God was the source of this instruction, should I run as fast as I can?

So the question that comes up in my mind is: If a Christian was told by God to kill me and this Christian was 100% certain that God was the source of this instruction, should I run as fast as I can?

And another question is: If we accept only God as source of morals, what if the “Christian” runs faster and kills you? Will he be punished by a court if he makes a convincing case of “God told me to”? This line of argument is used by Anti-abortion murderers and would, when followed, lead to real anarchy, given the vast array of religious beliefs out there.

Ed - we all agree that evolution is not a moral primer, in my clumsy wording. Could you please admit that evolutionists can have other sources of morality, that God or ‘Darwin’ aren’t the only choices (and remember, you can believe in evolution and also in God, albeit a God with a seemingly incomprehensible fondness for beetles).

Of course, who hasn’t been so in love that it’s unbelievable that the whole world doesn’t recognize the beauty of their beloved, in contrast to their own inferior choices? However, it’s really bad form to go around telling people this.

And of course, the downside - the desperate fear: if they leave me, I will never love again, but live the rest of my life alone and miserable … Rarely true, in love at least - I dunno about theology. But be of good cheer …

Dan S,

You have a beautiful way of expressing yourself. I enjoyed your comments defending atheism.

Atheists and non-atheists are equally exposed to evil temptations and irrational behavior toward fellow human beings. It is possible to defend both evil actions and good ones with both religion and science. It is possible to rationalize almost anything.

Therefore, the argument that either the theory of evolution, or Christianity are an underlaying cause for bad behavior falls flat. There are simply too many variables in human beings, their environments, and their traits and experiences, to make such an argument.

Katarina:

In my humble opinion, it’s apples and oranges here. No scientific theory is meant to determine your ethical choices, whereas most religions are meant to do precisely that.

So, saying “you can use both science and Christianity for defending both evil and good actions” is a terrible indictment of Christianity. Science is morally neutral, and never pretends otherwise; but that a religion, allegedly superior because it “keeps people moral”, can be used to do just the opposite implies that this claim is completely unfounded.

That’s very kind of you to say, Katarina! I’m glad you enjoyed reading it.

I have to agree - there doesn’t seem to be any system of thought or belief that can’t be used to rationalize evil actions. It is rather depressing …

Now if I agreed with Ed, I would have a serious problem on my hands. I don’t know what I would do, in the end - go around trying to convince the masses that evolution was false in order to promote better morality, or insist that the truth was more important. Very Leo Straussian.

People believing in the incompatability of evolution and morality, of course, have a worse problem on their hands. That would mean evolutionists are always a potential - and serious -risk to innocent bystanders and society as a whole. Carrying this through to its logical end would suggest the need for a second Inquisition (at best) - I can see it now, people going to the authorities in order to report that the neighbor who tends his pea plants so carefully and keeps, of all things, *fruit flies* (“to keep an old man company …”) is clearly a crypto-Darwinist …

Of course, this is silliness, but the overall idea does explain one reason why atheists are several steps behind Black Jewish cross-dressing lesbian unwed mothers in terms of “what group would you vote for” polls .… : (

Emanuele, (a lovely name)

Whether or not I say that one can use both science and Christianity for defending both good and evil, people have done just that. To bring up the most glaring example, Adolf Hitler, who did use both Protestant Christianity (Martin Luther’s anti-semitism) and a general acceptance of evolution, in some twisted sense, to defend his view of Jews as sub-human. PT covered this topic in earlier posts.

My comment was about the variability of each person, and not about the nature of the concepts. Given the variability and complexity of each person, and the number of people in the world, each unique, it is nearly impossible to say that concepts of religion or science is truly, honestly what influenced a certain action. Even for a single individual, influences on actions are difficult to pinpoint, let alone for a group of individuals sharing one belief, which may be interpreted and applied in many different ways.

Katarina:

I agree with you, except for a small fact: religions (most religions, at least) insist that they (and they alone!) make people “good”. Science makes no such claim.

Of course, I’m sure that not many devout Christians would accept your opinion that their actions are not influenced by their professed beliefs; but that’s their problem, certainly not mine.

Thanks for the compliment, but just like my chromosomes, my name was given to me by my parents. ;-)

Emanuele,

Sorry to drag this argument out, but I did not say actions are not influenced by professed beliefs. My own belief in Christ inspires me to search for kindness, humility, and generosity within myself and to try to act on it whenever I recognise an opportunity. But even before my conversion to Christianity, I believed in the fruition of good actions. This is what attracted me to Christ’s bold words in the New Testament.

I am not making any grand claims here, I only say that one cannot make the grand claim that either religion or science lead to bad behavior, because one cannot be a perfect psychologist, and what people profess to blieve is not always what they practice. Many influences are at work on our every action, and human beings are unpredictable. That is why the science of psychology is not an exact science. I will leave it at that.

Katarina:

fair enough. I was not countering any claim of yours; only the absurd pretense of religion - any religion - of promoting good behaviour. Ultimately, it is my opinion that what “promotes good behaviour” is one’s decision to behave well, and nothing else. In your case, this might come as a consequence of how you interpret Christianity; in my case, it has nothing to do with that.

Steve Reuland,

Thank you for responding to my post. I do regret we’re on opposide sides of the issues here, as I feel you’re a decent guy, and disagreement with you does not come easily. I have the same feeling toward Jason Rosenhouse and Richard B. Hoppe, etc.

At issue in this thread is the out of date material in Pandas and People. It is arepackaging of what was written in 1985 by Denton and others, almost 20 years ago.

Long before 1985, the Linnaean hierarchical view was somewhat considered the antithesis of the idea that a smooth transitional line could be established between fish->amphibian->reptile->mammal in terms of morphology and in the proteins. Denton was attacking a viewpoint that has been long forgotten!!!!. That’s why the biochemical section of Pandas and People doesn’t make sense to most readers. Darwinists no longer argue against hierarchies, they promote them! Witness the writings of Douglas Theobald and the “twin nested hierarchies”. That was actually not quite the case, and the older viewpoints are so obscure now as to have been mostly forgotten.

With respect to the constantly evolving fish, that is why I highlighted the Tuna from the Devonian era and provided the formula:

k = 2 mu t

We should see substantial intra species (the misnomer word used is “interspecific”) divergence in the Tuna in the neutrally selectable sites, and we do not. There were also the other issues I highlighted. It is worth more exploration, which this thread is not the place.

I will oddly enough, (gasp) agree with Nick Matzke that Pandas and People needs an update. But the changes are not as serious as what I see even at the university level in Darwinian biology.

I went to a Darwin Day lecture at James Madison University recently and heard the equivalent of the old “ontogeny recapitualtes phylogeny” argument from one of the bio professors. They still teach that there as well as Urey-Miller, etc. The IDEA members there are in general disbelief that they see these icons still in their textbooks.….

So in sum, I’d like to see Pandas and People updated. It should be noted, Perceval Davis, a respected writer of college level bio text books was black listed (kind of like Sternberg) after he wrote Pandas and People. Real tragedy for someone who spoke his scientific conscience.

Salvador

Emanuele,

Just one more note. Christ added the new commandment to love one another, and to love our enemies. He instructed that in this way, we would show we are His disciples.

Given his new commandment, it is difficult to understand how Christians can justify doing violence, and by this I mean waging wars, both just and unjust, in the name of punishing “evildoers.” In order to justify violence, Christians turn to some Old Testament events, and that is how they are able to ease their conscience. As the Dems say to the Republicans, instead of supposing that God is on your side, ask whether you are on God’s side.

So, while everything is subject to interpretation, it remains very difficult to see how “love one another,” and “love your enemies,” somehow translated to, “make war.” For this reason, Christianity still makes sense to me and is applicable.

Sorry so political.

Katarina:

nothing to be sorry about. I would like to see far more Christians taking your stance about interpreting Christianity and sternly rejecting the kind of “Christianity” that believes Leviticus supercedes the Gospels.

My personal opinion of the whole “Bible-as-handbook-of-morality” misunderstanding has nothing to do with the fact that smart, educated Christians are a fun crowd to hang out with.

Good heavens! So much tripe, so few recipes that call for it!

RBH asked a regular question:

Did Wells really cite Hooper (who is a journalist) as a scientist? Do you have a reference?

Wells’ submission on peppered moths to the Texas State Board of Education was a rehash of his chapter in Icons of Evolution with the exception that he added a line that gave him the opportunity to cite Hooper. It may be in the transcript or the printed materials submitted to the board (though there was some question about whether he could submit material, his being an out-of-stater).

There may be a copy available somewhere - say, the next Discovery Institute dog-and-pony show at which Wells shows up. Here’s a link to Wells’ work on the Discovery Institute site: http://www.discovery.org/scripts/vi[…]&id=1275

My recollection is that Hooper married after publishing the book. She may be listed under her married name.

Regarding the whole “Evolution = amorality” issue:

I figured out a long time ago that I’d rather be surrounded by people who have come to their morality through logical thought (ie: “I’m not going to commit murder because it is wasteful and ineffective in the long run”) than those who have come to their morality through conditioning and/or fear (ie: “I’m not going to commit murder because God will punish me if I do”) because fear, like all emotions, is transitory. If one’s morality is based on fear of punishment, then one’s morality can ebb with said fear (similar to the way in which fear of incarceration or execution is singularly ineffective at preventing people from commiting the crimes that get them incarcerated or executed). If, however, one’s morality is based on good, logical thought, then that morality isn’t going to wane with the tides of emotion. Sure, people reasses their thoughts, but only if they weren’t good and logical in the first place.

It seems that the people who are most worried about the amorality “inherent” in evolutionary theory are the ones whose morality is based on fear rather than thought. Perhaps they fear what the absence of fear will unleash in them; but then, that’s exactly why I prefer the folks whose morality isn’t emotion-based.

Salvador Wrote:

With respect to the constantly evolving fish, that is why I highlighted the Tuna from the Devonian era and provided the formula:

k = 2 mu t

We should see substantial intra species (the misnomer word used is “interspecific”) divergence in the Tuna in the neutrally selectable sites, and we do not.

Sal, first of all, I’m pretty sure that tuna did not exist in the Devonian. The only explicit mention I can find of their first appearance is in the Pliocene, although that sounds a little too recent. I think you misread that earlier bit and thought that tuna originated in the Devonian when it fact it merely said that the large group to which tuna belong (i.e. ray-finned fishes) first originated then.

Secondly, there is more than one species of tuna. I’m not up on my tuna biology, but I suspect that there are at least dozens of them. Have you gone through all of them and catalogued their molecular diversity?

Third, and most importantly, there is no reason to suspect infinitely diverging sequences within a species of finite population size. Indeed, this isn’t even possible. Genetic drift fixes neutral changes. This means that a tuna living today will indeed be much different than a tuna living in the Devonian (assuming one did, just for sake of argument), but we do not necessarily expect an increase in genetic diversity. Consider what happens during a bottleneck when all but a handful of individuals get killed. Genetic diversity gets wiped out, even though the surviving sequences are very different than those of the ancient ancestors. The sequences evolve.

I think the main idea here is misunderstandings - whether of actual moral principles, or of basic evolutionary theory in Pandas and People. With some exceptions, the overall picture is of anti-evolutionists who simply don’t understand what they’re criticizing. This may be an important point to stress - fairness is a great virtue, and teaching the controversy, and all, but these folks just don’t know what they’re talking about, and don’t bother to find out. It’s not exciting revolutionary stuff being squashed by hidebound defenders of Darwinist orthodoxy - it’s low quality hackwork that they’re trying to dump on our kids.

Ed - so why *shouldn’t* evolutionists be rounded up and deported?

neo-anti-luddite, Re “I figured out a long time ago that I’d rather be surrounded by people who have come to their morality through logical thought (ie: “I’m not going to commit murder because it is wasteful and ineffective in the long run”) than those who have come to their morality through conditioning and/or fear (ie: “I’m not going to commit murder because God will punish me if I do”) “ Personally, I’d rather be with people who don’t have to consciously think about why they’re not murdering somebody. If you see what I mean. ;)

Henry

With some exceptions, the overall picture is of anti-evolutionists who simply don’t understand what they’re criticizing.

This is true, and the reason behind it is that some Christians feel more comfortable in trusting the words Behe, Dembski, and the rest, over Dawkins, simply because the first set seem to be arguing against atheism and the second, for it. I say this because I am intimately acquainted with several anti-evolutionists. I married into the family, what can I do? I have made some little headway using references provided by talkorigins and PT, but all that is details to them. What they are really concerned about it whether the atheists are after the truth, or proving there is no God.

So what I think is important, which is what Panda’s Thumb is doing, is sorting through Dembski’s mumbo jumbo and showing it for what it is. However, whenever I referred an anti-evolutionist to this site, they complained that the comments were often un-civil. That was a few months ago, but hopefully they will try again.

Dan S. Wrote:

While this is straying wildly off topic (*WARNING*), the view you express is one that I deeply dislike.  It may be an accurate description of your beliefs, or even your situation.  Objectively, it’s poppycock.  Balderdash. Bunkum.

I’ve finally finished a response to this post. Because it’s so long and off topic, I’ve posted it on my blog: Discussing the Logic of Morals With Dan

And of course, responses to other comments after the one I responded to haven’t been written yet. ;-)

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on March 13, 2005 12:46 PM.

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