NTS LogoSkeptical News for 23 May 2005

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Monday, May 23, 2005

Questions for Margaret Spellings


Published: May 22, 2005

Q: Should I call you Secretary?

I've been called worse, as we say in Texas.

Are you concerned about the rebellion against No Child Left Behind, the federal act that tries to improve school accountability by requiring states to test kids every year? Utah just announced that it doesn't want your money -- it wants to be left alone.

That's their prerogative. But if I were a Hispanic mom in Utah, I sure would want an explanation as to why we left $76 million on the table and my kid is not being well served.

What I find odd is that in 1980, President Reagan famously promised to abolish the Department of Education, and now Republicans are taking the opposite stance, reinventing the department to police education at the local level.

I think that in those two decades the American people and the political leadership have come to an understanding that if we don't close this achievement gap, it's going to be very detrimental to our democracy and our economic development and so on and so forth.

That's all true, but what do assessment tests really measure, other than an ability to memorize for tests?

You hear about that kind of thing. With respect to my own children, I do think people have to have a fluency with facts. You need to know what four times four is.

Time for a pop quiz. Can you tell us the capital of Illinois?

Uh. Springfield?


Phew. That was a close one.

What's the capital of Wyoming?

Cheyenne or Cody. (Long pause.) Cheyenne.

Yes, it's Cheyenne, which I know because I watch ''Jeopardy!''

Me, too. I'm a big ''Jeopardy!'' fan. Love it! In fact I was so annoyed when Christie Todd Whitman and Ari Fleischer got to go on ''Jeopardy!''

I'm sure you could get on, if you tried.

Maybe so. I worry that the category will be sports, and I'll get them all wrong.

I think it's admirable not to know about sports, although how did you rise so high in the world of Republican politics without knowing about football?

Well, you have to learn enough to get by. But it's not something I love to do or watch.

What do you make of the current controversy in Kansas over whether creationism should be taught along with evolution?

I can tell you that in Texas we did go through this issue, when Bush was governor and I was working for him. We ended up -- the curriculum says basically that both points of view are taught from a factual basis.

How can creationism be taught from a factual basis? Are you implying that events in the Bible should be taught in the public schools as literal history?

I'm not implying anything. I'm just saying that my recollection from my Texas days is that both points of view were presented.

You've been called an earth-mother Republican.

I'm from Austin, Tex. There are a lot more earth mothers per capita in Austin, Tex., than there are in Washington, D.C., or Alexandria, Va.

How would you define an earth mother?

Oh, I nursed my daughters for a year and nine months -- one for a year and one for nine months. And I used cloth diapers and made my own baby food, and I didn't put my kids on a bunch of antibiotics.

Do you think children should be allowed to watch television during the week?

You mean at school?

No, at home.

The president says, and I completely agree, to read as much as you watch TV. If you watch TV for an hour, then you read for an hour.

Does the president have a nickname for you?

Yes. It's Margarita.

Is that something you like to drink?

I do.

With salt?

Frozen, no salt. Although my own self, I'm a little salty, as you can tell.

Cancer Patients Take Their Hopes To Tijuana

[The Guardian, 21 May 2005]

Farooq Hussain had never thought of visiting Mexico before he was diagnosed with stage four cancer in March. Now the 32-year-old Leeds builder has come to this border city in search of treatment to save his life.

"I'm a desperate man trying to cling on to hope," he says with an embarrassed grin as he mulls the menu of unusual therapies at the Oasis of Hope clinic. "Everything I hear about here makes me think that could be for me, and then in the back of my mind I'm thinking it sounds too good to be true."

Tijuana is home to the largest concentration of cancer treatment centres offering unorthodox therapies anywhere in the world. More than 60 hospitals, clinics and semi-clandestine offices offer to cure or help control the disease in ways ranging from the unconventional to the controversial.

Some revolve around purported detoxification methods such as enemas or electrical therapy. Some concentrate on the immune system, while others claim to work on the blood. One is producing an anti-cancer "vaccine".

Most methods are discouraged by conventional medical science, which is why they are based in Tijuana, where health regulators rarely bother them.

Close on the US border, they mostly attract Americans, but also an increasing number of Britons, Australians and Japanese.

Many patients pay more than £20,000 for treatments that are promoted by anecdotal evidence of dramatic improvements or even total remission, but dismissed by oncologists as bad science relying on the placebo effect, the odd case of spontaneous remission and shameless quackery.

Complementary therapies such as acupuncture and aromatherapy may be gaining credibility as means to improve quality of life, but the backbone of accepted cancer treatments remains surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The sensitivity of the issue in Britain was underlined last year when Prince Charles was severely reprimanded by a leading cancer specialist after claiming a nutritionally based treatment called Gerson Therapy had helped put a woman he knew into remission. Gerson, like so much else, is available in Tijuana.

"The problem is that there is little or no evidence to support the claims of these treatments and some of them are potentially harmful," says Richard Sullivan, head of clinical programmes at Cancer Research UK. "The Tijuana clinics are essentially set up to deceive and it's a disgrace."

But it is hard for even purists like Dr Sullivan to reproach Mr Hussain for looking outside conventional methods after he was told two months ago that he had a soft tissue sarcoma in the thigh with metastasis in the lungs. He was given six months to a year to live, with the chance of an additional nine months if he responded well to chemotherapy.

"I was a wreck," remembered Mr. Hussain, who for the moment at least says he still feels relatively healthy apart from the pain in his leg from a 12cm (about 5in) tumour. "I'd lived my life a bit like I couldn't be arsed, but when something like that happens to you it changes a lot of things. I came to realise that I've got a lot to gain and nothing to lose."

His deeply determined wife, Jerry Malik, needed less time to find hope. She plugged into the internet, entered "cancer breakthroughs" into search engines, and plunged herself into the enormous amount of information out there about alternative treatments, all the while pushing her husband to believe that the end was not necessarily nigh. The 25-year-old customer liaison officer is confident that she has researched her topic well and subscribes to the argument from alternative practitioners that the medical establishment disapproves of their therapies because these threaten conventional drug company profits.

"The conventional doctors, they haven't really offered us anything, just chemo," she said. "I know that we probably won't find a cure, but if they can give him another 15 or 20 years we can live with that."

The couple were married five years ago and are clearly still very much in love, having weathered the family furore their relationship first caused because Mr Hussain had previously been married to Ms Malik's elder sister.

Now they receive constant calls from the extended family back in Leeds for updates on the treatment which they will pay for with donations from their many siblings, uncles and aunts.

Before coming to Tijuana the couple first explored Muslim faith healing. Immediately after the diagnosis they travelled around Pakistan for three weeks, visiting mosques and seeking spiritual guidance from holy men.

They have become much more devout, reading the Koran together and sharing an amazingly upbeat attitude most of the time which they say is rooted in their faith.

Once a patient is sure he or she wants to try unorthodox methods, making the final choice of which one can be bewildering.

Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary and alternative medicine at Exeter University, says many of these therapies are available in the UK but Britons are attracted to Tijuana "because the clinics there are famous".

In Tijuana there are some clear common themes, such as the removal of carcinogenic substances believed to be in the body and claims to be able to boost the immune system's ability to fight the disease.

Detoxification methods range from the widespread practice of coffee enemas to the exclusive Zapper developed by a particularly notorious Tijuana-based practitioner called Hulda Clark.

Part of the cure involves being hooked up to the Zapper, a low-voltage electrical device that Ms Clark claims kills the parasites which she insists cause all cancers.

Treatments on offer in Tijuana promising to strengthen the immune system range from drinking gallons of fruit juices to treating the patient's blood with ozone and ultraviolet light, which purportedly boosts white cell energy. Other therapies claim to act directly on the tumour.

At least one clinic says it can make vaccines from the cancerous cells, and with them trigger the malignancy to self-destruct. This is cutting-edge science at the big cancer research centres and there are doubts that any Tijuana doctor has the facilities to develop such a treatment.

In the end, Farooq Hussain and his wife were most convinced by the Issels treatment, which includes lots of fruit juice and coffee enemas three times a day, as well as ozone and UV blood treatment and intravenous application of an extract made from apricot pips.

The centrepiece of the month-long $40,000 (£21,900) treatment is the induction of extreme fevers, based on the theory that cancer cells are destroyed by the heat.

"I'm going to do everything I can now and if I find out that I am not going to be cured and that I am going to die, then at least I will know that I tried," said Mr Hussain.




Why intelligent design isn't.
Issue of 2005-05-30 Posted 2005-05-23

If you are in ninth grade and live in Dover, Pennsylvania, you are learning things in your biology class that differ considerably from what your peers just a few miles away are learning. In particular, you are learning that Darwin's theory of evolution provides just one possible explanation of life, and that another is provided by something called intelligent design. You are being taught this not because of a recent breakthrough in some scientist's laboratory but because the Dover Area School District's board mandates it. In October, 2004, the board decreed that "students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design."

While the events in Dover have received a good deal of attention as a sign of the political times, there has been surprisingly little discussion of the science that's said to underlie the theory of intelligent design, often called I.D. Many scientists avoid discussing I.D. for strategic reasons. If a scientific claim can be loosely defined as one that scientists take seriously enough to debate, then engaging the intelligent-design movement on scientific grounds, they worry, cedes what it most desires: recognition that its claims are legitimate scientific ones.

Meanwhile, proposals hostile to evolution are being considered in more than twenty states; earlier this month, a bill was introduced into the New York State Assembly calling for instruction in intelligent design for all public-school students. The Kansas State Board of Education is weighing new standards, drafted by supporters of intelligent design, that would encourage schoolteachers to challenge Darwinism. Senator Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, has argued that "intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes." An I.D.-friendly amendment that he sponsored to the No Child Left Behind Act—requiring public schools to help students understand why evolution "generates so much continuing controversy"—was overwhelmingly approved in the Senate. (The amendment was not included in the version of the bill that was signed into law, but similar language did appear in a conference report that accompanied it.) In the past few years, college students across the country have formed Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness chapters. Clearly, a policy of limited scientific engagement has failed. So just what is this movement?

First of all, intelligent design is not what people often assume it is. For one thing, I.D. is not Biblical literalism. Unlike earlier generations of creationists—the so-called Young Earthers and scientific creationists—proponents of intelligent design do not believe that the universe was created in six days, that Earth is ten thousand years old, or that the fossil record was deposited during Noah's flood. (Indeed, they shun the label "creationism" altogether.) Nor does I.D. flatly reject evolution: adherents freely admit that some evolutionary change occurred during the history of life on Earth. Although the movement is loosely allied with, and heavily funded by, various conservative Christian groups—and although I.D. plainly maintains that life was created—it is generally silent about the identity of the creator.

The movement's main positive claim is that there are things in the world, most notably life, that cannot be accounted for by known natural causes and show features that, in any other context, we would attribute to intelligence. Living organisms are too complex to be explained by any natural—or, more precisely, by any mindless—process. Instead, the design inherent in organisms can be accounted for only by invoking a designer, and one who is very, very smart.

All of which puts I.D. squarely at odds with Darwin. Darwin's theory of evolution was meant to show how the fantastically complex features of organisms—eyes, beaks, brains—could arise without the intervention of a designing mind. According to Darwinism, evolution largely reflects the combined action of random mutation and natural selection. A random mutation in an organism, like a random change in any finely tuned machine, is almost always bad. That's why you don't, screwdriver in hand, make arbitrary changes to the insides of your television. But, once in a great while, a random mutation in the DNA that makes up an organism's genes slightly improves the function of some organ and thus the survival of the organism. In a species whose eye amounts to nothing more than a primitive patch of light-sensitive cells, a mutation that causes this patch to fold into a cup shape might have a survival advantage. While the old type of organism can tell only if the lights are on, the new type can detect the direction of any source of light or shadow. Since shadows sometimes mean predators, that can be valuable information. The new, improved type of organism will, therefore, be more common in the next generation. That's natural selection. Repeated over billions of years, this process of incremental improvement should allow for the gradual emergence of organisms that are exquisitely adapted to their environments and that look for all the world as though they were designed. By 1870, about a decade after "The Origin of Species" was published, nearly all biologists agreed that life had evolved, and by 1940 or so most agreed that natural selection was a key force driving this evolution.

Advocates of intelligent design point to two developments that in their view undermine Darwinism. The first is the molecular revolution in biology. Beginning in the nineteen-fifties, molecular biologists revealed a staggering and unsuspected degree of complexity within the cells that make up all life. This complexity, I.D.'s defenders argue, lies beyond the abilities of Darwinism to explain. Second, they claim that new mathematical findings cast doubt on the power of natural selection. Selection may play a role in evolution, but it cannot accomplish what biologists suppose it can.

These claims have been championed by a tireless group of writers, most of them associated with the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that sponsors projects in science, religion, and national defense, among other areas. The center's fellows and advisers—including the emeritus law professor Phillip E. Johnson, the philosopher Stephen C. Meyer, and the biologist Jonathan Wells—have published an astonishing number of articles and books that decry the ostensibly sad state of Darwinism and extoll the virtues of the design alternative. But Johnson, Meyer, and Wells, while highly visible, are mainly strategists and popularizers. The scientific leaders of the design movement are two scholars, one a biochemist and the other a mathematician. To assess intelligent design is to assess their arguments.

Michael J. Behe, a professor of biological sciences at Lehigh University (and a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute), is a biochemist who writes technical papers on the structure of DNA. He is the most prominent of the small circle of scientists working on intelligent design, and his arguments are by far the best known. His book "Darwin's Black Box" (1996) was a surprise best-seller and was named by National Review as one of the hundred best nonfiction books of the twentieth century. (A little calibration may be useful here; "The Starr Report" also made the list.)

Not surprisingly, Behe's doubts about Darwinism begin with biochemistry. Fifty years ago, he says, any biologist could tell stories like the one about the eye's evolution. But such stories, Behe notes, invariably began with cells, whose own evolutionary origins were essentially left unexplained. This was harmless enough as long as cells weren't qualitatively more complex than the larger, more visible aspects of the eye. Yet when biochemists began to dissect the inner workings of the cell, what they found floored them. A cell is packed full of exceedingly complex structures—hundreds of microscopic machines, each performing a specific job. The "Give me a cell and I'll give you an eye" story told by Darwinists, he says, began to seem suspect: starting with a cell was starting ninety per cent of the way to the finish line.

Behe's main claim is that cells are complex not just in degree but in kind. Cells contain structures that are "irreducibly complex." This means that if you remove any single part from such a structure, the structure no longer functions. Behe offers a simple, nonbiological example of an irreducibly complex object: the mousetrap. A mousetrap has several parts—platform, spring, catch, hammer, and hold-down bar—and all of them have to be in place for the trap to work. If you remove the spring from a mousetrap, it isn't slightly worse at killing mice; it doesn't kill them at all. So, too, with the bacterial flagellum, Behe argues. This flagellum is a tiny propeller attached to the back of some bacteria. Spinning at more than twenty thousand r.p.m.s, it motors the bacterium through its aquatic world. The flagellum comprises roughly thirty different proteins, all precisely arranged, and if any one of them is removed the flagellum stops spinning.

In "Darwin's Black Box," Behe maintained that irreducible complexity presents Darwinism with "unbridgeable chasms." How, after all, could a gradual process of incremental improvement build something like a flagellum, which needs all its parts in order to work? Scientists, he argued, must face up to the fact that "many biochemical systems cannot be built by natural selection working on mutations." In the end, Behe concluded that irreducibly complex cells arise the same way as irreducibly complex mousetraps—someone designs them. As he put it in a recent Times Op-Ed piece: "If it looks, walks, and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it's a duck. Design should not be overlooked simply because it's so obvious." In "Darwin's Black Box," Behe speculated that the designer might have assembled the first cell, essentially solving the problem of irreducible complexity, after which evolution might well have proceeded by more or less conventional means. Under Behe's brand of creationism, you might still be an ape that evolved on the African savanna; it's just that your cells harbor micro-machines engineered by an unnamed intelligence some four billion years ago.

But Behe's principal argument soon ran into trouble. As biologists pointed out, there are several different ways that Darwinian evolution can build irreducibly complex systems. In one, elaborate structures may evolve for one reason and then get co-opted for some entirely different, irreducibly complex function. Who says those thirty flagellar proteins weren't present in bacteria long before bacteria sported flagella? They may have been performing other jobs in the cell and only later got drafted into flagellum-building. Indeed, there's now strong evidence that several flagellar proteins once played roles in a type of molecular pump found in the membranes of bacterial cells.

Behe doesn't consider this sort of "indirect" path to irreducible complexity—in which parts perform one function and then switch to another—terribly plausible. And he essentially rules out the alternative possibility of a direct Darwinian path: a path, that is, in which Darwinism builds an irreducibly complex structure while selecting all along for the same biological function. But biologists have shown that direct paths to irreducible complexity are possible, too. Suppose a part gets added to a system merely because the part improves the system's performance; the part is not, at this stage, essential for function. But, because subsequent evolution builds on this addition, a part that was at first just advantageous might become essential. As this process is repeated through evolutionary time, more and more parts that were once merely beneficial become necessary. This idea was first set forth by H. J. Muller, the Nobel Prize-winning geneticist, in 1939, but it's a familiar process in the development of human technologies. We add new parts like global-positioning systems to cars not because they're necessary but because they're nice. But no one would be surprised if, in fifty years, computers that rely on G.P.S. actually drove our cars. At that point, G.P.S. would no longer be an attractive option; it would be an essential piece of automotive technology. It's important to see that this process is thoroughly Darwinian: each change might well be small and each represents an improvement.

Design theorists have made some concessions to these criticisms. Behe has confessed to "sloppy prose" and said he hadn't meant to imply that irreducibly complex systems "by definition" cannot evolve gradually. "I quite agree that my argument against Darwinism does not add up to a logical proof," he says—though he continues to believe that Darwinian paths to irreducible complexity are exceedingly unlikely. Behe and his followers now emphasize that, while irreducibly complex systems can in principle evolve, biologists can't reconstruct in convincing detail just how any such system did evolve.

What counts as a sufficiently detailed historical narrative, though, is altogether subjective. Biologists actually know a great deal about the evolution of biochemical systems, irreducibly complex or not. It's significant, for instance, that the proteins that typically make up the parts of these systems are often similar to one another. (Blood clotting—another of Behe's examples of irreducible complexity—involves at least twenty proteins, several of which are similar, and all of which are needed to make clots, to localize or remove clots, or to prevent the runaway clotting of all blood.) And biologists understand why these proteins are so similar. Each gene in an organism's genome encodes a particular protein. Occasionally, the stretch of DNA that makes up a particular gene will get accidentally copied, yielding a genome that includes two versions of the gene. Over many generations, one version of the gene will often keep its original function while the other one slowly changes by mutation and natural selection, picking up a new, though usually related, function. This process of "gene duplication" has given rise to entire families of proteins that have similar functions; they often act in the same biochemical pathway or sit in the same cellular structure. There's no doubt that gene duplication plays an extremely important role in the evolution of biological complexity.

It's true that when you confront biologists with a particular complex structure like the flagellum they sometimes have a hard time saying which part appeared before which other parts. But then it can be hard, with any complex historical process, to reconstruct the exact order in which events occurred, especially when, as in evolution, the addition of new parts encourages the modification of old ones. When you're looking at a bustling urban street, for example, you probably can't tell which shop went into business first. This is partly because many businesses now depend on each other and partly because new shops trigger changes in old ones (the new sushi place draws twenty-somethings who demand wireless Internet at the café next door). But it would be a little rash to conclude that all the shops must have begun business on the same day or that some Unseen Urban Planner had carefully determined just which business went where.

The other leading theorist of the new creationism, William A. Dembski, holds a Ph.D. in mathematics, another in philosophy, and a master of divinity in theology. He has been a research professor in the conceptual foundations of science at Baylor University, and was recently appointed to the new Center for Science and Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. (He is a longtime senior fellow at the Discovery Institute as well.) Dembski publishes at a staggering pace. His books—including "The Design Inference," "Intelligent Design," "No Free Lunch," and "The Design Revolution"—are generally well written and packed with provocative ideas.

According to Dembski, a complex object must be the result of intelligence if it was the product neither of chance nor of necessity. The novel "Moby Dick," for example, didn't arise by chance (Melville didn't scribble random letters), and it wasn't the necessary consequence of a physical law (unlike, say, the fall of an apple). It was, instead, the result of Melville's intelligence. Dembski argues that there is a reliable way to recognize such products of intelligence in the natural world. We can conclude that an object was intelligently designed, he says, if it shows "specified complexity"—complexity that matches an "independently given pattern." The sequence of letters "jkxvcjudoplvm" is certainly complex: if you randomly type thirteen letters, you are very unlikely to arrive at this particular sequence. But it isn't specified: it doesn't match any independently given sequence of letters. If, on the other hand, I ask you for the first sentence of "Moby Dick" and you type the letters "callmeishmael," you have produced something that is both complex and specified. The sequence you typed is unlikely to arise by chance alone, and it matches an independent target sequence (the one written by Melville). Dembski argues that specified complexity, when expressed mathematically, provides an unmistakable signature of intelligence. Things like "callmeishmael," he points out, just don't arise in the real world without acts of intelligence. If organisms show specified complexity, therefore, we can conclude that they are the handiwork of an intelligent agent.

For Dembski, it's telling that the sophisticated machines we find in organisms match up in astonishingly precise ways with recognizable human technologies. The eye, for example, has a familiar, cameralike design, with recognizable parts—a pinhole opening for light, a lens, and a surface on which to project an image—all arranged just as a human engineer would arrange them. And the flagellum has a motor design, one that features recognizable O-rings, a rotor, and a drive shaft. Specified complexity, he says, is there for all to see.

Dembski's second major claim is that certain mathematical results cast doubt on Darwinism at the most basic conceptual level. In 2002, he focussed on so-called No Free Lunch, or N.F.L., theorems, which were derived in the late nineties by the physicists David H. Wolpert and William G. Macready. These theorems relate to the efficiency of different "search algorithms." Consider a search for high ground on some unfamiliar, hilly terrain. You're on foot and it's a moonless night; you've got two hours to reach the highest place you can. How to proceed? One sensible search algorithm might say, "Walk uphill in the steepest possible direction; if no direction uphill is available, take a couple of steps to the left and try again." This algorithm insures that you're generally moving upward. Another search algorithm—a so-called blind search algorithm—might say, "Walk in a random direction." This would sometimes take you uphill but sometimes down. Roughly, the N.F.L. theorems prove the surprising fact that, averaged over all possible terrains, no search algorithm is better than any other. In some landscapes, moving uphill gets you to higher ground in the allotted time, while in other landscapes moving randomly does, but on average neither outperforms the other.

Now, Darwinism can be thought of as a search algorithm. Given a problem—adapting to a new disease, for instance—a population uses the Darwinian algorithm of random mutation plus natural selection to search for a solution (in this case, disease resistance). But, according to Dembski, the N.F.L. theorems prove that this Darwinian algorithm is no better than any other when confronting all possible problems. It follows that, over all, Darwinism is no better than blind search, a process of utterly random change unaided by any guiding force like natural selection. Since we don't expect blind change to build elaborate machines showing an exquisite coördination of parts, we have no right to expect Darwinism to do so, either. Attempts to sidestep this problem by, say, carefully constraining the class of challenges faced by organisms inevitably involve sneaking in the very kind of order that we're trying to explain—something Dembski calls the displacement problem. In the end, he argues, the N.F.L. theorems and the displacement problem mean that there's only one plausible source for the design we find in organisms: intelligence. Although Dembski is somewhat noncommittal, he seems to favor a design theory in which an intelligent agent programmed design into early life, or even into the early universe. This design then unfolded through the long course of evolutionary time, as microbes slowly morphed into man.

Dembski's arguments have been met with tremendous enthusiasm in the I.D. movement. In part, that's because an innumerate public is easily impressed by a bit of mathematics. Also, when Dembski is wielding his equations, he gets to play the part of the hard scientist busily correcting the errors of those soft-headed biologists. (Evolutionary biology actually features an extraordinarily sophisticated body of mathematical theory, a fact not widely known because neither of evolution's great popularizers—Richard Dawkins and the late Stephen Jay Gould—did much math.) Despite all the attention, Dembski's mathematical claims about design and Darwin are almost entirely beside the point.

The most serious problem in Dembski's account involves specified complexity. Organisms aren't trying to match any "independently given pattern": evolution has no goal, and the history of life isn't trying to get anywhere. If building a sophisticated structure like an eye increases the number of children produced, evolution may well build an eye. But if destroying a sophisticated structure like the eye increases the number of children produced, evolution will just as happily destroy the eye. Species of fish and crustaceans that have moved into the total darkness of caves, where eyes are both unnecessary and costly, often have degenerate eyes, or eyes that begin to form only to be covered by skin—crazy contraptions that no intelligent agent would design. Despite all the loose talk about design and machines, organisms aren't striving to realize some engineer's blueprint; they're striving (if they can be said to strive at all) only to have more offspring than the next fellow.

Another problem with Dembski's arguments concerns the N.F.L. theorems. Recent work shows that these theorems don't hold in the case of co-evolution, when two or more species evolve in response to one another. And most evolution is surely co-evolution. Organisms do not spend most of their time adapting to rocks; they are perpetually challenged by, and adapting to, a rapidly changing suite of viruses, parasites, predators, and prey. A theorem that doesn't apply to these situations is a theorem whose relevance to biology is unclear. As it happens, David Wolpert, one of the authors of the N.F.L. theorems, recently denounced Dembski's use of those theorems as "fatally informal and imprecise." Dembski's apparent response has been a tactical retreat. In 2002, Dembski triumphantly proclaimed, "The No Free Lunch theorems dash any hope of generating specified complexity via evolutionary algorithms." Now he says, "I certainly never argued that the N.F.L. theorems provide a direct refutation of Darwinism."

Those of us who have argued with I.D. in the past are used to such shifts of emphasis. But it's striking that Dembski's views on the history of life contradict Behe's. Dembski believes that Darwinism is incapable of building anything interesting; Behe seems to believe that, given a cell, Darwinism might well have built you and me. Although proponents of I.D. routinely inflate the significance of minor squabbles among evolutionary biologists (did the peppered moth evolve dark color as a defense against birds or for other reasons?), they seldom acknowledge their own, often major differences of opinion. In the end, it's hard to view intelligent design as a coherent movement in any but a political sense.

It's also hard to view it as a real research program. Though people often picture science as a collection of clever theories, scientists are generally staunch pragmatists: to scientists, a good theory is one that inspires new experiments and provides unexpected insights into familiar phenomena. By this standard, Darwinism is one of the best theories in the history of science: it has produced countless important experiments (let's re-create a natural species in the lab—yes, that's been done) and sudden insight into once puzzling patterns (that's why there are no native land mammals on oceanic islands). In the nearly ten years since the publication of Behe's book, by contrast, I.D. has inspired no nontrivial experiments and has provided no surprising insights into biology. As the years pass, intelligent design looks less and less like the science it claimed to be and more and more like an extended exercise in polemics.

In 1999, a document from the Discovery Institute was posted, anonymously, on the Internet. This Wedge Document, as it came to be called, described not only the institute's long-term goals but its strategies for accomplishing them. The document begins by labelling the idea that human beings are created in the image of God "one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built." It goes on to decry the catastrophic legacy of Darwin, Marx, and Freud—the alleged fathers of a "materialistic conception of reality" that eventually "infected virtually every area of our culture." The mission of the Discovery Institute's scientific wing is then spelled out: "nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies." It seems fair to conclude that the Discovery Institute has set its sights a bit higher than, say, reconstructing the origins of the bacterial flagellum.

The intelligent-design community is usually far more circumspect in its pronouncements. This is not to say that it eschews discussion of religion; indeed, the intelligent-design literature regularly insists that Darwinism represents a thinly veiled attempt to foist a secular religion—godless materialism—on Western culture. As it happens, the idea that Darwinism is yoked to atheism, though popular, is also wrong. Of the five founding fathers of twentieth-century evolutionary biology—Ronald Fisher, Sewall Wright, J. B. S. Haldane, Ernst Mayr, and Theodosius Dobzhansky—one was a devout Anglican who preached sermons and published articles in church magazines, one a practicing Unitarian, one a dabbler in Eastern mysticism, one an apparent atheist, and one a member of the Russian Orthodox Church and the author of a book on religion and science. Pope John Paul II himself acknowledged, in a 1996 address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, that new research "leads to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis." Whatever larger conclusions one thinks should follow from Darwinism, the historical fact is that evolution and religion have often coexisted. As the philosopher Michael Ruse observes, "It is simply not the case that people take up evolution in the morning, and become atheists as an encore in the afternoon."

Biologists aren't alarmed by intelligent design's arrival in Dover and elsewhere because they have all sworn allegiance to atheistic materialism; they're alarmed because intelligent design is junk science. Meanwhile, more than eighty per cent of Americans say that God either created human beings in their present form or guided their development. As a succession of intelligent-design proponents appeared before the Kansas State Board of Education earlier this month, it was possible to wonder whether the movement's scientific coherence was beside the point. Intelligent design has come this far by faith.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Intelligent design is not science



Science involves the study of things that are observable either directly or indirectly. The problem with intelligent design and belief systems of that ilk is that it cannot be observed in any way. We cannot scientifically observe this "higher being" that has supposedly created the world we know. We can't find giant footprints, find massive thumbprints on mountains, and we have yet to observe him/her/it while studying the night sky with telescopes of varying power. Evolution, on the other hand, has some scientific merit. Scientists can make observations from fossilized remains of animals and plants, and study current species and make hypotheses about developmental changes. If new evidence is presented to scientists regarding an error in the theory, then science will either adjust the theory to suit the new data or it will abandon the theory entirely and develop a new system that accommodates the observed material. Will intelligent design proponents do likewise?

I'm not saying that intelligent design is inherently flawed or incorrect. I'm just saying that it isn't science. To be taught in a science class, it must adhere to certain rules about observations and reproducibility. Without it, intelligent design won't stand up to scientific scrutiny.

Let intelligent design be mentioned in a science class as an alternative theory. Let evolution be taught that it is not the end-all answer to everything but rather that it is a scientific theory, which still holds a lot of ground in the science community. But don't try and teach intelligent design as a scientific theory because it's not based on true science. Leave the discussion of intelligent design for philosophy and religion classes.

It doesn't merit a lengthy discussion as good scientific theory in a science class, only a mention as an alternative, nonscientific theory.

A scientific theory is one that has withstood rounds of hypotheses, observations and testing, and has yet to be disproved. Intelligent design cannot be tested, no measurable scientific observations can be made, and no data can be collected. Don't treat it as a science. Treat it as an alternative belief system that opposes evolution, but don't think for one moment that it is science in the purest sense.

Jeff Brown, Springfield, is a graduate student studying chemistry at SMS.

'Intelligent design' debate colors York County race


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

By Martha Raffaele, The Associated Press

DOVER, Pa. -- Ideological differences over the teaching of evolution and the origin of life were transformed into partisan politics yesterday, as voters nominated candidates for the local school board.

Republicans favored seven incumbent Dover Area school board members who support requiring ninth-grade students to be told about "intelligent design" when they learn about evolution in biology class, according to unofficial election results.

Democrats chose an opposing slate of seven candidates backed by a citizens' group that opposes mentioning intelligent design in science classes, according to the same unofficial results.

The campaign leading up to yesterday's primary in the York County municipality has been dominated by the board's decision in October to impose the intelligent-design mandate. Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by some kind of guiding force.

But eight families who have filed a federal lawsuit against the school district argue that intelligent design is merely biblical creationism disguised in secular language and has no place in a science classroom. The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in September.

The Rev. Warren Eshbach, a spokesman for the Democratic candidates running on behalf of Dover Citizens Actively Reviewing Educational Strategies, or Dover CARES, called the results a "good start."

"Our candidates believe intelligent design can be taught, but not in science," Eshbach said. "The school board's decision is against the law as it now stands."

The 14 candidates emerged from a field of 18 in the primary. Seven of the board's nine seats were up for election.

The incumbents included board president Sheila Harkins and member Alan Bonsell, who were on the winning side of a 6-3 school board vote in October to impose the mandate, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. The others are filling unexpired terms of board members who have since moved out of the district or resigned in protest.

The Dover CARES candidates include Bryan Rehm, a former Dover Area High School physics teacher, who is a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit.

Two board members who resigned in protest, Jeff Brown and Angie Yingling, also were competing in the primary election but failed to win nominations in either party.

'Copeland's Cure': Medicine Show


May 22, 2005

BRONCHITIS can be stopped in its tracks with a pack of Zithromax; but flu has to be endured. Or does it? Throughout the flu season, a homeopathic medicine with the mystical Latin name of Oscillococcinum flies off pharmacy shelves -- $20 million worth sold in 1996 alone. Its active ingredient is anas barbariae hepatis et cordis extractum. For English speakers, that's ''extract of the liver and heart of the wild duck,'' made into a kind of bouillon, filtered and freeze-dried, rehydrated, diluted and absorbed into tiny sugar pellets. Only one bird is needed to make a full year's global supply of these duck Tic-Tacs; which means there is about as much anas barbariae in a ton of this nostrum as there is Noilly Prat in an extra-dry martini. Why might this work?

As Natalie Robins explains in ''Copeland's Cure,'' her social history of the 150-year battle between conventional and alternative medicine in this country, the guiding principles of homeopathy are that ''like cures like'' and that small doses are better than big ones. These ideas are not bogus: after all, the vaccine for smallpox is made from a smidgen of the milder menace, cowpox. But why would a wisp of duck steam help a human? In the words of Michael Carlston, a homeopath whose work Robins consulted, ''We remain a long way from understanding how these extreme dilutions can directly create clinical effects.'' All that matters, he says, is that the patient get better. Ask someone who isn't a homeopath, and you'll get a different opinion. The Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann derided the notion that an undetectable molecule could have a therapeutic result as ''garbage physics''; other partisans of traditional medicine dismiss homeopathy as ''a masquerade fakery'' and ''pseudoscience.''

The two camps have been feuding since the get-go -- there was even a historic fistfight on the campus at Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1867. When the American Institute of Homeopathy was founded, in 1844, it was this country's first national medical organization. Three years later, rival doctors created the American Medical Association, and denounced homeopathy as a delusion practiced by unsavory foreign speculators ''who infest the land'' -- even though, at the time, both schools of medicine offered identical training. But apart from a few closing chapters that touch on current debates on alternative medicine (such as Oscillococcinum), Robins's curious book does not attempt to debunk or to defend either medical school of thought.

Her chief purpose is to explain the origins of homeopathy, and to show how a monomaniacal Midwestern doctor named Royal S. Copeland helped legitimize and popularize it. Robins, the author of ''Alien Ink: The FBI's War on Freedom of _Expression,'' among other books, paints Copeland as a hero in his own mind; a well-meaning blowhard who promulgated his homeopathic vision over a long career that ultimately landed him in the United States Senate, where he earned the nickname General Exodus because congressmen fled in droves during his harangues. As an 11-year old boy in Dexter, Mich., in 1879, Copeland watched his grandmother save his father from a fatal fever by boiling ears of corn, packing them in linen, tucking them around him and sweating out the illness. The method -- using heat to cure a fever -- was homeopathic: like cures like. Copeland never forgot the lesson. With colorful examples like these, Robins shows how Americans' understanding of the physical world around and within them changed during Copeland's lifetime.

In the 19th century and well into the 20th, homeopathy and allopathy had a great deal in common. There were no microscopes, bacteria had yet to be discovered, the existence of viruses wasn't known; there were no X-rays, no M.R.I.'s, no penicillin. Aspirin tablets didn't go on the market until 1915 (the A.M.A. denounced the drug, comparing it to morphine). Luck and home remedies were what got most people through serious illnesses. Robins records Copeland's good-faith effort to save a poisoning victim in 1901. The patient was given raw eggs, enemas of turpentine, flax tea and hot milk and brandy, potassium salts, nitric acid, injections from a shrub called jaborandi, digitalis, marigold mouthwash, venom of the bushmaster snake, strychnia, dogbane and buttermilk. She did not get better.

Copeland's fortunes soon improved dramatically, however. In 1908, he moved to Manhattan, where he became head of the New York Homeopathic Medical College, and in 1918, he was appointed city health commissioner, just as the catastrophic Spanish influenza epidemic swept the country. As a preventive health measure, he advised New Yorkers to drink hot lemonade, and he put germ-blocking guards on his office phones. Copeland promoted his ideas in a syndicated newspaper column called ''Your Health'' and on a heavily advertised radio show; he also issued gramophone discs of his personal exercise program. Shameless self-promoter or no, he had sincere convictions, and his dedication was instrumental in strengthening the pure food and drug laws shortly before his death in 1938. That same year, with quaint derision, the A.M.A. declared homeopathy ''dead as a last year's bird nest.'' Which of us today, separated by a century from the folkloric, agricultural America that Copeland grew up in, knew that a bird's nest even had a life span?

Medical certainties, Robins shows, can't be separated from the people who hold them, or the times in which they live. And for all the advances of science, and for all the hopes of ailing humans today, who put their trust in echinacea or pine needles, streptomycin or stem cells, the role of doctors, whether conventional or alternative, will never be entirely separate from the role of faith healer -- at least not until somebody finds a cure for the flu that actually works.

Liesl Schillinger, an arts editor at The New Yorker, is a regular contributor to the Book Review.


Ministry uses dinosaurs to dispute evolution

How and when did life begin? Ken Ham wants you to find the answer in his $25 million Boone County creation museum

By John Johnston
Enquirer staff writer

PETERSBURG - Ken Ham wants to save your soul.

He's so bent on that mission that he has spent 11 years in Northern Kentucky creating a museum to answer one of the most debated questions of our time:

When and how did life begin?

Soon, visitors to Ham's still-unfinished Creation Museum will experience his view: that God created the world in six, 24-hour days on a planet just 6,000 years old. This literal interpretation of the Bible runs counter to accepted scientific theory, which says Earth and its life forms evolved over billions of years.

Undaunted by considerable opponents, Ham's Answers in Genesis ministry is building a $25 million monument to creationism. The largest museum of its kind in the world, it hopes to draw 600,000 people from the Midwest and beyond in its first year.

"When that museum is finished, it's going to be Cincinnati's No. 1 tourist attraction," says the Rev. Jerry Falwell, nationally known Baptist evangelist and chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

"It's going to be a mini-Disney World."

Ham sees the museum as a way of reaching more people - along with the Answers in Genesis Web site, which claims to get 10 million page views per month, and his "Answers ... with Ken Ham" radio show, carried by more than 725 stations worldwide. That's in addition to his talks around the country, the sales of books and DVD's, newsletters e-mailed to 120,000 people and Creation magazine, which has 25,000 U.S. subscribers.

"People will get saved here," Ham says of the museum. "It's going to fire people up. If nothing else, it's going to get them to question their own position of what they believe."

Primed to fight

He walks briskly through the privately funded museum, pausing at a life-size model of a 40-foot-long, 14-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex.

Ham, 53, appears far less ferocious - there's a resemblance to Abraham Lincoln - but he is primed to fight, too.

"It's a foundational battle," he says, his Australian accent unmistakeable. "You've got to get people believing the right history - and believing that you can trust the Bible."

Ham's views of history and science are based on a literal reading of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. Among other things, he believes that:

Earth is about 6,000 years old, a figure arrived at by tracing the biblical genealogies, and not 4.5 billion years, as mainstream scientists say.

The Grand Canyon was formed not by erosion over millions of years, but by floodwaters in a matter of days or weeks.

Dinosaurs and man once co-existed, and dozens of the creatures - including T-rex - were passengers on the ark built by Noah, who was a real man, not a myth.

Although the Creation Museum's full opening is still two years away, already a buzz is building.

Construction tours are being conducted daily,and even more visitors are expected after a café and bookstore open later this year. Reporters from the British Broadcasting Corp. visited last week, and newspapers worldwide are flocking here to take a look, turning Petersburg into a ground zero of sorts for a culture war.

"We're putting the evolutionists and secular humanists on notice," says Ham, who has lived in America for 18 years. "We're coming to take back what rightfully belongs to God's word - what rightfully belongs to the Christian faith."

And yes, he says, that includes dinosaurs, the icons of evolution. Life-size models of dozens of the creatures will be on display in the museum.

Ham argues that evolution - the scientific theory that says life on the planet evolved from a common ancestor over millions of years - conflicts with the biblical version of a six-day creation. That, he says, has undermined the Bible's authority, leading to a "relative morality" based on man, not God, and resulting in moral decay that ranges from racism and pornography to school violence and gay marriage.

'A giant step backward'

Ham knows he has formidable opponents. Respected groups such as the National Science Board, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Teachers Association strongly support the theory of evolution. John Marburger, the Bush administration's science adviser, has said, "Evolution is a cornerstone of modern biology."

Many mainstream scientists worry that creationist theology masquerading as science will have an adverse effect on the public's science literacy.

"It's a giant step backward in science education," says Carolyn Chambers, chair of the biology department at Xavier University, which is operated by the Jesuit order of the Catholic church.

Glenn Storrs, curator of vertebrate paleontology for the Cincinnati Museum Center, leads dinosaur excavations in Montana each summer.

"Dinosaur-man co-existence is a non-issue,'' he says. "And so, I believe, is the age of the Earth. It's very clear the Earth is much older than 6,000 years."

The debate reaches past science.

"I would hope the mainstream Christian community speaks up about this and says, 'This is not the only Christian view,' " says Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, Calif.

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati said Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk would not comment on the Creation Museum. A spokesman for Bishop Roger J. Foys of the Diocese of Covington referred questions to the Rev. Ronald Ketteler, chair of the theology department at Thomas More College.

Ketteler would not comment on the Creation Museum, either. But he says the Catholic doctrine of creation - which declares God as creator - is compatible with the theory of evolution.

The Rev. Mendle Adams, pastor of St. Peter's United Church of Christ in Pleasant Ridge, has never hesitated to speak out against Ham's views on science, theology and morality. In the mid-1990s, while pastor of a Northern Kentucky church, Adams opposed Ham's plans for the museum.

"He takes extraordinary liberties with Scripture and theology to prove his point," Adams says. "The bottom line is, he is anti-gay, and he uses that card all the time."

Ham says homosexual behavior is a sin. But he adds that he's careful to condemn the behavior, not the person.

Ministry has $14 million budget

In waging a culture war, Ham has a large number of potential foot soldiers.

Gallup polls since 1982 have consistently shown that about 45 percent of the U.S. population believes that God created humans in their present form sometime within the past 10,000 years.

Non-denominational and Baptist churches are the best prospects for developing relationships with the Creation Museum, according to a study commissioned by Answers in Genesis.

One well-known Baptist whom Ham can count on is Falwell. In July, Ham will speak at the 2005 Creation Mega Conference hosted by Falwell and his Liberty University.

"I consider Ken Ham the most informed creationist in America," Falwell says.

Even detractors concede that Ham has appeal.

Ian Plimer, chair of geology at the University of Melbourne, became aware of Ham in the late 1980s, when Ham's creationist ministry in Australia was just a few years old. "He is promoting the religion and science of 350 years ago," says Plimer, but he adds: "He's a far better communicator than most mainstream scientists."

Still, even Ham admits he doesn't always make a good first impression. He's a shy man who wears a scraggly, graying beard, without a mustache, and doesn't smile much, although he has reason to: Donations for museum construction are rolling in at a rate of $300,000 to $400,000 a year.

What's more, the ministry he began in Northern Kentucky 11 years ago with colleagues Mark Looy and Mike Zovath now has 110 employees and a budget of $14 million.

"The Lord gave me a fire in my bones," Ham says. "It's almost as if ... I have no option. The Lord has put this burden in my heart: 'You've got to get this information out.' "

Local fossils 450 million years old

Get Ham onto the topic of biblical authority, and his passion is obvious.

"He'd be speaking 20 hours a day if his body would let him," says Zovath, vice president of museum operations.

Ham's wife of 32 years agrees. "He finds it difficult talking about things apart from the ministry," Mally Ham says. "He doesn't shut off."

Ham travels to about 30 cities a year to speak at churches, conferences and seminars. A couple of times a year, he addresses his home church, Calvary Baptist in Covington, and draws crowds of 1,400 or more.

"He's one of the most popular speakers we have," says the Rev. Dave Ellington, the worship pastor. "He reminds us to go back to what we really believe in the word of God."

Ham's own faith took root early.

He grew up in a Christian home in Australia, the oldest of six children. His late father, a teacher and principal, taught him that the entire Gospel message depends on Genesis being true. Whenever a challenge to Scripture arose, the elder Ham stridently defended his faith, which had a great effect on young Ken.

Ham's high school teachers introduced him to the theory of evolution. Concerned that it conflicted with the Bible's creation story, he went to his father. The elder Ham didn't have the answers, but encouraged his son to look for them.

Ham eventually found what he was seeking in the writings of creationist authors. Along the way, he earned a college degree in biology and environmental science, taught high school for five years, and spoke often at churches.

He and Mally, who have five children, built a room on the front of their house in Australia and started a bookstore, Creation Science Supply.

"We only had $200 in the bank and had ordered $20,000 worth of books. We didn't get a salary for years," Ham says.

But his creationist ministry grew, and in 1979 he decided to make it a full-time endeavor.

Many of the books the Hams sold came from the San Diego-based Institute for Creation Research, which runs a small Museum of Creation and Earth History. The family moved to America in 1987, and Ham spent seven years at the institute, until he was pulled by the allure of building a ministry and museum in a more centrally located U.S. city.

Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, home to an international airport and within a day's drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population, fit the bill.

Today, Ham eagerly awaits the museum's opening, hoping to share his passion with more believers.

But will people come away believing the Earth is 6,000 years old?

Arnold Miller, a University of Cincinnati professor of geology, is an expert on the 450-million-year-old fossils commonly found around Cincinnati. A proponent of free speech, he says he'd never try to block the Creation Museum.

"What I would like, however, is for it to be understood that it is something based on belief, and not on science," Miller says.

He muses that he could quit his job, become an expert debater, and take on Ham and other creationists.

"And if the general public were voting, I'd still lose," he says. "I sometimes feel that it's almost unwinnable. There's a strong fundamentalist faith that many people have. I wouldn't want to fight it."

Ham, meanwhile, will fight. How will he know if he's won?

"It doesn't matter," he says. "As long as you do what's right - and what God's called you to do."

E-mail jjohnston@enquirer.com

Occupation: President and chief executive officer, Answers in Genesis - United States.

Born: Oct. 20, 1951, Cairns, a city in Queensland, Australia. (Holds dual U.S.-Australian citizenship.)

Residence: Petersburg, Ky.

Education: Bachelor's of applied science in biology and environmental science, Queensland Institute of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, 1973. Diploma of education, Queensland University, Brisbane, 1974.

Family: Married to Marylyn "Mally" Ham for 32 years; children Nathan, 28; Renee Hodge, 27; Danielle, 22; Jeremy, 20; and Kristel, 17.

On making a first impression: "People can think I'm standoffish or I don't smile or I'm very serious. Once they get to know me, it's very different."

On the possibility of inviting public schools to visit the Creation Museum: "We'll try. Maybe we'll invite some of the superintendents, and say, 'We just want to show you what's here. And you guys decide if there's any way you can use it.' It's possible (administrators) might tell their students, 'Don't believe what they tell you, but let's go see the dinosaurs.' And we don't mind that."


What people are saying about Ken Ham, the Creation Museum and creationism

"The message is a very sound, strong, very defendable message. There are loads of scientists all over the world defending it."

David Grossmann, member of the Creation Museum reference board, retired Hamilton County juvenile judge

"Of course, (Answers in Genesis) has a right to (display) for the public whatever nonsense they want. But I just think we need a better-educated public so they can recognize that this is not good science."

Eugenie Scott, executive director, National Center for Science Education

"There's evidence for a young Earth, a lot of evidence. Everybody can have their opinion, but I think the evidence is with the creationists."

Eric Norman, biochemist, former University of Cincinnati professor

"If you believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, you should not get in an airplane, you should not drive a car, you should not use a TV or turn on the electric lights. You basically have to deny all of modern science. Lab experiments that tell us the basics of how things work also tell us how old the Earth is and the galaxy and the sun."

Lawrence M. Krauss, professor of physics and director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland


Massive museum based on ministry

In 1994, Ken Ham and two colleagues arrived in Northern Kentucky intent on building a ministry and a museum.

After years of delays caused by zoning battles and residents' opposition, today the U.S. headquarters of the nonprofit Answers in Genesis and the still unfinished Creation Museum are housed in a sprawling building just off Interstate 275's Exit 11 in Boone County, about 20 miles south west of downtown Cincinnati.

The 95,000-square-foot complex, on 50 rural acres, is nearly two-thirds as big as the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati. The Creation Museum itself encompasses 50,000 square feet. Officials are aiming for a spring 2007 opening.

"We want to make this very family-oriented. This is not a boring, stuffy, science museum," says Mark Looy, vice president of outreach for Answers in Genesis, who came with Ham and Mike Zovath to Northern Kentucky 11 years ago.

In that vein, it will be impossible to miss the dozens of life-size models of dinosaurs.

"Evolutionists use dinosaurs more than any other thing to promote the evolutionary world view," Looy says. "And we know dinosaurs are an attraction for young people, and young people will bring their parents along. So dinosaurs will be one of the primary teaching tools. We'll show how the Bible better explains dinosaurs."

In the museum lobby, life-like animatronic dinosaurs will greet visitors, who will then enter a 180-seat, special effects theater where a film will introduce the museum's central concept: the "7 Cs of history."

- Creation - God creates the universe in six, 24-hour days about 6,000 years ago.

Corruption - Adam's original sin brings death and sickness into the world.

Catastrophe - The great flood and Noah's ark.

Confusion - In response to human sin, God replaces the common language with a multitude of languages, causing people to spread out over the Earth.

Christ - Sent by God to save the world from sin.

Cross - Christ dies and rises three days later.

Consummation - Those who accept Christ can look forward to the curse of sin being removed.

As visitors walk past life-size dioramas depicting biblical history, they'll see Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden - with dinosaurs. They'll see Noah and his family on the ark - with dinosaurs. They'll see fossilized dinosaur bones and eggs.

Visitors will sway and feel mists of water when they enter a room that simulates Noah's ark.

There will be a limited amount of text to read. Instead, visitors who want to learn more will be able to push a button and hear the explanation through headphones.

An 84-seat planetarium "will show visitors that the heavens declare the handiwork of God," Looy says. Seasonal programs are planned, such as the star of Bethlehem at Christmastime.

An extensive mineral collection will help explain the creationist view that minerals did not require millions of years to form. Coins from the time of Christ also will be displayed. And there will be a children's play area. A Noah's ark-themed café and a dinosaur/dragon-themed bookstore and gift shop will open later this year.

The projected cost is $25 million, of which $15.5 million has been raised. Ministry officials say the cost would be far greater if not for donated materials and time. With the building's exterior completed, the focus now is on interior work and exhibit construction. Work proceeds as donations roll in, so the ministry can avoid debt.

Construction tours are offered 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call in advance. (859)* 727-2222, extension 203.

Information: www.answersingenesis.org.

E-mail jjohnston@enquirer.com


Differing beliefs

By John Johnston
Enquirer staff writer

Eighty years after Tennessee science teacher John Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution in the famed Scopes Monkey Trial, the debate still rages.

Today, in 20 states, proposals that would require schools to question evolution are being considered on state or local levels.

Some recent battlegrounds:

In Ohio inMarch 2004, the state Board of Education approved a model science curriculum that includes an optional lesson plan - "Critical analysis of evolution" - that recommends 10th-graders debate various critiques of the theory of evolution. Opponents argued the lesson plan opens the door to teaching "intelligent design," the assertion that life is too complex to have been created by anything other than a higher power. Supporters insisted that wasn't the case.

In Kansas this month, the school board held public hearings on how to teach evolution. State and national science groups boycotted, saying the hearings were rigged against them. The conservative board is expected to approve at least part of a proposal from advocates of intelligent design.

In Atlanta in January, a federal judge declared unconstitutional stickers that Cobb County schools had placed in textbooks. The stickers refer to evolution as "a theory, not a fact." The board of education has said it will appeal.

In Beebe, Ark., a similar sticker on high school textbooks has come under fire from the American Civil Liberties Union. It wants the stickers removed.

In Pennsylvania, where the Dover School Board requires that intelligent design be taught to ninth-graders, a lawsuit challenging the mandate is expected to go to trial in September.

Belief system definitions

Young Earth creationists: God created the universe, including the Earth and its life forms, during six consecutive, 24-hour days - less than 10,000 years ago. This is the view promoted by Ken Ham, followers of his Answers in Genesis ministry and others who interpret the Bible literally.

Old Earth creationists: God created the world billions of years ago. The "day" as described in Genesis may have been much longer than 24 hours. God created all the kinds of animals over a relatively short period.

Theistic evolutionists: The Earth, its life forms and the rest of the universe evolved over billions of years, guided by God. Humans evolved out of lower forms of life under the direct guidance of God.

Naturalistic evolutionists: The same belief as theistic evolutionists, with one important difference: God played no part in the process. Evolution was driven purely by natural forces.

"Intelligent design" proponents: Evolution is insufficient to explain the origin and complexity of life. Life was deliberately designed by one or more entities with super-human intelligence.


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Creationism for skeptics


Posted: May 21, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2005 WorldNetDaily.com

If we are to believe Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens, people who believe in creationism – the belief that the designed universe actually has a Designer – are idiots.

I can almost see Mr. Hitchens smiling under his tousled hair saying, "Yeah, Falwell. That's right."

In a recent Wall Street Journal article titled, "Why I'm Rooting Against the Religious Right," Mr. Hitchens defines the conservative Christian faction as a "creeping and creepy movement" that is "trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent."

That is certainly a simplistic – and wildly exaggerated – way to define the efforts of religious conservatives who want to preserve their rapidly disappearing rights in this great land. In appearing on the daily talk shows to promote the article, Mr. Hitchens has specifically gone to great lengths to define creationism as "nonsense" and to belittle those who dare to disbelieve that the universe just randomly appeared.

Well, even though our era's fashionable intellectuals seek to disparage those who embrace biblical truth, I want to proudly state that I am a creationist.

In fact, Liberty University will be co-hosting a Creation Mega Conference, in concert with Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, July 17-22 on the Liberty campus in Lynchburg, Va.

I would like to use this column to personally invite Mr. Hitchens to come to Lynchburg to attend the conference so that he can learn that creationism is not just the whim of a bunch of snake-handling mountain evangelists.

This conference will be led by an assemblage of brilliant men, scientists who have dedicated their lives to the study of the earth and its history.

The conference features an impressive list of speakers from a wide range of disciplines. Topics will include everything from human origins and Noah's Ark to fossils and the big bang.

Speakers will include Dr. Werner Gitt from Germany, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati from Australia and Dr. John Whitcomb, co-author of "The Genesis Flood" with Dr. Henry Morris, who will also be one of the speakers. (This book is largely credited with establishing the modern creationist movement.)

Liberty University's own Dr. David DeWitt says this Creation Mega Conference is especially designed to equip Christians to defend the Genesis account of creation and biblical authority. Pastors and teachers will be given information that they can use to teach others. Parents will be shown how to counter evolutionary arguments that their children might be exposed to in school or on television. Young and old will be encouraged in their faith as they see evidence that supports the truth of the Bible.

By the way, Dr. DeWitt has been publishing and been doing research on Alzheimer's disease for more than a decade. He will be one of the featured speakers at the Creation Mega Conference, speaking on "Molecular Evidence for Creation."

The Liberty faculty and our guest speakers hope many people who are skeptical about creation will come to the conference to see high-quality, scientific presentations supporting biblical creation. They may be very surprised by what they see.

Dr. DeWitt believes that biblical authority and origins are two of the most pressing issues for the Christian church today.

Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham, who will be the moderator of our Creation Mega Conference, often states, "If you can't trust the Bible's history, how can you trust its morality?" Christians must be equipped to defend their faith and be prepared to give an answer to everyone who challenges them on their views.

Readers who are interested in creation or have questions about origins are encouraged to join us for the conference July 17-22.

Visit our website to learn more about this special event or to register to attend.

And Mr. Hitchens, I'll be looking for you in July. If you're going to beat us up all the time, I encourage you to at least come and see what we really believe and on what we base those sincerely-held beliefs!

Rev. Jerry Falwell, a nationally recognized Christian minister and television show host, is the founder of Jerry Falwell Ministries and is chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

The evolution backlash: Debunking Darwin


COVER STORY: Intelligent Design: This broad, new movement sets aside differences among creationists, makes important scientific inroads | by Nancy R. Pearcey

News last week from the evolution front:

In New Mexico, the Senate Education Committee approved a bill mandating adoption of the science curriculum standards of the National Academy of Sciences, which include a dogmatic treatment of evolution. Arguing against the bill, John Baumgardner, a Los Alamos National Laboratory geophysicist, told the committee that "biologists have not a clue about how genesis occurred."

In Virginia, a local American Family Association leader demanded that school officials disavow language used in a biology textbook comparing divine creation with astrology, fad diets, and other forms of "pseudoscience."

Across the country, newspaper headlines reported that an asteroid 6-12 miles wide hit the earth 65 million years ago, killing two-thirds of the species then in existence. An Associated Press article concluded, "Among the survivors, scientists believe, were small mammals that--over millions of years--evolved into many new species, including humans."

Over the past year, the evolution controversy has intensified across the nation. Colorado high-school student Danny Phillips's battle is typical: When he watched a classroom video that attributed the origin of life to "random molecules in the atmosphere," he argued that the showing of the video, with its evolutionary assertion, violated local school policy requiring teachers to present evolution as theory, not fact. A school committee initially agreed. But, under ACLU pressure, the school board ruled for the video. That battle continues.

And there's other news: Science magazine warned that creationists are coming back armed with a "shrewd new strategy." The new strategy centers on a concept labeled intelligent design. The design movement shows promise of winning a place at the table in secular academia, while uniting Christians concerned about the role science plays in the current culture wars.

Short, freckled, with round face and crinkly eyes, Phillip E. Johnson of the Berkeley law school is an unlikely looking revolutionary. Yet he is the acknowledged leader of an intelligent design movement that combines classic critiques of evolutionary theory with a fresh, innovative approach. The key, Mr. Johnson told WORLD, is not to defend a prepared position so much as to promote critical-thinking skills.

As a law professor, Mr. Johnson's focus is on the logic and rhetoric used in support of Darwinism. Scientists build a case exactly as lawyers do in the courtroom, using the same strategies of persuasion. For example, Mr. Johnson points out, "Darwinists benefit from equivocating between two meanings of the term evolution." Sometimes the word refers simply to minor changes in the living world--an observable fact that no one questions. But at other times it means that all life developed through completely natural causes--a philosophical speculation that is highly questionable. In Mr. Johnson's words, "Darwinists play a shell game by getting you to assent to the trivial definition of evolution, and then suggesting that it compels you to accept a comprehensive philosophy of naturalism."

Another common trick of persuasion is the selective use of evidence. The facts adduced in favor of Darwinism are decidedly meager: minor adaptations in the color of moths, the shape of finch beaks, or the wings of fruit flies. Such examples represent modifications of existing structures; they leave unanswered the burning question: How does nature create complex structures in the first place? For the Darwinian true believer, Mr. Johnson says, what bridges the gap is naturalistic philosophy. "If naturalism is true--if nature is all that exists--then something very much like Darwinism has to be true, no matter what the state of the evidence." His devastating conclusion: "Darwinism is not so much an inference from the facts as a deduction from naturalistic philosophy."

Mr. Johnson argues his case in two books, Darwin on Trial and Reason in the Balance. The flair and sophistication of his presentation has won a hearing for the design paradigm in high-level academic circles. Of course, some establishment scientists dismiss Mr. Johnson as a lawyer who has overstepped his bounds--who just "doesn't understand how science works." Yet he has been invited to speak at state and private universities across the country, and his engaging wit has earned him warm friendships among many of the scientists who are his intellectual foes.

For example, when young Danny Phillips protested the classroom video, he politely offered an alternative called "Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy?" featuring Mr. Johnson in a Stanford University debate with Cornell biologist William Provine (available from the Access Research Network, www.arn.org/arn). What's more, Mr. Provine makes a point of letting the audience know that he and Mr. Johnson are friends--that after the debate they will go out for dinner and have a beer together.

The design movement offers more than new and improved critiques of evolutionary theory, however. Its goal is to show that intelligent design also functions as a positive research program. That task has been taken up by Michael Behe of Lehigh University. In Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Mr. Behe introduces the concept of "irreducible complexity." At the bedrock of life, in the microscopic world of the cell, we find molecular machines consisting of interrelated parts, all of which are necessary for the machines to work. Such structures cannot have emerged gradually by any conceivable Darwinian process.

With his thick glasses and infectious smile, Mr. Behe has an aw-shucks air about him, reinforced by the casual tone of his trademark plaid shirt and dungarees. He is Irish Catholic, has several children, and illuminates his arguments with homey analogies. His favorite example of irreducible complexity is a mousetrap: You can't take part of a mousetrap--say, the wooden base--and catch a few mice, then add a spring and catch a few more, and so on. You need the complete contraption from the start to catch even one mouse.

The same is true of the molecular structures that carry on the business of life. They consist of co-adapted, mutually dependent parts that must co-exist from the start. Such irreducible complexity, Mr. Behe argues, is evidence of intelligence. The book's impeccably argued case has won respectful reviews in Nature, The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and WORLD (Oct. 12, 1996). The Boston Review, published by MIT, recently ran several reviews of Mr. Behe's book, and an upcoming issue will feature a symposium with Mr. Behe and Mr. Johnson as participants. The design argument is proving that it can secure a beachhead in the hostile world of secular academia.

The design movement had its birth in the early 1970s, in a tiny French-speaking village perched on the snowy peaks of the Swiss Alps. At Francis Schaeffer's ministry "L'Abri," Charles Thaxton, fresh from a doctoral program in chemistry, wrestled with the implications of his faith. Did life begin in a chemical soup? "Criticisms of origin-of-life theories were showing up in the scientific literature," Mr. Thaxton recalls. "But I kept thinking of the verse, 'Overcome evil with good.' I felt Christians should offer a positive alternative." That alternative was intelligent design.

Mr. Thaxton left L'Abri and formalized his ideas in The Mystery of Life's Origin, co-authored with Walter Bradley and Roger Olsen. The book's theme is that DNA is essentially intelligence encoded in a biological structure, which implies that it was created by an intelligent agent. This is a conclusion based not on religious faith but on ordinary experience: Whenever we see a message--whether written on paper, flashing on the computer screen, or scratched in the sand--we invariably assume that it was written by an intelligent agent.

"The idea of intelligent causes is just as scientific as the idea of natural causes," argues Mr. Thaxton, who now teaches at Charles University in Prague. "In both cases, we draw our evidence from experience." What kind of experience? "In ordinary life we distinguish natural from intelligent causes all the time--when police officers determine whether a person died of natural causes or was murdered, when archaeologists decide whether a chipped rock is just a rock or a paleolithic tool. Why can't we use the same reasoning in natural science?"

With its devastating critique of origin-of-life theories, Mystery was reviewed in top professional journals such as the Yale Journal of Biology, and it is still used in graduate schools across the nation for its sheer scientific cogency. Another important impetus for the design movement was the crushing critique of neo- Darwinism offered in Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, written by then-agnostic Michael Denton. Today's resurgence of controversies in education was fueled partly by a high school biology supplement, Of Pandas and People, published by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics in Richardson, Texas. About 15,000 books have been sold for use in public schools.

But a movement requires more than good ideas, and the glue holding the design movement together is largely the organizing energy of Phillip Johnson. He has worked tirelessly to institutionalize the design paradigm, crafting it as the "big tent" for the evangelical world. He maintains lively e-mail conversations with a wide range of scientists, philosophers, and journalists. He worked behind the scenes to establish a fellowship program at the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture in Seattle, to found a new professional journal (Origins and Design), and to organize a series of conferences, the first held last fall at Biola University (see WORLD, Nov. 30/Dec. 7, 1996).

Mr. Johnson's goal is to break the deadlock between creationists and theistic evolutionists. "If you set out to promote a particular, detailed position, you end up becoming defensive, fragmented, and fighting each other," Mr. Johnson said. "Design is not a position, it's a metaphysical platform that creates space for rational discussion." John Mark Reynolds, professor of philosophy at Biola, portrays design as the common ground uniting all Christians, and the counterpart in science to C.S. Lewis's notion of "mere Christianity." Trading on that phrase, the Biola conference was titled "Mere Creation." The design paradigm shows potential for becoming the central organizing point for debate about origins among a wide range of Christians.

Design theory is also redefining the public-school debate. At issue is not the details of evolution versus the details of Genesis; it's the stark, fundamental claim that life is the product of impersonal forces over against the claim that it is the creation of an intelligent agent.

Consider these quotations: "You are an animal, and share a common heritage with earthworms... ," proclaims the Holt, Rinehart, and Winston textbook Biology: Visualizing Life. "Evolution is random and undirected ... without either plan or purpose," declares Prentice Hall's Biology. American public schools are supposed to be neutral with regard to religion, but these statements are clearly antagonistic to all theistic religions. They go far beyond any empirical evidence and are more philosophical than scientific. In the words of John Wiester, chairman of the Science Education Commission of the American Scientific Affiliation, "Darwinism is naturalistic philosophy masquerading as science."

If Mr. Johnson is the organizing mind of the design movement, Mr. Wiester is its heart. With his broad face and intense smile, Mr. Wiester radiates warmth. He teaches in the biology department of Westmont College while operating a cattle ranch. He's likely to sign e-mail notes saying, "I'm off to de-horn steers today."

Mr. Wiester sinks his teeth like a bulldog into a recent statement by the National Association of Biology Teachers, which asserts that all life arose by an "unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable, and natural process." This is nothing less than "Darwinian fundamentalism," Mr. Wiester declares. Does that mean schools should teach creation? "Our goal is not to teach creation," Mr. Wiester explains, "it's to teach science honestly: to teach not only the confirming examples but the disconfirming examples, the anomalies and unsolved questions of evolution."

Take, for example, the Cambrian "explosion," when all the major blueprints for life burst into existence. Darwinism assumes that major divides in the living world emerged over time through minor differentiation. But the Cambrian fossils show precisely the opposite pattern: The major patterns of life appear in a shotgun blast of radically different forms, and only then begin to diversify. Such negative evidence rarely appears in public-school textbooks.

In Alabama, Norris Anderson spearheaded a successful campaign to paste an insert on the inside front cover of biology textbooks listing some of the anomalies and ambiguities in evolutionary theory. In Education or Indoctrination?, Mr. Anderson has collected examples of dogmatic presentations of Darwinism: "Darwin gave biology a sound scientific basis by attributing the diversity of life to natural causes rather than supernatural creation" (Addison-Wesley's Biology). "Today, the evidence for evolution is overwhelming.... Evolution is no longer merely a theory" (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston's Biology). The same textbook takes a preemptive strike against troublesome critics: "There have always been those who resisted the appeal of evolution and every now and then declare 'Darwin was wrong,' in the hope of some profitable publicity, usually revealing that they do not understand Darwinism."

Ironically, Mr. Anderson understands Darwinism better than most. Formerly a textbook writer, he helped to prepare the infamous BSCS series (Biological Sciences Curriculum Study), which inaugurated the current dogmatic approach to teaching evolution. "I was practically an evangelist for evolution," Mr. Anderson says wryly. His turnabout was sparked when a colleague told him baldly, "Don't get me wrong, I believe human evolution happened, but there's absolutely no evidence for it." Mr. Anderson suggested that the textbooks be rewritten to reflect the real state of the evidence, but his proposal was vehemently rejected. "That's when my idealism began to crumble," Mr. Anderson says. "I saw that scientists close ranks to present a false image of scientific certainty."

What gives the Darwin debate such gravity, of course, is that much more than science is involved. In the Stanford debate, Mr. Provine outlines unflinchingly what Darwinism means for human values. To make sure no one misses it, he flashes a list on an overhead projector: Consistent Darwinism implies: "No life after death; No ultimate foundation for ethics; No ultimate meaning for life; No free will." The only reason for insisting on free will, Mr. Provine adds, is a cruel desire to blame people for their actions and lock them up.

In a dramatic rebuttal, captured on the video, a young man from the audience challenged Mr. Provine, saying, "My background is murder and rape. I once thought that was okay, because who cared about life?" But now, he went on, he had come to realize that "life does matter" and "there are absolutes." The man's words were a stunning reminder that the origins debate is not merely academic; it involves the most fundamental principles by which people live and die.

The Darwinist establishment benefits enormously from portraying the origins debate as a tempest in a teapot, driven by a small, marginalized group of Bible-thumpers. But the public knows intuitively that at stake are the great questions of human existence. The influential Jewish journal Commentary recently published a masterful critique of Darwinism by mathematician and novelist David Berlinski. Reader response was so overwhelming that a later issue devoted nearly 50 pages to letters. The origins debate is clearly entering the mainstream.

"The fundamental and most far-reaching assumption of Darwinism is that life is the product of forces that are impersonal and purposeless--that life is a cosmic accident," Mr. Johnson explains. "This is a philosophy that strikes most Americans as false, not just fundamentalists. If Christians frame the debate that way, we can't be marginalized."

Mrs. Pearcey is co-author of The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy

Evolution education update: NYT in defense of evolution, thoughts on KS, legislation dies in MO

Two defenses of evolution education appear in The New York Times, while a pair of thoughtful commentaries on the "kangaroo court" in Kansas merits a look, and antievolution legislation dies in Missouri.


The May 17, 2005, issue of The New York Times featured both a forceful editorial and a powerful op-ed article on the topic of threats to science education. "Every time the critics of Darwinism lose a battle over reshaping the teaching of biology," the editorial observes, "they evolve into a new form, armed with arguments that sound progressively more benign, while remaining as dangerous as ever." Citing the historical progression in antievolutionist argumentation from traditional forms of creationism to "intelligent design" creationism to "a critical analysis of supposed weaknesses in the theory of evolution," The Times notes that in Kansas, the so-called minority report version of the state science standards "seeks to change the definition of science in a way that appears to leave room for supernatural explanations of the origin and evolution of life, not just natural explanations, the usual domain of science," which it flatly describes as "wildly inappropriate for a public school curriculum."

In the Science Times section of the same issue, physicist Lawrence M. Krauss's commentary "School boards want to 'teach the controversy.' What controversy?" begins by noting that "Evolutionary biology is not the only science that appears to raise theological issues," citing his own scientific specialty of cosmology as a further example. But, he argues, these issues are not themselves scientific. "It is possible for profoundly atheist evolutionary biologists like Dr. Dawkins and deeply spiritual ones like Dr. Kenneth Miller of Brown University, who writes extensively on evolution, to be in complete agreement about the scientific mechanism governing biological evolution, and the fact that life has evolved via natural selection," Krauss writes. "Students are completely free to make up their own minds, in any case. What is at issue is whether they will be taught the science that should allow them to make an informed judgment. But impugning the substance of the science, or requiring the introduction of essentially theological ideas like 'intelligent design' into the curriculum, merely muddies the water by imposing theological speculations on a scientific theory."

To read the complete text of the editorial (registration required), visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/17/opinion/17tues2.html

To read the complete text of Krauss's commentary (registration required), visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/17/science/17comm.html


In "Monkey trial or kangaroo court?" (posted on AlterNet, a project of the Independent Media Institute), Stan Cox provides a detailed and incisive review of the recent hearings in Topeka, Kansas, on the place of evolution in the state's science standards. "For three days in May, in a cramped auditorium across the street from the Kansas Capitol building," Cox writes, "[the Intelligent Design Network's John] Calvert and his 22 witnesses -- scientists, philosophers, teachers, and other scholars -- painted a picture of evolutionary biology as a tyrannical, 'naturalistic' discipline that can be salvaged only by letting the bright light of the supernatural shine in," adding, "by the time the hearings adjourned on Saturday evening, Calvert and his witnesses had made it clear that the formula 'evolution = atheism' did indeed lie at the core of their legal case for the new standards." A scientist himself, Cox dismisses the scientific content of the testimony as "well-worn points that are regularly debunked by the scientific majority," but appropriately worries that "this struggle is unlikely to be decided in the scientific arena."

Meanwhile, in the American Prospect, Chris Mooney's "Creating a controversy" notes that "a little-noticed, but increasingly central, aspect of the new anti-evolutionist strategy has taken center stage in this state's dispute. In Kansas, criticisms of evolutionary theory have been accompanied by a direct philosophical assault upon the nature of science itself." In particular, he focuses on a proposal in the so-called minority report version of the draft science standards that would remove "any reference to science's search for natural explanations in favor of 'more adequate' explanations, creating a opening for creationists to insert the supernatural." Corroborating Cox's report of the hearings, Mooney explains, "Such a change reflects the fact that the new generation of anti-evolutionists has launched an attack on modern science itself, claiming that it amounts, essentially, to institutionalized atheism." The charge is not only false but also dangerous, Mooney concludes: "Going down this road will only generate still more strife between the scientific community and the overlapping community of people of faith -- two groups we should be bringing closer together rather than driving further apart."

To read "Monkey trial or kangaroo court?" on AlterNet, visit: http://www.alternet.org/story/22042/

To read "Creating a controversy" in the American Prospect, visit: http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=9671


When the legislative session of the Missouri House of Representatives ended on May 13, 2005, House Bill 35 died in the Education Committee. HB 35 provided that "All biology textbooks sold to the public schools of the state of Missouri shall have one or more chapters containing a critical analysis of origins. The chapters shall convey the distinction between data and testable theories of science and philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy, such as biological evolution, the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society." The second and third sentences, of course, are modeled after the so-called Santorum language, present only in the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference for the No Child Left Behind Act and not in the act itself.

On May 4, 2004, the House Education Committee alloted ninety minutes of hearings to HB 35, although it was so late then in the legislative session that there was no realistic possibility that the bill would proceed further. During the hearings, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "All but one person who testified in favor of the bill were members of two families, both of which home school their children." Testifying against it were Bob Boldt, Jan Weaver of the University of Missouri, Columbia, and Becky Lutherland, representing the Science Teachers of Missouri. Undaunted, the sponsor of the bill, Cynthia Davis (R-O'Fallon), told the Post-Dispatch that "she hopes that by getting a hearing, she at least introduces a concept that might catch on in next year's session." Davis was a cosponsor of both of the previous legislative session's "intelligent design" bills in the Missouri House of Representatives, HB 911 and HB 1722.

For the text of HB 35 as introduced, visit: http://www.house.state.mo.us/bills051/biltxt/intro/HB0035I.htm

For the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's story on the hearings, visit: http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/missouristatenews/story/D6E420FACB72E56C86256FF70071D1A1?OpenDocument

Thanks for reading! And as always, be sure to consult NCSE's web site: http://www.ncseweb.org where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x305
fax: 510-601-7204

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism is now available: http://www.ncseweb.org/evc

Help Needed in Colorado to Stop ND Licensure

Colorado "naturopathic physicians" are trying for licensure.

The Colorado Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is currently doing a Sunrise Review which is required before any legislator may introduce a new bill for licensure (in early 2006).

Critics of naturopathy have three weeks left to send public input to DORA expressing their opinions about allowing "university-educated" naturopaths to be licensed. You need not be a Colorado resident to comment.

Colorado has rejected ND licensure twice in the past, but largely because legislators were unwilling to shut out hundreds of naturopaths who have not attended 4-year institutions. This time, the press is going to focus on the recent death of a young Colorado man by one of these "lesser educated" naturopaths who injected the lad with H2O2.

We hope you can help avert this disaster of ND licensure in Colorado by writing DORA. The process is quite informal. You can call, write, email or visit the intake person, Zoe Henry:

Ms. Zoe Henry (in office Mondays & Wednesdays only)
Dept. of Regulatory Agencies
Office of Policy and Research
1560 Broadway, Suite 1550
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 894-2995

The last review of this sort was favorable to naturopaths. Note that criticisms are duly noted in the review present to legislators:
Colorado Sunrise Review 1998

You may note that Colorado Medical Society opposed ND licensure in the 1998 Sunrise process, but during the legislative hearings their sole concern appeared to be protection of the title "physician." We can't rely on CMS.

Below are reference materials that you may find helpful.

If you submit something to DORA, please send me a copy. It will be helpful at the legislative hearings next year.

Please ask your friends to help with this, too.

Many thanks.

Yrs, Linda Rosa, RN
Colorado Director
National Council Against Health Fraud
Loveland, CO

P.S. The civil case against Brian O'Connell, the Colorado naturopath who killed Sean Flanagan, 18, with H2O2 injections last year, has been settled out of court. The parents, alas, are pushing for ND licensure. The criminal case against O'Connell, which includes a charge of manslaughter, is scheduled for July.

Naturopathy: A Critical Appraisal
Kimball C. Atwood IV, MD

Naturopathy, Pseudoscience, and Medicine: Myths and Fallacies vs Truth
Kimball C. Atwood, IV, MD

Testimony Opposing Naturopathic
Licensure in Massachusetts
Presented to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Joint Committee on Health Care
May 28, 2003
Kimball C. Atwood, M.D.
Representing the Massachusetts Medical Society

Licensure of Naturopathic Physicians
A Statement Approved by the Board of Registration in Medicine
of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Arnold S. Relman, M.D.
March 13, 2001

Church Snubs Mary Sue Hubbard


The Church of Scientology management, it seems, has deliberately obliterated all mention of one of the major pillars of scientology. Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of Founder L Ron Hubbard

(PRWEB) May 20, 2005 -- Born in Texas USA, Mary Sue was raised in Houston graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Texas University. She discovered Dianetics and, giving up a potential career in Petroleum, trained in Dianetics receiving her Auditors Certificate in Wichita, Kansas in 1951. Mary Sue immediately became a staff auditor and began to help Ron as a research auditor.

In 1952, Mary Sue and Ron were married. Mary Sue then traveled with Ron to Phoenix, Arizona to establish the first scientology organization.

Something not generally know is that, among other things, Mary Sue helped Ron to coin the word "Scientology".

During this time, as well as being a mother and running a household, Mary Sue still found time to assisting Ron in his continual research and development of the technology and philosophy of scientology.

Mary Sue was a key figure in the establishment of the first church in Washington in 1955. After spending some time abroad, Mary Sue returned to Washington and in 1958 their first child was born. Mary Sue then assisted in the establishment of the Church's International Headquarters at Saint Hill, UK in 1959.

Mary Sue was known for her constant good sense and devotion to Ron and to Scientology. She earned the trust of the staff and public and it was well known fact that, when Mary Sue took over a duty in an organization it would prosper and be highly successful.

Right up to 1964 Mary Sue assisted Ron closely in his research working tirelessly with the development of the applied philosophy that has given so much to so many people. Even the media, not noted for their kindness to Ron Hubbard or Scientology, never referred to Mary Sue as anything less than "charming".

The Church however, has seemingly set out to obliterate any record of Mary Sue, There has even been rumors that she was pushed out of the church with a mere pittance after the death of her husband and the will changed to exclude her and the family. All mention of her has been deleted from tapes, books and other material and you would be hard put to find any reference to one of the staunch pioneers that paid such an instrumental part in founding scientology. Even her death in 2002 was ignored by the Church and her name was stricken from the International Association of Scientologists (IAS). The question is why? What possible motive could there be for covering up and deleting all reference to Mary Sue Hubbard? Could it be there were activities behind the scenes surrounding the death of Ron Hubbard the current management wish to keep private?

"Well not everyone wants to erase her from their memory", said Michael Moore, President of the IFA (international Freezone Association)

"The Freezone, that area of scientologists who exercise their right to practice their philosophy 'outside' the church, have paid tribute to Mary Sue with a web site http://marysuehubbard.com honoring her memory and acknowledging the many accomplishments she made to the cause". He went on, " Even if the Church 'management' would like to forget Mary Sue. Many thousands of Scientologists do not and evidently wish to acknowledge and pay their respects to a true pioneer of this movement".


Robert L. Park
Friday, 20 May 05 Washington, DC


Dateline's investigative reporters traveled around the world exploring claims of divine intervention, and Wednesday night they shared their findings with us in a program called "Miracle." It was an hour program, but it seemed much longer. I thought a trip to the bathroom might help. It took a few minutes after I got back before I realized "Miracles" had ended. Who could tell? It was now "Revelations" -- something about an astrophysicist and a cute nun trying to prevent "the end of days." Oh well, I didn't miss anything important. Dateline found that there are things that no one has explained. Amazing! What have those scientists been doing? Viewers were in front of their TVs ready to learn something, and there was something terribly important for them to learn. But they weren't told that not a single miracle has ever been verified. They were left to believe that the existence of miracles is an open scientific question. Has NBC no shame?


Dover, PA, school board candidates could run in both Republican and Democratic primaries. On Tuesday, seven incumbents who support a policy requiring high school biology students to be told about "intelligent design," won the Republican primary. Meanwhile, seven challengers, all of whom oppose mentioning "intelligent design" in science class, won in the Democratic primary. The school board election will be held in November.


The plan was to sell ID as science. Nobody bought it. So now there's a move on the Kansas School Board to redefine "science" as "a systematic method of continuing investigation." Yes, I know. But it won't help anyway. Courts have ruled that ID is religion. So what Kansas needs is a new definition of religion. How about: "A way of explaining why it wasn't really your fault."

Opinions are the author's and not necessarily shared by the University of Maryland, but they should be. --- Archives of What's New can be found at http://www.bobpark.org

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ


A Special '20/20' Report With Elizabeth Vargas, May 20, at 10 p.m./9 Central May. 11, 2005

Did Jesus rise from the dead? The stories of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ inspire faith and fuel controversy to this day. But what do we know about what really happened on that first Easter more than 2,000 years ago, a day that changed the course of history?

"He probably literally got up and walked out of the tomb." -- William Lane Craig, Talbot School of Theology

"I think it was visions or hallucinations." -- Kathleen E. Corley, Jesus Seminar

"Something definitely happened." -- Daniel Schwartz, Hebrew University

In a special hour on "20/20," Elizabeth Vargas and ABC News take viewers on an extraordinary journey into the heart of the debate where it all began in Jerusalem in search of the truth about the story that is at the core of the Christian faith ... the Resurrection.

Vargas asks scholars, theologians and archeologists the questions millions of faithful and interested Americans might have pondered: Was the tomb empty? Did Jesus physically walk the Earth after his death? Or were his followers just dreaming?

Sometime between the year 30 and 33 of the first century, a young Jewish preacher named Jesus of Nazareth was crucified in Jerusalem. It was a brutal and humiliating death that should have ended his tiny movement right there. And yet his followers carried on, planting the seeds of a religion that would eventually rule the Western world. What convinced them to continue? The Bible says that after Jesus died, his mother and other women who had followed him actually took his body down off the cross and that he was laid to rest in a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea. What happened next is a mystery.

Vargas also interviews Jewish scholars in Jerusalem who are experts in the history of the early Christian movement there. Professor Daniel Schwartz of Hebrew University and professor Albert Baumgarten of Bar Ilan University help shed light on the mindset of the first followers of Jesus. While neither obviously believes a physical resurrection occurred, both concur that something extraordinary took place shortly after Jesus' death. "I think definitely something happened," said Schwartz of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, "I don't know how they convinced themselves. But the historical fact is, you've got people who are convinced he was resurrected."

Some of the other scholars, writers and theologians interviewed by Vargas include: Lee Strobel, author of "The Case for Christ" and "The Case for Faith" and host of PAX TV's "Faith Under Fire"; Karen King, Winn professor of Ecclesiastical History, Harvard Divinity School; the Rev John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Bishop Emeritus of Newark and author of "Sins of the Scripture"; Paul L. Maier, professor of Ancient History, Western Michigan University; and the Rev. Jerome Murphy O'Connor of the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem.

Join us for an in-depth exploration on "20/20," Friday, May 20 at 10 p.m./9 Central. "20/20" is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and John Stossel. David Sloan is the executive producer.

The Evolutionary Information Gap Between Science and Bonnie Alba


May 20, 2005


A concerned citizen by the name of Bonnie Alba has been writing regularly of late about evolution and Intelligent Design.

In a column published on 11 May, she claimed:

"the press continues to follow the path of least resistance, supporting the scientists who proclaim that 'Evolution is an established theory.' Yet those scientists provide no answers to the scientists offering ID." [1]

She also claimed that opponents of Intelligent Design theory are "pushing an 'atheist worldview' on our children".

I wrote to her on these two points [2].

Firstly, a great many Christians see no conflict between their faith and evolution as it is understood by science. I pointed to a recent open letter from over 3,500 Christian clergy, which says:

"...We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as 'one theory among others' is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children..." [3]

(Ms Alba avoided the issue, talking instead of "real Christians").

Secondly, even the main proponents of Intelligent Design admit that their theory currently offers no teachable alternative to evolution. As Paul Nelson, a fellow of the ID-endorsing Discovery Institute, recently stated:

"Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don't have such a theory right now, and that's a problem. Without a theory, it's very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we've got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as 'irreducible complexity' and 'specified complexity' - but, as yet, no general theory of biological design." [4]

They certainly believe that standard evolutionary theory is wrong - although the vast majority of earth and life scientists reject their criticisms [5].

I asked Bonnie if, as a Christian, it was right for her to promote ID as a scientific alternative to evolution when she was apparently so uninformed about both topics.

She replied saying that as I was an atheist, I was not qualified to comment on a what a Christian should or should not do. How that justifies her own behaviour, I do not know.

Following our correspondence, Ms Alba has written another article [6].

In it she refers, apparently to me, as calling her a liar.

I did no such thing. I did say that she was bearing false witness. And it is clear from both of her articles that she is doing just that. (I will leave it to others, more qualified, to comment on her errors of science.)

I am not saying that Ms Alba is dishonest for believing in Intelligent Design or for rejecting evolution. She is entitled to her opinions. and I am not saying that she is deliberately setting out to deceive. What I am saying is that Ms Alba makes untrue statements about the opinions of others. And this is wrong.

In her second article Ms Alba refers to the recent hearings on evolution in Kansas, talking of "prominent scientists supporting ID". But the hearings were specifically (or perhaps supposedly) not about Intelligent Design. They were about exposing students to specific criticisms of evolutionary theory [7] - although again the vast majority of scientists consider these criticisms to have been investigated and rejected.

The ID-supporting Discovery Institute says in its FAQ on the hearings that neither it nor the Kansas science standards writing committee "propose teaching Intelligent Design theory" in Kansas [8].

To be fair, Ms Alba is not the only supporter of Intelligent Design who doesn't seem to know what its Theorists actually say. Albert Mohler (president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) [9] and Darrick Dean (who runs an ID-supporting blog) [10] have made similar public statements.

Does it matter that these people are wrong?

Of course it does.

If Ms Alba and others can be so wrong about Intelligent Design, which they purport to promote, what chance do they have of accurately commenting on evolution, which they vehemently oppose?

Ms Alba writes "There appears to be a large gap between the scientific community knowledge and the general public". Of course there is, when people such as she who show no interest in actually learning about evolution, or even it seems Intelligent Design, keep pontificating on both subjects.

What is most worrying, in Ms Alba's case at least, is that she does not seem to care that her public statements are demonstrably wrong.

She seems to see anyone who accepts evolution as either being a false Christian or an amoral atheist. She seems to have her own standards of truth (she calls them "God's"), and apparently thinks that she owes no duty of care to anyone who does not share her own beliefs and prejudices. (She told me that the Biblical prohibition against bearing false witness applies only "to neighbors". Make of that what you will). Despite this, she accuses me of moral relativism.

If Ms Alba were to be honest, she'd make it clear that her arguments were aimed solely at those who, like her, refuse to accept even the merest possibility that the Bible might not have been meant as a science manual.

Ms Alba claims to promote "critical thinking".

I'd invite anyone who thinks that this is a good thing (and I certainly do) to compare her claims about what others say with what they actually say.

Whatever Ms Alba thinks, Intelligent Design does not offer a scientific alternative to standard evolutionary theory, as accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists worldwide, Christians included [5].

[1] "Intelligent Design - What Do the Naturalists Have Against It?", Bonnie Alba, May 11, 2005: http://www.opinioneditorials.com/freedomwriters/balba_20050511.html

[2] A complete record of my correspondence with Ms Alba is available on my website: http://ptet.dubar.com/misc-alba.html

[3] "An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science", 2005: http://www.uwosh.edu/colleges/cols/religion_science_collaboration.htm

[4] An Interview with Paul Nelson, Touchstone Magazine, July/August 2004

[5] See my "Facts For Fundamentalists": http://ptet.dubar.com/misc-facts.html#EVO

[6] "The Evolutionary Information Gap Between Science and the Public", Bonnie Alba, May 18, 2005: http://www.opinioneditorials.com/freedomwriters/balba_20050518.html

[7] Kansas State Board Of Education, Science Standards 2005 Draft. (Intelligent Design is not mentioned in the Standards once): http://www.ksde.org/outcomes/sciencestdreview.html

[8] "Kansas Evolution Debate Frequently Asked Questions, Discovery Institute", April 27, 2005: http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2544&program=CSC%20-%20Science%20and%20Education%20Policy%20-%20State%20Policy

[9] See my "Open Letter to Albert Mohler", May 17, 2005: http://ptet.blogspot.com/2005/05/open-letter-to-albert-mohler.html

[10] See my "Response to Darrick Dean", May 16, 2005: http://ptet.blogspot.com/2005/05/another-response-to-darrick-dean.html

Thanks to EJ & AW

This article has was first posted on PTET's blog: http://ptet.blogspot.com/ at http://ptet.blogspot.com/2005/05/evolutionary-information-gap-between_19.html

Is Intelligent Design a Religion or Science?


This critical question was tackled by William Dembski, a leading proponent of Intelligent Design (ID) and Michael Ruse, prominent advocate of evolutionary theory, during a brief segment on ABC's Nightline

Friday, May. 20, 2005 Posted: 6:02:13AM EST

This critical question was tackled by William Dembski, a leading proponent of Intelligent Design (ID) and Michael Ruse, prominent advocate of evolutionary theory, during a brief segment on ABC's Nightline, on Monday, May 9, 2005.

"You know I'm sure God loves Americans…but I reckon he must be tearing his hair out right at the moment," said Ruse, Professor of Philosophy and Zoology at Florida State University. "This is the good old fashioned debate between science and religion."

The debate comes at the heels of weeklong hearings on evolution in Kansas where the school board is considering redefinition of science itself in debate over "science vs. miracle."

The same quesion was addressed at the Nightline piece.

"There are debates in every scientific community and thank goodness there are," said Ruse. "Science would be really boring if there were no debates. But there are no debates about science vs. miracle and that's what's going on in Kansas at the moment."

Meanwhile, supporters of ID say the current debate surrounding the origin of life is more about science than religion.

"My own emphasis is on the actual science that's there," said Dembski, associate research professor in the conceptual foundations of science at Baylor University in Texas. "This is not just going back to an old way of looking at things. There are genuinely new results with ID."

By the end of the debate, both Dembski and Ruse agreed that ID will be more prominently taught and followed in the next ten years.

"I think it's going to be taught in more [schools]…we'll see ID within ten years," said Ruse.

Dembski was also positive ID will take a more prominent role by then.

"It takes about ten years for somebody from high school to get a Ph. D. and go out for a postdoc and I do see the young generation latching onto these ideas of ID and running with them," Dembski said. "Darwinism is totally a status quo in the main streams. It's academy."

"ID is a new kid on the block and there are some exciting ideas there if you just read the actual materials."

Marion Kim
The Christian Post

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