Why intelligent design shouldn’t bully Texas high school kids


You can go read this at P. Z. Myers’s Pharyngula, but I’m going to pirate most of his post here to reiterate the point for Texas:  Intelligent design doesn’t belong in Texas science classrooms, and intelligent design’s attacks on evolution don’t belong there either, because they are not backed by science.

ID’s propaganda tank, the Discovery Institute, invited a biologist from the University of Vermont, Nicholas Gotelli, to debate one of their spokesmen.  The biologist declined.

Unable to perform in science venues, the Discovery Institute is working to get Texas high school students to take Dr. Gotelli’s place.  That’s why Texas scientists and educators are up in arms against the proposals from the Texas State Board of Education — Texas high school kids cannot do the work of science, and shouldn’t be called on to be the patsy for the Discovery Institute in classrooms, for grades.

Here’s the invitation; be sure to read Dr. Gotelli’s response, further below.

Dear Professor Gotelli,

I saw your op-ed in the Burlington Free Press and appreciated your support of free speech at UVM. In light of that, I wonder if you would be open to finding a way to provide a campus forum for a debate about evolutionary science and intelligent design. The Discovery Institute, where I work, has a local sponsor in Burlington who is enthusiastic to find a way to make this happen. But we need a partner on campus. If not the biology department, then perhaps you can suggest an alternative.

Ben Stein may not be the best person to single-handedly represent the ID side. As you’re aware, he’s known mainly as an entertainer. A more appropriate alternative or addition might be our senior fellows David Berlinski or Stephen Meyer, respectively a mathematician and a philosopher of science. I’ll copy links to their bios below. Wherever one comes down in the Darwin debate, I think we can all agree that it is healthy for students to be exposed to different views–in precisely the spirit of inviting controversial speakers to campus, as you write in your op-ed.

I’m hoping that you would be willing to give a critique of ID at such an event, and participate in the debate in whatever role you feel comfortable with.

A good scientific backdrop to the discussion might be Dr. Meyer’s book that comes out in June from HarperCollins, “Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design.”

On the other hand, Dr. Belinski may be a good choice since he is a critic of both ID and Darwinian theory.

Would it be possible for us to talk more about this by phone sometime soon?

With best wishes,
David Klinghoffer
Discovery Institute

Gotelli wrote back:

Dear Dr. Klinghoffer:

Thank you for this interesting and courteous invitation to set up a debate about evolution and creationism (which includes its more recent relabeling as “intelligent design”) with a speaker from the Discovery Institute. Your invitation is quite surprising, given the sneering coverage of my recent newspaper editorial that you yourself posted on the Discovery Institute’s website:  http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/02/

However, this kind of two-faced dishonesty is what the scientific community has come to expect from the creationists.

Academic debate on controversial topics is fine, but those topics need to have a basis in reality. I would not invite a creationist to a debate on campus for the same reason that I would not invite an alchemist, a flat-earther, an astrologer, a psychic, or a Holocaust revisionist. These ideas have no  scientific support, and that is why they have all been discarded by credible scholars.  Creationism is in the same category.

Instead of spending time on public debates, why aren’t members of your institute publishing their ideas in prominent peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Nature, or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences? If you want to be taken seriously by scientists and scholars, this is where you need to publish.  Academic publishing is an intellectual free market, where ideas that have credible empirical support are carefully and thoroughly explored. Nothing could possibly be more exciting and electrifying to biology than scientific disproof of evolutionary theory or scientific proof of the existence of a god. That would be Nobel Prize winning work, and it would be eagerly published by any of the prominent mainstream journals.

“Conspiracy” is the predictable response by Ben Stein and the frustrated creationists. But conspiracy theories are a joke, because science places a high premium on intellectual honesty and on new empirical studies that overturn previously established principles. Creationism doesn’t live up to these standards, so its proponents are relegated to the sidelines, publishing in books, blogs, websites, and obscure journals that don’t maintain scientific standards.

Finally, isn’t it sort of pathetic that your large, well-funded
institute must scrape around, panhandling for a seminar invitation at a little university in northern New England? Practicing scientists receive frequent invitations to speak in science departments around the world, often on controversial and novel topics. If creationists actually published some legitimate science, they would receive such invitations as well.

So, I hope you understand why I am declining your offer. I will wait patiently to read about the work of creationists in the  pages of Nature and Science. But until it appears there, it isn’t science and doesn’t merit an invitation.

In closing, I do want to thank you sincerely for this invitation and for your posting on the Discovery Institute Website. As an evolutionary biologist, I can’t tell you what a badge of honor this is. My colleagues will be envious.

Sincerely yours,

Nick Gotelli

P.S. I hope you will forgive me if I do not respond to any further e-mails from you or from the Discovery Institute. This has been entertaining, but it interferes with my research and teaching.

Of course, that’s what Judge William Overton told creationists to do way back in 1982, in the Arkansas trial.  Just do the science, and it will be in the textbooks as if by magic.

If creationists won’t listen to a federal judge, why would they listen to Vermont biologist?

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114 Responses to Why intelligent design shouldn’t bully Texas high school kids

  1. [...] I’m moving my response to a poster, lowerleavell, up from the depths of the thread on this old…, “Why intelligent design shouldn’t bully Texas high school kids.” [...]

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  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Joe said:

    You believe in an eternity – why? Because you’re an evolutionist? No. Because you’re a Christian. Strict evolution doesn’t include an eternity – it only includes things that are natural and scientific, right? This is why it is so difficult to talk with theistic evolutionists because at least atheistic evolutionists are intellectually honest and not trying to have their cake and eat it too. They don’t believe in eternity because eternity is not a scientific viewpoint. They understand that to hold strictly to evolution, that God is simply a social “crutch” to discard of because He is not a needed actuality. They claim that we as a society have evolved past the need for a deity. From my position – if abiogenesis is true, and there is no need to answer the question of cause and effect, then the atheists are right – and you as theistic evolutionists are simply not socially evolved enough to discard of your crutch. As time goes on, the pendulum in our society among young people is swinging more that direction.

    How is “eternity” not a scientific viewpoint? How is Christianity’s viewpoint any different from science?

    How does abiogenesis change Christian belief in any way? How do God’s methods of creation change the faith? You favor the magic wand, biology favors natural laws of physics and chemistry and time.

    Which one is the Baptist position, magic poofing, or God in command of nature?

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  3. rayjs says:

    Lowerleavell still doesn’t get it: “You reduce it to folklore and guys like me will go away.

    So seeking proximate causes is reducing things to folklore? Four things have become quite obvious here:

    1) You said you understand the difference between ultimate and proximate cause but you clearly don’t.

    2) You don’t even understand what is meant by proximate cause.

    3) You apply a different standard to biology than you do to the physical sciences.

    4) Your inability to distinguish between science and religion will always keep you confused about the two.

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  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Joe said:

    Every presented “truth” has ramifications. If you tell people long enough and dogmatically enough that they are the result of some massive cosmic accident (Dawkins viewpoint) then eventually they’re going to start getting the picture.

    We can hope. As Dawkins notes, the picture they should get is that we need to be human to one another, to treat each other well, to defend human rights, to cherish life while we live it. So far, I don’t see a lot of that happening, at least, not enough — and, as I’ve noted earlier, I think it’s because religion gets in the way.

    You tell people that humans are simply evolved animals and are surprised when they act accordingly.

    Actually, that’s what preachers say — you won’t find a scientist putting it that crudely, or that inaccurately.

    We tell people that humans are evolved animals — a true statement, as any physician can tell you — and we tell them that we expect them to act as animals do. You seem to think that would be bad. But anyone who studies animal behavior will tell you that the bravery and altruism of the tiny sparrow defending her nest against marauding crows matches the bravery of any human, anywhere, any time. You seem to think that animals have no sense of morality, but that’s not what we see in nature. You seem to think that humans’ animal morality is bad, but as Darwin noted (in chapter 5 of Descent of Man), the foundation of our evolved morality is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s the principal that allowed us to survive as a species, and to thrive. Darwin even went so far as to lay out a scenario for how genes that produced the behaviors could be selected for in natural selection.

    Make no mistake: “Animal behavior” is not immoral behavior. We didn’t thrive as a species by stabbing our friends in the back, at least, not until the invention of religion (the story of Cain and Able is a Bible story, remember — you don’t find siblings going after each other to the point of murder much in nature).

    Joe, you’re preaching against the Golden Rule. Leave it to a creationist who claims not to be advocating creationism to preach against Christian morality and claim it’s evolution’s fault.

    One of my concerns is that creationists — especially people who claim to have a ministry — get this animal morality thing exactly wrong. It only strengthens my feeling that we need to keep such people from innocent children.

    It’s preachers who tell children that they’re animals, and that they can act evilly, Joe, not science. Preachers probably don’t even intend to do that, but they get the science dead wrong, they tell the kids that’s what science says . . . what’s a kid to think? Would a preacher lie to them?

    I agree we shouldn’t teach immorality to children. Joe, will you join me in keeping Baptist ministers from doing that? You guys should stop telling children that evolution is untrue, that animals are immoral, and that our baser, animal instincts trend toward sin.

    Incidentally, that’s not what the Bible says, either. It was Man who sinned, not animals. In your zeal to get evolution, you’ve departed a long ways from what the scriptures say. I’d say it’s time to rethink what you’re doing.

    You tell people that they are the evolution of nature and are surprised when they act according to their natural impulses and emotions.

    I wish they’d do it more often, rather than substituting the morality of organized religion.

    Geese mate for life and look out for each other. Bonobos keep peace with an almost literal “make love, not war” ethic — it protects the children very well. Prairie dogs look out for one another, posting guards to keep everybody safe — they double the guards when their children are out foraging, to double the protection. Musk oxen, tiny things, really, defend their young with the entire herd, sacrificing an adult if necessary to protect the offspring. Gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, elephants, lions, whales and others protect and venerate their aged, the sages who can guide the herd/troupe/pride/pod/clan through difficult times.

    What in the devil is wrong with that morality? Why wouldn’t we want our children to “act as animals?”

    You know, if one studies the history of evolution in science, one is struck by the remarkable sterling character of most of the scientists involved. With very few exceptions — Haeckel’s dishonesty and rampant nationalism, Watson’s general unpleasantness — these scientists are paragons of moral behavior. Darwin was a giant of morality, an outstanding, faithful and loving husband, a caring and doting father. Wallace was a pillar, too — except for his dabblings in seances later, a function of his Christian beliefs. Dobzhansky, Wilson, the Grants, Simpson, Gould, Eldredge, Coyne, Myers, Majerus, Kettlewell, Mayr — these are people you would be happy to know, whose morality is generally beyond reproach.

    Contrast that with the greats of religion — Calvin burned his friend Servetus at the stake. Luther was a rabid anti-semite. Various popes robbed, murdered and fornicated. Rasputin led the Russian court to debauchery and villiany. The occasional Billy Graham is an exception among preachers, it too often appears. We lost count of the famous preachers who were caught with their pants down and their hands on the wallets of their friends.

    If evolution produced evil, wouldn’t we see that in its greatest exponents? Instead, we see the opposite — evolutionists living lives of saints, churchmen living lives of evil.

    There’s a parable about the fruit of a poisoned tree. Do you know it?

    You say that evolution is not immoral and in and of itself it may not be – but what is presented to people can contribute to dramatic ramifications, which is what I’m saying.


    Evolution is immoral only when presented, inaccurately and basely, by preachers.

    It’s not science, it’s not the study of evolution, and it’s not studying science in school that is the problem here.

    You’re making a great case for licensing preachers, insisting on standards, and checking their work. I think I can see where the problem is, from your presentation.

    How would you propose to fix it, without taking the pro-ignorance route?

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  5. lowerleavell says:

    I will say Nick, that your views of Biblical allegory must have spilled over to the blogosphere because many of the things which you said had nothing to do or was exactly opposite of what I’ve said before. So, you are either discussing this with all Creationism instead of just me, or you must think I meant what I said as allegory, because you sure didn’t respond to the actual words that I said.

    How many times must I state my position and still be told that my position is something other than what words I used? If I wanted to say to you all that I wanted Biblical Creationism taught in public school science classrooms I would have said so! What I have said at least three times now is that I believe that children should be taught that there indeed must be a cause to the universe (and no one here has disagreed with the fact that there’s a cause) – there is much debate over what that cause may be and to study that cause’s characteristics goes beyond the scope of science and thus will not be taught in a science classroom. How is that Creation Science????

    Nick said, “It is not science’s concern to teach morality. The theory of evolution is not immoral and it is not moral. It is simply a scientific theory.”

    Every presented “truth” has ramifications. If you tell people long enough and dogmatically enough that they are the result of some massive cosmic accident (Dawkins viewpoint) then eventually they’re going to start getting the picture. You tell people that humans are simply evolved animals and are surprised when they act accordingly. You tell people that they are the evolution of nature and are surprised when they act according to their natural impulses and emotions. You say that evolution is not immoral and in and of itself it may not be – but what is presented to people can contribute to dramatic ramifications, which is what I’m saying. For example, if the US financial secretary were to get up one day and tell the US public that the government had no planned course for our helping our economy, everything should be left to natural selection, and that the fittest should survive this recession, would anyone be surprised if there were ramifications to that statement and we would all be poorer than a church mouse the next day? Maybe the viewpoint he held wouldn’t be immoral – morality has nothing to do with it, but viewpoints always carry ramifications – that is my point with evolution – it carries ramifications. I’m not really sure how we got on this side of the subject, because this is a very subjective discussion and you may disagree – which is fine. What I was trying to suggest though was not that people who don’t believe in God or who are “Christian” and believe in evolution are immoral – this will be the 3rd time that I said morality had nothing to do with the scenario. What I said is that if one takes evolution to its ultimate ramification, there is nothing left but to eat drink and be merry because if you are a result of nature, you return to nature after you die – no eternity in evolution (eternity is religious in nature) – just death of trillions and trillions of animals.

    You believe in an eternity – why? Because you’re an evolutionist? No. Because you’re a Christian. Strict evolution doesn’t include an eternity – it only includes things that are natural and scientific, right? This is why it is so difficult to talk with theistic evolutionists because at least atheistic evolutionists are intellectually honest and not trying to have their cake and eat it too. They don’t believe in eternity because eternity is not a scientific viewpoint. They understand that to hold strictly to evolution, that God is simply a social “crutch” to discard of because He is not a needed actuality. They claim that we as a society have evolved past the need for a deity. From my position – if abiogenesis is true, and there is no need to answer the question of cause and effect, then the atheists are right – and you as theistic evolutionists are simply not socially evolved enough to discard of your crutch. As time goes on, the pendulum in our society among young people is swinging more that direction.

    Nick said, “But please pray tell what morality do you want taught? Christian? Atheist? Jewish? Buddhist? Hindu? Muslim? Wiccan? Native American? Australian aborigine? Aztec? Mayan?”

    Teachers every day teach their children morality and social skills. Don’t talk when the teacher is talking – it’s rude. Raise your hand. Don’t do drugs – it’s bad for you. Do your homework. Be a friend to someone else. Cheating is wrong. Be honest. Help your community. Killing someone is wrong…do you get the picture? Morality is taught every day in the classroom. The values we hold to in our society are the social values of a Judeo-Christian society. Don’t believe me? Then maybe you should wonder why they don’t cut people’s hand off for stealing in our culture – oh that would be Muslim rule. Native American? Maybe we should go back to eating out the hearts of our opponents on the school football field. Aztec/Mayan? Human sacrifices ok help with the weather forecast? Buddhism? We’ll abolish detention and police and just wait for “Karma” to catch up with students who are caught doing drugs or bring guns to school.

    Nick said, “Want a little proof? You’re the one, Lower, ignoring what Jesus said and meant when He said “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto the Lord what is the Lord’s.” *Points to the public schools* Caesar’s.”

    What was that all about? Jesus is talking about taxes. Are you accusing me of tax evasion? I pay my taxes. I help pay for public schools that teach things that I don’t agree with, but I do it anyway because I am obeying Jesus. Having a problem with religion (molecules to man, not being a proven science after all) taught in school is just as much my right as it is yours and is my right and duty as an American citizen to voice my viewpoint.

    Nick said, “You are not the judge of who is Christian and who is not. You are not God, Lower, quit deluding yourself into thinking that you can sit on God’s throne and say “Oh that Christian is true but that one is fake.”

    I never said I was God. I am not anyone’s judge and am not attempting to be. I know you all hate when someone quotes the Bible (the horrors of actually quoting the Bible to Christians – what a thought!) so I thought I would simply give the principles instead of the verses. I was wrong and should have simply quoted the verses. Sola Scriptura, Sola Fida, and Sola Gracia are found in numerous passages, Nick. I will not condemn you, but Jesus said in John 12:44-50 that His words would be people’s judge and my job is to simply quote God’s words and let them either justify you or condemn you. Would you like me to do so in regards to what Jesus said a follower of Jesus would be?

    Nick said, “And again, Lower, natural selection is not a religious belief. It is a scientific concept. Are you going to claim that those who accept gravity worship it? Oh wait. I bet you want to claim that the United States started worshipping the atomic bomb when we developed it.”

    Anything can be an object of worship, Nick. I’ve had to deal with people who worship sex, worship alcohol, and worship themselves. Not that they set up a shrine – that is not the only way to worship – though I’ve been to a few houses that have shrines of sports teams – in a few definitions of worship, worship is defined as, “Adoring reverence or regard: excessive worship of business success (as an example [my statement]). The object of adoring reverence or regard.” One definition I found was “ardent devotion; adoration.” Usually those terms apply to a deity – but it can apply to whatever you give your ardent devotion and adoration to. So, that is what I meant when I stated that Ed worships (maybe I should have used the word “practically”) natural selection – almost religiously.

    Nick said, “So either the Genesis account is allegory..or it flat out lies. Which is it? But if you want to play that game…you have no proof that it’s meant to be literal.”

    This really isn’t a thread about the Genesis account, but to simply answer what you said, I would again contend that it is not a flat out lie, but that molecule to man evolution is. I’m saying that you’re reading your bias into the evidence every bit as much as a YEC does. Yes, I will readily admit that the Genesis account of creation was miraculous – if God did it, it was a miracle! The Genesis account doesn’t tell us “How” God did it any more than it John tells us “how” Jesus multiplied the bread and the fish. It merely records what happened and how many days it took. Accepting the Genesis account as a Christian is an act of faith, but that does not mean there are no evidences that there is a supernatural beginning to the universe. Quite the contrary.

    To answer your request to demonstrate that Genesis is literal there are several aspects – one, the language that is used isn’t the same as used when allegory is used – it is normal narrative – the same as when discussing Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, etc. – were they also allegorical? That’s huge! Two, Genesis 1:1 even records the summation of everything – “In the beginning (time), God created (energy), the heavens (space) and the earth (matter).” It accurately records everything that is (time, space, energy, and matter) and leaves no genre out – the Bible accurately records that the earth is a sphere – that it hangs on nothing (like other religions that believe it to be on the back of a giant turtle or the backs of elephants, etc) – the Bible gets it right. The third reason is that every reference to the creation in all other parts of Scripture, including Jesus, indicate that they took it as a literal account with no shade of allegory. The fourth and final reason is that usually when a passage is allegory, like in Revelation, it will tell you or indicates beyond a doubt that it was not meant to be taken literally. Genesis 1 bears no markings or indications that it was to be taken as anything but literal. Also, there are between 30-40 different references to the creation account in the Bible or God being the creator. None of them hint that it was anything but what Genesis said. Lastly, if it IS allegorical, what is the allegory and by whose authority do we determine what it means? Yours? Mine?

    Those who hold to Genesis 1 being allegory do so as a result of their theological beliefs and an attempt to reconcile being a Christian and being an evolutionist, not because the Bible demands that it be taken allegorically.

    Nick said, “And oh please you have no idea how Jesus viewed the Genesis account.”

    I just have His words: Mark 10:6, “But from the beginning of the creation, GOD made (you’d think the Son of God would know if it was natural selection and evolution, right and wouldn’t propagate lies – either that or Jesus isn’t trustworthy) them male and female.”

    He also said in Mark 13:19 about the end of the world (Jesus did a lot of prophesying too), “For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be.” (Again He gives God the credit for creation and never even hints even with an open opportunity that Genesis is allegorical)

    He even referenced the flood account as literal as well without ever hinting that it was anything than what Genesis claimed. As the Son of God, He could have been decent people of the 1st century know that they were products of nature, not a result of the direct creation of a loving God.

    Nick said, “You hold the Bible to be literal and inerrant. The only thing totally inerrant, Lower, is God. Since the Bible is not God and was not written by God you’re engaging in idolatry.”

    I want you to know that this whole discussion is a reply to your questions, Nick, not me trying to propagate my religious views.

    Do you really not know your own Bible Nick? 2 Peter 1:21, “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” That is only one example of about 10 plus verses I can give you that tell us that God claims to have divinely inspired the Bible (“all Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” – 2 Timothy 3:16). Did man record it? Yes. But at least the Bible claims that God is the author. Can God create something that is with error? Even the original creation was called “good” until we sinned. The Bible also claims to be truth. Do you take that title away from it as well?

    Nick said, “Because at it’s base..Creationism says that God created life on this planet, created this planet, created all the universe…but that He lied about it.”

    No, I’m saying that evolutionists are lying about it by making huge leaps in logic from the evidence. They start with a false premise and go through great pains to make sure the evidence backs up their premise (molecules to man).

    Nick said, “What I have said is that evolution is one of the tools that God used. And like a fanatic you can’t accept that. Because in your book a Christian is only a Christian if they think and believe exactly as you do.”

    No, I have many friends who believe in the day-age theory or even the gap theory of creation. I’ve never said that you have to be a YEC to be a Christian. But to make the claim that abiogenesis is the creator of life is to deny the very premise that God is our Creator. You say it was a tool – that’s fine if there was a tool involved because the Bible even affirms that God used dirt and breathed life into it – but does a tool yield itself? Then if abiogenesis is proven true then the tool did the creating, not the tool-maker. But there is no sufficient natural explanation for the beginning of life. You hold that God is the creator and deny He created everything in the universe, including life. You’re giving credit to the tool rather than the wielder. What then did He create? If all can be explained naturally, then is not God natural? Would God then not BE the tool? Again, wouldn’t then pantheism and “mother nature” worship be the order of the day?

    Nick said, “And to someone who doesn’t believe in God, Lower, then God is indeed just a legend if even that.”

    That does nothing to help the discussion. God either exists objectively or He doesn’t exist at all. My belief in Him does nothing to determine His existence any more than if I believe in Atlantis would makes it exist – it exists or does not independently of our beliefs – not because of our beliefs – the same is true of God.

    Nick said, “Unless you can scientifically prove that the “Intelligent Designer” exists right this second, Lower, shut up and sit down because you have no business making the claim otherwise. Lower, shut up and sit down because you have no business making the claim otherwise. PUT UP OR SHUT UP. Show the scienctific evidence. Prove it. Otherwise all you have is belief…opinion. After all…storms are formed naturally. Tornados are formed naturally. And you have no proof that life can’t have formed naturally.”

    Wow – this from the guys asking for more time to prove abiogenesis. :- ) how gracious to say prove it now!!!! :- ) I did demonstrate why the ID exists. You will not answer it. You will not even acknowledge what I’ve written about it. The cause cannot be natural because 100% of the time in nature, life comes from life. Since that is a universal constant, the cause must be alive. It also cannot be natural because a cause of nature must be outside of nature. Whatever the ultimate cause is, it must have intelligence because it must have the ability to know how to create. Please, if you want to continue this discussion, answer what I’m saying here, not just some random accusations about being a terrorist or being a liar or something – give me a substantive answer, please.

    Nick said, “Oh and by the way..it wasn’t Ed who called you a terrorist. It was me. Though to be more specific I wasn’t calling you a terrorist. I was, however, calling you a religious fanatic. You are to Christianity what the Taliban is to Islam.”

    Ok, this needs addressed. The Taliban are trying to blow up schools, ok? What “radical” YEC group is out there screaming “Jehovah Akbar” before blowing up public schools of evolutionist infidels? I’m not amused by this enflaming rhetoric of calling a patriotic American a terrorist – no matter what my views on the origin of life. I respectfully ask for a retraction of your claim because it is unbecoming.

    Rayjs said, “I said, in agreement with Newton, that, in science, all explanations should be limited to the natural world. Biology should be included in this, too. In fact it already is, but you are upset at the idea of life being explained naturally. Worse, you have expanded the discussion to other things in your obsession to change this into a religious discussion.”

    I do ask that you forgive me of the “religious” posts, including this one. Nick keeps asking me religious questions about the Bible and Christianity so I keep answering them. Should I ignore him? I do agree with Newton that biology is natural – no problems there. But, just like Newton thought that matter, space, time, and energy need a supernatural cause, I would think he would agree that biology would be included in those genres.

    I have no problem getting completely and entirely back to a scientific discussion. In fact, I have every intention of leaving the discussion as soon as possible. I simply don’t have time for these posts and I’m neglecting other duties. I’ve been discussing stuff about evolution for two years now with Ed with everything from the flood, to creation, to molecules to man, to DNA, etc. But none of that matters if there is no ID. I truly was boiling the whole discussion down to its most base terms in dealing with cause and effect and biogenesis. If there is a natural explanation, there is no needed actuality in an ID. You reduce it to folklore and guys like me will go away. Yet, you have not done so because abiogenesis cannot be demonstrated to jumpstart the DNA, living world, effects without causes don’t happen, and so the ID/evolution debate will rage on and you will always have nothing but “give us more time, we’re making progress.”

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  6. rayjs says:

    Lowerleavell wrote: “I’m not sure which one to respond to – the one who says that cause and effect is a religious belief…

    Sigh. You’ve entirely missed what I’ve said yet again. What you should have taken from my post is that you have no business drawing conclusions based on little knowledge. I certainly didn’t say that cause and effect is a religious belief. Are you deliberately twisting my words or do you genuinely not understand them? I said that it’s not rational to invoke a specific cause when the effect is not fully understood. That’s what you’re doing. You’re presuming that we know everything we need to know and pretending that invoking a specific cause is justified. But it’s not justified since the universe is so very counterintuitive and we have experienced only a small fraction of it. Yes, there’s a cause, but to invoke a God as that cause is to be religious, not scientific.

    If God is not the creator of life, the planets, the stars, etc. then there is no reason to give Him praise for those things.

    In the words of the illustrious Dick Cheney, so? Your religion is your business, not mine. We’re trying (others, not you) to discuss science but you keep polluting the dicussion with religion. Kindly stop and let us discuss science. No lectures, no homilies, no sermons, no invokations and no pouring your heart out in overly long religious posts. Just testable science, okay?

    … may I suggest that you are moving the goalposts?

    No, you may not. Not only does what follows the above quote not justify a charge of me moving the goalposts in any way, but you obviously still fail to understand what I said about Newton and the need for keeping ultimate cause (religion) and proximate cause (science) separate. I said, in agreement with Newton, that, in science, all explanations should be limited to the natural world. Biology should be included in this, too. In fact it already is, but you are upset at the idea of life being explained naturally. Worse, you have expanded the discussion to other things in your obsession to change this into a religious discussion.

    …you cannot get an effect without a cause…

    This is getting quite tiresome. Kindly stop repeating this as you have been told numerous times that no one here subscribes to any such idea. At least have the decency to respect us enough to make the effort to understand what we’re saying.

    Now, if you have nothing to say on the subject of evolution and creationism/ID then admit it and we’ll be done. But don’t continue to harangue us with your irrelevant diatribe about God.

    Like

  7. Nick Kelsier says:

    Lower, what do you think you’re saying when you say people who don’t have God have a “eat drink and be merry” attitude? Gee..that is rather a slur against their morality don’t you think. And again, Lower, quit being asinine enough to think that evolution is somehow anti-Christian. You, Creationist, don’t speak for Christianity. You don’t even speak for a majority of Christianity. Most of Christianity has no problem with the theory of evolution. And it isn’t because they’re any less of a Christian then you.

    And no..neither Ed nor me were saying that Christians are responsible for the decline of this country’s education level. We, however, were saying that Creationists are responsible partly. Why? Because you keep on trying to pretend that religious belief should be taught in science classrooms. You keep on making school districts waste time and resources on this fight. You keep on harassing actual science teachers. You keep on ignoring the fact that what you want is a wholesale violation of the US Constitution. The “You” there is meant generally.

    And again..it is your belief that God set all in motion. it is your belief that God created life. It is your belief that God created the Universe. It is your religious belief. If you weren’t a Christian, Lower, then you wouldn’t believe that God had anything to do with it at all. Therefor…IT IS NOT SCIENCE. And teaching it in science class would be teaching a religious belief in science class and would be a violation of every non-Christians rights in this country. Quit pretending otherwise.

    And all those “tree worshippers, star worshippers, sun worshippers, moon worshippers” all have the same rights as you do, Lower. Which means you have no right to use the public schools to shove your religious beliefs down their throats. And to

    It is not science’s concern to teach morality. The theory of evolution is not immoral and it is not moral. It is simply a scientific theory. Quit attaching jobs to it just so you can whine that it doesn’t do the job. And the teaching of the theory of evolution is not somehow “not teaching morality.” But please pray tell what morality do you want taught? Christian? Atheist? Jewish? Buddhist? Hindu? Muslim? Wiccan? Native American? Australian aborigine? Aztec? Mayan?

    And as for “Biblical Christians” oh please don’t play that game either. Because you fall just as prey to that one as the “post modern Christians” you are attempting to slur. Want a little proof? You’re the one, Lower, ignoring what Jesus said and meant when He said “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto the Lord what is the Lord’s.” *Points to the public schools* Caesar’s. You are not the judge of who is Christian and who is not. You are not God, Lower, quit deluding yourself into thinking that you can sit on God’s throne and say “Oh that Christian is true but that one is fake.” Curious that you keep on moving the goalposts like that just so you can pretend that all Christians are Creationists like you.

    And again, Lower, natural selection is not a religious belief. It is a scientific concept. Are you going to claim that those who accept gravity worship it? Oh wait. I bet you want to claim that the United States started worshipping the atomic bomb when we developed it.

    And yes you’re right. Orthodox Jews do take Genesis literally. Just like evangelical Christians. But Reform Judaism, to my knowledge, doesn’t. Just like mainstream Christianity. And as for proof it’s allegory…gee…what it says happened either didn’t happen..or didn’t happen in the way it describes. Case in point..a literal reading of Genesis says that the sun is younger then the earth. And yet the sun is far far older. It also limits the age of the earth to a point that is 10,000 years at best. And yet..the earth is far older then what the Bible claims. So either the Genesis account is allegory..or it flat out lies. Which is it? But if you want to play that game…you have no proof that it’s meant to be literal. And oh please you have no idea how Jesus viewed the Genesis account. And since the Bible was written by humans, I’m not up against either God or Jesus in this argument. I am up against you. Unless you’re claiming that you’re on the level of God or Jesus? Sorry, just because someone may take a story in a religious text to be literal doesn’t mean that it actually is literal. And if you want to argue different I’m going to have a field day shoving Osama bin Laden’s beliefs back at you and waiting for you to cry foul.

    Oh and by the way..to explain what I meant when I said you were elevating the Bible to godhood it’s simple. You hold the Bible to be literal and inerrant. The only thing totally inerrant, Lower, is God. Since the Bible is not God and was not written by God you’re engaging in idolatry. Parts of the Bible are meant to be literal…parts are meant to be allegory. Genesis is one of the latter because what it says literally is in direct contradiction to the reality of the world and how it came to be.

    Oh and please don’t go accusing me of undermining the foundations of my faith. I believe that God created this world and all life on it. I just don’t believe He did it in the way you direct. Or to put this more bluntly. You think God is a puppet dancing on strings that He only could have acted in a way that your religious beliefs…your creationism..your interpretation of the Bible says. I believe that God created this world and all life on it in the manner that all life on this world and the world indicate. And that is not through your precious Creationism. To me, Lower, your creationism is an heretical mutated bastard child of the Creation account in the Bible. Because at it’s base..Creationism says that God created life on this planet, created this planet, created all the universe…but that He lied about it. The only way I could undermine my faith, Lower, is if I said that I believe that God didn’t create all life on this planet….and oops I’ve never said that. What I have said is that evolution is one of the tools that God used. And like a fanatic you can’t accept that. Because in your book a Christian is only a Christian if they think and believe exactly as you do.

    Oh and by the way..Ed never said that natural selection caused everything. You question my reading comprehension when you make statements like that?

    And as for “ultimate causes” me and Rj agree despite your contention otherwise. THe only thing I said was that saying it was a “Creator” is beyond the realm of science and therefor can not be taught in science classrooms. We were on the same page. And the problem with your argument is that you want the “Ultimate Cause” to be taught that it is God. That is religious instruction, Lower. It isn’t science.

    And please don’t cry “censorship.” One teaches science in science classrooms. Since ID/Creationism is not science it doesn’t belong.

    And no..science isn’t a religious belief either so it has no worshippers. Once again you try to define things in such a way so that it’s to your benefit.

    And to someone who doesn’t believe in God, Lower, then God is indeed just a legend if even that.

    And again…there is no requirement that the “cause” be an “Intelligent Designer.” Once again you are trying to shove your religious belief where it doesn’t belong. Unless you can scientifically prove that the “Intelligent Designer” exists right this second, Lower, shut up and sit down because you have no business making the claim otherwise. PUT UP OR SHUT UP. Show the scienctific evidence. Prove it. Otherwise all you have is belief…opinion. After all…storms are formed naturally. Tornados are formed naturally. And you have no proof that life can’t have formed naturally. Science deals with the natural world. It does not deal with the supernatural. And that is what any “Intelligent Designer” is. You want science to say there is a god.

    You say “Christians who teach responsibility, purpose, excellence, respect and a future – not evolutionists.” Again you engage in this nitwittted contention that 1: evolution is a religious belief and that 2: All Christians reject evolution. You once again make this stupid contention that to accept evolution means you have no morality. You also continue to bear false witness through this repeated contention of yours that this is evolution versus Christian debate. This isn’t. Nor is this a theory of evolution versus God debate. This is a science versus non-science debate. You want religious belief taught in science class. We don’t. You want the US Constitution violated. We don’t. You want the public schools turned into Christian religious schools. We don’t.

    You’re the one continously having to lie through your teeth to back your contentions. You’re the one having to pretend that science is what it isn’t and that the theory of evolution is what it isn’t. And you’re the one having to pretend that religious belief is something other than religious belief. And you’re the one whining like a child when you’re called a false Christian and yet it was you who first made that accusation. And all because you can’t get it through your head that you in no way shape or form speak for the entirety of Christianity. You speak for evangelical Protestantism. Which is a bare minority of Christianity.

    Oh and by the way..it wasn’t Ed who called you a terrorist. It was me. Though to be more specific I wasn’t calling you a terrorist. I was, however, calling you a religious fanatic. You are to Christianity what the Taliban is to Islam.

    So I give you a choice. If you want science to say there was a “Designer” then that also means that Science gets to say there wasn’t one. Meaning you will have science actively saying there isn’t a God.

    Or you can bother to use the brain God gave you, Lower, and realize that perhaps science remaining neutral on the subject is the best course. That way everyone’s rights to their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, is respected.

    I accept evolution..I am by your definition an “evolutionist.” And yet I am quite capable of teaching responsibility, purpose, excellence, respect and a future. Oh and I am also a Christian. Kind of shoots down your contention that “evolutionists” can’t do that. Every time you claim that “evolutionists” have no morality or nonsense along that line, Lower, you are once again bearing false witness and that when it comes to morality it is you that is lacking.

    This is not a evolution versus God/Christianity debate. This is a knowledge versus ignorance debate. And you, Lower, are on the wrong side.

    If you were otherwise you wouldn’t have to lie through your teeth.

    Like

  8. lowerleavell says:

    Nick, are you even reading my posts? Please give a citation where I said that someone is immoral if they’re not Christian.

    I said, “Morality is not the issue – purpose in life is. The two are not the same.”

    I also said, “Not saying that “eat, drink, and be merry” means immorality at all.”

    Morality and immorality have nothing to do with our purpose for living. I went out of my way to make that clear.

    Like

  9. Nick Kelsier says:

    Lower, when you imply that someone is immoral if they’re not Christian then it is you that is engaging in name calling.

    Like

  10. lowerleavell says:

    Yeah – thanks Ed. Sorry for the confusion.

    Like

  11. lowerleavell says:

    Ed, if possible, would you be willing to delete all my posts past the ones with my picture on it? That was really weird – sorry for the duplicate posts guys!

    Like

  12. lowerleavell says:

    I also agree with you that if a natural explanation is found to a problem, that’s fine. What is not fine is when science demonstrates (through cause and effect and biogenesis) that a natural explanation would be contrary to science (you cannot get an effect without a cause – nothing simply ‘pops’ into existence randomly – thank heavens), and thus a supernatural explanation is scientifically necessary, that somehow we’re attributing the natural to God – i.e. God of the gaps and being unscientific. It is not selective thinking, though I understand why you would think so.

    By the way, even if the start of life on earth had a proximate cause, it still had a cause. It was Dawkins who said, “the original self-duplicating entities must have been simple enough to arise by the spontaneous accidents of chemistry.” (“climbing mount improbable”) So the proximate cause is an accident of chemistry? This is not a cause, but a great cosmic “oops.”

    Ed, I simply don’t have any more time to reply to what you wrote on RNA. Let me simply say this: According to UC Davis, life answering the question of what is alive comes down to a series of conditions: 1) Movement, 2) Reproduction and heredity, 3) Growth and development, 4) Organization, 5) Metabolism, and 6) homeostasis.

    Are you saying that RNA meets every single requirement of life and “spontaneously” does all these things? If so, you’re going farther than Darwin did. Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought I remember reading that he had said that one or a few creations were called into life by the Creator. Even Dawkins understands the “catch 22” of RNA when he said,

    “An origin of life, anywhere, consists of the chance arising of a self-replicating entity. Nowadays, the replicator that matters on Earth is the DNA molecule, but the original replicator probably was not DNA. We don’t know what it was. Unlike DNA, the original replicating molecules cannot have relied upon complicated machinery to duplicate them. Although, in some sense, they must have been equivalent to “Duplicate me” instructions, the “language” in which the instructions were written was not a highly formalized language such that only a complicated machine could obey them. The original replicator cannot have needed elaborate decoding, as DNA instructions… do today. Self-duplication was an inherent property of the entity’s structure just as, say, hardness is an inherent property of a diamond… the original replicators, unlike their later successors the DNA molecules, did not have complicated decoding and instruction-obeying machinery, because complicated machinery is the kind of thing that arises in the world only after many generations of evolution. And evolution does not get started until there are replicators. In the teeth of the so-called “Catch-22 of the origin of life”… the original self-duplicating entities must have been simple enough to arise by the spontaneous accidents of chemistry (Climbing mount improbable, 1996, p. 285).

    Over at Panda’s Thumb, Matt Brauer said, “Life (the objection goes) would have had to develop two distinct but wholly dependent systems simultaneously. It is safe to say that this scenario is so unlikely that it is effectively impossible…”
    He also went on to say, “The RNA World has problems of it own, of course, and various alternatives have been proposed to deal wih these.” (check google for source – it keeps sending my post to the filter.)

    He states that progress has been made and that we all should be encouraged, but once again, there are many more problems to your theory than you let on, Ed – which is usually the case with you. You present it as almost a done deal but fail to demonstrate that not even your own “heroes” in science like Dawkins, and the guy over at Panda’s Thumb are in agreement over what’s going on. Panda almost sounds like Behe in stating that it would have had to develop “two distinct but wholly dependent systems simultaneously.” Is it almost…irreducibly complex?

    Perhaps I should give science more time to figure this subject out. I’m sorry. I’m a YEC and want everything to happen quickly. That’s a joke. You can laugh now. :- )

    Like

  13. lowerleavell says:

    Ray, I also agree with you that if a natural explanation is found to a problem, that’s fine. What is not fine is when science demonstrates (through cause and effect and biogenesis) that a natural explanation would be contrary to science (you cannot get an effect without a cause – nothing simply ‘pops’ into existence randomly – thank heavens), and thus a supernatural explanation is scientifically necessary, that somehow we’re attributing the natural to God – i.e. God of the gaps and being unscientific. It is not selective thinking, though I understand why you would think so.

    By the way, even if the start of life on earth had a proximate cause, it still had a cause. It was Dawkins who said, “the original self-duplicating entities must have been simple enough to arise by the spontaneous accidents of chemistry.” (trueorigin.org/abio.asp) So the proximate cause is an accident of chemistry? This is not a cause, but a great cosmic “oops.”

    Ed, I simply don’t have any more time to reply to what you wrote on RNA. Let me simply say this: According to UC Davis, life answering the question of what is alive comes down to a series of conditions: 1) Movement, 2) Reproduction and heredity, 3) Growth and development, 4) Organization, 5) Metabolism, and 6) homeostasis.

    Are you saying that RNA meets every single requirement of life and “spontaneously” does all these things? If so, you’re going farther than Darwin did. Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought I remember reading that he had said that one or a few creations were called into life by the Creator. Even Dawkins understands the “catch 22” of RNA when he said,

    “An origin of life, anywhere, consists of the chance arising of a self-replicating entity. Nowadays, the replicator that matters on Earth is the DNA molecule, but the original replicator probably was not DNA. We don’t know what it was. Unlike DNA, the original replicating molecules cannot have relied upon complicated machinery to duplicate them. Although, in some sense, they must have been equivalent to “Duplicate me” instructions, the “language” in which the instructions were written was not a highly formalized language such that only a complicated machine could obey them. The original replicator cannot have needed elaborate decoding, as DNA instructions… do today. Self-duplication was an inherent property of the entity’s structure just as, say, hardness is an inherent property of a diamond… the original replicators, unlike their later successors the DNA molecules, did not have complicated decoding and instruction-obeying machinery, because complicated machinery is the kind of thing that arises in the world only after many generations of evolution. And evolution does not get started until there are replicators. In the teeth of the so-called “Catch-22 of the origin of life”… the original self-duplicating entities must have been simple enough to arise by the spontaneous accidents of chemistry (Climbing mount improbable, 1996, p. 285).

    Over at Panda’s Thumb, Matt Brauer said, “Life (the objection goes) would have had to develop two distinct but wholly dependent systems simultaneously. It is safe to say that this scenario is so unlikely that it is effectively impossible…”
    He also went on to say, “The RNA World has problems of it own, of course, and various alternatives have been proposed to deal wih these.”
    – pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/12/abiogenesis-how.html

    He states that progress has been made and that we all should be encouraged, but once again, there are many more problems to your theory than you let on, Ed – which is usually the case with you. You present it as almost a done deal but fail to demonstrate that not even your own “heroes” in science like Dawkins, and the guy over at Panda’s Thumb are in agreement over what’s going on. Panda almost sounds like Behe in stating that it would have had to develop “two distinct but wholly dependent systems simultaneously.” Is it almost…irreducibly complex?

    Perhaps I should give science more time to figure this subject out. I’m sorry. I’m a YEC and want everything to happen quickly. That’s a joke. You can laugh now. :- )

    Like

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