Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings
Posted on Fri, Jun. 17, 2005
TOPEKA, Kan. - By the 1950s, when its popularity as entertainment had waned, some people bemoaned Vaudeville's fate. Yet even after owners shuttered theaters, the art form survived.
And Kansans can be excused for thinking they have their own special, political brand of the still-beloved Vaudeville.
Just as performers revised and perfected longtime acts and weren't shy about cribbing from others, this modern show relies on an old, familiar script and its actors have appropriated material from outside sources.
It's playing in a cozy room in a government office building in downtown Topeka - the State Board of Education's ongoing debate on how evolution should be taught in Kansas public school classrooms, and the run probably won't be finished until board elections next year.
"Well, yeah, it's politics," said Steve Case, assistant director of the Center for Science Education at the University of Kansas and one of the many players. "It's all show."
Some may consider it comedy, but the state board's debate will have serious results. New standards adopted by the board sometime this summer, like the existing ones, will determine how fourth, seventh and 10th-graders will be tested on science.
Many scientists and science groups, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, fear the board, with its conservative majority, will allow creationism or intelligent design into the classroom. Intelligent design advocates argue they're simply trying to expose students to more criticism of evolution.
Under attack is evolutionary theory that natural chemical processes could have created the first building blocks of life, that all life has a common origin and that man and apes share a common ancestor.
Intelligent design, often derided by critics as repackaged creationism, argues that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent cause because of their well-ordered complexities.
Yet the debate has taken on the most obvious characteristic of a stage show. Participants on both sides seem to have assigned roles and seem to say the same things, repeatedly.
(Repetition was part of a typical Vaudeville performer's life; the lucky ones performed only two shows a day, while honing their act through repeated rehearsals.)
Each side of the evolution debate accuses the other of turning the discussion into a farce.
For example, board member Connie Morris, of St. Francis, recently expressed frustration that opponents continually accuse her and other conservatives of trying to inject religion into Kansas schools' lesson plans.
"The rhetoric has become comical," she said. "We are seeking to get criticism - scientific criticism - about evolution in. How much more clearly do I have to say that?"
But along with comedy, dance routines were another staple of the standard 10-act Vaudeville bill.
The board's moderate minority accuses the conservatives of doing a less-than-soft shoe around the real issue. They contend the criticisms of evolution that the conservatives seek to add to the standards are old creationist dogmas, reflecting conservative and evangelical Christian views.
They also see a magic act of sort, a sleight of hand that hides intelligent design concepts.
The conservatives' proposed standards declare no position on intelligent design. But all the criticisms of evolution they seek to include mirror arguments from intelligent design advocates, who also organized the case against evolution during public hearings in May.
In addition, sitting through many meetings is John Calvert, a retired Lake Quivira attorney, who helped found the Intelligent Design Network. The board's moderates see him as the show's director.
Of course, the moderates steal material, too, repeating arguments already offered by scientists and groups like Kansas Citizens for Science. That group's president, Harry McDonald, is a regular on the evolution circuit.
Finally, this year's debate definitely has the feel of a revival.
In 1999, the Kansas board deleted most references to evolution from the science standards, bringing international condemnation and ridicule to Kansas. Elections the next year resulted in a less conservative board, which led to the current, evolution-friendly standards. Conservative Republicans recaptured the board's majority in 2004 elections.
Of course, that 1999 show was itself based on much older material, the infamous 1925 "Monkey Trial," in which Dayton, Tenn., teacher John Scopes was convicted of violating his state's law against instructing students about evolution.
And naturally, just as Vaudeville performers change their routines over time by how audiences respond, this year's script has some fresh elements.
The attack on evolution - good or bad - is more subtle. Only a small role has gone to creationist ideology that argues the Earth could be only thousands of years old, despite evidence that its true age is at least 4.5 billion.
With five board members facing election next year - four of them conservatives, including Morris - the current show will go on the road.
Then, Kansans will decide whether they view it as melodrama, comedy or farce, and whether some of its leading actors remain employed.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Political Writer John Hanna has covered state government and politics since 1987.
Posted on Sat, Jun. 18, 2005
UC-BERKELEY PROFESSOR LEADING A CHALLENGE TO THEORY OF EVOLUTION
By Michael Powell
The modest bungalow west of downtown Berkeley that houses Phillip Johnson's office doesn't look like a lightning rod for controversy, but it is.
Johnson, 65, is not just professor emeritus at the University of California-Berkeley law school. He one of the leading proponents of ``intelligent design,'' the theory that the Earth and its life forms bear too much evidence of a controlling intelligence to have been a random occurrence.
The theory challenges the validity of Darwin's theory of evolution -- not only in the court of public opinion but also in the legislatures of 19 states, where bills have been introduced to alter traditional science education on evolution.
When a reporter arrives, Johnson waves a Washington Post editorial supporting Darwin's findings but acknowledging the ``savvy public relations'' of intelligent design proponents and calling them ``far more sophisticated than the creationists of yore.''
Then he poses the first question in what's meant to be an interview of him: ``I suppose you think creation is all about unguided material processes, don't you?
``Well, I don't have the slightest trouble accepting microevolution as the cause behind the adaptation of the peppered moth and the growth of finches' beaks,'' he continues. ``But . . . it doesn't tell you how the moths and birds and trees got there in the first place. The human body is packed with marvels, eyes and lungs and cells, and evolutionary gradualism can't account for that.''
His statements cut to the heart of the intelligent design argument -- as well as the ways it differs from the views of biblical literalists.
They have insisted that God created heaven and Earth in seven days, that the world is about 6,000 years old and that fossils are figments of the paleontological imagination. In the early part of the last century their grasp on popular opinion was strong, but they have suffered a half-century of defeats in the courts and lampooning by the intelligentsia.
So along comes Johnson, a devout Presbyterian and accomplished legal theorist, who agrees with the scientists' view that the world is billions of years old and that dinosaurs walked the Earth. But evolution is the bridge he will not cross, because he considers the machinery of life so complex as to require an intelligent creator.
Johnson and like-minded microbiologists, geologists and philosophers debate in the language of science, rather than Scripture. They point to the complexity of the human cell, with its natural motors and miles of coding.
The political movement they've inspired does not amuse evolutionary biologists, for whom Darwin's theory explains the proliferation of species and the interaction of DNA and RNA, as well as the evolution of humankind.
The evidence, the evolutionary biologists insist, is all around: Fruit flies branch into new species; bacteria mutate and develop resistance to antibiotics; studies of the mouse genome reveal that 99 percent of its 30,000 genes have counterparts in humans.
But what about the aspects of evolution that baffle scientists?
Stuart Kauffman, director of the Institute for Biocomplexity at the University of Calgary, says, ``Give Johnson and the intelligent-design movement their due: They are asking terribly important questions. To question whether patterns and complexity, at the level of the cell or the universe, bespeak intelligent design is not stupid in the least. I simply believe they've come up with the wrong answers.''
Johnson published his views on this subject in the 1991 book ``Darwin on Trial.'' Then the building blocks of the intelligent-design movement slowly took form.
But not all scientists who are Christians agree with intelligent design, not by a long shot. Owen Gingerich is senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and a devout Christian. He enjoys talking to Johnson and doesn't care for the insistent secularism of many Darwinists, but he doesn't buy intelligent design as a scientific theory, not least because he sees no way to test it.
``Johnson tends to avoid questions he doesn't want to answer -- such as what accounts for mankind if not evolution?'' Gingerich says. ``If he says that the first man literally came out of the mud like Minerva from the brow of Zeus, he knows he would be ridiculed. Looking for God's direct hand is a very fuzzy business.''
Isn't there, Johnson is asked, a risk in trying to toss out Darwin and discern God's footprints? Why would he create the tyrannosaurus and the Cro-Magnon, only to discard them in great extinctions? If science proves that the wonders of the cell and the machinery of the eye are the result of a material process, what becomes of faith?
``One answer is that it's hard to evaluate unless you know what the designer was trying to create,'' Johnson says. ``I suppose the Creator could have made it so that we would live forever and be bulletproof. Flawless design may not be his point.''
By Bonnie Azab Powell, NewsCenter | 17 June 2005
BERKELEY Religion and science, faith and empirical experiment: these terms would seem to have as little in common as a Baptist preacher and a Berkeley physicist. And yet, according to Charles Hard Townes, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics and a UC Berkeley professor in the Graduate School, they are united by similar goals: science seeks to discern the laws and order of our universe; religion, to understand the universe's purpose and meaning, and how humankind fits into both.
Where these areas intersect is territory that Townes has been exploring for many of his 89 years, and in March his insights were honored with the 2005 Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. Worth about $1.5 million, the Templeton Prize recognizes those who, throughout their lives, have sought to advance ideas and/or institutions that will deepen the world's understanding of God and of spiritual realities.
Townes first wrote about the parallels between religion and science in IBM's Think magazine in 1966, two years after he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for his groundbreaking work in quantum electronics: in 1953, thanks in part to what Townes calls a "revelation" experienced on a park bench, he invented the maser (his acronym for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission), which amplifies microwaves to produce an intense beam. By building on this work, he achieved similar amplification using visible light, resulting in the laser (whose name he also coined).
Even as his research interests have segued from microwave physics to astrophysics, Townes has continued to explore topics such as "Science, values, and beyond," in Synthesis of Science and Religion (1987), "On Science, and what it may suggest about us," in Theological Education (1988), and "Why are we here; where are we going?" in The International Community of Physics, Essays on Physics (1997).
Townes sat down one morning recently to discuss how these and other weighty questions have shaped his own life, and their role in current controversies over public education.
Q. If science and religion share a common purpose, why have their proponents tended to be at loggerheads throughout history?
Science and religion have had a long interaction: some of it has been good and some of it hasn't. As Western science grew, Newtonian mechanics had scientists thinking that everything is predictable, meaning there's no room for God so-called determinism. Religious people didn't want to agree with that. Then Darwin came along, and they really didn't want to agree with what he was saying, because it seemed to negate the idea of a creator. So there was a real clash for a while between science and religions.
But science has been digging deeper and deeper, and as it has done so, particularly in the basic sciences like physics and astronomy, we have begun to understand more. We have found that the world is not deterministic: quantum mechanics has revolutionized physics by showing that things are not completely predictable. That doesn't mean that we've found just where God comes in, but we know now that things are not as predictable as we thought and that there are things we don't understand. For example, we don't know what some 95 percent of the matter in the universe is: we can't see it it's neither atom nor molecule, apparently. We think we can prove it's there, we see its effect on gravity, but we don't know what and where it is, other than broadly scattered around the universe. And that's very strange.
Who created us? U.S. vs. UC Berkeley beliefs
A Nov. 18-21, 2004 New York Times/CBS News poll on American mores and attitudes, conducted with 885 U.S. adults, showed that a significant number of Americans believe that God created humankind. UC Berkeley's Office of Student Research asked the same question on its 2005 UC Undergraduate Experience Survey, results for which are still coming in. As of June 8, 2,057 students had responded.
Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin of human beings?
NYT/CBS UC Berkeley
1. Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, and God did not directly guide this process 13% 56%
2. Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms, but God guided this process 27% 31%
3. God created human beings in their present form 55% 13%
4. Don't know 5% N/A
So as science encounters mysteries, it is starting to recognize its limitations and become somewhat more open. There are still scientists who differ strongly with religion and vice versa. But I think people are being more open-minded about recognizing the limitations in our frame of understanding.
You've said "I believe there is no long-range question more important than the purpose and meaning of our lives and our universe." How have you attempted to answer that question?
Even as a youngster, you're usually taught that there's some purpose you'll try to do, how you are going to live. But that's a very localized thing, about what you want with your life. The broader question is, "What are humans all about in general, and what is this universe all about?" That comes as one tries to understand what is this beautiful world that we're in, that's so special: "Why has it come out this way? What is free will and why do we have it? What is a being? What is consciousness?" We can't even define consciousness. As one thinks about these broader problems, then one becomes more and more challenged by the question of what is the aim and purpose and meaning of this universe and of our lives.
Those aren't easy questions to answer, of course, but they're important and they're what religion is all about. I maintain that science is closely related to that, because science tries to understand how the universe is constructed and why it does what it does, including human life. If one understands the structure of the universe, maybe the purpose of man becomes a little clearer. I think maybe the best answer to that is that somehow, we humans were created somewhat in the likeness of God. We have free will. We have independence, we can do and create things, and that's amazing. And as we learn more and more why, we become even more that way. What kind of a life will we build? That's what the universe is open about. The purpose of the universe, I think, is to see this develop and to allow humans the freedom to do the things that hopefully will work out well for them and for the rest of the world.
How do you categorize your religious beliefs?
I'm a Protestant Christian, I would say a very progressive one. This has different meanings for different people. But I'm quite open minded and willing to consider all kinds of new ideas and to look at new things. At the same time it has a very deep meaning for me: I feel the presence of God. I feel it in my own life as a spirit that is somehow with me all the time.
You've described your inspiration for the maser as a moment of revelation, more spiritual than what we think of as inspiration. Do you believe that God takes such an active interest in humankind?
[The maser] was a new idea, a sudden visualization I had of what might be done to produce electromagnetic waves, so it's somewhat parallel to what we normally call revelation in religion. Whether the inspiration for the maser and the laser was God's gift to me is something one can argue about. The real question should be, where do brand-new human ideas come from anyway? To what extent does God help us? I think he's been helping me all along. I think he helps all of us that there's a direction in our universe and it has been determined and is being determined. How? We don't know these things. There are many questions in both science and religion and we have to make our best judgment. But I think spirituality has a continuous effect on me and on other people.
That sounds like you agree with the "intelligent design" movement, the latest framing of creationism, which argues that the complexity of the universe proves it must have been created by a guiding force.
I do believe in both a creation and a continuous effect on this universe and our lives, that God has a continuing influence certainly his laws guide how the universe was built. But the Bible's description of creation occurring over a week's time is just an analogy, as I see it. The Jews couldn't know very much at that time about the lifetime of the universe or how old it was. They were visualizing it as best they could and I think they did remarkably well, but it's just an analogy.
Should intelligent design be taught alongside Darwinian evolution in schools as religious legislators have decided in Pennsylvania and Kansas?
I think it's very unfortunate that this kind of discussion has come up. People are misusing the term intelligent design to think that everything is frozen by that one act of creation and that there's no evolution, no changes. It's totally illogical in my view. Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe: it's remarkable that it came out just this way. If the laws of physics weren't just the way they are, we couldn't be here at all. The sun couldn't be there, the laws of gravity and nuclear laws and magnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and so on have to be just the way they are for us to be here.
'Faith is necessary for the scientist even to get started, and deep faith is necessary for him to carry out his tougher tasks. Why? Because he must have confidence that there is order in the universe and that the human mind in fact his own mind has a good chance of understanding this order.'
-Charles Townes, writing in "The Convergence of Science and Religion," IBM's Think magazine, March-April 1966
Some scientists argue that "well, there's an enormous number of universes and each one is a little different. This one just happened to turn out right." Well, that's a postulate, and it's a pretty fantastic postulate it assumes there really are an enormous number of universes and that the laws could be different for each of them. The other possibility is that ours was planned, and that's why it has come out so specially. Now, that design could include evolution perfectly well. It's very clear that there is evolution, and it's important. Evolution is here, and intelligent design is here, and they're both consistent.
They don't have to negate each other, you're saying. God could have created the universe, set the parameters for the laws of physics and chemistry and biology, and set the evolutionary process in motion, But that's not what the Christian fundamentalists are arguing should be taught in Kansas.
People who want to exclude evolution on the basis of intelligent design, I guess they're saying, "Everything is made at once and then nothing can change." But there's no reason the universe can't allow for changes and plan for them, too. People who are anti-evolution are working very hard for some excuse to be against it. I think that whole argument is a stupid one. Maybe that's a bad word to use in public, but it's just a shame that the argument is coming up that way, because it's very misleading.
That seems to come up when religion seeks to control or limit the scope of science. We're seeing that with the regulation of research into stem cells and cloning. Should there be areas of scientific inquiry that are off-limits due to a culture's prevailing religious principles?
My answer to that is, we should explore as much as we can. We should think about everything, try to explore everything, and question things. That's part of our human characteristic in nature that has made us so great and able to achieve so much. Of course there are problems if we do scientific experiments on people that involve killing them that's a scientific experiment sure, but ethically it has problems. There are ethical issues with certain kinds of scientific experimentation. But outside of the ethical issues, I think we should try very hard to understand everything we can and to question things.
I think it's settling those ethical issues that's the problem. Who decides what differentiates a "person" from a collection of cells, for example?
That's very difficult. What is a person? We don't know. Where is this thing, me where am I really in this body? Up here in the top of the head somewhere? What is personality? What is consciousness? We don't know. The same thing is true once the body is dead: where is this person? Is it still there? Has it gone somewhere else? If you don't know what it is, it's hard to say what it's doing next. We have to be open-minded about that. The best we can do is try to find ways of answering those questions.
You'll turn 90 on July 28. What's the secret to long life?
Good luck is one, but also just having a good time. Some people say I work hard: I come in on Saturdays, and I work evenings both at my desk and in the lab. But I think I'm just having a good time doing physics and science. I have three telescopes down on Mt. Wilson; I was down there a couple nights last week. I've traveled a lot. On Sundays, my wife [of 64 years] and I usually go hiking. I'd say the secret has been being able to do things that I like, and keeping active.
Statement by Charles Townes on winning the Templeton Prize, March 9, 2005
Harry Kreisler's Conversations With History interview with Charles Townes, February 2000
Download a PDF of Townes's essay, "The Convergence of Science and Religion ," first published in IBM's Think magazine, March-April 1966
Two excellent articles on the history of and scientific response to intelligent design's claims: "Master planned: what intelligent design isn't ," H. Allen Orr, New Yorker, May 30, 2005; and "The crusade against evolution ," Evan Ratliffe, Wired, October 2004
Posted: June 18, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2005 WorldNetDaily.com
Few e-mails have ever stopped me as cold as the one I am about to describe. In it, the author, a former university professor who wishes to remain anonymous, claims to know the actual mechanism behind intelligent design. That is the mechanism by which God created the universe, our world and all biological life within it.
This is especially intriguing as Darwin's theory of evolution is now hotly contested by arguments of intelligent design. One weakness of ID is its failure to offer a mechanism to counter evolution's bogus explanation of diversity through macro-mutation. As a result, ID has failed in broad view to distinguish itself as a true scientific theory on the origin of life.
Now, I admit the original e-mail has all the makings of a possible hoax. On the other hand, it could possibly produce one of the most fantastic breakthroughs in scientific theory since Darwin. So which is? I'll let you decide.
For the sake of brevity, what follows is an excerpted and edited summary of the author's theory. Additionally, I have expanded a few key concepts for clarity. A link to the full text in its original format can be found at the close of my commentary.
The mechanism behind intelligent design
This theory comes from a critical analysis of the Big Bang theory, Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity and quantum physics. The concepts behind this scientific knowledge can be understood by any person with a modern education and should be known to all.
In the Bible, we are told that God created the universe out of nothing by using light. This is confirmed by modern cosmologists. They acknowledge physical existence had a beginning from complete nothingness (no time, no space and no matter). Then from a single focal point of light the physical world came into existence initially in the form of sub-atomic particles, i.e., the Big Bang theory. Of primary importance were the protons, neutrons and electrons, the basic building blocks of all matter that now exists in the physical universe.
After this explosive event, these sub-atomic particles were sometime later transformed into atomic nuclei and the various elements. When asked why the sub-atomic particles joined together into the more complex arrangements of nuclei and elements, science answers that it is due to the "electromagnetic force." This EMF is carried out through an exchange of photons, which are light energy. For example, a photon is emitted by an atom during a transition from one energy state to another.
Both the Big Bang event and subsequent arrangement of sub-atomic particles, therefore, provide our first opportunity to see light as the interface between the non-physical (spiritual) world and physical existence. Think about it. From light came matter. Then that matter was organized into various elements by EMF.
This is supported by Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity concerning the characteristics of light. Specifically, photons of light can behave dually like a stream of high-speed, submicroscopic particles, but also like a wave phenomenon. A wave is defined as a disturbance that propagates and carries energy. As a wave, light does not show the physical property of mass. This non-material characteristic, once again, reveals light as an interface between the non-physical (spiritual) world and the physical universe.
Science can confirm at the sub-atomic, atomic and molecular levels that changes are often due to information passed by an exchange of light energy. Unfortunately, as we reach the next level of complexity, which is the progression from the molecular stage to biological life, the processes exceed our current ability to appropriately dissect. But through logic, extrapolation and preliminary scientific findings, we may fairly hypothesize that the same method of applying EMF/light is used as in the earlier stages of progressive development.
For example, the changes from one life form to another may require only slight alterations and/or additions to the overall structure of the DNA molecule. These small structural changes would not occur by mutation as the theory of evolution suggests, but rather by EMF causing and creating ever-increasing complex relationships between the nucleotides along the DNA strand. The combined effects of these small structural changes to the DNA molecule would be sufficient to create progressively complex physical life. This explains how a human has only double the number of genes as a fruit fly. The amount of DNA didn't need to proportionately increase with human complexity; rather complexity of the relationships among existing nucleotides needed to increase.
This hypothesis on the origin of life provides a scientifically testable alternative to the mechanism of macro-mutation offered by evolution. My reason for sharing this theory is that I find it intriguing, but I do not have the expertise in physics to test it adequately. I do know as a molecular biologist that Darwin's theory is unworkable. So my hope is this presentation will intrigue others who are qualified to determine whether this theory has sufficient merit to develop it further, dismiss it entirely or rework into something more plausible.
In closing, it is of interest to recall that according to the Bible, God created the world and all that is in it through Christ Jesus who identifies himself as the Light of the World. The full text of the e-mail can be read at ScienceMinistries.org.
Kelly Hollowell, J.D., Ph.D., is a scientist, patent attorney and adjunct law professor of bioethics. She is a senior strategist for the Center for Reclaiming America, a conference speaker and founder of Science Ministries Inc.
Article Last Updated: 06/17/2005 11:28:56 PM
Is Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, scientifically illiterate for suggesting that creationism should be taught side by side with evolution in Utah's schools?
Is he unaware that evolution "is actually one of the best demonstrated facts in all of science" ("Scientific illiteracy," Forum, June 8)? Well, I don't know Sen. Buttars. Perhaps he is scientifically illiterate, but certainly not because of what he said. And evolution - the "best demonstrated fact" (''Not good science,'' Forum, June 8)? Give me a break.
Clearly, Frank Messina and Mark Marsing should bone up a little on some of the more compelling scientific arguments against evolution. A good place to start would be Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box. There's plenty more for those who do not do their research with ideological blinders, but this volume will do for starters.
Gig Harbor, Wash.
J Altern Complement Med. 2004 Feb;10(1):83-6.
Are we close to a theory of energy medicine?
Critical phenomena offer an attractive new theoretical resource for biophysics. Physical instabilities result in fluctuations, the quantum properties of which can be applied to regulatory control mechanisms in living organisms with promising results. Many aspects of energy medicine can be scientifically modeled, in agreement with previous theoretical ideas and speculation, such as the existence of macroscopic quantum coherence in living systems. Light is shed on areas of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) such as Ayurveda, naturopathy, and the nature and action of potentized medicines in homeopathy and other aspects of vibrational medicine.
"Bodeker (2001) points out that, rather than being based on chemistry, most concepts at the root of traditional medicine are physics concepts such as fields, and that to elucidate the whole subject area, what is needed is new physics."
"This paper points to a new way of achieving these aims, while at the same time tying the new physics of physick back to the underlying biochemistry. It develops a way of presenting the concept of 'subtle energy fields' (Tiller, 2001) in terms of an unusual quantum field, the quantized fluctuation field, based on theories of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics of cycles of biochemical reactions, as occur in the regulation of living cells."
Physics of Critical Point Fluctuations: "If, as Torres (2002) suggest, biologic systems function close to critical points, all living organisms would contain an abundance of such fluctuations. As quanta, quantized fluctuations could transfer their energy and organizing power from one system to another: a possible intermediary in theories of energy medicine."
"Quantized fluctuations possess high quantum coherence, the negentropy for which derives from the latent heat of the incipient phase transition. Their scaling property then results in a further important consequence: at large scales, the long-range coherence transforms them into high-temperature macroscopic wave functions..."
The Action of Vibrational Medicines: "Applied this way, quantized fluctuations model vibrational medicines (Gerber, 2001): they directly connect physick and physics (Smith, 2001, 2003)."
"The idea that disease arises when the physiology makes a transition to a pathological phase and is unable to make a transition back to the healthy phase first arose in a modern theory of Ayurvedic etiology (Hankey, 2001)."
"In this model, all vibrational medicines are quantized fluctuations, of mineral, vegetable, animal, mental, psychic, or spiritual origin."
Implications of Critical Regulation for DNA Resonances: "Gariaev's (1994) discovery of electronic resonances in DNA, which may couple to acoustic resonances...implies that under critical regulation, quantized fluctuations continuously switch DNA expression between on and off states at a quantum level. This process almost certainly creates superpositions of the on/off states, transforming their information states into quantum information states."
Conclusions: "The author has expanded material to present in future issues of this Journal that will attempt to develop this vision in rigorous detail."
Note: Alex Hankey, PhD, is identified as "Independent scientist, Cowden, Kent, UK."
Thomas J. Wheeler, Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
University of Louisville School of Medicine
Alternative medicine reading and handouts:
NEW! 2005 updates now available.
NCSE SUBMITS AMICUS BRIEF IN SELMAN CASE
The National Center for Science Education and People for the American Way submitted an amicus brief in support of a recent U.S. District Court decision, Selman v. Cobb County School District, which ruled that the evolution "warning labels" required in Cobb County, Georgia, public school textbooks are unconstitutional. The "friend of the court brief" was filed in the Eleventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, in response to an appeal seeking to overturn the Selman decision.
"As the only national organization devoted exclusively to promoting and defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools, NCSE was of course pleased with the Selman decision," commented NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott. "Cobb County's evolution 'warning labels' were bad science and bad pedagogy. They simply lacked any legitimate secular purpose or effect."
In 2002, responding to local creationist protests about the inclusion of evolution in textbooks, the Cobb County School Board mandated that every single biology textbook in the district carry a label describing evolution as "a theory, not a fact." Represented by attorney Michael Manely and the Georgia ACLU, Jeffrey Selman and four other Cobb parents filed suit in federal court. The trial was held in the fall of 2004 in U.S. District Court, with Judge Clarence Cooper presiding.
In a carefully reasoned decision issued in January 2005, Judge Cooper ruled that the evolution disclaimer was unconstitutional because it "convey[s] a message of endorsement of religion," and ordered the stickers to be removed. But the school district decided to appeal the decision, prompting NCSE and PFAW to weigh in.
"Both evolution 'warning labels' and the idea of deprecating evolution as 'a theory, not a fact' are perennially favorite tactics of religiously motivated opponents of evolution," NCSE's Susan Spath explained. "The brief argues that given the history of the antievolutionist movement, the conclusion that the Cobb County 'warning labels' violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause is inescapable."
The amicus brief submitted by NCSE and PFAW was not alone. Amicus briefs supporting the Selman decision were also submitted by the National Science Teachers Association and the National Association of Biology Teachers; Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Committee; the National Council of Jewish Women and The Interfaith Alliance; the Witherspoon Society and the Clergy and Laity Network; the American Jewish Congress; a coalition of grassroots pro-science organizations, including Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education; and a coalition of fifty-six scientific organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
"In light of the relentless assaults on evolution education across the country," NCSE's Scott commented, "the decision in the Selman appeal is especially important. NCSE is proud to have collaborated with PFAW on our amicus brief, and we are confident that the Eleventh Circuit Court will take it seriously."
For NCSE's compilation of information about the Selman case, visit: http://www.ncseweb.org/selman/index.html
THE E-WORD RETURNS TO ALASKA
On June 10, 2005, the Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development strengthened the treatment of evolution in the state science standards, at what was literally the last minute. While the standards were under revision during the last two years, the question of whether to include the "e-word" -- evolution -- repeatedly arose, with officials at the state's Department of Education and Early Development apparently resistant to including it, despite the objections of the educators who helped to draft the standards. Omission of the e-word is not uncommon: Lawrence S. Lerner's study of evolution in state science standards, Good Science, Bad Science: Teaching Evolution in the States (2000), identified ten states that omitted "evolution" from their science standards; currently five -- Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Oklahoma -- do so. In 2004, a proposal to omit the word from the Georgia science standards, then under revision, was withdrawn amid criticism and ridicule.
In Alaska, wrangling over the place of evolution in the state science standards occurred mainly behind the scenes until June 9, when the topic dominated a public comment period in Anchorage. The comments were generally in favor of improving the treatment of evolution: Bruce Shellenbaum, a former vice president of the Anchorage Council of Parent-Teacher Associations, urged the board to "[p]ut evolution in bold type at the top of the page in natural sciences where it belongs ... Don't water it down to please political masters or allies. It's too important for that." On the same day, a powerful editorial in the Anchorage Daily News argued, "Evolution is the state of the art, the unifying principle in the life sciences as well as a profound influence on other fields. ... There should be no pussyfooting or compromise." The newspaper also published a report on the public comment period, extensively quoting the comments in favor of strengthening the treatment of evolution and explaining the relevance of the standards to standardized testing.
At the June 10 meeting, board meeting Shirley Holloway praised the people who offered comments at the June 9 meeting as "respectful, professional and very helpful," and her fellow board member Esther Cox proposed the adoption of the Anchorage School District's suggested revision of the standard on evolution, which would require students to understand "how science explains changes in life forms over time, including genetics, heredity, the process of natural selection and biological evolution." Her proposal was adopted by a vote of 9-0, and the revised standards were then adopted by a vote of 9-0 as well. Describing the decision as a "good call," the Anchorage Daily News remarked in a June 11 editorial, "The board deserves Alaskans' thanks; this was a step forward for education." Taking note of controversies in the lower 48 states, the editorial also observed that "to teach the 'evolution vs. intelligent design' controversy in science classes would give too much weight to ideas that haven't earned their scientific keep."
For the Anchorage Daily News's editorial preceding the decision, visit: http://www.adn.com/opinion/story/6585949p-6469605c.html
For the Anchorage Daily News's story about the decision, visit: http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/6594942p-6478760c.html
For the Anchorage Daily News's editorial following the decision, visit: http://www.adn.com/opinion/story/6599056p-6483090c.html
RESOURCES FROM THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES AND ASCB
The National Academies recently unveiled a new resource for the public on evolution, allowing easy access to books, position statements, and additional resources on evolution education and research produced by the National Academies and other sources. Included are the complete text of Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, second edition, and of Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science. In a press release, the National Academies noted that "[t]he theory of evolution is one of science's most robust theories, and the National Academies have long supported the position that evolution be taught as a central element in any science education program. Over the past several years, however, there has been a growing movement around the country to include non-scientifically based 'alternatives' in science courses." The National Academies comprise the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter.
And the American Society for Cell Biology recently unveiled a section on "Creationism and Intelligent Design" on the public policy section of its website, providing information about creationist episodes and ASCB's responses, useful links, and even a video lecture (in RealPlayer format) by NCSE Supporter Kenneth R. Miller entitled "Time to abandon Darwin? The challenge from intelligent design," delivered at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole in June 2004. It is a work in progress, so expect it to become even more useful in the future! The ASCB was founded in 1960 to bring the varied facets of cell biology together and to promote and develop the field of cell biology. Its objectives are achieved through the scholarly dissemination of research at its Annual Meeting and Summer Meetings in its publications. The ASCB strives to ensure the future of basic scientific research by providing training and development opportunities for students and young investigators, and also by keeping Congress and the American public informed on the importance of biomedical research. Since its founding, the ASCB has grown to more than 11,000 members.
For the resources from the National Academies, visit: http://nationalacademies.org/evolution/
For the resources from the American Society for Cell Biology, visit: http://www.ascb.org/publicpolicy/creationism.html
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism is now available: http://www.ncseweb.org/evc
By Amy Doolittle
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
June 17, 2005
Call it Christianity boot camp. Every year, thousands of evangelical Christian college students and teens from across the U.S. and Canada forgo traditional summer camps to immerse themselves in sessions that teach apologetics and Christian thought.
These classes -- known as worldview conferences -- typically run for a week and are held at churches or on college campuses throughout the country.
"A worldview is how you make sense of the world," says Nancy Pearcey, senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute.
"For many people, it may be only partially conscious. Whether it's intentional or something you absorb from the culture, everybody has to make sense, and you have to have some basic belief," said Mrs. Pearcey, author of "Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity."
Worldview courses, says Randy Sims, co-founder of the Worldview Academy, teach how to answer the essential questions of life. "Primarily, the two questions that are answered by every worldview [are], what is the nature of God and what is the nature of man. For a Christian to be consistent in the culture, they have to answer those questions."
Each year, Mr. Sims' Texas-based academy holds 17 weeklong classes around the nation.
The knowledge gained in the classes, say event organizers, is crucial for teens as they enter college or move into the work force. Christianity is a religion that is to be applied beyond the confines of the church pew -- its teachings and guiding principles should influence every decision and every action of followers as they go through life, they say.
Included in the worldview classes are studies of everything from entertainment to science to social history.
"However you answer [the nature of man and the nature of God] it really affects most every discipline. The sciences, literature, history -- pretty much everything. Because whatever decisions you're making and lifestyle that you have, how you see God and how you see man really determines how you're going to view those things," Mr. Sims says.
Learning how to apply a Christianized understanding of the world is paramount to being a responsible Christian, conference attendees and organizers say.
"How do [young people] understand their vocation, how do they interpret politics? Because of that kind of immaturity or ignorance, we want to expose those in our area to speakers that would address these topics," says Steve Simmons, a co-founder of the Great Lakes Worldview Conference, held annually in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The conferences are especially designed for teens in high school and college underclassmen.
"High school is the age where people start thinking through these things. It's appropriate for that stage of life. Talking out the beliefs you absorbed from parents and saying 'OK, what do I really believe?' -- it's extremely important in that part of life," Mrs. Pearcey says.
Not every moment of the camps is spent in sheer intellectual pursuit, says Pastor Byron Snapp, organizer of the Christian Worldview Student Conference, held annually in Hampton, Va.
"We also have preaching each evening [of the conference], because we want to speak not only to students' minds, but hearts as well. Christianity begins in the heart and then captures mind," he says.
"Christians were not only called to love God with our heart, soul and strength, but also with our mind, so to be consistent with a biblical assumption that we need to know what those assumptions are," says Mr. Sims of his conference.
But for attendees, the conferences are all learning and little play. Most of the days are spent sitting in session, taking notes and listening to speakers discuss applied Christianity. At the West Coast Worldview Conference, held annually at Bethany College in Scotts Valley, Calif., teens break up the intense sessions by organizing old-fashioned dances in the evenings after class. Each student is also assigned a roommate with whom they usually become close during the conference.
"When kids come here, they make friendships that last a lifetime, meet speakers, some of them find their future spouse -- and then they go back to their homes stronger Christians, better ready to go to college and take Christian faith [into the] classroom and to people they meet in college and high school," says Mr. Snapp. "There is no area neutral to Christianity."
At the annual conference in Hampton, he explains, students have no free time to visit local tourist attractions.
"Although we are located near the beach and amusement parks, we don't have time to go to those places," Mr. Snapp says. "We also do not encourage any parent to force their child to come here. We want them to want to be here. It's a very intense week."
Robert L. Park Friday, 17 Jun 05 Washington, DC
CREATIONISM: THE TULSA ZOO IS PREPARING A GENESIS EXHIBIT.
It's only fair. The Zoo had other god exhibits. According to CNN the elephant exhibit had a statue of the Hindu god, Ganesh.
INTELLIGENT DESIGN: "THIS DOESN'T LOOK LIKE KANSAS TOTO."
It's not, Dorothy, it's Holland. According to Science magazine, Maria van der Hoeven, the science and education minister, wants to stimulate a debate about intelligent design. It certainly stimulated a discussion, but not exactly a debate. They do love the idea in Kansas, but in the Netherlands things are a little different. Van der Hoeven, a member of the Christian-Democratic Party and a Catholic, got no support from either one. She's been too busy defending herself to explain just what she has in mind.
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND.
Opinions are the author's and not necessarily shared by the University of Maryland, but they should be.
Posted on Fri, Jun. 17, 2005
The day before the 2005 Legislature adjourned, state Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, introduced a bill calling for expansion of mandatory science instruction he hopes colleagues will embrace when they return to work in January:
(T)he State Board of Education shall implement policies and a curriculum that accomplish the General Assembly's desire to provide a quality science education that shall prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or 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."
Real-life figure in the story that spawned several horror films files suit over his murderous portrayal in the most recent installment.
By Robert W. Welkos, Times Staff Writer
George Lutz is being haunted again only this time, it isn't by supernatural forces in Amityville. It's by images on the big screen.
Lutz has filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming he has been libeled by this year's movie remake of "The Amityville Horror." The movie is based on the real-life story of Lutz and his family, who moved into a home in Amityville, Long Island, N.Y., not long after six people had been murdered there by the previous owner. The Lutzes fled within days, claiming the house was haunted, and their story became the basis for author Jay Anson's 1977 bestseller and spawned several movies.
But Lutz, who now lives in Las Vegas, isn't happy with how he was portrayed in the latest film version of the horror tale. Lutz filed suit June 10 against Dimension Films, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and others, including two screenwriters, for libel and breach of contract, claiming the movie remake makes him look like a "homicidal maniac."
During the course of the movie, Lutz is portrayed: killing his dog with an ax, attacking his son with an ax, building coffins for his wife and three children, trying to drown his wife, chasing his wife and children onto the steeply-pitched roof of the house at night during a rainstorm and also shooting at them with a rifle.
Lutz never did any of those things, according to the suit. A spokeswoman for Dimension Films declined comment.
While conceding that the film is a work of fiction, the suit notes the movie purports to tell the "true story" of what happened when George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved into the house where the previous owner, Ronald DeFeo, murdered his mother, father, two brothers and two sisters in November 1974. DeFeo is serving consecutive life sentences in prison for the crimes.
The Lutz family moved into the Long Island house on Dec. 18, 1975, but left only 28 days later, leaving behind most of their personal possessions, believing the house was haunted. Lutz and his wife later divorced and she died last year, according to Lutz's attorney, Larry Zerner.
The suit also states that Dimension failed to fulfill their promise to pay Lutz $50,000 once the movie reached $10 million in theatrical box office receipts and also owes him a percentage of both the film's net profit and merchandising profit. The R-rated remake, which starred Ryan Reynolds as Lutz, opened in April and, despite dismal reviews, has grossed about $64 million domestically.
While the Lutzes allowed their names to be used in the original 1979 American International Pictures film of the same name, which starred James Brolin and Margot Kidder, the suit contends there was nothing in the agreement they signed that would prevent them from filing a defamation action in connection with any subsequent movie.
Contact: Richard Gordon, Founder, Quantum-Touch
P.O. Box 512
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406
Kauai, Hawaii, June 17, 2005 -
As much as they loved living in paradise on Kauai, the island simply got too small to contain the explosive business growth of Quantum-Touch. An energy healing technique that Alternative Medicine magazine called "a significant breakthrough," Quantum Touch is gaining huge popularity because it has been shown to reduce pain and complement traditional therapies. It is so easy even children can learn it effectively.
After spending 2 years on Kauai, Quantum-Touch will now base its operations from San Luis Obispo, located in central California. Founder Richard Gordon's excitement is infectious as he describes the reason for the move:
"During the last year, our mailing list has been growing at a rate of 10% a month. Orders for books, video workshops, and our other products have now out-produced our ability to keep up. In addition, we have had a substantial increase in trained instructors- we now have over 100 world-wide. This move to California represents the next step in introducing Quantum-Touch to a much wider range of people."
"Our present staff simply has not been able to keep up with the workload," Richard continues. "As much as we love Kauai, we discovered that the business services available on Kauai were not sufficient to keep pace with our growth, either in trained personnel to run the office or reliable technical help to build a more sophisticated infrastructure."
"San Luis Obispo, with its wonderful climate, central location between the two main population centers of California, and easy travel to other parts of the country, make it an ideal place in which to expand our operations. Already, we found an office space that is four times larger than the space we had on Kauai, and we're building the infrastructure necessary to handle the impending growth of Quantum-Touch."
Quantum-Touch, a unique form of energy medicine, is easily learned by lay people and medical professionals alike. Its effectiveness has drawn enthusiastic endorsements from a wide range of health professionals including physicians, chiropractors, and acupuncturists. Although still generally unknown by the public, just the growth from "word-of-mouth" suggests that Quantum-Touch is on the threshold of gaining world-wide recognition. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people around the world already know about this unique energy medicine: Richard Gordon's first book, Polarity Therapy, is regarded as a classic textbook by alternative health practitioners worldwide, and his newest book, Quantum-Touch, The Power to Heal, has been translated into eight languages.
For more details: You can learn how to reduce pain and speed healing by reading Richard Gordon's new book, "Quantum-Touch: The Power to Heal," by watching a video workshop, or by attending a workshop in your area. Visit http://www.quantumtouch.com
Ohio State University called off a dissertation defense scheduled for this week amid faculty concerns that it was set up to favor a Ph.D. candidate's controversial views that question evolution.
Bryan Leonard, a graduate student in science education and a national leader on behalf of "intelligent design" theory, was scheduled to defend a thesis dealing with how students' attitudes change how they "are taught the scientific data both supporting and challenging macroevolution." The theory of intelligent design holds that some intelligent force presumably a divine one set up biological structures, and that this force is ultimately more important than evolution.
Supporters of intelligent design have been pushing to include it in public school curriculums. A wide consensus among scientists rejects intelligent design, however, and many scholars see it as a cover for creationism.
Faculty critics have objected both to the idea that Ohio State appeared to be on the verge of awarding a Ph.D. for work questioning evolution and to the way Leonard's dissertation committee violated Ohio State rules. Beyond Ohio State, a blog for evolution scientists, Panda's Thumb, has been publishing criticism of the dissertation defense and of the way the review committee was set up. Despite all the criticism, Ohio State officials stress that the decision to call off the dissertation defense was made by Leonard's disssertation advisor, not by university administrators responding to the controversy.
Under Ohio State rules, two members of Leonard's dissertation committee should have been in the science education division. But the three members of the committee were in the fields of technology education, entomology and nutrition. "A dissertation committee that lacks any experts in the field is, to say the least, suspicious," said a letter three professors (Brian McEnnis, in mathematics; Jeffrey K. McKee, in anthropology; and Steve Rissing, in evolution, ecology and organismal biology) sent to Ohio State's graduate dean, protesting the planned dissertation defense.
Additionally, the letter noted that two of the committee members were the only two Ohio State faculty members who have spoken publicly in defense of Leonard's views on evolution. "The only qualification that these gentlemen bring to Mr. Leonard's dissertation committee is an assurance of a non-critical hearing," the letter said.
The letter also questioned whether Leonard should have been allowed, under Ohio State's auspices, to teach high school students information both supporting and attacking evolution. "There are no valid scientific data challenging macroevolution," the letter said. "Mr. Leonard has been misinforming his students if he teaches them otherwise. His dissertation presents evidence that he has succeeded in persuading high school students to reject this fundamental principle of biology. As such, it involves deliberate miseducation of these students, a practice we regard as unethical."
Leonard and two of his committee members did not return phone calls or e-mail messages seeking their comments for this article. One committee member, Robert DiSilvestro, the nutrition professor, said in an e-mail message that he wanted to hold off on discussing the matter until he received more information from Ohio State. "Unlike the people who started the controversy, I don't want to go public until we interact with the university," he said. The other committee members were Glen Needham and Paul Post.
For a dissertation defense at Ohio State, a fourth faculty member joins the three committee members. Earle M. Holland, a spokesman for the university, said that the university typically seeks faculty volunteers for this fourth seat, with the idea that someone not on the committee will provide some fresh perspective and also focus on whether university procedures are being followed. In the case of Leonard's scheduled defense, the faculty volunteer was an assistant professor of French and Italian. When she realized the controversial nature of the dissertation, she withdrew.
Holland said that the graduate school has replaced the fourth member of the committee with Joan M. Herbers, dean of the university's College of Biological Sciences. The university's graduate school is also now studying the situation, Holland said. "They will be looking at the nature of the research project as a whole and whether or not the process should proceed, what should happen. If it should not proceed, why. What was done right or wrong," he said.
Although some scientists are questioning how Leonard came so close to a Ph.D. legitimizing intelligent design, Holland said that was unfair. Leonard's dissertation may have been in the "latter stage of the process," he said, but it was also in "the most essential stages of the process" of being reviewed.
"It's a mischaracterization to say that the university was about to award a degree supporting intelligent design or anything else. What we had was a dissertation defense scheduled," Holland said. "The university was not anything close to legitimizing anything that was not close to the caliber for which we give doctoral degrees."
I belive he is seeking a Ph. D. "with creative dissertation."
More seriously, I wonder where science stands on the ethics of research in which human subjects are intentionally misinformed. Does this require informed consent? Does it require disclosure to the subjects after the fact about which portions of their education were intentional misrepresentations and which were not? What are the long-term psychological effects of intentional miseducation....
Thane Doss, at 6:07 am EDT on June 10, 2005
Thursday, 16 June 2005, 2:55 pm
Article: Marietta Gross - Scoop Media Auckland
Scoop Report: Smithsonian Embroiled in God v Darwin Dispute
By Marietta Gross Scoop Media Auckland.
Scientists protest against controversial documentary in the US National Museum - Creationists regard "Evolutionism" as reason for criminality, drug abuse and wars.
In the United States a scientific dispute has broken out over a decision to screen a film considered by many to be Creationistic and not scientific. The National Museum for Natural History of the public Smithsonian Institute plans to screen the film "The Privileged Planet" on June 23rd. The film promotes the theory of "Intelligent Design", which is a form of Creationism.
Creationists deny Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and see God as guider behind every development.
The documentary film is based on a book that promotes the "Intelligent Design"-Theory which is written by Guillermo Gonzalez of Iowa State University and Jay Richards, vice president of the Discovery Institute in Seattle.
The movie suggests part of science is supernatural. The chairman of the US-Geophysical Union, Fred Spilhaus, believes this to be illogical. He said Creationism is not a science. Because scientific cognition would be based on evidence, was provisory and could be audited at any time.
The Smithsonian Institute is considering cancelling its support worth USD$16,000. for the producers of the film after assessing the movie's content to be against the mission of the Institute. However, invitations have already been sent out. Dozens of well-known scientists protested.
Fred Spilhaus, insisted the Smithsonian Institute reconsider and called on other researchers to file a protest on the Smithsonian-website.
In the United States, the Creationists are waging a campaign against Evolutionism - which was a reputed reason for criminality, drug misuse and wars.
The Creationists have had their successes: In many US Federal States there are juristic and political controversies upon Darwin's ideas in schools. School book publishers excluded mention of Darwin. Draft laws insist that schools give equal treatment to Creationism and evolution even though US-law regulates the separation of church and state. But those faithful to the Bible enjoy the backing of the U.S. "moral majority. A survey by research centre Gallup showed only 10 percent of Americans trusted the theory of Evolution, whereas 45 percent think God had created Earth about 10,000 years ago.
Article Last Updated: 06/15/2005 11:05:48 PM
Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, wears his ignorance as a badge of honor. He recently argued ("Evolution battle to flare up in Utah," Tribune, June 3) that the absence of a "dat" - the animal that would result from the mating of a dog and a cat - proves that there is no cross-species evolution.
Mr. Buttars proved only that he slept through every science class after the second grade. If he relies only on this logic, one wonders why the mere existence of ligers and mules hasn't changed his mind about evolution.
I hope that Utah educators will resist bringing intelligent design ("divine design") to our schools. American secondary schools already provide a poor science education compared to that provided by other developed countries. Don't make matters worse. Spare us a return to the Dark Ages.
As for Mr. Buttars and Gayle Ruzicka, please keep in mind the simple maxim that science explains how we got here; religion, at best, attempts to answer why. Let's teach science in our classrooms, not watered-down creationism.
Salt Lake City
Posted on Wed, Jun. 15, 2005
RENEWED DEBATE: The State Board of Education reviewed proposed science standards meant to expose students to more criticism of evolution.
THE AUTHORS: Three board conservatives, Chairman Steve Abrams, of Arkansas City, and board members Kathy Martin, of Clay Center, and Connie Morris, of St. Francis, rewrote a few, key sections of an earlier proposal.
On Wednesday, four moderates on the 10-member board assailed the latest proposal, which has the backing of intelligent design advocates. The conservatives defended the proposal - and fired back at the moderates.
MORE REVIEWS: The board told a committee of educators to review the latest proposal, and Abrams said a second external review will be conducted in July, meaning the board isn't likely to vote on standards until August.
THE DEFENSE: The drafters of the latest proposal contend it's designed to give students an accurate picture of scientific debate evolutionary theory that natural chemical processes could have resulted in building blocks of life, that all life had a common origin and that man and apes share a common ancestor.
THE CRITICISM: Even though the latest proposal specifically says the standards will take no position on intelligent design, moderate board members contend the document reflects intelligent design advocates' attitudes about evolution.
INTELLIGENT DESIGN: It says some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent cause because they're well-ordered and complex. Critics see it as another form of creationism.
Elaine Bessier, Staff Writer June 16, 2005
Following a lengthy and often heated discussion about a sub-committee's recommended additions and changes to the proposed science standards, the Kansas Board of Education on Wednesday voted 7-3 to return the standards to the writing committee.
Suggestions include that the committee make sure that botany, anatomy, zoology and microbiology are embedded in the standards. A statewide debate has developed over whether these subjects have been removed from the standards.
The committee will report back to the board in August.
Steve Abrams, Arkansas City; John Bacon, Olathe; Connie Morris, St. Francis; Carol Rupe, Wichita; Iris Van Meter, Thayer; Kenneth Willard, Hutchinson; and Bill Wagnon, Topeka, voted for the motion. Sue Gamble, Shawnee; Kathy Martin, Clay Center; and Janet Waugh, Kansas City, Kan., voted no on the motion.
During the citizens' open forum Tuesday, Harry McDonald, president of Kansas Citizens for Science, said the new draft contained most of the changes proposed by the Intelligent Design Network in the Science Standards Committee's minority report. The changes are intended to take a more critical look at the theory of evolution.
McDonald said subcommittee hearings in May in Topeka had not informed the board, as they were purported to do.
About two dozen witnesses, mostly intelligent design proponents, came from around the world to testify about the origins of life at a cost to the state of more than $17,000, including travel, lodging and security.
"Several members of the subcommittee admitted both before and during the hearings that they couldn't understand the technical arguments," McDonald said. "The final transcript of the hearings was not available when the committee recommendations were drafted, so it can't be claimed that an extensive review of the hearings influenced the recommendations to be brought to you (Wednesday)."
McDonald also said that in the committee hearing to develop the committee's recommendation, there little discussion about what testimony validated, in the committee's mind, the recommended changes.
"The majority of the writing committee, your own selected science experts, as well as the national and international science communities, refused to participate in your kangaroo court," McDonald told the board.
An external review of the proposed standards has not yet taken place, making revised standards unlikely to be completed in time for fall classes, McDonald said.
"Your adoption of these standards will insure that you are not presenting to the students of Kansas the best that science has to offer. You will be presenting what you, the self-admittedly, scientifically unqualified, wish to personally impose on our children."
Harry Gregory, a biology teacher at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School in Wichita, said the topic of intelligent design, the theory that life is too complex to have happened naturally, had never come up in his classes.
"What I see, as evidenced by the actions of the 'conservative' members of this board, is a not-too-transparent attempt to impose a very narrow religious view of science on students of the state," Gregory said. "You have bought into a fabricated controversy that doesn't exist in the scientific community by bringing in supporters of the Intelligent Design Network and the Discovery Institute as your 'experts.' It is clear in their testimonies and their published works that the primary purpose is to eliminate evolution from the classroom."
Gregory said he refused to sacrifice his integrity by telling his students that a scientific controversy over evolution exists when it does not. He urged the board to adopt the Science Writing Committee's Draft 2, the majority standards recommendations.
Joe Heppert, University of Kansas chemistry professor and chairman of the American Chemical Society board, said the society "strongly supports the inclusion of evolution in K-12 science curricula, at an age-appropriate level.
"Evolutionary theory is not a hypothesis, but is a key component of science," Heppert said. Another controversy erupted among board members this week when Morris circulated a newsletter to her constituents that criticizes evolution and four "liberal" board members - Gamble, Rupe, Wagnon and Waugh. The letter also appeared on the KSDE Web site.
"It is our goal to write the standards in such a way that clearly gives educators the right and the responsibility to present the criticisms of Darwinism alongside the age-old fairy tale of evolution," Morris wrote.
She attacked Gamble as "continually most disruptive and rude," called Darwin's theory of evolution "biologically, genetically, mathematically, chemically, metaphysically wildly and utterly impossible," criticized the media for their coverage of the sub-committee hearings, and concluded that "the evolutionists are in a panic mode."
Morris also said that "evolutionists refused to present a defense as to why their theory should not stand to be criticized. They desperately need to withhold the fact that evolution is a theory in crisis and has been crumbling apart for years."
©The Johnson County Sun 2005
By Sandi Dolbee
UNION-TRIBUNE RELIGION & ETHICS EDITOR
June 16, 2005
Creation may be the ultimate whodunit.
Was it evolution?
Was it both?
It's one more thing that Americans are divided about.
Polls show most believe God had some hand in creation though they don't agree on whether it was direct or through evolution.
And while courts have struck down teaching biblically based creationism in public schools, those rulings have not halted debate. More than a dozen states are battling over whether to teach alternatives to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution especially something called intelligent design, which argues that nature is so complex that an intelligent designer had to have been involved.
Even scientists who believe in the godly version often referred to as creation scientists are split.
The "young earth" camp of creation science, for example, holds that the world is no more than approximately 10,000 years old, and regards the Genesis account in the Bible as literally true, with God creating heaven and earth in six days, followed by creating a day of rest or Sabbath on the seventh day. The "old earth" devotees, on the other hand, say God's creation took billions of years and that the days in Genesis symbolize long periods of time.
Now the Crystal Cathedral, Orange County's famed glass church, has stepped into the fray with a multimedia, multimillion-dollar production that hopes to appease both science and religion.
"Creation" opened a week ago at the landmark sanctuary in Garden Grove. The show features replicas of dinosaurs, elephants and gorillas both on stage and projected onto a massive, 200-foot screen of computer-generated images. Adam and Eve are delivered from the sky, along with a host of acrobatic characters who perform in the cavernous sanctuary.
The production's giant animal puppets smack of "Lion King," and its aerial displays and interpretive dance are like a Cirque du Soleil performance. There are also some Hollywood-style special effects, in which the audience gets misted and smells whiffs of nature. The original musical score was composed by Jeff Atmajian, who worked on the orchestrations for "The Passion of the Christ" and "Chocolat."
As for "Creation's" theology, it appears to be a blend of the biblical account in Genesis, scientific evolution and intelligent design. The script refers to the creator as "the Presence," rather than God.
"I really love the intelligent design concept," Milner said. "I think that's a beautiful concept. I think it allows for a lot of possibilities."
Milner, who came up with the idea for the show more than a decade ago and is its writer, director and producer, is uncomfortable with strict Darwinian evolution, which holds that humans evolved from microorganisms over billions of years. She also rejects the literal interpretation of Genesis.
Schuller, her famous pastor-father, agrees. "I don't accept the six, 24-hour-day thing," he said.
Both he and his daughter believe in a creator God. They also believe that science and faith should not be enemies.
"We've always tried to stay with tradition, with an interpretation that makes sense in contemporary science and knowledge," said Schuller, who began the Protestant congregation in 1955 with worship services held in a drive-in movie theater.
"The truth," he added, "is not something we should be afraid of finding."
But what is the truth?
Intelligent design is getting the most attention these days, with supporters hailing it as a kind of middle way on the bumpy path back in time.
"Creation asks for an ultimate resting place of explanation: the source of being of the world. Intelligent design, by contrast, inquires not into the ultimate source of matter and energy, but into the cause of their present arrangements, particularly those entities, large and small, that exhibit specified complexity," writes Baylor University professor William Dembski in his book, "The Design Revolution."
Some critics worry that intelligent design isn't religious enough.
"We appreciate what they (intelligent design advocates) are doing. We just don't think they go far enough," said John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research in Santee, which is part of the "young earth" camp of literal, biblical creationism.
Intelligent design and its supporters are too vague for Morris' conservative Christian institute. "They don't want to have the accountability and specificity that Christianity demands," he added.
Ditto for "old earth" creationist Hugh Ross. "If you can't get specific about who or what the designer was, it really cripples your model," said Ross, founder and president of Reasons to Believe, a Glendora-based Christian ministry that tries to show the Bible and science are compatible.
Others worry that intelligent design is a stealth campaign by evangelical Christians to circumvent the courts and return creationism to the public schools.
Last year, a school district in Pennsylvania became what is believed to be the first in the nation to include intelligent design in the curriculum. The Kansas education board is expected to decide shortly about whether to alter the science curriculum there.
"It's an extremely subtle way of getting God into the classroom," said Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland. "Intelligent design evolved as a hopefully legal kind of anti-evolution that would duck the First Amendment."
Scott said she doesn't object to intelligent design as a religious concept. "My objection is when people claim intelligent design is a scientific view that should be taught in public schools."
She argues that schools need to stick to science. "Scientists aren't debating whether living things have a single common ancestor. Nobody argues over whether evolution took place," she adds. To teach otherwise is "just miseducating" students.
Ironically, according to Scott, little class time is actually spent on evolution as a subject matter. She also noted that several faith groups have no problem reconciling religion with evolution because they've decided that "evolution is the way God did it."
Which raises the question: Does it really matter what you believe?
Michael Guillen, scientific director of Crystal Cathedral's "Creation" project, believes that how you view your origin is important to how you live your life.
"If you think of yourself as an accident of nature, then that is ultimately going to affect the way you see yourself, the way you see your relationship with others, and how you see your relationship to the universe and to God," said Guillen, a former Harvard University physics instructor and science correspondent for ABC News.
"On the other hand, if you believe that the answer to the question is we were deliberate creations of a living, intelligent God, then that will also affect the way you see yourself, the way you see others, and your obligation to others, and the way you see your place in the universe and to God."
On Friday night, as the audience waited out an hour-long delay because of computer problems, Guillen told the crowd the show doesn't take sides. "This production doesn't tell you what to think, but for two hours it gives you something to think about," is how he put it.
The Crystal Cathedral is no stranger to elaborate productions. For more than two decades, its Easter and Christmas pageants have drawn large crowds to see flying angels and live animals.
Schuller sees "Creation," which is tentatively scheduled to run until mid-September, as a fitting tribute to the congregation's 50th anniversary celebration.
"We're putting a lot of money in it because we have something to say," said Schuller. "They are very important statements about how to approach the whole concept of the beginning of life, intelligently and humbly."
Some of the audience, however, complained that what they saw was confusing, though the scenes are helped along with brief descriptions in the program, along with references to Genesis verses.
The story line itself is wrapped around a faith-minded grandfather and his science-minded grandson on a fishing trip. The grandfather begins to tell his grandson about what he believes happened in the beginning and the production is off and running.
At the end of "Creation," the grandson seems to be won over by his grandfather's belief in "the Presence."
But Schuller points to another scene that he particularly likes in which the grandson asks why God would allow Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. The boy argues that if he loved somebody, he wouldn't let them do it. The grandfather responds that he would, if he loved them enough.
"That means God loved them enough to give them the freedom to fail," Schuller said. "Without that freedom, they wouldn't be persons. They would have been controlled by God."
Free will? That brings up a whole other issue.
Date published: 6/16/2005
Doug Cowan's column on "intelligent design" sounds so reasonable ["Teaching kids to think can mean discussing intelligent design ," June 7].
Why shouldn't high school biology students be exposed to this alternative scientific theory of the origin of life?
Quite simply, because "intelligent design" is not a scientific theory. It has none of the characteristics of a scientific theory. It provides no explanation for observable phenomena other than "then a miracle occurred."
It has no predictive value for future events. Its proponents do no laboratory or field research, nor do they publish their evidence for "intelligent design" in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Rather, they criticize evolution and point out its perceived shortcomings. They do their best to mislead the lay public with statements like "some highly credentialed scientists insist that there are limitations to Darwin's theory."
There are a few advocates of intelligent design with legitimate scientific degrees, but many with bogus credentials. The overwhelming majority of scientists accept the theory of evolution as a fact, which incidentally reflects the scientific use of the word "theory."
There are other examples of misleading or pejorative statements in Mr. Cowan's article. He states that he dissects the evidence for macroevolution (formation of a new species) "using recent discoveries that have raised important questions among evolutionary biologists."
The implication is that the whole theory of evolution is being called into question. New research always raises questions among scientists, but it is not true that mainstream scientists are questioning the basic tenets of a theory that has been under refinement for 150 years.
"Intelligent design" is the latest iteration in the evolution of "creationism," which has been thoroughly discredited and banned from our schools as religious teaching.
We should no more be teaching "intelligent design" in biology classes than we should be teaching astrology in astronomy classes.
Roy F. Gratz
"This talk explores the socio-political phenomenon of the 'intelligent design' movement and the mode of argumentation used within it. The essential sterility of the 'intelligent design' field provides a fascinating conundrum: with so little to offer, how is it that 'intelligent design' advocates have taken the high-profile position in arguments over evolution and science education?"
For additional information, visit the website of North Texas Skeptics: http://www.ntskeptics.org/
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism is now available:
Jun. 10, 2005 07:45 AM
ROANOKE, Va. - For 15 years, in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, Larry Booher taught creationism in his high school biology class. He even compiled a textbook of sorts and passed out copies in three-ring binders.
The school superintendent didn't know what was going on. Neither did the school board president. Then, they got an anonymous tip.
Booher has agreed to revise his lesson plan, though he maintained that he handed out the book, titled "Creation Battles Evolution," to his Biology 2 students only as a voluntary, extra-credit option. advertisement
"He told the students, 'You may read this. You don't have to. It has some Bible references in it,' " said Alan Lee, superintendent of Washington County schools. "This teacher felt like he wasn't doing anything wrong."
The Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that creationism, the belief that God created the universe as explained in the Bible, is a religious belief - not science - and may not be taught in public schools along with evolution.
"Creationism is not biology and has no place in a biology class," said Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. "What makes it wrong is not the theory of creationism, but the teaching of creationism as part of a science class."
Lee said Booher's compilation drew on sources ranging from the Internet to scholarly papers and quotations from scientists and scholars critical of evolution or evidence supporting it.
Lee said the material was never presented to the school board or to his office for approval. He declined to say what punishment - if any - Booher would face, calling it a personnel matter.
Elizabeth Lowe, chairwoman of the school board, said she had heard "not a word" about Booher's book in her 11 years in office.
Lee described Booher, 48, as "one of the finest science teachers I've ever been around" and said Booher would return to the classroom in the fall since he agreed to stop distributing the creationism materials.
"He must teach evolution exclusively - observable scientific fact, not beliefs or religion," Lee said. "I fully believe he will comply. He just stepped over the line."
Calls to Booher's home were met with hang-ups Thursday. He told The Roanoke Times he regretted handing out the material.
"I can't change my classroom into a Sunday school class," he told the newspaper. "It's not like I tried to make it a secret. If administrators knew, fine. If they didn't, I didn't make an issue of it."
Booher's source book, which he distributed at his own expense to classes ranging from 25 to 40 students, included nine chapters with titles such as "In the beginning" and "Evidence for a young Earth."
As news of Booher's source book surfaced this week, Lee said he has had no complaints from parents.
"I'm not surprised," he said. "People in this area tend to be very religious. They likely didn't see it as anything that wasn't appropriate."
By Bronwyn Sell
It looks like water. It tastes like water. It has the same molecular structure as water. But it'll cost you up to $13,000.
For 10 years Hamilton company Ecoworld has been selling a water treatment device called The Grander Living Water system, which it says energises H2O, making it permanently resonate with the cosmos.
Drinking water treated by the system, it says, will improve your circulation and blood pressure, detoxify your body and reduce allergies.
The Commerce Commission wasn't convinced. Neither was Judge Merelina Burnett when the commission took Ecoworld to the Hamilton District Court in March for breaching the Fair Trading Act.
In a reserved judgment, the judge said scientific tests had shown there was no measurable difference between water treated with Grander Living Water technology and untreated water, and the company had demonstrated "a significant level of wilful blindness and negligence".
"Among its content, the Grander [promotional] material contains inconsistencies, quackery and pseudo-science that even when presented with credentials, glossy journals, explanatory photographs, tables, graphs and laboratory aids, does not escape the impression of promising the improbable."
She found Ecoworld guilty of nine charges of misrepresenting its products and seven alternate charges of misleading consumers.
It faces a fine of up to $100,000 when it is sentenced on July 1.
The judgment said Living Water was purported to have been energised in a secret process guided by divine inspiration by Austrian naturalist Johann Grander, who implanted a range of natural vibrational frequencies into it.
The frequencies, according to the Ecoworld website, "energise it like a mountain spring which bubbles up out of the ground and tumbles over rocks and waterfalls, becoming full of vitality, freshness and energy".
Ecoworld sold the energised water in two forms: a rod or pendant containing the water, which it said energised other water into which it was immersed; and taps, bores and other devices containing Living Water which it said treated water which flowed through them.
Judge Burnett said Ecoworld's director, Ruby Walker, and its director of research and marketing, Barry Jones, had dealt with the literature and information they received from Grander by "assuming that if it says it is so, then it is so".
She said prices for the products seemed to range from $200 to $13,000.
Mr Jones told the Weekend Herald that the company stood by its product, which he said was used by more than 3000 New Zealanders, and was planning to appeal the decision.
He said NZ authorities were intent on trashing "so-called alternative" remedies, including Living Water and the protein drink Body Enhancer, "because we're starting to have an impact, with people getting away from chemical usage".
The Auckland company that sells Body Enhancer, Zenith Corporation, was also successfully prosecuted by the Commerce Commission.
It was found this month to have committed 26 breaches of the Fair Trading Act in its advertising.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Special to the Gazette
RICHLAND -- Intelligent design won't be part of the curriculum at Gull Lake Middle School, but the Gull Lake Community Schools Board of Education says it can be included in elective social-studies classes at Gull Lake High School.
The board voted Monday to back the recommendation of a committee that's been studying the issue for months. It agreed with the committee to allow intelligent design to be taught in elective high school classes in political science, humanities and philosophy, at the option of the teacher and if the topic fits with the existing curriculum.
"We think it belongs there because it's a legitimate topic of conversation and debate," said Richard Ramsey, Gull Lake schools superintendent and chairman of the committee. "We do think it has value in our curriculum."
Intelligent design will not be taught in high school biology classes nor in any middle school class.
Intelligent design challenges the theory of evolution and credits the origin of life to an unnamed "intelligent designer." For two years, it was taught in seventh-grade science classes by two teachers, Dawn Wendzel and Julie Olson, as part of a two-week unit on evolution. In addition to the regular textbook, which says the Earth was created billions of years ago and life forms have evolved over time, Olson and Wendzel presented material that refuted evolution and had students write a paper on which view they supported.
Gull Lake administrators became aware of the practice after a parent complained in the spring of 2004 and told Wendzel and Olson to stop presenting material on intelligent design. The teachers, both born-again Christians who do not believe in evolution, then circulated a letter to parents urging them to protest the ban.
That led to the creation of a committee last winter to study the issue. The committee included Wendzel and Olson as well as two high school science teachers, the middle and high school principals and Ramsey.
Wendzel and Olson did not support the committee's final recommendation, which was backed by the rest of the panel and the district's curriculum council, Ramsey said.
He said the committee researched the teaching of evolution at other public-school districts in Michigan and at the college level and looked at the curriculum recommendations of scientific fraternities.
"This is a very emotional issue, and the committee did a good job of taking emotion out of it and looking at the facts," school board president Deb Ryan said.
Also Monday, Gull Lake school officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the district's new high school.
Gull Lake voters last fall approved a $40 million plan to build a new high school, renovate the current high school into a middle school for grades six through eight and move the administration offices into the current middle school.
Construction on the high school is scheduled to begin July 7, Ramsey said. The new high school is expected to open in the fall of 2007, which also should mark completion of the renovation projects.
Voters agreed to raise taxes by 4.9 mills to pay for the project. But the rate has been decreased to 3.89 mills because of the district's favorable credit rating and because of the passage last month of a countywide tax for the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency. The 1-mill KRESA tax is expected to generate about $850,000 for Gull Lake Community Schools, and the board has decided to use $500,000 of that amount toward paying off the improvement bonds.
© 2005 Kalamazoo
By JOHN HANNA, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jun 15, 1:58 PM ET
TOPEKA, Kan. - A discussion about how evolution should be taught in public schools degenerated Wednesday into personal attacks among State Board of Education members.
The board is reviewing proposed standards drafted by three conservative members designed to expose students to more criticism of evolution in the classroom. During the discussion, four board members who want the standards to maintain their existing evolution-friendly tone assailed the proposal.
Bill Wagnon told the three conservative board members they were the "dupes" of intelligent design advocates, who presented what Wagnon said was bad science during public hearings in May.
"It is all based on absolute and total fraud," Wagnon said of the proposal.
But one of the three board members, Connie Morris, lectured the board's four moderates for not attending the public hearings in May, during which witnesses criticized evolutionary theory that natural chemical processes may have created the first building blocks of life, that all life has descended from a common origin and that man and apes share a common ancestor.
"Had you attended, you would have been informed," Morris said. "You would be sitting here as informed individuals and not arrogantly calling us dupes."
Conservatives have a 6-4 majority, so much of what the three members proposed if not all of it is likely to survive.
The board didn't make a decision Wednesday about the standards, but it told a committee of educators to review the proposal. Board Chairman Steve Abrams, another one of the three members who drafted the proposal, said he also intended to have a second, external review it in July. That suggests the board won't vote until at least August.
Besides Abrams and Morris, helping draft the latest proposal was board member Kathy Martin.
The ongoing debate over how evolution should be taught has brought international attention to Kansas. The four days of hearings in May attracted journalists from Canada, France, Great Britain and Japan.
The standards determine how fourth-, seventh- and 10th graders are tested on science. They currently describe evolution as a key concept for students to learn before graduating from high school, treating it as the best explanation for how life developed and changed over time.
The proposed standards don't specifically mention intelligent design, except to say the standards don't take a position. But advocates of intelligent design, which says some features of the natural world are so complex and well-ordered that they are best explained by an intelligent cause, organized the case against evolution during the hearings.
Many scientists view intelligent design as a form of creationism, and national and state science groups boycotted the public hearings, saying they were rigged against evolution. As a result, no scientist testified in favor of evolution.
State law requires the board to update its academic standards regularly, setting up this year's debate over evolution.
In 1999, the Kansas board deleted most references to evolution from the science standards, bringing international condemnation and ridicule to Kansas. Elections the next year resulted in a less conservative board, which led to the current, evolution-friendly standards. Conservative Republicans recaptured the board's majority in 2004 elections.
Battles over evolution also have occurred in recent years in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Circulated Monday was a newsletter from Morris, in which she derided evolution as an "age-old fairy tale," sometimes defended with "anti-God contempt and arrogance." She wrote that evolution is "a theory in crisis" and headlined one section of her newsletter "The Evolutionists are in Panic Mode!"
State Board of Education: http://www.ksbe.state.ks.us
TOM CRUISE's beliefs in Scientology are based on misinformation, according to US showbiz magazine ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY - after editors checked facts from a recent interview with the movie star.
Just weeks after accusing BROOKE SHIELDS of being "misinformed" after she championed anti-depressants for helping her deal with post-partum depression, Cruise made a couple of sweeping statements to Entertainment Weekly reporter BENJAMIN SVETKEY.
The writer chose to check Cruise's comments and found out he wasn't accurate.
Supporting Scientology claims that psychiatry is "a Nazi science", Cruise stated, "JUNG (CARL JUNG, the father of modern psychiatry) was an editor for the Nazi papers during World War Two," which the magazine's researchers discovered is untrue, according to the New York Center For Jungian Studies.
The movie star continued, "Look at the experimentation the Nazis did with electric shock and drugging. Look at the drug methadone. That was originally called Adolophine. It was named after ADOLF HITLER."
The magazine also questions Cruise on this point, explaining, "According to the Dictionary Of Drugs And Medications... this is an urban legend."
Article Last Updated: 06/13/2005 11:46:45 PM
Redefining creationism as "intelligent" or "divine" design is a manipulation of words intended to deceive and distract the public from the ages-old issue. No matter what you call it, it is still creationism, it is still religious doctrine and it is still a violation of separation of church and state if taught in the school system.
"The Eagle Forum . . . argues a community has a right to teach its values to its children" (Tribune, June 3). I couldn't agree more, but religious values should be taught at home, at church or perhaps at an Eagle Forum meeting.
Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, said, "The only people who will be upset about this are atheists." He must be living in a vacuum to make such a small-minded and offensive statement. I am not an atheist and I am upset enough by his proposed legislation to write this letter to the editor, and one to my district senator.
Let's hope the rest of Utah's lawmakers are designed intelligently enough to spot the lack of intelligence in Sen. Buttars' arguments.
By Lucy Sherriff
Published Tuesday 14th June 2005 15:52 GMT
Letters And God said: "Let monkey turn into man". Or perhaps not. This very question has vexed many of you, this week. It all kicked off when the National Academy of Sciences decided to launch a portal providing access to recent scientific research on evolution. The site was intended to provide resources for teachers, and to be a direct challenge to those who oppose the teaching of evoutionary theory in US public schools on religious grounds.
Among the hysterical rants, there were some more interesting letters. Here are five from the pro-evolutionists, and five from the pro-creationists. See how balanced we are? (Cough, cough, cough).
Off we go:
Quote: Bizarre as this seems to us in the UK, in the states, the teaching of one of science's most robust and well-tested theories is a highly controversial matter.
Bizzare my a**e... Have you ever seen Tony Blair answer to the question in the house of commons on his belief in creationism and should it be taught in schools? Have you by any chance noticed that we have a George Bush Style "Devote" Cristian and a follower of creationism for an Education Minister? Further to that, creationism is now permitted to be taught in schools and schools in the UK are allowed to state that evolution is a supposition and theory same as US? This: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wear/2981663.stm is just one example. It is a product of Blairism and if you have failed to notice it it may be a good idea for you to wake up.
I still chuckle from time to time whenever "In God we trust" comes to my mind. You should see my version of the map of the US of A. To me, it seems the whole religion thing in the government is strictly to be on the good side of all those who fall out of my version of the map. On a more serious note: any moderately religious family will take their kids to church (or their religion's equivalent) from a young age. Evolution is taught at school maybe starting in grade 7, but seriously in higher grades. Don't you think by that time kids will already know the theory of creation inside-out? No wonder the States have noticeably decreased in scientific output since the Space Race. Where'd the money go? Doing God's work, across the Atlantic.
Thanks for printing the tip about the NAS anti-creationism website. There's a spin on the latest anti-evolutionary threat, Intelligent Design, that the Register should enjoy taking. That is, if evolution is "only a theory", then so is ID, and the two theories make distinct predictions: ID predicts the absence of "stupid design", while evolution predicts equal amounts of clever and stupid designs, as long as they increase the reproductive success of the organisms they appear in.
Of course, stupid designs in nature far outnumber the miraculously intelligent ones, starting with the human appendix and tailbone, ranging across non-functional foot bones in whales, to joke animals like the dodo and the platypus, to molecular features like "junk DNA" and vitamin-C processing genes that are broken *in the very same way* in humans, apes and monkeys. If there was a creator, he/she/it sure was a bungler!
Worrying, isn't it, that half the inhabitants of an allegedly sophisticated nation prefer to believe that we were all put here by a benign cosmic being? They never explain how He arrived, I notice... (although my own thought is that he appeared after the last stroke of midnight following the previous Big Crunch, making it the Big Bong hypothesis).
However, your piece does perhaps lend a clue as to the Americans' difficulty with global warming. If we're having such an effect on the planet, then maybe we're not being so well looked after by the Almighty, after all. Unless, of course, He's just punishing us for our carelessness, the worst offenders being.... oh dear.
I am afraid your characterization of theory in science is incorrect. The correct characterization is quite close to normal usage and is even stronger for refuting our American Taliban.
In science, all theories are current working models of our understanding of reality. Newton is just a theory. Einstein is just a theory. Maxwell is just a theory. They are always unproven approximations. We can never prove a scientific theory correct. We can only prove them wrong. (See Karl Popper) Mathematical theories can be proven correct, but mathematics statements are all tautologies and say nothing. (see Wittgenstein's Tractatus). (Science does use mathematics to make arbitrary mappings between mathematical symbols and concepts in reality, but this is something different.) Theories never represent "Truth." Only a working model. The task of every scientist then is to construct experiments to break a theory. We succeed when we can prove a theory wrong. It is only by understanding the bounds of our theories that we increase our understanding of the World.
Consequently, scientists are the biggest failures in the professional world. We only succeed when we disprove a theory. Just think of all the experiments that have "failed" by confirming the hypothesis. ;-) Of course those "failures" have given us much of modern world.
So how does this refute those who want to teach theories other than Natural Selection, such as Intelligent Design?
In science, we only consider theories that we can prove wrong. If we can't find experiments that will invalidate them, then they aren't scientific. (This is a major concern in some of the string theory work currently going on. We have these wonderful explanations, but we don't know how to test them.)
So let the fundamentalists tell us what experiments we must perform to prove Intelligent Design wrong. What you say, they aren't any! Then fine, you can talk about Intelligent Design elsewhere, but not in science. In science we only talk about theories that can be proved wrong.
So you see, they are all *just* theories! ;-)
Take care, John Day
Take your point, but we wanted to draw a clear line between a hypothesis and a theory, as this line is so often blurred.
"Bizarre as this seems to us in the UK, in the states, the teaching of one of science's most robust and well-tested theories is a highly controversial matter."
Of course, it isn't tested at all, let alone well-tested. Variation within a kind (a closely-related group of species) is well-established, observed fact; but this is only variation within an existing gene pool.
If the varied species are allowed to mix, the differences will be merged back. Even without mixing, the changes in Darwin's finches are not unidirectional; they shorten and lengthen their beaks according to variations of climate and environment. However, they never cease to be finches. The hypothesis that whole new kinds of animals have developed from other "more primitive" kinds is incapable of being tested because the supposed timespan is hundreds of thousands to millions of years. Just who has been around to conduct these experiments in order to make evolution a well-tested theory?
Still less has there been any experimental evidence of abiogenesis (the spontaneous generation of life from non-life), and the lack of any credible mechanism for that has led supposedly sane scientists to postulate seeding by aliens and space spores (they don't ask by what method that alien life is supposed to have arisen from non-life).
The weaknesses in evolutionary theory were obvious to most people when it was first proposed. It is only since the 1950s that it has really become accepted by most people and that not on the basis of real evidence but because there is no alternative theory that does not involve a creator.
Men are desperate not to admit the existence of God and therefore face the prospect of being held to account for their misdeeds; they will accept any illogic in order to avoid that.
Creationists and evolutionists look at the same set of facts but interpret them according to different world views (that is, the sets of axioms that you take as not needing proof). The creationist accepts that God exists and is utterly reliable and that he has revealed himself in the Bible.
Therefore he takes the biblical account of creation and the flood as true, and then interprets the evidence in the light of that. The evolutionist starts by assuming that God does not exist (or that he has no interaction with the physical world, which comes to the same thing). He is therefore forced to postulate hypotheses that will (supposedly) work without divine intervention, no matter how outrageously improbable they are.
It is not really possible to convert someone from one worldview to another on the basis of any evidence. All we can do is to see which worldview is most consistent with the evidence (which is the same for both).
Creationists consider that our world view is far more consistent with the actual evidence and makes far less demand on the credulity of its adherents.
The reactions of outrage by evolutionists that creationists should even dare to exist are strong evidence that their chief objections are religious rather than scientific; their comfortable atheistic faith is being threatened and they react in the same way as the Inquisition did.
They are very rarely willing to debate, but want their version to be accepted as dogma. If they had the power to adopt the Inquisition's more extreme measures, I suspect that some of them would do it.
"Of course, writing off evolution as a 'mere theory' demonstrates a very clear misunderstanding of the meaning of the word "theory" in science. In everyday language, theory is synonymous with conjecture. Not so in science..."
The intended audience for statements about 'mere theory' is not scientists but the general public, for whom everyday language is the most appropriate.
However, to put it in scientific terms, the development of life from non-life and the proliferation of all existing life from a primitive first ancestor is an untested and untestable hypothesis which depends on a huge number of dubious assumptions that violate other well-established theories, in particular the laws of thermodynamics and the universally-accepted fact (universally-accepted, that is, in all other walks of life) that meaningful information can only be produced by intelligence.
Folks wishing to consider both sides may be interested in the book Darwin's Black Box, by Michael J. Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University. Behe presents the idea of Irreducible Complexity, which means that certain mechanisms in nature, such as the eye, cannot fulfill their purpose at all unless they exist in complete form. He uses a mousetrap as a simple analog: if you take away any one part, it doesn't simply become less effective, but rather doesn't work at all, and he maintains that such mechanisms cannot evolve.
We can't let this one go by without mentioning that the argument that an eye must evolve in its completeness in one step has been rather neatly refuted. Computer simulations have shown that an entire eye can evolve in 400,000 generations. The researchers began with a simple photo sensitive cell, allowing for mutations at a reasonable rate, with only those that improve the performance (ie. ability to detect light) of the 'eye' being retained.
Half an eye is bucket-loads better than no eye at all.
Objective Science is based upon observations. The only observations that can be made about the past rely on historical (documentary) evidence of eyewitnesses or on the interpretation of currently available physical data.
Scientific theories are conjectures based upon interpretations of the data, and therefore are never "proven", but merely supported or not by such interpretations. Scientific theories have a habit of going by the wayside in the light of new interpretations. Indeed, the interpretations depend upon the starting assumptions (axioms). If you start with millions of years you find ways to accommodate the evidence to it. As no-one was there, Evolution is based on faith, just as much as Creation. The only problem is that the Creationist has documentary evidence to validate the observations.
The debate against creation is fuelled not by a desire to arrive at objective truth, but by an overwhelming desire to remove the Creator from the picture. For to admit to that would require recognition of just who we are and how far we have fallen.
I was disappointed that a person in a country so loving of diversity would take such a visceral attitude towards those who believe in creation. These people, no matter how ignorant they may seem, are taking legitimate routes to promote their legitimate points of view.
The fact is that only microevolution has been observed. Macro, Stelar, Planetary, ect. evolution has never been observed. This does not negate the possibility of it existing, it merely shows that it is not observable or repeatable in a controlled environment. We have also never observed new information in the genome. Everything we have observed is a variation of what already exists. Never has a helpful mutation (that introduces new information) ever been observed. Once again, this does not negate the possibility. It merely weakens the theory.
The point? Creation is religion. Evolution is not totally proven (or provable for that matter). Neither should be taught in the classroom.
I'm sure you will get lots of mail on this, but you have not quite grasped the non-evolutionist view.
In essence we object to a simplistic view being taught - one that says that evolution is one united, complete and unargable whole.
We object since there are many different beliefs amongst evolutionists, and some are mutually incompatible. We think that this should be reflected in teaching. As time progresses, scientist may remove the incompatibilities or superceed them (eg from physics: Hawking's black holes, or the waves outside the universe, both of which have been in the news recently).
As a creationist I would add that the evidence of mutations adding to genetic information, rather than subtracting from it, is too thin to sustain the theory, but that is just one view out of a range.
Article Last Updated: 06/13/2005 11:46:52 PM
The intelligent design movement has been wholly misunderstood in this Public Forum. ID is not just a fancy way of describing literal biblical creationism. It is far different.
I took a science and religion class this past semester at Utah State University. We talked about ID as well as many other views about evolution. There are two parts to evolution: 1) descent with modification, and 2) through random mutations.
Literal biblical creationism disagrees with both points, but ID agrees with the first. It says there are many organisms that could not have evolved to their present state through random mutations, so there must have been an intelligent being that oversaw, or guided, the process. But again, it believes in the Big Bang, it believes life formed millions of years ago, and it believes humans evolved from monkeys, just not randomly.
ID does not disagree with science. It simply has created a different theory based on the same observations as evolution. Please learn about what is being discussed before offering your opinion.
Posted on Tue, Jun. 14, 2005
State was first to incorporate critical analysis of evolution
Kansas is getting a lot of attention as it considers adopting science standards that call for studying what some call the shortcomings of evolution.
But it is not the first state to do so. Ohio receives that designation.
When Ohio adopted science standards in December 2002, both sides in the debate claimed victory. That's because evolution proponents read compromise language in the standards one way, while intelligent design proponents read it quite another.
But there is no debate over which side won in March 2004 when the Ohio Board of Education approved a lesson plan for teachers on how to critically analyze Darwin's theory.
"Of course scientists are not against critical analysis," said evolution defender Patricia Princehouse. She teaches evolutionary biology and the history and philosophy of science at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "That would be like the Chiquita company being against bananas. But this is not critical analysis. These are well-known creationist lies about science."
A national group that promotes intelligent design, however, sees the lesson plan as "a splendid example of how you can do something that is based on good science and good pedagogy" without treating Darwin's theory "like it's some sort of sacred dogma. We would think that something similar in Kansas would be a great result," said John West, a senior fellow with the Seattle-based Discovery Institute.
On Wednesday the Kansas Board of Education will receive a report recommending that new teaching standards include strong criticism of evolution. The report from a three-member board subcommittee stops short of endorsing intelligent design, the theory that the universe is too complex to be explained by natural causes alone.
Watching both Ohio and Kansas is Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The Washington-based group has joined with the American Civil Liberties Union in a lawsuit against a school board in Dover, Pa., which included intelligent design in its curriculum. That case, pending in federal court, has attracted national attention.
Intelligent design proponents have tried to distance themselves from creationism because the courts have ruled that teaching creationism is unconstitutional, said Robert Boston, a spokesman for Americans United.
Deborah Owens-Fink, an Ohio board member who promoted the intelligent design view, said the standards and the lesson plan have nothing to do with creationism. Owens-Fink said she was not concerned about possible litigation.
The man who ignited the debate over the standards in Ohio was John Calvert of Lake Quivira.
In the Kansas debate, Calvert is the attorney for eight members of the 26-member science standards committee who want students to study evolution more critically.
Ohio began work on its standards in 2001. It was the same year that Calvert retired early from the Lathrop & Gage law firm to devote his time to the Intelligent Design Network of Shawnee Mission, which he had co-founded.
On a cold January night in 2002, Calvert was in Columbus, Ohio, to address the standards committee of the Ohio Board of Education. The committee is comprised of about half of the state board's 19 members.
One of them, evolution defender Martha Wise, remembers Calvert well.
"I sat through his half-hour presentation and thought, 'What is he talking about a higher power?' During a break, I remember going over to some people who are recognized as our Ohio Academy of Science and I said to them: 'It sounds like he is talking about God' and they said: 'You got it.' I was flabbergasted."
Also in the audience was Robert Lattimer, a chemist and leader of an Ohio group set up to lobby the board for more criticism of evolution. Lattimer met Calvert in the summer of 2001, when Calvert's group was host of a seminar in Kansas City.
Evolution defenders heard about Calvert's appearance in advance, Lattimer said.
"They were just really aghast that they (the committee) would let this guy come in from Kansas and challenge evolution," Lattimer said.
But Owens-Fink and other members of the Ohio board were impressed enough with what Calvert said to agree to hold a debate between proponents of evolution and intelligent design.
The evolutionists were represented by biologist Ken Miller of Brown University and Lawrence Krauss, chairman of the physics department at Case Western Reserve University. The intelligent design side was represented by Stephen Meyer and Jonathan Wells of the Discovery Institute.
Early on, some people in Ohio wanted to require the teaching of intelligent design, said West, of the Discovery Institute. "When we got involved, we made it very clear we didn't want that."
Instead, Meyer proposed that teachers "teach the controversy" over evolution. The idea was not new to Discovery Institute leaders, West said, "but it might be correct to say it was the first time it rose to national prominence."
The debate in Ohio drew so much attention that the state board was inundated with 40,000 e-mails, letters and petitions, said Owens-Fink, the board member who promoted the intelligent design view. That kind of pressure, many agreed, helped push the board in October 2002 to insert language into the standards that said: "Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolution."
When the Discovery Institute immediately claimed victory, Wise said, she negotiated additional language that said the October clause did not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design. The board included that language when it approved the standards unanimously in December 2002.
But the controversy did not end there.
A committee then began working on suggested lesson plans for teachers who wanted help implementing the standards. By late 2003, rumors began circulating of lesson plans that contained intelligent design concepts. The board ended up approving one of the plans that called for critical analysis of evolution.
Calvert says Ohio now has standards that are friendlier to intelligent design than any other state. But Kansas will take over that spot if its board adopts the subcommittee's report, which does not specifically mention intelligent design but spreads concepts related to it throughout the proposed standards. A decision is expected later this summer.
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TOPEKA, Kan. - Evolution is an "age-old fairy tale," sometimes defended with "anti-God contempt and arrogance," according to a State Board of Education member involved in writing new science standards for Kansas' public schools.
A newsletter written by board member Connie Morris, of St. Francis, was circulating on Monday. In it, Morris criticized fellow board members, news organizations and scientists who defend evolution.
She called evolution "a theory in crisis" and headlined one section of her newsletter "The Evolutionists are in Panic Mode!"
"It is our goal to write the standards in such a way that clearly gives educators the right AND responsibility to present the criticism of Darwinism alongside the age-old fairy tale of evolution," Morris wrote.
Morris was one of three board members who last week endorsed proposed science standards designed to expose students to more criticism of evolution in the classroom. The other two were board Chairman Steve Abrams, of Arkansas City, and Kathy Martin, of Clay Center.
Morris was in Topeka for meetings at the state Department of Education's headquarters and wasn't available for interviews.
But her views weren't a surprise to Jack Krebs, vice president of Kansas Citizens for Science, an Oskaloosa educator.
"Her belief is in opposition to mainstream science," he said. "Mainstream science is a consensus view literally formed by tens of thousands people who literally studied these issues."
The entire board plans to review the three members' proposed standards Wednesday. The new standards - like the existing, evolution-friendly ones - determine how students in fourth, seventh and 10th grades are tested on science.
In 1999, the Kansas board deleted most references to evolution from the science standards. Elections the next year resulted in a less conservative board, which led to the current, evolution-friendly standards. Conservative Republicans recaptured the board's majority in 2004 elections.
The three board members had four days of hearings in May, during which witnesses criticized evolutionary theory that natural chemical processes may have created the first building blocks of life, that all life has descended from a common origin and that man and apes share a common ancestor. Evolution is attributed to 19th Century British scientist Charles Darwin.
Organizing the case against evolution were intelligent design advocates. Intelligent design says some features of the natural world are so complex and well-ordered that they are best explained by an intelligent cause.
In their proposed standards, the three board members said they took no position on intelligent design, but their work followed the suggestions of intelligent design advocates.
In her newsletter, Morris said she is a Christian who believes the account of creation in the Book of Genesis is literally true. She also acknowledged that many other Christians have no trouble reconciling faith and evolution.
"So be it," Morris wrote. "But the quandary exists when poor science - with anti-God contempt and arrogance - must insist that it has all the answers."
National and state science groups boycotted May's hearings before Morris and the other two board members, viewing them as rigged against evolution.
"They desperately need to withhold the fact that evolution is a theory in crisis and has been crumbling apart for years," Morris said.
But Krebs said Morris is repeating "standard creationist rhetoric."
"People have been saying evolution is a theory in crisis for 40 or 50 years," Krebs said. "Yet the scientific community has been strengthening evolution every year."
On the Net:
State Board of Education: http://www.ksbe.state.ks.us
by Rebecca Barnes | posted 06/13/2005 09:30 a.m.
Eighty years after the infamous Scopes "Monkey Trial," Kansas has reopened a national debate over school science standards. Hearings were convened on May 5 by the state board of education to determine whether current criticisms of evolutionary theory may be taught in public schools.
Proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) had the stage to themselves.
A pro-evolution group, Kansas Citizens for Science, boycotted the meetings, saying they were a thinly disguised assault on atheism. Pedro Irigonegaray, a Topeka attorney retained by the board to defend the current science standards, characterized Intelligent Design scientists as repackaged creationists.
The theory of evolution holds that all life developed via natural selection to its present diversity over billions of years. Intelligent Design holds that natural selection cannot account for the complexity of life.
"An intelligent design by definition requires a designer," Irigonegaray told CT. "I just disagree that science should involve a supernatural answer. I think it is essential that science remain neutral."
Board chair Steve Abrams told CT that while the subject has obvious religious implications, "the objective is to minimize the religion and politics and focus, as much as possible, on the science education." This summer the board is expected to approve teaching critical of evolution.
At least 13 states are looking at legislation requiring a more critical stance toward evolution in the classroom, or allowing alternative theories to be taught.
Jonathan Wells, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle think tank that advocates Intelligent Design, told CT that he does not favor teaching students about ID because the theory is not fully developed yet.
The Discovery Institute notes that the No Child Left Behind Act requires every state to implement statewide science standards by the 2005-06 school year. Thus, many states are looking afresh at the issue of origins.
Copyright © 2005 Christianity Today
Posted on Fri, Jun. 10, 2005
proposal sent to Kansas board
TOPEKA Teaching standards in Kansas should include strong criticism of evolution, a three-member panel of the state Board of Education formally recommended Thursday evening.
The panel, which recently led hearings on the matter, proposed changes that would alter the state's teaching standards to include perceived flaws in the theory of evolution. The changes stop short of endorsing the idea of intelligent design, a belief that some aspects of the natural world can be explained only as the work of a creator.
Critics of the changes say they open the door to the teaching of creationism in public schools.
The proposed standards now go to the full Board of Education, which meets next week. A vote on the science standards is expected later this summer.
In the changes adopted Thursday, evolution is criticized for not adequately explaining the origin of life or the existence of DNA.
Most of the changes concern one or two words. For example, the original guidelines state how changes in organisms over time "have resulted in variations." The proposed changes would read "may have resulted in variations."
Last month the three-member panel led hearings into the teaching of evolution and heard from nearly two dozen scientists and teachers who professed doubts about the theory. Most were advocates of intelligent design.
John Calvert, a leading proponent of intelligent design, applauded the panel.
"They have adopted some very good changes," he said. "For the most part, they validate what we've been asking for."
Mainstream scientists and science teachers boycotted the hearings, saying evolution is a well-established scientific theory and that religion-based criticism of science has no place in the public classroom. On Thursday, the lawyer who represented them at the hearings said he was disappointed but not surprised.
"It's a very sad day for Kansas education," Pedro Irigonegaray said. "This should not be happening in the year 2005. Science must remain science; faith and religious views should not be brought into the science curriculum."
Board member Connie Morris wants to include more criticism of evolution. She said there are many more criticisms she plans to present to the full board.
Calling the proposed criticism of evolution "a feeble effort," she said "There needs to be more getting the criticism of Darwinian evolution in the standards and in the classroom."
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