CERT

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Coming on the heels of the newly formed Scientists and Engineers for America, those of us in Colorado have a new organization to help fight the good fight, Colorado Evolution Response Team, or CERT. Friday’s online edition of the Denver Post has an article about the organization:

Finally, scientists are fighting mad.

In a state where public educators are afraid to put the word “evolution” in science aptitude tests and where the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor thinks biblical creationism counts as science, the Colorado Evolution Response Team has its work cut out.

CERT, as the new group refers to itself, seems ready for the fight.

“There is a cultural attack against science,” said David Pollock, a genetic researcher at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. “The president taking intelligent-design propaganda as gospel is not good.”

Neither is having a lieutenant governor who wants creationism taught in schools. […]

They won’t have to look far. Last summer, a member of the Colorado Board of Education called evolution “one of those loaded phrases.” So Colorado doesn’t print the word in statewide science aptitude tests. Instead, kids see the less controversial term “adaptation.”

“They’re trying to avoid controversy,” not teach science, said James DeGregori, a CU cancer biologist. “That’s exactly what this organization (CERT) should respond to.”

Scientists “profess evolution as the foundation of the biosciences,” said Kieft, a Christian who squares his scholarship with his faith. “If you test students on biology, you have to deal with it.”

By not doing so, added Pollock, you are “erasing a portion of human knowledge that is critical. You’re crippling people.”

You also force the creation of groups like CERT, which is independent of, but akin to, another new organization, Scientists and Engineers for America. SEA is a national group dealing with national issues. Pollock belongs to both. They are part of a movement by scientists to reclaim their disciplines from religion and politics. CERT was the brainchild of DeGregori, honed with Pollock and Kieft. […]

“They’re taking religious beliefs and pretending they can make them science,” School of Mines physicist Matt Young said of folks who think creationism constitutes science. “I hope that CERT will be able to support teachers and parents in situations where science is being distorted.”

If you are from Colorado, especially if you are in the sciences, please consider joining CERT. The website still needs some tweaking, so you might want to bookmark it and then check back later once more formal means of joining or donating are available.

Full disclosure: One of the scientists quoted in the Post article, David Pollock, is my PI. Two of the others, DiGregory and Kieft, are both faculty in my department. (Don’t I work in a cool place?) And the fourth, Matt Young, is just some old nobody who I’ve never heard of, but strangely enough, he’s listed as a PT contributor.

28 Comments

While it’s a cute name, I do have to point out that there is a national program called “Community Emergency Response Team(s)”–or CERT–that is supposed to be front-line trained volunteers in disasters. (Not, you understand, that I don’t think the attacks on actual science in science classes *isn’t* a disaster…)

I am not a scientist but I do try and keep current with the creationists versus science issue. I am also a frequent reader of Panda but have never commented or contributed. I am from Colorado. With three children just entering the public school system this is great news. Colorado is an interesting state. You basically have the Denver area, Boulder, and a few other areas which are for the most part pro science and then you have the rest. Driving out of these areas is like crossing some imaginary line. One where Bush bumper stickers suddenly become the norm and political signs start showing up for the R instead of the D. I know the “debate” isn’t entirely political in nature but more times than not it seems like it is the Republicans that are weak on science education and are promoting ID as opposed to Democrats. It looks like we are about to elect a Democrat for governor so hopefully that will be a step in a better direction and hopefully this is a sign of a political shift in this state that is more science oriented and less religious oriented. As soon as the site allows I will definitely donate and hopefully many other Colorado citizens will as well.

I’m also interested in joining when the method shapes up. You may already be aware of this, but there was a symposium on teaching evolution last summer at CU-Boulder. That “Matt Young” character you mentioned wrote up a little summary of the event: http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives[…]m_on_te.html

Personally, if someone from AIG turned up to teach geology, I would take a long hard look at what he was going to say. At the same time, if some evolutionists who contribute in various publications, such as T/O, were to attempt to teach it, I would find it necessary to acquaint them with some of the most basic aspects of that topic. Get the facts straight, admit you don’t know what you don’t know, present Evolution in its true meaning - an unrolling; go into the VARIOUS THEORIES of how it happenned; and, viola! - no controversy. In short, “fight the good fight” - of Science.

Here’s a quizz. What was R. Owen’s Law of Progression from the General to the Particular? Can it be fleshed out in the light of new advances in science? Can some of Darwin’s ideas be added to it to make it more useful? If people don’t know about it, why?

It’s time for the science community to take the gloves off. The ID/creationists have a long track record of stupidity or just plain chicanery since at least the 1970s. They have been distorting concepts and spreading confusion while they try to redefine science in a way that will justify their power grab. Most of their dishonesty is well-documented, and it is time to wipe their faces in it.

Any rube who takes these IDiots seriously needs to realize that they are doing him no favor. If such a person is gullible enough to take IDiots at their word and not check out things that have objectively verifiable answers, then they should know that no one is going to believe they have any insight into the mind of god. They have only themselves to blame if their religion can’t keep their kids in line.

And the politicians who exploit the divisiveness of the culture wars inflamed by IDiots need to be aware that they impugn their own judgment on all other matters when they attempt this ploy.

“I would find it necessary to acquaint them with some of the most basic aspects of that topic.”

sed the guy from CREATIONTHEORYDOTCOM.

(snicker!) (giggle)

Personally, if Philip Bruce Heywood turned up to teach, well, anything I would find it necessary to acquaint myself with the nearest bar and stay there all day. Much more educational. :-)

At the risk of being repetitive, I again take the liberty of suggesting the solution to this controversy. The solution lies with cool, objective pursuit of facts, without jumping the gun. (As for childrens’ behaviour; this is something that is actually IMPORTANT in education, and should in fact be of major concern over and above Origins Questions.)

Full-on Darwinism and Christianity are by definition mutually exclusive, in a technical sense. This does NOT mean that a personal aquiescence to the technical possibilities of Darwinism necessarily has ANY bearing on one’s personal relationship with the God of the Bible. The technical non-agreement has nothing to do with the age of the earth. The Bible is technically an old-earth book. Age is a red herring. The point over which full-on Neo-Darwinism and conventional Reformed (Scriptural-based) Christianity can never co-exist has to do with the idea that nature can transform one species into a better one, of its own inherent power. That technically equals some form of paganism, if taken to its ultimate conclusion. It also flatly contradicts the definition of biblical “kinds”, of which it is stated that they reproduce “after their kind”. It negates the words of Christ, St Paul and others, where they say or imply the immutability of various “kinds”, such as the impossibility of thorns bearing grapes or figs, or whatever. On technical grounds, it is impossible for full-on Darwinism and a Christianity that takes its founder and its Scriptures seriously, to co-exist under a unified education policy.

Christianity has nothing to fear. Technology invariably solves controversies of Science. So, let’s take a look at recent technological developments. (I have attempted to sum them up on my site.) There is no need for any controversy. There is a need to do something about improving education and improving behavioural environments both for students and teachers.

Hey, Robo, did you see that weird phenomenon I catalogue back near the end of that page on ID Research where we were a while back? There have been weird goings-on, the Force is unsettled, and Darth Rabit appears to have left traces. Concerned I am about this.

PBH: “On technical grounds, it is impossible for full-on Darwinism and a Christianity that takes its founder and its Scriptures seriously, to co-exist under a unified education policy.”

Why should they co-exist under a unified education policy? In case you’ve forgotten, it is illegal to teach any one religion in public schools. As much as you love to equate ‘DarwinISM’ with religion, you are quite wrong.

“Christianity has nothing to fear.”

True. Just certain elements of it need to keep it out of the science class. It’s that simple.

“Darth Rabit appears to have left traces.”

He must be HOPPING MAD! ;)

“Concerned I am about this.”

STILL concerned I am about your spelling and bad Yoda (MTFBWH) impressions.

The Science- Religion question ultimately, automatically, settles itself once the technology is right and once people can see the technology is right. It settles itself in harmony with, but not as a tool of indoctrination of, Christianity. It may well be compatible with other religions. It allows atheism and as far as I would know, can co-exist with many world religions. I repeat, it settles in harmony with Christianity. Full-on Darwinism doesn’t settle in harmony with Christianity. Let us briefly re-visit two technologic breakthroughs that, like Darwinism, were at first controversial. Unlike Darwinism (I mean, full-on Darwinism) they ultimately settled into harmony.

1). Sun-centered solar system. This was particularly controversial because there are biblical texts that appear to forbid it. However, with the advent of Relativity Theory, by which all movement is relative, the Bible texts can be taken absolutely literally if need be. Even before Relativity we had the biblical analogy of Christ being not only the Son, but (in a figure) the Sun; so having Christ as the Center, intuitively made sense and harmonized. An heliocentric solar system “adds up”.

2). Relativity. Around one hundred years ago there was a problem in Physics: Why does the speed of light measure the same no matter how fast the measurer is moving? Einstein, brilliantly, counter-intuitively, applying solid mathematics, answered the problem. Light is the constant; measurements have meaning relative to the constant; the speed of light (with incidental riders) won’t change but the CLOCK that is involved in the measurement can, in a sense, change. The Light of the World is the Universal Constant that never changes (wonder where we’ve heard something like that before?) but time is relative and the day will come when time shall be no more. Where have we heard that before? Relativity harmonizes perfectly with basic biblical concepts.

Full-on Darwinism seems to have one species giving birth to another, gives nature the power to create, has no basis in solid mathematical description of the processes and proceedures it implies, and grates all the way. There is no grand concept I can think of with which it harmonizes. You know any?

On the other hand, species transformation through sophisticated signalling & empowering processes involving perhaps the sun and moon as well as the earth, testable, mathematical .… this harmonizes somewhere. Richard Owen was grasping for something like this, before Darwin. He didn’t have the benefits of the knowledge of DNA and of “quantum”-based information signalling possibilities.

Unlike full-on Darwinism, which seems to imply that “nature did it”, Signalled Evolution doesn’t imply that “God just did it”. It is an hypothesis, like heliocentricity and relativity, harmonizing with major world religion but not a tool of that religion.

“I repeat, it settles in harmony with Christianity.”

Of course. This would include walking on water, rising from the dead, virgin births, fitting two of every animal onto the ark for the great world flood, which um, didn’t actually happen…

“Full-on Darwinism doesn’t settle in harmony with Christianity.”

Aw, diddums.

“Full-on Darwinism seems to have one species giving birth to another, “

Not quite. It takes alot of time…

“gives nature the power to create, “

That’s fine.

“has no basis in solid mathematical description of the processes and proceedures it implies,”

said Dembski…

“and grates all the way.”

It upsets the fundies. Oh, the pain.

“There is no grand concept I can think of with which it harmonizes. You know any?”

Since usually science doesn’t often deal with with ‘grand concepts’, I can only think of one: your worst subject - Biology.

“On the other hand, species transformation through sophisticated signalling & empowering processes involving perhaps the sun and moon as well as the earth, testable, mathematical .… “

Them please, show us exactly what causes these signals of species transformation and how. Please do not direct us to: CREATION THEORY DOTCOM.

Also, how does all this relate to CERT? Other than the fact that poor little PBH doesn’t agree? If you’re gonna preach like this (you’ve still got your divine robotic hyperspace bunnies elsewhere - whatever the hell they were supposed to be about) can’t you just stick to one thread?

PBH says

Even before Relativity we had the biblical analogy of Christ being not only the Son, but (in a figure) the Sun; so having Christ as the Center, intuitively made sense and harmonized.

which clearly demonstrates that, even if God is not an Englishman, at least it’s his main language.

Full-on Darwinism … has no basis in solid mathematical description of the processes and proceedures it implies

PBH: How about population genetics? Does any other proposal even come close to having a solid mathematical foundation?

… species transformation through sophisticated signalling & empowering processes involving perhaps the sun and moon as well as the earth, testable, mathematical .… this harmonizes somewhere.

Exactly how would ‘signalling’ and ‘empowering’ be tested? This sounds like we’re well on the way to some fringe religion involving Ra or Artemis.

Full-on Darwinism and Christianity are by definition mutually exclusive, in a technical sense.

If that’s the case, then why are you trying to mix the two together into a pseudo-religious pseudo-science?

The Bible is technically an old-earth book. Age is a red herring.

First, the Bible is not “technically” anything, since its main subject and focus is spiritual, not technical. And second, calling the age of the Earth a “red herring” clearly proves your own inability to face the fact that your (needlessly) “literal” interpretation of the Bible is flatly disproven by science.

People, do me a favor. Keep this thread clean of off-topic nonsense. This thread is about CERT and about anti-evolution in Colorado generally, and I would like for anyone who has questions or comments about that to contribute without having their voice drowned out.

There are other threads you could pollute with your random musings, or better yet, you can take it to ATBC. Any more off-topic comments will be removed to the BW without apology.

There is also the “computer emergency response team” with the same acronym …

Tell me what that was about, sometime, Lenny - the curiosity is tickled. To stick to the point: Why is there an anti-evolution and indeed even an ancillary anti-geology movement abroad and about? This movement is much larger than a “fringe sect”. The reason is that people are dissatisfied with the standard of the Science. Raise the standard of Science, and the opposition will fade. CERT could lead the way. There was a question above re quantifying processes in evolution mathematically. Population genetics and various statistical tools are all good and usefull. When it comes to one life-form transmuting to another, changes occurred in reproductive & autoimmune systems, in DNA, and all the other paraphenalia of the species. Chemisty and physics were involved. Atoms were moved or changed. There were real, describable events. Those events were natural. They can be described in terms of physical chemistry - once we get the new frontiers of physics & chemistry opened up enough to describe them. We’re getting there - look at PHYSICSWEB’s latest article on teleportation of light and its implications for information transfer. Speciation was a real, natural event. It can ultimately be descibed in the language of science -mathematics. I was referring to mathematically-based physical chemistry. Statistics have their place but they don’t re-organize proton placement in the proteins of DNA, and they don’t show the chemistry involved when information from the environment is “read” by an organism and stored in such a way that DNA re-programming takes into account that information at species transformation. Speciation wasn’t a random, statistical concept. It happened! Start talking modern science in the matter of speciation and the sceptics will retreat. What about it, CERT?

Um, PBH, Lenny hasn’t said anything on this thread. Where do you think you are?

The “skeptics” aren’t skeptics because of the standards of science. If they were, they would exist globally instead of being pretty much restricted to countries with strong fundamentalist movements. I’ve pointed this out to you before, you continue to ignore facts you don’t like.

And real events can also be statistical and random. I’d ask what your point was, but I know you don’t actually have one.

PBH:

“The reason is that people are dissatisfied with the standard of the Science.”

The only ones who are dissatisfied with science are over-zealous religious people because science refuses to give the supernatural the time of day. And rightly so. Said zealots care very little about actual science. Unfortunately in some places, they hold a fair amount of political leverage. Hence the reason that groups like CERT have been put together.

“Raise the standard of Science, and the opposition will fade. CERT could lead the way.”

CERT is not here to raise the standard of science pre se, rather to defend the standards that science already has. If you’re not satisfied with them, perhaps I could recommend basic science 101? Until then, it may be best for the scientists to decide what is good science or not.

“Speciation was a real, natural event. It can ultimately be descibed in the language of science -mathematics. I was referring to mathematically-based physical chemistry.”

Are you trying to say mathematics, physics and chemistry are needed more for the study evolution rather than biology? Interesting that.

Michael Suttkus II said:

“Um, PBH, Lenny hasn’t said anything on this thread.”

He did but it’s not here now. I think it went to the Bathroom Wall.

Robert Pennock had the following to say about “raising the standards of science” in the manner PBH craves:

The moment one … opens the door to supernatural interventions … explanatory chaos breaks loose, since there are no known constraints upon processes that transcend natural laws. A supernatural force could be called upon to “explain” any event in any circumstance; … However, the concept of a transcendent designer or other miraculous force that can explain any event under any set of conditions is no explanation at all.

Pretty clearly, science would not be able to survive such high standards.

Darth Robo Wrote:

Michael Suttkus II said:

“Um, PBH, Lenny hasn’t said anything on this thread.”

He did but it’s not here now. I think it went to the Bathroom Wall.

I stand corrected.

Well, sit corrected.

Lenny and I are currently fighting over the rubber ducky here in the bathroom. I got it this time and I told him he could have the rabbit with the squeaker. What a racket! Everything is slippery in here. There are bubbles, too. Len keeps blowing them in between squeezing the rabbit. He cuddles it sometimes in a most winsome way. My apologies, Guthrie. What you have with the species - WILL YOU STOP THAT - sorry - is an outcome of a sophisticated information technology. If you look into (revolutionary) quantum information processing possibilities - glub glub glub just got hit with a soapy sponge - yaha! cop that, Lenny! - there isn’t much doubt that the technologies now being investigated are of the necessary order of sophistication to point us in the right -gasp, that’s wet - direction. In the species we see information at work and the man in the street will have no trouble accepting that this is so, provided that computer programming is linked to a computer and not to a lot of hullabulloo. See a computer program, think computer. Don’t hog the scented soap! Ah, not you, Guthrie. Now where was I? (Splash.) The man in the street knows that if you have a computer program then it’s mathematically correct to assume it got there via an information technology device of some sort. That’s what the laws of physical chemistry demand. Copernicus and Kepler hypothesized quite successfully - WATCH IT, FLANK - on a heliocentric system, without having a telescope. Galileo built on their work without having the full mathematical details of gravity. Newton reduced it to pure maths but it stood as a sound and believable theory before the fine details were understood. We certainly - GIMME THAT DUCKIE - he’s got my duckie! - yes, ah, we certainly don’t need rubber rabbits - sorry, all the intricate fine details of everything associated with speciation events - before we can get the bones of a theory up and running. I’m going to squeak this rabbit until Len cries for mercy.

Kept you in suspense, eh, Rabo? Now he’s trying to sit on my ducky! Ah, and the latest research is screaming out the message louder than Bath Rabo and this origins nonsense is sillier than Len’s - no, MY, duck.

Good lord, Heywood. Fantasize about bathing with Lenny somewhere else, will you?

The Denver Museum of Science and Nature is hosting “a flock of dodos” with the filmmaker on Saturday night at 7 PM (doors open at 6 PM). This would be an excellent opportunity for CERT as well as PT regulars from the front range to meet The Pro sez check it out! I think (for members-which you all should be!) is $11. I’ll be there promoting my new book “Often wrong but never in doubt”.

I don’t understand what’s going on here. My best (and uneducated) guess is that Guthrie is in the bathroom with Len & myself. He raised a reasonable point about the current lack of knowledge re the physical chemistry involved in microbiological processes. Top of the day to you, everybody! (Gosh, I hope I’m not losing my memory.)

I don’t understand what’s going on here.

Yes, we do see that.

Alas, given your incoherent rants, it’s about the only thing about you we DO see. (shrug)

It’s “Rev Dr Lenny” to you, blitherer.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve Reuland published on October 9, 2006 1:43 PM.

Evo-devo is not the whole of biology was the previous entry in this blog.

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