NTS LogoSkeptical News for 23 January 2006

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Monday, January 23, 2006

BLESSING WATER

INTRODUCING the... I AM BLESSING WATER ESSENCES! I AM BLESSING WATER ESSENCES!

http://www.iamblessingwater.com/www.iamblessingwater.com

It is being called the Alchemy of the Future

Offering you Positive Messages for Your WATER, Your LIFE, and Your PLANET.

Each time you use an I AM ESSENCE, or an ARCHANGEL ESSENCE, you are virtually awakening positive affirmations and angelic realms in your being.

Drink a Blessing!

THE I AM BLESSING WATER ESSENCES are inspired by a critical and timely message from the Star Elders through Aluna Joy Yaxk'in called *AWAKENING ELEMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS.* Read the entire story here. http://www.kachina.net/%7ealunajoy/2005-2-sept.html This message was deepened with messages from Jeshua, Lord Meru of the Brother/Sister hood of the Seven Rays of South America, and the Great Grandmother from the Moon Temple at Machupicchu, during a recent trip to PERU. Read the whole story here. http://www.kachina.net/%7ealunajoy/2005-oct.html These messages are encouraging all of us to work with the living elements of the earth, and ignite the fire of God within each of us. Just after this year's 8 BATZ day on Nov. 2nd, 2005, another message came from an energy field called the *I AM PRESENCE*. The Message came as a flash of inspiration. Within a few moments, the entire vision of Conscious Essences, the I AM BLESSING WATERS, fell into place. Within these few moments, I received all the I AM statements, and directions on how to make, bottle and prepare these essences in order to insure that they would retain all their special energy. Even the name of this website, "I AM BLESSING WATER", re-affirms that you, myself and everyone who uses these essences, will be blessed by that higher place inside of us that knows that we are a part of GOD. Thanksgiving day 2005 was the day we announced this project to the world.

Why do we use the words "I AM" in creating the Blessing Water?

A positive statement without direction goes nowhere. Example . . .

If you have a block to healing and take an essence called "Healing", the essence, without direction, does not know what to heal and cannot find a resonant place to anchor within your being; thus not clearing the block. BUT if you take an essence called "I AM HEALTH", the affirmation becomes personal and directed to you personally. By using the words "I AM", the essence by-passes the human ego and all its limited programming and goes right to the highest part of yourself (your higher self). This higher self knows you are perfect, whole, awake and aware at all times. This is the "I AM Presence" that the Masters speak of which is within each of us. So the Masters asked us to link I AM Presence Statements with the Essence process. By using the words "I AM", the essence raises up, and clears out old past issues and blocks.

Scientific Proof

The I AM BLESSING WATERS are also inspired by the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto from "What the Bleep" http://www.whatthebleep.com/ fame. Dr. Emoto proved scientifically that positive words, prayers and thoughts can affect the molecular structure of water by turning chaotic water into beautiful geometric and harmonious patterns. Dr. Emoto's site link. http://www.masaru-emoto.net/english/entop.html By using the words "I AM", the essence raises up, and clears out old past issues and blocks. How you ask? By anchoring positive "I AM" statements into the essence, this vibration goes straight into the microtubules inside the neurons in your body; thus shifting your consciousness at a cellular level. Scientists now understand microtubules have a powerful link with consciousness explaining why we are the way we are. I AM Blessing Water Essences shift disharmony and chaotic energy that is inside of us into beautiful, harmonious patterns. Scientists are just now proving what the Masters and Mystics have known for eons! These are amazing days! Need more proof? Read more here http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/.

/"The thing you set your mind on is the thing you ultimately become."/ ~ N. Hawthorne

What can an I AM BLESSING WATER ESSENCE do for ME?

Our bodies are 70% water. What better way to clear, heal and multiply positive frequencies than to drink an I AM affirmation or to take an Archangel into your being! I AM BLESSING WATER ESSENCES are like homeopathic inoculations of various positive I AM statements and the guidance and power of Archangels. In other words, they effect you at a core energetic and positive level. They are very subtle but noticeable to sensitive beings. Each time you ingest an I AM BLESSING WATER, you are virtually metabolizing that affirmation into your being. You Bless Yourself! You might feel subtle increases of energy, clarity, awareness, reduction of stress or tension, and inner calmness as they infuse your entire being with positive, Masterly vibrations. The Masters said that these essences will help ignite the fire of God within us all. They will help us all recognize the DAWN of a GOLDEN AGE that is before us now. Each person will react to the essence of their choice in their own unique way.

Because THE I AM BLESSING WATER is made like a flower essence, only a few drops are needed to shift an entire bottle of water. They are powerfully concentrated with positive I AM statements, the Sun's powerful rays, and the clarity and magnification of a Sedona Vortex. The essences come in an easy-to-use, one ounce dropper bottle and are best used for at least a 20 day cycle to allow the energy to fully integrate into your body's energy. Once vibrating at this higher level, you will notice when you forget to take them! Disclaimer: Please listen to your inner guidance. Essences are not a substitution for medical treatment or medical help in an emergency. Essences focus on whole body, mind and spirit awareness, accelerate all spiritual paths, and are great additions with most healing modalities. Use 2-3 drops orally 2-4 times a day, or anytime you feel low energy, want clarity during meditation, etc…. Always follow your inner guidance as to how much and how often to take an essence. You can't take too much, and remember . . . a few drops are all you need. Use these waters any way and anywhere your imagination can go! Put them in your drinking water to charge the whole glass with love, peace or abundance, etc…. Essence drops can also be added to your food, or bath water. Put them in a spray bottle and mist your skin, plants, home, office space, etc…. Mist sacred statues and jewelry. Essences heighten the energy in surrounding areas in which they are placed. So altars, prayer tables, statues, or bedside tables are wonderful locations. USE THE I AM BLESSING WATERS for EARTH HEALING! Sprinkle them on the ground where healing is needed . . . or drizzle them into lakes and streams . . . mist polluted areas. Your imagination is the only limitation.

Now that you know a bit about what these Essences are, we would now like to invite you to view the collection by clicking the links below...

The I AM ESSENCES http://www.iamblessingwater.com/iamessences.html

THE ARCHANGEL ESSENCES

http://www.iamblessingwater.com/angelsessences.html

"I AM" ESSENCES http://www.iamblessingwater.com/iamessences.html

ARCHANGEL ESSENCES

http://www.iamblessingwater.com/angelsessences.html HOME
http://www.iamblessingwater.com/index.html MORE QUOTES!
http://www.iamblessingwater.com/moreinspirations.html

BLESSED EXPERIENCES http://www.iamblessingwater.com/feedback.html

LINKS TO WONDERFUL SITES http://www.iamblessingwater.com/links.html
INSPIRED READING http://www.iamblessingwater.com/iambooklist.html

Spiritual Pilgrimages to Sacred Sites of Peru, Mexico and Guatemala http://www.kachina.net/%7ealunajoy/pilgrimages.html Star Elder

Sessions http://www.kachina.net/%7ealunajoy/sessions.html

Sacred Site Essences
http://www.kachina.net/%7ealunajoy/essences.html Essence Blends
http://www.kachina.net/%7ealunajoy/essences2.html Articles
http://www.kachina.net/%7ealunajoy/articles.html h2>National Academy Scientist Endorses Language in South Carolina Science Standards Calling for Critical Analysis of Evolution http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/01-23-2006/0004265093&EDATE=

COLUMBIA, S.C., Jan. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Phil Skell, a member of the National Academy of Sciences** and a professor emeritus of chemistry at Pennsylvania State University, has just sent an open letter to the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee encouraging them to recommend to the state board of education science standards calling for students to learn the scientific evidence both for and against biological and chemical evolution.

"I am writing -- as a member of the National Academy of Sciences -- to voice my strong support for the idea that students should be able to study scientific criticisms of the evidence for modern evolutionary theory along with the evidence favoring the theory," writes Dr. Skell. "Scientific journals now document many scientific problems and criticisms of evolutionary theory and students need to know about these as well. ... Many of the scientific criticisms of which I speak are well known by scientists in various disciplines, including the disciplines of chemistry and biochemistry, in which I have done my work. ... South Carolina students would be well served to learn about these scientific criticisms as they do their own critical analysis of the evidence that both supports and challenges neo-Darwinian evolution."

The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee is hearing testimony from scientists this week regarding whether it should recommend language for the state's science standards that calls for students to critically analyze certain aspects of evolutionary theory. Five other states, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kansas, New Mexico, and Minnesota, have adopted science standards that require learning about some of the scientific controversies relating to evolution. "Like Dr. Skell, we believe evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned," said Casey Luskin, Program Officer for Public Policy & Legal Affairs at the Discovery Institute.

As a matter of policy, Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, the nation's leading think tank dealing with scientific challenges to Darwinian evolution, seeks to increase the teaching of evolution. It believes that evolution should be fully and completely presented to students, and they should learn more about evolutionary theory, including its unresolved issues. The Institute opposes any effort to mandate or require the teaching of intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education. **Members and foreign associates of the National Academy are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research; election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that

can be accorded a scientist or engineer.

Copies of Dr. Skell's letter are available at the CSC website, http://www.discovery.org/csc/. To schedule an interview with a Discovery Institute representative contact Robert Crowther at 206-292-0401 x107.

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

Senator says effort not a backdoor to teaching intelligent design

http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=4394682

(Columbia-AP) January 22, 2006 - The state's education reform panel is scheduled to talk Monday about whether South Carolina high school students should be encouraged to question the theory of evolution.

The lawmaker who started the debate, Greenville Senator Mike Fair, says the discussion is not about inserting intelligent design. But he says it's about critical analysis of evolution in the state's biology curriculum.

The Education Oversight Committee's academic standards subcommittee will consider four sentences in new biology standards that deal with teaching evolution after hearing from science experts Monday.

The full panel will then consider the recommendation. Education department spokesman Jim Foster says the committee's decision to scrutinize individual sentences in a standard in this way is unprecedented.

Posted 8:48pm by Graeme Moore

Legal fears halt intelligent design move

http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20060123-013834-7656r

SHICKSHINNY, Pa., Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A local school board member in Pennsylvania who is an intelligent design advocate says this is not the right time to introduce ID into classrooms.

Randy Tomasacci, a member of the Northwest Area School Board in Shickshinny, Pa., says he's dropped the idea of introducing intelligent design. "If we do it at all, in any classroom, anywhere, we'll have a lawsuit," he told the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times.

Intelligent design holds that life is too complex to have occurred randomly and an unspecified "intelligent designer" had to be involved.

Citing recent court decisions in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, Tomasacci, a former minister, said while he still believes in intelligent design, he doubts it can legally get into classrooms through any action local school boards take.

"The change has to come from higher up," he told the newspaper. "To try to do it on a local school board level is nearly impossible."

Pennsylvania's Northwest Area School Board covers 117 square miles in an area located about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

© Copyright 2006 United Press International, Inc.

'Miracle' cures do work wonders: Study

http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1606264,0047.htm

Asian News International

London, January 23, 2006

The time has come for all those non-believers who thought that alternative treatments such as special diets and faith healing was all a bit of jibberish to eat their hats, for researchers can now provide statistical evidence that such treatments do in fact work.

The research, led by Michael MacManus, a consultant radiation oncologist in Melbourne, studied 2,337 patients with incurable lung cancer whose disease was too advanced for curative treatment, and found that with alternative medicine 25 people had survived five years and while 18 had achieved 'an apparent cure'.

Dr Macmanus said that the data showed that a chance for survival and complete recovery existed for about 1 per cent of the patients who underwent alternative treatment.

"Our data indicate that a chance for prolonged survival and possibly even cure exists for approximately 1 per cent of patients with non small cell lung cancer who receive palliative radiotherapy. It is important that the frequency of this phenomenon should be appreciated so that claims of apparent cure by novel treatment strategies or even by unconventional medicine or 'faith healing' can be seen in an appropriate context," the Independent quoted him, as saying.

Unorthodox cancer cures have included vitamin C, laetrile extracted from apricot stones, and the Gershon diet of raw vegetables.

The findings of the study are published in the online edition of Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society.

Questions for Daniel C. Dennett The Nonbeliever

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/22/magazine/22wwln_q4.html

The New York Times Magazine
January 22, 2006
Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON

Q: How could you, as a longtime professor of philosophy at Tufts University, write a book that promotes the idea that religious devotion is a function of biology? Why would you hold a scientist's microscope to something as intangible as belief?

I don't know about you, but I find St. Paul's and St. Peter's pretty physical.

But your new book, "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon," is not about cathedrals. It's about religious belief, which cannot be dissected in a lab as if it were a disease.

That itself is a scientific claim, and I think it is false. Belief can be explained in much the way that cancer can. I think the time has come to shed our taboo that says, "Oh, let's just tiptoe by this, we don't have to study this." People think they know a lot about religion. But they don't know.

So what can you tell us about God?

Certainly the idea of a God that can answer prayers and whom you can talk to, and who intervenes in the world - that's a hopeless idea. There is no such thing.

Yet faith, by definition, means believing in something whose existence cannot be proved scientifically. If we knew for sure that God existed, it would not require a leap of faith to believe in him.

Isn't it interesting that you want to take that leap? Why do you want to take that leap? Why does our craving for God persist? It may be that we need it for something. It may be that we don't need it, and it is left over from something that we used to be. There are lots of biological possibilities.

Didn't religion spring up in its earliest forms in connection with the weather, the desire to make sense of rain and lightning?

We have a built-in, very potent hair-trigger tendency to find agency in things that are not agents, like snow falling off the roof.

There was so much infant mortality in the past, which must have played a large role in encouraging people to believe in an afterlife.

When a person dies, we can't just turn that off. We go on thinking about that person as if that person were still alive. Our inability to turn off our people-seer and our people-hearer naturally turns into our hallucinations of ghosts, our sense that they are still with us.

But they are still with us, through the process of memory.

These aren't just memories.

I take it you do not subscribe to the idea of an everlasting soul, which is part of almost every religion.

Ugh. I certainly don't believe in the soul as an enduring entity. Our brains are made of neurons, and nothing else. Nerve cells are very complicated mechanical systems. You take enough of those, and you put them together, and you get a soul.

That strikes me as a very reductive and uninteresting approach to religious feeling.

Love can be studied scientifically, too.

But what's the point of that? Wouldn't it be more worthwhile to spend your time and research money looking for a cure for AIDS?

How about if we study hatred and fear? Don't you think that would be worthwhile?

Traditionally, evolutionary biologists like Stephen Jay Gould insisted on keeping a separation between hard science and less knowable realms like religion.

He was the evolutionist laureate of the U.S., and everybody got their Darwin from Steve. The trouble was he gave a rather biased view of evolution. He called me a Darwinian fundamentalist.

Which I imagine was his idea of a put-down, since he thought evolutionists should not apply their theories to religion.

Churches make a great show about the creed, but they don't really care. A lot of the evangelicals don't really care what you believe as long as you say the right thing and do the right thing and put a lot of money in the collection box.

I take it you are not a churchgoer.

No, not really. Sometimes I go to church for the music.

Yes, the church gave us Bach, in addition to some fairly spectacular architecture and painting.

Churches have given us great treasures. Whether that pays for the harm they have done is another matter.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Dover intelligent design case: Judicial ignorance on display

http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/bass/060121

David N. Bass January 21, 2006

I've come to realize that one of the greatest recipes for disaster in modern day America is when a federal judge is given cart blanche to rule on a case involving anything that even remotely smacks of religion. Inevitably, some precious freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution is eroded or even stripped away. That's exactly what happened when U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III handed down a ruling in late 2005 in a case involving not only religion, but science and the public schools as well.

Needless to say, the resulting decision was rather messy.

On December 20, Judge Jones determined that a Pennsylvania school board somehow established a state religion by offering Intelligent Design as an alternative to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection. The conflict originally began when the Dover Area School Board approved a policy that required ninth grade biology teachers to read a short statement to students briefly describing Intelligent Design and providing a resource textbook for those interested in learning more. The so-called controversial statement was in reality a tame paragraph that merely offered students an optional area of study to explore. The statement read:

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 Drawin'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.

The paragraph inevitably drew the ire of eleven parents — no doubt distant cousins of Michael Newdow — who filed suit against the school district under the contention that the statement violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The case eventually ended up under the jurisdiction of Judge Jones, who authored a 139-page written opinion that essentially constituted a soapbox for him to espouse his personal views on science and religion. Even more alarming than the judge's unprofessional demeanor throughout his ruling is the fact that he displayed an abysmal lack of knowledge about what Intelligent Design actually is.

The core of Judge Jones' rationale for striking down the paragraph centered around the school board's supposed efforts to establish a state religion via Intelligent Design. "The secular purposes claimed by the [School] Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom, in violation of the Establishment Clause," the federal judge wrote. The only difficulty with such judicial reasoning is that Intelligent Design is based strictly on scientific facts and makes absolutely no claim one way or another regarding religious belief. As many proponents of Intelligent Design have already pointed out, the theory is not based on the Biblical account of creation as recorded in the Book of Genesis, nor is it based on any other religion or philosophy. Rather, the theory is based on observable scientific realities, documented by bonafide scientists. Many proponents of evolutionary theory have even conceded the hard scientific realities behind Intelligent Design.

How, then, can offering such an alternative be construed as establishing a state religion?

If Judge Jones had spent more time studying what Intelligent Design actually entails as opposed to using his ruling as an editorial column, he might have realized the fallacy of automatically labeling science that dares challenge evolution as thinly veiled religion. Contrary to fabrications in the liberal media and elsewhere, Intelligent Design was not essentially "cooked up" in a seminary. Rather, it is built on the scientific reality that organic life and the universe as whole are far too complicated to have resulted from the evolutionary concept of chance. It makes no comment one way or the other about who or what that intelligent designer is. It does not endorse any religion or set of religious values. It merely presents the facts that are unexplained or ill-explained in evolutionary theory.

William A. Dembski, a leading proponent of Intelligent Design, illustrates this reality by stating that the theory "presupposes neither a creator nor miracles. Intelligent Design is theologically minimalist. It detects intelligence without speculating about the nature of the intelligence." Interestingly, Intelligent Design could easily be considered more objective than evolutionary theory itself, which is commonly used by humanists and social crusaders to justify their causes. All too often, the theory of evolution is not the tame, objective puppy that some portray. It is commonly used as an indoctrination and justification tool by the world's liberal elite.

In the interests of putting to bed the false view that Intelligent Design was somehow cooked up by evangelical Christians, it is important to note that many committed Christians, on religious grounds, do not support the teaching of the theory. While Intelligent Design may provide a glimpse into the marvels of creation, it only gives a limited picture. From my perspective as a follower of Jesus Christ, acknowledging the fact that creation is too complicated to have been the result of chance is a good first step, but failing to tell the rest of the story can have disastrous consequences. Biblically, creation is the starting point, but the doctrines of original sin and redemption are of the utmost importance. Intelligent Design makes no effort to explain these crucial and central doctrines of Christianity. If the theory were designed in the halls of evangelical seminaries, it would definitely make some mention of such core tenets. But it does not.

Unfortunately, Judge Jones did not stop with merely accusing the Dover school board of essentially establishing a theocratic indoctrination machine in the public schools. Instead, he felt compelled to launch a personal crusade against the character and integrity of the board members who approved the policy. "It is ironic," the federal judge wrote, "that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the [Intelligent Design] policy."

In such a remark we see expressed a fault that is quickly becoming the status quo in modern jurisprudence — looking beyond the actual actions of individuals involved in the case and attempting to judge what they were thinking when they took those actions. Similar to the philosophy behind hate crimes legislation, this view portends that thoughts should be punished in addition to actions. A course in a public high school, for example, that examines the Bible from a historical perspective is acceptable, provided the administrators and teachers implementing the program do not have what might be construed as "religious" motives. If they have such motives, the class is unconstitutional; if they do not, the class passes constitutional muster.

Again, this view stipulates that thoughts are more important than actions. Perhaps Judge Jones would be wise to crack a copy of George Orwell's 1984 to see where this kind of thought-policing philosophy can lead.

More important than Judge Jones' scathing attack on Intelligent Design and those who promote its teaching in the public schools is the reality that the theory is quickly gaining steam, and this has social Darwinists quaking in their boots. Make no mistake — the primary issue here is not the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, but a feeble attempt to bolster an antiquated 19th century theory on the origins of man that is looking less and less credible as the field of science progresses. Evolution by natural selection is quickly going down for the third time, and proponents of the theory know it.

Perhaps the most important lesson Judge Jones' decision can teach us is this — the theory of evolution is in trouble. As many are already predicting, 100 years from now scholars may very well look back on evolution as the greatest scientific fauxpas of the past two centuries.

David N. Bass is a nineteen-year-old home school graduate, a committed Christian, and a proud conservative. He is a writer for World Newspaper Publishing and a regular columnist at AmericanDaily.com, IntellectualConservative.com, and RenewAmerica.us. While attending college, he also interns at a pro-family public policy organization. David is currently working on his first novel.

© Copyright 2006 by David N. Bass

Kids' TV takes on 'intelligent design' debate

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1381475.cms

NEW YORK: The debate over whether children should be taught "intelligent design" in US public schools as an alternative to evolution is moving to children's television.

"There's a fight going on the science room," says Linda Ellerbee, presenter of "Nick News," a news magazine on the children's TV cable channel Nickelodeon.

The channel is tackling the subject by presenting both sides of the controversy in "God, Science, Politics and Your School."

Supporters of intelligent design say that nature is so complex that it must have been the work of an unnamed creator, rather than the result of random natural selection as outlined in Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

"The goal of this show is not to debate the issues of evolution, intelligent design or creationism," Ellerbee said in a statement.

"We just want to give kids a better understanding of what all the shouting is about. We also want to hear from kids affected by these disputes."

The controversy, stirred by a recent court case in Pennsylvania, centers on whether teaching intelligent design violates US constitutional separation of church and state.

Ellerbee talks to religious, scientific and educational figures on both sides of the debate, who use plain English and simple terms to explain the complex arguments.

She also travels to Dover, Pennsylvania, where the teaching of intelligent design was banned last year, and to Kansas where the State Board of Education recently approved a set of science standards that question the evolution theory.

Ellerbee gives young Kansas teenagers the chance to weigh in on the debate.

"They don't have to say that God made everything but I think they should give intelligent design the benefit of the doubt, really," one boy said.

"Science is about facts and I don't see any facts proving that a higher power has created us," countered one girl.

Scientists not afraid of intelligent design

http://www.times-standard.com/opinion/ci_3427313

My Word by Joe Willis

Article Launched: 01/22/2006 04:27:28 AM

This is in response to the recent column by William Rusher in the Times-Standard titled "Why are scientists afraid of intelligent design?"

William Rusher's Jan. 10 column clearly shows that he is more interested in winning an argument than in finding the truth. Rusher's title falsely characterizes scientists as being "afraid" of an idea. That would be the opposite of science! He then proceeds to wrongly characterize evolution as a simplistic process based on a series of accidents, then attacks the caricature he created. It might interest the reader to know that Rusher once published a book titled "How to Win Arguments."

The derisive tone of Rusher's column is established early when he describes scientists as "cock-a-hoop" over their victory in the recent Dover, Pa., trial (Kitzmiller v. Dover) on the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. Actually, it was parents of Dover high school students who filed the lawsuit, and it was their victory, albeit satisfying to those of us trying to protect quality science education from the intrusion of religion masquerading as science.

Rusher's arguments are the standard fare of most prominent anti-evolution organizations such as the Discovery Institute in Seattle. Their current project of choice is to repackage Bible-based creationism with a scientific veneer in order to get around the First Amendment prohibition of state-sponsored religious activity. The 139-page ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover is available at many websites including those of the National Center for Science Education (www.natcenscied.org) and Creation and Intelligent Design Watch (www.csicop.org). The ruling, as well as the transcript of the entire trial, make for interesting reading and clearly reveal the goals and strategies behind the intelligent design "movement." They have little or nothing to do with science and are driven by religious fundamentalism. Supreme Court rulings have gone against them on this issue for over 40 years, but they refuse to quit!

The backbone of today's version of the "argument from design" is the idea of "irreducible complexity" put forth by Professor Michael Behe in his book "Darwin's Black Box." In effect, the idea is that some biological systems, such as the structure and function of cilia and flagella, the human eye, and the blood-clotting mechanism, are too complex to have arisen (evolved?) by accident. The argument is easily shown to be hollow on at least two counts: First, simply because science has not yet unraveled every specific detail of the evolution of a particular system does not mean they never will, and, second, biologists do not characterize evolution as simply an accident.

The image of evolution as accident was invented by creationists! In fact, last September, Mr. Rusher published a column in which he facetiously proposed that evolution be renamed "accidentalism." While the processes of mutation and natural selection include the element of chance, when well-understood, they clearly provide the basis for building complexity without design via known natural laws. (See, for instance, Richard Dawkins' "Climbing Mt. Improbable" and "River Out of Eden") A lack of evidence cannot be proof of anything, and it is impossible to prove the non-existence of anything.

I am in full agreement with Mr. Rusher on one point. He says, "one can't help feeling that there is something more than a scientific dispute going on here." In fact, it's not a scientific dispute at all! It is a religious, political, and moral dispute. It is a battle between faith and reason as means of understanding the natural world. So long as ID proponents believe (wrongly) that the theory of evolution leads inexorably to atheism, immorality and chaos, they will oppose it with whatever means they can invent. It's too bad they can't see the beauty and explanatory power of the theory of evolution and that it does not preclude the usefulness or comfort of faith in areas outside the domain of science.

Rusher says, "one can't help be a little surprised at the sheer savagery of the evolutionists' attack on intelligent design." Again, I urge the reader to read Judge Jones' ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover and decide for him/herself which side is more savage, not to mention dishonest. I also urge the reader to learn about the "wedge strategy, a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Institute" (see en.wickipedia.org) and follow where it leads. To actually learn something about the theory of evolution, try UC Berkeley's evolution page -- evolution.berkeley.edu/. As Bob Dylan once sang, "Don't criticize what you can't understand."

Joe Willis is a high school science teacher in Leggett.

The opinions expressed in this My Word piece do not necessarily reflect the editorial viewpoint of the Times-Standard.

Teach the Science

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=000438E5-C305-13C6-830583414B7F0000&colID=30

February 2006 issue

Wherever evolution education is under attack by creationist thinking, Eugenie Scott will be there to defend science--with rationality and resolve

By Steve Mirsky

Federal court had just been dismissed in Harrisburg, Pa., on September 26, 2005, the first day of the Dover intelligent design trial. Commentators dubbed it Scopes II or III, depending on how many previous evolution education cases they knew of. The defendants, members of the Dover, Pa., school board, had required that a statement denigrating evolutionary theory be read to ninth-grade biology students and recommended so-called intelligent design be considered a viable and intellectually adequate alternative. Plaintiffs were parents in the school district who alleged that intelligent design, or ID, was in fact a religious construct and that presenting it to their children in a public school science class thus violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

A steady rain forced plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses and media to huddle together under the overhang at the entrance to the Harrisburg Federal Building and Courthouse. Within a few feet of advocates who had minutes before put evolution itself on trial stood Eugenie Scott. As executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), she is the country's foremost defender of evolution education. She patiently explained to reporters why this trial was so important: "It's the first case that is considering the legality of the two current strategies of the antievolution movement."

The first strategy is advocacy for intelligent design--the notion that life or certain aspects of life are too complex to have arisen naturally and must therefore be the product of an intelligent designer. "Creation science was the original scientific alternative to evolution," says Scott, who turned 60 during the trial, "and ID is the scientific alternative to evolution du jour. And it's basically a subset of creation science. ID has never been on trial before."

The second strategy, casting doubt on evolutionary science, has roots in 1987, when the U.S. Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard found by a 7-2 decision that creationism was religious and therefore ineligible for inclusion in public school biology curricula. In his majority opinion, Justice William J. Brennan wrote that teachers had the right to teach scientific alternatives to evolution, "which of course they do," Scott explains. "If there were any, they would have the right to teach them."

But Justice Antonin Scalia, joined in his dissent by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, wrote that "whatever scientific evidence there may be against evolution" could also be "presented in their schools." A tactic, then, is to portray the lack of certitude about every last detail of evolution--so-called gaps or honest disagreements between evolutionary biologists about mechanisms--as evidence against it.

The Dover trial involved arguments on both evidence against evolution and intelligent design. To Scott, "it's a dream condition because we can hopefully challenge both of these components." Scott's dream was apparently the defendant's nightmare. Fellows of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based pro-intelligent design group, were to appear as defense witnesses but withdrew, citing their desire to be represented by their own attorneys during depositions. That "they yanked the A team I think suggests that they're cutting their losses," Scott says.

Dover was just the latest hot spot Scott has visited. The NCSE office in Oakland, Calif., includes a wall map of the U.S., with stickpins in the sites of challenges to evolution education. "There's a surprising amount in the midsection and in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee," she notes. "Then a cluster in California, in Texas and in Kansas, of course." Kansas, which remains a battleground over evolution education, is where Scott first got directly involved in the fight.

Shortly after joining the faculty of the University of Kentucky as a physical anthropologist in 1974, she attended a debate at the University of Missouri between her mentor, Jim Gavan, and Duane Gish, a leader in the then nascent scientific creationism movement. She began to collect creationist literature and to study adherents' methods. As a visiting professor at the University of Kansas in 1976, she was thus prepared to advise two biology professors who debated Gish and fellow creationist Henry Morris. Her "true baptism," as she calls it, came in 1980, when she advised the Lexington, Ky., Board of Education, which ultimately rejected a request to include the "balanced" teaching of origins....continued at Scientific American Digital


Saturday, January 21, 2006

When Cosmologies Collide

By JUDITH SHULEVITZ

January 22, 2006

In the merely controversial part of his decision last month banning "intelligent design" from biology classes in Dover, Pa., Judge John E. Jones III ruled that intelligent design, a theory that attributes the complexity of life to supernatural causes, amounts to religion, not science. In the part that really drove some of the theory's supporters crazy, he pronounced it "utterly false" to think that evolution is incompatible with faith in God. An editorialist on the Web site of the Discovery Institute, a research group that promotes intelligent design, declared that the judge had no right to tell him what to believe. "This is like a judge assuring us that it is 'utterly false' that Judaism is inconsistent with eating pork," he wrote.

The judge was echoing a position taken by scientific expert witnesses, who had testified that science is a method, not a creed - a way of finding things out about the natural world, not a refutation of anything beyond that world. On the enduring mysteries of divinity and transcendence, science remains officially agnostic. But people rarely hew to official doctrine. That science and religion belong to separate realms (they're "non-overlapping magisteria," as Stephen Jay Gould grandly put it) is a good line to stick to if you're going to argue that the creationists play unfair, but it's wishful to think that scientists always live by it.

Perhaps it's unreasonable to expect that they would. Given what it takes to train for a career in science, you have to ask why a person would persist if naturalism didn't strike him as the best way of explaining the world. It's no accident that you find a far greater proportion of nonbelievers among American scientists - upward of 60 percent - than among Americans in general. Those who deny that they discount nonmaterialist accounts of reality may have conducted a cold-eyed scrutiny of their own assumptions, but it's equally possible that they haven't. "Scientists sometimes deceive themselves into thinking that philosophical ideas are only, at best, decorations or parasitic commentaries on the hard objective triumphs of science," the philosopher Daniel Dennett has written. "But there is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination."

Could something as trivial as scientists' lack of self-awareness help explain why, nearly 150 years after Darwin, creationism in its various forms has become the most popular critique of science? Well, consider how scientists tend to respond to the attack on evolution. Rather than trying to understand creationism as a culturally meaningful phenomenon - as, say, a peculiarly American objection to the way elites talk about evolution - they generally approach it as a set of ludicrous claims easily dismantled by science.

Eugenie C. Scott's EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM: (University of California, $19.95) represents this strategy at its best, and least inflammatory. Scott, a physical anthropologist, runs the National Center for Science Education, which defends the teaching of evolution in high schools. (She advised the parents fighting the Dover school board.) Scott could be said to be the one really doing God's work as she patiently rebuts people who make most other scientists spit gaskets like short-circuiting robots. Her book is both a straightforward history of the debate and an anthology of essays written by partisans on each side. Its main virtue is to explain the scientific method, which many invoke but few describe vividly. Scott also manages to lay out the astronomical, chemical, geological and biological bases of evolutionary theory in unusually plain English.

Anyone who wants to defend evolution at his next church picnic should arm himself with this book. What's flood geology? It's the creationist thesis that a vast canopy of hot vapor once surrounded the earth, cooled down in the time of Noah, and turned into a flood; an atmospheric scientist explains why that's impossible. Why don't evolutionary biologists worry about the Cambrian Explosion, when invertebrates showed up on earth as if out of nowhere? Because paleontologists don't need to see a fossil of every species that ever existed to infer the links between species, for one thing. Scott also walks us through the legal history of American creationism - the court rulings that forced anti-evolutionists to adapt to their increasingly secular environment by adopting scientific jargon.

In treating science as no more than what scientists say it is, however, Scott does not help us grasp why creationism has continued to thrive. For that you'd need THE EVOLUTION-CREATION STRUGGLE (Harvard University, $25.95), by the philosopher of science Michael Ruse. Ruse is "an ardent Darwinian" who has testified against the inclusion of creationism in public school science curriculums. Nonetheless, he says here, we must be careful about how we use the word "evolution," because it actually conveys two meanings, the science of evolution and something he calls "evolutionism." Evolutionism is the part of evolutionary thought that reaches beyond testable science. Evolutionism addresses questions of origins, the meaning of life, morality, the future and our role in it. In other words, it does all the work of a religion, but from a secular perspective. What gets billed as a war between hard science and mushy theology should rather be understood, says Ruse, as "a clash between two rival metaphysical world pictures."

Ruse sweeps readers through three millenniums of evolutionism and proto-evolutionism, starting with the Old Testament, which introduced the idea of historical change into a world where time had been changeless. He passes through Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and the Reformation before stopping for a long visit with Charles Darwin. Darwin believed in a Designer until he discovered natural selection, the continual culling of less fit forms of life that drives evolution forward. Even then, he didn't reject God altogether. He became a deist, arguing that a God who operates through impersonal laws has more grandeur than one who constantly meddles. But evidence of divine indifference (and, some say, the death of his 10-year-old daughter) eventually drove him to agnosticism.

And there matters are often said to have stood ever since. "Social discourse on the cosmic origins of human beings has been stuck in a rut since the publication of . . . 'On the Origin of Species,' " writes the paleontologist Niles Eldredge in his foreword to Scott's book. The enlightened half of American society grasps Darwin's point and is not troubled by it; the other half intransigently refuses to.

But the debate has not stood still, and Darwinism has not always been synonymous with enlightenment. As Ruse points out, Darwinism didn't mean then what it means today, because science looked nothing like it does now. It was a hobby for amateurs, with few standards and no sense of its own limitations. Darwin, uninterested in promoting evolution, left the job to his more charismatic friend Thomas Henry Huxley. A doctor and morphologist, Huxley professionalized the new biology, using it to train medical students who till then had spent more time on Plato than anatomy. He also gave public lectures that retold the story of creation as a tale about the blind workings of nature's laws. His epic had a cosmic sweep to it, and no room for God.

To Darwin's dismay, it didn't have room for the fine details of evolutionary processes either. What Huxley wanted to talk about was the march of progress - how evolution drives species upward, culminating in the development of man. Darwin had realized that if he were to turn his theories into a credible science, he'd have to avoid ascribing a higher merit to those who won out in the battle for life. But Huxley's evolutionism overshadowed Darwin's less judgment-laden science for at least half a century. Herbert Spencer, the dominant pop philosopher of the latter half of the 19th century, coined the phrase "survival of the fittest," and promoted Social Darwinism, a laissez-faire evolutionism that put English-speaking Europeans at the top of the heap. Eugenics became respectable. Ruse notes that the high school biology textbook defended in the 1925 Scopes Monkey trial included, along with a brief mention of evolution, a call for improving human stock through selective breeding.

Fundamentalists, already horrified by evolution's challenge to the creation story, concluded that it also led to dangerous schemes for reshaping humankind. They turned away from science and returned to the Bible for information about how the world was made. Their Bible also told them how it would end - with Christ fending off the Antichrist -and they wanted to find themselves on the right side of that battle.

The most surprising twist in Ruse's drama is the starring role he grants to the apocalyptic eschatology known as millennialism, which comes in two basic variants. Millennialists in general hold that before the Last Judgment, Christian martyrs will rise from the dead to rule for a thousand years of peace. Premillennialists argue that Jesus will personally usher in that millennium. Postmillennialists reply that Christ will come after the millennium, which they interpret as the heaven on earth that good people fashion through good works. Over the centuries, some premillennialists evolved into American fundamentalists. Some postmillennialists evolved into social reformers. An only partly secularized postmillennialist optimism fueled many American do-good causes, such as abolitionism. Ruse adds evolutionism to the list.

Ruse's assertion that evolutionism amounts to a latter-day postmillennialism feels more like a clever metaphor than a genuine link between ideas. Calling those who preach redemption through evolution "postmillennialists," however, is a good way of showing them how they look to America's many premillennialists. Spencerian pronuciamentos have certainly become less acceptable, but the notion that evolution equals progress still runs through many evolutionary theorists' works and public statements, giving them, at times, a curiously spiritual feel.

Some say that human intelligence results from natural selection's preference for complex systems, which is not that different from saying that humans have ascended to the top of the chain of being. Some say that only by attending to the lessons of evolution and preserving biodiversity will we spare the planet an ecological catastrophe, a point that seems indisputable but nonetheless turns evolution into an urgent moral imperative. Others offer an evolutionary account of human nature that is all too often construed by the popular press as exhorting us to give in to urges that served us better on the Pleistocene savanna than in the modern world.

In other words, evolutionism - the conviction that evolution explains life's meaning and tells us how to deal with the future - remains as powerful a cultural force as ever. But what should we do about it? Ruse calls for "a more informed and self-aware approach to the issues," a suggestion that's commendable but won't do much to tone down those people convinced that evolution has large social and theological (or anti-theological) implications. Besides, those people may well be right. I'd suggest something else: Teach evolution in biology class and evolutionism in religion class, along with creationism, deism and all the other cosmologies that float unexamined through our lives. Religion class is just the place for a fight about religion.

Judith Shulevitz has written about religion for Slate and The New York Times.

http://select.nytimes.com/mem/tnt.html?pagewanted=2&tntget=2006/01/22/books/review/22shule.html&tntemail1=y&emc=tnt

Evolution education update: January 20, 2006

It's good news from the Vatican, where the official newspaper published a piece describing "intelligent design" as unscientific and praising the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover, and from Lebec, California, where the El Tejon School District agreed to discontinue the "Philosophy of Design" course at issue in Hurst v. Newman. But it's bad news from Oklahoma, where a second antievolution bill was filed, and in Utah, where Senator Buttars's antievolution bill was passed by committee.

"INTELLIGENT DESIGN" CRITICIZED IN VATICAN NEWSPAPER

L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, published a piece in its January 16-17, 2006, edition by Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, which praised the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover and described "intelligent design" as unscientific. The New York Times (January 18, 2006) noted, "The article was not presented as an official church position. But in the subtle and purposely ambiguous world of the Vatican, the comments seemed notable, given their strength on a delicate question much debated under the new pope, Benedict XVI."

Conjectures about a possible shift in the Roman Catholic Church's position on evolution have swirled since the publication of "Finding Design in Nature" (The New York Times, July 7, 2005), written by Christoph Schoenborn, the Roman Catholic cardinal archbishop of Vienna. Deprecating Pope John Paul II's 1996 letter to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences as "rather vague and unimportant," Schoenborn instead cited statements from John Paul II and Benedict XVI that endorse divine providence as opposed to materialistic philosophy as evidence that the Catholic Church opposes "neo-Darwinism."

Schoenborn's op-ed was widely hailed by the "intelligent design" movement. It was, in fact, revealed to have been partly orchestrated by the Discovery Institute, whose vice president Mark Ryland took credit for urging Schoenborn to write the op-ed, and whose public relations firm submitted it to the Times on Schoenborn's behalf (The New York Times, July 9, 2005). Schoenborn is close to Pope Benedict XVI, and on at least two recent occasions, the Pope discussed evolution in terms that, though ambiguous, might be construed as endorsing a similar position.

But the op-ed was also widely criticized as conflating evolution with atheism. Kenneth R. Miller, professor of biology at Brown University, wrote, "the Cardinal is wrong in asserting that the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is inherently atheistic"; George Coyne S.J., head of the Vatican observatory, told the National Catholic Reporter (July 29, 2005) that evolution "can equally well be interpreted to the glory of God"; and Nicola Cabibbo, head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, told the National Catholic Reporter (July 18, 2005), "What clashes with divine creation is a possible extension of the theory of evolution in a materialistic direction."

Schoenborn subsequently sought to clarify his remarks, the Times reports; he was quoted as saying, in a speech delivered in October 2005, "I see no difficulty in joining belief in the Creator with the theory of evolution, but under the prerequisite that the borders of scientific theory are maintained." In what seems to be his most definitive clarification, "The Designs of Science" (First Things, January 2006), however, a central point is that "reason can grasp the reality of design without the aid of faith." "The Designs of Science" responds to a critique of his op-ed by the physicist Stephen M. Barr in the October 2005 issue of First Things.

In his L'Osservatore Romano article, Facchini wrote, "If the model proposed by Darwin is not considered sufficient, one should search for another ... But it is not correct from a methodological point of view to stray from the field of science while pretending to do science ... It only creates confusion between the scientific plane and those that are philosophical or religious." Accepting evolution is not incompatible with believing in creation, he explained: "God's project of creation can be carried out through secondary causes in the natural course of events, without having to think of miraculous interventions that point in this or that direction."

The Times noted, "L'Osservatore is the official newspaper of the Vatican and basically represents the Vatican's views. Not all its articles represent official church policy. At the same time, it would not be expected to present an article that dissented deeply from that policy." At any rate, Facchini's article was hailed by scientists in the United States. "He is emphasizing that there is no need to see a contradiction between Catholic teachings and evolution," Francisco J. Ayala, professor of biology at the University of California, Irvine, and a former Dominican priest, told the Times. "Good for him."

For the story in The New York Times, visit:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/19/science/sciencespecial2/19evolution.html

For NCSE's story about Schoenborn's op-ed, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2005/US/49_cardinal_creates_controversy_7_15_2005.asp

For the reactions from Miller, Coyne, and Cabibbi, visit:
http://www.beliefnet.com/story/171/story_17123_1.html
http://ncronline.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2005c/072905/072905h.php
http://ncronline.org/mainpage/specialdocuments/cabibbo.htm

For the exchange between Barr and Schoenborn in First Things, visit:
http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0510/opinion/barr.html
http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0601/articles/schonborn.html

SETTLEMENT IN HURST V. NEWMAN

The lawsuit in Hurst et al. v. Newman et al. -- in which eleven parents challenged the constitutionality of a four-week intersession course on "The Philosophy of Design" (formerly "The Philosophy of Intelligent Design") at Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec, California -- was settled on January 17, 2006. In the settlement, the defendants agreed to end the class and to ensure that no school in the El Tejon School District, including Frazier Mountain High School, "shall offer, presently or in the future, the course entitled 'Philosophy of Design' or 'Philosophy of Intelligent Design' or any other course that promotes or endorses creationism, creation science, or intelligent design."

That "The Philosophy of Design" class was aimed at promoting creationism was amply clear from the course syllabus, which was originally dominated by young-earth creationist materials, and was then revised to include mainly "intelligent design" materials. Moreover, one of the students taking the course told CNN (January 14, 2006), "I've learned that evolution has become, over the years, more and more -- more and more people decide that it's not completely true and that there has to be another belief or another thing that replaces it. ... [i.e.,] an intelligent designer ... [i.e.,] God, the Christian God who created earth in 6 days."

In a press release dated January 17, 2006, Americans United Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan commented, "This course was far from intelligently designed. ... It was an infomercial for creationism and its offshoot, intelligent design. The class would never have survived a court challenge, and the board of trustees made the right call by pulling the plug on it." NCSE executive director Eugenie C. Scott, who submitted a witness affidavit to the court on behalf of the plaintiffs, commented, "Other school districts contemplating teaching 'intelligent design' would be well-advised to learn from the lessons of Dover and El Tejon."

For NCSE's collection of information about Hurst v. Newman, visit:
http://www2.ncseweb.org/wp/?cat=10

For Americans United's press release, visit:
http://www.au.org/site/News2?JServSessionIdr006=wyb2erhkk4.app5b&abbr=pr&page=NewsArticle&id=7795

For a report on the settlement in the Los Angeles Times, visit:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lebec18jan18,0,7113496.story?coll=la-home-local

A SECOND ANTIEVOLUTION BILL IN OKLAHOMA

House Bill 2526 is the second antievolution bill to be introduced in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2006, and like its predecessor HB 2107, it will presumably be considered after the legislature convenes on February 6, 2006. HB 2526 would, if enacted, authorize school districts to include "intelligent design" in "any public school instruction concerning the theories of the origin of man and the earth which includes the theory commonly known as evolution." Teachers would be allowed to "use supporting evidence deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of intelligent design," subject to the approval of their school districts, but not to "stress any particular denominational, sectarian, or religious doctrine or belief."

HB 2526 is evidently modeled on Pennsylvania's HB 1007, introduced there on March 16, 2005. The most significant difference is that HB 1007 contains a provision stating that its dictates "shall not be construed as being adverse to any decision which has been rendered by an appellate court," while there is no such provision in HB 2526. The sponsor of the Oklahoma bill is Representative Abe Deutschendorf (D-District 62), who was listed in 2000 as the coauthor of a House version of a Senate bill, SB 1139, which would have required the state textbook committee to "ensure that the textbooks include acknowledgment that human life was created by one God of the Universe." His bill unanimously passed in the House, but was never enacted.

For the text of HB 2526 (RTF), visit:
http://www2.lsb.state.ok.us/2005%2D06bills/hb/hb2526%5Fint.rtf

For NCSE's story about Pennsylvania's HB 1007, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2005/PA/929_intelligent_design_bill_propos_4_1_2005.asp

UTAH'S SB 96 PASSED BY COMMITTEE

Utah's Senate Bill 96, sponsored by Senator Chris Buttars (R-District 10), was approved by the Senate Education Committee by a 4-2 vote along party lines on January 17, 2006. If enacted, SB 96 would direct the Utah state board of education to require "that instruction to students on any theory regarding the origins of life, or the origins or present state of the human race, shall stress that not all scientists agree on which theory is correct" and to "ensure that all policies and positions of the State Board of Education relating to theories regarding the origins of life or the origins or present state of the human race: (i) do not endorse a particular theory; and (ii) stress that not all scientists agree on which theory is correct."

According to the Salt Lake Tribune (January 18, 2006), Buttars defended the bill during the committee hearing by saying, "There is no consensus on the origins of life or how man became as he is today ... 'All the bill states is 'Don't overstate what you know.'" The extent of Buttars's own knowledge is suggested by his description, also reported in the Tribune, of the absence of transitional forms: "There is evolution within species ... There are big dogs and little dogs, big cats and little cats, but you haven't seen a 'dat.' You don't see intermediate species." Brett Moulding, the state's core curriculum director, reportedly cited the well-documented bird-reptile transition by way of counterexample.

SB 96's supporters on the committee insisted that, despite Buttars's prior statements about his intent in introducing such legislation, the bill was not intended to promote a particular religious view and would not "force any other theory to be introduced," according to a detailed account of the committee hearing that appeared in the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin (January 19, 2006). Brett Moulding noted that if so, the bill was unnecessary, since "the core curriculum understands that science conclusions are tentative and therefore never final ... They're always subject to revision with new evidence." But if the bill were to require the presentation of a scientifically credible alternative to evolution, he said, "I cannot think of one."

The editorial reaction of the Salt Lake Tribune (January 18, 2006) to the vote was unsparing. Referring to Buttars's discussion of evolution, the editorial commented, "every time the West Jordan Republican opens his mouth to address the subject, he removes all doubt about the fact that he has absolutely no idea what he's talking about," adding, "Senate Bill 96 would probably be the first article, section or clause in our state statute book that is a downright lie." Noting that Governor Huntsman hopes to improve science and mathematics education in the state, the editorial concluded by suggesting that "[t]he governor should have his veto pen at the ready for this one."

Meanwhile, the ACLU of Utah was not idle, sending a letter to members of the state senate urging that they vote against SB 96. The letter cited applicable case law, including Selman v. Cobb County and Kitzmiller v. Dover; in both cases, the letter explained, the court "noted the sectarian motivation behind the school districts' selection of one, and only one, scientific area for particular scrutiny," just as in SB 96. Concluding, the ACLU of Utah urged the Senate to "take note of the current legal landscape regarding the constitutionality of statutes and policies like SB 96, and ... not [to] risk an expensive and unnecessary lawsuit by passing the bill."

Similarly, in a letter dated January 19, 2006, Americans United for Separation of Church and State urged Utah senators to oppose SB 96. American United's letter argues, "Although SB 96 does not mention intelligent design or creationism by name, there is no doubt that the bill ... comes out of religiously motivated opposition to the scientific theory of evolution," adding, "we have no doubt that if this statute were challenged, it would be found unconstitutional." The letter concludes, "Undermining evolution is not only detrimental to the science education of our children, but is also unconstitutional. We urge you to vote against SB 96, and to support science education and religious liberty."

A story in the Deseret Morning News (January 19, 2006) provided useful background on the variety of religious attitudes toward evolution, especially within the Mormon church, to which a majority of Utahns belong. Highlighted was Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements, a compilation of statements issued or sanctioned by the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from 1909 to 2004, edited by two Utah science professors, William E. Evenson and Duane E. Jeffery (who serves on NCSE's board of directors). Jeffery told the Morning News, "There has been a belief, for years and years and years, that Mormonism and evolution are diametrically opposed," a belief that the book seeks to dispel.

For the text of SB 96, visit:
http://www.le.state.ut.us/~2006/bills/sbillint/sb0096.htm

For the Salt Lake Tribune's story, visit:
http://www.sltrib.com/nationworld/ci_3412552

For the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin's story, visit:
http://www2.tooeletranscript.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=10065&Itemid=54

For the Salt Lake Tribune's editorial, visit:
http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_3415913

For the ACLU of Utah's letter (PDF), visit:
http://www.acluutah.org/ltr011906_sb96.pdf

For Americans United's letter, visit:
http://www.au.org/site/PageServer?pagename=advocacy_utahletter

For the story in the Deseret Morning News, visit:
http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,635177399,00.html

To purchase Mormonism and Evolution from Amazon.com, visit:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/1589580931/nationalcenter02/

If you wish to subscribe, please send:

subscribe ncse-news your@email.com

again in the body of an e-mail to majordomo@ncseweb2.org.

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

Sincerely,

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x305
fax: 510-601-7204
800-290-6006
branch@ncseweb.org
http://www.ncseweb.org

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

KU's intelligent design course is cancelled

http://media.www.studlife.com/media/paper337/news/2006/01/20/News/Kus-Intelligent.Design.Course.Is.Cancelled-1478835.shtml?sourcedomain=www.studlife.com&MIIHost=media.collegepublisher.com

By: Margy Levinson
Issue date: 1/20/06 Section: News

After much debate and media attention last semester, the University of Kansas made a final decision to remove a controversial course on creationism and intelligent design from its curricular offerings. Instead of advocating these theories, the course, originally titled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies," was intended to teach these theories as myth.

Several days following this November 30 announcement, Professor Paul Mirecki, who was planning to teach the course, was attacked by two men, allegedly as a result of his involvement in the class.

Although Mirecki declined Student Life's request for a formal interview, in doing so, he expressed hope for the future of such courses.

"There probably will be classes in the future not taught by me but taught by other people like me," he said.

Before the class was canceled, several University of Kansas (KU) students voiced their opinions about it.

"I think it is a great idea to get different opinions on how the world evolved to teach the students of KU so that they can be more educated about the world around them," said Jason Oruch, a freshman at KU,

Another student expressed apathy about the class.

"It personally doesn't affect me, well I know there are many theories about the world and how we were created and how we came on this earth. It doesn't personally affect me in anyway," said Dena Hart, a freshman at KU.

Recently, the topics the course planned to address have been part of widespread debate about the proper roles of science and religion in the classroom and in the explanation of life on earth. While the explanations for creationism and intelligent design emerge from religious doctrines, the explanations for evolution come from science.

The theory of evolution is complex, but it essentially proposes that the universe and life as known today developed from earlier forms and are constantly engaged in a process of organic change through natural selection and mutation. Evolution does not offer a specific answer to the question of where life began.

Creationism suggests that the divine intervention of God is the root explanation for the origins of the universe and life.

Intelligent design suggests that some intelligent being created the universe and life on earth. Amidst much controversy, this theory has recently been taught in many science classes across the United States in lieu of or in combination with evolution.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, however, on December 20, a federal judge ruled "intelligent design was nothing more than creationism in disguise." The decision effectively banned intelligent design from public schools' curricula.

Alan Templeton, Professor of Biology at Washington University, agrees with the findings of this ruling.

"There is no debate [about intelligent design] within science," said Templeton. "Intelligent design is not science…science is all about the questions, not the answers. … [Advocates of intelligent design] are actually lying… [teaching intelligent design is] completely unethical as an educator."

For Professor Frank Flinn, whose course "Religion and Science," was offered in the Religious Studies department during the Fall 2005 semester, a college classroom is the ideal forum to debate these issues - if both the students and professors approach the course with respectful attitudes.

"The situation [at KU] was unfortunate, said Flinn. "The professor who was going to teach the course [at KU] said that he was going to show up the true [religious] believers, which is the wrong approach," said Flinn. "The right way is to recognize that there is a serious debate going on and let the students discuss that in the classroom…We try to do that here. Some [students] found their faith challenged and then found a way to answer these challenges. Others didn't have beliefs but wanted to discuss these issues."

A significant portion of Flinn's course involved the analysis of the first chapter of Genesis, a source of much conflict in the discussion of religion and science.

"Conflict arises because of a minority group of Christians that I refer to as neofundamentalists who have adopted a literal interpretation of the scriptures," said Flinn. "I think you can interpret Genesis literally, but it's not a scientific hypothesis… It's a description of how God brought cosmos out of chaos, the formless void, and a template for how to live in an orderly and worshipful manner…It has concrete logic and makes complete sense, but it doesn't have anything to do with cells, genetics, and evolution."

Throughout the duration of this debate, religion has also come up as a serious topic. Templeton noted how that many religions support evolution, including various sects of Christianity and Judaism.

"Intelligent design will have an impact on religion," said Templeton. "This is also an issue of religious freedom."

--With additional reporting by Caroline Wekselbaum and Kristin McGrath

Senate Gives First Blessing To Intelligent Design

http://kutv.com/topstories/local_story_020154554.html

Jan 20, 2006 1:43 pm US/Mountain

The Utah Senate gave its first blessing Friday to a bill that would make schools teach that evolution is not the only scientific theory about the origins of humans.

Sponsored by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, the bill was passed by a 17-12 vote after nearly an hour of debate. The bill needs one more affirmative Senate vote before moving on to the House for consideration.

Buttars amended his own bill, inserting the word ``scientific'' in several places to clear up what he said were misperceptions that he was trying to push religion into public schools.

``I've never advocated for, never included anything about intelligent design, creationism or any faith-based philosophy,'' he said. ``(Opponents) say what you're trying to do is sneak the camel's nose inside the tent. By inserting these two words, it becomes 100 percent clear that we're talking about various scientific views.''

Regardless of the change, Buttars' supporters spoke about religion in defending their votes for the bill. Some criticized what they called a rise of the ``religion of secularism and atheism'' in society, which they say squelches expressions of religion in public life.

``It seems like for a long time we've been quiet and allowed these things to happen,'' Sen. Parley Hellewell, R-Orem said. ``I think it's important that we stand and fight for what we believe.''

But it was religion that ultimately tipped the scales against the bill for Senate Majority Leader Pete Knudsen, R-Brigham City.

``I thought I heard in (Buttars') statement that if one doesn't vote for this, then one could be considered an atheist. If that was the implication, that concerns me greatly. That is not the spirit in which we should discuss this legislation,'' he said. ``There is a place for evolution in life, it's a part of life. It saddens me that one's faith would be challenged on a vote of this bill. I vote no.''

Joining Knudsen on the losing side were three other Republicans, and all eight Senate Democrats, who argued that that decision about specific curricula should be left to locally-elected school boards and education experts.

Early in the debate, Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, offered an amendment to ensure that schools also teach that all areas of science have opposing theories, not just biology.

``If our purpose and our concern is that we want our children to critically analyze and be presented with opposing viewpoints and differing theories, we should apply this across the board,'' McCoy argued. His amendment failed.

© 2006 The Associated Press

AT NEWS

USA TODAY Helps Expose "Attachment Therapy" Underground Trafficking of Unwanted Children

Mega-Families in Ohio & Tennessee

USA Today published three stories on Wednesday that are drawing the nation's attention to Attachment Therapy's (AT) relatively unnoticed underground trafficking of children.

The cover story by Wendy Koch...

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-01-18-swapping-children_x.htm?POE=NEWISVA "Underground network moves children from home to home" (USA TODAY, 1/18/06)

...focused on the bizarre and extra-legal means employed by a couple in rural western Tennessee to acquire 18 children whom they subjected to brutal AT Parenting techniques (aka Nancy Thomas Parenting).

The reporter also had two other related stories -- one linking eleven caged children in Ohio to Attachment Therapy:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-01-17-bed-or-cage_x.htm "Enclosed beds cause controversy" (USA TODAY, 1/18/06)

...and the other relating the failure of states to meet federal adoption standards:

(http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-01-17-child-welfare_x.htm) "No state fully compliant with child-welfare standards" (USA TODAY, 1/18/06)

Tom and Debra Schmitz of Trenton, TN -- the focus of the *USA Today* cover story -- will appear in court January 30th to face 56 criminal counts of child abuse, neglect, and trafficking. As reported by AT News when the story first broke in 2004 (http://www.childrenintherapy.org/newsroom/atnews/20040902.html), Debra Schmitz reportedly kept children in a cage, locked some in unlit cellar rooms, inappropriately medicated children, provided inadequate nutrition, put older children into diapers, required long hours of sitting on the floor facing a wall, cut girls' hair very short against their will, and sensationally forced a few to "dig their own graves" (where they were threatened to be buried, and "no one would care").

Debra Schmitz admits to Koch that she was part of an internet-based network of other parents that 80-90% revolved around AT. She denies that her network is engaged in child-swapping or child-trafficking, but the reporting in *USA Today* and other papers strongly suggest otherwise. One report is that the Schmitzes were "secretively" handed off one of their children at an Illinois truck stop. One of the criminal charges is that they gave away a child to another family in Arizona.

As always, money seems to be a big factor in these cases. Koch reports that by the time the children were removed, the Schmitzes were bringing in over $9,000 a month (or over $100,000 per year) in state aid and subsidies. In Ohio, the Gravelles were getting $47,000 a year in subsidies for their children, plus their Attachment Therapist had charged the state $107,000 over a 30-month period.

As he often does in high-profile cases such as these, Attachment Therapist Ronald Federici,(http://www.childrenintherapy.org/proponents/federici.html) has popped up, and in Koch's story, supports the Schmitzes. Koch reports that Federici "evaluated" the children for the defense and declared most of them as having "severe brain damage or psychiatric disorders that make them inappropriate court witnesses." He also claims the Schmitzes are innocent of the charges against them.

In a disturbing turn of events -- not reported by USA Today or anyone else to our knowledge -- the home-care nurses who blew the whistle on the Schmitzes in the first place are being sued by the state-appointed guardian for the children. He claims the nurses failed to report the abuses in the Schmitz home in a timely fashion. The nurses say they reported the first instance of actual physical abuse that came to their notice, which was told to them by one of the children.

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 Coercive Restraint Therapy) and Attachment Therapy 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
ExecDir@childrenintherapy.org

WHY IS ATTACHMENT THERAPY TORTURE?
Attachment Therapy is therapist-initiated physical contact and restraint which inflicts emotional and physical discomfort on a child (or infant) so that the child struggles, often for hours, until exhausted. AT parenting methods are severe and are largely based on humiliation, deprivation. excessive chores/exercises, and isolation.

Acupuncture works by deactivating the area of the brain governing pain, a TV show will claim.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4631930.stm

Tuesday's programme - the first of three on complementary medicine - will show researchers carrying out brain scans on people having acupuncture.

The BBC Two show will also feature heart surgery done using acupuncture instead of a general anaesthetic.

The patient is conscious during the operation in China, but she was given sedatives and a local anaesthetic.

In Alternative Medicine: The Evidence, volunteers are subjected to deep needling, which involves needles being inserted 1cm into the back of the hand at well-known acupuncture points.

A control group undergoes superficial needling with needles placed only 1mm in.

Sensation

The needles are then twiddled until the participants feel a dull, achy or tingling sensation. For those in the deep needling group this stimulates the nervous system.

During these two procedures, the volunteers underwent brain scans to see what, if any, effect there was in the brain.

The team, including leading scientists from University College London, Southampton University and the University of York, found the superficial needling resulted in activation of the motor areas of the cortex, a normal reaction to pain.

But with deep needling, the limbic system, part of the pain matrix, is deactivated.

The finding was surprising because experts had always assumed acupuncture activates the brain in someway.

Professor Sykes said: "The pain matrix is involved in the perception of pain - it helps someone decide whether something is painful or not, so it could be that acupuncture in some ways changes a person's pain perception.

"We have found something quite unexpected - that acupuncture is having a measurable effect on the human brain.

"We are not suggesting that it should be used during surgery, although it is in China, but just that it acts as a pain relief and should be taken seriously."

Professor Tony Wildsmith, a pain relief expert at the University of Dundee, said he thought the findings were possible.

But he added: "The thing about acupuncture is that it does not work on everyone. It is more likely to be effective if you believe it.

"I think it is a psychological manipulation technique, a distraction. We are not going to get to the stage where this could be used instead of a general anaesthetic."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/01/21 00:06:59 GMT

C BBC MMVI


Friday, January 20, 2006

The Rationalist & Atheistic Anti-Sai Movement

http://www.saisathyasai.com/baba/Ex-Baba.com/christian-atheist-anti-sai-movements.html

Atheists & Rationalists who have spoken out against Sathya Sai Baba:

Basava Premanand, James Randi, Gerald Huber , Babu R.R. Gogineni (Former General Secretary of Rationalist Association of India), Dr. H. Narasimhaiah (Rationalist, Atheist and former Vice Chancellor to the Bangalore University), Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor (Rationalist, free thinker and was the President of the Rationalist Association of Sri Lanka), P.C. Sarcar Jr. (Indian stage magician and Rationalist), K.N. Balagopal (Rationalist Advocate), Sam Dalal (Rationalist and Magician), Sanal Edamaruku (President of Rationalist International), Professor Desai (Rationalist and Atheist), Hughes, James J., Gora, Louis Hughes, Max Seifert, Germán Buela, Prakash Arumugam, Ajoy K. Roy, K Vasudevan, Mr. Roy Brown, Mr. Vijayam, Mr. Ramana murthy, Dr. Narisetti Innaiah (Indian Radical Humanist Association), T.V. Rao (Co- Ordinator Secretary FARA Jana Vignana Vedika), M.N. Roy, Avijit Roy, Prasad Golla, Dale Beyerstein, Barry Beyerstein, N. Vikram, B. Samba Sivarao, M. Subba Rao, M. Chandra Sekhar, L. Siegel, Nikesh Murali (active member of the Atheist foundation of Australia and the Humanist Society of Queensland).

Atheist & Rationalist sites that have aricles written against Sathya Sai Baba:

bcskeptics.info, skeptics.com.au, ntskeptics.org, csj.org, discord.org, skeptics.org.nz, infidels.org, skeptic.de, skeptica.dk, themronline.com, indianmagique.com, innaiahn.tripod.com, skeptica.dk, geocities.com/Area51/Dunes/5591/main.htm, racjonalista.pl, skepticfiles.org, nzarh.org.nz, newhumanist.org.uk, skeptica.dk, uni-giessen.de/~gk1415, iheu.org, themronline.com, positiveatheism.org, mukto-mona.com, infidels.org, skeptic.com, rationalistinternational.net, secular.ws, asalup.org, indian-skeptic.org, humanist.org.nz, randi.org, csicop.org, skepdic.com, rationalistinternational.net

WHAT'S NEW

Robert L. Park Friday, 20 Jan 06 Washington, DC

THE DOVER EFFECT: 2006 IS STARTING OUT THE WAY 2005 ENDED.

The Christmas Miracle in 2005 was Kitzmiller v. Dover School Board http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN05/wn122305.html . This week, the El Tejon school system in rural California agreed to halt the course on intelligent design at Frazier Mountain High mentioned in last week's WN. The minister's wife who taught the course said it all: "This is the class that the Lord wanted me to teach." On Wednesday, the Dover decision was characterized by the official Vatican newspaper as "correct." At the Discovery Institute they may be worrying about structural unemployment.

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

Evolution education update: January 13, 2006

A new lawsuit over the teaching of "intelligent design" is on the horizon in Lebec, California. And as state legislatures began to convene for their new legislative sessions, there are already four antievolution bills filed, in Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah.

NEW LAWSUIT OVER "INTELLIGENT DESIGN"

Eleven parents filed a lawsuit in federal court in California on January 10, 2006, in order to stop the El Tejon School District from allowing a course to be taught at its Frazier Mountain High School that promotes creationism. The parents, represented by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the law firm Arnold & Porter LLP, object to the course because it undercuts science education and violates the separation of church and state. In a declaration filed with the court, plaintiff Kenneth Hurst said the class "undermines the sound scientific principles taught in Frazier Mountain High School's biology curriculum" and is "an inappropriate attempt to bring religious teachings into the classroom and to evangelize students."

The course in question -- a four-week intersession elective -- was originally entitled "Philosophy of Intelligent Design" and since retitled "Philosophy of Design." In a description circulated in early December 2005, it was claimed that the course would "take a close look at evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological, and Biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin's philosophy is not rock solid. ... Physical and chemical evidence will be presented suggesting the earth is thousands of years old, not billions." The syllabus of the course was originally dominated by young-earth creationist materials, and was then revised to include mainly "intelligent design" materials.

The plaintiffs' complaint in the case concludes that the teacher, Sharon Lemburg, proposed the course for overtly religious reasons. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times (January 12, 2006), Lemburg posed the question, "Did God guide me to do this?" and answered, "I would hope so." The Times also noted that Lemburg is the "wife of a minister for the local Assembly of God Church, which supports fundamentalist Christian tenets about creationism." American United's Barry Lynn commented, "It is all too clear that the teacher is seeking to persuade students that intelligent design is a legitimate scientific alternative. ... That's not constitutionally permissible or educationally sound. It must be stopped."

A hearing on the request for the temporary restraining order is scheduled for January 17, 2006. In the meantime, as with Kitzmiller v. Dover and Selman v. Cobb County, NCSE plans to provide extensive coverage of the Lebec case (officially Hurst et al. v. Newman et al.). To assemble such materials conveniently in one place, the section of the NCSE website that was devoted to Kitzmiller has been renamed "Evolution Education and the Law," and coverage of and materials relating to all three cases are now available there. In the future, NCSE hopes to expand Evolution Education and the Law to include other cases, both past and future.

For NCSE's Evolution Education and the Law, visit:
http://www2.ncseweb.org/wp/

For American United's press release about the case, visit:
http://www.au.org/site/News2?abbr=pr&page=NewsArticle&id=7783

For the story in the Los Angeles Times, visit:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lebec12jan12,0,4360972.story

ANTIEVOLUTION LEGISLATION IN INDIANA

Antievolution legislation materialized in Indiana, but not in the form originally threatened by its sponsor. Representative Bruce A. Borders (R-Jasonville) introduced House Bill 1388 in the Indiana House of Representatives on January 10, 2006. Although Borders was quoted in the Indianapolis Star (November 2, 2005) as describing himself as "passionate" about "intelligent design" and declaring his intention to submit a bill making it a required subject in Indiana's public schools, HB 1388, if enacted, would only mandate that "[i]n adopting textbooks for each subject . . . the state board shall not adopt a textbook if the state board knows the textbook contains information, descriptions, conclusions, or pictures that are false."

The target of the bill is clearly the treatment of evolution in textbooks; Borders was quoted by the Star (January 11, 2006), as saying, "Many of the things that have been used to support macroevolution have been proven to be lies. ... It will take those out." Borders also acknowledged to the Star that his change in strategy was due to the December 2005 decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover, which held that it is unconstitutional to teach "intelligent design" in the public schools." NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch commented that the fallback strategy of deprecating evolution "is increasingly going to dominate the creationism-evolution landscape" in the wake of the Kitzmiller decision.

Fran Quigley, the executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, told the Star, "I can't imagine that the state board [of education] needs to be told by the General Assembly not to give false information to our schoolchildren." Obviously aware of Borders's purpose in introducing HB 1388, however, he added, "If this is an effort to run evolution out of the science curriculum, it fails to account for the fact that the scientific theory of evolution has been corroborated by hundreds of thousands of independent observations ... No persuasive evidence has been put forth in 150 years to contradict the theory of evolution."

House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis), who was previously enthusiastic about "intelligent design" legislation, telling the Associated Press (November 4, 2005) that "I think it's fair to allow and perhaps require students to be taught that there may be more than one explanation for the creation of the world," downplayed the legislature's current interest. Representative Jerry Denbo (D-French Lick), who drafted a bill of his own that would allow teaching "intelligent design," decided not to introduce it: "There's no hope," he told the Star. Back in November 2005, Governor Mitch Davis (R) already expressed his reservations about signing such a bill.

For the text of HB 1388 as introduced, visit:
http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2006/IN/IN1388.1.html

For the story in the Indianapolis Star, visit:
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060111/NEWS02/601110428/1006/NEWS01

ANTIEVOLUTION LEGISLATION IN MISSOURI

House Bill 1266 was introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives on January 9, 2006. Dubbed the Missouri Science Education Act, HB 1266 would, if enacted, require public school science teachers in grades 6 through 12 to comply with a list of "best practices" in order "to support the truthful identity of scientific information and minimize misrepresentation while promoting clarity, accuracy, and student understanding." Evolution is singled out for special attention; the bill explicitly provides that "[i]f a theory or hypothesis of biological origins is taught, a critical analysis of such theory or hypothesis shall be taught in a substantive amount."

The sponsor of HB 1266 is Representative Robert Wayne Cooper (R-District 155), who in 2003 introduced two bills calling for "intelligent design" to be taught in the Missouri public schools. HB 911 would have required that, "[i]f scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught and given equal treatment"; it also contained a provision that would have terminated the employment of teachers and administrators who failed to accord with the bill's dictates. HB 1722 would also have required "the equal treatment of science instruction regarding evolution and intelligent design". Both bills died in May 2004, when the legislative session ended.

For the text of HB 1266 as introduced, visit:
http://www.house.mo.gov/bills061/biltxt/intro/HB1266I.htm

For NCSE's stories about previous antievolution legislation in Missouri, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=MO

ANTIEVOLUTION LEGISLATION IN OKLAHOMA

When the Oklahoma House of Representatives convenes on February 6, 2006, among the bills awaiting attention will be House Bill 2107, dubbed the Academic Freedom Act. If enacted, HB 2107 would provide:

A. Every public school teacher in the State of Oklahoma, shall have the affirmative right and freedom to present scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views in any curricula or course of learning. B. No public school teacher in the State of Oklahoma shall be terminated, disciplined, or otherwise discriminated against for presenting scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views in any curricula or course of learning. C. Students may be evaluated based upon their understanding of course materials, but no student, in any public school shall be penalized in any way because the student may subscribe to a particular position on scientific views. D. The rights and privileges contained in the Academic Freedom Act apply when topics are taught that may generate controversy, such as biological or chemical origins of life. Nothing in this act shall be construed as requiring or encouraging any change in the state curriculum standards for public schools. E. Nothing in this act shall be construed as promoting any religious doctrine, promoting discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promoting discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

The reference in (D) to "biological or chemical origins of life" is a clear indication that the bill is aimed specifically at evolution, as is the legislative finding that "existing law does not expressly protect the right of teachers identified by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard to present scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories." HB 2107 was introduced by Representative Sally Kern (R-District 55).

For the text of HB 2107 (RTF), visit:
http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/2005-06HB/HB2107_int.rtf

ANTIEVOLUTION LEGISLATION IN UTAH

Senate Bill 96, sponsored by Senator Chris Buttars (R-District 10), was filed on January 4, 2006, and presumably will be taken under consideration after the legislature convenes on January 16, 2006. If enacted, SB 96 would direct the Utah state board of education to require "that instruction to students on any theory regarding the origins of life, or the origins or present state of the human race, shall stress that not all scientists agree on which theory is correct" and to "ensure that all policies and positions of the State Board of Education relating to theories regarding the origins of life or the origins or present state of the human race: (i) do not endorse a particular theory; and (ii) stress that not all scientists agree on which theory is correct."

SB 96 is the culmination of about half a year's worth of public antievolution statements by Buttars, beginning with his announcement of plans to introduce legislation calling for the teaching of "divine design" -- "Divine design," he told the Salt Lake Tribune (June 3, 2005), "doesn't preach religion ... The only people who will be upset about this are atheists." Perhaps in reaction, the Utah state board of education unanimously adopted a position statement on September 2, 2005, that described evolution as "a major unifying concept in science and appropriately included in Utah's K-12 Science Core Curriculum"; the policy statement would presumably have to be rescinded if SB 96 were to be enacted.

For the text of SB 96 as introduced, visit:
http://www.le.state.ut.us/~2006/bills/sbillint/sb0096.htm

For NCSE's stories about Buttars's previous statements, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=UT

REMINDER

If you wish to subscribe, please send:

subscribe ncse-news your@email.com

again in the body of an e-mail to majordomo@ncseweb2.org.

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

Sincerely,

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x305
fax: 510-601-7204
800-290-6006
branch@ncseweb.org
http://www.ncseweb.org

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

Do not offend water: it remembers every word you say

- 01/13/2006 22:41

From http://english.pravda.ru/science/19/94/377/16739_water.html

One day theoretical science will no longer have doubts about water's memory while high tech specialists will be making "water" computers controlled by telepathy

There seemed nothing to be as simple and as well studied in the world of science as water…until recently. The proverbial chemical description, temperature metamorphoses from ice into steam, solvent properties – that is about all. Deeper studies into the Nanoworld are ready to shake faith even in the water's simplicity. Just for one fact that it turns out water has memory and understands human emotions and words.

According to physics that we study at school water does not form any long-lived structures (if there is no other substance taking part in the process). Of course, there is so called hydrogen bond, due to which molecules are joined in chains, but such formations exist a tiny moment of time. Theoretically it means that water is hard to structure: at least all the stories about magnetized water or water that "remembers" substance once dissolved in it have been labeled as asientific for a long time. Nevertheless, it has been several years already since quite serious-minded scientists with the help of ultraprecision instruments began to study the ability of water to form those long-lived structures.

Russian scientists are among the leaders. In 2003 at the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences Russian scientist Stanislav Zenin upheld a thesis on water's memory. The thesis' author owns a laboratory and studied clathrates, stable compounds (that can live up to several hours!) consisting of 912 water molecules of half-micron or micron in size. You can even see them through the phase-contrast microscope. Clathrates are almost electrically neutral in distilled water. However, Zenin found out that their electroconductivity could be changed. Bonds between the clathrates' elements can be broken with the magnetic stirrer and then water becomes dead and unordered mixture. If a tiny amount (even one molecule) of any other substance is added into water clathrates start "adopting" its electromagnetic properties. In the end Zenin engaged psychics and healers – people who do not enjoy respect in the world of science - in his work on thesis. He found out that some representatives of this dubious occupation can change water's electroconductivity drastically with the power of their thought. Zenin defined water as substance in phase-informative state with a structure suitable for data storage. He called it a biological information tank. He distinguished water's primary and long-term memory. Primary memory becomes apparent after a single impact. It is a reversible change in water's structure and a reflection of the new electromagnetic picture on clathrates' surface. As for the long-term memory, it is a complete transformation of the matrix clathrates' structural elements as a result of long information influence. This means that you do not have to be a psychic to form a certain structure of water. It is enough to pass a certain emotion to water for some period of time.

The same conclusion was made by Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto. He discovered that water can really form ordered structures that turned out to be crystals. Each of them is unique and reflects the electromagnetic properties of water. Microcrystals are studied with the help of photographs. First of all, water drops placed into Petri dishes are quenched for two hours. Then they are placed into special apparatus that is a sort of refrigerator combined with microscope and camera. Here the newly-formed crystals are examined at temperature of 5C below zero. The most characteristic ones are photographed.

Dr. Emoto and his team study water from different sources of the world and also water that was effected by music, image, television, thoughts of a single person and a group of people, prayers, words typed or pronounced in different languages etc. Emoto discovered that there was a significant difference between crystals that listened to Beethoven and heavy-metal. Words "angel" and "devil" form structures that are similar and completely opposite at the same time.

Of course, Dr. Emoto can be also called a person with vivid imagination who uses equipment for purposes that have nothing to do with science. The Japanese scientist thinks that everything in this world possesses common vibration frequency, resonance wave (hado) that is able to transfer human emotions onto all surrounding objects. That is why one has to thank food that he/she eats, avoid negative emotions and pray more often. Such conclusions make scientific community laugh. But that is not always the case. Many researchers show interest in the findings of Dr. Emoto. Some are looking for the ways to transform processes that occur in water under the influence of electromagnetic radiation of the human brain into signals that are comprehensible for computer. In other words, they want to invent a computer that would be operated by thoughts. Others want to teach water storing the binary code. There are also those who try to find out if it is possible to change physical and chemical properties of water for special purposes (for instance, making it viscous in order to cool nuclear reactors with less energy consumption).

Such tendencies can one day result in the situation when theoretical science will no longer have doubts about water's memory while high tech specialists will be making "water" computers controlled by telepathy.

Vladimir Borovoy

Mobiles 'don't raise cancer risk'

Mobile phone use does not lead to a greater risk of brain tumour, the largest study on the issue has said. The study of 2,782 people across the UK found no link between the risk of glioma - the most common type of brain tumour - and length of mobile use.

Among cancer sufferers the tumours were more likely to be reported on the side of the head where they held the phone.

But the British Medical Journal study said people over-reported phone use on the side their cancer developed.

The research, which was carried out by the British arm of an international project called Interphone, reiterates the findings of most earlier studies in saying that there is no connection between cancer and mobile phone use.

The team of researchers, involving scientists from Leeds University, the Institute of Cancer Research and the University of Nottingham, spoke to 966 people diagnosed with glioma and 1,716 without the condition in five areas of the UK.

All 2,783 were interviewed about their history of mobile phone use over the previous 10 years.

They were asked to recall in detail how much they used their mobile phones, how often they used hands-free kits and what types of phones they had used.

'Biased reporting'

Research author Professor Patricia McKinney, Professor of Paediatric Epidemiology at the Leeds University, said: "For regular mobile phone users, there was no increased risk of developing a glioma associated with mobile phone use."

She acknowledged that there appeared to be an increased risk among brain cancer sufferers on the side of the head where they held the phone.

The team, however, did not put this down to a causal link, because almost exactly the same decreased risk was seen on the other side of the head, leaving no overall increase risk of tumours for mobile phone users.

Instead, they blamed biased reporting from brain tumour sufferers who knew what side of the head their tumours were on.

Another research team member, Professor Anthony Swerdlow of the Cancer Research Institute, said: "It would be very misleading to the public to say that because there was a positive that this (mobile phones) causes brain tumours."

He explained: "If we had found a raised risk overall and it was all coming from one side, I would believe there was a real case.

"But as there is a drop on the opposing side - the overall risk is not raised.

"That makes it rather unlikely that there is a raised risk."

But he added that epidemiological studies could never show there was no risk of an activity, they could only suggest there was no raised risk.

'Growing evidence'

The National Radiological Protection Board said the research was good news, but that it did not give mobile phones a clean bill of health.

The board said it would not be changing its advice that children should not make unnecessary mobile phone calls.

Dr Kat Arney, science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said research such as this was vital for getting to the environmental causes of cancer.

"This is the biggest and most thorough study into mobile phones and glioma so far, and it adds to the growing evidence that there is no link.

"Although we still don't know about the very long-term effects of phone use, these results are reassuring for everyone with a mobile."

Further research

Wendy Fulcher, who founded ther Brain Tumour Research Campaign, said she hoped people would be finally reassured by the results of the research.

She added: "In relation to other cancers, brain tumours are the poor relation when it comes to research funding.

"There should be more money focused on the root causes of brain tumours."

Alasdair Philips, director of campaign group Powerwatch, says the study "doesn't really prove anything".

"I think they should have waited another couple of years and recruited more people with brain tumours so they could have interviewed them, because the trouble was they went back a few years and the people had died.

"If you get a grade four glioma you can die within a year or 18 months of it being diagnosed, and these people are just gone, so they couldn't get their mobile phone history."

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/4628914.stm

Published: 2006/01/20 08:30:06 GMT


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