Few Biologists but Many Evangelicals Sign Anti-Evolution Petition

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It seems that the mainstream media is catching on to the tactics by the Discovery Institute. When the Discovery Instute unveiled, several days after the NCSE Project Steve reached 700 signatures, that more than 500 ‘scientists’ had signed a statement stating that “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”, a New York Times reporter wasted no time to do some investigative reporting.

Those who are familiar with Darwin’s work would consider the statement itself rather unimpressive. Darwin himself argued that he did not think that natural selection was the only mechanism of evolution. Thus the real controversy may be that the fact that over 500 people have signed it is used by the Discovery Institute to argue that there is a ‘real controversy’ about evolutionary theory. In other words, the petition seems to serve to strengthen the attempts of the Discovery Institute to use ‘Teach the Controversy’ and ‘Critically analyze’ as backdoors for Intelligent Design to be taught. So what is the controversy about? Is it because evolution is scientifically flawed? Or are there other reasons why these scientists reject evolutionary theory. Let’s say perhaps because it conflicts with the religious faith? Could that be the case?

New York Times reporter Kenneth Chang has put this hypothesis to the test and interviewed many of the people who signed the statement and found something which most of the readers of PandasThumb may find unremarkable but which may come to a shock to those who have accepted the Discovery Institute’s claim that there is a scientific controversy.

Of the signers who are evangelical Christians, most defend their doubts on scientific grounds but also say that evolution runs against their religious beliefs.

Several said that their doubts began when they increased their involvement with Christian churches.

Some said they read the Bible literally and doubt not only evolution but also findings of geology and cosmology that show the universe and the earth to be billions of years old.

It gets better, much better.

Dr Lien, associate professor at the Auburn University Department of Poultry science, who received a copy of the petition from his Christian friends started to doubt evolution after his conversion to Christianity.

Dr Lien Wrote:

“The world is broken, and we humans and our science can’t fix it,” Dr. Lien said. “I was brought to Jesus Christ and God and creationism and believing in the Bible.”

Dr Lien also said he thought that evolution was “inconsistent with what the Bible says.”

Seems clear that Dr Lien is rejecting evolution based on his religious faith here.

Dr Brewer, professor of Cell biology at the Southern Illinois University Medical school who accepts micro-evolution but beliefs in a young earth. He comments that “Based on faith, I do believe in the creation account”.

It seems clear that many on the list have religious motivations to reject Darwinian theory. So when The Discovery officials pointed out that there are in fact scientists who have signed the petition but who do not hold conservative religious beliefs, and identified two: Berlinski and Salthe. Kenneth Chang decided to ask Salthe about his motives to sign the petition, and the answer may have come as a surprise to Crowther

Discovery officials did point to two scientists, David Berlinski, a philosopher and mathematician and a senior fellow at the institute, and Stanley N. Salthe, a visiting scientist at Binghamton University, State University of New York, who signed but do not hold conservative religious beliefs.

Dr. Salthe, who describes himself as an atheist, said that when he signed the petition he had no idea what the Discovery Institute was. Rather, he said, “I signed it in irritation.”

He said evolutionary biologists were unfairly suppressing any competing ideas. “They deserve to be prodded, as it were,” Dr. Salthe said. “It was my way of thumbing my nose at them.”

Dr. Salthe said he did not find intelligent design to be a compelling theory, either. “From my point of view,” he said, “it’s a plague on both your houses.”

Quite an endorsement from the ‘token’ atheist.

Now that a Judge in Dover, who ruled in the Kitzmiller trial against Intelligent Design, has identified ‘teach the controversy’ as a sham, the media is slowly unravelling the scientific vacuity behind the ‘controversy’ and finding that much of the opposition is religiously motivated.

Judge Jones Wrote:

Moreover, ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID.

Judge Jones minced no words

Judge Jones Wrote:

“To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.”

Darwin himself had some advice as well for Intelligent Design, an argument based on ignorance:

Darwin Wrote:

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science”

Charles Darwin: Descent of Man

and

Although I am fully convinced of the truth of the views given in this volume under the form of an abstract, I by no means expect to convince experienced naturalists whose minds are stocked with a multitude of facts all viewed, during a long course of years, from a point of view directly opposite to mine. It is so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as the “plan of creation” or “unity of design,” etc., and to think that we give an explanation when we only restate a fact. Any one whose disposition leads him to attach more weight to unexplained difficulties than to the explanation of a certain number of facts will certainly reject the theory

Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species CHAPTER XV: RECAPITULATION AND CONCLUSION

And then there is the persecution angle which is as vacuous as the scientific claims of ID

John West Wrote:

I told Chang that the willingness of scientists to publicly express their scientific doubts about Darwinism was a huge act of courage given the vitriolic campaign waged by Darwinists to smear and persecute any scientist who breaks ranks with them.

‘Smear and prosecute’? Does West remember how Judge Jones was treated after his courageous ruling?

So why are the religious motivations important? Are such arguments not fallacious because they reject scientific criticism by arguing that these people have religious motivations? The fact is that there are no controversies in evolution at least not to the extent that scientists have presented scientific evidence in opposition to common descent. And yet, we see how many of the people on this list have argued that they are rejecting evolution based on their Christian faith. In many cases their faith requires them to accept the scientifically untennable position of a young earth. Combine this with the observation that creationists are trying to introduce creationism into the schools under the claim of ‘teach the controversy’ or ‘analyze critically’. And finally, while there are good reasons to reject that mutation and selection are sufficient to explain evolution, many of the people on the list seem to reject not just the sufficiency but evolution itself. The Discovery Institute seems to be using this list to show that there is a ‘genuine’ controversy in the scientific world although when faced with 700 Steves, they are quickly to argue that this is not about numbers…

Some other examples

Based on the excellent footwork by Chang I decided to research myself the backgrounds of some of the people who signed the petition, focusing initially on biology related backgrounds:

I ran across Mark Toleman who seems to be rejecting evolutionary theory based on religious faith. Via the wasdarwinright website I ran across another person who had signed the peitition, Dr Andy McIntosh

Mark Toleman Ph.D. Molecular Microbiology Bristol University, UK

am happily married with six children and became a Christian at University ~ 20 years ago after being confronted with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ together with the fact that I had fallen far short of His standards. Despite almost constant text book bashing and evolutionary brain-washing throughout my education the general theory of evolution has always appeared to me as no more than a fashionable belief. In the last few years I have become more interested in looking at the details of the evidence for and against evolution and the impact of evolutionary belief on society. I am amazed at the wild dogmatic statements of the text books based on such flimsy and incomplete evidence and the awful fruit that this theory has produced in our Western society.

Publications

Andy McIntosh Full Professor, Department of Thermodynamics University of Leeds

  • Publications
  • Research Interests

    Dr Andy C. McIntosh is a Professor (the highest teaching/research rank in U.K. university hierarchy) in Combustion Theory at Leeds University, U.K. His Ph.D. was in aerodynamics. A number of his students later worked for Rolls Royce, designing aircraft engines.

    Dr Andy C. McIntosh wrote the “six days” page of the site, which also appeared in an edited format in the Evangelical Alliance IDEA magazine of August 2005.

    See his interview in Creation 20(2):28–31, March–May 1998,

  • Six Days

    The idea that God used evolution [1] can be shown not only to be flawed theologically, but to be no answer scientifically. Douglas Kelly’s excellent book “Creation and Change” [2] is an example of a number of works which have shown that exegetically theistic evolution is untenable:

Other websites blogging this

99 Comments

Man, I’m as opposed to ID as much as the next guy, but the I have to say the title of that article is obnxious. What, are evangelicals and biologists mutually exclusive categories ?

I understand the point, but the title is lame. And gives the NY Times a bad name.

What makes you believe that the two are mutually exclusive?

I have a question, which is this:

It seems that from what I read from both sides of the issue, creationism/ID is more or less losing in the legal arena, and has pretty much lost in academia a long time ago. This is, IMHO a good thing. Okay, so far so good.

The question is: What will be their next move? I would predict that it will be to sidestep the issue entirely and push for private/religious school vouchers and homeschooling.

Has anyone done any speculation on the subject?

Comment #81388 Posted by senatorchunk on February 22, 2006 12:01 AM

Man, I’m as opposed to ID as much as the next guy, but the I have to say the title of that article is obnoxious. What, are evangelicals and biologists mutually exclusive categories ?

Comment #81392 Posted by PvM on February 22, 2006 12:14 AM

What makes you believe that the two are mutually exclusive?

I think you misread him PvM. The question was implicitly intended to elicit a ‘NO’ answer.

sincerely,

The question is: What will be their next move? I would predict that it will be to sidestep the issue entirely and push for private/religious school vouchers and homeschooling.

Has anyone done any speculation on the subject?

Nope, they will go for further hiding their motives and try to introduce intelligent design through the backdoor by asking for ‘fairness’ and ‘teach the controversy’.

The problem with this approach is that the well of ‘teach the controversy’ has already been poisoned. Yet, appealing to fairness may be ID’s best chance. However they leave too many breadcrumbs behind leading back to the Wedge.

Now much could change if ID could provide a scientifically relevant contribution but that seems quite unlikely as ID, as formulated presently is scientifically vacuous

I didn’t think the title made evangelicals and biologists seem mutually exclusive. Think of a Venn diagram. You’ve got your biologists not evangelical, evangelicals not biologist, and evangelical and biologist. The title says one side is small, the other is large, but it doesn’t really specify the interaction.

The article did mention a evangelical cell biologist.

Nice post Pim.

Dr. Salthe, who describes himself as an atheist, said that when he signed the petition he had no idea what the Discovery Institute was. Rather, he said, “I signed it in irritation.” He said evolutionary biologists were unfairly suppressing any competing ideas. “They deserve to be prodded, as it were,” Dr. Salthe said. “It was my way of thumbing my nose at them.”

Wow, what a sad loser.

What are these competing “ideas” that are being suppressed?

Is he referring to the Triangle Theory of evolution which predicts that the Three Morboloks of Rolobolowallow 432.21 set the Gaping Stone in motion which provided the ramno-force to drive the event we now call the Cambrian Explosion?

Because that theory is certainly suppressed.

Just reproducing a comment from PZ’s

Jeremy Henty Wrote:

We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.

What does this even mean?

It doesn’t mean anything. That’s the point. It’s a piece of bafflegab that gives the impression of dissent without saying anything factual that could actually be refuted.

I’ll bet these guys have read Othello. Remember how Iago tarnishes Cassio’s honour in everyone’s eyes by half-assedly defending it? They are playing the same trick; they behave as if skepticism needs defending from evolutionism and pray that the gullible will think they are acting in good faith.

Posted by: Jeremy Henty at Pharyngula

The DI “Scientists dissent from Darwinism” campaign is blatantly dishonest. The tepid statement signed by (now) 500 scientists is about natural selection, but the campaign isn’t “Scientists dissent from Natural Selection.” To most people, “Darwinism” equates to “evolution” (common ancestry), thus “Scientists Dissent from Darwinism” is understood to mean “scientists dissent from evolution.” Talk about bait and switch. One scientist asked to have his name withdrawn, after all, because he thought the statement he signed was about the limitations of natural selection, yet it was being used to persuade people that evolution was a “theory in crisis.”

If the DI was honest, it would restate its campaign to “scientists dissenting from global natural selection” but it sure wouldn’t have the cachet of “dissent from Darwinism.” But remember that in the ideology of Intelligent Design, Darwinism is an ism, an ideology, and ideologies are bad and not scientific. Referring to evolution as Darwinism (ideology) helps to paint evolution as atheism, a key goal of the ID movement. A Darwinist is a practitioner of the ideology of Darwinism in a way that a botanist is not a practitioner of botanism. If you look at the first and second editions of Pandas and People you will see a pattern of replacing the term evolution or evolutionist with Darwinism and Darwinist. It’s part of the rhetoric of ID to equate evolution with atheism, and effective, in my experience.

So one way we can thwart the DI’s efforts is to refer to people who study evolution as evolutionary biologists, rather than “Darwinists”, an imprecise term anyway. Does “Darwinism” refer to Darwin’s views in the 19th century? The synthetic theory? The current, post-synthetic theory world we live in today? So referring to “Darwinism” as a synonym of evolution is inaccurate anyway: we’ve gone way beyond Charles, good as he was. An evolutionary biologist studies evolutionary biology. Just like we don’t say we “believe” in evolution, we need to train ourselves away from using Darwinism/ist in a fashion that confuses the public.

Not all evangelicals are fundamentalists. Perhaps most are in the USA, but there is a strand of liberal evangelicalism which is much less interested in issues concerning evolution and science. As the name suggests, evangelicals are people who evangelize–spread the Gospel–and a good number of these people do not concern themselves with issues that concern us.

It’s the fundamentalists, or more specifically the Biblical fundamentalists, who are the biggest opponents of evolution in this country.

To most people, “Darwinism” equates to “evolution” (common ancestry), thus “Scientists Dissent from Darwinism” is understood to mean “scientists dissent from evolution.” Talk about bait and switch.

what’s really funny here is that many (most?) of the “leaders” of the ID movement have gone on record as saying that the evidence for common descent is undeniable.

for example, I have Dembski saying this in a debate between he and Ruse last year, and it has become “de-facto” knowledge that the DI actually supports this claim.

will the irony never end?

hey Eugenie! I left a couple of questions for you in the other thread you posted in if you get a chance.

cheers

Good point Eugenie. Loved your presentation in St Louis. I did not mention you in the original posting since at that time only powerpoints were available and you had none. Now it seems that most media is available, including realvideo files of the speakers.

As far as skeptical of Darwinism or skeptical of natural selection and mutation being sufficient, this indeed seems open to ‘bait and switch’. Then again, the use of vague terms or the redefinition of terms seems a common approach by ID activists. Information/Complexity is a good example. But there are more: Specified complexity refers to nothing more than a function system with lacking details as to how it may have arisen, thus triggering a ‘design inference’. Or “purposeful arrangement of parts” meaning nothing more than a functional system. Or the conflation between methodological and philosophical naturalism.… Plenty of examples.

The scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design seems self evident. And thanks to the hard work of people like you, the media and the people seem to be starting to get it. I have seen countless editorials critical of intelligent design in the recent days.

What some predicted to be the Waterloo for evolutionary theory has become a rallying point where scientists, educators and clergy are standing up for good science, good education and solid faith.

‘Teaching the controversy’ is going to be the next step but the breadcrumbs left behind trace nicely back to its creationist origins.

I have Dembski saying this in a debate between he and Ruse last year, and it has become “de-facto” knowledge that the DI actually supports this claim.

Except when it comes to humans, then suddenly common descent is rejected.

I am not sure that ID proponents are on the record to support common descent. Just read about their fascination with Woese for instance. Check out Paul Nelson and even Dembski. Although Dembski over cut and pastes someone else’s post without much commentary it seems clear to me that Dembski is still not on board.

Or this one

Comment: The most prominent design theorist, Michael Behe, is on record to holding to common descent (the evolutionary interrelatedness of all organisms back to a common ancestor). No design theorist I know wants to teach that evolution didn’t happen. There is a question about the extent of evolution, but that is a question being raised by non-ID scientists. Carl Woese in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences just a few weeks ago published a piece where he explicitly rejects common descent. What ID proponents want is to teach is the evidence for evolution as well as whatever evidence places limits on evolutionary change (like Carl Woese’s idea of lateral gene transfer). Scott and Branch are here merely playing on fears of school boards and educators.

A curious misreading of Woese in so many ways.

I am not sure that ID proponents are on the record to support common descent.

hmm, then why does dembski say he supports the evidence for common descent in every public debate since his debate with Ruse last year?

why did he reinforce this on his blog last month, and sick his “bulldog” DaveScott on anybody who said otherwise?

no, they are simply trying to pain themselves as having a different “interpretation” of the evidence for common descent, namely that common descent has nothing to do with the theory of evolution.

Interesting you hadn’t seen this. would you like me to send you the Ruse/Dembski debate i saved so you could catch his exact words?

or i could simply post it and you could d/l it from my server.

just a note, it took someone else to dispell my disbelief that Dembski would ever say such a thing, but there it was.

Since, you can see it has become de-riguer to repeat that ID “accepts common descent” over on UD, and other places besides.

go over to ISCID and ask him yourself, if you want.

It’s just another bait-and-switch, just like all the other things, just at a new level.

hmm, thinking about this further, and looking at the quotes you list, these damn near entirely contradict the posts he made on the same subject right around the time he started telling DS to “tow the line” on the evidence FOR common descent, as well as what he said in the Dembski/Ruse debate.

this sounds like a debate for the Uncommon Pissant thread!

I’m going to take it there and see what the general consesus is. Come on and hop in the pool, Pim!

the question will be:

Does WD accept the evidence for common descent, and what is his official postion regarding the validity of it?

Not all evangelicals are fundamentalists. Perhaps most are in the USA, but there is a strand of liberal evangelicalism which is much less interested in issues concerning evolution and science. As the name suggests, evangelicals are people who evangelize—spread the Gospel—and a good number of these people do not concern themselves with issues that concern us.

It’s been my experience in the UK that many evangelicals have literalist sympathies, even if they are less strident about it than than the true fundamentalists - it seems that (my speculation) many have trouble imagining a personal relationship with the god who created the universe described by science.

I’ve heard Andy C. McIntosh interviewed on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence a while back, along with Ronald Numbers. My impressions of him weren’t great. Basically he seemed to shout Ronald Numbers down and he came over as quite an arrogant person but that’s just my personal opinion. He’s listed on AIG’s website as a scientist who is also a creationist but what a combustion engineer knows about biology, geology or astronomy is beyond me.

The thing that I’ve always wondered about young earth creationists is why they don’t ask the question:”If the Earth really were only a few thousand years old surely secular scientists, and atheists etc. would also be discovering overwhelming evidence to back this up ?” But they’re not. How many scientists that are not fundamentalist Christians believe that the Earth and Universe are only a few thousand years old ? I haven’t come across any yet. Maybe groups like AIG or Kent Hovind’s outfit know different. Perhaps they could name them and maybe point us to their websites . But they can’t and they don’t because they’re aren’t any.

It is for this reason that I firmly believe that Young Earth Creationism is purely a religious belief and not scientific. If it were people like Richard Dawkins would be coming to the same conclusions.

PvM Wrote:

A curious misreading of Woese in so many ways.

You mean misrepresenting of Woese.

My usual boilerplate: I’m still not convinced that anyone who signed the statement “disbelieves” evolution as we know it. They just have to be willing to lie about it. And extreme religious conviction (paranoia?) provides ample motive for that.

So it could still be that only the “rubes” truly “disbelieve” evolution, if only because they have been so misled about it. Let’s ask ourselves a simple question: If most signers really thought that the evidence favored another mechanism, and/or independent origin of “kinds”, and/or an alternate age of Earth, wouldn’t they dismiss the statement as unacceptably ambiguous?

I will simply point out once again the fact that the Nazis published a book about “Jewish science” titled “100 Scientists Against Einstein”.

And I will once again point out Einstein’s response: “If the theory were really wrong, just one would suffice”.

(shrug)

Relatedly, with all th epro ID letters to my local newspaper, I tried to google the names and locations of said correspondents. About half of them appeared online in some way or another, whether in news reports, local newspaper articles, forums etc. All the pro ID people I found were religiously oriented, and were church ministers, involved in evangelical work, or some related topic. So, extrapolating, Lenny is generally correct about them shooting themselvs in the head.

Andy McKintosh is the most active British YEC at present. He even gave a “churches” talk at the Darwin Festival in Shrewsbury this month, where YECs and IDers are getting a foothold arguing for blalance.

McK wrote “Genesis for Today” with a scientific appendices with lots of errors/ porkies on science like saying radiometric dating can only be done on igneous rock

Shortly he is leading meetings at an Anglican church near Oxford.

Please not that numbers of evangelicals are sensible on this , like me and members of Christians in Science eg RJ Berry and of the ASA

It is amazing how this nonsense has taken over throughout the world

Peter Henderson Wrote:

The thing that I’ve always wondered about young earth creationists is why they don’t ask the question:”If the Earth really were only a few thousand years old surely secular scientists, and atheists etc. would also be discovering overwhelming evidence to back this up?”

I think the YEC answer is “They are, but they’re beholden to the secular atheist Marxist homosexualist conspiracy and blinded by faith, so they either ignore the overwhelming evidence or hush it up.”

These, are, after all, the people who think that there’s abundant evidence of humans and dinosaurs hanging out together and paleontologists are just too dumb to notice. They don’t accept the principle that scientists of different worldviews should be able to come to the same conclusion based on the evidence.

What will be their next move? I would predict that it will be to sidestep the issue entirely and push for private/religious school vouchers and homeschooling.

That won’t help them, though. After all, it’s not THEIR kids they want to indoctrinate – it’s YOURS. They need to be in public schools to be effective in their goals.

They’ve already made their next move, in the various bills that require either “teach the controversy about evolution and, uh, global warming” or “teach the scientific controversies about, uh, everything”. Oddly, the “teach the controversy” Trojan horse, which was itself a Trojan horse for the ID Trojan horse, now needs its OWN Trojan horse.

Alas for them, the only way for them now to get their “teach the controversy” crap into schools is to utterly empty of it any content whatsover.

Also, alas for them, no matter HOW they want to introduce their “controversy” crap, they sooner or later will have to explain to everyone just what the heck the “controversy” they want to teach **IS** – and as soon as they do, it will turn out to be the same old creationist/ID crap that’s already been rejected by the courts.

ID is dead. Their sole and only hope for a resurrection is if the Supreme Court decides that theocracy is OK after all in our, uh, “Christian nation”.

And if THAT happens, then “evolution” and “science education” will quickly become the LEAST of our problems.

I haven’t heard anything lately about the “Sudden Emergence Theory”. Are they having some trouble, in the aftermath of the Kitzmiller trainwreck, getting it of the ground?

So when The Discovery officials pointed out that there are in fact scientists who have signed the petition but who do not hold conservative religious beliefs, and identified two: Berlinski and Salthe.

You covered Salthe’s lack of endorsement of IDC in your posting, but it gets better. Check the quote from Berlinski, In this Sep. 27, 2005 Knight-Ridder article

David Berlinski, a mathematician and senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and a sharp critic of neo-Darwinism, also signed the statement of dissent. But in an e-mail message, Berlinski declared, “I have never endorsed intelligent design.”

Berlinski is a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture.

How important are these lists of scientists? Let’s see what Bruce Chapman of the Discovery Institute has to say in the NYTimes article:

“Early on, the critics said there was nobody who disbelieved Darwin’s theory except for rubes in the woods,” said Bruce Chapman, president of the institute. “How many does it take to be a noticeable minority — 10, 50, 100, 500?”

For an opposing point of view, let’s turn to Bruce Chapman of the Discovery Institute, in the same article, after the interviewer mentions Project Steve:

Mr. Chapman of that institute said the opposing petitions were beside the point. “We never claimed we’re in a fight for numbers,” he said.

Comment #81388

Posted by senatorchunk on February 22, 2006 12:01 AM (e)

Man, I’m as opposed to ID as much as the next guy, but the I have to say the title of that article is obnxious. What, are evangelicals and biologists mutually exclusive categories ?

Human nature puts them in self-sorting camps. So while it is, theoretically, possible for all biologists to be evangelicals, it’s not going to happen more than once in a great while.

Eugenie Scott Wrote:

So one way we can thwart the DI’s efforts is to refer to people who study evolution as evolutionary biologists, rather than “Darwinists”, an imprecise term anyway

This, of course, is just the most obvious of the DI’s word games.

I commented yesterday that I doubted that clarity was ever a real goal of church spokesmen. Always better to be mysterious and fuzzy, so you can never be called just plain wrong. Your opposition just doesn’t quite get the subtlety of your point. It’s no coincidence that the DI uses the same approach.

If there were Oscars for deceptive word games, though, I think the DI would win, hands down, for their virtuoso performance in making “the” bear the weight of the lie in their slogan, “teach the controversy”.

By the way, though, I want to be an equal opportunity curmudgeon and take the NY Times to task for their questionable use of “evangelicals” in the headline. As others have already commented, that’s not the point. Just ask Keith Miller.

Comment #81443

Posted by guthrie on February 22, 2006 07:28 AM (e)

Relatedly, with all th epro ID letters to my local newspaper, I tried to google the names and locations of said correspondents. About half of them appeared online in some way or another, whether in news reports, local newspaper articles, forums etc. All the pro ID people I found were religiously oriented, and were church ministers, involved in evangelical work, or some related topic. So, extrapolating, Lenny is generally correct about them shooting themselvs in the head.

If you care about science, and thwarting the ID movement, you know what to do when a nearby school board starts talking creationism. It’s easy, cheap, doesn’t take much time. You go attend a board meeting, and try to publicly ask the creationist board members questions which’ll provoke creationist statements. “Mr. School Board Member Bob, I don’t believe I evolutionized outta two mosquitoes and a mud puddle. Don’t you think kids should be told that we were made by the Creator? You know, like tell em that all scientifically?”. If you need to blend in, just wear this Rusty Wallace / Miller Lite hat:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dl[…]tegory=25524

Provoking school board members into public statements about how kids need to hear about Jesus will drop the fly into the ointment.

So when The Discovery officials pointed out that there are in fact scientists who have signed the petition but who do not hold conservative religious beliefs, and identified two: Berlinski and Salthe.

Berlinski is a scientist? In what sense? Does he make that claim, or is that just DI spin?

Anyway, I’ve read enough of Berlinski’s thoughts on evolution to know they’re a total waste of time. I don’t know Salthe’s argument, but from what I’ve read here and elsewhere, getting to the bottom of his views is low on my list of priorities.

What I would like to understand better is Lynn Margulis’s war of words with “neo-Darwinist bullies”. She’s often quoted by DI types for that, as part of their campaign to confuse the public about what “the” controversy really is. And probably, somewhere, she’s explained in detail exactly where she parts company with, or exactly how she defines, “neo-Darwinism”. But if anyone can point me to it, I’d be grateful. In the meantime, I’m not sure whether I’m a “neo-Darwinist” or not.

PS.

Also, post questions on a more active thread. This one hasn’t really received much in the way of attention recently.

DSWilkins Wrote:

First off, I am an adult, born-again Christian. I am board-certified perfusionist, a graduate of Ohio State University, and spend much of my time investigating, evaluating, and applying my research in the care of cardiac surgical patients.

For the past 5 years or so, I have tried to investigate the creation/evolution debate with the best due diligence that I can muster. As anyone would agree, there are gaps or problems with a wholesale acceptance of the theory of evolution. For example, trying to explain the origin of that first life form remains elusive at best. To be fair, if you eliminate any supernatural possibilities, then evolution is by far the best (and only) other choice to explain the world we inhabit.

Science does not really eliminate supernatural possibilities, it remains quiet about them because the fall outside of what science can and cannot do.

Here’s my issue. I’m doing a full court press trying to educate myself to both sides of the coin. And when I stumbled upon this blog I was once again frustrated by the same thing that seems to plague the evolution camp. It is clear from this blogsite that being a Christian equates to ignorance unless that Christian believes exactly as many of you do.

Many different people contribute to this blog, countless more comment on this blog. People who contribute to this blog come from various and varied backgrounds. Being Christian is not equated directly to ignorance although in many cases, Christian faith has led one to poor scientific positions. As a Christian and ex-YEC member, I know.

Most of the earlier posts on this site (and most other places I’ve looked) make no mention or attempt to answer any one of the many, many honest scientific issues raised by those who have concerns about evolution. These posts instead seem to exude a posse-like atmosphere intended to call to question the religious faith of those who hold to other positions. Once one is branded as religious, another victory is declared for the evolution home team and everybody breathes a sigh of content.

Then you have not seen the many postings which address new findings, new research, which address many of the honest scientific issues raiesd. Whether it is the Cambrian explosion, the immune system, evolvability, neutrality, or new paleontological finds, this blog tries to put it all in perspective.

I have a lot of really hard questions…questions that i can’t seem to find the answer to. These questions raise enormous doubt in my mind as to the plausibility that random, unguided events can explain the world that we see. I came across Panda’s Thumb hoping for something different…hoping that maybe I would find someone interested in discussing a valid topic…hoping that maybe this site would be what I’ve been looking for.

Hint, evolution is not unguided in the sense that natural selection is the feedback mechanism from the environment into the organism. The new course by Allen MacNeill may help you understand these issues, since they address the teleology in nature, which are inevitable outcome of the processes involved.

So…I’m looking for few good men/women who are up for some tough questions, and can offer some answers to someone who is truly in search of the truth

For someone who is truly in search of the truth, your exploration of what this blog has to offer seems to contradict your statement. Nevertheless, I am sure that there are many few good men/women on this blog who are most willing to offer you some answers to tough questions.

For the past 5 years or so, I have tried to investigate the creation/evolution debate with the best due diligence that I can muster. As anyone would agree, there are gaps or problems with a wholesale acceptance of the theory of evolution.

We’re still waiting on any real gaps or problems, that is, of the sort that we should not have at this time. That much remains to be explained is a given in most sciences, especially in the sciences dealing with past events.

For example, trying to explain the origin of that first life form remains elusive at best.

That is not an issue of evolution per se. It is related to the evolution of life, and of interest to biologists for evolutionary and other reasons, however evolution itself begins to matter once selection becomes possible.

To be fair, if you eliminate any supernatural possibilities, then evolution is by far the best (and only) other choice to explain the world we inhabit.

We use science to investigate what can be investigated. What cannot be investigated, which many call the “supernatural” (while others include things that can be investigated into the “supernatural”), provides no explanation for the simple reason that we can’t investigate those causes.

Still, that is neither here nor there. Evolution is explanatory, which is roughly the same as what we mean by “scientific”, insofar as it cross-correlates data, provides guidance to the investigation of data, and is in some manner “predictive” (“post-dictive” can be about as good, though the question of human bias becomes a problem then).

We are not looking merely for a “vague cause” in science, thus we utilize evolution to explain biological features. One may do science with evolution, that is to say, connecting life through shared ancestries to high confidence levels, and discovering the reasons for differences between life. When we compare chimp and human genomes we are thus able to look for specific changes which occur during evolution, chromosomal changes, point mutations, and changing regulatory functions. While it is true that we could compare genomes without realizing that evolution has occurred, looking for, say, “design” in the differences wouldn’t be nearly as productive as looking for “selected mistakes” (so to speak) which have become fixed in chimp and human genomes.

Here’s my issue. I’m doing a full court press trying to educate myself to both sides of the coin.

One thing that needs to be realized is that this is not a place that exists to educate people on the fence. I’m not saying that such a purpose never animates an original post and/or comments, but primarily this site exists to fight creationism/ID, and any “education” is meant more for those who do fight creationism/ID. Thus this place should not be judged by how well it answers the questions of fence-sitters.

TalkOrigins has been mentioned, and it is good–but often fairly technical. Much of it is not especially layperson-friendly, though some is. They’re probably more geared toward revealing the science that goes against the claims of ID/creationism than to actually educating the public. I would recommend TalkOrigins, indeed, but I think the visuals in the links below may be more friendly to those less versed in biology (yes, I know that you know biology, but perhaps you or others are not as knowing about the particulars of evolutionary biologyZ):

http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/evolu[…]olution.html (click on the many links scattered through the text)

and

http://www.visual-evolution.com/

And when I stumbled upon this blog I was once again frustrated by the same thing that seems to plague the evolution camp. It is clear from this blogsite that being a Christian equates to ignorance unless that Christian believes exactly as many of you do.

No, I can’t agree with that. PZ Myers complains on his personal blog about the administration of this site being unfriendly to his brand of village atheism (well, I call it that, though he disagrees). At least several of the primary contributors are religions, including Pim and Elsberry.

Do these sites attract the anti-religious? Yes, but what are we supposed to do, censor them? I don’t think that would be wise at all. I have on occasion stuck up for the acceptance of both science and religion in the way that I think is possible, but there is no way that those of us who have no animus against religion are going to compete in volume with those who dislike religion. That is the nature of fanaticism, including anti-religious fanaticism.

Most of the earlier posts on this site (and most other places I’ve looked) make no mention or attempt to answer any one of the many, many honest scientific issues raised by those who have concerns about evolution.

This is because the issues (honest or not–we do not believe they are honest in the hands of all questioners) have been answered many many times, with a notable archive of the answers existing at TalkOrigins. We are not going to repeat ourselves endlessly.

These posts instead seem to exude a posse-like atmosphere intended to call to question the religious faith of those who hold to other positions. Once one is branded as religious, another victory is declared for the evolution home team and everybody breathes a sigh of content.

No, you have not been reading well. If you’re willing to judge the entire site by the uncensored prattlings of anti-religious sorts, then you’ve stereotyped the bulk of posters here quite unfairly.

I have a lot of really hard questions…questions that i can’t seem to find the answer to. These questions raise enormous doubt in my mind as to the plausibility that random, unguided events can explain the world that we see.

I think that if you asked honest questions, and didn’t simply ask questions that are supposed to “stump” the seasoned veterans of the creationism/ID wars, you’d receive good answers. However, you might receive some uncalled-for remarks as well. This cannot be prevented from happening, unless we become more like Uncommon Descent with its heavily censorious hand.

Nevertheless, this is not a place specifically designed even for honest questions, especially not the ones that are quite well addressed elsewhere. Short answers to honest questions would be forthcoming here, I am sure, but people will become quite irritated if long answers are requested that exist on the web.

I came across Panda’s Thumb hoping for something different…hoping that maybe I would find someone interested in discussing a valid topic…hoping that maybe this site would be what I’ve been looking for.

Most likely it is not. We don’t come here eager to deal with long-settled questions, while it seems to me that you may wish to ask some of those. We are here, as a recent post mentioned, to drive the last nails into the ID coffin.

So…I’m looking for few good men/women who are up for some tough questions, and can offer some answers to someone who is truly in search of the truth.

It is reasonably desired by most who post here that those who question have honestly received a good background to biology and evolution before coming here. Is there really any reason to debate evolution with those who deny the importance of genetic and morphological homologies (synapomorphies) and vestigial organs? And for those who “question archaeopteryx”, is there anything to be done to counteract their inability to recognize one of the most obvious intermediates that could be hoped for?

See the thing is that there is a very large amount of evidence in favor of evolution, and much of it is readily accessible to those with little background in biology. Many of the “tough questions” that creationists and some IDists pose have to do with denying the kinds of evidence of derivation that would be accepted in copyright cases, in literary analyses, and in whatever the creationist/IDist will allow as “microevolution”. To accept the morphological and genetic evidence of the evolution of Darwin’s finches (and mockingbirds) while denying the exact same sort of evidence in hominid evolution and in the evolution of classes, is not intellectually honest.

And the thing is that we’re not very patient with those who deny the sorts of evidence that can be reasonably expected for evolution. If you have questions that do not deny scientific evidence on the face of it, I think many will be willing to answer. If you don’t, there is no point in asking.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

If evolution is matter + chance + time = increasing life sophistication, what is the place of non-material mind in the equation?

In other words, if life and complexity thereof is essentially random why do the high priests of materialism even use their non-material minds to refute ID or a Creator?

Why is it always “religious” faith? Is religion something to be compartmentalize, like a toxic waste site or the hated brussel spouts needing to be kept in a vegetable compartment? Perhaps real, go-forward faith is super natural divine logic [of Logos.] Is there a spiritual and Spirit-ual dimensions to reality?

Gee, perhaps the materialist live in flat reality, denying a super natural and super unnatural dimension and mind-based spiritual war. Perhaps we live in a new dark age: the Lite Age of superficiality.

James Wrote:

If evolution is matter + chance + time = increasing life sophistication, what is the place of non-material mind in the equation?

Huh? Sounds like a non sequitur

In other words, if life and complexity thereof is essentially random why do the high priests of materialism even use their non-material minds to refute ID or a Creator?

‘Essentially random’? Do you even understand evolution?

Sigh… Trolls…

In other words, if life and complexity thereof is essentially random why do the high priests of materialism even use their non-material minds to refute ID or a Creator?

Who are these “high priests of materialism”? IOW, learn about science and how it makes inferences, and how it does not depend upon metaphysical concepts like “material” (vs. “matter” in the scientific sense).

And just think about the absurdity in your claim. If people were stupid enough to use “non-material minds” to refute a non-material Creator or ID, they would be stupid indeed. Only we’re not. It’s time that you begin, oh, say, a bit of education. Come back when you have a smidgeon of knowledge about the brain.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

If evolution is matter + chance + time = increasing life sophistication, what is the place of non-material mind in the equation?

In other words, if life and complexity thereof is essentially random why do the high priests of materialism even use their non-material minds to refute ID or a Creator?

Why is it always “religious” faith? Is religion something to be compartmentalize, like a toxic waste site or the hated brussel spouts needing to be kept in a vegetable compartment? Perhaps real, go-forward faith is super natural divine logic [of Logos.] Is there a spiritual and Spirit-ual dimensions to reality?

Gee, perhaps the materialist live in flat reality, denying a super natural and super unnatural dimension and mind-based spiritual war. Perhaps we live in a new dark age: the Lite Age of superficiality.

If evolution is matter + chance + time = increasing life sophistication, what is the place of non-material mind in the equation?

In other words, if life and complexity thereof is essentially random why do the high priests of materialism even use their non-material minds to refute ID or a Creator?

Why is it always “religious” faith? Is religion something to be compartmentalize, like a toxic waste site or the hated brussel sprouts needing to be kept in a vegetable compartment? Perhaps real, go-forward faith is super natural divine logic [of Logos.] Is there a spiritual and Spirit-ual dimensions to reality?

Gee, perhaps the materialist live in flat reality, denying a super natural and super unnatural dimension and mind-based spiritual war. Perhaps we live in a new dark age: the Lite Age of superficiality.

Yes, religion is just like brussels sprouts.

Next question?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on February 21, 2006 10:53 PM.

AAAS and the Alliance for Science was the previous entry in this blog.

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