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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 10:29 pm 
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In case anyone wonders or cares why I'm so contemptuous of the 'philosophical' and 'semantic' line of attack on 'evolutionism', 'Darwinists', or Dawkins:

http://jgrr.blogspot.com/

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Beware the simple machines!
Billy Dembski reveals [url=http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/72]
The Vise Strategy[/url]:

Quote:
When interrogating Darwinists with the goal of opening up discussion in the high school biology curriculum about evolution (i.e., strengths, weaknesses, and alternatives), I therefore propose subjecting them to a sustained line of questioning about what they mean by each of these five terms: science, nature, creation, design, and evolution.


This complements the famous Wedge Strategy, and adds the screw to the list of simple machines ID has learned to use.

What's funny is that they've been trying to screw the schools for years, but I guess putting the thumbscrews to "Darwinists" is a simpler application.

He also offers a convenient guide to these "Darwinists." I put that in quotes because there is no historical context in which it's usage matches with Darwin's own writings, nor is the philosophy people attribute to Darwinism something that anyone necessarily agrees with. It's a boogeyman, a hidden ideology to scare schoolchildren with.

Check under the bed, you may have (dum dum dummm) Richard Dawkins Darwinists in your kitchen! They virulently attack religion of any stripe. Even if your religion is safe, beware the Eugenie Scott Darwinist, who is not traditionally religious, but (horrors!) is respectful of people's religious beliefs. Most insidious are the confused Kenneth Miller Darwinists. These strange beasts manage to reject ID as bad science and bad theology, yet still believe in orthodox Judeo-Christian religions!

Only through carefully asking them to define simple words can you possibly separate the united front of "Darwinism" into its three warring factions. If need be

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There’s a sixth term that could have been added to the five key terms, but is best kept in the background, namely, religion.


We'll call that the curtain strategy. It's not a simple machine, but we Kansans know how important it is to ignore the man behind the curtain.

Coming soon: The Pulley strategy, the Lever strategy, the Wheel and axle strategy, and most frighteningly, the Inclined Plane strategy.

Oh,

* Science: The process of asking questions about the natural world and developing and testing falsifiable models of the world.
* Nature: The physical world.
* Creation: the process of producing a new object, often a unique object, or the object so produced.
* Design: the process of creating an object to serve a purpose, or the object itself.
* Evolution: Change over time, especially the change in heritable population attributes through natural selection, genetic drift, gene flow, and mutation. Over larger time scales, the process generating diverse species from a single common ancestor or ancestral population.
* Religion: A self-consistent system of metaphysical beliefs.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 3:26 pm 
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I hate to stir this pot again, but this is too perfect of an example to let get away.

Behold the intelligent design movement, as glimpsed in the letters column of today's Lexington Herald-Leader. Obviously, this goofus hasn't clue #1 about how science works, yet speaks like an authority. Which is representative of the whole movement, really.

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Use your intellect

In response to the Aug. 11 letter criticizing President Bush's endorsement of teaching intelligent design theory in school classrooms:

The writer should read up on an idea before rejecting it and subjecting readers to ramblings about something he doesn't understand.

Many people reject intelligent design as a conservative stretch for God over science, saying that it cannot be credited as true science.

If you read scientific journals or even simple news articles, you will find that the science that once refuted God completely now shows credible support for his existence.

For example, the precise placement of Earth in the galaxy to shield it from deadly radiation and the Earth's perfect distance from the sun, where a few degrees either away would result in a planet with temperature variations too radical to allow the evolution of mankind, let alone very advanced bacteria.

Any astronomer will tell you that the Earth is placed very precisely -- almost intelligently.

Brian Bennett
Lexington


Here's a hint, Brian: Saying, "Wow, that sounds really unlikely. God must have done it." is not science.

Ryan

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 8:17 pm 
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...you will find that the science that once refuted God completely...

Yikes..."refuted" means "to prove wrong by argument or evidence." AFAIK, science has *never* claimed a "scientific proof" of the non-existence of God. What scientists do is search for empirical (natural) explanations for empirical phenomena, and reject supernatural explanations ("God did it"). And why shouldn't they? That's their job.

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...a few degrees either away would result in a planet with temperature variations too radical to allow the evolution of mankind...

Disregarding the scientific merits (or lack thereof) of this statement, it is a "tail wagging the dog" view of creation, as if God started with the final result He wanted (man) and worked His way backwards. Further, it assumes that there was only one way backwards. It's akin to arguing that God created our world with three dimensions because man couldn't have existed otherwise. That's not even a good philosophical argument...though it does appeal to man's vanity.

But shredding a letter to the editor (most of them, anyway) is like shooting fish in a barrel. I'd be more curious to know why the Lexington Herald-Leader printed it. Do they think he's making a good point...or are they mocking ID?

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2005 1:18 pm 
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Who says letters-column editors have to be intelligent or well- informed?

I suspect they believe they are simply 'airing the controversy'.

As usual, the Onion has nailed the fuckers to the wall:

http://www.theonion.com/news/index.php?issue=4133&n=2

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2005 2:11 pm 
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The Onion wrote:
"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.


Golden.

Ryan

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 3:10 pm 
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Between the nytimes articles and the Larry King Live abortion from last night, this hasn't been a good week for rationality.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 9:01 pm 
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PZ Myers has been tearing the NY Times a new one (and *I haylped*) over on pharyngula.org for their tepid series, which peddles he said-she said 'fairness' at its worst.

The New Yorker ran an *excellent* article on the same topic, a few months back

http://homepages.wmich.edu/~korista/new ... -isnt.html

Maybe the fact that a real scientist wrote it, helped.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 9:06 pm 
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well, so much for John McCain...

http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/politics/90069

Quote:
On Tuesday, though, he sided with the president on two issues that have made headlines recently: teaching intelligent design in schools and Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother who has come to personify the anti-war movement.

McCain told the Star that, like Bush, he believes "all points of view" should be available to students studying the origins of mankind.


:evil: :evil:

But Howard Dean gets it pretty much right

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/081505I.shtml

Quote:
Mr. Harris: Were you troubled by President Bush's endorsement that intelligent design should be taught alongside the evolution to schoolchildren?

Dr. Dean: The president has been anti-science for a long time. This is the most antiscientific regime that I've seen in America in my lifetime. I'm a trained physician, as you're aware. I'm insulted by that. It's going to harm America. What serious business is going to invest in America if a scientific education is influenced by politics? Science ought to be taught as science. If you want to teach religion, that's a separate debate. But science should be taught as science.

Schieffer: What is intelligent design? What do you think of that idea?

Dr. Dean: I think it's a religious idea. And actually, Einstein thought that there was some merit to it. Who am I to question Albert Einstein? But that is not--a religious idea is different than a scientific design. The idea that--and I don't think science and religion are incompatible. That's the thing that amazed me about this. You don't have to disbelieve evolution in order to be a religious person. So I don't understand why these folks continue to try to have this debate. But the truth of the matter is, intelligent design is a religious perception and a religious precept. That's fine. That should be taught wherever religion is taught, if that's the desire of those people who are religious.

Science is science. There's no factual evidence for intelligent design. There's an enormous amount of factual evidence for evolution. Those are the facts. If you don't like the facts, then you can fight against them. The Catholic Church fought against Galileo for a great many, many centuries. But it never pays to ignore the facts. Reason we're in trouble in Iraq right now, president didn't care what the facts were. Reason we have a $7 trillion, almost $8 trillion national debt, president didn't care what the facts were. The facts matter. The truth is, you can't run a business, a state, a country or a family if you don't care what the facts are.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:58 am 
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Re: McCain -- that sucks. He's really selling out hard to the evangelical base now that he's trying to get the nomination.

I supported him back in 2000, but I don't see it in '08.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2005 2:49 pm 
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Just goes to show that the Washington Post will print ANYTHING these days...

Just Check the ID

By Sally Jenkins

Monday, August 29, 2005; Page E01

Athletes do things that seem transcendental -- and they can also do things that are transcendentally stupid. They choke, trip and dope. Nevertheless, they possess a deep physical knowledge the rest of us can learn from, bound as we are by our ordinary, trudging, cumbersome selves. Ever get the feeling that they are in touch with something that we aren't? What is that thing? Could it be their random, mutant talent, or could it be evidence of, gulp, intelligent design?

The sports section would not seem to be a place to discuss intelligent design, the notion that nature shows signs of an intrinsic intelligence too highly organized to be solely the product of evolution. It's an odd intersection, admittedly. You might ask, what's so intelligently designed about ballplayers (or sportswriters)? Jose Canseco once let a baseball hit him in the head and bounce over the fence for a home run. Former Washington Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte gave himself a concussion by running helmet-first into a wall in a fit of exuberance. But athletes also are explorers of the boundaries of physiology and neuroscience, and some intelligent design proponents therefore suggest they can be walking human laboratories for their theories.


First, let's get rid of the idea that ID (intelligent design) is a form of sly creationism. It isn't. ID is unfairly confused with the movement to teach creationism in public schools. The most serious ID proponents are complexity theorists, legitimate scientists among them, who believe that strict Darwinism and especially neo-Darwinism (the notion that all of our qualities are the product of random mutation) is inadequate to explain the high level of organization at work in the world. Creationists are attracted to ID, and one of its founding fathers, University of California law professor Phillip Johnson, is a devout Presbyterian. But you don't have to be a creationist to think there might be something to it, or to agree with Johnson when he says, "The human body is packed with marvels, eyes and lungs and cells, and evolutionary gradualism can't account for that."

The idea, so contentious in other contexts, actually rings a loud bell in sports. Athletes often talk of feeling an absolute fulfillment of purpose, of something powerful moving through them or in them that is not just the result of training. Jeffrey M. Schwartz, a neuroscientist and research professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, is a believer in ID, or as he prefers to call it, "intrinsic intelligence." Schwartz wants to launch a study of NASCAR drivers, to better understand their extraordinary focus. He finds Darwinism, as it applies to a high-performance athlete such as Tony Stewart, to be problematic. To claim that Stewart's mental state as he handles a high-speed car "is a result of nothing more than random processes coming together in a machine-like way is not a coherent explanation," Schwartz said.

Instead, Schwartz theorizes that when a great athlete focuses, he or she may be "making a connection with something deep within nature itself, which lends itself to deepening our intelligence." It's fascinating thought. And Schwartz would like to prove it's scientifically justifiable.

Steve Stenstrom, who played quarterback for the Bears and 49ers, works as a religious-life adviser to athletes at Stanford, where he organized a controversial forum on intelligent design last May. "I don't think it's a reach at all," he said. "Talk to any athlete, and if they really are honest, they realize that while they have worked and trained, and put a lot of effort into being great, they started with some raw material that was advantageous to them, and that it was meant to work a certain way. We all recognize that we have a certain design element."

A strict Darwinist would suggest this is an illusion and point out that there are obvious flaws in the body. Peter Weyand, a researcher in kinesiology and biomechanics at Rice University, observes, "Humans in the realm of the animal kingdom aren't terribly athletic."

Racehorses are much faster, and, for that matter, so are hummingbirds. We seem to have a basic quest to go higher, farther, faster -- one of our distinguishing features is that we push our limits for a reason other than survival, and construct artificial scales of achievement -- but we have some built-in debilities. Human muscle can only get so strong, it will only produce as much force as it has area, about 3.5 kilograms of weight per square centimeter. "We're endowed with what we have by virtue of evolution, and it's not like engineering where we can pick materials and throw out what doesn't work," Weyand said.

Our bodies break down a lot. If we were designed more intelligently, presumably we wouldn't have osteoporosis or broken hips when we get old. Some evolutionists suppose that the process through which people evolved from four-legged creatures to two, has had negative orthopedic consequences.

We are flawed cardiovascularly. Horses carry much more oxygen in their blood, and have a storage system for red blood cells in their spleens, a natural system of blood doping. Humans don't. Also, while a lot of aerobics can make our hearts bigger, our lungs are unique. They don't adapt to training. They're fixed. We're stuck with them, and can only envy the antelopes.

None of which satisfies Schwartz, or Stenstrom. "I don't think we can attach athletic design to 'better' design," Stenstrom said. ". . . Some people are designed with an ear for music, others with a capacity to think deep thoughts about the world."

Schwarz finds little or nothing in natural selection to explain the ability of athletes to reinterpret physical events from moment to moment, the super-awareness that they seem to possess. He has a term for it, the ability to be an "impartial spectator" to your own actions. "The capacity to stand outside yourself and be aware of where you are," he said. "Deep within the complexities of molecular organization lies an intrinsic intelligence that accounts for that deep organization, and is something that we can connect with through the willful focus of our minds," he theorizes.

Crackpot speculation? Maybe -- maybe not. ID certainly lacks a body of scientific data, and opponents are right to argue that the idea isn't developed enough to be taught as equivalent to evolution. But Darwin himself admitted he didn't know everything about everything. "When I see a tail feather on a peacock, it makes me sick," he once said, before he understood it was for mating. And try telling a baseball fan that pure Darwinism explains Joe DiMaggio. As Tommy Lasorda once said, "If you said to God, 'Create someone who was what a baseball player should be,' God would have created Joe DiMaggio -- and he did."

None of this is to say that we shouldn't be wary of the uses for which ID might be hijacked. In the last year, numerous states have experienced some sort of anti-evolution movement. That makes it all the more important for the layman to distinguish the various gradations between evolutionists, serious scientists who are interested in ID, "neo-Creos," and Biblical literalists. One of the things we learn in a grade school science class is a concrete way of thinking, a sound, systematic way of exploring the natural world.

But science class also teaches us how crucial it is to maintain adventurousness, and surely it's worthwhile to suggest that an athlete in motion conveys an inkling of something marvelous in nature that perhaps isn't explained by mere molecules. Johann Kepler was the first to accurately plot the laws of planetary motion. But he only got there because he believed that their movements, if translated musically, would result in a celestial harmony. He also believed in astrology. And then there was Albert Einstein, who remarked that "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." Historically, scientific theorists are sandlot athletes, drawing up plays in the dirt.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2005 3:39 pm 
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If there are some things that are "too complex" to explain, then what do we do, exactly? Just stop attempting?

I just can't fathom what the "practical" application of ID is supposed to be, if not for the above. Each time someone says something is "irreducibly complex," it's figured out within a few years. If there were some hypothetical "ID-based lab" out there, would there be points where they'd just stop and say "Oh, well, I've figured out all I can about this cell...time to start work on something else?"

It boggles the mind.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:10 pm 
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Well, this certainly sheds light on why Bush won the election. Bolding mine.

Most in poll want creationism taught
Those in favor included liberals, secular supporters

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
THE NEW YORK TIMES

In a finding that is likely to intensify the debate over what to teach students about the origins of life, a poll released Tuesday found that nearly two-thirds of Americans say that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools.

The poll found that 42 percent of respondents hold strict creationist views, agreeing that "living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."

In contrast, 48 percent said they believed that humans had evolved over time; but of those, 18 percent said that evolution was "guided by a supreme being," and 26 percent said that evolution occurred through natural selection. In all, 64 percent said they were open to the idea of teaching creationism in addition to evolution, while 38 percent favored replacing evolution with creationism.


The poll was conducted July 7-17 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The questions about evolution were asked of 2,000 people, and the margin of error is 2.5 percentage points.

John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum, said he was surprised to see that teaching both evolution and creationism was favored not only by conservative Christians, but also by majorities of secular respondents, liberal Democrats and those who accept the theory of natural selection. Green called it a reflection of "American pragmatism."

"It's like they're saying, 'Some people see it this way, some see it that way, so just teach it all and let the kids figure it out.' It seems like a nice compromise, but it infuriates both the creationists and the scientists," said Green, who is also a professor at the University of Akron in Ohio.

Eugenie Scott, the director of the National Center for Science Education and a prominent defender of evolution, said the findings were not surprising because "Americans react very positively to the fairness or equal time kind of argument."

"In fact, it's the strongest thing that creationists have got going for them because their science is dismal," Scott said. "But they do have American culture on their side."

This year, the National Center for Science Education has tracked 70 new controversies over evolution in 26 states, some in school districts, others in state legislatures.

President Bush joined the debate on Aug. 2, telling reporters that both evolution and the theory of intelligent design should be taught in schools "so people can understand what the debate is about." Republican Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader, took the same position a few weeks later.

Intelligent design, a descendant of creationism, is the belief that life is so intricate that only a supreme being could have designed it.

The poll showed 41 percent of Americans want parents to have the primary say over how evolution is taught, compared with 28 percent who say teachers and scientists should decide and 21 percent who say school boards should. Asked whether they believed creationism should be taught instead of evolution, 38 percent were in favor, and 49 percent were opposed.

More of those who believe in creationism said they were "very certain" of their views (63 percent), compared with those who believe in evolution (32 percent).

The poll also asked about religion and politics. This question was asked of a smaller pool of 1,000 respondents and the margin of error is 2.5 percentage points, Pew researchers said.

The public's impression of the Democratic Party has changed in the last year, the survey found. Only 29 percent of respondents said they viewed Democrats as being "friendly toward religion," down from 40 percent in August of 2004. Fifty-five percent said the Republican Party was friendly toward religion.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 1:23 pm 
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Rspaight wrote:
The poll found that 42 percent of respondents hold strict creationist views, agreeing that "living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."


Well, I avoid walking under ladders. You're welcome to your superstitions, I'll take mine.

A long opinion piece in last Sunday's NYT pretty much torpedoed the whole ID argument, I thought. The crux of it was, if there was any validity to ID, labs the world over would be scrambling for a way to prove it and thus collect grant and Nobel money. None of them are, because there's nothing to prove.

Also, ID proponents are keeping the issue in the news via a very simple, childish formula: Dispute established evolutionary theory, wait to be refuted by people who know what they're talking about, and voila! Instant "controversy."

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 8:13 am 
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I thought you guys might appreciate this:

http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/949.html

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 8:42 am 
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Wow, that's great.

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