NTS LogoSkeptical News for 6 October 2005

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Aries sues over bad horoscope

Reported by AFP, 21 Sept. 2005

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/20092005/323/aries-man-sues-negative-horoscope.html

MONTBELIARD, France (AFP) - A Frenchman born under the sign of Aries who sued a newspaper for giving him an unfavorable horoscope was told he was wasting the court's time and ordered to pay 350 euros (425 dollars) in legal fees.

The man complained about a prediction earlier this year that Arians would "rediscover the emotions of adolescence especially in the field of love, where the desire to have fun will overtake the need to build something longer- lasting."

He told the court that he was a "serious father" and risked being typecast by employers as a "skirt-chaser" and therefore unreliable.

Drawing a Line in the Academic Sand

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/10/06/idaho

In case any faculty members in the natural sciences at the University of Idaho were not sure whether "intelligent design" was fair fare in the classroom, a letter from the president to all employees and students Tuesday put an end to that question.

"Because of the recent national media attention on the issue," reads President Timothy P. White's letter, "I write to articulate the University of Idaho's position with respect to evolution: this is the only curriculum that is appropriate to be taught in our bio-physical sciences." The short letter goes on to allow for the teaching of "views that differ from evolution" in other courses, like religion and philosophy, but not as a scientific principle, which is "testable and anchored in evidence."

The president's letter noted that this view is consistent with the views of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, and dozens of scientific societies.

Harold Gibson, an Idaho spokesman said that White was traveling and unavailable for comment. Gibson said that Eugenia Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, which says it wants to keep "'scientific creationism' out" of the classroom, is speaking on campus soon, and White wanted the university's stance to be clear. Gibson said that if he were a faculty member interested in "intelligent design," he would actually feel better because of the letter. "It clearly states there is a place for teaching of views that differ from evolution, as long as they're in faculty approved curricula," he said.

The pro-"intelligent design" Discovery Institute, in Seattle, did not share his enthusiasm, saying that White is infringing on faculty members' rights to make decisions in their own fields of expertise. David DeWolf, a law professor at Gonzaga University and a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute, said he is used to faculty members disavowing "intelligent design," but that "it's something quite different when the administrator who pays the salaries of the faculty members says in effect, 'You may not do this.'"

White is not the first university head to speak out in favor of evolution. Last week, Bob Hemenway, chancellor of the University of Kansas, distributed a similar letter to employees highlighting "the attack on evolution … across America." He added that evolution, "the central unifying principle of modern biology," must stand as the prevailing scientific idea in order to "raise the level of scientific literacy among our citizenry because we face a critical shortage of scientists in the next two decades."

DeWolf called White's letter "naked viewpoint discrimination," and said the letter seems like a threat to any faculty member who goes against the grain of the scientific community. "I would hope that places like the [American Association of University Professors] would recognize this as an assault on academic freedom."

Jonathan Knight, director of the Office of Academic Freedom and Tenure at AAUP, isn't worried. "Academic freedom is not a license to teach anything you like," Knight said, noting that the letter says "views that differ from evolution may occur in faculty-approved curricula" outside the physical sciences. Knight said that the way to determine if something is scientifically grounded is "by what the community of scholars determines by decades of testing." He added that if a professor "wants to teach that the Holocaust did not occur following writing of David Irving folks in the history community would say that's not well grounded in historic facts."

Scott Minnich, an associate professor of microbiology at Idaho, will testify in coming months in a trial in Pennsylvania where 11 parents sued the Dover Area School District for instituting rules that encourage students to consider "intelligent design." Minnich will testify that the theory is legitimate science. Minnich said he thinks the university has "a right to oversight," and that "the president has a right to show the public that we haven't gone off the reservation here," he said. Minnich said he already adheres "to the rules" in his classroom, and only talks about "intelligent design" if a student raises a question. His concern about the letter is that it might be saying he can't even address questions. Minnich is meeting with White next week to get clarification. "I want to assure him that even if I am a proponent of 'intelligent design,' I'm not using this as part of my curriculum," Minnich said. "A few times students have raised questions, and I respond, and I state my viewpoint, and make it clear it is my viewpoint and not the consensus."

Patricia Hartzell, head of the Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department said she was a little surprised by the letter, because there didn't seem to be any debate among faculty members. She did note that a student evaluation last year said a lecturer who was just filling in for a semester "might have said something not quite in keeping with strictly an evolutionary background," but that it normally is not an issue.

Hartzell said that Minnich is "an excellent scientist, and he doesn't proselytize." She added that some faculty members might feel a sense of relief just to have the university's position outwardly stated, especially with what could be an impending media storm around Minnich when he testifies. "We've been careful to make sure people aren't going into the classroom saying, you've gotta' think about 'intelligent design.'"

— David Epstein

Pa. school district defends intelligent design policy

http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/bpnews.asp?ID=21793

Oct 5, 2005
By James Patterson
Baptist Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (BP)--School officials from Dover, Pa., have begun defending in court their decision to teach ninth-grade students about the controversy surrounding evolution by mentioning the hot-button issue of Intelligent Design.

Opponents of the policy have charged that the school board is using the theory to introduce religion in the classroom, but the school district, which is represented by the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More Law Center, says the curriculum change is not rooted in religion.

The controversy has divided the board and community and drawn national attention to the small eastern Pennsylvania town of Dover, located just outside York. More than 40 reporters descended on the federal courthouse in Harrisburg, where the trial began Sept. 26.

The dispute erupted after the Dover Area School District Board voted 6-3 in October 2004 to introduce its students to Intelligent Design, which holds that the universe and many living things are so complex they must have been created by an intelligent, higher being.

Two months later, 11 parents joined with the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State to file a federal lawsuit against the school district. The suit claims that the school board had religious motives in voting for the Intelligent Design policy.

The new policy made Dover the first school district in the nation to explicitly mention Intelligent Design as an alternative theory to evolution. School science instructors are required to read a four-paragraph statement to ninth-grade students when they begin studying the unit on evolution.

"Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to Intelligent Design. Note: Origins of life will not be taught," the changes to the biology curriculum read in part.

The board also requires that students be told Darwin's theory is "not a fact," and that Intelligent Design is "an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view."

The policy gives Dover students the opportunity to discuss the theories on day six of a 19-day section of biology entitled, "The Study of Life," the York Daily Record reported.

"During this 90-minute period, students will discuss Darwin's Origins of Species and its flaws," the Daily Record said. "The discussion will also be opened up to talk about competing theories, specifically 'Intelligent Design.' Supporting that discussion will be the book, 'Of Pandas and People,' published by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics."

While a majority of the school board initially supported the change, within a month of its vote four board members resigned in protest. Another board member quit two weeks later. When some teachers balked at reading the statement on Intelligent Design to their classes, the job fell to school administrators.

On the first day of the trial, Brown University professor Kenneth R. Miller called the Intelligent Design statement adopted by the district "terribly dangerous," according to The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Miller teaches biology and authored a textbook on the subject. He testified during the non-jury trial that the policy was based on flawed information and was misleading to students.

School board member Alan Bonsell defended the curriculum change, telling a reporter that reading the statement on Intelligent Design to students for discussion was not the same as teaching them religious theory.

John West, associate director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, said in a statement that his organization "strongly objects to the ACLU's Orwellian efforts to shut down classroom discussions of intelligent design through government-imposed censorship."

Tammy Kitzmiller, a parent and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, testified Sept. 27 that by introducing Intelligent Design, school board members were trying to impose their religious views on others.

Former Dover school board member Aralene "Barrie" Callahan told the court that Intelligent Design is "clearly religious." Callahan, The Patriot-News said, testified that Bonsell, "while at a district-sponsored retreat in March 2003, said he 'did not believe in evolution' and that if evolution needs to be part of the science curriculum, it should be balanced out '50-50' with lessons on creationism."

But board attorney Patrick Gillen was able to get Callahan to admit on cross-examination that there were no votes taken during the retreat and it was not an official board meeting.

Michigan State University philosophy of science professor Robert Pennock testified that there are those who believe the Earth's geology was formed by a flood lasting 40 days and 40 nights, which he said is contradictory to modern science. Intelligent Design is a strategy to take the disparate views of different types of creationists and "unite them against a common enemy," he said.

The trial was interrupted briefly over two freelance reporters' refusal to testify about their past school board coverage. Before the first week of the trial was over, however, Heidi Bernhard-Bubb, a reporter for The Dispatch, and Joseph Maldonado, who writes for the Daily Record, agreed to give limited testimony.

The Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture maintains that "some features of the natural world are best explained as the products of an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection."

The New York Times asserted in a series beginning Aug. 21 that a "scattered group of scholars" make up the core of Discovery Institute. The intellectuals have propelled "a fringe academic movement onto the front pages," the paper said, noting that President Bush "embraced the institute's talking points" in early August when he said students should be exposed to more views on man's origin than just evolution.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., addressed the controversy during a National Public Radio online forum on evolution and religious faith in August.

"Evolutionary theory stands at the base of moral relativism and the rejection of traditional morality," Mohler said.

"Debates over education, abortion, environmentalism, homosexuality and a host of other issues are really debates about the origin -- and thus the meaning -- of human life," Mohler said.

The Book of Genesis makes clear that humans are neither "accidents" nor "mere animals living among other animals, for human beings alone are made in God's image," he said.

"The theory of evolution argues that human beings -- along with other living creatures -- are simply the product of a blind naturalistic process of evolutionary development," Mohler added. "... By definition, evolution has no room for the concept of the image of God, for evolutionary theory has no room for God at all."

Judge John E. Jones III will rule on the case after the trial, which is scheduled to continue more than a month.

--30--

Witness: 'Design' replaced 'creation'

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/breaking_news/12827434.htm

Posted on Wed, Oct. 05, 2005

MARTHA RAFFAELE

Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. - References to creationism in drafts of a student biology book were replaced with the term "intelligent design" by the time it was published, a witness testified Wednesday in a landmark trial over a school board's decision to include the concept in its curriculum.

Drafts of the textbook, "Of Pandas and People," written in 1987 were revised after the Supreme Court ruled in June of that year that states could not require schools to balance evolution with creationism in the classroom, said Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Forrest reviewed drafts of the textbook as a witness for eight families who are trying to have the intelligent design concept removed from the Dover Area School District's biology curriculum.

The families contend that teaching intelligent design effectively promotes the Bible's view of creation, violating the separation of church and state.

Intelligent design holds that life on Earth is so complex that it must have been the product of some higher force. Opponents of the concept say intelligent design is simply creationism stripped of overt religious references.

Forrest outlined a chart of how many times the term "creation" was mentioned in the early drafts versus how many times the term "design" was mentioned in the published edition.

"They are virtually synonymous," she said.

Under the policy approved by Dover's school board in October 2004, students must hear a brief statement about intelligent design before classes on evolution. The statement says Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact" and has inexplicable "gaps."

Forrest also said that intelligent-design proponents have freely acknowledged that their cause is a religious one. She cited a document from the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that represents intelligent-design scholars, that says one of its goals is "to replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God."

Under cross-examination by school board lawyer Richard Thompson, Forrest acknowledged that she had no evidence that board members who voted for the curriculum change had either seen or heard of the Discovery Institute document.

The trial began Sept. 26 and is expected to last as long as five weeks.

Prince's report urges alternative medicine on NHS

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/10/06/umedicine2.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/10/06/ixportaltop.html

(Filed: 06/10/2005)

A report commissioned by the Prince of Wales has found that complementary medicine should be more widely available on the NHS, as it benefits both the nation's health and economy.

Treatment such as acupuncture can benefit the economy

The study concluded that people suffering from chronic conditions such as back pain, anxiety and depression could benefit from therapies such as osteopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal medicine.

The report found that patients treated with complementary medicines saw a 30 per cent drop in the number of consultations with GPs and a saving in prescription drug bills of 50 per cent.

Christopher Smallwood, who led the study, said that an increased use of complementary medicine would mean people get back to work quicker, leading to more tax revenue.

Back pain alone accounts for 200 million days lost from work per year, costing £11 billion in lost production.

"The weight of evidence we have examined suggests that complementary and alternative medicines could play a much larger role in the delivery of health care and help to fill recognised effectiveness gaps in healthcare provision," Mr Smallwood said.

The Prince of Wales has long been a supporter of complimentary therapies, setting up the Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health to provide medical treatment linked to complementary therapies. Clarence House welcomed the findings of the report.

"By commissioning this report the Prince hoped to further encourage an informed debate about how an evidence-based integrated approach to health, which draws on the best of both orthodox and complementary medicines, might offer wider benefits," a spokesman said.

The study is calling for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to carry out a full clinical assessment of the cost effectiveness of those therapies identified in the report.

Research into complementary medicines was 0.08 per cent of the NHS research budget in 2003.

The Theory of Stupid Design

http://www.onlinejournal.com/Commentary/100605Fuller/100605fuller.html

By Frank Fuller
Online Journal Contributing Writer

October 6, 2005—The big evolution versus intelligent design trial has started, 80 years after the Scopes trial in Tennessee.

If you don't remember the Scopes trial, also popularly known as the Monkey Trial, John Scopes was found guilty in 1925 of teaching evolution in a Tennessee high school, in violation of the state's Butler Act, and was fined $100. This was a huge affair, probably as big a story as the Michael Jackson trial was this year. Celebrity lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryant came to Tennessee to handle the case—Darrow to defend Scopes and Bryant to prosecute him. It received worldwide press coverage, and it was so well known that it was subsequently made into a Broadway play and later into a fairly good movie starring Spencer Tracy and Frederic March.

All that attention might make you think we learned something, but here we are, 80 years later, still running into the same wall. And wouldn't that make people a little skeptical about something that calls itself "intelligent design?" How intelligent can a design be if it keeps you running into the same wall for 80 years? Not very, I think.

Luckily, however, there is a little known theory that will explain this urge to keep running into that same wall as well as all the other important things in our lives. It is called The Theory of Stupid Design.

What is The Theory Of Stupid Design? It states: "Stupid things happen increasingly often." Another, less precise way of saying this is: "No matter how stupid something may seem, just wait a couple days. Something more stupid will come along by then."

These days, with events changing and developing so quickly, many of us need help understanding the world. The Theory of Stupid Design is one of the best tools for this, because it cuts through all the baggage right to the heart of the matter. Following are a few basic questions many of us have had and how the Theory of Stupid Design resolves them.

How can I get a job like the one at FEMA where, even if I am fired, they keep paying me?

Only through a lifetime of hard work and dedication. If you didn't have the goal as a teenager to want to grow up and be completely indistinguishable from a dead tree and then spend years in pursuit of that goal, you can't do it. The Theory of Stupid Design emphasizes that these opportunities still exist, but only for those who are very focused, who start young, who have the drive to do all the hard work necessary to be about as useful as a dead tree, and then who get to know the right people.

Bill Frist said he had a blind trust. What exactly is a blind trust?

It's magic. It's a financial tool that creates money and keeps you honest at the same time. It eliminates greed. It makes its possessor compassionate and warm. It makes people trust you. It might even cure cancer. No one really knows. But it's there, magically making money for you so you can remain ethical and above reproach. Then one day you get to open it up and you will be rich beyond your wildest dreams. Oh, and honest, too.

William Bennett said the nation's crime rate would go down if we aborted all black babies. Is that true?

No. What would make a difference, though, is if we aborted all white male babies. That really would lower the nation's crime rate. That's because the nation's CEOs, as they age and start dying, would then have no one to pass their secret CEO lore to. This lore is the very ancient knowledge that tells how they screw everyone else except rich white men and their families and get away with it. These secrets are passed down orally, and if one generation of white men is not there to receive this lore, the CEO ways would be forgotten. Thus there would be much less crime rampant in the.

Could I also become a judge by not answering any questions?

Only if you seem like a really nice guy. That's the main thing. It won't work if you're a nice gal or a so-so guy. You have to seem to be a really nice guy. Maybe even a really, really, really nice guy. That way, any criticism of you bounces off you and smears your critics. Since your critics know that is going to happen, they are scared off.

How do I get a lobbyist to take me to Scotland for a round of golf. And will they include some lessons and clubs for me, since I don't play golf?

Well, you have to be sitting on a piece of legislation someone really wants you to pass. Unfortunately, most of us don't have that underneath our butts.

Because it can answer so many other questions as well, this theory is one of the greatest discoveries of our age. But unfortunately, the Theory of Stupid Design also says that nobody will accept this theory. It will be rejected, and when my time comes, I will die in obscurity.

But I am consoled because I know that if it became popular and were taught in schools alongside evolutionary theory, that would mean it would be wrong. The Theory of Stupid Design, in other words, argues against its own acceptance! It clearly points out that a nice person wouldn't come up with such a mean and cynical theory of stupid design. And if you don't come across as nice on the talk shows when you are trying to sell your theory, well, no one's going to listen to you. If you're not nice, you probably won't even get on the talk shows.

So it's destined to end up in the waste bin of history. Eighty years from now, long after I'm gone, we'll again be in court arguing evolution and wanting to throw teachers in jail for teaching it. That same wall will still be there, and we'll still be running into it headfirst. We'll have learned nothing. If you are still around then, remember this: the Theory of Stupid Design predicted it first.

Frank Fuller is a freelance writer whose humor can be read at www.last-laugh.net.

Evolution and intelligent design

http://www.economist.com/World/na/displayStory.cfm?story_id=4488706

Life is a cup of tea
Oct 6th 2005 | HARRISBURG
From The Economist print edition

How should evolution be taught in schools? This being America, judges will decide

HALF of all Americans either don't know or don't believe that living creatures evolved. And now a Pennsylvania school board is trying to keep its pupils ignorant. It is the kind of story about America that makes secular Europeans chortle smugly before turning to the horoscope page. Yet it is more complex than it appears.

In Harrisburg a trial began last week that many are comparing to the Scopes "monkey" trial of 1925, when a Tennessee teacher was prosecuted for teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Now the gag is on the other mouth. In 1987 the Supreme Court ruled that teaching creationism in public-school science classes was an unconstitutional blurring of church and state. But those who think Darwinism unGodly have fought back.

Last year, the school board in Dover, a small rural school district near Harrisburg, mandated a brief disclaimer before pupils are taught about evolution. They are to be told that "The theory [of evolution] is not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence." And that if they wish to investigate the alternative theory of "intelligent design", they should consult a book called "Of Pandas and People" in the school library.

Eleven parents, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, two lobby groups, are suing to have the disclaimer dropped. Intelligent design, they say, is merely a clever repackaging of creationism, and as such belongs in a sermon, not a science class.

The school board's defence is that intelligent design is science, not religion. It is a new theory, which holds that present-day organisms are too complex to have evolved by the accumulation of random mutations, and must have been shaped by some intelligent entity. Unlike old-style creationism, it does not explicitly mention God. It also accepts that the earth is billions of years old and uses more sophisticated arguments to poke holes in Darwinism.

Almost all biologists, however, think it is bunk. Kenneth Miller, the author of a popular biology textbook and the plaintiffs' first witness, said that, to his knowledge, every major American scientific organisation with a view on the subject supported the theory of evolution and dismissed the notion of intelligent design. As for "Of Pandas and People", he pronounced that the book was "inaccurate and downright false in every section".

The plaintiffs have carefully called expert witnesses who believe not only in the separation of church and state but also in God. Mr Miller is a practising Roman Catholic. So is John Haught, a theology professor who testified on September 30th that life is like a cup of tea.

To illustrate the difference between scientific and religious "levels of understanding", Mr Haught asked a simple question. What causes a kettle to boil? One could answer, he said, that it is the rapid vibration of water molecules. Or that it is because one has asked one's spouse to switch on the stove. Or that it is "because I want a cup of tea." None of these explanations conflicts with the others. In the same way, belief in evolution is compatible with religious faith: an omnipotent God could have created a universe in which life subsequently evolved.

It makes no sense, argued the professor, to confuse the study of molecular movements by bringing in the "I want tea" explanation. That, he argued, is what the proponents of intelligent design are trying to do when they seek to air their theory—which he called "appalling theology"—in science classes.

Darwinism has enemies mostly because it is not compatible with a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis. Intelligent designers deny that this is why they attack it, but this week the court was told by one critic that the authors of "Of Pandas and People" had culled explicitly creationist language from early drafts after the Supreme Court barred creationism from science classes.

In the Dover case, intelligent design appears to have found unusually clueless champions. If the plaintiffs' testimony is accurate, members of the school board made no effort until recently to hide their religious agenda. For years, they expressed pious horror at the idea of apes evolving into men and tried to make science teachers teach old-fashioned creationism. (The board members in question deny, or claim not to remember, having made remarks along these lines at public meetings.)

Intelligent design's more sophisticated proponents, such as the Discovery Institute in Seattle, are too polite to say they hate to see their ideas championed by such clods. They should not be surprised, however. America's schools are far more democratic than those in most other countries. School districts are tiny—there are 501 in Pennsylvania alone—and school boards are directly elected. In a country where 65% of people think that creationism and evolution should be taught side by side, some boards inevitably agree, and seize upon intelligent design as the closest approximation they think they can get away with. But they may not be able to get away with it for long. If the case is appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, intelligent design could be labelled religious and barred from biology classes nationwide.

In Intelligent Design Trial Take Barbara Forrest's Testimony With a 'Shaker-Full' of Salt Warns Discovery Institute

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/10-05-2005/0004160863&EDATE=

SEATTLE, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Southeastern Louisiana University philosophy professor Barbara Forrest testified in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial that it is her opinion that intelligent design and creationism are essentially one in the same.

"I hope that the media will critically analyze Forrest's testimony and get our response to her allegations," said John West. "I would warn them to take what she says not with just a grain of salt, but with a shaker-full." "The ACLU's entire case is built on misrepresenting what intelligent design is, and mischaracterizing it as creationism so we're not surprised they called Forrest as a witness," West added.

According to West, creationism is focused on defending a literal reading of the Genesis account, usually including the creation of the earth by the Biblical God a few thousand years ago. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text. Instead, intelligent design theory attempts to empirically detect whether the apparent design in nature observed by biologists is genuine design (the product of an organizing intelligence) or is simply the product of chance and mechanical natural laws.

"The effort to detect design in nature is being adopted by a growing number of biologists, biochemists, physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers of science at colleges and universities around the world," said West. "Scientists engaged in design research include biochemist Michael Behe of Lehigh University and microbiologist Scott Minnich at the University of Idaho, both of whom will testify for the defense, and astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez at Iowa State University."

SOURCE Discovery Institute
Web Site: http://www.discovery.org

Issuers of news releases and not PR Newswire are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content. Terms and conditions, including restrictions on redistribution, apply. Copyright © 1996-2005 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved.
A United Business Media company.

Scholar says intelligent-design text intended as primer on creationism

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002542689_design06.html

Thursday, October 6, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

By Amy Worden

Knight Ridder Newspapers

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A textbook advocating "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolution in high-school science classes was written originally as a biblically based creationist text, a philosophy professor testified yesterday in a federal trial over the teaching of evolution.

Barbara Forrest, who reviewed early drafts of the book, "Of Pandas and People," said the term "creationism" was later replaced by "intelligent design" when the book's first edition was published in 1989.

"My conclusion is that [creationism and intelligent design] are interchangeable, that they are virtually synonymous," said Forrest, who teaches at Southeastern Louisiana University. She was the first witness called by the plaintiffs in the second week of the trial in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

The book, published by the Texas-based Foundation for Thought and Ethics, was originally titled "Biology and Creation" in a 1986 draft. But its authors, Dean Kenyon and Perceval Davis, shifted to the use of "intelligent design" after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1987 banned the teaching of creationism in public schools, Forrest said.

A group of parents in Dover, Pa., sued the School Board after it approved a policy last year requiring that a statement be read in high-school biology classes promoting intelligent design as an alternative to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. The statement also directed students to read "Of Pandas and People" if they wanted to learn more about intelligent design.

Forrest reviewed drafts of the textbook as a witness for eight families who are trying to have intelligent design removed from the Dover Area School District's biology curriculum.

The families contend that teaching intelligent design effectively promotes the Bible's view of creation.

Intelligent design holds that life on Earth is so complex that it must have been the product of some higher force. Opponents say intelligent design is simply creationism stripped of overt religious references.

Forrest outlined a chart of how many times the term "creation" was mentioned in the early drafts versus how many times the term "design" was mentioned in the published edition.

"They are virtually synonymous," she said.

The plaintiffs, represented by a legal team assembled by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americans for the Separation of Church and State, are seeking to halt the practice of representing intelligent design in schools, saying it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Forrest took the stand as an expert in the history of intelligent design, despite strenuous objections from defense attorneys who argued that she was not a scientist and, therefore, not qualified to testify about science.

"She is going to claim that intelligent design is not science but she has no scientific background," said Robert Muise, a lawyer with the Thomas More Law Center, which is representing the school board.

Judge John Jones III ruled that Forrest's scholarly work qualified her to speak about the history of intelligent design.

In cross-examination, attorney Richard Thompson tried to demonstrate that Forrest, a member of the ACLU and several other civil-liberties groups, was motivated by her personal secular beliefs.

He then went on to ask whether the groups to which she belonged were similar to groups promoting intelligent design because they have a mission and espouse alternative points of view.

"No," said Forrest. "They are not promoting a religious view as science."

Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-1811332,00.html

By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.

The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect "total accuracy" from the Bible.

"We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision," they say in The Gift of Scripture.

The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.

Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin's theory of evolution in schools, believing "intelligent design" to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.

But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country's Catholic bishops insist cannot be "historical". At most, they say, they may contain "historical traces".

The document shows how far the Catholic Church has come since the 17th century, when Galileo was condemned as a heretic for flouting a near-universal belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible by advocating the Copernican view of the solar system. Only a century ago, Pope Pius X condemned Modernist Catholic scholars who adapted historical-critical methods of analysing ancient literature to the Bible.

In the document, the bishops acknowledge their debt to biblical scholars. They say the Bible must be approached in the knowledge that it is "God's word expressed in human language" and that proper acknowledgement should be given both to the word of God and its human dimensions.

They say the Church must offer the gospel in ways "appropriate to changing times, intelligible and attractive to our contemporaries".

The Bible is true in passages relating to human salvation, they say, but continue: "We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters."

They go on to condemn fundamentalism for its "intransigent intolerance" and to warn of "significant dangers" involved in a fundamentalist approach.

"Such an approach is dangerous, for example, when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others."

Of the notorious anti-Jewish curse in Matthew 27:25, "His blood be on us and on our children", a passage used to justify centuries of anti-Semitism, the bishops say these and other words must never be used again as a pretext to treat Jewish people with contempt. Describing this passage as an example of dramatic exaggeration, the bishops say they have had "tragic consequences" in encouraging hatred and persecution. "The attitudes and language of first-century quarrels between Jews and Jewish Christians should never again be emulated in relations between Jews and Christians."

As examples of passages not to be taken literally, the bishops cite the early chapters of Genesis, comparing them with early creation legends from other cultures, especially from the ancient East. The bishops say it is clear that the primary purpose of these chapters was to provide religious teaching and that they could not be described as historical writing.

Similarly, they refute the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, in which the writer describes the work of the risen Jesus, the death of the Beast and the wedding feast of Christ the Lamb.

The bishops say: "Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and is not to be interpreted literally. We should not expect to discover in this book details about the end of the world, about how many will be saved and about when the end will come."

In their foreword to the teaching document, the two most senior Catholics of the land, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, and Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrew's and Edinburgh, explain its context.

They say people today are searching for what is worthwhile, what has real value, what can be trusted and what is really true.

The new teaching has been issued as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council document explaining the place of Scripture in revelation. In the past 40 years, Catholics have learnt more than ever before to cherish the Bible. "We have rediscovered the Bible as a precious treasure, both ancient and ever new."

A Christian charity is sending a film about the Christmas story to every primary school in Britain after hearing of a young boy who asked his teacher why Mary and Joseph had named their baby after a swear word. The Breakout Trust raised £200,000 to make the 30-minute animated film, It's a Boy. Steve Legg, head of the charity, said: "There are over 12 million children in the UK and only 756,000 of them go to church regularly.

That leaves a staggering number who are probably not receiving basic Christian teaching."

BELIEVE IT OR NOT

UNTRUE

Genesis ii, 21-22

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man

Genesis iii, 16

God said to the woman [after she was beguiled by the serpent]: "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."

Matthew xxvii, 25

The words of the crowd: "His blood be on us and on our children."

Revelation xix,20

And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone."

TRUE

Exodus iii, 14

God reveals himself to Moses as: "I am who I am."

Leviticus xxvi,12

"I will be your God, and you shall be my people."

Exodus xx,1-17

The Ten Commandments

Matthew v,7

The Sermon on the Mount

Mark viii,29

Peter declares Jesus to be the Christ

Luke i

The Virgin Birth

John xx,28

Proof of bodily resurrection


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

UFO-spotters tell tales of the extra-terrestrial

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051005/od_nm/peru_ufos_dc;_ylt=Ako6QL8j2ESTvdV

LIMA, Peru (Reuters) - One minute Jonathan Reed was hiking with his golden retriever in a forest in Seattle. The next, his pet was being torn apart by a "gray" -- an alien being with an elongated head, smelling of rotting fruit.

A scene from a sci-fi film? No, maintains Reed, a former child-developmental psychologist who says he took the alien home and lived with it for nine days in which it communicated via telepathy and was able to pull thoughts from his mind.

Reed and others -- including Uruguayan Rafael Ulloa who says aliens in spaceships spirited away people from New York's twin towers in the September 11, 2001, attacks -- gather in Lima this week for a world extra-terrestrial congress.

Peru has long been a mecca for mystics and there have been abundant reports of flying saucers, especially over the southern town of Chilca. Some locals reckon aliens imbued mud springs there with special curative and fertility powers.

The congress, organized by the Alfa y Omega group that believes a fleet of UFOs will fly to Earth at the end of the world and Christ could use one for his second coming, during its October 6-9 run will pore over photos and grainy films of bright flashes and spooky shapes they say point to alien life forms.

Retired U.S. air force Lt. Col Donald Ware, 69, told a news conference Tuesday his first contact with aliens was in 1953, when he saw seven spacecraft flying over Washington, D.C. He spotted no signs of extra-terrestrial life during his service, but said he had seen alien craft eight times since retiring in 1982.

'DETECTING THE VISITORS'

Seeing isn't always believing. Wendelle Stevens, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, said he believed in aliens after having investigated 100 cases, despite never having seen any himself. Stevens, thought to have the largest archive of photographs of alleged UFOs in the world, says he worked from 1947-49 in Alaska with B-29 planes fitted with special scientific instruments to "detect the visitors." His work there began the year the U.S. military is believed by some to have hushed up two purported crashes of alien spacecraft within a month. The Air Force denies the stories.

Stevens, who said he did not believe in aliens before his work, said it was his job to debrief the crews of the B-29s and recounted how "the radio frequency spectrum went completely haywire ... and the temperature in the airplane increased. (The crew) looked out and there's a disc next door," he said. He said the crew shot photographs with four different types of camera, but the military suppressed the pictures. No Air Force spokespersons could immediately comment on his remarks. One of the most unusual testimonies comes from Reed on his 1996 experience with the alien he came to call Freddie. Reed, who says he has a bracelet belonging to the extra-terrestrial, said Freddie had skin "almost like that of a pig." It breathed and had red blood, but did not speak. Tests showed he had 46 chromosomes, like humans, but 9 were different and resembled those of dolphins and sea turtles, Reed added.

Aliens enthusiasts and UFO spotters are used to raised eyebrows, ridicule and worse. Reed says he was shot after his alien encounter and blames a "government faction which doesn't want this information out." But his close encounter with the alien with slanting eyes and a slit mouth "proved to me we are living in a much bigger universe," he said.

The End of Homeopathy?

http://www.time.com/time/columnist/jaroff/article/0,9565,1114166,00.html

Web Exclusive | Leon Jaroff

A British Medical Journal has high hopes

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 04, 2005

Millions of people around the world swear by the alternative medicine homeopathy. In Britain, the Royal Family endorses and uses it. But that hasn't deterred the editors of The Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, which has launched an all-out attack on homeopathy. In its current issue, The Lancet published a massive study that compared the results of 110 trials of homeopathy with the same number of trials of conventional medicine. The conclusion: benefits attributed to homeopathy were, at best, placebo effects.

The study is accompanied by an article featuring criticism of a World Health Organization (WHO) draft report that, as currently written, gives homeopathy some leeway, as well as a commentary on bias in research and The Lancet's no-holds-barred editorial comment.

Homeopathy was invented by an 18th Century German physician named Samuel Hahnemann, who argued that diseases could be cured by administering substances, mostly herbs or minerals, that produce the same symptoms as the disease. And, he claimed, the effects of these substances could be enhanced by diluting them. How much? The greater the dilution, it seems, the greater the benefit.

That theory, for which there is not a shred of evidence, is evident in the homeopathic sections of health food stores and major drugstore chains. There, consumers can see, on the homeopathic containers, such notations as 10X, or 80X or even 30C. Each X signifies that the active substance has undergone a ten-to-one dilution, each C a hundred-to-one dilution. Between each dilution, the solution is shaken vigorously, an action that proponents claim transfers the properties of the substance to the surrounding water.

But by the laws of chemistry, at 24 X there is just a 50 percent chance that s single molecule of the active substance remains. And at 200C, the dilution of a popular homeopathic flu remedy, the active ingredient is long gone. What nonsense!

Chances are that The Lancet is somewhat premature in announcing the "death" of homeopathy, which involves a large and very profitable industry and the loyalty of many of the consumers it has duped. In fact, The Lancet notes, ""the debate continues, despite 150 years of unfavourable findings. The more dilute the evidence for homoeopathy becomes, the greater seems its popularity."

But there are encouraging signs. The Swiss Government, after a five-year trial, has withdrawn insurance coverage for homeopathy. Even the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which has been criticized for being too open to spurious alternative medicine claims, has little good to say abut homeopathy. Its website states, "Systematic reviews have not found homeopathy to be a definitively proven treatment of any medical condition."

Now, The Lancet concludes, it's up to the doctors, who "need to be bold and honest with their patients about homeopathy's lack of benefit." For scientifically-literate physicians, that shouldn't be so difficult to do.

Intelligent-design trial resumes today

http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/states/pennsylvania/12818660.htm

Posted on Wed, Oct. 05, 2005

Both sides say the outcome could hinge on whether the Dover school board had a religious agenda in its policy change.

By Amy Worden

Inquirer Staff Writer

HARRISBURG - When former Dover school board member Carol Brown took the stand last week in a federal trial over a change in how evolution is taught, she likened the board's public meetings to "tent revivals," complete with fire-and-brimstone Scripture-quoting and a chorus of "amens."

Brown was the seventh witness to testify that the school board had repeatedly used religious references in discussing policy long before it approved the change last year promoting alternatives to Darwin's theory of evolution.

Lawyers say the testimony supports the plaintiffs' argument that the board showed religious intent with the new policy and in doing so violated the Constitution.

The change was to introduce the idea of "intelligent design." The trial, which begins its second week today, is the first in the nation to focus on the teaching of intelligent design, the belief that the universe is so complex it can have been created only by a supreme being.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans for Separation of Church and State, representing 11 parents from the York County school district, sued over the board's decision to require high school biology students be read a statement saying that "gaps" exist in Darwin's theory and directing them to an intelligent-design textbook for more information.

But in his cross-examination of Brown, Patrick Gillen, a lawyer for the school board, questioned her contention that the board's decision was motivated by religion.

"I just find it odd that you think you know why people voted the way they did," Gillen told Brown.

Gillen, a lawyer with the Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan-based Christian legal center, said in opening arguments the board had no religious agenda, but rather was seeking to promote "free inquiry in education."

Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said the board's actions do not hold up under the so-called Lemon test, outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971.

Ann McLean Massie, a professor of law at Washington and Lee University, said the Lemon test has set a "very solid precedent" for constitutional challenges on religious grounds.

"The Lemon test is the most definitive," she said, because it asks whether something has a "valid secular purpose and that its effect neither advances or inhibits religion."

The decision in Lemon v. Kurtzman overturned a Pennsylvania statute providing financial aid to church-related schools. In its opinion, the court laid out a multipronged test examining the "purpose" and "effect" of actions challenged under the "establishment clause" of the First Amendment, which prevents the government from passing legislation establishing a religion.

The test has been applied many times in similar constitutional cases involving religion, including the two landmark Supreme Court cases in the last 25 years that struck down the teaching of creationism, and most recently in Georgia, where a federal judge ruled in January that schools in Cobb County had to remove stickers on science textbooks saying that "evolution is a theory, not a fact."

Walczak said the issue of motivation is "one of the ways" he feels the plaintiffs can win the case. "The purpose and effect are equally strong," he said of the board's actions.

Walczak also cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case earlier this year over the posting of the Ten Commandments in courthouses in Kentucky that supports the plaintiffs' case in Dover.

In McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, the high court upheld a lower court order that the county remove the Ten Commandments display from courthouse walls because the "predominant purpose for the displays was religious."

"Those cases turned on motivation," said Carl Tobias, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Richmond.

Walczak said his witnesses have testified to something obvious to people on both sides:

"We're talking about religion," he said. "For one side, it's why they want religion taught; and people on the other side, why they don't want religion taught for the same reason."

Contact staff writer Amy Worden at 717-783-2584 or aworden@phillynews.com. This article contains information from the Associated Press.

Intelligent Design? part I

http://www.thetartan.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/10/05/43436f61c8adc

New theory could yield compromise
by Brian Erskine

October 05, 2005

Religion is nothing more than a lack of science. Christians are historic barbarians and contemporary bigots. Unproven "science" is a theory, but unproven religion is a story.

This is the foundation, like it or not, of secular thinkers. In order to build a case against the scientifi c argument, simply tear down their case. Deny and correct the premise of the secular case with science-driven religion. Christianity is a science. Christians do God's work and are unfairly scrutinized. Unproven science is nothing more than a theoretical possibility. Christians don't just talk the talk, but they walk the walk.

This religion vs. science premise will help to explain exactly why Intelligent Design (ID) ought to be taught in our public schools' curricula. ID in a nutshell says that yes, humans have transitioned from less developed beings as stated in modern evolutionary sciences. However, this process could not have taken place without some intelligent, possibly higher being.

A question arises over whether or not this should be taught in our schools as opposed to the far-fetched Darwinism currently endorsed. The point that both positions agree on is that evolution possesses gaps. It relies on an accidental spark of life into the primordial ooze that eventually evolved into humans.

That spark is the point of contention. Credible scientists don't rely on accidents. For them, there is a scientifi c reason behind everything. Dr. Russell Gregory of RU's Philosophy and Religion department accounts for the "intelligence" in his own way.

"As humans, we create by means of our intelligence, so we assume that the universe, with its incredible order, came from some intelligence," Gregory said.

In regards to ID and Evolution being theories, Gregory said, "Gravity and relativity are theories, but that doesn't mean they don't hold water."

ID has a place in the classroom.

"See if there is a way we can teach this ID in its appropriate slot, from a sociological or mythological perspective," Gregory said.

Naysayers will say that ID is an attempt to get one step closer to reinstating creationism into schools. Proponents argue that the reason society has back-lashed so badly against secular science is that its adoption was so abrupt. Schools went from creationism and prayer to Darwinism and monkeys. ID is a step back in the middle.

Secular scientists often employ the rather unscientifi c tangibility test to religion questions. They feel religion is not something they can touch or see. Despite extensive physical evidence, in some twisted way, religion is still intangible. A marked difference exists between the inability to believe and the refusal to believe.

If denouncing secular ideas means being unenlightened, then chalk it up as a compliment. Rather than put on a façade of equality and inclusion from the secular left, be brave enough to embrace a compromise in order to serve the greater humanity and uphold the integrity of conviction.

The results of this fi ght will prove one of two deeper things. Either the all-inclusive, politically correct, multicultural arena of ideas is going to protect this new teaching (ID), or it is going to reject the possibility along with its message of inclusion. This subject may expose the core hypocrisy of a group that has been able to pull the wool over America's collective eye.

Intelligent design is a viable science

http://www.bgnews.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/10/04/4343d672ebfac

U-WIRE SERVICE

October 04, 2005

The Oracle University of South Florida

Creationism vs. evolution is no longer the only game in town. A new contender has arrived: intelligent design.

Since its inception, naysayers have rushed to condemn the theory as warmed-over "creationism in a cheap tuxedo," as Leonard Krishtalka, a professor at the University of Kansas famously dubbed it. The denunciations of intelligent design are again being pounded out by the hour on computers across the country as a lawsuit against the Dover, Pa. school board has brought the issue back into the light.

Schools within the Dover district teach intelligent design alongside evolution. But eight parents in the school district are suing the school board, alleging that teaching intelligent design is a violation of the First Amendment's clause establishing separation of church and state.

The case boils down to: "Is intelligent design a scientific theory or a religious belief?"

The traditional Darwinian bulldogs have been quick to dismiss the theory as non-science. Testifying at the Pennsylvania trial, Robert Pennock — a professor of science at Michigan State University — dismissed intelligent design as a form of creationism that fails to follow the scientific method.

"As scientists go about their business, they follow a method," Pennock said. "Intelligent design wants to reject that and so it doesn't really fall within the purview of science."

Pennock gives the standard response of those who attack intelligent design. They claim it isn't science and so has no place in biology, much less as a competing theory to evolution within the public school system.

Despite the astounding popularity of this criticism of intelligent design, it stems more from ignorance than a cold factual assessment. Intelligent design promoters have offered two criteria to determine whether an organism is a product of design.

First, Michael Behe posited the notion of "irreducible complexity." In his 1996 book Darwin's Black Box, Behe argued that certain organic mechanisms (like the bacterial flagellum) could not be produced through progressive random mutation and natural selection.

A flagellum requires all 40 of its parts to work; it would have had to evolve all of the parts at once in a giant leap, not through slow Darwinian steps.

Any organisms or mechanisms that exhibit irreducible complexity could not be produced through evolution and become candidates for intelligent design.

While intelligent design's first criterion is negative — showing the inadequacy of evolution — its second criterion explains how the theory can positively detect intelligent activity.

In his 1998 book The Design Inference (Cambridge University Press), William Dembski introduced the concept of "specified complexity.

"An event or object that conforms to an independently identifiable pattern and has a low probability of occurrence is an example of specified complexity. For example, if you see a group of leaves on the ground arranged into your name, you assume it was arranged by something intelligent.

The probability the leaves just fell that way is infinitesimal, and the pattern is independently identifiable — it's your name.

What's more, scientists already use the principle of specified complexity.

Archeologists use it to determine which stones are natural and which are tools created by humans. The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) uses it to look for intelligent communication among the surrounding noise of radio waves. It is also used in forensic medicine and cryptography.

These criteria — specified complexity and irreducible complexity — provide intelligent design with a clear method. Scientists test the theory by the criteria and see whether the evidence supports or refutes the theory the same way they can for other scientific hypotheses.

Notice that God hasn't been mentioned anywhere in this piece. That's because God is not a necessary part of intelligent design. Michael Denton, the scientist who jump started the movement, was an agnostic when he penned Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.

Intelligent design is not just dressed up creationism. Those who continue to straw man the position undermine their own academic credibility. People who think dogma is only found in religion should think again.

Just dare to talk about intelligent design with any of your science professors. You'll get a case study in dogma real quick.

Witness: 'Intelligent design' used in book

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/living/health/12824953.htm

Posted on Wed, Oct. 05, 2005

MARTHA RAFFAELE

Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Early drafts of a student biology text contained references to creationism before they were replaced with the term "intelligent design," a witness testified Wednesday in a landmark trial over a school system's use of the book.

Drafts of the textbook, "Of Pandas and People," written in 1987 were revised after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June of that year that states could not require schools to balance evolution with creationism in the classroom, said Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Forrest reviewed drafts of the textbook as a witness for eight families who are trying to have the intelligent design concept removed from the Dover Area School District's biology curriculum.

The families contend that teaching intelligent design effectively promotes the Bible's view of creation, violating the separation of church and state.

Intelligent design holds that life on Earth is so complex that it must have been the product of some higher force. Opponents of the concept say intelligent design is simply creationism stripped of overt religious references.

Forrest outlined a chart of how many times the term "creation" was mentioned in the early drafts versus how many times the term "design" was mentioned in the published edition.

"They are virtually synonymous," she said.

Under the policy approved by Dover's school board in October 2004, students must hear a brief statement about intelligent design before classes on evolution. The statement says Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact" and has inexplicable "gaps."

The trial began Sept. 26 and is expected to last as long as five weeks.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Is Intellegent Design Science? (Part 1)

http://news.baou.com/main.php?action=recent&rid=20556

Editorial/Op-Ed

by Jim Bendewald

MADISON, WI -- (OfficialWire) -- 10/04/05 -- The August 15, 2005 edition of Time magazine has the cover story, 'Evolution Wars'. The article asks the question, "Is 'intelligent design' a real science?" The authors attempt to make the case that intelligent design is not scientific and therefore should not be included in science curriculum or class discussions. This is a common argument among those who are anti-intelligent design. But various congressmen, school board members and citizens are disagreeing.

On September 20, 2005 the American Astronomical Society came out with a statement that summarizes the position taken by evolutionists. The statement says, "'Intelligent Design' fails to meet the basic definition of a scientific idea or theory containing no testable way to verify its central ideas." Is it true that intelligent design cannot be tested?

One well-known intelligent design advocate is William Dembski, a mathematician and philosopher. Dembski defines intelligent design as the science that studies signs of intelligence. He developed a simple formula for testing whether an object was designed or not. His formula for determining design is called specified complexity. Simply put, it's the more an object is both highly specified and highly complex, the more confidence we can have that this object was designed.

Dembski describes "specified" as exhibiting an independently given pattern--a pattern that is recognizable. Dembski describes "complexity" as not being easily repeatable by chance. Let's examine three objects and determine if they have been designed by using the specified complexity formula.

The first object is the likeness of a face on the planet Mars. Is the face specified? Yes, to some degree it is recognizable as a face. An eye, nose and other facial outlines can be identified. However, the picture does not provide a high degree of specificity. Only half of the face is visible. The face is not of a particular person. Is the face complex? To a small degree it is complex, but one could imagine it easily having been formed by wind and shadows. Therefore, specified complexity suggests that the face on Mars, with a small amount specificity and complexity, was not designed, but was formed by natural causes.

The second object is Mount Rushmore. This mountain has four recognizable faces on it. The faces contain details of eyes, eyebrows, ears, noses, hair, jacket; the faces are complete, including the left and right sides. But what makes it even more highly specified is the fact that the faces represent four past presidents of the United States. In addition, it is exceedingly complex. To reproduce Mount Rushmore to the exact size, shape, mass, along with the four presidential faces would be extremely difficult. It is an excellent example of an object that is both highly specified and highly complex. Therefore, the specified complexity model provides us with extremely high confidence that Mount Rushmore was designed.

The third object is DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). Is DNA specified--does it provide a pattern that is recognizable? Yes, DNA's code provides a powerful recognizable pattern that results in a set of assembly instructions for the cell and the entire being. It is a vast information source in the form of a four-letter code. What about the second half of the formula? Is DNA complex? Yes, it provides the most densely compact form of information known to humanity. Even with the best supercomputers, nanotechnology and scientific will, DNA still cannot be duplicated or created. It is a biological language that provides specific directions. DNA is both extremely complex and specified. Therefore, we can have complete confidence that DNA was designed.

Stephen C. Meyer of the Discovery Institute describes information as, "a massless quantity". He then states, "Now if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation explain its origin?" This is not simply poking holes in the notion of a natural cause for DNA information. The evidence is not just a problem for a natural origin, it does not go there; rather it leads to an author, an intelligent designer. This is why the specified complexity formula is powerful scientific evidence for intelligent design.

As seen from above, specified complexity can be tested. In addition, it is falsifiable. All one has to do is provide an example of something that is highly specified and highly complex to know it was not designed, but formed by natural causes. Such an example would show specified complexity to be incomplete, if not altogether false.

Another way to demonstrate that intelligent design is indeed scientific is by the way it is already being used in a variety of scientific fields. SETI, which stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, uses radio telescopes pointed toward the stars with the hopes of finding evidence for intelligent life from other parts of the universe. The SETI program actually discovered pulsars, rotating neutron stars that emit bursts of radio waves. Carl Sagan reports in the video series, Cosmos, that it was once thought that the SETI scientists had discovered an intelligence source or a beacon for extraterrestrial travelers but this was later discovered to be a pulsar--a rapidly rotating neutron star, a remnant of a super nova. The reason for the early excitement was the recognizable pattern! But a pulsar does not provide complexity. Therefore, the phenomenon is natural and not designed, just as predicted by the specified complexity theory.

Archaeology is another example of inquiry that looks for signs of intelligent design. For example, an archaeologist might look at a large rectangular rock and try to determine whether it was formed naturally or by design. Any words found on the rock would provide an extremely high degree of specificity and complexity in favor of design. Another field of intelligence searching is forensic science. These scientists use a variety of clues to determine if a person was murdered or died of natural causes. Another example would be computer science, where one searches for the cause of a computer problem. Was the problem created by a human-developed virus or did the problem arise by natural causes within the inner workings of the computer?

Intelligent design is testable and falsifiable through specified complexity. As shown through SETI, archaeology and computer science, the search for intelligence (intelligent design) is already a major part of scientific inquiry. It is only reasonable to give intelligent design the same scientific status.

This article was originally published online at CreationEvidence and is re-published with permission of the author.

Jim Bendewald, MDiv., is co-author of the book, "Evolution Shot Full of Holes" and developed the CD-ROM, 'Evidence the Bible Is True'. See the evidence he provides for creation at: CreationEvidence and www.EvidencePress.com . You may contact Jim by Email .

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Scientists Come To Defense Of Dover School District

http://www.thewgalchannel.com/learningmatters/5055632/detail.html

POSTED: 12:53 pm EDT October 4, 2005
UPDATED: 1:04 pm EDT October 4, 2005

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- As a judge in Harrisburg considers whether even brief mention of intelligent design should be banned from a York County classroom, some 85 scientists are coming to the defense of the Dover Area School District.

The group has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Kitzmiller versus Dover case, urging the judge to affirm the freedom to pursue scientific evidence "wherever it may lead."

Not all signers are proponents of the intelligent design model, but all agree that "protecting the freedom to pursue scientific evidence for intelligent design stimulates the advance of scientific knowledge."

The brief says a ruling against Dover's policy would have "far-reaching detrimental effects beyond the schoolhouse doors."

Discovery Institute senior fellow David DeWolf says doubts over whether Darwin's evolution theory adequately explains the evidence should be resolved "in the laboratory, not in the court room."

A trial brought by eight families and the ACLU began last week and is to resume Wednesday.

Currently students taking ninth grade biology have to hear an intelligent design preamble before lessons on evolution. If you'd like to read that preamble, http://www.thewgalchannel.com/news/4992665/detail.html .

Intelligent Design Preamble Text

http://www.thewgalchannel.com/news/4992665/detail.html

POSTED: 3:10 pm EDT September 19, 2005
UPDATED: 3:16 pm EDT September 19, 2005

Here is the text of the statement on intelligent design that Dover Area High School administrators currently have to read to students at the start of biology lessons on evolution: "The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

"Because Darwin's theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

"Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, 'Of Pandas and People,' is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.

"With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origins of life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments."

Some find middle ground in science-theology clash

http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/education/story/13661414p-14504301c.html

By Edie Lau -- Bee Science Writer

Published 2:15 am PDT Monday, October 3, 2005
Story appeared on Page A1 of The Bee

Get weekday updates of Sacramento Bee headlines and breaking news. Sign up here.

A biology professor at a Christian college, Jeffrey Schloss is a sought-after voice in the national discussion on intelligent design vs. evolution - which, broadly put, seems to pit God against science.

Until last week, Schloss studiously avoided giving interviews to the news media, choosing to discuss his involvement with intelligent design only in professional conferences or in written commentary.

"I thought the issue was so polarized, I just didn't want to get caught," said Schloss, who teaches at Westmont College in Santa Barbara and is a noted thinker on the intersection between science and theology.

Then Schloss realized that unless people like him spoke up, the public would never get to hear more moderate ideas on the subject - such as the notion that evolution and God are not mutually exclusive; that scientists are not by definition godless nor religion advocates brainless; and that extremists on both sides have been responsible for fueling a feud that need not exist.

"There are polemical extremes that are getting more hostile to each other," Schloss said.

"I'm sad to see that in my own (religious) tradition. I do understand what they're responding to. There are aggressive unbelievers. There are scientists who firmly believe that you can't be a scientist and you can't do science if you are a religious person."

At the same time, he and others say, there's a growing willingness in society to explore the common ground between science and spirituality - as evidenced, Schloss said, by the more than 300 classes in North American universities and colleges today on science and religion.

For that reason, many scientists who believe in God, and theologists who believe in science, lament the either/or tenor of the evolution debate.

"It's setting back the cause," said Robert Russell, founder and director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Russell said he would much rather talk about what he sees as more important ethical issues in science, such as genetic engineering and cloning, species extinction and global warming.

"There are such huge, huge issues out there, that to get sidetracked (on this topic) ... to me, it's just tragic, frustrating, hopeless," said Russell, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ with a doctorate in physics.

The long-simmering evolution debate moved to the front burner last week with the start of a federal court trial in Harrisburg, Pa.

The lawsuit was filed by a group of parents from Dover, a small town in south-central Pennsylvania, who are challenging a school district requirement that high school biology students hear about alternatives to evolution, including the concept of intelligent design.

Proponents hold that life's complexity cannot be explained by the genetic mutations and natural selection forces that drive evolution but instead points to an "intelligent designer."

Leading proponents of intelligent design, such as the public policy group Discovery Institute in Seattle, maintain that intelligent design is not about God. But many observers - including people who believe in some form of intelligent design - say that it is inevitably about a Creator.

A variety of scientific organizations formally oppose presenting intelligent design as a theory on par with evolution, arguing that it simply isn't scientific.

"Science is the study of the natural world by means of mechanisms in the natural world," said Donald Strong, a professor of biology in the Department of Evolution and Ecology at UC Davis.

As such, he said, science does not and cannot address metaphysical questions such as, "Is there a God?"

Those kinds of questions are the purview of philosophy, he said, suggesting that differing beliefs on the origin of life may appropriately be raised in the public schools but not in science class.

"I think it would be an extremely important discussion to hold in a current-events class," he said.

Many scientists and philosophers interviewed for this article - but not all - agreed that the issue belongs outside of science.

Charles Townes, a UC Berkeley astrophysicist who believes in God, said scientists should be - and increasingly are - open to trying to detect an intelligent plan in the workings of the universe.

"This is a very unusual universe," said Townes, who won a Nobel Prize in 1964 in quantum electronics for work that led him to co-invent the laser.

"The laws of science have to be exactly as they are for us to be here at all. It's very striking and fascinating," he said.

"Why did it happen? ... We recognize more and more that it's highly improbable that it turned out this way."

Townes said no one has come up with a rigorous way of pursuing the question scientifically. For now, he said, there is "a lot of thinking, mathematics and talk."

Although Townes believes in intelligent design, he deplores the current debate. In his view, "intelligent design is the reason we have evolution, perhaps. Evolution is part of the design, you see," he said.

Like Townes, Schloss believes science can contribute something to the question of whether the nature of the universe is accidental or purposeful.

That's why the Westmont College biology professor was an early supporter of the Discovery Institute, which was founded in 1990.

Explaining the institute's basic proposition on intelligent design, Schloss said that when visitors walk into Disneyland and see the flowers planted in the image of Mickey Mouse, they intuitively understand that someone arranged the flowers that way. They don't think, he said, that the wind randomly blew the seeds in to resemble Mickey.

"Is there a way we can formalize (that understanding) and make it scientifically rigorous rather than intuitive?" Schloss said. "I think that's a fully legitimate question."

Schloss said that while he supports science applying its tools to the question, he disagrees strongly with the institute's stance against evolution.

"I think evolutionary theory is compatible with faith," Schloss said.

In the end, the debate over evolution and intelligent design is about neither science nor religion, said James Griesemer, a philosopher at UC Davis specializing in the philosophy of biology.

"I think the reason it's so polemical is because the dispute is a political dispute," he said. "That's not to denigrate it - these are important matters. But this is really a political dispute about a clash of values."

About the writer:

The Bee's Edie Lau can be reached at (916) 321-1098 or elau@sacbee.com.

PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE

The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 748 October 4, 2005 by Phillip F. Schewe and Ben Stein

THE 2005 NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS is devoted to optics, with half of the prize going to Roy J. Glauber of Harvard University for his quantum theory of optical coherence, and one-quarter each going to John L. Hall (JILA, University of Colorado and National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, CO) and Theodor W. Hänsch (Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, Garching, Germany; Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany), for their development of ultra-high-precision measurements of light.

In a sense, scientists created lasers before they fully understood their optical properties or could measure their light very precisely. Laser light has radically different properties from the light in a flashlight. For one thing, the light from a laser beam is coherent. If light can be imagined as a wave with peaks and valleys, "coherence" means that the peaks of the various light waves line up in step with one another, or otherwise have some sort of precisely defined, consistent interrelationship (see nice illustration at http://www.technology.niagarac.on.ca/courses/tech238g/images/CoherentLight.gif).

Glauber described optical coherence and the detection of laser light in the language of quantum mechanics (for example, by treating electromagnetic fields as being quantized, or having ladder-like steps of possible energies). Helping to create the burgeoning field of quantum optics, Glauber's theory provided understanding of quantum "noise," jittery and unavoidable fluctuations in the properties of light. This in turn provides information on the limits of measuring light (http://www.aip.org/pnu/1992/split/pnu082-1.htm), as well as understanding optical detectors that count single photons at a time (e.g., http://www.aip.org/pnu/2005/split/720-1.html). Single-photon detectors are important for applications such as quantum cryptography (http://www.aip.org/pnu/2000/split/pnu480-1.htm), the ultimate form of secure transmission which is already in use today.

Meanwhile, Hall and Hänsch developed techniques for measuring the frequency of light to what is currently 15 digits of accuracy. These frequency-measurement techniques helped scientists to devise fundamental definitions of physical units (for example, Hall and others helped to redefine one meter as the distance that light travels in 1/299,792,458 seconds). Measuring optical frequency has also helped to test Einstein's theory of special relativity to record-breaking levels of precision. In addition, optical-frequency measurements have made possible tabletop experiments that search for new physics, such as the question of whether the fine structure constant, the quantity that determines the inherent strength of the electromagnetic force, is changing over time.

Hall and Hänsch are cited in particular for the recent development of the "optical frequency comb technique, " in which ultrashort pulses of light create a set of equally spaced frequency peaks resembling a comb (see http://www.rp-photonics.com/img/comb.gif for illustration; articles on the technique are at http://www.aip.org/pnu/1999/split/pnu434-1.htm, http://www.aip.org/pnu/2005/split/735-2.html, http://focus.aps.org/story/v5/st24, http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-54/iss-3/pdf/vol53no6p19-21.pdf). The combs can be used to measure other optical frequencies with unprecedented precision and ease (and with much smaller equipment than previously possible). They enable better atomic clocks which in turn can make the Global Positioning System more precise. (Nobel Prize website at http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/2005/index.html; Background information to be available at http://www.physicstoday.org/)

PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE is a digest of physics news items arising from physics meetings, physics journals, newspapers and magazines, and other news sources. It is provided free of charge as a way of broadly disseminating information about physics and physicists. For that reason, you are free to post it, if you like, where others can read it, providing only that you credit AIP. Physics News Update appears approximately once a week.

Attachment Therapy Parenting Cited at Murder Trial

http://us.f603.mail.yahoo.com/ym/ShowLetter?box=Inbox&MsgId=9316_4730991_361166_1894_1681_0_78442_3253_3693820774&Idx=0&Search=&PRINT=1&ShowImages=&YY=35773&order=down&sort=date&pos=0&view=a&head=b

The trial of Utah residents Richard and Jennete Killpack for the death of their adopted Black daughter is in its third week. Using Attachment Therapy parenting methods, the Killpacks used forced gorging to train five-year-old Cassandra not to sneak sips of juice. On one occasion, after an estimated one to two gallons was forced down Cassandra's throat, the girl's brain swelled and she died.

Testimony this week revealed that Jennete employed Nancy Thomas parenting methods and that these were later okayed by therapists at Orem's Cascade Center for Family Growth -- an Attachment Therapy (AT) center where little Cassandra was enduring a "two-week intensive" (Attachment Therapy) at the time of her demise. Thomas and Cascade have been mutually supportive over the last five years.

AT and "AT Parenting" work hand-in-glove to take AT into the home, immersing children in a 24/7 environment of pseudoscientific concepts and unvalidated treatment. AT Parenting techniques are taught to lay people (respite workers, adoptive and foster parents) and are based largely on deprivation, humiliation, isolation, and excessive chores, excessive exercise and hours of sitting motionless. "Therapeutic foster parents" employing AT parenting have been known to earn over $80,000/year.

Nancy Thomas is currently the foremost popularizer of AT parenting methods. This one-time dog groomer on the western slope of Colorado, with no professional or academic credentials, has parlayed her experience with Foster Cline, Connell Watkins, Daniel Hughes, and other Attachment Therapists into a worldwide business of books, videos, seminars, and lecture tours on how to recognize and deal with "dangerous," "attachment disordered" children.

Advocates for Children in Therapy (ACT) has gleaned some representative statements from the publicly available writings and utterances of Nancy Thomas. Because of the likelihood that many vulnerable parents may encounter her, we have put them on a webpage so that the public can see the essence of what Thomas promotes:

http://www.childrenintherapy.org/proponents/thomas.html

These direct quotes are by no means all that we found that is disturbing.

And for more information on the Killpack case:

http://www.childrenintherapy.org/victims/killpack.html

AT NEWS sends the latest news/opinions to activists and allied organizations about the many abusive, pseudoscientific, and violent practices inflicted on children by the fringe psychotherapy known as Attachment Therapy, aka "holding therapy" and "therapeutic parenting." Attachment Therapists claim to work with our nation's most vulnerable of children, e.g. minority children, children in foster care, and adoptees. AT NEWS is the publication of *Advocates for Children in Therapy.* For more information on Attachment Therapy and a film clip demonstrating AT, go to the Utah activists' site at http://www.kidscomefirst.info and ACT's website: http://www.childrenintherapy.org.

Contact: Linda Rosa, RN
Executive Director
Advocates for Children in Therapy
Loveland, CO
rosa@ezlink.com


Monday, October 03, 2005

Panel discussion of intelligent design on Tuesday, October 11

http://currents.ucsc.edu/05-06/10-03/brief-panel.asp

By Tim Stephens

The debate over the teaching of intelligent design in public school science classes will be the subject of a public forum on the UCSC campus on Tuesday, October 11, at 7 p.m. in the Stevenson Events Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Advocates promote intelligent design (ID) as an alternative to the theory of evolution, but it is strongly opposed by scientific organizations. The panel discussion is cosponsored by Stevenson College and Veritas Forum, a national Christian organization that organizes forums on college campuses to explore a broad range of issues in relation to religious faith. There will be two panelists in favor of teaching ID in schools and two opposed.

Arguing against the teaching of intelligent design will be David Deamer, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and interim chair of the Department of Biomolecular Engineering, and Rev. Darrell Darling of United Methodist Church in Santa Cruz. Arguing in favor will be Robert D'Agostino, a professor at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, and Paul Nelson, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, a leading organization behind the ID movement.

For additional information about the forum, contact Pamela Urfer at (831) 475-5157.

Intelligent design is back again

http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/1005/1005id.htm

By Daniel M. Ryan web posted October 3, 2005

As reported in the CBC News Website, the Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania is effectively using intelligent design to ram home a point about the theory of evolution by means of natural selection: Darwin and his successors' model of the morphology of life forms is not a fact, it is a theory, by which facts are explained, predicted and (at least possibly) missed or misinterpreted.

Rather than being the thin edge of the creationist wedge, this use of ID sounds more like an introduction of a New-Math-style pedagogy into the study of biology at the high school level.

Perhaps the reason why the oppositionalists to ID are so up in arms is that the introduction of a more evaluative mindset with respect to Darwin's theory brings up the possibility that creationism will follow in its wake. There is certainly nothing on the surface which indicates any stealthy creep towards a theistic pedagogy.

Imagine seeing or hearing this when in a high-school physics class:

"[The standards set by the school board] require students to learn about [Newtonian physics] and eventually to take a standardized test of which [physics at this level] is a part.

"Because [Newton's] theory is a theory, it [has been] tested as new evidence [has been] discovered. The theory is not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist for which there is [contrary] evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

"[More advanced physics has] an explanation of the [workings of the universe] that differs from [Newton]'s view. The reference book, [{any popular book explaining relativity and/or quantum mechanics will fit here}] is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what [post-Newtonian physics] actually involves.

"With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of [physics beyond what's in the syllabus] to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments."

Does this strike you as the kind of notification which would confuse students in the class now, or would it aid in eliminating later confusion in university? Would it spread confusion into the popular culture through the vector of students who never learned advanced physics in university?

In the case of Einstein's Theories of Relativity, it wouldn't; both are too well-known in the general public. In the case of Quantum Mechanics, though, it might, believe it or not.

I have entered into a debate with a person who seriously believes that the fundamental observation of the quantization of the universe implies that a belief in thought transmission (telepathy) is common-sensical. Lest you think that this kind of metaphysical leap is confined to this belief, there are others who insist that time is quantized and that this opens up a theoretical possibility for time travel. All of the people who believe in these possibilities tend to have very high I.Q.s.

And yet, this does not seem to place a serious barrier between the efficacy of such a notice in relation to QM and high-school students. Beliefs of this sort are considered harmless - unlike the belief in creationism, or a theistic variant of Intelligent Design. The above caution is a paraphrase of the one used by the Dover Area School District, with Newtonian physics substituted for the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. (The original text can be found at the bottom of this story)

Why? Part of the answer is, undoubtedly, the embarrassment suffered by American scientists back in the days when some states could (and did) either forbid the teaching of Darwin's theory entirely or mandate the inculcation of skepticism towards it. What a policy for the European to crow over, and to serve as the base for an assertion of ineradicable American mediocrity! What a comedown!

It was, I am sure, even worse in countries where aristocracy still existed. "'The Republic has no need of scientists' indeed, hm-hm?" What an embarrassment.

There is another reason behind the Darwinists' fear of Bible-wielding mobs, which is the aftereffect of previous political campaigns: the initial clampdown on evolution was part and parcel of a Christianization of politics back in the nineteenth century. Starting in the 1830s, the dictum that the United States was intended to be a believers' republic was taken very seriously indeed, and showed up in politics on a recurring basis. Control of pedagogy was only one element of the entire package, which also included: control of immigration; illegalization of alcohol (and some forays made against cigarettes); a statutory clampdown on illicit mind-altering drugs which is still with us today; many and varied blue laws; and even attempted shutdowns of parochial Roman Catholic schools in at least one state.

Those of you who are eager to lump in the Ku Klux Klan with "the right" should be well aware that William F. Buckley, Jr., as he is, is a member of one of their prohibited groups. Yes, the KKK is explicitly anti-Roman Catholic; one of its last successful overt political actions, in the State of Oregon in 1922, resulted in a state bill, aimed at Roman Catholic schools, which mandated all students to go to a public school, which was later struck down in federal court. [You may be interested to know that the Governor of Oregon issued a proclamation clamping down on the KKK that same year, in language which, except for a certain anachronicity in the style, looks current.] Given this, the lumping-together of two antagonistic groups as 'really' being under the same colors can justly be described as...crudity.

What exists of the believer faction nowadays is much more tame than it was. A lot of the outcries against the Moral Majority and its likesake had as their basis little more than memories of the nineteenth century's much more aggressive variant. Details on what it was like can be found here.

If you see the battle against aggressive religionists simply as a fight against overweening religiosity, then you will suspect that the introduction of ID into the high-school classroom is the thin edge of a Methodist/Baptist wedge and be satisfied with such a characterization of it. If, however, you see that old battle as a fight against a continually erupting self-righteousness which coalesces into factions and leaves in its wake absurd laws, then you should ask yourself if the current outcry against Intelligent Design is becoming similar to the fighting and re-fighting of a culture war which ended almost a century ago.

Other criticisms of Intelligent Design can be come up with, such as: "Unlike doing this with Newton, there's no Einstein to straighten the kids out when they hit university; they're left with nothing which would make their curiosity go away. Do you really want a bunch of kids to graduate with 'wide-open' minds? Haven't you people heard that New Math sort-of failed in its goals? If you have, and if you agree that the reason why was its introduction of concepts which were beyond their age to schoolkids, don't you think that there's a risk of Intelligent Design being precisely the same thing? I'm as much a booster of American scholarship as anyone, but..."

Daniel Ryan can be reached at danielmacryan@yahoo.com. (c) 2005 Daniel Ryan

Intelligent Design Debate Hits GUSD

http://www.gilroydispatch.com/news/contentview.asp?c=169490

Monday, October 03, 2005 By Kristen Munson

Gilroy - A lawsuit filed 3,000 miles away has ignited debate among local educators and community members about the teaching of intelligent design theory in public school classrooms. Proponents argue it disproves evolution and deserves a place in science curricula. Critics call it a repackaged version of creationism based on speculation and not fact.

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell adamantly rejected the practice in a press conference Wednesday.

"The introduction of intelligent design theory in natural sciences courses would be a blow to the integrity of education in California," he said in a release. "I will fight to ensure that good science is protected in California classrooms."

The lawsuit was filed by eight families in Pennsylvania who argue that a school board policy requiring teachers to expose intelligent design to students in science classes is unconstitutional, citing that it stems from religious theory and not in accord with the separation of church and state.

Intelligent design is not taught in Gilroy Unified School District and is not included among the state's standards.

The theory was established in the early 1990s and refutes evolution as being able to explain how complex life forms came to be. Instead of following Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, proponents say an unidentified designer is behind creation.

"The reason we don't teach intelligent design is there is no evidence," said Gilroy High School marine science teacher Jeff Manker. "You could mention it as a hypothesis ... I very strongly believe it does not belong in science."

He is a strict evolutionist and does not believe intelligent design theory follows scientific practice where evidence is tested, retested and reviewed by peers before becoming a theory.

"The public use of the word theory and the scientific use of the word are at odds," he explained. "In science, that's as sure as you can be about something ... that's as true as you can get in science."

Evolution is the accepted theory among most scientists. According to evolution theory, organisms produce variety within their species through reproduction. Over time, some mutations allow the organism to better adapt to its surroundings and are continued in the gene pool. Through survival of the fittest, the mutated organisms are dominant and more complex.

But for retired Morgan Hill science teacher Duane Linstrom, most mutations are harmful to a species and that is why he does not believe mutations alone could drive evolution forward.

"Evolution has a lot of holes in it - those things are generally passed (over) in schools," he said. "Very few mutations are good. Mutations do not add information to a cell. They only foul up what's already there."

A former evolutionist, Linstrom began questioning it 30 years ago.

"I used to be an evolutionist, but I'm also Christian. I just figured God made the earth through evolution," he said. "It made so much more sense to me - not from a religious point of view, I was fine with that ... it just made more sense from a scientific standpoint."

According to Linstrom, while proof that a higher being is responsible for creation cannot be proved - neither can evolution - and why, he reasons, it should be taught in public schools as well.

"Nobody was here to see the world created and no one was here to see evolution," he said. "Science is the search for truth and what's considered right at the time tends to change. What was cutting edge in 1925 is a joke today."

Christine McCormack, a nurse practitioner who has a masters degree in biology and two others in religion, believes evolution cannot explain the complexity of the human body.

"Chance could never drive that level of complexity," she argued. "Evolution is an untestable theory. It's not testable because it's about the past. And creationism is in the same boat."

For McCormack, she believes students should be taught all theories so they can critically examine evolution.

"Give them the skills to think critically about any scientific theory," she said.

The argument Manker has heard many supporters of intelligent design make is the structure of the human eyeball.

"(They view) the eye as such a complex structure that it could never happen by chance."But evolution is an extremely long, complicated process that happened over millions of years," Manker said, adding that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old.

"All it takes is one (mutation)," he said. "And lots and lots of time to get that one."

Critics of intelligent design argue that it is religious dogma hidden under the veil of science.

"It's scientific creationism repackaged into secular language," said Dale Morejon, a retired GHS science teacher and consultant for the California Teachers Association. "They leave out words like divine, Bible and God ... The way that they prove their (theory) is by disproving someone else's. That's illogical."

Morejon admits that there are gaps in evolution theory, but doesn't believe they discredit the theory simply because the answers are unknown.

"Not all science is strict fact," he explained. "By deduction we find it. We didn't know blackholes existed (for certain) until we got the equipment to find it ... No one has ever seen gravity, but we know it works. Does that mean we throw it away?" he asked.

He demands evidence to go along with the theory.

"Give me data. Because that's what science is," Morejon said. "Tell me what intelligent design is and I'll teach it, along with wicca, and the Buddhists view, and the Inuits ... in a philosophy class."

Kristen Munson covers education for The Dispatch . Reach her at 847-7097 or at kmunson@gilroydispatch.com.

Defending the concept of intelligent design

http://www.unlvrebelyell.com/article.php?ID=463

David J. Walker, Staff Writer

Nicole Musolino Last week a federal judge in Pennsylvania began one of the most significant cases in almost two decades regarding how the origin of the world is taught in American schools. The case revolves around the concept of intelligent design, which is currently being offered as an alternative to the theory of evolution in Pennsylvania public schools. The inclusion of this concept into the regular curriculum has compelled a group of parents to sue the school district in order to reinstate evolution as the sole theory of creation in the public school system.

The theory of evolution, which is the current standard being taught in our schools, was created in 1859 by Charles Darwin based on his book "The Origin of Species". Almost anyone who has been to a public high school knows the theory of evolution, but few people understand the concept behind intelligent design. The concept is different from evolution because it argues that life was created by an intelligent agent. This concept was introduced to some public schools in 1987 since it offered a viable alternative to evolution while avoiding the constitutional ban prohibiting public schools from teaching creationism. Those who support evolution-only teaching see "intelligent design" as simply creationism fluffed up to dodge the eye of the judicial system. Those who support the intelligent design concept believe it to be an explicitly scientific concept that mentions no identity of who designed it, whether it is God or something else.

Regardless of the result, this case could change the way we determine how our public schools in America teach the origin of the world. Up until now, every school has been required to teach evolution in biology class. After this case, schools might soon start teaching the concept of intelligent design. (I can see those middle schoolers groaning; great, another thing those kids will end up having to study in biology class when they finally become freshmen in high school)

I, for one, don't see the problem with intelligent design that these 11 parents who filed suit have. Whether or not the theory is right or wrong, I'd say add it in simply as an alternative for people to pick and choose. It's not as if Darwin's theory is law. Despite what people say, Darwin's theory will always remain a theory; and, until enough testing is done, it will probably never be made a law. Yet, I see that those who support evolution continue to treat it as if there should be no other viable alternatives that children should learn in class. However, there are still many people in America that do not want evolution taught in class either, yet their ideals (most of them believing in creationism) can't be taught in schools due to a constitutional ban.

Now, those same evolution supporters have begun to put a ban on intelligent design, despite its obvious secularity. As the supporters said, it has no mention of religion, and does not reveal the identity of the intelligent agent behind the intelligent design theory. For all they know, it could very well be a "big bang" as Darwin expected or it could be by God. Intelligent design at its basis has proven to be a fine compromise between those in America who want God and creationism to be taught in schools and those who want Darwin's theory of evolution to be taught.

Intelligent design is just that: a compromise between the two most popular theories of how the world started and, at a time where compromise is few and far-between and polarization very common, we could use something in the middle to teach to children. Intelligent design may be the secular version of creationism, but it's still secular and still constitutional under the First Amendment. It does not cross the line between church and state, and allows an alternative to get people thinking of what could have happened at the beginning of the world. It is just another theory. It's not a law, just a theory.

Sure, high schoolers might have to learn a little more, but at least everyone will get some say in their beliefs as to how the world started, in their own viewpoint. Whether you believe in evolution or creationism, the intelligent design theory creates a line that allows an alternative to the standard evolution theory while keeping the bounds between church and state intact.

Copyright © 2005 The Rebel Yell


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Theologian says intelligent design is religion

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9543398/

Catholic professor testifies on behalf of school policy's foes

Updated: 11:13 p.m. ET Sept. 30, 2005

HARRISBURG, Pa. - "Intelligent design" is vastly similar to creationism and should be taught as religion, not science, a Catholic theologian testified Friday, on the fifth day of a trial over whether the concept belongs in a public school science curriculum as an alternative to evolution.

Georgetown University theology professor John F. Haught said that while intelligent-design proponents do not explicitly identify God as the creator of life, the concept is "essentially a religious proposition."

"I understand it to be a reformulation of an old theological argument for the existence of God," he said.

Haught testified as an expert witness on behalf of eight families who are trying to have a reference to intelligent design removed from the Dover Area School District's biology curriculum. The families contend that it effectively promotes the Bible's view of creation, violating constitutional guarantees on freedom of religion.

Under the policy approved by Dover's school board in October 2004, students must hear a brief statement about intelligent design before classes on evolution. It says Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact," has inexplicable "gaps," and refers students to an intelligent-design textbook for more information.

Intelligent-design supporters argue that life on Earth was the product of an unidentified intelligent force, and that natural selection cannot fully explain the development of complex life from simpler forms.

No conflict between science and religion? Haught said there is no conflict between science and religion because they represent different levels of explanation for phenomena.

"When we have a failure to distinguish science from religion, then confusion will follow," Haught said. "Science and religion cannot logically stand in a competitive relationship with each other."

During cross-examination, Richard Thompson, a lawyer representing the school district, asked Haught to draw distinctions between intelligent design and creationism.

Haught conceded that not all intelligent-design supporters literally interpret the Bible, but said the two concepts only differ "in the same sense that an orange is different than a navel orange."

The plaintiffs are represented by a team put together by the American Civil Liberties Union, and the school district by the Thomas More Law Center, a public-interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., that says its mission is to defend the religious freedom of Christians.

The trial is scheduled to resume Wednesday and is expected to last as long as five weeks.

© 2005 The Associated Press

Witnesses Declare 'Intelligent Design' Is Religious As US Court Battle Continues

http://www.christiantoday.com/news/america/witnesses.declare.intelligent.design.is.religious.as.us.court.battle.continues/441.htm

A federal court in the US has heard testimony from witnesses regarding the role religion played behind decisions to include "intelligent design" in a Pennsylvania school district's curriculum.

Posted: Saturday, October 1 , 2005, 12:45 (UK)

A federal court in the US has heard testimony from witnesses regarding the role religion played behind decisions to include "intelligent design" in a Pennsylvania school district's curriculum, as the third and fourth days of the case over the controversial theory continued.

A professor of science and philosophy at Michigan State University testified on Wednesday morning that intelligent design was a "religious concept," while witnesses later that day said religion played a large role to include it. On Thursday, a former board member said regular administration procedures were not followed in passing a new policy endorsing ID.

The Rev. Jim Grove, left, addresses a small gathering of people before showing a video on what Creationism is in Dover, Pa., Thursday, Sept., 29, 2005. A civil trial is underway in a lawsuit against the Dover Area School District, which is requiring ninth-grade students to hear about intelligent design in a statement introducing biology lessons on evolution. (AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower)

"Even if [proponents] don't explicitly say 'God'... and simply say a 'transcendent power,' intelligent design is a religious concept," said Robert Pennock, the Michigan state professor, testifying for the plaintiffs in a case against the Dover Area School District, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Pennock is the second scientist to take the stand for the plaintiffs.

The Dover intelligent design case is one of the most significant cases regarding creation and evolution in nearly two decades, according to some observers. Plaintiffs in the case are parents who are against the decision by their local school board to include a statement before a ninth grade biology class naming intelligent design as a scientific alternative to the evolution theory.

Opponents say the theory of intelligent design is veiled creationism. The theory holds that some aspects of the universe and living organisms are so complex that it points towards an intelligent agent that created them. The theory stops short of identifying the intelligent agent.

In Wednesday morning's session, under questioning by a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Pennock said that intelligent design was creationism under a new name. He said the theory was part of a strategy to replace science with religion, according to the York Dispatch.

The professor described that within Christianity, there are "factions" who disagree on the age of the earth and when it was created but that intelligent design was trying to become a movement that united the various creationist movements "against a common enemy" which he said was evolution and modern science, according to the York dispatch.

Lawyers then presented Pennock with a magazine article from Christianity Today that quoted prominent intelligent design proponent Phillip Johnson as saying that Christians should first let people agree that there is a creator and later debate the age of the earth.

Under cross-examination by Patrick Guillen, an attorney with the Thomas More Law Centre – the Christian non-profit legal group defending the Dover Area School District in the case – said that just because a proponent says something is religious, doesn't make it so.

Proponents of intelligent design say that their scientific approach relies only on observable facts.

Gillen also had Pennock establish that a scientific theory is not religious only because it is compatible with a certain religion, according to the York Dispatch.

In Wednesday afternoon's session, plaintiffs' lawyers questioned witnesses to bolster previous witnesses' testimony that some Dover board members had religious intent in passing the intelligent design endorsement policy.

Christy Rehm of Dover said that board member William Buckingham made comments such as one where he said that the nation was "founded on Christianity," another that college students were "brainwashed" and that "liberals in black robes are taking away freedom in schools," according to the Inquirer.

Another parent that testified on Wednesday afternoon was Beth Eveland, who said was "utterly shocked" when board member Buckingham made a reference to "2000 years ago," when "someone died on a cross," according to the York Dispatch.

Reporters for the York Dispatch attributed the words, "two thousand years ago somebody died on the cross, can't somebody stand up for him," to comments Buckingham made during a school board meeting. Since then, there has been a controversy, with the board member denying he said it. The journalists will be called as witnesses before the court.

On Thursday, Carol Brown a former school board member who opposed the inclusion of intelligent design, said she resigned in protest after the new policy was instituted. She also said that the school board had not followed school procedures in accepting the policy by not creating a curriculum advisory committee that includes the members of the public.

Francis Helguero Christian Today Correspondent

For the Anti-Evolutionists, Hope in High Places

October 2, 2005 By GEORGE JOHNSON

EXCEPT for the robes and the fact that each is addressed as "His Holiness," it would be hard to find much in common between Pope Benedict XVI and Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. Yet both have recently expressed an unhappiness with evolutionary science that would be a comfort to the Pennsylvania school board now in a court fight over its requirement that the hypothesis of a creator be part of the science curriculum.

It's not just fundamentalist Protestants who have difficulty with the idea that life arose entirely from material causes. Look East or West and you can detect the rumblings from an irreconcilable divide between science and religion, with one committed to a universe of matter and energy and the other to the existence of something extra, a spiritual realm.

Sometimes compared to the Scopes "monkey trial" of 1925, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District opened last week in Federal District Court in Harrisburg with scientists making the usual arguments against intelligent design - which holds that the complexity of biological organisms is evidence of a creator.

Opponents say they doubt that the theory's supporters, like the Discovery Institute in Seattle, are talking about a smart gas cloud or a 10th-dimensional teenager simulating the universe on his Xbox. The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed suit against the Dover district, considers intelligent design a Trojan horse to introduce religion into public schools.

This time the anti-evolutionists won't be relying on the fundamentalist oratory moviegoers heard from the Fredric March character in "Inherit the Wind." Instead, the arguments may not sound so different from what one would hear if either the pope or the Dalai Lama were called to the stand.

Neither of these men believes that a religious text, whether the Bible or the Diamond Sutra, should be given a strictly literal reading. Yet they share with evangelicals an aversion to the notion that life emerged blindly, without supernatural guidance. Particularly offensive to them is the theory, part of the biological mainstream, that the engine of evolution is random mutation.

In a new book, "The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality," the Dalai Lama laments what he calls "radical scientific materialism," warning that seeing people as "the products of pure chance in the random combination of genes" is an invitation to nihilism and spiritual poverty. "The view that all aspects of reality can be reduced to matter and its various particles is, to my mind, as much a metaphysical position as the view that an organizing intelligence created and controls reality." Both, he suggests, are legitimate interpretations of science.

Known for his enthusiastic interest in cosmology and neuroscience, the Dalai Lama was offering an opinion, not an agenda. But compare his words to those of the Discovery Institute in its call for the overthrow of scientific materialism - "the simplistic philosophy or world view that claims that all of reality can be reduced to, or derived from, matter and energy alone." The institute says it hopes "to reverse the stifling dominance" of this perspective and replace it with a "science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."

Whether whispered from Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama's home in exile, or expounded from the institute's headquarters, such a rejection of a purely physical reality is a proposition that the pope might well be comfortable with. At his installation this spring, he declared: "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God."

Scientists who have tried to claim the Vatican as an ally against evangelical creationists were taken aback, but this was not a veering to the right by a conservative new leader. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, sought to clarify the church's position in an Op-Ed article this past summer in The New York Times: "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science."

He also quoted Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, who had been considered particularly receptive to evolution. "The truth of faith about creation is radically opposed to the theories of materialistic philosophy," John Paul wrote. "These view the cosmos as the result of an evolution of matter reducible to pure chance and necessity."

The critics of intelligent design see it as primarily a repackaging of creationism. But the notion that you can embrace science without necessarily buying into the philosophy of materialism is an idea one doesn't find only among graduates of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

Ian Barbour, a theologian who holds a doctorate in physics, has long argued that science can be given a theistic spin. You can accept every detail of evolution through natural selection and still believe in a God who works silently behind the scenes. In his book, the Dalai Lama suggests that the apparent randomness of mutations could be some sort of "hidden causality" - an argument similar to the ideas of Keith Ward, a divinity professor at Oxford, and John Polkinghorne, a retired Cambridge physicist and ordained Anglican priest.

This kind of metaphysical maneuvering doesn't pose the threat scientists feel from the Discovery Institute. It is an optional interpretation that leaves the foundation of science unchanged.

But the intelligent design movement goes farther, insisting that the existence of a purposeful creator counts as a competing scientific theory. As a lawyer for Dover's schools said in his opening statement, gravity was also once thought to be a supernatural force until it was understood by physics.

So suppose there is a Great Intender, who mapped out the circuitry of living cells with the care an Intel engineer would bring to a new microchip. Where then did the creator come from? Was he created by another creator? Or did he evolve?

http://select.nytimes.com/mem/tnt.html?emc=tnt&tntget=2005/10/02/weekinreview/02johnson.html&tntemail1=y


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