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Norman Nevin defends Truth in Science

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William Crawley | 20:30 UK time, Wednesday, 3 January 2007

norman_nevin-sm.jpgProfessor Norman Nevin, who was part of our panel on last week's Sunday Sequence, is one of twelve academics to have written to the Prime Minister and Education Secretary in support of Truth in Science's controversial schools initiative. Truth in Science believe that children and youth people should be exposed to alternatives to Darwinism and evolutionary theory, and, particularly, to Intelligent Design Theory, and have sent teaching packs to every school in the country.

Norman Nevin is professor emeritus of medical genetics at Queen's University and an advisor to the government on gene therapies. He's also committed Christian and lay preacher. Also signing the letter is the former director of the Armagh Observatory, Mart de Groot; the Warwick University sociologist Steve Fuller (who, like Norman Nevin, contributed to our recent Creation Wars special); and Professor Antony Flew.

I should say more about Flew, in case you are unaware of the significance of his signature. In the 70s and 80s, the philosopher Antony Flew was Britain's most strident philosophical atheist, taking on that mantle (excuse the geological pun) after the death of Bertrand Russell. I heard Flew lecture a few times, and he was an extremely animated and impassioned speaker. He wrote prolifically, publishing books as often as others wrote articles. Now in his 80s, I interviewed him two years ago on radio, soon after his high-profile religious "conversion". He'd apparently been convinced by recent developments in the philosophy of religion and had abandoned his atheistic perspective for a form of deism (he had come to believe in a god not unlike Aristote's -- one who was not involved 9or interested) in human affairs after creation) . I looked forward to talking to Professor Flew, since I'd read so many of his books and articles as a student. Unfortunately, he was not the fast-speaking, quick-witted thinker I remembered. His comments were slugglishly delivered, I had to repeat questions to him, and when I tried to offer possible counter-arguments, he didn't seem to follow the conversation. It's possible, of course, that he was ill or under the weather at that time -- he was, after all, born in 1923. In the end, we chose not to broadcast the interview. Joan Bakewell subsequently interviewed him on Radio 4 with more success.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 08:52 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

They're coming out of the woodwork like cockroaches.

  • 2.
  • At 09:28 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • henry grant lee wrote:

That's pretty unfair, Mark. I thought you free-thinking atheists believed in free speech. For yourselves only, apparently. Try to engage rationally, mark, rather than throw insults. Then people like me, with a willingness to learn and decide on the evidence, will pay attention yo what you say.

  • 3.
  • At 09:38 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • Maureen McNeill wrote:

Re 1:

It takes one to know one.

Maybe the next post will say something uplifting.

Maureen

  • 4.
  • At 10:26 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • pb wrote:

well I never, a professor emeritus in medical genetics from QUB coming out against evolution....

Sort of reminds me of that mad monk Gregor Mendel who didnt believe in evolution either but still managed to become the father of the science of genetics...

I am getting awfully suspicious there may have been a few other creationists in this field in between times...

PB

  • 5.
  • At 10:27 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • alan watson wrote:

Maybe Maureen, you could try posting something uplifting on this depressing story?
alan

from Marks post #1:

"They're coming out of the woodwork like cockroaches."

Indeed. For the sake of decent quality eduction for children, get me the bug spray (in the form of solid science education of course).
As for Fuller, he is well-known to some of us, see

http://arstechnica.com/journals/science.ars/2006/4/8/3523

Read the Arstechnica post and you won't be surprised to see him involved in some Truth in Science stunt. Sigh.

  • 7.
  • At 11:38 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • Dan Allen wrote:

When I was at school we were taught the notion of 'spontaneous generation' and how it was discredited. I think it can do students good to be taught the history of ideas.
It could well be worth providing context in science lessons about the non-scientific beliefs that still hang around (supposedly) contentious theories.
However science lessons should always be conducted in a way that they return to the science and dismiss the superstitious.
It would be OK for science teachers to discuss Creationism and Intelligent Design (as some call it) so long as they leave their students in no doubt that neither is a supportable scientific principles.

  • 8.
  • At 11:45 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • PVF wrote:

* 1.
* At 08:52 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
* Mark wrote:

They're coming out of the woodwork like cockroaches.

Mark - even cockroaches were created by God - unless you know something I don't? I have no problem in being labelled a cockroach either - at least I now know the Truth and you could too if you just thought about it a bit more!

Surely any rational person would not commend TiS if they did not know enough to support the case, I therefore commend the 12 and their stand for Truth. We are talking here about evidence that points to our creator God. Enough has already been revealed, but you presently choose to not believe in God, but many do, so where does that leave you?

There are many people like you who just will not listen, or simply refuse to consider that God actually exists, and yet the 'cockroaches' keep on coming.

Think about this more please - give it some thought of your own friend?

Kind regards.

  • 9.
  • At 11:52 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • rubberduckie wrote:

Well done to Prof. Nevin et al.


  • 10.
  • At 11:58 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • pb wrote:

Peter

I notice he is a professor at your univeristy, QUB.

What does that say about the quality of your education that they allow him there?

PB

  • 11.
  • At 12:00 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Maureen McNeill wrote:

Re post 5 alan watson wrote: "Maybe Maureen, you could try posting something uplifting on this depressing story?"

Alan: OK I think I could say something uplifting to get the discussion going as follows.

I recall this was all discussed quite well in the Creationism 101 blog. I went back and refreshed my memory and came across Hull's posting in which he basically was pointing out that there isn't one position on evolution - there are in fact 12 of them. He arranged them in the order shown below and in an exchange with Gee suggested what in his view could be taught in schools and in what class.

I can't do any better than he did but it seems a reasonable place to pick up the discussion.

Here is his list with my apologies if I have misquoted his position or stolen his thunder ...

The theories are:


1) The Neo-Darwinists: evolution and biological complexity are the products of random mutation and natural selection at the level of genes. Science class.


2) The Progressive Darwinists: genetic mechanisms are far more complex than previously thought; moreover, we now know there are several non genetic systems of heredity that also influence the evolutionary process. Science class.


3) The Collectivists: evolution is driven not only by competition between genes but also by symbiogenesis, cooperation, and altruism between organisms. Science class.


4) The Complexity Theorists: evolution occurs not simply through natural selection or random tinkering but through the capacity of dynamic complex systems to spontaneously produce higher forms of order. Science/mathematics class.


5) The Directionalists: the process of evolution is progressing toward broader and deeper cooperation and complexity - evidence, if not exactly proof, that it may even be shaped by some form of purpose or design. Science class.


6) The Transhumanists: human beings must take control of their continued evolution - primarily through bioengineering, cybernetics, nanorobotics, and other technological means. Science/Medical/biology/Computer Science class.


7) The Intelligent Designers: certain features of the universe and Earth's biological complexity are best explained by an intelligent agent or cosmic designer, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Philosophy class.


8) The Theistic Evolutionists: the evolutionary processes of natural selection and random mutation are not contradictory with faith in a God who gives order to all existence. In fact, science and religion deal with different aspects of reality that complement each other. Religious Education class


9) The Esoteric Evolutionists: evolution is both a physical and metaphysical process that proceeds according to hidden esoteric blueprints working themselves out in consciousness and matter. Philosophy class.


10) The Process Philosophers: God is not a static creator outside time and space but the dynamic, creative dimension of the evolutionary process in time and space. Religious Education Class.


11) The Conscious Evolutionists: we live in an unfinished cosmos, and its further development depends on us and our willingness to actively participate in the evolution of consciousness. Philosophy class.


12) The Integralists: evolution is a holistic process that includes both objective and subjective dimensions of reality as it moves toward greater exterior complexity of form and greater interior depth of consciousness. Philosophy class.

I expect you will add something MNH?

Peace,
Maureen


  • 12.
  • At 12:02 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

henry grant lee #2
If you have read my entries in the last few blogs and you aren't convinced yet, nothing I can say will ever persuade you. I've written you off as a captive of the enemy. You're on your own and certainly beyond my help.

Maureen #3
I find this all very uplifting. It means when this screwball gets his way, there will be less competiton from Britain for advances in the entire field of genetic science and engineering. That translates to more jobs and still lower taxes here, fewer jobs and higher taxes there. Every little bit helps. Just as long and his kind stay in their box where they belong and out of the public schools on my side of the pond. Speaking about ponds and other bodies of water, how are your swimming lessons coming? If you see a fin sticking up out of the water coming at you, that's a big fish, try to grab on to it and take it for a ride.

  • 13.
  • At 01:01 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Maureen #3
Thinking about your posting some more, I'm baffled by it. You said in the first blog I posted in regarding the radio broadcast with McIntosh and Dawkins, that metaphors were equal in validity to scientific models. Michael Hull and others agreed with you. What's the matter, don't you like my metaphor? I used cockroaches, those disgusting little insects which crawl around uninvited in the dark of night and in the shadows in people's kitchens, inside their walls, in fact anywhere in their homes freely helping themselves to food and spreading germs, disease, and filth, as a metaphor for those who have scientific credentials and believe in and espouse creationism or intelligent design. And upon reflection, I'd say it's a remarkably appropriate metaphor at that I think. What's the matter Maureen, do metaphors like mine have validity or don't they? If they don't why should mine be any different than anyone elses, say yours...or the bible's?

  • 14.
  • At 01:05 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

PVF #8.
At one time, the whole world believed the earth was flat. But the earth just didn't get it so it stayed every bit as round as it always was. I have no doubt that ignorance feeds on itself, even among PhDs and tenured professors who you'd think would know better. All that time, money, and effort training them wasted. Such a pity, it might have been expended on someone who was not a fool.

  • 15.
  • At 01:20 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

Maureen:

Thanks for the listing - I looked at the post and I would actually now order it in a different way going from the purely scientific to the purely philosophical. Also the classifications are put together based on people who have written on the subject so I have added in some names. Most of them have written books on the topic. Lastly one should recognize that these groupings were first published in “What is Enlightenment” Magazine, January – March 2007 issue which came out in November 2006. The magazine is available in most book stores or one can go to wie.org.

Now where does Nevin lie on this spectrum? Depending on his place in this list would determine in what class I think his views could be taught.

Regards,
Michael


1) The Neo-Darwinists: (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Edward O. Wilson) evolution and biological complexity are the products of random mutation and natural selection at the level of genes. Science class.

2) The Progressive Darwinists: (Wallace Arthur, Eva Jablonka, Marion Lamb, Sean Carroll) genetic mechanisms are far more complex than previously thought; moreover, we now know there are several non genetic systems of heredity that also influence the evolutionary process. Science class.

3) The Collectivists: (Howard Bloom, Lynn Margulis, David Sloan Wilson) evolution is driven not only by competition between genes but also by symbiogenesis, cooperation, and altruism between organisms. Science class.

4) The Complexity Theorists: (Ervin Laszlo, Stuart Kauffman, Peter Corning, Eric Chaisson, ) evolution occurs not simply through natural selection or random tinkering but through the capacity of dynamic complex systems to spontaneously produce higher forms of order. Science/mathematics class.

5) The Directionalists: (Simon Conway Morris, James Gardner, John Stewart, Robert Wright) the process of evolution is progressing toward broader and deeper cooperation and complexity - evidence, if notexactly proof, that it may even be shaped by some form of purpose or design. Science class.

6) The Transhumanists: (Aldous Huxley, Robert Ettinger, Ray Kurzweil, Simon Young) human beings must take control of their continued evolution - primarily through bioengineering, cybernetics, nanorobotics, and other technological means. Science/Medical/biology/Computer Science class.

7) The Process Philosophers: (John Cobb, David Ray Griffin) God is not a static creator outside time and space but the dynamic, creative dimension of the evolutionary process in time and space. Religious Education Class.

8) The Integralists: (Ken Wilber, Robert Godwin, Allan Combs) evolution is a holistic process that includes both objective and subjective dimensions of reality as it moves toward greater exterior complexity of form and greater interior depth of consciousness. Philosophy class.

9) The Conscious Evolutionists: (John Haught, Thomas Berry, Beatrice Bruteau, Brian Swimme) we live in an unfinished cosmos, and its further development depends on us and our willingness to actively participate in the evolution of consciousness. Philosophy class.

10) The Esoteric Evolutionists: (Colin Wilson, Richard Tarnas) evolution is both a physical and metaphysical process that proceeds according to hidden esoteric blueprints working themselves out in consciousness and matter. Philosophy class.

11) The Theistic Evolutionists: (Francis Collins, Arthur Peacocke, John Polkinghorne, Owen Gingerich) the evolutionary processes of natural selection and random mutation are not contradictory with faith in a God who gives order to all existence. In fact, science and religion deal with different aspects of reality that complement each other. Religious Education class

12) The Intelligent Designers: (Michael Behe, William Dembski, Phillip Johnson, Stephen Meyer, Charles Thaxton) certain features of the universe and Earth's biological complexity are best explained by an intelligent agent or cosmic designer, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Philosophy class.

  • 16.
  • At 01:54 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • David (Oxford) wrote:

Ref 10 - PB

PB, "emeritus" means he's a retired professor. And you ask Peter: What does it say about the quality of your education that ... Hmmm.

  • 17.
  • At 03:00 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Philip J wrote:

Hi Michael, interesting taxonomy (ref 15). I teach philosophy of science, and in fact I'd discuss all those positions in the context of a philosophy course. I would have thought that all those positions could be discussed in a religion course too.

I should point out though that Behe develops a specificialy biological view; and Dembski develops a mathematical model. Both positions I think, are deeply flawed.

As for the science class, I would find it useful in a course to have students explore all of these positions and compare them against the available science. I'm not at all worried about ID being discussed in the context of a science course. It is pseudoscience (worse even than bad science), but it would be useful to have students examine why it fails as a proposition in science.

My worry is not the teaching content, in other words. It's the teachers. I would be extremely uncomfortable if a science teacher in a high school with strong religious commitments began teaching ID or creationism to my children and telling them that those positions are on a par with biological evolution. That the realy scary part here: there are science teachers who agree with this stuff.

  • 18.
  • At 03:01 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

David Oxford #16
I prefer to think of Norman Niven as a professor Demeritus meaning he is over the hill and should be retired...permanently. I would find it impossible to learn anything from such an individual if I knew he was a creationist....even if he isn't as repulsive as Wilder Smith...if such a thing as someone else being that repulsive is possible.

  • 19.
  • At 04:44 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Maureen McNeill wrote:

Mark wrote:

“Atheists believe life is meaningless. This one does.” “I realized a long time ago just how absurd life really is and I've come to accept it.” “They're coming out of the woodwork like cockroaches.”

I wrote:

“It takes one to know one.”

Mark wrote:

"Maureen, You said in the first blog I posted in regarding the radio broadcast with McIntosh and Dawkins, that metaphors were equal in validity to scientific models. Michael Hull and others agreed with you. What's the matter, don't you like my metaphor? I used cockroaches, those disgusting little insects which crawl around uninvited in the dark of night and in the shadows in people's kitchens, inside their walls, in fact anywhere in their homes freely helping themselves to food and spreading germs, disease, and filth, as a metaphor for those who have scientific credentials and believe in and espouse creationism or intelligent design. And upon reflection, I'd say it's a remarkably appropriate metaphor at that I think. What's the matter Maureen, do metaphors like mine have validity or don't they? If they don't why should mine be any different than anyone elses, say yours...or the bible's?"


Mark:

There is nothing the matter. When I said “It takes one to know one” I was indeed using a metaphor that I liked. I thought you would get it without having it spelled out in public. After all you have given us a tour of your knowledge of literature from Shakespeare to Mark Twain.

Maybe you haven’t got to Franz Kafka The Metamorphosis? You will find my metaphor there.

The insect in The Metamorphosis has the symbolism that it metaphorizes how insignificant and empty Gregor’s life was, and the meaninglessness he found in his job as a traveling salesman. The meaning of the insects symbol is Kafka’s relationship with his father. The insect is a representation of how Kafka’s father made him feel. His father in real life made him feel small and trapped, just like Gregor as an insect in his room.

Hanging on the wall is a picture of a woman in furs. This picture is a symbol of a love interest for Gregor. It could be an escape for his solitude and his loneliness. The picture could represent something meaningful in a life where he finds no meaning.

A key theme of The Metamorphosis is man’s isolation. Grete, his beloved sister, eventually gets tired of taking care of him and begins to wish he would just disappear.

So Mark there you have my metaphor.

Like Gregor’s beloved sister I am getting tired of taking care of you and begin to wish you would just disappear.

But give a cockroach more bait and guess what happens!

Peace,
Maureen

  • 20.
  • At 06:52 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Dylan Dog wrote:

Funny says he's a commited Christian...

Strange that there are no atheists, agnostics, Hindu's, Buddists, Shinto etc etc Biblical creationists...

If you do believe these jokers are right then please present the evidence-and please make it credible, verifiable and peer-reviewed.(and by peer-reviewed I mean from a genuine science journal not 'The talking snake' ie., Cretinist monthly).

Funny that they say they belive in ID but nearly all have links to AIG(you know that joke site that believes that the world started 6000 years ago, in 6 days, with 2 naked hippies and a talking snake).

And for those posters who keep going on about these guys credentials please take note that they are a miniscule drop in the ocean of the scientific community, they did not reach their position by evidence(because their isn't any), nor by science(because it isn't science) but through religion-their faith tells them what to believe.

Please look here at the website of Ken Miller(who is a Christian) and who has done more to destroy ID than probably any other scientist.http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/

  • 21.
  • At 08:22 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • pb wrote:


Dylan Dog

You keep going on about evidence,

I thought evolution (species to species change) would have to be replicated in a lab for it to become scientific fact and not just theory?

Isnt that a basic requirement of the scientific theory?

I appreciate that creationism has not done this either, but can you state clearly what standard of proof you require for both viewpoints?

By the way Mark, I am just baffled how you can just totally dismissed a professor of genetics??? Isnt that a little overextending your confidence in your own views?

PB

Helo David,

You wrote:
"emeritus" means he's a retired professor. And you ask Peter: What does it say about the quality of your education that ... Hmmm.

I probably would have had difficulty passing his exams if classes in his ID nonsense were part of the curriculum. But I don't think ID has ever been part of any QUB curriculum. Also, I work as a postdoctoral researcher at QUB, I never studied there. I did my Masters thesis and PhD at Delft University in the Netherlands. And I'll say that in terms of sensibly secular governement, the Netherlands were the better place. The Netherlands certainly has some fundamentalist Christians in politics, but at least they don't command the largest share of voters as they do here in Norhtern Ireland.

  • 23.
  • At 10:06 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • David (Oxford) wrote:

Dylan Dog:

Here's a link to a Will+Testament blog on Ken Miller with a great lecture on ID. You're right, he's a brilliant man.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2006/12/finding_darwins_god.html

  • 24.
  • At 11:16 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Shane wrote:

Intelligent Design an alternative to evolutionary theory? Hardly. All ID claims is that there is no evolutionary trajectory that leads to certain complex biological features. This is a positive claim demanding of proof. In all the examples quoted by ID proponents, their logic and understanding of basic biology has been shown to be wrong, and ID is thus regarded as a falsified hypothesis.

It is disappointing to see twelve "leading academics" (with very little biological background) supporting the "Truth in Science" [sic] campaign. A better approach would be to push more resources into the teaching of evolutionary biology in schools and universities, since it is clearly evident that even very intelligent people have difficulties grasping it.

If Fundamentalist groups wish to have their views discussed in schools, there are religious education classes, where all religions and philosophies can be discussed. Science classes should be for science.

  • 25.
  • At 12:54 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

In post 17 Philip J wrote:

"Hi Michael, interesting taxonomy (ref 15). I teach philosophy of science, and in fact I'd discuss all those positions in the context of a philosophy course."

Hi Philip: Agree but if a question arose as to what could be taught as science in a science class then I feel that the top few are the only ones that apply.

"As for the science class, I would find it useful in a course to have students explore all of these positions and compare them against the available science."

Maybe in a class on the history of science?

"I'm not at all worried about ID being discussed in the context of a science course."

Yes, I agree with the word 'discussed' so long as it is not 'taught'. I think that in NI many students will raise the ID question. What we need to ensure is that the teacher presents an answer to the question in the context of the science course material that (s)he is required to present.

Thanks for the comment.

Regards,
Michael

  • 26.
  • At 01:45 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • billy wrote:

The evolutionists use mutations as a key argument for the defence of their evolutionary theory; I believe that Prof Norman Nevin is more than qualified to deal with mutations and genetics, more so than anyone else on this blog can. He's a specialist in his own field therefore what he has to say on mutations is relevant.

  • 27.
  • At 01:48 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • pb wrote:

Dylan Dog

Here is some reading on hindu, muslim and jewish creationists for you;-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationism

PB

  • 28.
  • At 01:48 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Maureen;
Where I came from and grew up, the streets of New York City "takes one to know one" is a taunt children used until they reached about the age of seven or eight by which time they had learned much sharper and crueler retorts. I'm disappointed you couldn't have done a lot better.

I hate to disappoint you but despite what you may think, I am not well read in literature. My reading of Kafka was limited to "The Castle." I didn't make it all the way through "The Trial." Frankly, at the time I read it, it seemed one of the most exasperating books I'd ever read. Anyway, it's nice to know that Kafka could write a book in which the protagonist was not named "K".

So back to my question, which by the way you avoided just as you said I avoided the topics and question you brought up because you thought I didn't have a good answer for them. Why is my metaphor for creationists as insects not valid in light of your original insistance that metaphors are as valid as scientific models? THE WITNESS IS DIRECTED TO ANSWER THE QUESTION.

  • 29.
  • At 02:43 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • A concerned citizen wrote:

Dear Mr. Nevin
Please, do NOT make science religious. the point of science is to discover how our world works, not to be told how it does by a religion. ID is merely creationism with a changed name to disguise itself, and if you truly wish to spread your religion to those who have no choice but to listen then you are completely unethical. Science is science, let it stay that way.

  • 30.
  • At 05:57 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Mark Post #18

Nice attitude.

I think that you would be hard pushed to find a more learned and gracious man in his field. It's a shame that you would take this approach and stunt your own learning.

  • 31.
  • At 06:40 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Dylan Dog wrote:

"Dylan Dog

Here is some reading on hindu, muslim and jewish creationists for you;-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationism"

Errr yes, interesting link

I asked why are there no Hindu, atheist, agnostic, Sikh, Buddist, etc etc BIBLICAL creationists.

I am well aware that there are Hindu creationists-BUT they are NOT Biblical creationists-that was the whole point of the original question!
Hindu creationists believe their creation myth to be true and use the same tactics as biblical creationists ie., misquotes, lies, fallacies etc etc.btw why are there no Christain, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Sikh etc etc Hindu creationists....?

Yes their are Jewish creationists(who are a tiny minority-which is strange because it is their creation myth!) and Muslim creationists-they all Abrahamic faiths and share the same creation myth-so what?

So I ask again....why are there no Hindu, atheist, agnostic, Sikh, Buddist, etc etc BIBLICAL creationists.
(PLEASE note the Biblical!)

Re: evolution in the lab, well it has been shown in the lab countless times and in the news ie., MRSA, bird flu, super bugs etc etc.

And of course their are many transitional fossils...(can guess the answer to that one)

  • 32.
  • At 06:47 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Anonymous #30 whoever you are (I assume that you accidentally posted without identifying yourself)

I would find it impossible to believe anything someone would say who deliberately twisted and contorted the knowledge he gained and pared back what was inconvenient in order to shape it into something compatable with his religion. How could I possibly know where his lies end and the truth begins?

  • 33.
  • At 06:57 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • David (Oxford) wrote:

Ref Mark (18):

You're an extremely smallminded person, Mark, if you can't learn anything from a man like Norman Nevin. He's a brilliant medical geneticist, honoured with an OBE for his work in that field, and has chaired the government's watchdog body in gene therapy. You're entitled to disagree with his defence of intelligent design (I disagree with him on that score too), but don't reduce your own argument with this petty personal attack. Particularly when you're attacking a man of enormous personal integrity, who is held by his professional peers in the very highest regard.

  • 34.
  • At 07:04 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Loose wrote:

Re: Prof. Norman Nevin

It is staggering to find just how trite are the comments made about Prof Nevin. Agree with his position or not, Prof Nevin has more than 300 Peer-reviewed scientific papers in the field of Genetics. Clearly he knows something about his subject. What he’s concluded can’t be written off so lightly.

We should surely focus on the empirical facts of genetics, rather than seek to force them into a pre-determined Darwinist mould. By analogy or inference we know that when we discover such vast amounts of information we are observing the work of intelligence. I am sure that not all experiences of Microsoft Windows are universally positive: but none would argue that it arose by an undirected process. It’s Bill Gates himself who has likened the information in DNA to the Genetic Code when he said “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any we’ve ever created”.

This is a plea for Science that is an unstifled investigation that seeks out the truth – the evidence, wherever it leads - and doesn’t decide purely on a-priori grounds that certain classes of answer are not permitted and so seek to preserve homage to Darwin – a kind of ‘blasphemy law’. True science must be set free from such dogma.

  • 35.
  • At 07:52 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Dylan Dog wrote:

Prof Nevin may have published over 300 peer-reviewed papers but do any of them support creationism? I would say not.

"This is a plea for Science that is an unstifled investigation that seeks out the truth – the evidence, wherever it leads - and doesn’t decide purely on a-priori grounds that certain classes of answer are not permitted and so seek to preserve homage to Darwin – a kind of ‘blasphemy law’. True science must be set free from such dogma."

I agree that science should be free from dogma and if you do care you should be against the rise of ID/creationism as they want to make science a religion.

Science is about questioning(btw it has nothing to do with 'homage to Darwin') that is something that fundamentalists hate. Creationists do not get their opinioon from science or evidence rather it is their faith,

For their "evidence" was so strong then there would be atheist, agnostic, Hindu, Buddist etc etc Biblical creationsists but there are not-go figure!

You do know of course that there are a great many Christians who have no probs with evolution?

  • 36.
  • At 09:00 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • PVF wrote:

* 14.
* At 01:05 AM on 04 Jan 2007,
* Anonymous wrote:

PVF #8.
At one time, the whole world believed the earth was flat. But the earth just didn't get it so it stayed every bit as round as it always was. I have no doubt that ignorance feeds on itself, even among PhDs and tenured professors who you'd think would know better. All that time, money, and effort training them wasted. Such a pity, it might have been expended on someone who was not a fool.

Psalm 14 v 1 The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.

Can't be me or them then - here follows a little more food for this kind of fool!

Proverbs 1 v 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 2 v 6 For the LORD giveth wisdom : out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. 7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.

Proverbs 4 v 7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom : and with all thy getting get understanding.

Proverbs 12 v 15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

Kind regards.

  • 37.
  • At 09:17 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew Halloway wrote:

It amazes me how some of the evolution supporters who have commented here are prepared to be so abusive about Prof Norman Nevin as soon as they find out he might disagree with them. How insecure is that?! His academic record is head and shoulders above most working in evolution-related fields. Molecules-to-Man evolution is far from proven -it is merely an inference from the evidence. Intelligent Design is also a perfectly reasonable inference from the evidence. The two deserve equal airing in academic debate. Yet it seems all the evolutionists want to do is protect their position by stifling that debate.

  • 38.
  • At 09:57 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Shane wrote:

I've been following this discussion with interest. Norman Nevin is a very fine man, and I have a great deal of time for him. However, it would be misleading to think that his very personal views on Intelligent Design are remotely shared by the genetics or medical scientific community (and unfortunately his advocacy of the TiS bandwagon does give this impression). People see the banner "leading geneticist supports Intelligent Design", and then think that if it's good enough for that person, it's good enough for me.

That's not the way science works. A very eminent person can doggedly cling to a very wrong idea, and ID is a very wrong idea. Complexity - even "irreducible complexity" (a very sloppily defined term in what passes for the ID "literature") is not a barrier to Darwinian evolution. Standard evolutionary models not only *allow* irreducible complexity, they *predict* it.

Unfortunately, by giving the impression that crypto-religious pressure groups like TiS are in some way pushing a valid science agenda, some "leading academics" are being duped into becoming pawns in a game that is quite intelligently designed to undermine science and science education.

It would be relevant to point out that even Francis Collins, a *really* eminent geneticist and committed Christian, or Ken Miller, another *really* eminent geneticist and committed Christian, hold ID and creationism in nothing but contempt, and would not give TiS the time of day. The vast majority of the scientific community is of the same view, but science is not a democracy - it's the evidence that counts. And by the evidence, ID is as dead as the flat earth.

  • 39.
  • At 09:58 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Norman Nevin may be a very kindly man whom it would be most pleasant to sit and chat with over dinner, cigars, and brandy but ultimately he is ruled by his heart, not his head. Whatever he knows from what he has learned in life, ultimately it is subservient to what he wants to believe and like all creationists, he will compromise his knowledge no matter what it takes to preserve his most cherished fantasies.

  • 40.
  • At 10:00 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Dylan Dog wrote:

"Psalm 14 v 1 The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God."

Couldn't agree with you more on this point because only a fool would say in their heart there is no god because the wise actually say it...;-)

As for the rest of your quotes...why are creationists such fools then?

  • 41.
  • At 10:08 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Dylan Dog wrote:

"It amazes me how some of the evolution supporters who have commented here are prepared to be so abusive about Prof Norman Nevin as soon as they find out he might disagree with them. How insecure is that?! His academic record is head and shoulders above most working in evolution-related fields. Molecules-to-Man evolution is far from proven -it is merely an inference from the evidence. Intelligent Design is also a perfectly reasonable inference from the evidence. The two deserve equal airing in academic debate. Yet it seems all the evolutionists want to do is protect their position by stifling that debate."

Oh dear!no-one is disputing his credentials it's the reason that he has reached his decision-it's because of his faith not evidence.

Evolution is not "inference" from evidence it is based on all the evidence that is available.

ID is not based on evidence it is a faith based position. Did you not hear about Dover? The big trial that the IDers wanted to show the world that they were right...what happened?
Oh yeah Dremski and the bigwigs cleared off and left Behe who admitted under oath that ID is NOT science and was on the same level as astrology and witchcraft!

There is no stifling of debate! The thing is that Iders/creationists have no interest in fairness they just want to shove their narrow world view on the rest of us. It to do with their religious beliefs ie., look at the statement that people who write for AIG(you know that website that believes the world started with a talking snake) have to adhere to and look at the WEDGE document by the discovery institute-it's to do with religion!

And the arrogance of these people that their god created the universe! what about Thor, Zeus, Pachamacha etc etc they all have equal claims.

  • 42.
  • At 10:11 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • pb wrote:

eerrrr... Dylan Dog

The reason there are no athiest, buddhist, sikh, hindu or agnostic biblical creationists is because they either became biblical creationists or they still do not believe in the bible.

I used to be an evolutionist you know...as did quite a few other people I know who changed...

PB

  • 43.
  • At 10:28 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

What has an academic record got to do with pushing pseudoscience? Even intelligent people get things wrong.

What sticks in peoples craws are things like the "Truth in science" website spending an entire paragrah going on about the history of Prof. Nevin, whilst their letter apparently said things like:

""We write to applaud the Truth in Science initiative," the letter said. Empirical science has "severe limitations concerning origins" and Darwinism is not necessarily "the best scientific model to fit the data that we observe"."

Now, what is wrong with empirical science? Its the one that has brought you antibiotics, airplanes, fancy cars, etc etc. Do they have any other model to offer. Can you, Andrwe Halloway, offer one? I certainly cant find one on the TiS website.

Secondly, what is this data that they observe? How many proper scientific papers have been published about this evidence? None that I have heard of. (There was one, but it was instered by a biased editor and skipped on peer review)

Also, what is this Darwinism? That died back in the 20's at least. We're onto something like the third iteration of Evolutionary Biology; Darwinism is old hat.

  • 44.
  • At 09:45 AM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Loose wrote:

Guthrie (Comment 43) asks 'what's wrong with empirical science?' So far as I know the answer is 'nothing'. But what has that got to do with Truth in Science and the letter to the PM? Has 'Guthrie' seen the full text of that letter? If so, perhaps he can tell us where it claims any limitation on 'empirical science'?

In general, as with the attempts to ridicule Prof Norman Nevin, defenders of neo-Darwinism do not pay close attention to empirical science. They resort to rhetoric and 'just so' stories. That's a massive part of the problem today and always has been. Does Guthrie know that Charles Darwin in 'The Origin' uses 'faith words' like 'believe' more often than does the entire New Testament?

If only those who preach the dogma of Darwinism would submit their stories to a fraction of the empirical testing that enables medical drugs to be developed and applied: if the sort of constraints placed on aircraft design and safety, tested to the limit was consistently applied to scrutinise neo-Darwinist propaganda, then the entire scientific framework would be free again to follow the evidence where it leads. No reasonable person would entrust themselves to an aircraft that had been allowed to fly based on the same kind of reasoning that is the hall-mark of Darwinist philosophy.

I say - let's have more empirical science and I repeat - be free of dogma. The howls that accompany any questioning of neo-Darwinism belie a deep-seated fundamentalism. We need to recognise these howls for what they are - attempts to turn minds away from the empirical evidence that is increasingly a serious problem for the Darwinian account of origins.

  • 45.
  • At 01:16 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Peter Loose #44
How ironic that Andy McIntosh who believes literally in the bible which is nothing but a collection of children's bedtime fairy tales as the ultimate source of all truth would characterize scientific research which supports the theory of evolution as "just-so" stories. If I had any doubts that Andrew McIntosh is a liar, that expression of disdain for the underlying rational methods of observation and deduction which brought him much of his priveleges in life proved it for me.

Darwinism is not a dogma, it is a theory which has gained support for its likely accuracy through empirical evidence gathered form more than the last 100 years. If real evidence emerges which contradict it convincingly, it will be discarded in favor of a better one, that is the difference between a scientific theory and true dogma. True dogma is biblical creationism and everything else in religious doctrine because it is utterly unyielding to contrary evidence. That's why I say those who are trained in science and have achieved credentials attesting to their accomplishment and then go out to twist, convolute, disort, and selectively pare away what science had learned in order to preach their religion to others but more importantly and desparately to themselves like McIntosh, Wilder Smith, and Norman Nevin are intellectual cockroaches.

No evidence no matter how convincing will ever overcome the creationists' emotional need to believe that the security blanket of their bibles will protect them from eternal death or as Art Bell puts it, when you die, it's "lights out." They will always find a way to pervert the truth to make it conform. That is why they are your priests, your connection on earth to god.

  • 46.
  • At 02:20 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Dylan Dog wrote:

Re: Message 42

Ahh it is clear now PB!

The reason is simply done to religion and nothing to do with science or evidence-thank you for clearing that up!as you said it is all to with "believing the bible"-nowt to do with reason, evidence or science.

There are of course many scientists and non-scientsists who are Christians who have no probs with evolution.

The point was of course to show that creationists base their opinion on a literal interpretation of their holy book. If their evidence was so strong it would be accepted by those of all faiths and none-again thanks for proving the point!

many thanks!

DD

  • 47.
  • At 02:42 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

Peter, I suggest reading the website of Truth in Science. Supporting people you apparently know nothing about does not help your case.
What I quoted was from here:
http://www.truthinscience.org.uk/site/content/blogcategory/51/63/

Scroll down to the 1st of January entry. There you will find what "Truth in Science" people have written about this support from senior academics. Now, would you like to ask TiS why they have a problem with empirical science?

I couldn' care less what Darwin wrote in the origin of species, except that it is an interesting and well written proposition. The fact that we have been accumulating mountains of evidence for Evolutionary biology over the past 150 years means that whatever Darwin wrote has been superseded.
If you read any real scientific papers, you'll find words like "Believe" all over the place. Scientists use believe to indicate that they think that their hypothesis is backed up by the evidence available.

What is this Darwinist philosophy anyway? I cant seem to find any mention of it anywhere. Can you tell me what it is?

  • 48.
  • At 06:46 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

I could have sworn I replied to this yesterday, but it appears not to have been posted.
Anyway, I'll try again:

Peter, I am not questioning empirical science, it is Truth in Science themselves who are. The quote I gave was from their website here:
http://www.truthinscience.org.uk/site/content/blogcategory/51/63

The article from the first of January is the one you should read.
Thus it is TiS themselves who claim there is a problem with empirical science.

As for Darwins "origin", you are presumably aware that he was tentatively advancing a relatively new theory, and thus would use words like believe. Also, there are 150 years worth of testing of evolutionary biology to build upon what Darwin wrote (Some of which was wrong). Thus, your complaint about lack of testing is simply wrong. If you are interested, I can supply links to sources of said information.

Finally, can you tell me what this dogma of darwinism is? I have never heard of it before. Does it involve worshipping Darwin himself?

  • 49.
  • At 01:28 AM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • Creationist Apologist wrote:

Dylan Dog wrote (post 35):
"I agree that science should be free from dogma and if you do care you should be against the rise of ID/creationism as they want to make science a religion."

Whether we like it or not, as soon as we probe into questions and assumptions about origins, we are moving outside of the arena of empirical science and into religion. Science can only observe what we can see, touch, feel (etc.) in the present. We can only make calculated guesses about what happened in the past - unless, of course, its history is in some way revealed to us. The good news is that God has revealed the story of our origins in his Word, the Bible, so there is no need for us to speculate any longer. The danger of not allowing ID in the science classroom as a valid alternative to the theory of evolution is that students will be misled into believing that science has disproved the existence of God. This is a gross distortion of the truth, and the implications are horrendous - most seriously, people will be denied the opportunity to learn that Jesus Christ is the only one who can provide forgiveness for all our wrong-doings through his death on the Cross - that Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no-one comes to the Father except through me."

No Biblical creationist wants to make science a religion. That is a false assertion. The science classroom is for science - but when it comes to the question of origins, we are (as I said) impinging on religion whether we like it or not.

  • 50.
  • At 10:14 AM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • Dylan Dog wrote:

Again it is all to do with your faith in a set of Bronze age myths.

ID was shown to be rubbish at Dover, ironically shown to be by the Scientist who is a Christian Ken Miller.

why is your religion true and all the rest false?

  • 51.
  • At 11:35 AM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • Amenhotep wrote:

Creationist Apologist wrote:
The danger of not allowing ID in the science classroom as a valid alternative to the theory of evolution is that students will be misled into believing that science has disproved the existence of God.

Sorry, but that is nonsense. Evolution is a strongly scientifically validated corpus of knowledge. Science is perfectly able to look into the past, and questions of origins are indisputably scientific questions. Just as an example, look out for a faint smudge in the northern sky tonight - that'll be the Andromeda galaxy, and we know that it is over 2 million light-years away. There is some scientific origins information right there - the universe is *at least* millions of years old. Genesis hits the trash can as a *scientific* document, and you need to look at other ways of interpreting it.

"Intelligent Design" is pseudoscience, and based on a fundamental fallacy (that complexity necessarily indicates intelligent design; any snowflake disproves that notion). Whether a person is a christian or not is irrelevant; many christians (and the large majority who actually *are* scientists) recognise ID and creationism for what they are - garbage.

ID is NOT (and creationism most certainly is not) an alternative to evolutionary theory. As such, they deserve no place in a science curriculum, other than as objects of ridicule or humour, like the flat earth theory, or Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories".

Amenhotep, #51,
Good point about light that was emitted by stars more than million light years away. But don't count on that to convince any YECs. Their answer: welll......uhhhhhhh.......light may be travelling slower now than it used to! So when it was still travelling faster, it could have crossed the vast expanse of the universe in much shorter times. On the order of a thousand times shorter apparently.

Somebody stop this planet for a moment please, when I hear rusbbish like that I want to get off.

  • 53.
  • At 03:38 PM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • Creationist Apologist wrote:

Post No. 51: Amenhotep wrote:
"Science is perfectly able to look into the past, and questions of origins are indisputably scientific questions."

So it's really a question of where the ultimate authority lies, whether with fallible humankind or with God's infallible Word! The modern scientific establishment (not science per se)says that it alone has the answers to the questions of "life, the universe and everything" while resolutely imposing the dogma of evolution on everyone. This is exactly what the Bible predicted, that "there shall come in the last days scoffers .... For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old" (2 Peter 3:3-5).

As to the question of the origin of the stars, we learn from the Genesis record that God created the stars on the fourth day of creation. When our starting point is the Word of God, believers will meekly submit to its supreme authority, acknowledging that God's wisdom far exceeds our finite knowledge and understanding. Dr D. Russell Humphreys is a creationist physicist who has proposed a cosmology as an alternative to the Big Bang Theory which addresses the very difficulty raised by Amenhotep. See: www.answersingenesis.org/docs/405.asp

  • 54.
  • At 04:01 PM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • pb wrote:


Peter
Jumped the gun there.
AIG says it has no answer yet to the question on starlight. Didnt you say scientists are allowed to say that?

But are you saying there are no gaps in evolutionay theory?

PB

post 54
Yes, you are allowed to say that. Then you try to find out, by some clever experiment for instance. You don't say, as religious people do "Ok, we don't know how it works, so we assume without reason it is the hand of our favourite flavour of deity. Now will you switch off your brains already everyone, and stop doubting Him."

  • 56.
  • At 01:10 PM on 08 Jan 2007,
  • pb wrote:


Peter

Evolution is accepted by many people still researching it despite gaps in the theory.

Is this position not acceptable for creationists too?

AIG has 200 phds and says creationism is being updated as new research comes to light.

I cant see any different between the tow positions.

regards
PB

  • 57.
  • At 02:32 PM on 08 Jan 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

The difference, pb, is that science hangs together as a whole. Data from geology interlocks with radioactivity dating methods, which interlock with everything from the age of the sun through to chemistry, which in turn fits in with biology and then into phsychology.
And so on.
What the Creationists do, is say "Well, this only works if I throw this unrepeatable fiddle factor in"
(As seen on their arguments about a water layer in the atmosphere, or increased radioactive decay during Noahs flood) and then expect us to believe it occured, despite there being no evidence for such a fiddle factor actually occuring.

The two are totally different.

  • 58.
  • At 09:24 PM on 08 Jan 2007,
  • Creationist Apologist wrote:

Re- Post 57 (Guthrie)

Guthrie,
I fully agree that science hangs together as a whole. There is indeed an inter-relationship between the various branches of science. I imagine that must be obvious to any thinking person. Christians would generally agree with this, for one of our greatest theologians, Augustine of Hippo, said in the fourth century that "All truth is God's truth".

What creationist scientists seek to do is to investigate scientific evidence and try to work out how it fits with the "creation model" (to use creationist pioneer Dr Henry Morris's phrase). There is a creation model and there is an evolutionary model. Evidential data requires interpretation - e.g. a fossilized animal will yield certain facts, but the facts have to be collated, evaluated, classified, etc. Within the creation model, just as within the evolutionary model - and indeed all science - there is scope for trial and error.

Creationist scientists would obviously accept the Biblical account of a world-wide Flood at the time of Noah, since they accept the Biblical text as an authoritative and divinely inspired document. So believing in Noah's flood is not a "fiddle factor" as you seem to suggest; it is an integral part of the creation model. (Bear in mind that evolutionist scientists, too, must find a way of explaining geological history, and various hypotheses are worked out and debated.) It may be further argued that the historic fact of the Flood is corroborated by flood legends and myths that have been preserved in distinct societies around the world, many of which were collated in the nineteenth century, which tends to confirm rather than deny the Biblical account.

The Noahic Flood is considered a non-negotiable historical account for the Biblical creationist scientist, whereas the interpretation of data (e.g. the fossil record) based on this event is a subject of legitimate debate.

The scientific implications of the acceptance or, conversely, denial of a global (rather than localized) Flood are hugely significant, of course, and has led creationist scientists to consider the geological effects of global catastrophism and to challenge the uniformitarian assumptions of the evolutionary model (e.g. dating methods based on uniform rates of decay). These are all legitimate subjects of scientific investigation and debate.

Kind regards,

"Creationist Apologist"

  • 59.
  • At 10:38 PM on 08 Jan 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

But there's the problem, apologist- the Craetionist model requires things that are absurd, such as the aforementioned increase in radioactivity, in order to make it fit with the observed universe. This is the problem with "Creation Science". It doesn't hang together in a rational fashion. Since you just admitted that real science does, I am surprised you have to resort to the post modernist argument that they are just different views of the same thing.
For example, what experiments do creationists do to confirm their hypotheses?

As for the flood, perhaps I didnt make myself clear enough. It is indeed generally accepted that there have been various large scale floods of inhabited parts of the world, at various times. This however is not the same as a global flood covering all land at once. There is no evidence for such an occurence.

The problem also is where has the water gone, or come from in the first place? If the entire earth was submerged, where has all the water, equivalent to more than is currently in the oceans, gone?
OK, you say god got rid of it. Fine. But you cant demonstrate that using science, since as I have said, there is no evidence. Hence it is a matter of faith.

Anyway, it is clear that you cannot consider anything that disagrees with the Bible- as such you cannot practise science at all. Do you really think the early Geologists wanted to come to the conclusion that the earth was very old? They would have been entirely happy had it fitted in with Archbishop Ushers calculations.

  • 60.
  • At 01:24 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Loose wrote:

Guthrie: (posts 43, 44, 47 & 48)

Sorry for the delay - personal reasons kept me away.

The question I am answering is your spin on what TiS actually quoted from the Academic’s letter to the PM. You asked “What is wrong with empirical science?” I say “Nothing”. TiS quote the Academics when they say “ We write to applaud the Truth in Science initiative” … “Empirical science has severe limitations concerning origins” and Darwinism is not necessarily the best scientific model to fit the data that we observe.” Absolutely right. TiS don’t say or imply there’s anything wrong with empirical science.

How one deduces from the quotation that TiS have any problem with empirical science per se is totally beyond me. The letter goes on and makes further reference to the need to find the best scientific model to fit the data that we observe. TiS are pleading for more attention to empirical data – not less. Of course, what they are saying is something like this: ‘the philosophical and theoretical speculation that surrounds the intrinsic nature of origins research must be constrained given that there can be no observations of the past, only deductions from what’s left of the past’.

While you dismiss my criticism of Darwin whose supposed scientific work uses more faith-based language than the entire New Testament (how strange, if the empirical data is so solid), it should be noted that even today there is very little empirical evidence for the core mechanism of neo-Darwinism. It was and still is a belief ridden system. It would be interesting to hear from those who have faith in Darwinism, of falsifiable experimental data showing how neo-Darwinism does actually function. Please don’t come with stories about rainfall induced finch-beaks’ size varying over time. Pass over the Peppered Moth colour variation. Nothing new is created. We need experimental data that shows the creative power of natural selection.

Unless you know of some research that I’ve not seen, the trend in experimental data, particularly in Genetics, is creating huge problems for neo-Darwinism. That’s one reason why the one-hour long DVD Unlocking the Mystery of Life distributed by TiS to Schools is producing such outbursts from neo-Darwinists. It beats me: 150 years of Darwinian paradigm is threatened by a mere 60 minutes of a DVD that puts another point of view based on the experimental evidence. Is that the best form of response that science can make? Ban the DVD: hide the evidence!

As for Dogma in neo-Darwinism – it’s rampant. If one is interested in free open enquiry, then all views and opinions are up for debate and testing. But it’s not like that. Examine the case of Dr Richard Sternberg, who dared to publish a peer-reviewed paper in a credible scientific journal when that paper was critical of neo-Darwinism. Dr Sternberg, working in the Smithsonian, was harassed in appalling ways as now substantiated by the US Office of Special Counsel http://www.rsternberg.net/OSC_ltr.htm

Or take the position of Prof. Philip Skell, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus at Penn State University http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&program=News&id=3174

Skell says, in part, “For those scientists who take it seriously, Darwinian evolution has functioned more as a philosophical belief system than as a testable scientific hypothesis. This quasi-religious function of the theory is, I think, what lies behind many of the extreme statements that you have doubtless encountered from some scientists opposing any critical analysis of neo-Darwinism in the classroom.”

Finally take a look at The Wall Street Journal, August 16th 1999 at this link “The Church of Darwin”. Note especially the opening paragraph. http://www.arn.org/docs/johnson/chofdarwin.htm

It is the Dogma that puts Darwin beyond proper criticism: Atheism is a religious belief system and as Prof Richard Dawkins says, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

  • 61.
  • At 10:21 PM on 13 Jan 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

A delay is fine, we all have real lives to get one with.

I'm afraid that I cannot see any difference between claiming that there are severe limitations with Empirical Science and saying that there is something wrong with it.

How else can you do science except with methodological naturalism?

TiS keep saying that "Darwinism" is not the best way to look at things given the data, but, and I have read much of what is on the website, seem unable to suggest exactly what is the best way to look at the data.

However, I have a more serious question for you. Have you read the section of their critiscisms of evolution? It includes an essay on the evolution of the horse, by Paul Garner. Strangely enough, you can find a functionally equivalent essay online, here:
http://www.biblicalcreation.org.uk/scientific_issues/bcs146.html

Now, the older essay at biblicalcreation has mention of the flood, indeed talks about it at great length. The TiS essay however does not mention it at all. Does it not seem strange to you that TiS have put up an essay on their website that appears to have been deliberately re-written in order to remove reference to a global flood?
WHy do that, unless they wanted to cover up their Creationist views?

"The letter goes on and makes further reference to the need to find the best scientific model to fit the data that we observe."

If you can suggest any other way of doing science other than methodological naturalism, I'd like to know it. How do you do your science?

"TiS are pleading for more attention to empirical data – not less."

There we run into a problem- what empricial data. Like I say, I have read much of the stuff on their website. As far as I can verify, the material on the evolution of the horse referred to above relies upon actual paleontological work carried out by normal, non-craetionist scientists.


"Of course, what they are saying is something like this: ‘the philosophical and theoretical speculation that surrounds the intrinsic nature of origins research must be constrained given that there can be no observations of the past, only deductions from what’s left of the past’."
Therein lies part of the problem. Some people out there speculate philosophically that the Flying Spaghetti monster created the universe. Can we test that in a scientific manner? Not that I am aware.

"it should be noted that even today there is very little empirical evidence for the core mechanism of neo-Darwinism."

You mean apart from the studies on everything from moths to bacteria to Finches, the nested hierarchy of genetics that just so happens to match the theory that all life has common ancestors, the paleontological evidence, etc etc.
Besides, which core mechanism do you mean? Which kind of selection are you talking abou?

"It was and still is a belief ridden system."
Only to those who come from a belief ridden system. I'm afraid I can think of no less insulting way of putting it.


[large amounts of bombast and waffle ignored]


"As for Dogma in neo-Darwinism – it’s rampant. If one is interested in free open enquiry, then all views and opinions are up for debate and testing."

Testing, yes, Can you tell me how the theory of creationist kinds has been tested? How do baraminologists test their theories?

Sternberg is a discredited fool, I am afraid. Read this:

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/12/answering_krauze_and_sternberg_1.php


Or take the position of Prof. Philip Skell, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus at Penn State University http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&program=News&id=3174

As for the wall street journal article, so what?
Some Chinese bloke says we arent allowed to critiscise Darwin, and Philip Johnson conflates philosophical naturalism, methodological naturalism, atheism and science.

Same goes for Dawkins. When he makes that quote, he is essentialy making a metaphysical statement, about himself, that has no standing with regards to the science in question.

  • 62.
  • At 05:18 PM on 17 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Loose wrote:

Guthrie - re Post 61.

Would you please define for me exactly what you mean by the term "Methodological Naturalism"?

I apologise again for intermittent responses - this is due to the ongoing personal situation mentioned earlier.

Thanks

Peter

  • 63.
  • At 06:23 PM on 17 Jan 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

Bearing in mind that I am not a philosopher, I understand methodological naturalism to be where you look and examine natural causes. Supernatural causes are generally ignored, because they cannot be tested.
Philosophical naturalism means something more like there is nothing but this material stuff here.
The first is a way of doing things, the second is more a philosophical or suchlike statement about the entire universe.

This is one of the major problems with ID as it has been proposed- they rely upon a designer "poofing" stuff into existence. Now, I am aware that many of them publicly claim that the designers could have been space aliens, but when you read the propaganda produced for consumption by other theists, it seems to confirm that they use ID to show that God did it.

Now, what Philip Johnson says is:

"The root of the problem is that "science" has two distinct definitions in our culture. On the one hand, science refers to a method of investigation involving things like careful measurements, repeatable experiments, and especially a skeptical, open-minded attitude that insists that all claims be carefully tested. Science also has become identified with a philosophy known as materialism or scientific naturalism. This philosophy insists that nature is all there is, or at least the only thing about which we can have any knowledge. It follows that nature had to do its own creating, and that the means of creation must not have included any role for God. Students are not supposed to approach this philosophy with open-minded skepticism, but to believe it on faith.

The reason the theory of evolution is so controversial is that it is the main scientific prop for scientific naturalism. Students first learn that "evolution is a fact," and then they gradually learn more and more about what that "fact" means. It means that all living things are the product of mindless material forces such as chemical laws, natural selection, and random variation. So God is totally out of the picture, and humans (like everything else) are the accidental product of a purposeless universe. Do you wonder why a lot of people suspect that these claims go far beyond the available evidence?"

The first sentence seems to roughly correspond to what I would call methodological naturalism, the sentences after it attacking scientism would seem to be talking about philosophical materialism.

Now, one thing you can ask yourself is, if Evolution is such a cornerstone of materialistic philosophy, so many scientists who study it and know about it are of all religious faiths on the planet?

Furthermore, why not choose chemistry as the major prop for "scientific materialism"? It has a longer history than Evolution, and is far more part of peoples everyday lives in ways that are easily demonstrable.

Now, perhaps the dictionary definitions are somewhat different from mine, in which case I'll have to alter them to suit.

  • 64.
  • At 08:58 PM on 20 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Loose wrote:

Guthrie - I think you conflate the two definitions that you quote from Prof Phillip Johnson.

Just to bring us to the same place on Methodological Naturalism, I have pasted here a relevant section from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalism_%28philosophy%29

"Methodological naturalism contrasted with metaphysical naturalism
Metaphysical naturalism, which is often called "philosophical naturalism" or "ontological naturalism", takes an ontological approach to naturalism. Ontology is a matter of whether something exists, and so this is the view that the supernatural does not exist, thus entailing strong atheism.

In contrast, methodological naturalism is "the adoption or assumption of philosophical naturalism within scientific method with or without fully accepting or believing it … science is not metaphysical and does not depend on the ultimate truth of any metaphysics for its success (although science does have metaphysical implications), but methodological naturalism must be adopted as a strategy or working hypothesis for science to succeed. We may therefore be agnostic about the ultimate truth of naturalism, but must nevertheless adopt it and investigate nature as if nature is all that there is."[3]" ([End of quote]

Now it seems to me that any discussion about Intelligent Design or indeed any Design hypothesis, is ruled out of bounds from the start - because of an arbitrary definition of how one does 'science'. Methodological Naturalism entails, according to Wikipedia “strong atheism”. Note that is a modern working framework and was largely unknown to, for example, the founders of The Royal Society. Science used to be about seeking to understand the Universe and find the best or most truthful explanations. That's why the Royal Society motto is "Nullius in verba". Science has become, on the basis of Methodological Naturalism, the hand-maiden of atheism because God is ruled out of the picture from the start. That is a limited sort of science and it may or may not lead to much real knowledge. So long as opponents of Intelligent Design refuse to think outside their arbitrary paradigm of what science is, or is not, there is no basis for progress. Any non-Natural explanation is excluded before any experiments are conducted.

I suggest that Science on the basis of Methodological Naturalism is a faith position, not an empirical or evidential position. Because of that and in part because of the rising challenge of evidentially based Intelligent Design, neo-Darwinism has developed strong elements of aggressive fundamentalism within its ranks - of which the Sternberg affair is a good example irrespective of him being right or wrong. Your throw-away assertion that Sternberg is discredited must mean that you don't read independent analysis of the affair – see the US Office of Special Counsel earlier referenced.

One aspect of Methodological Naturalism is its consequent insistence that "Matter created mind". (Matter came first). Theists reason by inferring from all we know and experience - Matter never creates mind: it is always the other way round.

Unless one wishes to examine the empirical data objectively, particularly that at the level of DNA, and cease trying to force it into an arbitrary a priori defined paradigm which excludes from the start certain classes of answer, then in spite of the evidence from observable data that both disconfirms neo-Darwinism and confirms Intelligent Design, our discussions will stagnate. You may as well say that Windows XP or any such Computer Operating System, can arise by an entirely unguided random process. That is utter nonsense with not a shred of evidence in support. It’s the same for information in the DNA – but the fundamentalism of Darwinian ‘believism’ in its adherence to the assumptions of Methodological Naturalism now under enormous evidential strain, blinds Naturalism to what is staring them in the face – Mind always precedes Matter: Information follows from Mind alone.

  • 65.
  • At 06:21 PM on 21 Jan 2007,
  • pb wrote:


may I intrude here guys?

I was having similar debate on another Will and testament SLOThermodyanics entry and this was my latest entry, from a non-scientific viewpoint;-

Thoughts from the weekend...

Science cannot test the existence of God so he must be left out of theory and research.

This is understandable and it would seem it cannot be any other way for the moment for science to retain a stable footing.

But that is not to say that science can say that anything it cannot measure is not real. It would seem science would retain more integrity to say there are questions it really cannot begin to tackle as yet, for example, what happens to human personality and consciousness after death? And do rational scientists believe in God, even if their identity is not in their faith?

But if evolution is at present "the most probable theory" to explain human origins then we must logically concede two points;-

1) Science should confess there are questions and issues it cannot begin to examine at present, so it cannot be ruled out that methods of scientifically proving God will be found.

2) At present the term "the most probable theory" necessarily allows a mathematical possibility that evolution is wrong.

If point one is solved then the remote possibility of creationism being the "most probable theory" radically change.

Finally and on a different footing, if we stand back and look at ourselves, in a moment of normal living room common sense, are all the scientists on this blog fighting creationism REALLY saying that they REALLY believe that they evolved purely by random chance and that there is no purpose above the biological for them being here?

Or, as I suspect, do many of them actually believe in God, albeit even in agnostic terms, call on him in private in times of crisis and believe deep down that he is their maker.

But perhaps these same scientists find their ire kindled by "Christians" in their personal lives whose personal behaviour leaved a lot to be desired. Or perhaps they feel provoked by religious statements and concepts from creationists which appear totally ridiculous in laboratory terms?

If these secular people in their quiet moments do suspect/believe that God created them (even if they believe that is by evolution) then perhaps we are not as far apart as all the heat and light above suggests.

Remember, I am on record numerous times as saying I have no problem accepting any Christians who believe in evolution, even though I am sceptical about it myself on rational and theological grounds.

Perhaps apparently opposing people from faith and science camps can yet learn something from each other's views without either surrendering integrity, conviction or truth?

PB


  • 66.
  • At 07:07 PM on 21 Jan 2007,
  • pb wrote:


...also, like the line about Windows XP Peter!

  • 67.
  • At 11:56 AM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

So it looks like I recalled fairly accurately what the difference between the two is.

However, what I dont quite understand is why methodological naturalism is an arbitrary definition of how you do science. On the contrary, I regard it as one of those things as simple as one of the definitions of a woman being that she gives birth to babies. It is quite a fundamental difference between men and women that men cant give birth to babies. It goes with the definition. (leaving aside issues of age, infertility etc.)

Or in other words, how can you do science, if you actually treat the world as a magic place in which things happen which have no explanation that you can test or measure?

The thing is, I dont see that any discussion about an ID hypothesis is ruled out, except when the hypothesising is based upon religious assumptions. Which in the case of TiS, The Discovery Institute and many other organisations is the case.

I think you need to read the Wikipedia entry again- it is philosophical naturalism that entails strong atheism, not, as you say, methodological naturalism.
Hence, your further comments about science's relation to God is null and void.

As for the Royal Society, that is merely an argument by authority, and carries no weight. What exactly is the difference in method between what Newton and the others did, and what is being done by modern scientists?
Can you tell me?
If you can, you'll be a very rare bird indeed.
I think you'll find that ultimately, the successful scientists of whatever period have been using the scientific method, including methodological naturalism.

Anyway, the reason science uses methodological naturalism is because nothing else works. I believe that there is a large pink spider sitting on your ceiling. I know it is there because it has spoken to me by telepathy. Would you like to prove to me that it is not there?

Or to put it another way, we cannot use non-science to try and do science, because appealing to the supernatural as an explanation offers no testable hypotheses. Miracles, defined as events taking place using supernatural, non-materialistic means, appear not to be scientifically testable. Besides, does not Jehovah say that he is not to be tested?

What is this evidentially based ID? I have not seen any yet.

The thing about Sternberg is that I read the critiques of the special councel case, in which it was made clear just how much said counsel was made up of half truths.


What is this mind you refer to? Is there something special about it?


Unless one wishes to examine the empirical data objectively, particularly that at the level of DNA, and cease trying to force it into an arbitrary a priori defined paradigm which excludes from the start certain classes of answer, then in spite of the evidence from observable data that both disconfirms neo-Darwinism and confirms Intelligent Design, our discussions will stagnate.

Or in other words, you want to play the game according to your rules? Nope, that is not open to negotiation.

What is this unguided random process you are talking about? Are the physical laws of the universe random? Do you really think that an omniscient creator would be incapable of setting up a universe so that all that has come to pass was foreseen from the beggining?


I do agree though that it is utter nonsense to hypothesis that Windows could have arisen by random chance. that kind of combination of uselessness and usefulness seems to take humans.

  • 68.
  • At 02:02 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

I'm glad that pb shows understanding of the issues here. However I still have some quibbles. For example, you say:

(begin quote)
But if evolution is at present "the most probable theory" to explain human origins then we must logically concede two points:

1) Science should confess there are questions and issues it cannot begin to examine at present, so it cannot be ruled out that methods of scientifically proving God will be found.

2) At present the term "the most probable theory" necessarily allows a mathematical possibility that evolution is wrong.

If point one is solved then the remote possibility of creationism being the "most probable theory" radically change. (end quote)

Point 1- Indeed, (as far as I am aware) that cannot be logically denied. However it is up to those claiming scientific proof of god to prove their case. Most of us do anyway admit there are areas we do not know about, the point being that they are then fruitful areas of study.
However, philosophically minded folk might have a bit of a problem with a deity which is supernatural yet can be scientifically shown to exist, i.e. it is the most sensible conclusion given the evidence.

Point 2- Of course. The same goes for every scientific theory we have. However, the odds so far look pretty good in favour of evolution, quantum mechanics, stratigraphy, and a whole host of scientific theories.

If by solution of point one, you mean that scientific proof of God is found, then of course, that would change everything. But the onus is on you to provide said proof. It must be a positive proof however, not a negative ID type proof, of "Its too complex to have evolved therefore [deity of chouice] did it."

(begin quote)
Finally and on a different footing, if we stand back and look at ourselves, in a moment of normal living room common sense, are all the scientists on this blog fighting creationism REALLY saying that they REALLY believe that they evolved purely by random chance and that there is no purpose above the biological for them being here?(end quote)
No, we're saying that it seems to be the most likely explanation, ie that the rules of the universe seem to permit evolution by natural selection on variations present in living things.
REALLY BELIEVING something surely means it is not down to evidence, but belief. The two are different, despite the attempts to cloud the issue by refering to the casual use of the word "belief".

Besides, lets not get into things to do with purpose. That just gets incredibly messy, and also, not being a scientific argument, fairly pointless.

  • 69.
  • At 01:46 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • pb wrote:


Guthrie

thanks for an interesting response.

However I am not sure how easily you can come onto a religion blog and say we should not get into a discussion about purpose! ;-)

The whole point of my last blog was not to try and prove creationism. I couldnt begin to do it scientifically.

My whole point is to challenge the view of those who assert that evolutions is unassailable fact and that creationism has no credibility at all.

That is an absolute (fundamentalist!) position which I believen even Dawkins cannot logically demonstrate.

That being the case I am happy to leave my weeks of discussion on this topic in concluding this much;-

Most scientists believe evolution is the most probable explanation for human origins. But they must logically also admit there are huge issues relating to reality they do not currently have the tools to examine.
And if they began to get the tools to examine God, then Behe would be in with a shout of standing up creationism in an American court as something very different to the "least probable" explanation for human origins.

So the case for creationism at present is therefore not "incorrect". The case is "not able to be proven within current scientific constraints".

It may also be a valid question as to whether a non-US court might have come to a different conclusion if it was not so strong on seperation of church and state. I still cant see how Behe could ever have got a fair trial because of this; the judge would have ended up ruling that Christian religion had to be taught in state science lessons!


Agree?

Much of this may sound obvious and a given, but to the hordes of Dawkinites who descended on this blog over the past number of weeks it is a statement which could nearly earn me a public stoning.

Only now that they have lost interest have I really been able to discuss this point and I am greatly satsifed to come to an understanding of it.

Thanks for your help.

Of course the many strong inconsistencies in the theory of evolution are well rehearsed and need not be repeated here.

;-)
PB


  • 70.
  • At 10:46 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Loose wrote:

Guthrie:

“Methodological Naturalism (MN) is the application of Philosophical Naturalism (PN) to Science” – so says Wikipedia and perfectly coherently. Hence the attributes of PN are attached to MN. What’s the problem then that you see here?

The arbitrary thing here is that science, MN style (=PN style), can only seek answers or explanations for observed phenomena that are natural. That’s why science, MN style, must always exclude an appeal to Intelligence as an explanation for what we see and measure.

Science has excluded any explanations that invoke Intelligence because of its a priori commitment to atheism. That means science is no longer seeking the best or the true explanation. An entire class of Design understandings and explanations that we use every day – a jet engine is designed, a computer is designed and so on – are eliminated. That elimination is nothing more than a commitment to the Dogma of neo-Darwinism. And it is faith in the dogma that sustains the pursuit of a natural explanation even when the empirical evidence is piling up against one.

Consider this from Prof Richard Lewinton of Harvard – (Materialism = Naturalism as used here)

Richard Lewinton wrote:
We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfil many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
Richard Lewontin, ‘Billions and billions of demons’, The New York Review, January 9, 1997, p. 31, as quoted in "It's Not Science."

If Lewinton is speaking for neo-Darwinism (and he is), then that's really QED is it not?

At least he's honest enough to state his assumptions


  • 71.
  • At 01:25 PM on 24 Jan 2007,
  • pb wrote:

Peter

You seem to be saying what I am though many times more eloquently.

I also speculate that even if the Dover trial accepted Behe's argument about ID and accepted God as the creator, it would have been bound by current interpretation of US law on church and state seperation to ban the truth from being taught in science classes.

That seems to underline the pro-athiesm prejudice that runs through the politico-legal system. So the Dover trial appears to have been prejudiced around 150 years in advance.

PB


  • 72.
  • At 12:15 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

No peter, that is not exactly what the wikipedia article says, unless you are looking at a different article. I'm looking here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalism_%28philosophy%29

What is says is that:
(begin quote)
Many modern philosophers of science[1][2] use the terms methodological naturalism or scientific naturalism to refer to the long standing convention in science of the scientific method, which makes the methodological assumption that observable effects in nature are best explainable only by similarly natural causes, and with irrelevance to the assumption of the existence or non-existence of supernatural elements, and so considers supernatural explanations for such events to be outside of science.
(end quote)

Now, you claim that this means that science is atheistic, because it does not pretend to examine the supernatural, whic by definition is that which:
(quote from wikipedia)
The supernatural (Latin: super- "above" + nature) refers to entities, forces or phenomena which are not subject to natural laws, and therefore beyond verifiable measurement.
(end quote)

Or in other words, to do science, you have no choice but to look at the material aspects of something.

Gods could exist, but we can take no scientific position on them, because we cannot reliably measure them.
What Dembski and Behe appear to have tried to do is to detect elements of design independent of any consideration of the designer, thus providing a way of examining some aspect of God without invoking the supernatural. They both failed of course.

Like I have said from the very beggining, you cannot measure the supernatural, and science can say nothing about it.

BUT, it is going a step too far to then say that science has a comittment to atheism, given the number of theistic scientists around.

And of course Lewontin is overstating things, as people are want to do.

Science does not discard an appeal to intelligence, it just disregards appeals to things that cannot be measured.

My challenge to you is to show how to do science with an appeal to inelligence, and the supernatural.

What on earth do you mean by science eliminating jet engines etc? We study them and their properties all the time.

What it looks like to me is that you are committed to seeing philosophical and methodological naturalism as the same thing, which they are not.

Also you have not commented on my quote from TiS themselves about problems with empirical science. Does this mean that you agree with them or me?

  • 73.
  • At 05:39 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Loose wrote:

Guthrie:

I think you're looking at the same URL for Wikipedia. However you don't appear to be looking at the same section. The definitions are further down the page. Here is a paste from the site:-

Definition of Methodological Naturalism

[edit] Methodological naturalism contrasted with metaphysical naturalism
Metaphysical naturalism, which is often called "philosophical naturalism" or "ontological naturalism", takes an ontological approach to naturalism. Ontology is a matter of whether something exists, and so this is the view that the supernatural does not exist, thus entailing strong atheism.

In contrast, methodological naturalism is "the adoption or assumption of philosophical naturalism within scientific method with or without fully accepting or believing it … science is not metaphysical and does not depend on the ultimate truth of any metaphysics for its success (although science does have metaphysical implications), but methodological naturalism must be adopted as a strategy or working hypothesis for science to succeed. We may therefore be agnostic about the ultimate truth of naturalism, but must nevertheless adopt it and investigate nature as if nature is all that there is."[3](end of quote)


My goal in this discussion is to show that Science is not an open enquiry into nature around us. Science as interpreted today is a biased story that can be told in our Culture if it assumes only a certain class of answer. Science has become a fundamentalist intolerant faith position. Hence my quote from the eminent Lewontin who is perfectly explicit and accordingly is comprehensively prejudiced in his approach to explaining nature.

Until neo-Darwinists and those who 'buy' that current creation-myth of our age cease playing the game of posturing as open unprejudiced seekers of true, unfettered explanations for nature and how it works, there is little point of contact in discussion. Immediately someone proposes that Intelligence is a universal concomitant of information and thus is immediately to be considered as the explanation for DNA, neo-Darwinists tend to become apoplectic. Their 'faith' in naturalism has been threatened and they have no defence except to kill the messenger rather than weigh the empirical evidence.

I find it all rather pathetic that a one hour DVD - Unlocking the Mystery of Life - is considered such dynamite when shown in a science class that the might of Darwinism can't take it. Why are they so sensitive to this little flee-bite of information? Perhaps it's because they know they're on flimsy ground and they're fighting to survive. Heavens above, this just might be a ‘Divine foot in the door’ and our naturalism dogmatically rejects that.

I don't propose to go into all the other subjects you raise at this time. There are fundamental definitions to get sorted out before we venture off into deeper waters.

  • 74.
  • At 09:44 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

My goal is to demonstrate that your supposition is wrong.

Put it this way. How do you do science on the supernatural, which by definition is outside nature?
Or, alternatively, your deity is fully within nature and therefore open to observation as with anything else taht is "natural". If the latter, you need to provide evidence. If the former, it is unobservable to empirical science.
This does not mean that the deity does not exist, rather that you cannot ask scientific questions about the deity.

Read the 2nd wiki paragraph again. The assumption of natuarlism is absolutely necessary to carry out the activity we call science.
You cannot carry out the activity we call science assuming that there is non-natural stuff going on.

Hence, I await your suggestions on how to carry out such science.

I think you are fundamentally misunderstanding Lewontins quote, I assume you mined it from a creationist site.

(quote)
Until neo-Darwinists and those who 'buy' that current creation-myth of our age cease playing the game of posturing as open unprejudiced seekers of true, unfettered explanations for nature and how it works, there is little point of contact in discussion. (endquote)
But we are.
At this stage its up to you to produce the evidence to back up your proposition, because weve produced plenty to back up ours.

(quote)
Immediately someone proposes that Intelligence is a universal concomitant of information and thus is immediately to be considered as the explanation for DNA, neo-Darwinists tend to become apoplectic.(endquote)
Thats because the people who have proposed it have not backed up their assertions. This is the key point. Their assertions are not backed up by any evidence. Do you understand this statement?


(quote)
Their 'faith' in naturalism has been threatened and they have no defence except to kill the messenger rather than weigh the empirical evidence.
(endquote)

But as I repeat ad-nauseam, there are plenty of scientists, even some creationists, doing perfectly good scientific work using methodological naturalism. Your side on the other hand, lack any empirical evidence.


(snipped various boring rants)

Perhaps the best thing for you to do is look for some evidence for your position. Come back to me when you have some.


  • 75.
  • At 05:14 PM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Loose wrote:


Guthrie:

Following your last post, I don't sense too much interest in progress at all. I've posed a number of issues and illustrated clearly by quotes from sources unfriendly to any Theist position that the self-proclaimed basis of contemporary science is to "not allow the Divine foot in the door".

In the most polite way I can say, your thesis that only by assuming a Designer has no part in the natural world can science be carried out is entirely without foundation. In what culture did the rise of modern science take place? Like it or not, the answer is a Christian Culture. To add fuel to the flames, many if not most of the greatest scientists of that period were explicitly Christian.

I say again, by defining science in the way that you, and Wikipedia have done - to only allow natural explanations to be considered - you are excluding an entire 'universe' of possible explanations for the world we see around us. That bias is just fine - but don't pretend that means Intelligent Design is not science. You made it that because of your assumptions, not because of the evidence. I call that prejudice.

Because the paradigm of Naturalism is so pervasive in the mindset of those who embrace PN and MN, you will never see any information that suggests Design or a Designer. Why? Because you said, from the very moment you started the whole enterprise that such answers or explanations were entirely out of order.

Well and good - but by so doing you will make little or no progress in real understanding. I say again, almost ad nauseam, that everything we know, everything we experience, shouts at us that Intelligence begets Design. I put it like this sometimes - suppose you remove the aerial from the TV and sit and watch the screen. You see 'snow storm' like random patterns of dark and light and all shades in between. How long would you expect to stare at the screen before a rose, a sunset or some such object appeared? Or, move the imagination to the realm of sound and radio - pull the aerial out of the FM radio. Sit and sit - when will the hiss become say "The Moonlight Sonata"?

That's an illustration of the complete non-sequitur of the position that matter precedes intelligence.

You ask for evidence of my (Theist) position? It's staring you in the face! Unless that is, you are quite sure that the works of the great composers and painters are bettered by sitting for an ‘eternity plus one’ in front of a TV or radio with no aerial!!


  • 76.
  • At 10:25 PM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

Starting from the bottom, you will agree that great works of art and paintings have been produced by beleivers in different gods (ie not yours) or by atheists?
Following on from that, can you provide any evidence that your belief that your deity provided the inspiration for them is correct? No, of course not. That is a theological viewpoint that you hold.

You seem to be unable to differentiate between philosophical naturalism and methodological naturalism, and can only quote a couple of non scientific statements to back yourself up.

The point, to repeat myself again, is that science proceeds by examining that which can be examined, ie. the natural world around us.

I have plenty of interest in progress, however it is clear that your position brooks no opposition.


My thesis, which you appear unable to apreciate, is that science can only be done by looking at things that exist, that can be shown to exist by observation in such way, and can also be measured. Hence Truth in Sciences opposition to empirical science.

PLease be impolite if you feel like it.


What on earth has the religion of early scientist got to do with anything? remember BEnjamin Franklin? He invented lightning rods. AT the time he did, many people resisted fitting them to churches and other buildings, on the grounds that if god wanted to hit a building with lightning, that was his prerogative.

Yet lightning rods ended up being widely adopted, and we found out what caused lightning. No evidence for a deity was discovered during this.

Look, give me an answer to the question I have asked already- what kidn of science is it that scorns methodlogical naturalism and empiricism?


Anyway, your writing everyone off who disagrees with you is noted. I note also that you still cannot produce any evidence for ID.

(quote) I say again, almost ad nauseam, that everything we know, everything we experience, shouts at us that Intelligence begets Design.(end quote)

No. It doesnt. DOes the wind design a hurricane? Do rocks design scree slopes?
Your religious beliefs have no place in science.

  • 77.
  • At 10:31 PM on 29 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Loose wrote:

Guthrie:

Let's keep this short. Will you show me, exactly, where Truth in Science, or indeed any ID work, is opposed to empirical science?

The entire flow of ID is to encourage more attention to empirical science. ID sees that as one way of focussing minds on what is real and observable as opposed to that which is imagined -the 'Just-so stories' of Lewonton. What is real and empirically observed is undermining neo-Darwinism.


Here's the extended quote from Lewonton - "Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."

  • 78.
  • At 02:25 PM on 01 Feb 2007,
  • guthrie wrote:

Certainly. TiS say this:

(quote)"We write to applaud the Truth in Science initiative," the letter said. Empirical science has to recognise "severe limitations concerning origins" and Darwinism is not necessarily "the best scientific model to fit the data that we observe". (end quote)
From:
http://www.truthinscience.org.uk/site/content/view/217/63/

So, what is this but a dislike of empiricism? Moreover, if they accepted empiricism, young earth creationists would not spend so much time trying to shoehorn scientific results into a 6,000 year old earth.

If you doubt that McINtosh and the others are YEC's, then why is he a vice president of the Creation science moevement:
http://www.csm.org.uk/journals/2005-2.pdf?PHPSESSID=e384bba34553166746a4355d86fc31c4

The Creation Science movement is a YEC organisation, set up to oppose "Darwinism" back in the 30's.

For all you talk about what is real and observable, can you actually explain what ID science is, and what it reveals? No, you cannot. It is well documented that ID supporters are religiously motivated to attack science, and especially evolutionary biology.
Lewontins words are hypoerbole, and do not state the full position. Once more, I ask you (for probably the 3rd time) what kind of science you do if you explicitly permit the supernatural as part of the investigation?

Once again, there is a difference between philosophical and methodological naturalism. Science uses the latter. By doing so, it does not rule out the presence or otherwise of gods. It merely restricts itself to what can be studied using materialistic means. Which is effectively what Lewontin says, but for some reason he seems to want to make more of it.
Moreover, I read it as part of a larger talk about why things such as quantum physics, which are entirely non-intuitive, have been discovered and used. It is still talking about methodological naturalism. In fact, do you know if he is a philosophical naturalist or not?

  • 79.
  • At 07:19 PM on 04 Feb 2007,
  • Peter Loose wrote:

Guthrie - I fear we have reached the point where progress is abortive. To characterise something as having "limitations" is not the same as to "oppose" it.

So, a motor car has limitations - for example it can't fly. Does that mean one is "opposed" to motor cars?

Unless I completely misunderstand you, you are trying to twist a statement about a 'limitation' of empirical science into 'opposition' to the same.

With that sort of reasoning, reason has gone out of the window. Sadly, I fear it is time to call a halt.

  • 80.
  • At 03:52 PM on 10 Apr 2007,
  • Coral wrote:

Re: As reported yesterday (31st December 2006) in the Sunday Times,
twelve senior academics have written to the Prime Minister and
Education Secretary in support of Truth in Science.

http://www.truthinscience.org.uk/site/content/view/217/63

Why is the Dept of Education in the UK getting the nuclear fall-out
from the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, and its proponents of ID
in a re-branding, repackaged (evolved) form of creationism? These "resource packs" have already been used in the classroms of every high school, have been evaluated by teachers and feedback has been sent to the perpetrators of "Truth in Science"

This quote from Caroline Crocker (the second proponent of ID
emanating from the University of Southampton - the most vociferous ID
pusher being Professor Terry Hamblin of Southampton Uni) who has been
barred by her Department from teaching Evolution and Intelligent
Design in the USA.

"There really is not a lot of evidence for evolution,"

"Without the accountability of Judgment Day and Hell, why would
people follow the Ten Commandments?" C. Crocker
.
What the...?????
Perhaps this is the answer to WHAT SORT OF CHRISTIAN** (below).
.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v434/n7037/box/4341062a_bx1.html
.
.
The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at George Mason University said:

"I'm a Buddhist, but I don't think we should teach reincarnation in
biology classes."


_____________________________________

Science operates on academic integrity. “Truth in Science” is based
on lies. The authors distort scientific facts and libel dead people. At best, it could be classed as a hypothetical theology, which is so far removed from tried and tested science.
.
.
http://thesquire.blogspot.com/2005/03/being-nice-takes-longer.html
.
.
TAKE BACTERIAL ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE. EVOLUTION DESCRIBES THE
MECHANISM FOR ITS DEVELOPMENT AND THE SAME THEORY SUGGESTS MEANS TO
SLOW DOWN THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE. HOW DOES
INTELLIGENT DESIGN, WHICH DENIES THAT MUTATIONS CAN BE BENEFICIAL TO
AN ORGANISM, DEAL WITH ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE?

Intelligent Design is just as valid as the Time Cube, which is not
scientifically valid. ID is an attempt to force Fundamentalist
Christian beliefs into the public discourse by means of suppressing
rational, evidence-based science.

There is an order to creation - go ask a physicist. Monsignor Stuart
Swetland, the campus Catholic chaplain, had his original B.S. in
Physics, and has a t-shirt that says "And God said: [Maxwell's
equations] ...and there was light." From physics directly flows the
study of Chemistry, the interactions between the electrons of atoms.
Many of these atoms form molecules. Those containing carbon are
incredibly versatile, and as such carbon is the basis for most, if
not all, organic molecules. These can arise through various means.
The amino acids are known to have come from the prebiotic soup.
Nucleic acids are a bit harder to create, but analogous precursors
(which I'll mention again later) with similar catalytic properties
could be constructed from 2-carbon molecules, which are much more
abundant. The sugar backbone of RNA and DNA themselves differ by only
one atom (which is important in DNA's stability) and since the
nucleoside bases used by both DNA and RNA are similar (three are
exactly the same, while the other two differ only by a methyl group)
it is easy to transfer information between the two data media. In
fact, this transference takes place all the time, is called either
transcription or reverse transcription, depending on the direction of
the transfer. Without transcription, genes in DNA couldn't be
translated into proteins, which are what actually do most of the work
of the cell. The RNA copies of genes are translated into proteins
(which themselves are strings of amino acids) by ribosomes. Ribosomes
themselves are merely groups of a few RNA strands that, together, are
catalytically active and can use other RNA tags attached to amino
acids to order those amino acids according to the instructions in the
gene and to link the amino acids together into proteins. Current data
indicates that ribosomes may be the oldest part of the cell
machinery, and it is easy to assume that if RNA can facilitate the
coordination of different strands of RNA to create a protein, that
RNA catalysts (called ribozymes) may have also existed that could
function as RNA copying machinery to replicate genetic material. In
fact, short nuclear RNAs have been found that, when associated with
each other, can excise out segments of other RNAs and re-attatch the
pieces so that the new, shorter RNA makes sense to the ribosomes.
Once RNA machinery, and then proteins, got going, all that was needed
to create the most primitive cell would be to enclose a ribosome,
some other RNAs, some amino acids, and some free nucleotides in a
lipid bilayer (most likely formed from a bubble in the sea where this
all occurred). Who's to say that God did not use this method to
create a cell, over spans of geologic time? Remember, God has all the
time in the world. He can be patient. Since God is not necessarily
excluded from creation, even though evolution exists, there is no
moral vacuum. Science is not atheistic, and neither is evolution.
SCIENCE IS AGNOSTIC, BECAUSE THE PRESENCE OR ABSENCE OF GOD CANNOT
(currently, and likely for some time) BE PROVEN FROM DIRECT,
RE-CREATABLE OBSERVATION.

The Scientific Method doesn't reject God - it merely rejects faulty
hypotheses.

_____________________________________


Further background information about Truth In Science
.
.
http://bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/TruthInScience
.
.
With the benefit of hindsight, this eminent Professor, Terry Hamblin
of Southampton University, posted the above message into his blog.
WHAT SORT OF CHRISTIAN** defiles the recently deceased (Sally Clark)
and continues to distort history for his own gains?
.
.
http://mutated-unmuated.blogspot.com/
.
.
24 hours after Sally Clark’s death. He deleted it, then reposted the
same message (with a different URL), plus a few irrelevant
paragraphs, 48 hours after her death. He then deleted it for good,
but there was a Google cached copy, which has/had also been deleted.
A snapshot copy can be viewed here:
.
.
http://jkn.com/View?j=784939.998232583196
.
.
It is now on record that the deliberately erroneous, arrogant
opinions of Professor Terry Hamblin may have marred potential
referrals to him, which could be considered to be unsafe and not in
the public interest in the event of his being called upon as an
expert in his field.
.
.

http://216.239.59.104/search?q=cache:CJL9FZLd_24J:mutated-unmuated.blogspot.com/2007/03/sally-clarks-death.html+Terry+Hamblin%2BSally+Clark&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=uk
.
.

Yahoo archived copy here
.
.
.
http://66.218.69.11/search/cache?p=Terry+Hamblin%2BSally+Clark&fr=yfp-t-501&toggle=1&ei=UTF-8&vc=&fp_ip=UK&u=mutated-unmuated.blogspot.com/2007/03/sally-clarks-death.html&w=terry+hamblin+sally+clark&d=Y5yOIhIeOey-&icp=1&.intl=us


Yours truly
Coral


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