Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings
Monday, January 24, 2005
With the first Kansas State Board of Education public hearings on the revised science standards scheduled for Feb. 1, in Kansas City, Kansas at Schlagle High School Auditorium, 2214 N. 59th St. from 7:00 – 8:30 pm you may be wondering what the fuss is all about.
On Dec. 7, the 26-member science writing committee -- appointed last May by the Kansas State Board of Education submitted Draft 1 of the proposed 2005 Science Standards.
Then, on Dec. 10, an eight-member minority of the science standards committee led by William Harris submitted recommendations for for further revision of the draft standards which they say claim, in a letter to the board, "presents a purely naturalistic perspective on a question ("Where did we come from?"), the answer to which has profound implications for ethics, religion and government. This restriction is assumed to be a means of keeping public science education free from religion. However, "religion" includes both theistic and non-theistic beliefs. The naturalistic view that physical and chemical laws plus chance are adequate to explain all natural phenomena supports non-theistic religions and belief systems, while the competing view, that some form of intelligence may be involved, supports traditional theistic beliefs.
Here are excerpts from their proposed revisions
"Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena. Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us. Science does so through the use of observation, experimentation, and logical argument while maintaining strict empirical standards and healthy skepticism." (Words highlighted in blue are maked for deletion in the revised draft submitted by minority -- all supporters of Intelligent Design Theory)
They go on to explain that:
"The principle change here is to replace a naturalistic definition of science with a traditional definition. The current definition of science is intended to reflect a concept called methodological naturalism, which irrefutably assumes that cause-and-effect laws (as of physics and chemistry) are adequate to account for all phenomena and that teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid."
What's all the fuss about? Well, all they want to do is take the science out of science classes. If you read their revisions carefully, you'll see that they don't just want an alternative (teleological) explanation for evolution taught in biology. They now challenge the naturalistic explanation for what happens when students add aqueous ammonia to a beaker containing a few drops of aqueous copper sulfate in chemistry class. Maybe, it wasn't the chemical properties that turned the solution blue, maybe it was God or some unknown designer. The danger is that while they didn't win over many members of the science standards writing committee, who, by and large, are scientists and educators, they do have a majority on the board.
# posted by Pat Hayes @ 7:38 AM
I think the movement to non-scientific explanations for natural phenomena is an excellent means of correcting the environmental problems engendered by the Earth's overpopulation which is the direct result of the success of the Natural Sciences based on the cornerstones of Evolutionary Theory (as it continues to evolve), Chemistry, Mathmatics, and a host of others which have come to fruition in the last 250 years. Imagine the positive effect on population growth when fundamentalist Christians abolish the teaching of the Germ Theory of Disease and substitute "God's Will" for the cause of illness. The knowledge of Medicine we've accumulated over the last century could be easily eradicated within two, maybe even one, generation. It certainly wouldn't take more than one or two more generations to effectively reduce the Earth's population to more managable proportions (particularly if funamentalist teaching is extended to the social sciences and a Christian Crusade against the world's non-believers is launched using the weapons at their disposal).
I say, break out the flags and banners, blow the trumpets and let's begin our march back to the 11th century without further delay!!
06:31 PM CST on Wednesday, January 26, 2005
By LEE CULLUM
Here we go again. Evolution once more is under attack, this time by opponents far more sophisticated than those who push creationism.
In Dover, Pa., the school board voted to have teachers read to their students a statement that Charles Darwin's "theory is a theory ... not a fact." Everyone in the classroom should "keep an open mind" and consider the possibility of intelligent design. This is an approach developed by Michael Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University, who argues that the "irreducible complexity" of human life would be impossible without an overarching architect.
It's an interesting avenue for exploration – which will now take place in court. The American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, acting on behalf of 11 parents, sued the school board, contending that "discussing intelligent design is a way to foist religion on their children."
The story doesn't end in Pennsylvania. Evolution also has surfaced as an issue in Wisconsin, South Carolina, Kansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Georgia.
According to one poll, creationists have two-thirds of Americans with them in wanting competing approaches taught alongside evolution. They have an increasingly conservative judiciary. They also have an alternative better equipped for battle in the halls of science than the Book of Genesis, an alternative that never mentions God – though critics argue that all signs in intelligent design point to a supreme being.
What is wrong with that? Nothing, except the ill-considered decision, made over and over, to advance these ideas in direct opposition to Darwin. They could profitably be examined in a course on comparative religion, philosophy or contemporary thought, but not in science classes.
The problem, said Dr. Stuart Kauffman, a biologist at the University of Calgary, is that proponents of intelligent design "haven't understood the behavior of complex systems." When they argue that the "irreducible complexity" of human life, with organs in which every part is indispensable, couldn't possibly "have arrived through natural selection," they are ignoring phenomena by which "sufficiently large numbers of molecules – sufficiently complicated chemicals – will catalyze each other into complex systems without intelligent design," bringing natural order to chaos. Given certain circumstances, certain species could be expected to emerge.
Dr. Kauffman points out that they also are failing to heed Darwin's notions of pre-adaptation. What happens: An organism stumbles into "an environment where an unused aspect of itself becomes useful. That aspect, suddenly essential, is selected and mutates into something new that is integrated over time into a changed being." Human lungs developed in this way, he said. They once were "swim bladders in fish."
Perhaps he should rest his case with the complexity studies and not employ Darwin to refute anti-Darwinists. But all roads in biology do lead back to evolution. For this reason, those who take on Darwin as science will lose every time.
Even Stuart Kauffman, who has been called "perhaps the most ambitious and radical modern challenger of Darwin," does not dispute the basic supposition. Evolution is still the reigning rule of biological development. To be ignorant of evolution is to be ignorant, period.
This is unacceptable for students in Pennsylvania, or Texas, where the issue never really goes away.
What must be understood, if we are to have any peace, much less effective education, is that science and religion are two different ways of knowing. Both are valid. But they don't mix well in the same high school textbook. And most religious people know that the existence of God does not have to be proved. That's what faith means.
Let science be science, as the teachers in Dover who refused to read the school board's statement and left this chore to administrators, seem to be saying. And let the study of comparative religion be more rigorous, more insightful, better informed by the thinking not only of theologians but of scientists who, like Michael Behe, are themselves believers. Surely in such a setting there would be no need to go to court.
Lee Cullum is a free-lance journalist who lives in Dallas. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 27, 2005
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
The Shroud of Turin is much older than the medieval date that modern science has affixed to it and could be old enough to have been the burial wrapping of Jesus, a new analysis concludes.
Since 1988, most scientists have confidently concluded that it was the work of a medieval artist, because carbon dating had placed the production of the fabric between 1260 and 1390.
In an article this month in the journal Thermochimica Acta, Dr. Raymond N. Rogers, a chemist retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory, said the carbon dating test was valid but that the piece tested was about the size of a postage stamp and came from a portion that had been patched.
"We're darned sure that part of the cloth was not original Shroud of Turin cloth," he said, adding that threads from the main part of the shroud were pure linen, which is spun from flax.
The threads in the patched portion contained cotton as well and had been dyed to match.
From other tests, he estimated that the shroud was between 1,300 and 3,000 years old.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
Doctors at Florida State's new medical college say a proposed chiropractic school would be a pain in the neck
By KATHERINE S. MANGAN
A proposal to open the country's first chiropractic college at a public university has professors at Florida State University bent out of shape.
Hundreds -- including about 70 medical professors -- have reportedly signed petitions against the school, and eight part-time medical professors have threatened to quit if it opens. The controversy has opened an angry debate between chiropractors and more-traditional doctors and raised questions about the way higher-education decisions are made in Florida. Ultimately, the battle is about legitimacy. Supporters hope that a public chiropractic college would give the profession respect, but opponents say such respect isn't deserved.
Last year the state Legislature, led by a well-connected chiropractor, approved $9-million a year for the chiropractic college before either the university or the state's Board of Governors had determined it was needed. Lawmakers have estimated that it will cost more than $60-million over the next five years to build the college. Now professors who view chiropractic medicine as "pseudoscience" are feeling manipulated, and they're fighting back.
They launched an aggressive media campaign to pressure the university's trustees to pull the plug on the proposed college. But instead of voting yes or no, the trustees opted this month to toss the political hot potato to the Board of Governors, which is scheduled to vote on the matter this week. The board could vote to kill the school, or it could toss the matter back to the university for further review, and ultimately a vote. That could delay a decision for months, or even years.
The college's foes called the trustees "cowardly" for sidestepping the decision, while frustrated trustees said the Board of Governors was giving them mixed messages about who was supposed to act first: the university or the statewide board.
Last week Gov. Jeb Bush jumped into the debate, criticizing Florida State's handling of the matter and suggesting that the Legislature slash the $9-million appropriation for the chiropractic college to $1.9-million. He said faculty members had been cut out of the debate, and that the university's trustees should have taken a stand on the college rather than turning to the Board of Governors.
The university's provost, Lawrence G. Abele, defended the trustees' action. "I don't think it's fair to ask our faculty to go through a long debate if the Board of Governors has no intention of approving it," he says.
Some of those board members have expressed strong reservations about the chiropractic college, and there is widespread speculation that they will vote to kill it. If the board does vote in favor of the college, "the normal university processes would kick in, including a full debate by the faculty," Mr. Abele says.
Alien Studies Next?
Critics say a public university is no place for a chiropractic school, and they have been circulating a campus map that pokes fun at the proposal by suggesting that schools of extraterrestrial or past-life studies might come next.
Professors at the four-year-old College of Medicine -- the nation's youngest -- are particularly sensitive about the addition of an alternative-health-care college at a university whose provisionally accredited medical school is still awaiting full accreditation. The two colleges would be separate, but medical professors who oppose the chiropractic school argue that it would taint the reputation of the entire university.
"Most of the faculty I speak to are saying this is absolutely ludicrous and we'd be the laughingstock of the academic world," says Raymond E. Bellamy, an orthopedic surgeon and assistant professor of medicine who is leading the charge against the proposal. "Chiropractic is not science-based. Not one major university in North America has a connection with a chiropractic school. There's a reason for that."
This is not the first time that traditional medical and chiropractic educators have clashed over a proposed school. In 2001 York University, in Toronto, decided against affiliating with the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College after faculty members objected.
At Florida State, supporters counter that doctors and medical professors are feeling threatened by a practice that is growing in popularity and could cut into their business. Lawmakers who approved the money for the college say it could attract millions of dollars in federal support for alternative medicine and be the nation's pre-eminent chiropractic college.
The Florida chiropractor who has championed the new school in the Legislature, Sen. Dennis L. Jones, has accused professors who oppose the school of fomenting rebellion on the campus by misleading their colleagues about the chiropractic profession. The professors have been joined in their protests by prominent critics of chiropractic medicine from outside of Florida -- doctors who Senator Jones says have a bone to pick with the profession.
"I have no problem with these people quitting," says Senator Jones, a Treasure Island Republican, referring to the eight part-time Florida State professors. "If they're spreading professional bigotry, they shouldn't be teaching students anyway." Despite opponents' claims that manipulating necks and spines can injure patients, he argues that chiropractic care is safer than other forms of medicine, in part because it allows some patients to avoid risky surgery or potentially debilitating medications.
He points out that chiropractors are provided on 44 military bases in the United States, as well as in a growing number of Veterans Affairs hospitals. Some 15 million people in the country regularly visit chiropractors, according to the National Institutes of Health's Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
"If it's good enough for the U.S. military, you'd think it would be good enough for FSU," the senator says.
Another Florida chiropractor is more conciliatory. "I have so much respect for those medical professors; to lose one of them over this issue would be tragic," says Lance Armstrong, a chiropractor in Cocoa Beach, Fla., who serves as president of the Florida Chiropractic Association. He became a chiropractor after a rough landing in a B-52 left him with severe neck pain that medication did not relieve. A chiropractor helped him resume his first career as a flight instructor, he says.
"I work closely with the medical profession, but I strongly believe that there are some issues of musculoskeletal injury where the medical world doesn't know as much as we wish they did."
If approved, Florida State's chiropractic school would open at the university's Tallahassee campus in 2007 and eventually enroll up to 500 students, who would be required to have a bachelor's degree. They would spend five years in the program earning both a chiropractic degree and one of five public-health master's degrees -- in aging studies, food and nutrition, public health, movement science, and health-policy research -- currently offered at the university.
Graduates would be at least as qualified as their counterparts in the medical school to treat patients with nagging backaches, chiropractors argue.
Donald J. Krippendorf, president of the American Chiropractic Association, accuses the profession's critics of playing politics and putting the financial interests of physicians ahead of the best interests of patients.
"Doctors of chiropractic are specifically and uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat problems of the musculoskeletal system, with an education that includes more than 2,000 hours of study devoted to the human spine and nervous system," he wrote in a December 16 letter to the St. Petersburg Times. "Conversely, a 2002 study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that 78 percent of medical doctors failed to demonstrate basic competency in musculoskeletal medicine and that medical-school preparation in musculoskeletal medicine is inadequate."
Alan H. Adams, an administrator who was hired to oversee curriculum development at the new school, says critics are misleading the public when they say that chiropractic medicine is not scientific or rigorous. Critics say a research university is no place for chiropractors because the field is not based on science.
"That argument doesn't hold water today," says Mr. Adams, a longtime educator at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic. "The profession has been active in research for nearly 30 years," he says. "Chiropractors have been publishing articles in more than 70 medical and scientific, peer-reviewed journals."
He says a public chiropractic school would provide an affordable and accessible education for Florida residents, who now have to pay private-school tuition if they want to become chiropractors. Florida has one private chiropractic school, a branch of Palmer College of Chiropractic, in Port Orange. It is one of 16 accredited chiropractic schools in the United States that, combined, enroll about 10,000 students. Many more graduate from unaccredited colleges.
A public school would also open the profession's doors to more black and Hispanic students, supporters say. In Florida those groups represent about a quarter of the patients receiving chiropractic care, but fewer than 2 percent of the chiropractors, according to a study commissioned by the university.
This month a group representing about 500 Tallahassee-area physicians urged university and state officials to drop plans for the school, which David Stewart, president of the Capital Medical Society, an association of Tallahassee-area doctors, said had become "a political football."
Dr. Bellamy says he has nothing against chiropractors. "This isn't a turf battle," he says. "I was leaving well enough alone until they wanted to bring a school on my campus, and that's where I draw the line."
He says hundreds of local doctors and Florida State faculty members, including the university's two Nobel Prize winners, have signed e-mail petitions questioning the proposed chiropractic school. He could not verify that number -- which others say is exaggerated -- because he said the responses were scattered in e-mail boxes around the campus.
Ian W. Rogers, a plastic surgeon, is one of the eight part-time Florida State professors who have said they will no longer teach the university's medical students if the school is approved.
"Members of the Legislature have decided to impose the nation's first public chiropractic school on a university with a nonestablished, fledgling medical school, weakening its yet-to-be-established reputation," he wrote in an e-mail message to The Chronicle. "Are the graduating doctors going to be left vulnerable to future taunts from their colleagues nationwide?"
Edward J. Shahady, a professor of family medicine and rural health at Florida State, also worries that a chiropractic college could damage the reputation of the medical school, even though the schools would be separate. "No one wants to be a graduate of a school that people associate with pseudoscience," he says.
He also complains that faculty members were not consulted adequately or soon enough. "Academics are funny like that," he says. "We like to have some say in what happens at our university. At this point, we're almost at the 11th hour, trying to stay the execution."
The school's critics charge that state lawmakers have made veiled threats that they might cut money for the medical school if professors stand in the way of the chiropractic college.
Sen. James E. King Jr., a Jacksonville Republican, has been quoted as saying the Legislature would be "angry" if the chiropractic college were derailed. But he has denied charges that he has threatened to retaliate against medical professors if they succeed in killing the proposed college.
The Florida Board of Governors, which will step into the fray with its vote on the proposed school this week, was created in 2002 to oversee public universities. It replaced the Board of Regents.
A group of educators, lawyers, and politicians sued the state's higher-education system in Leon County Circuit Court last month, arguing that the system had shirked its duties by not exercising its authority to oversee higher education and prevent state lawmakers from pushing pet projects through the Legislature (The Chronicle, January 7). The plaintiffs, including E.T. York, a former chancellor of the state-university system, cited the chiropractic school as an example of a program that was financed by the Legislature without first getting the approval of the Board of Governors.
Lawmakers who support the school counter that plans for a state chiropractic college began long before the Board of Governors was created.
Dr. Armstrong, the Florida chiropractor, says he is still hoping to win over skeptics. Working side by side, doctors and chiropractors could learn more about the strengths and limitations of each profession, he says.
"If you took two Florida State football players who suffered serious injuries to the spine and one wished our care and the other didn't, and you followed their spinal health over the next 30 years, I think we'd come through gleaming," he says. "This is a glass ceiling, and it will be broken at FSU or another school. We hope it will be here."
Section: The Faculty
Volume 51, Issue 21, Page A10
Copyright © 2005 by The Chronicle of Higher Education
Life is a possible - though some think unlikely - source of this hydrocarbon along with geological processes.
The surface is too cold for biology, but microbes could survive in an ocean within Titan, a senior scientist says.
Methane can also be released from a trapped form called clathrate and produced by a geological process called "serpentinisation". Neither of these involve biology.
Dominated by nitrogen, methane and other organic (carbon-based) molecules, Titan is thought to resemble a deep-frozen version of Earth 4.6 billion years ago.
Liquid methane rains down on Titan into river channels carved between hills of water ice. Reservoirs of this hydrocarbon probably lie on or just below the surface.
But UV light would destroy all the methane on Titan within 10 million years if it were not being constantly renewed.
"We cannot say there is absolutely no chance for life," Dr Francois Raulin, one of three interdisciplinary scientists on the Huygens mission told the BBC News website.
"There is no chance for life on the surface because it is too cold and there is no liquid water.
"However, models of Titan's interior show there should be an ocean about 100km deep at around 300km below the surface."
If the models are correct, this ocean would be composed mostly of liquid water with about 15% ammonia at a temperature of about -80C, said Dr Raulin.
"We have liquid water, organics not so far away; we have everything on Titan to make life," he explained.
Work in progress
If methane-producing microbes had colonised this habitable zone, scientists might detect its chemical signature by looking at the relationship of two forms (or isotopes) of the element carbon - C12 and C13.
Living cells preferentially incorporate C12. So compounds produced by living things should be depleted of "heavier" isotopes such as C13; they are said to have a high C12/C13 ratio.
Scientists should be able to measure this ratio in data sent back by the Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) instrument on Huygens.
"The GCMS can directly detect the C12/C13 carbon ratio. We haven't done that yet, but we're working on it," said Sushil Atreya, a professor of planetary science at the University of Michigan, US, and a GCMS team member.
"It's one factor we can take into account to figure out how methane is getting replenished."
However, Professor Atreya favours the geological process of serpentinisation as a more likely source of the Saturnian moon's methane.
In serpentinisation, geothermal activity generates methane through the oxidation of metals such as iron, chromium and magnesium which could be contained in crustal rocks below Titan's surface.
Another possibility is that methane molecules are trapped in a water-ice matrix called clathrate (or methane hydrate).
Dr Raulin also considers these geological processes as viable sources of methane on Titan.
On 14 January, the spacecraft plunged through the moon's atmosphere, sending scientific data - including stunning images - back to ground controllers.
It landed on Titan at around 1138 GMT at a leisurely speed of around 5m/s and transmitted a signal until at least 1555 GMT.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/25 09:57:13 GMT
By CHARLES COLSON
Published January 27, 2005
Last week a federal judge, egged on by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ordered a Georgia school district to remove stickers from biology textbooks. Why? Because, according to the judge, a simple statement written on the stickers—that evolution is a theory, not a fact—was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. He held evolution as fact!
This is just the latest example of a plague of intellectual blindness among our secular elites.
In Georgia's Cobb County, school officials added the stickers two years ago onto the textbooks which presented evolution as an established fact, ignoring competing ideas about life's origins. Now, this is not just another burst of Christian-bashing. What this ruling really represents is a blindness to reality—a mindset rampant within our culture.
According to this mindset, any challenge to Darwinism is by definition religious. Now, imagine applying this logic to any other area. Suppose your state passed a law against murder, and the ACLU went to court, claiming it was an endorsement of religion. After all, the Ten Commandments prohibit murder! Or imagine someone suing a town over its zoning laws. The Bible tells us to put a fence on our roof so that no one will fall off. Are building codes, therefore, religious? If the courts approached conflicts over other laws the way they do over biology, we'd soon have no laws left at all—except maybe pooper-scooper laws, because I don't think the Bible says anything about that.
The constitutional argument is phony. Honest observers quickly realize that the debate here over life's origins is not one of science versus religion, but of science versus science. Take the work of biochemist Michael Behe, a professor at Lehigh University. Initially, Behe accepted Darwinist teachings. But then he began reading articles questioning evolutionary theories. He found the arguments compelling. So he began to do research of his own.
In his book published 10 years ago, Darwin's Black Box, he introduced a concept he calls "irreducible complexity." He argues that complex structures like proteins cannot be assembled piecemeal, with gradual improvement of function. Instead, like a mousetrap, all the parts—catch, spring, hammer, and so forth—must be assembled simultaneously, or the protein doesn't work.
Soon after the book was published, its thesis was challenged by the leading expert in America on cell structure, Dr. Russell Doolittle at the University of California. He cited a scientific study supposedly disproving irreducible complexity. Behe immediately researched it and found it proved just the opposite: It confirmed him. So Behe went back to Dolittle. In a phone conversation, Doolittle admitted he was wrong, but he has never made a public retraction.
This is the strategy of Darwinists: to simply deny what they know to be true. Look, nobody was around at the time of the creation with a video camera. Naturalism requires at least as much faith as intelligent design. And then science has to be objectively examined, but Darwinists won't do this. So, when judges rule scientific ideas out of bounds, well, it's time to expose all of this for what it is: know-nothingness of the worst kind, willful blindness.
Don't you be taken in. Keep demanding the truth, and in time, we're going to win an honest debate.
Copyright © 2004 Prison Fellowship.
In I.D. proponents argue some features of the natural world are result of cause rather than evolution
Published January 27, 2005
DOVER, Pa. (BP)–A federal lawsuit filed Dec. 14 contends that "intelligent design," if presented in public school science classes, will violate students' religious liberty by promoting particular religious beliefs under the guise of science education.
The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State in behalf of 11 parents, challenges a Pennsylvania school board's decision requiring biology teachers to present intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution.
Intelligent design is a theory arguing that some features of the natural world are best explained as the products of an intelligent cause rather than naturalistic evolution. The ACLU-AU lawsuit argues that intelligent design is a religious argument that falls outside the realm of science. Pennsylvania's Dover Area School Board is the first school district in the United States to require the teaching of intelligent design.
"Teaching students about religion's role in world history and culture is proper, but disguising a particular religious belief as science is not," asserted ACLU of Pennsylvania legal director Witold Walczak in a news release. "Intelligent design is a Trojan Horse for bringing religious creationism back into public school science classes."
The contested policy, adopted in October by the school board in Dover, 25 miles south of the state capital of Harrisburg, requires ninth-grade biology teachers to read a statement to their classes stating that Darwin's theory of evolution contains "gaps ... for which there is no evidence."
"Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered," the statement says. "The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. "... Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view."
The ACLU-AU lawsuit alleges that teaching students about "gaps" in the theory of evolution without presenting the weaknesses of intelligent design may lead students to adopt the religious beliefs advocated by intelligent design.
"Public schools are not Sunday Schools, and we must resist any efforts to make them so," said Barry W. Lynn, director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, according to the ACLU news release. "There is an evolving attack under way on sound science education, and the school board's action in Dover is part of that misguided crusade."
Brian Fahling, senior trial attorney with the American Family Association's Center for Law and Policy, told Baptist Press that the school district's mandate for teaching intelligent design likely will be struck down in court, although it is an admirable effort toward achieving balanced teaching about the origins of the universe.
"I'm concerned that mandating the teaching of intelligent design is attempting to bite off more than we ought to at this point," Fahling said. "... I think it's a good idea to teach intelligent design. But I fear courts will view this as a hidden religious agenda. While I'm hoping this is a good step, my own judgment is that it is not going to be a happy result."
The most effective way to introduce intelligent design into public school curricula would be to present the scientific basis for the theory in a public forum and subsequently develop a curriculum to be introduced gradually in classrooms, Fahling said.
"Evolution that pervades the classroom is stifling," Fahling said. "It needs to have a legitimate competitor, and intelligent design is a legitimate competitor."
The Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based organization that promotes intelligent design, called the Dover school board "misguided" and advised that the policy should be withdrawn and rewritten.
"While the Dover board is to be commended for trying to teach Darwinian theory in a more open-minded manner, this is the wrong way to go about it," said John G. West, associate director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. "Dover's current policy has a number of problems, not the least of which is its lack of clarity. At one point, it appears to both mandate as well as prohibit the teaching of the scientific theory of intelligent design. The policy's incoherence raises serious problems from the standpoint of constitutional law."
West urged school boards to adopt policies permitting the teaching of intelligent design but not requiring it.
"Although we think discussion of intelligent design should not be prohibited, we don't think intelligent design should be required in public schools," he said. "What should be required is full disclosure of the scientific evidence for and against Darwin's theory."
Published January 27, 2005
EDITORS' NOTE: The following question-and-answer analysis was prepared by Rob Crowther of the Center for Science and Culture at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and adapted for Baptist Press. The Discovery Institute, founded in 1990, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy and research organization. The Center for Science and Culture, in addition to encouraging schools to improve science education by teaching students more fully about the theory of evolution, supports the work of scholars who challenge various aspects of neo-Darwinian theory and scholars who are working on the scientific theory known as intelligent design.
SEATTLE (BP)--The theory of intelligent design is in the news right now, but some of the purportedly factual descriptions of the theory being offered by reporters are highly inaccurate. Part of the reason for this is that some reporters are citing as fact partisan descriptions of design theory offered by anti-design groups such as the ACLU. When reporting on the debate between Darwinian evolution and intelligent design theory, it is important for reporters to allow the scientific proponents of design to describe their own theory, not to put words in their mouths. Just as good reporters would not rely on the Republican Party to provide an objective description of the platform of the Democratic Party, reporters describing the content of design theory should not rely on design's critics to provide a factual definition of a theory they oppose.
Here, as a backgrounder on intelligent design, are several questions and answers:
1. What is the theory of intelligent design?
The scientific theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Note: Intelligent design theory does NOT claim that science can determine the identity of the intelligent cause. Nor does it claim that the intelligent cause must be a "divine being" or a "higher power" or an "all-powerful force." All it proposes is that science can identify whether certain features of the natural world are the products of intelligence.
2. Is intelligent design theory the same as creationism?
No. Intelligent design theory is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the "apparent design" in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. Creationism is focused on defending a literal reading of the Genesis account, usually including the creation of the earth by the biblical God a few thousand years ago. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text.
3. Is intelligent design theory incompatible with evolution?
It depends on what one means by the word "evolution." If one simply means "change over time," or even that living things are related by common ancestry, then there is no inherent conflict between evolutionary theory and intelligent design theory. However, the dominant theory of evolution today is neo-Darwinism, which contends that evolution is driven by natural selection acting on random mutations, a purposeless process that "has no specific direction or goal, including survival of a species." In biology, it is this specific claim made by neo-Darwinism that intelligent design theory directly challenges.
4. Is intelligent design based on the Bible?
No. The intellectual roots of intelligent design theory are varied. Plato and Aristotle both articulated early versions of design theory, as did virtually all of the founders of modern science. Indeed, most scientists until the latter part of the 19th century accepted some form of design.
The scientific community largely rejected design in the early 20th century after neo-Darwinism claimed to be able to explain the emergence of biological complexity through the unintelligent process of natural selection acting on random mutations.
However, new research and discoveries in such fields as physics, cosmology, biochemistry, genetics and paleontology have caused a growing number of scientists and science theorists to question neo-Darwinism and propose design as the best explanation for the existence of specified complexity in the natural world.
5. Are there established scholars in the scientific community who support intelligent design theory?
Yes. Intelligent design theory is supported by doctoral scientists, researchers and theorists at a number of universities, colleges and research institutes around the world. These scholars include biochemist Michael Behe at Lehigh University, microbiologist Scott Minnich at the University of Idaho, biologist Paul Chien at the University of San Francisco, emeritus biologist Dean Kenyon at San Francisco State University, mathematician William Dembski at Baylor University (who will join the faculty of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary next year) and quantum chemist Henry Schaefer at the University of Georgia, among others.
6. Do scientists support of design publish peer-reviewed articles and research?
Yes. Although open hostility from those who hold to neo-Darwinism sometimes makes it difficult for design scholars to gain a fair hearing for their ideas, research and articles by intelligent design scholars are being published in peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Stephen Meyer has published an article supportive of design in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington (a peer-reviewed biology journal published at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution). Biochemist Michael Behe has defended the idea of "irreducible complexity" in the peer-reviewed journal Philosophy of Science, as well as publishing research critical of the mechanism of neo-Darwinism in the peer-reviewed journal Protein Science. Examples of peer-reviewed books supporting design include The Design Inference (Cambridge University Press) by William Dembski and Darwinism, Design, and Public Education (Michigan State University Press).
7. Should public schools require the teaching of intelligent design?
No. Instead of mandating intelligent design, the Discovery Institute recommends that states and school districts focus on teaching students more about evolutionary theory, including telling them about some of the theory's problems that have been discussed in peer-reviewed science journals. In other words, evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned.
8. Is teaching about intelligent design unconstitutional?
Although the Discovery Institute does not advocate requiring the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, it does believe there is nothing unconstitutional about discussing the scientific theory of design in the classroom. In addition, the Discovery Institute opposes efforts to persecute individual teachers who may wish to discuss the scientific debate over design in a pedagogically appropriate manner.
9. What is the Discovery Institute and the Center for Science and Culture?
The non-profit, non-partisan Discovery Institute is a policy and research organization, or secular think tank, with programs on a variety of issues, including regional transportation development, economics and technology policy, legal reform, bioethics, science and culture. The institute's founder and president is Bruce Chapman, who has a long history in public policy at both the national and regional levels. Chapman is a former director of the United States Census Bureau and a past American ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna, Austria. The Center for Science and Culture, on the Web at www.discovery.org/csc, has more than 40 fellows, including biologists, biochemists, chemists, physicists, philosophers and historians of science, and public policy and legal experts, many of whom have affiliations with colleges and universities. Challenges to various aspects of neo-Darwinian theory and advocacy of the scientific theory known as intelligent design are being advanced by institute-supported scholars. The center also encourages schools to improve science education by teaching students more about the theory of evolution.
Discovery Institute board members and fellows represent a variety of religious traditions, including mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish and agnostic. Until recently, the chairman of Discovery's
board of directors was former Congressman John Miller, who is Jewish. Although it is not a religious organization, the institute has a long record of supporting religious liberty and the legitimate role of faith-based
institutions in a pluralistic society. In fact, it sponsored a program for several years for college students to teach them the importance of religious liberty and the separation of church
For more detailed information about the science of intelligent design theory and/or the legality of teaching intelligent design, visit the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture website at www.discovery.org/csc
January 26, 2005
The Brain: False Assumptions and Cruel Operations
By WILLIAM GRIMES
POSTCARDS FROM THE BRAIN MUSEUM
The Improbable Search for Meaning in the Matter of Famous Minds
By Brian Burrell
Illustrated. 356 pages. Broadway Books. $24.95.
A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness
By Jack El-Hai
Illustrated. 362 pages. John Wiley & Sons. $27.95.
In the summer of 1849, Walt Whitman walked into an office on Nassau Street in Manhattan to have his head read. Lorenzo Niles Fowler, a phrenologist, palpated 35 areas on both sides of the skull corresponding to emotional or intellectual capacities in the brain. Fowler rated each one on a scale of 1 to 7, with 6 representing the ideal (7 meant dangerous excess).
Whitman received a perfect score in nearly every one of Fowler's categories, which bore such fanciful names as "amativeness," "adhesiveness" and "combativeness." Thrilled with his report card, he became an instant convert to phrenology, defined by Ambrose Bierce as "the science of picking a man's pocket through the scalp." Later he donated his magnificent brain to the American Anthropometric Society, which collected it on his death in 1892 and added it to its collection of elite brains.
There are quite a few such collections, scattered around the globe, and Brian Burrell visits all of them in his offbeat scientific tour in "Postcards From the Brain Museum." His wanderings take him from the Musée de l'Homme in Paris and the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology in Philadelphia to the impressively stocked Institute of the Brain in Moscow, where the brains of Lenin, Stalin, Eisenstein and Pavlov lie in state, or states, having been sliced into thousands of paper-thin slices and stained for scientific study.
But the study of what, exactly? Nothing at all, it turns out. The brains, many of them dried to the consistency of coal, or fraying badly in their formaldehyde baths, simply take up space in glass jars. In many cases they are inaccessible to the general public, relics of a bygone age when scientists believed that the brains of geniuses and criminals would certainly, when examined, display distinctive physical characteristics. They were wrong. But for most of the 19th century it seemed as if they might be right. Their doomed efforts provide Mr. Burrell with the material for his entertaining, tragicomic tale of scientific failure.
Blame Byron. After his death in 1824, Greek doctors removed his heart, a common practice, but his brain as well. It was prodigious, weighing in at 6 pounds, at least 25 percent larger than the average, a striking confirmation of the theory linking brain size and genius. Three years later, Beethoven died. His brain too was examined, revealing convolutions twice as numerous and fissures twice as deep as the ordinary brain.
These eminent and distinctive brains set scientists off and running to map the brain and the skull and thereby explain the workings of the mind. During what the author calls "the golden age of brain collecting," from 1880 to 1910, hundreds of eminent men and women joined autopsy societies and donated their brains, hoping to receive the kind of validation that Whitman received in 1849.
Unfortunately, the brains did not cooperate. Some geniuses turned out to have unusually small brains. Criminals and social degenerates often showed the same folds as scientists and artists. Faced with conflicting evidence, leading theorists of the brain fudged, temporized or dug in their heels. Eventually, the entire jerry-built theoretical apparatus simply collapsed, although as a myth or symbol, the brain still retained considerable power. As the Germans closed in on Moscow, the high command drew up plans to seize Lenin's brain and take it back to Berlin. When Einstein died, an overeager pathologist in the hospital removed his brain and took it home, intent on discovering the secrets concealed within. Alas, there were none to be found.
Walter Freeman worked on more brains than all the 19th-century phrenologists and "cranioscopists" put together. From the mid-1930's to the late 60's, he performed some 3,500 lobotomies on psychologically disturbed patients, a procedure that, thanks to his tireless crusading, became a standard method of treatment in mental hospitals across the United States before the advent of drugs like Thorazine and Prozac.
In "The Lobotomist," Jack El-Hai's lively biography, Freeman comes across as a classic American type, a do-gooder and a go-getter with a bit of the huckster thrown in. Trained as a neurologist, he found a position at St. Elizabeths, a large mental hospital in Washington, D.C., which, like most institutions then simply warehoused the mentally ill. Freeman was appalled at this waste of human potential. Convinced that mental illness stemmed from organic causes, he searched for a neurological solution and found it in a new procedure, developed by a Portuguese doctor and eventual Nobel laureate, Egas Moniz, who simply cut through neural pathways in the frontal lobes that, he believed, produced harmful or obsessive behavior. Freeman, who dismissed psychoanalysis as a sheer waste of time, jumped at Moniz's new procedure. "Here was something tangible, something that an organicist like myself could understand and appreciate," he later wrote. "A vision of the future unfolded." He formed a partnership with a skilled neurosurgeon, James Watts, and very quickly developed his own procedure, prefrontal lobotomy, which entailed drilling two holes in the skull, above the left and right frontal lobes, and then removing a dozen cores of white neural fibers.
From the beginning, results varied wildly. One early patient simply rose from his hospital bed on Christmas Eve, put on his hat over the bandages and headed straight for a local saloon to celebrate. Another patient, a 60-year-old woman suffering from agitated depression, became paralyzed on her left side a few hours after the operation, lost the ability to speak, and fell into a coma. She died six days later. More typical were patients who experienced temporary relief from anxiety, obsessions, or hallucinations but later slipped back into severe metal illness, or who became strangely apathetic and lacking in spontaneity. One of his less successful patients was Rosemary Kennedy, a sister of John F. Kennedy, who underwent a lobotomy for agitated depression in 1941 but remained institutionalized for the rest of her life.
Freeman had a high tolerance for failure. He was taking difficult cases and, as often as not, making it possible for them to go home and put together some semblance of a normal life. In time, he developed a new technique, transorbital lobotomy, that eliminated many of the side effects of prefrontal lobotomy by entering the brain through the eye socket rather than the cranium. The new procedure was quick. In 1952, Freeman once performed 25 transorbital lobotomies in a single day. This was the sort of stunt that caused Freeman's professional colleagues to eye him suspiciously. "I thought I was seeing a circus act," a student nurse said, recalling a performance in which Freeman used both hands at once to cut nerve fibers on both sides of a patient's brain simultaneously. Psychoanalysts regarded Freeman with contempt, and many doctors recoiled at destroying healthy brain tissue. Freeman, a flamboyant figure who affected a cane, a broad-brimmed hat and a long goatee, invited controversy by his slapdash approach to research and his love of the spotlight.
His enemies triumphed. By the mid-1950's, psychoanalysis and the appearance of new drugs like Thorazine spelled the end of the lobotomy in the United States. Freeman, once hailed as a visionary, now seems little more than a curiosity, another specimen in the brain museum.
Last Updated: 11:36 pm, Monday, January 24th, 2005
Once again, the creationists are threatening the science education standards of our public schools. For 2 ½ years, Cobb County, Ga., has had a disclaimer inserted in their biology textbooks stating that evolution is just a theory and should be treated as such. In Dover, Penn., the school board wants science teachers to talk about an "alternative" theory of creation called Intelligent Design.
The argument made in Dover and Cobb County is that Intelligent Design is a theory on the origin of life just as evolution is, and therefore should be given equal time in any public classroom addressing this topic. However, this argument is based on the misuse of the term "theory" as it applies to scientific understanding. In layman's term, a theory is an idea or thought that might or might not be true. There is usually little or no basis for coming to this "theory," only a conjecture or feeling that it may be true. Individuals may use this definition in such situations as "I have a theory on that." However, in the scientific community, a theory is a broad generalization that explains a group of facts or observations. A theory has explanative powers that take the scientific evidence and gives us a broader understanding of the phenomenon under study. In this sense, it is not a hunch or idea but a well thought out explanation based on observations and results from multiple and independent experimentation. Some of the most well-known concepts in science, accepted with very little controversy by both scientists and laymen, are theories; such as gravity, quantum physics, existence of atoms, germ theory, etc.
In the biological sciences community, evolutionary theory is not under controversy as well. It has been accepted as a valid explanation of many organismal relationships, similarities and behaviors. Evolutionary theory is a binding force in biology that can explain major events, relationships and biological phenomena that could not be explained by any other means. As Dobzhansky, a leading evolutionary biologist of the 20th century, once said "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
In its simplest terms, evolution means changes in gene frequencies within a population. This is an easily observable phenomenon. Those traits (controlled by genes) that increases an organism's reproductive output will increase in frequency within a population, while those traits not increasing an organism's reproductive output will decrease in frequency. This concept within evolution is easily testable using a wide variety of organisms, and has been practiced through the centuries in improving crop yields and livestock. Evolutionary theory also states that all species are descendants of a common ancestor. Evolutionary theory does not state that man evolved from apes, but instead that man and the chimpanzee have a recent, common ancestor. We can also test this by examining the fossil record, and looking at the similarities in species structure, embryology and biochemistry. So far, all evidence supports this concept.
Evolutionary theory meets the criteria of a scientific theory: that is, it can be rigorously tested through scientific experimentation. All hypotheses making predictions about evolution can be tested and evidence collected will either support or refute those hypotheses. Therefore, evolutionary theory is appropriate for a science classroom. Alternative explanations to the origin of life, such as Intelligent Design, cannot be tested experimentally. We cannot test for the presence of a superior being or intelligent creator that had complete or partial control over the existence of life. Simply saying organisms are so complex that evolution could not possibly explain it, is not a valid test of Intelligent Design just as disproving evolution (which has yet to be done) cannot be reason to scientifically support Intelligent Design. Therefore, any non-scientific explanation of our origin does not belong in a science classroom.
In summary, it is the misuse of the term theory, and the masquerading of Intelligent Design as a science when in actuality it is a religious point of view, that has given support for the "equal time compromise." But we can have no compromise if we allow our science education to be eroded away by the influx of pseudoscientific thinking and thereby hinder our children's understanding of science and their ability to compete in a global society. . Laura J. Hechtel holds a Ph.D. from Illinois State University in Evolutionary Ecology. She currently teaches science and math at Rivermont Collegiate, Bettendorf.
JANUARY 25, 2005 23:02
by Hye-Yoon Park (email@example.com)
The Washington Post and The New York Times argued in their editorials on January 24 and 23, respectively, that public schools should not teach "intelligent design," which is not a science, as an alternative to evolutionism, an established science theory.
Their argument goes that teaching "intelligent design" in science class violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
Some say that the editorials of the two newspapers are based on concerns over the recent conservative trend in U.S. society and legal circles after the reelection of President George W. Bush.
Intelligent design is a theory saying that man cannot be thought of as the result of evolution given the sheer complexity of the biological world, and that it had to be created by a supernatural being with intelligent power.
The concept was first widely publicized by Phillip E. Johnson, a legal scholar, in his 1991 book "Darwin on Trial." Since then, it has been welcomed by creationists as a refutation of evolutionism in that it criticizes evolutionism without involving God or religion.
In particular, christian creationists, who was on the defensive after failing to win an appropriate alternative after a 1987 landmark ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, enthusiastically endorsed the idea. The U.S. Supreme Court said in its 1987 ruling regarding the education courses of the state of Louisiana that "it is prohibitted to restructure a science curriculum to conform with a particular religious viewpoint. The state of Louisiana cannot include creationism in its science curriculum."
Intelligence design was made an issue again at the end of last year when a school board in the Dover Area School District, Pennsylvania decided to teach it along with evolutionism in science classes.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a civic group, filed a complained against the decision with the Federal Court on behalf of parents.
However, lawyers at the Dover school board claimed, "Intelligent design is not subject to the 1987 ruling, which is based on constitutional separation of church and state, as the theory is not a religion."
The ACLU filed a provisional disposition prohibiting the education, saying, "If not God, is the supernatural being in the intelligence design an alien?" but failed.
Encouraged by the result, administrators in school districts of Kansas and Wisconsin said that they would also file lawsuits that support intelligent design within the year. A school board of a county in Georgia decided to appeal against the ruling that it should remove stickers reading: "evolutionism is not a fact, it is just a theory," which it attached to science textbooks, which is an example of the ever-growing controversy over the issue.
Meanwhile, in a recent survey conducted by CBS, 55 percent of Americans and 67 percent of those who voted for President Bush responded that they do not believe in evolution at all. In addition, a Gallup poll showed that a third of U.S. citizens believe in the literal truth of the Bible.
Copyright 2002 donga.com
Brent Battle opinion columnist
Are you looking to the evolution versus creation debate for answers to life's important questions regarding theology? Neither am I.
When we die, it's not going to make a difference. When the Christian-creationist and pseudo-evolutionist of the future make big deals out of their "indisputable evidence," it still won't mean anything beyond our limited understanding, or lack thereof.
Pseudo-evolutionism is a term I coined because it bears the same qualities of the creationist's pseudo-science – when one narrow path of the facts are presented, leading the observer to believe something that cannot be proven as "undeniable truth."
Ultimately, two extreme faiths have risen from the dust, both explaining who we are and where we came from. Pseudo-evolution claims the lack of God is evident through evolution, a belief shared by many atheists. Christian-creationism garners the existence of God from literal Biblical interpretation. "People of faith" tend to assume the entire evolutionary theory is farce and from Satan.
This isn't to say evolutionary scientists aren't naïve in their own right. For example, the early evolutionists believed in spontaneous life – when a species comes into existence from nothing. This was supposed to prove how life could form on a lifeless planet, but showed how ignorant our knowledge once was, and still can be.
Maggots forming on a dead animal carcass would be considered a form of spontaneous life. New findings often send mainstream scientists into squalor, sometimes taking generations to regain the next new practical application of their theory. This happens quite often regarding theories stemming from Darwin's theory of evolution.
Pseudo-evolutionism is outside of the theory presented by Darwin. It is also separate from many college professors' teachings. I think pseudo-evolutionism is absurd; we still don't know who we are, where we came from or where we our species are headed. Isn't that why we have the concept of God, to explain what we can't fully understand? Some are continuing taking "leaps of faith" in their research.
The most outspoken of Christian-creationist originate their stances from the Old Testament's Genesis in the Christian Bible. They claim a monotheistic God created everything we have ever known.
A Christian-creationist can often have trouble accepting evolution due to contradictions they find in sacred text. For example, most Christian-creationist can't accept the idea God used evolution like a tool because Genesis states God took a six literal days for creation and rested on the 7th.
Why do some people naively accept the idea God needed rest? Isn't this assuming the same all-powerful, all-knowing master of the heavens described in Psalms and Isaiah is exerting a limited amount energy. It undermines the divinity and power of the Almighty.
Neither brilliant minds like Einstein nor the short 150 years of scientific research in the name of pseudo-evolution will give us the final verdict on the existence of God. The circular arguments made show we are left in the dark, guessing and professing ideas that ultimately have no purpose until a mind comes along and explains something in a new light. Even then, we are not presented with all the answers. Those believing in divinity should ask why God needs to reveal his knowledge to us so that we can rest easy.
Maybe God created the universe using evolution, and there is not an after-life. I can't prove that statement, but it is more logical than claiming Christian-creationism and pseudo-evolutionism are completely accurate explanations to our origin. The amount of faith required to believe evolution disproves the existence of God is the same amount of faith needed to believe scientific "facts" prove Christian-creationism.
These reasons along with many others are why I propose the "We don't know, please shut up," theory. Next time someone starts spouting off "proofs" concerning our origin for either extreme faith, propose my theory and see what response you get.
Brent Battle is an opinion columnist at The Daily O'Collegian. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Personal Physician to China's Vice Prime Minister And Other World Leaders Introduces Breakthrough Healing Treatment to United States
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2005
2:00 P.M. - 2:15 P.M. E.S.T. (11:00 A.M. P.T.)
An estimated 34 million Americans suffer from chronic pain which may be the most expensive medical problem in the U.S. costing patients with low back pain $5 billion each year alone in medical treatments. The big problem for people with back pain is that 70% of people prescribed conventional medical care never completely recover.
Frustrated with traditional medical treatments, one-third of patients in the U.S. are now turning to alternative medicine. In fact, 26% of patients choosing complimentary medicine were referred by conventional medical professionals.
Americans suffering from chronic pain and other illnesses have discovered a breakthrough self-healing treatment created by the former personal physician to China's Vice Prime Minister, Zhi Gang Sha, who has medical degrees in Eastern and Western medicine. Dr. Sha's National best selling book, Power Healing, has helped thousands of people suffering from medical conditions including chronic pain; and medical universities such as Stanford are currently considering clinical trials on the effectiveness of his healing methods.
Dr. Sha describes his four-step healing technique as an East meets West medical approach where Chinese medicine teaches that sickness is caused by an imbalance of energy in the body, whereas Western medicine focuses on the bio-chemical changes in the cells. His power healing techniques pulls these two approaches together to balance the energy in the cells by accelerating cellular vibration which promotes energy flow to remove blockages that cause pain or illness.
WHAT WE HAVE:
VNR B-ROLL: Patient being examined by medical doctor and reviewing MRI's, patient paying medical bills, patients working with Dr. Zhi Gang Sha, Dr. Sha speaking in China, medical study, person reviewing Alternative Medicine Textbooks.
SOUNDBITES: Millie Luong, Back Injury Patient; Sue Schwartz, Neck Injury Patient; Walter Semkiw, M.D., Board Certified Occupational Medicine Physician; Zhi Gang Sha, Doctor of Western Medicine (China), Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (China & Canada), Author of Power Healing.
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PRNewswire -- Jan. 25
Quelle: Institute of Soul Mind Body Medicine
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By Lamya Hamad
January 25, 2005
Title: By Design or by Chance? The Growing Controversy on the Origins of Life in the Universe.
Author: Denyse O'Leary
Publisher: Augsburg Fortress, 2004
Pages: 384 pp.
The debate has grown out of being only a quibbling matter for philosophers to a theory that can be proven or falsified by science Scientists, philosophers, metaphysicists and theologians have debated about the concept of an 'intelligent creator', or God, from ancient times. Some are as devoted to proving that this universe is 'Godless' as monotheists are fervent to prove otherwise. The debate, in recent times, has grown out of being only a quibbling matter for philosophers to a theory that can be proven or falsified by science. Many scientists believe that what cannot be tested or falsifiable cannot be a valid theory and thus the idea of God, in the opinion of some, is the product of human imagination or human need for a superior deity. Some evolutionists encourage the concept of a "God-free" universe like Canadian evolutionary biologist Denise Lamoureux, who believes that "…the dangerous notion arises that maybe human ignorance is in effect the 'creator', a resident only of our minds".
Nevertheless, it is important to note that not all scientists are at conflict with religion. By Design or by Chance makes this point clear, as well as introducing the interesting concepts of creationism, intelligent design and evolution to the lay reader. Denyse O'Leary uses her journalistic style effectively in explaining the controversy on the origins of life.
As a Muslim, I am not unbiased towards the issue of the origin of life. But I am always open to reading different points of view, especially on such mind-teasing subjects as this one, which I find intellectually fulfilling. Truthfully, even after studying evolution in school and without any influence from religion, I have never been able to come to terms with the idea that humans evolved from a blob of simple cells which later self-organized to what we are today. The book presents excellent arguments for intelligent design, and surprisingly, the arguments for chance (meaning that life began by mere chance) are unexpected.
Among the main players in this controversy are the Darwinists and the Creationists. However, amidst the monopoly Darwinism has on scientific thought and the educational systems in the West, re-emerges a school of thought known as Intelligent Design.
Perfection by Accident
What is the possibility that we are here by chance? Before answering this question, it is important to note that there is a difference between some types of evolutionists and strict Darwinists. "Evolution is the theory that all life forms are descended from one or several ancestors that were present on the early earth three to four billion years ago." Many evolutionists are practicing monotheists and believe in a superior deity who used evolution as a process of creation. As quoted from the book, Francis Collins, leader of the Human Genome Project, says, "God decided to create a species with whom he could have fellowship. Who are we to say that evolution was a dumb way to do it? It was an incredibly elegant way to do it."
On the other hand, staunch Darwinists claim that the universe as a whole, and not only humans, are here today by mere accident. Darwin, in his book On the Origin of Species, played on the concept of chance. This simply means that "the universe [is] Godless and meaningless, and that human beings [are] a random outcome of its process". To understand further, the key principle of Darwinian evolution was common descent by natural selection through a completely random process that came about spontaneously.
In the introduction of this book, the meaning of Darwinism is explained beautifully, touching upon the basic scientific meaning of Darwinian evolution, the theory of chance as well as the birth of social Darwinism. According to O'Leary, this theory was welcomed both in the scientific community as well as socially due to the secular settings of the society at that time.
Scientists liked Darwin's simplification. It especially suited the materialistic world of 19th century England. It provided a powerful support for a belief that was already rapidly growing among intellectuals … Thus, Darwin became the popular central figure in biology in the same way that Freud had in psychology, and Marx in politics.
However, although this theory was accepted widely in the existing secular and modernist society, its scientific validity was questionable to many scientists. The unimaginable complexity of the cell and matter at microscopic level was a heavy factor at discrediting the idea that molecules such as DNA could evolve "by law acting on chance". Also, the idea that simple matter can 'self-organize' into present-day organisms composed of intricate systems and exist in a world that is "fine-tuned" for life by accident is not a sufficient nor reasonable answer, especially since no 'self-organizing' accidents have happened in our time.
It is important to note that, despite the debate on the credibility of Darwinism, it persists as a key element in Western curricula because it endorses the modernist religion. As stated in the book,
Some teachers have been forbidden even to bring up known problems with the theory. This is because modernism is the unacknowledged religion of tax-supported public school systems, and Darwinism is one of modernism's most important teachings.
Before going further into Darwin's theory, it is necessary to introduce two more schools of thought. After becoming acquainted with evolutionists and Darwinists, two other schools of thought remain: the Young Earth Creationists and the supporters of Intelligent Design.
Not everyone has been swept into secular life-style beliefs. Young Earth Creationists emerge from the evangelical Christian Church, who base their views on the history of life from the literal interpretation of Genesis. As for my personal favorite, the ID theory (intelligent design) argues the exact opposite of Darwinism; that life "is a product of design". Most ID supporters relate this design to an intelligent and divine creator. However, some ID scientists argue for intelligent design without the belief that it is from a divine deity.
Popular belief has it that evolution is a continuous series of improvements whereas, as stated in the book, it is really a continuous series of change, which happen by chance. As chance would have it, human life, all the way from the intricacy of the eye to the infinite complexity of the brain, has evolved (by chance, they say) from life forms like the archaea (a single cell creature believed to be one of the oldest life forms on earth), with chance being on our side every time the dice is rolled. However, ID activist and biochemist Michaeal Behe argues for 'irreducible complexity', a concept that he introduced publicly and is one of the backbones of the ID theory. It quite simply says,
A biological system is irreducibly complex when its operation requires the cooperation of numerous parts, none of which performs a useful function unless all are present.
A car cannot be understood as a tricycle that sprouted a four-stroke engine and an extra wheel … [just as] most of the steps that separate your computer from a typewriter were the product of intelligent design.
An example of this is the bacteria's motorized propeller, as argued by ID scientists. Thus the bacteria's flagellum is the logo of the ID movement. Discovered in 1973, the flagellum is the unique characteristic that enables bacteria to swim. From its complexity, ID scientists reason that it cannot "arise from a series of lucky accidents". This simply means that, for example, the human eye can only function as an eye, with all its parts and systems, as it is today; it could not have evolved from 10% or even 90% of an eye. Logically anything less would be of no use and so would not be able to exist in the first place. Thus, natural selection cannot select something that does not exist.
Even playwright George Bernard Shaw illustrates this point vividly, although being an evolutionist himself. He says, "if this sort of selection could turn an antelope into a giraffe, it could conceivably turn a pond full of amoebas into the French academy."
Scientism and the Way Overboard
Scientism is based on the following belief: "Truth can be discovered only through the scientific method. Anything that cannot be discovered in that way cannot be true. The scientist assumes that religious beliefs are a form of fraud." We cannot say that this philosophy is mainstream or the norm amongst scientists. However, it does gain momentum in some circles especially in an increasingly materialistic world. According to ID advocate Phillip Johnson, this philosophy is appealing to many because "it gives science a virtual monopoly on the production of knowledge, and it assures scientists that no important questions are in principle beyond scientific investigation."
Evolutionists usually challenge the intelligent design theory by accusing it to be unscientific. It is said that what cannot be falsifiable by evidence cannot be science. But logically, if someone were to demonstrate that there are no irreducibly complex systems, then ID would be falsified. As mathematician William Dembski puts it, "Show me in detail how a nonpurposive natural process can bring about molecular machines like the bacterial flagellum."
In the opinion of some, ID is just an excuse for monotheists to prove that there is a god. Is that really necessary? I find that assumption absurd because belief is a matter of faith and not a fact of science. Only the materialistic mind cannot grasp the notion of faith because its assertion would be too much of a responsibility. Faith does not need the affirmation of science; it is in itself an ultimate proof.
At the end, after introducing us to the Darwinists, Young Earth Creationists and the supporters of ID throughout her book, with a plethora of quotations from scientists of all sects, I anticipated a few quotes or references from Muslim scientists but was not appeased. I understand that the Muslim contribution may not be as apparent as the Young Earth Creationists in the West; however, the title of the book indicates that the debate is universal and not restricted to only two or three groups of thought. Islam, being a monotheistic religion, has clear convictions on the origin of life, which deserves to be noted in more detail. O'Leary does mention briefly that there are Muslim creationists as well as Muslim ID supporters, but this was not illustrated with any quotations or opinions from prominent Muslim scholars.
More deserves to be said about this book, however I will end with the epigraph Denyse O'Leary chose to begin her book with which says a lot. "The most important question for any society to ask is the one that is forbidden" – Richard Halvorson, Harvard Crimson (2003).
Lamya Hamad is IslamOnline.net's Health & Science Assistant Editor. She is a graduate of Cairo University's School of Pharmacy and can be reached at: email@example.com.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Slater, of Wytheville, is founder of Vektor Communications, an electronics firm in Long Beach, Calif., that later formed a joint venture in Russia.
Roy Miles (Dec. 29 commentary, "Intelligent design is a theory built on unknown data") asserted that there is a "vast amount of evidence for evolution." I would like to respond point by point to the assertions in his article.
If by "evolution" he meant variation in species, adaption, genetic mutation and other observed processes, then certainly there is much evidence. That evidence is undisputed by creationists and others, who would like to see critical thinking taught in our science curricula instead of an exclusive, unquestioning indoctrination in a theory, often purported to be on a level with scientific fact.
This theory purports more than the variation of species within genetic limits; it asserts that, given enough time, fish became mammals; that life itself arose from inanimate matter; that amoeba developed into human beings; and that the intricate complexity and apparent design in the universe arose by chance processes.
As Miles pointed out, the assumptions that follow from this theory have impacted every branch of science. However, it is not evidence that has arisen from these branches of science, but the interpretation of data within an evolutionary framework on the basis of unchallenged assumptions that are hardly conscious.
History has shown that, when a prevailing theory is challenged, scientists like the rest of us can be entrenched dogmatists. In the case for evolution, evidence has become ever more conspicuously lacking - including the very evidence which Darwin himself expected to unfold, and without which he felt his theory would crumble.
It is impossible to reply to Miles' assertion that the evidence continues "to grow and be detailed" since he cites no examples. He simply asserted this to be the case, which implies that intelligent people should believe him.
Let's give students a chance to look at those examples that have been cited as evidence for evolution, and allow them an opportunity to examine them critically. That is teaching good science. What is there to fear?
Perhaps examples of peppered moths, the horse series or prehistoric men from the fossil record would be too much of an embarrassment in the light of current knowledge, and sadly, they are still sometimes pointed to today as "evidence."
Miles then argued that the absence of viable, naturalistic explanations for complexity does not constitute evidence for design. The example chosen is the clotting of blood, where 14 complex factors must be in place simultaneously. He answered the dilemma by saying the evidence could not be preserved in the fossils, because it is soft tissue!
There is no attempt to deal with the real problem, or even to guess. What evidence could possibly be postulated? Nothing can be dreamed up, but if only it had been preserved, our discovery in the fossil record would show that it happened naturalistically.
That is dogma, incredible faith. Why not let students know both sides and weigh the issues for themselves?
Should science consist of giving conclusions, without revealing the assumptions, and leave the thinking and evaluating to an elite? Miles concludes his argument that "science rests on the observable, the facts."
I would add that there would be no controversy if we stuck to observable facts in the science classroom. The fact is that we don't stick to fact.
As Miles stated next, "many specifics of the theory of evolution have not yet been explained... all believe in the basic concept... they are only arguing details."
The operable word here is "believe in." A good theory explains how something happened and allows you to make predictions based on that theory. Evolution after 150 years does neither. Evolutionists today are faced with the quandary of a theory that can't explain how something happened, but they still believe in it as a theory that explains how things happened. Dogma.
The analogy used in the article is misleading. A more appropriate analogy is finding in the forest a rocket complete with a sophisticated satellite payload (a single cell is even far more complex) and asserting it resulted from natural, random processes over a long period of time.
This theory of its origin should be taught as science because science can't consider other alternatives, and because the inability of my theory to explain how it could result from natural processes does not prove design (which after all is a cloak for religion, and not science).
In his conclusion, Miles asserted that no experiments have been done on the postulate of intelligent design - no drugs or other products have been developed from the application of the concept. The implication is that evolutionary theory has resulted in advances and reliable predictions. That absolutely has not been the case; can he name even one advance?
Predictions based on the evolution model have failed abysmally and put the theory in crisis. In fact, any theory of origins is outside the realm of observable science, unless you hold the assumption that present observable processes are the same processes that brought everything about.
What does scientific observation actually tell us about such an assumption? We know not one exception to the well-established scientific observation that the universe is a closed system, that no new energy is being created or destroyed (the first law of thermodynamics).
Nor do we know one exception to every scientific observation, whether on a cosmic or a nuclear level, that complex systems in the universe degrade to a random, homogenous uniformity (the second law of thermodynamics). Are we then led to conclude from observable science that creation occurred by present natural processes?
Obviously, it is not scientific observation that leads us to a belief in a naturalistic explanation of origins, but a philosophical bias at work.
The science classroom doesn't need to advocate a particular theory of origins as more scientifically based than another. It needs to present the observable facts, identify assumptions and teach critical thinking by leaving conclusions to the students themselves.
© Copyright 2005
In a land famous for its crude Darwinian business and social ethic, it's odd to find more than half the people sold on creationism instead
by Stephen Peplow
A visiting Martian could be forgiven for thinking that evolution and capitalism might have something in common. In both systems, long-term survival depends on finding a particular niche while developing and changing to altering circumstances. Surely Americans, as world-leaders in capitalism, would also be Darwin's greatest fans?
The fact that Americans don't like Darwin is one of those unnoticed and unappreciated ironies that provide such delight—or would do were they not quite so hazardous to those of us who enjoy the quiet life. It is like watching a child play with matches: amusing until the house burns down. It is also troubling to those of us who admire America and secular principles on which the American constitution was written.
Many Americans—well over half it seems—reject Darwin's theory of evolution in favour of creationism, sometimes called "abrupt appearance theory" or "scientific creationism" to try to smooth the edges. At the same time, the same people hold that "survival of the fittest" free-market ideology is the only game in town.
Even the Pope agrees that there is no incompatibility in believing both in God and the theory of evolution. After all, if God created the world, then He created Darwin and thereby Darwin's theories.
This isn't good enough for American creationists: a belief that Genesis is literally true means an outright rejection of ape antecedents anywhere in the closet. In the letters page of a Kansas newspaper, the Topeka Capital Journal , one mother encouraged the teaching of creationism this way: "I am writing in response to the poor souls out there who believe that the state board of education has taken education back to the Dark Ages. I say it's about time! Take my children back to the Dark Ages where truth was taught and they received the education they deserved."
Beliefs like this would be easier to dismiss were they not held by at least half the population, including certain key members of the Bush administration. Was the work of Locke, Bacon, Newton and the rest of the Enlightenment all in vain?
It hasn't always been this way. In 1922 Woodrow Wilson was asked for his thoughts on evolution. He replied, "Of course, like every other man of intelligence and education, I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised."
Disbelief in evolution seems to accompany a belief in free market economics, with no sense of irony. At home there is blind and unquestioning faith in Manifest Destiny while the cultural and economic systems of weaker countries are shredded. Linda McQuaig , author of books such as It's The Crude, Dude, suggests that the reason the Bush administration botched post-Saddam Iraq was that there never were any plans.
The Bush neo-conservatives, she claims, hoped to use the country as a giant experiment, a practical demonstration to a skeptical world of the power of the unfettered free market. Iraq, her argument goes, would have made an ideal testing-ground: no civil society to speak of, no grumpy unions, and perhaps best of all, no pesky environmentalists. Just unleash market forces and the country would rebuild itself, as if by magic. Too bad that this chance to see David Copperfield in action on the truly grand scale was wrecked by insurgents and other spoil-sports.
While Americans now reject Darwin, they have previously shown great interest in spin-offs or perversions of evolutionary theory, particularly where business might be involved. In the 1860s Herbert Spencer toured America giving highly acclaimed lectures on Social Darwinism. Spencer claimed that evolutionary theory explained the relative success of individual humans. Wealthy members of his audiences learned that they were rich because they were "better" or "fitter;" indeed, they positively deserved to be rich and therefore there was no need to fret about future difficulties with eyes of needles. John D Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie were eager disciples.
The corollary was that the poor also deserved their lot in life, and that it was therefore wrong to help them. As the weaker members of human society, they should not be allowed to breed. The next logical step was eugenics and, to its shame, Canada was one of several countries which followed this path.
Spencer's ideas of Social Darwinism were ridiculed back in his native Britain, Darwin himself repudiating them, but in America they still linger on. The influential writings and philosophy of Ayn Rand, with their forthright rejection of altruism and mocking of Immanuel Kant, are in many ways a continuation of Spencerism. It is no coincidence that her books still sell well in America.
Spencer, Rand, and present-day neo-conservatives make the mistake of thinking that there is no such thing as society, and that life is, or should be, lived in a grim Hobbesian state of nature.
The rest of us can see that there is society, and people do cooperate and help each other. We are far from being the amoral egotists of classical economic theory. The motives may perhaps be somewhat mixed: a little altruism one may hope, but more likely a pragmatic "do as you would be done by" reciprocity. Anyway, it seems to have worked up to now.
The Bush administration has shown a distinct lack of interest in cooperating with other states over such global public good issues as climate warming and international courts of justice. Evolutionary history shows that cooperation is the key to survival in the long term. Would it be wrong to hope that this particular lesson from history passes the creationists by?
January 19, 2005
By SUSAN JACOBY
SHORTLY after the 1925 Scopes "monkey trial," the usually astute historian Frederick Lewis Allen concluded that fundamentalism had been permanently discredited by the prosecution in Dayton, Tenn., of John T. Scopes, who had taught his biology students about Darwin's theory of evolution. "Legislators might go on passing anti-evolution laws," Allen wrote, "and in the hinterlands the pious might still keep their religion locked in a science-proof compartment of their minds; but civilized opinion everywhere had regarded the Dayton trial with amazement and amusement, and the slow drift away from fundamentalist certainty continued."
This was a serious historical misjudgment, as most recently demonstrated by the renewed determination of anti-evolution crusaders - buoyed by conservative gains in state and local elections - to force public school science classes to give equal time to religiously based speculation about the origins of life. These challenges to evolution range from old-time biblical literalism, insisting that the universe and man were created in seven days, to the newer "intelligent design," which maintains that if evolution occurred at all it could never be explained by Darwinian natural selection and could only have been directed at every stage by an omniscient creator.
Kansas, where evolution opponents regained control of the state board of education in November, is likely to be the first battleground. Proposals to modify the state's recommended science curriculum with alternatives to Darwinian evolution will be an issue at statewide public hearings scheduled in February. In Georgia last week, a federal judge ordered a suburban Atlanta school board to remove stickers labeling evolution "a theory, not a fact" from high school biology textbooks, but an appeal seems likely. Other states where the teaching of evolution is on the 2005 legislative or judicial calendar include Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
Many liberals mistakenly believe that these controversies are largely a product of the post-1980 politicization of the Christian right. In fact, the elected anti-evolutionists on local and state school boards today are the heirs of eight decades of fundamentalist campaigning against Darwinism through back-door pressure on textbook publishers and school officials. Even efforts to cloak creationism with the words "science" and "scientific" - as in "creation science" - is an old tactic, reminiscent of the Soviet Union's boasting about "scientific communism."
More sophisticated proponents of intelligent design, those who are religiously conservative but not insistent on literal adherence to the biblical creation story, use anti-Darwinist arguments from a tiny minority of scientists to bolster their case for a creator. Last month, a group of parents in Dover, Penn., filed the first lawsuit to address the issue, challenging the local school board's contention that "intelligent design" is a scientific rather than a religious theory and, therefore, does not violate the separation of church and state.
At the beginning of the 20th century, however, America was well on its way to an accommodation between science and mainstream religion, now a fait accompli in the rest of the developed world, that pleases neither atheists nor theocrats manqués but works for almost everyone else. A growing number of Americans accepted both evolution and religion but considered it the responsibility of the church, not public schools, to sort out the role of God. This view was expressed in 1904 by Maynard M. Metcalf, a zoologist and a liberal Christian, who praised the move to exclude religious speculation from the teaching of life sciences.
The Scopes trial changed all that. Instead of being the nail in the coffin of creationism as many believe, the trial undermined the emerging accommodation between religion and science by intensifying the fundamentalists' conviction that acceptance of evolution would inevitably weaken any type of faith.
When the 24-year-old Scopes was charged with violating a state law forbidding the teaching of evolution, his conviction by a jury (later overturned on a technicality) was a foregone conclusion. Clarence Darrow, the nation's most famous lawyer and most famous agnostic, turned a jury defeat into a public relations victory (at least among scientists and intellectuals) by goading William Jennings Bryan, who was assisting the prosecution, into taking the stand as an expert witness on the Bible.
Bryan, in the view of the Northern press, made a fool of himself. Opponents of evolution, however, lauded Bryan, and the press's ridicule of their hero helped to create the enduring fundamentalist resentment of secular science and secular government that has become such a conspicuous feature of our culture.
Between the Scopes trial and the early 1930's, "science-proof" fundamentalists pressured publishers into excising discussions of evolution - and often the word itself - from biology textbooks. The nature of that success is literally illustrated by a change between the 1921 first edition of "Biology for Beginners," a standard text by Truman Moon, and the second edition, published in 1926. The 1921 edition appeared with a portrait of Darwin on the frontispiece. Five years later, Darwin had been replaced by a drawing of the human digestive tract.
Texas, then as now one of the largest textbook purchasers, led the drive to extirpate evolution. "I am a Christian mother," said Gov. Miriam Ferguson of Texas." "And I am not going to let that kind of rot go into Texas textbooks." Mrs. Ferguson personally censored textbooks while presiding over the statehouse from 1924 to 1926. Censorship was soon institutionalized in a state commission that scrutinized all potential textbooks.
The caution inspired by such pressure extended beyond the Bible Belt and persisted for decades. In 1959, the Harvard University paleontologist George G. Simpson (a bête noire on creationist Web sites today) noted that most American high school science texts relegated evolution to a separate, optional section.
Perhaps the most insidious effect of the campaign against evolution has been avoidance of the subject by teachers, who, whatever their convictions, want to forestall trouble with fundamentalist parents. Recent surveys of high school biology teachers have found that avoidance of evolution is common among instructors throughout the nation.
The singular achievement of the fundamentalist minority has been to render evolution controversial enough to silence many teachers who know better. Only now, when the religious right is no longer satisfied with avoidance but is demanding that schools add anti-Darwinist intelligent design to the curriculum, are defenders of evolution fighting back against the intimidation that has worked so well since the premature declaration of the death of fundamentalism in the 1920's.
Susan Jacoby, director of the Center for Inquiry-Metro New York, is the author of "Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism."
Monday, January 24, 2005; Page A14
WITH THEIR SLICK Web sites, pseudo-academic conferences and savvy public relations, the proponents of "intelligent design" -- a "theory" that challenges the validity of Darwinian evolution -- are far more sophisticated than the creationists of yore. Rather than attempt to prove that the world was created in six days, they operate simply by casting doubt on evolution, largely using the time-honored argument that intelligent life could not have come about by a random natural process and must have been the work of a single creator. They do no experiments and do not publish in recognized scientific journals. Nevertheless, this new generation of anti-evolutionists, arguing that children have a "right to question" scientific truths, has had widespread success in undermining evolutionary theory.
Perhaps partly as a result, a startling 55 percent of Americans -- and 67 percent of those who voted for President Bush -- do not, according to a recent CBS poll, believe in evolution at all. According to a recent Gallup poll, about a third of Americans believe that the Bible is literally true. Some of these believers have persuaded politicians, school boards and parents across the country to question their children's textbooks. In states as diverse as Wisconsin, South Carolina, Kansas, Montana, Arkansas and Mississippi, school boards are arguing over whether to include "intelligent design" in their curriculums. Last week, in Pennsylvania's Dover School District, an administrator read a statement to ninth-grade biology students saying that evolution is not fact. Over the objections of ninth-grade science teachers and of parents who have filed suit, he offered "intelligent design" as an alternative. Also last week, a Georgia county school board voted to appeal a judge's decision to remove stickers describing evolution as a "theory, not a fact" from school textbooks. In both cases, the anti-evolutionists have been very careful in their choice of language, eschewing mentions of God or the Bible. Nevertheless, their intent was clear. As the lawsuit filed by Dover parents states, "intelligent design is neither scientific nor a theory in the scientific sense; it is an inherently religious argument or assertion that falls outside the realm of science." Discussion of religion in a history or philosophy class is legitimate and appropriate. To teach intelligent design as science in public schools is a clear violation of the principle of separation of church and state.
By Dennis L. Siluk
Jan. 24, 2005
A hundred and fifty years of Darwin Stew is enough! Anyhow, one third of Americans do not like the stew, nor believe it is good for them: I'm one. Darwin has become the second-god of the so called intellectual, cultured world it seems, or was, things are changing. Funny, many scientists are burying him, while many of our Midwestern Schools, especially in St. Paul, hate to let go of the goofball. It's amazing how may people can be led by the nose like pets, to such a Science fiction story and put heart and soul in it, even Darwin on his death bed was amazed how many folks believed him; I do believe he wished he'd had never went to the Galapagos; he doubted himself. Hitler once said: it is easier to fool the masses than the few, and boy was he right.
Anyhow, getting down to the premise of this article, the stew is overcooked, and the issue is coming back into the court systems. Lets hope the Christians get off their dead-behinds and standup to be counted. I'm a Baptists, and most I know are hiding in the church, I hate to say, and strut like peacocks expecting the Lord to come down and taxi them around. Evolution is a faith that takes more faith than Christianity to believe in, so I feel. Creationism has a long history in comparison to Evolution—I know: what's new? This is fairly new: if we believe Christianity to be a fairy-tale, so be it; but let's put the unscientific Evolutionist into the same category: so let's say we have now two fairy-tales; if your going to teach one in the school, lets teach the other, or none at all; lets take a vote on it, matter-of-fact; the democratic way. I'm sure the Stermites wouldn't mind; they all tell me how they like fairness. What is the system afraid of? We all know what they are afraid of don't we: the devil. They want to appease the devil. Just like our judges in Minnesota, who are the worse in the country, to include Rosas and Finley. It should be a most interesting year .
About the author: Mr. Siluk is a world traveler, a lover of the mysteries around the world, and has visit many World Heritage Sites, his most recent being Easter Island, the Galapagos and Mesa Verde. His books can be seen on/at Barns and Noble.com, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Abe.com Alibis, Boarders and several other sites and book stores. Many of his books can be purchased through the English Bookdealers. He spends his time between Lima, Peru and St. Paul, Minnesota, and has just finished working on two new books: "The Macabre Poems," and "Perhaps it's Love," and continues to work on "Curse of the Abyss Worm," a suspenseful mystery, and "Cold Kindness," a tragic love affair.
Most of the major U.S. newspapers suggested George W. Bush's re-election was a sign of the return of old-fashioned moral values. After Bush's post-election victory speech, CNN reported exit polls indicated a large number of regular churchgoers came out to vote for Bush. Many liberally minded people are scared that church and state might join in this religiously charged environment.
They might be right.
In Pennsylvania's Dover Area School District, students are now hearing alternatives to evolution in their science classes. Last week, teachers read a statement about "intelligent design" to their biology courses. This school district is the first in the nation to make this information directly available to their students since evolution became the standard, CNN reported.
The theory of intelligent design states that the universe is so intricate that some guiding force must have created it. It's just vague enough that anti-evolution students, regardless of their belief systems, could just fill in guiding force for some other noun that they prefer -- like God, perhaps.
The school system was very diplomatic about the letter-reading. Students could be excused if they didn't want to hear it, and teachers could get a substitute if they didn't agree with the assignment. In the end, most of the teachers and the majority of the student body were present for the reading. However, students were not able to ask any questions about intelligent design. The teachers moved on to evolution, and the kids were told to ask their parents if they wanted to know more. Of course, there is a lawsuit. Two civil liberties groups are filing a suit on behalf of eight families who believe that intelligent design isn't a far enough cry from creationism, the biblical account of how God created the universe. They believe this connection violates the standard for separation of church and state.
In the end, the school district is just creating more questions than answers. If the kids are supposed to go home to get answers about intelligent design then what was the point of planting the seed of information in them in the first place? The fact that students are now getting the information in their public schools, is striking because a school system in Atlanta was just forced to remove stickers from their science texts that stated, "Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things."
Being an ardent agnostic and liberal, I might see Pennsylvania's decision to include intelligent design as another product of values and faith permeating the United States' previously sacred separation of church and state. I agree that students should talk about intelligent design or creationism, or whatever you want to call it, in their classes. Teachers are not condoning intelligent design over evolution by teaching both. Rather, they are simply giving the students the option to decide for themselves what they believe is logical and true.
Many high school students take philosophy courses now in high school. These courses include theories that deny God's validity, support the existence of a higher power, and suggest that young men want to kill their fathers. Teachers provide the information to students, and then they get to decide what philosophies make sense to them.
To dance around the subject of this universe's origins is a wasted effort. By not mentioning intelligent design at all, teachers are simply ignoring some of their students' beliefs. The public should not be so close-minded, and in fact, teachers could really develop their lessons into something that explores not just the science behind creation but also the political nature of the debate. Why not discuss the Scopes Monkey Trial, which took place during a time when evolutionary theory was illegal and not the other way around?
I'm glad the Atlanta schools are removing the stickers because they were stating a fact in their own right -- that evolution couldn't be a fact. On the other hand, opening up the mind to other explanations for the universe is not restricting the rights of others; rather, the Dover schools are at least allowing for other theories and making their students aware of them, even if the discussion is still brief.
For now, I still do not see religious values taking over the United States. What I do see is a country that is afraid of debate. I feel as if the president, other political leaders and the media don't want to address both sides of any issue, whether it is the universe's origin, abortion or gay marriage. If they do, it's all sound and fury, signifying no change. Perhaps that's the issue, not values or beliefs, but just the inability of the mind to be intelligent and design something complex but satisfying for all.
Email Michele at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Jim Brown and Jody Brown
January 24, 2005
(AgapePress) - A pro-family attorney says a small Pennsylvania school district has sparked a "revolution in evolution."
Last week, the town of Dover became the first school district in the nation to officially inform students of the theory of "intelligent design" as an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution. With the exception of about 15 students who opted out, the rest of the community's 170 ninth-grade biology students were read a four-paragraph statement that referred to evolution as a theory, not a fact. And while Darwin's theory continues to be tested, said the statement, "intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view."
This all occurred despite a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the constitutionality of Dover's science policy. The ACLU, which describes intelligent design as "an inherently religious argument or assertion made in opposition to the scientific theory of evolution," had announced they would not seek a court order to block the statement from being read to the students.
Dick Thompson is president and chief counsel of the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, which is representing the Dover school district. He believes the ACLU and the science community are afraid that "a divine foot will be in the door" and, as a result, their "atheistic agenda" will collapse.
"It is not science versus religion that's involved here -- it's science versus science," Thompson says. "Credible scientists are now looking at the data, [such as] the indication that even the cell structure itself shows a complex machine that could not have developed by a random chance -- and therefore, intelligent design was involved."
The ACLU, Thompson explains, is in a "frenzy" because of the two-word phrase "intelligent design."
"They just don't want that concept to be introduced," the attorney says. "Knowing their agenda, I can understand why."
And the battle to get the concept into public science education is an important one for everyone, he says. "It's a fight not only for Christians, but it's a fight for anybody who is interested in an honest, science education," he declares.
The Thomas More attorney calls it "ironic" that the ACLU, after working diligently to prevent the suppression of Darwin's theory in the historic Scopes trial, is now "doing everything it can to suppress any effort to challenge it."
Thompson says if Dover defeats the ACLU lawsuit, he is hopeful that other school districts will include the concept of intelligent design in their curriculum. The lawsuit is expected to go to trial in the early summer.
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