NTS LogoSkeptical News for 26 August 2006

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Pope to grapple with Darwin


Benedict to brainstorm with 'Creationism row' cardinal

by Denis Greenan

(ANSA) - Rimini, August 24 - Pope Benedict XVI is to brainstorm on evolution with a top theologian accused of championing controversial theories that rubbish Darwin .

The theologian, Vienna Archbishop Christoph Schoenborn, announced the September 1-3 session at a Catholic rally this week where he reaffirmed his belief that the universe could not have come about in a random way .

However, this time Schoenborn was keen to stress that so-called 'intelligent design' - a subject of massive controversy in the United States - did not rule out some element of "the unplanned" .

"The alternative to the process of pure chance is not absolute determinism but rather the interaction between the actions of creatures and the divine creator who sustains their actions," Schoenberg told the influential conservative Catholic youth movement Comunione e Liberazione .

The closed-door think-in at the pope's summer residence of Castelgandolfo is expected to nail down a firmer position on evolution, which has been keenly debated since Pope John Paul II's famous pronouncement that Darwinism was "not just a theory" .

The Church has been accused of sending mixed signals, with Schoenberg's views being challenged by prominent Catholic scientists and some theologians. Schoenborn, a former university pupil of the pope's, grabbed headlines a year ago with a New York Times editorial seen as backing moves to teach intelligent-design theories alongside Darwinism .

This week the prelate said his NYT article had been misconstrued but admitted that it had been a little too "cut-and-dried," laying it open to misinterpretation .

Supporters of intelligent design (ID) pounced on the article in their fight to win intellectual credibility for a theory most scientists see as Creationism - the core Bible story - dressed up to gain bogus respectability .

In response to Schoenborn's blast against Darwinism, the director of the Vatican Observatory, Father George Coyne, said critics of evolutionary theory underestimated God's willingness to give "freedom" to Nature .

The Baltimore-born Jesuut, 73, who has just stepped down after 28 years at the helm of the Vatican's flagship science programme, rapped Schoenborn for "underestimating" the US context in which he was speaking and branded Creationism as "a religious movement devoid of all scientific basis" .

Schoenborn responded by clarifying his position, saying that evolution as a body of scientific fact was compatible with Catholicism, but that evolution as an ideological dogma that denied design and purpose in Nature was not. In the months that followed, the Vatican newspaper ran a piece by another leading Catholic scientist who said ID wasn't science .

Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, said teaching it alongside evolutionary theory only creates confusion .

Like Coyne, Facchini said ID should be confined to religion classes .

On Wednesday Schoenborn - a media-friendly intellectual heavyweight tipped by many to get the job that eventually fell to Benedict - steered clear of where such theories should be taught .

But he stressed that more attention should be given to the holes in Darwin's theory, "which (Darwin) himself recognised and regretted" .

"The open questions of the theory of evolution should be exposed" rather than pushing Darwinism as the explanation for how life developed, the cardinal said .

In a veiled reference to Coyne, Schoenberg also cast doubt on the propriety of a religious figure coming out in favour of Darwinism .

Coyne, who is undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer, has been forced to quit because of the pressures of work at a prestigious astronomy lab that has offshoots all over the world, including Arizona in the US .

Shortly before filing his retirement request this month, the stargazer penned an article for the authoritative science monthly Newton in which he said "God isn't a designer and life is the fruit of billions of attempts" .

"People who want to see designers...should go to Milan or, if they're looking for engineers, to Dubai where they're building a whole new city," Coyne wrote. The Vatican has denied a report in the London-based Daily Mail that the ailing prelate was "removed" because he had "irritated" the pope .

Benedict - who taught Schoenborn at Regensburg in Germany before becoming the Vatican's dogma watchdog, his previous job - was last heard on the subject on World Youth Day in April .

He told his young audience in St Peter's that "science supports a reliable, intelligent structure of matter, the design of Creation" .

Schoenborn will be joined under his old master's wing at Castelgandolfo by other former pupils of the pope including a Jesuit professor of philosophy, Paul Elbrich, and political philosopher Robert Spaemann .

In December a US local court ruled against the teaching of ID alongside the theory of evolution .

Several US states teach the theory, claiming it is as credible as Darwinism. Supporters of ID hold that some features of the universe and living things are so complex they must have been designed by a higher intelligence .

Critics say ID is merely camouflaged Creationism .

They say it does not belong in science curriculum .

© Copyright ANSA

TV Producer Defends Documentary Exposing DarwinHitler Link


WDC MEDIA NEWS Christian News and Media Agency

2006-08-25 -- WDC Media News --

(AgapePress) - A television documentary producer is defending a special set to air this weekend, which views the Holocaust and other deadly events as consequences of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and its inevitable social impact.

The documentary titled Darwin's Deadly Legacy premieres on Dr. D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Hour on August 26 and 27. The program features 14 scholars, scientists, and authors who discuss and outline the historical and contemporary effects of evolution on society.

The documentary's producer, Jerry Newcombe, says it is important for Christians in particular to understand the social impact of Darwin's theory. ""Ideas have consequences," he explains, "and evolution lays at the root of so many different factors of our culture. We deal with some of those in the special, such as the school violence and the hopelessness among some young people today."

And taking the realm of contemporary law and policy as another example, Newcombe notes, "Right now we're in a fight, in a battle over the judiciary. Even in the Supreme Court itself, you have a conflict between those who believe and accept unguided evolution versus those who believe in God."

In fact, the special's producer points out, evolutionary theory has even been applied to the Bible. As a result, he observes, even some churches have been affected, and many church members now disregard fundamentals of Christian faith as symbolic statements or myths not meant to be taken literally.

"What I mean by that is you have a liberal, so-called Christianity where you have all these different liberal ministers and priests and priestesses that get up, and they basically preach a message contrary to the Bible," Newcombe says, "but the idea of it is that we've evolved, we know better than the apostles did. Some of those people, in a sense, imply that they know better than Jesus Christ as to what the religion of Jesus Christ should be all about."

Darwin's Deadly Legacy even connects evolutionary theory to Adolph Hitler's policies during his Third Reich. The documentary makes the case that the Holocaust can be linked to efforts by the German dictator to speed up the evolutionary process, as he understood it.

This supposition has drawn criticism from the Jewish group, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which has blasted the documentary and called it "an outrageous and shoddy attempt ... to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust."

In a statement, ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman said this program is the result of "ignorance at best or, at worst, a mendacious attempt to score political points in the culture war on the backs of six million Jewish victims and others who died at the hands of the Nazis."

Defending Anti-Darwinist Documentary's Take on Hitler

In response to the ADL's charge, Newcombe notes, "They haven't seen the program, so this is a criticism sight unseen." However, he does feel the Jewish group's ire is misdirected and says, "The fact of the matter is, I would think they would welcome any honest look at the Holocaust that looks at root causes, and that's one of the things we do."

With all the programs that have been done about the Holocaust, Newcombe feels few have ever really addressed it from the perspective taken by Darwin's Deadly Legacy. "Generally, people don't get into the root causes and look at what's the ideology driving this whole thing," he says. But the documentary Coral Ridge Ministries is about to televise, he insists, tries to expose and explain the sinister link between Darwin's theory and the mindset that made Hitler's Holocaust possible.

"The ideology driving the whole thing was the desire to create a master race," Newcombe says. "That's the whole thing, to create a master race, and some races interfered with that." He notes that historian Richard Weikart, a featured expert in the documentary and the author of From Darwin to Hitler, affirms that Hitler was a social Darwinist who drew on Darwinian ideas as he pursued his genocidal goals.

In addition to Weikart's expertise, Darwin's Deadly Legacy features commentary from Ann Coulter, author of Godless; Lee Strobel, author of The Case for a Creator; Phillip Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial, and many others. The producers of Coral Ridge Ministries' 60-minute special say the TV special will show why evolution is a bad idea that should be "discarded into the dustbin of history."

© 2006 AgapePress

Friday, August 25, 2006

Darwin Was a Racist!


Ringgold, GA 30736 August 24 2006

Don Boys, Ph.D.

A column in the news this week quoted a critic of Creationism asserting that Darwin "was an enlightened fellow for his time who opposed the racism endemic to his culture." That critic was simply espousing his religion, the religion of evolution. He knew not of what he spoke (or he lied) for all informed people know that Darwin and his early followers were unabashed, unregenerated, and unrepentant racists.

Darwin and his disciples were not only pseudo-scientists, (Darwin was an apostate preacher) but they were also radical, rabid racists! Ernst Haeckel was a German biologist, and a contemporary of Darwin, who faked drawings to support evolution (and was found guilty in a university court). He and others laid the foundation of racism and imperialism that resulted in Hitler's racist regime.

Edward Simon, a Jewish biology professor at Purdue University, wrote, "I don't claim that Darwin and his theory of evolution brought on the holocaust; but I cannot deny that the theory of evolution, and the atheism it engendered, led to the moral climate that made a holocaust possible."

I wonder what the "climate" is doing to students in public schools as they are taught they came from animals and are without any purpose in life? Could the incredible number and depth of our social problems be the result of Darwinism? I am convinced this is so, for if one believes that life has no purpose, and man came from beasts, then dignity, fairness, kindness, honesty, faithfulness, and justice have no relevance and importance.

Sir Arthur Keith, a well-known evolutionist, assessed Darwin's impact on Hitler and Germany: "We see Hitler devoutly convinced that evolution produces the only real basis for a national policy....The means he adopted to secure the destiny of his race and people were organized slaughter, which has drenched Europe in blood."

Furthermore, Joe Stalin became an atheist after reading Darwin's book that he found on a shelf in a church school! Such books are as dangerous as rattlesnakes in a day care center.

The unreasonable, unbiblical, and unscientific philosophy of Darwin and his disciples laid a foundation for hundreds of years of hatred, barbarity, and unbelief reaching into the future and adversely affecting millions of innocent lives.

If Darwin were alive today, he would be hooted out of the scientific community because he was not a trained scientist and because of his outrageous views about black people. Darwin thought that Blacks were closer to man's ape "ancestors" than the white race! Even the title of Darwin's book is overtly racist: The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Whom do you suppose Darwin tagged the "Unfavored Races?"

Darwin's disciple and main defender, T. H. Huxley, wrote, "It may be quite true that some negroes [sic] are better than some white men, but no rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro [sic] is the equal, still less the superior, of the average white man....The highest places in the hierarchy of civilization will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins...." (I "siced" the above places not because he used the term, "Negro" but because it did not capitalize it.) Darwin never repudiated him or his statements. How would "dusky cousins" be received down at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People?

However, it gets worse. Henry Osborne, who was professor of biology and zoology at Columbia University, declared, "The Negroid stock is even more ancient than the Caucasian and Mongolian, as may be proved by an examination not only of the brain, of the hair, of the bodily characters. such as the teeth, the genitalia, the sense organs, but of the instincts, the intelligence. The standard of intelligence of the average Negro is similar to that of the eleven-year-old youth of the species Homo sapiens." Wow! The most radical KKK nut doesn't believe that!

Edwin Conklin, was professor of biology at Princeton University and president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said that Blacks had not evolved as far as Whites and "Every consideration should lead those who believe in the superiority of the white race to strive to preserve its purity and to establish and maintain the segregation of the races, for the longer this is maintained, the greater the preponderance of the white race will be." Well, there goes any possibility of Ed ever having an NAACP medal struck in his honor. Too bad.

The major haters of the last 100 years have been evolutionists. Men such as Nietzsche who often said God was dead (and I didn't even know He was sick) called for the breeding of a master race, and for the annihilation of millions of misfits. Hitler, Mussolini, Marx, Engels, and Stalin were all outspoken evolutionists, and those people and their theories and policies have been responsible for the slaughter of multi-millions of people, and the destruction of freedom all over the earth. It is amazing that so many liberals, radicals, fascists, communists and the easily impressed worship at Darwin's shrine.

Yes, the foundation of racism, hatred, and violence in the last hundred years is based in evolutionary teaching. Chuck Darwin was the fountainhead of racism and evolutionists are stuck with him. Breaks my heart!

Copyright 2006, Don Boys, Ph.D.

706 965 5930
P.O. Box 944
Ringgold, GA 30736

(Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives, author of 13 books, frequent guest on television and radio talk shows, and wrote columns for USA Today for 8 years His most recent book is ISLAM: America's Trojan Horse! His website is cstnews.com.)

Don Boys, Ph.D. (dboysphd@aol.com)
International Director
Common Sense for Today
P . O. Box 944
Ringgold, GA 30736
Phone : 706-965-5930
Fax : 706-965-5930

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Free, Clean Energy For All?


Skeptics Questions Irish Company Steorn's Claim of an Unlimited Power Source


Aug. 23, 2006 — - "Imagine
A world with an infinite supply of pure energy.
Never having to recharge your phone.
Never having to refuel your car."

Those are the words of an advertisement from a Dublin, Ireland, company that claims to have developed a way to produce free, clean and constant energy and at the same time re-write the book on modern physics.

The ad, which appeared in last week's issue of The Economist, challenges the scientific community to debunk the company's findings. The company is seeking 12 of "the most qualified and the most cynical" scientists to test its technology and report their findings.

Steorn is a company that specializes in developing technology to prevent counterfeiting and fraud in the plastic card and optical disc industries. But at least one of the world's most prominent scientists says that with its claims of finding the Holy Grail of energy, the company may be perpetrating a fraud of its own.

'It's a Fraud'

Though the company's Web site is light on details, Steorn CEO Sean McCarthy revealed that the device is essentially an "all-magnet motor with no electromagnetic component involved" in an interview with Pure Energy Systems News earlier this week .

Without being connected to a power supply and without using existing energy surrounding the device -- like heat -- the motor creates energy from nothing, Steorn claims.

"It's a fraud," said Dr. Michio Kaku, a leading theoretical physicist, author and professor whose accolades, awards and acknowledgments are too numerous to list here. "The irony here is that this is a company that makes anti-fraud technology. It's [their claim is] not possible & you can't sue me for quoting the rules of physics."

One of the fundamental laws of physics and the first law of thermodynamics is the "Principle of the Conservation of Energy," which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change form.

"This company here does not use fancy superconductors or lasers, it's just a simple magnet machine," Kaku giggled. "And so there's usually a slight of hand. Usually, you know, in the back some place energy's coming in but you can't see it and it's energizing their machine."

Kaku said that because these are technology experts and not physicists and that magnetic fields are invisible, Steorn may not have any idea that its machine is a fraud.

But he said the company's challenge to the scientific community is not necessarily the way to prove him wrong.

"Most reputable scientists don't want to be part of something like this because they realize it's a hoax," he explained. "But what happens is, shady scientists, you know, scientists who want to get their names in the paper or get a piece of the action, they sign up for the challenge and there's a lot of hoopla, television cameras come and say, 'Look, here is the scientist.' The scientist says, 'Oh my gosh, this guy's going to revolutionize the energy situation -- change the world.' Then they get headlines that way."

McCarthy said that the doubts of Kaku and others in the scientific community are precisely why they had to get their challenge into the public domain.

"Our company either had to drop the project or find another way to get science involved -- clearly dropping a project of this impact was not an option," McCarthy wrote in an e-mail. "With respect to the fraud allegation we have made our position very clear: the company will not pursue or accept any funding while this process is in place, we will under no circumstances attempt to commercialize the technology in anyway until the 'Jury' have delivered their verdict."

As a sign of their confidence in the device, McCarthy has invited Dr. Kaku to participate in the validation process.

There was no word on whether or not Kaku will accept.

Nothing Would Ever Be the Same

To understand the sensationalism of Steorn's claims, you need to understand what it would mean if they turned out to be true.

Steorn said its research has shown that the device it claims to have created can be scaled to almost any size. That would mean it could power anything that requires energy, from a flashlight to an airplane.

"Hypothetically, assuming that their claims are true -- which I don't think is possible -- it would represent one of the greatest discoveries of humanity, going back to the discovery of fire," Kaku said.

Kaku pointed out that in many ways, human history can be seen as the slow, progressive effort to control energy.

"From the taming of fire, the horse, gunpowder, explosives, and nuclear weapons," he explained. "Free unlimited energy would revolutionize society almost instantly. The oil executives would be on the unemployment lines. It would change the [Middle East] crisis forever. Every aspect of society would be overturned, from transpiration, heating, electricity, factories, etc."

But, Kaku cautioned, "These guys in Ireland will not make this happen."

Cold Fusion and Other Fairy Tales

Wild claims and even malicious schemes to convince the world of impossible innovations are nothing new.

"Similar claims have been made repeatedly over the last 200 years and all of them have been disproved," wrote Dr. Eugene Chudnovsky in an e-mail. Chudnovsky is a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at Lehman College in New York and an expert on magnetism and superconductivity. "They violate the most fundamental law of nature -- conservation of energy -- which has been tested in physics laboratories with accuracy that Steorn will never achieve."

In March 1989, scientists in Utah claimed to have discovered a clean, free, constant energy source from nuclear materials known as cold fusion.

Laboratories across the globe raced to replicate the process and even the Energy Research Advisory Board submitted a report on the science to the U.S. Department of Energy.

While there are still programs to develop cold fusion, to this day it's widely considered to be impossible -- a mistake at best.

"I've spoken to cold fusion people and they say 'it works, it works,' but they haven't been able to recreate it," Kaku said. "If your car were powered by cold fusion, you don't want it to work 20 percent of the time, you want it to work all the time."

Only time will tell if Steorn has truly reinvented the wheel, or just tried to sell the public a bridge.

Copyright © 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures

Science Friction



Congressional District 8 candidates discuss stem-cell research and evolution


President George W. Bush issued his first veto last month on the day he rejected legislation that would have eased restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

White House spokesman Tony Snow summed up the conservative argument against using federal dollars when he told the press that Bush "believes strongly that for the purpose of research, it's inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder. He's one of them."

Supporters of more federal funding for stem-cell research, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former First Lady Nancy Reagan, argue that it holds tremendous potential to find cures for such diseases as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, cancer and diabetes.

The federal government does fund stem-cell research--to the tune of roughly $608 million last year, according to the National Institute of Health. But only $39 million was spent on human embryonic stem-cell lines, with an additional $200 million on human non-embryonic cells. The rest went to non-human stem-cell research.

The vetoed legislation would have allowed additional research dollars to be spent on stem cells taken from embryos at fertility clinics, with the permission of the donors. An effort to overturn Bush's veto failed to get the required two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives last month.

So where do the Republicans vying to replace retiring Congressman Jim Kolbe stand on the restrictions? (For the record, Kolbe voted to lift 'em.)

Former state lawmaker Randy Graf says the research should not be funded by federal dollars.

"It's not eliminating embryonic stem-cell research," Graf says. "It's just making sure that taxpayer dollars are not going into it."

Mike Hellon, the one-time chair of the Arizona Republican Party, says "bogus" opposition to the research is standing in the way of vital medical research into devastating and fatal diseases.

"It is inconsistent to say it's OK to throw embryos in the trash, but it's not OK to harvest stem cells," Hellon says. "That's just a logical argument that makes no sense to me whatsoever. I think the pro-life people are pushing the envelope way too far on that."

State lawmaker Steve Huffman likewise supports easing the restrictions. "I lost my grandfather just a few months ago to Alzheimer's, and so I think it's absolutely critical that we not shut down any possible avenue to find a cure for some of these horrible diseases."

Frank Antenori, the former Green Beret who now works at Raytheon, doesn't think federal funds should be used for stem-cell research and wants safeguards in place to prevent the scientific community from sliding down a slippery slope of human cloning and body banking.

Auto-shop manager Mike Jenkins says he's opposed to federal funding for stem-cell research, because the money will be wasted.

"You keep the federal government out of it, and things will go a lot better," Jenkins says. "Anytime the federal government gets involved in something, it costs you twice as much for half the benefit."

In fact, Jenkins opposes federal funding for AIDS and cancer research for the same reason.

"I don't really think the federal government should be funding that stuff, either," Jenkins says. "All your tax dollars go in, and when they find a cure, they charge an arm and a leg for it, anyway."

The six Democrats seeking the CD8 seat all support federal funding for stem-cell research.

Patty Weiss, the former TV newscaster, says "stem-cell research is going to help dramatically for many central-nervous system disorders--not only mental-health issues, but people with Parkinson's, people with multiple sclerosis, people with heart disease."

Former state lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords says her grandmother suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

"I watched her slowly die with a disease that millions of Americans have, and millions of Americans will have," Giffords says. "These are diseases we can find cures for. If we place value on the lives of people we love, we ought to allow research to go forward in these areas as well."

Jeff Latas, an Air Force vet who now works as a commercial airline pilot, says watching his son battle leukemia has given him a firsthand look at the importance of stem-cell research.

"By vetoing to satisfy a very small sector of the conservative side of the Republican Party, essentially, you're signing a death warrant to millions of Americans," says Latas.

Raytheon employee and Tucson Unified School District board member Alex Rodriguez "absolutely" supports using federal funds for the research: "I see it as a missed opportunity. What do you do with all those cells anyway? They're going to be thrown out."

Retired federal bureaucrat Francine Shacter says the opposition to stem-cell research reflects the Bush administration's anti-science bent.

"I have lived on the outskirts of the scientific world my entire life," Shacter says. "One of the things I deplore about this administration is the dumbing down of science. ... There's a fundamental dishonesty there that disturbs me very badly."

Attorney Bill Johnson, who wants to drastically cut the federal budget, says he's "generally opposed to the expense of government, but research is an area that government could be involved."

So You Say You Want an Evolution

If you visit the Center for Scientific Creation Web site (www.creationscience.com), you'll learn that evolution is a lot of bunk. The Earth is "possibly less than 10,000 years old," the Grand Canyon was carved by the Great Flood, and Noah had dinosaurs on the ark. (The researcher notes that "some dinosaurs were semi-aquatic and could have survived outside the ark.")

Creationists complain that the scientific community tries to stifle that kind of argument with a materialistic worldview that embraces godless concepts such as evolution and uses various pieces of so-called evidence to postulate that the Earth is closer to 4.8 billion years old.

Granted, not all creationists buy into the "young-Earth theory." The Discovery Institute (www.discovery.org), for example, offers a much slicker package by dropping God--at least by that particular name--out of the question and leaving it in the hands of an "Intelligent Designer." Still, you could be forgiven for suspecting that the Discovery Institute was Christian-based if you came across a leaked 1998 memo that noted that the center "seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. ... Discovery Institute Center ... wants to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialistic worldview and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."

Discovery Institute director and founder Bruce Chapman argues that the scientific community is split on the issue of whether the universe was guided by a supernatural intelligence, so science teachers should "teach the controversy"--an idea that's supported by such politicians as President Bush and U.S. Sen. John McCain.

A group of 38 Nobel laureates disagreed in a statement they released last year, which stated: "Logically derived from confirmable evidence, evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection. As the foundation of modern biology, its indispensable role has been further strengthened by the capacity to study DNA. In contrast, intelligent design is fundamentally unscientific; it cannot be tested as scientific theory because its central conclusion is based on belief in the intervention of a supernatural agent."

The American people tend to lean in God's direction. In a 2005 CBS poll, 51 percent of Americans surveyed said they believed God created man in his current form. Another 30 percent said that humans evolved, but God guided the process. Just 15 percent believe that man evolved without divine intervention.

The GOP candidates split on whether creationism should be taught in science classrooms.

Antenori, who minored in biology, is against it. He dismisses the idea that the Earth is only 10,000 years old with a curt: "That's BS. I don't buy into that."

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Graf, who says creationist theory makes at least as much sense to him as evolution. "I think they can all be taught side by side and let students bring this information home and talk it over with their parents and determine how they're going to approach that," Graf says.

How old is the Earth? Graf is blunt: "I don't know, and I don't care. ... I've got my Christian faith, and I'm very comfortable with that."

Hellon, who suspects the Earth is more likely to be 4.8 billion years old, says that "creationism is a religious theory. It has no scientific basis whatsoever. I don't mind the teaching of it, but it shouldn't be taught as a scientific alternative."

Huffman is on the same page: "I don't think there's anything wrong in exposing people to different views and ideas, but I don't think it belongs in a science classroom, per se."

Jenkins falls back on the argument that because evolution is a theory, it has yet to be proved. He believes that any class that includes evolution should also include creationism.

Jenkins says that depending on how you count years, the Earth could simultaneously be 10,000 years old and 4.8 billion years old.

"I think you can combine the two," Jenkins says. "Being extreme in either way is bad. I think you have to look at it and say, this is possible. It could be 10,000 years, or it could be 10 billion years. Don't be absolute and finite. You have to look at this with a scientific mind."

All six of the Democrats seeking the congressional seat oppose teaching creationism in science classrooms and believe the Earth is closer to 4.8 billion years old.

Weiss says "creationism is religion. It should be taught in theology classes."

Giffords has "very strong religious beliefs, but I think that science should be taught in public schools."

Latas has "no problem with creationism being taught in school if it's in the proper place: theology class. Even though I don't claim to be a Christian, I am fairly spiritual. There are areas of our experience that we can't explain at this point scientifically."

That said, Latas adds: "You're gonna have a real hard time using the scientific method explaining to me how the Earth is only 10,000 years old."

Rodriguez says he believes "in the teaching of science based on the science and evolution, and issue of faith should be taught separately."

Shacter, who is firmly in the scientific camp, says "the theory of evolution is a pretty solid theory. I think there's enough evidence to support it. Why in the world should we dumb it down?"

Johnson says "creationism can be taught in Sunday school classrooms, but Monday through Friday, I don't think it should be taught."

UW Dissents From Darwin


Seattlest lives a neighborhood over from the University of Washington, and in our day to day lives we're kind of ambivalent about that fact, but every now and then we really think about it and we're happy to be in close proximity to such a large and distinguished house of knowledge. They teach stuff there, and more than that, they learn stuff. Science, language, the arts, and the inexorable forward motion of the human condition happening just a few streets over, 24/7!

We kind of see it as the anti-Discovery Center, the foil to Intelligent Design's hasty retreat to the Dark Ages. That's why it was so disconcerting to see an article in the UW Daily this week that indicated that several faculty members from the University of Washington had signed the Discovery Center's "Dissent From Darwinism" pledge.

The petition indicates scientists' skepticism of "random mutation and natural selection" to explain the origin of life, and calls for a "careful examination" of Darwinian theory.

"Careful examination" of Darwinian theory, yes. That's called science where we come from. You do it in a lab, not a church pew.

Well, things aren't as dire as the Daily article and even the list of signatures would have you believe. Of the ten people we could find on the list with "University of Washington" next to their names, four appear to be grad students who have since received their degrees and moved on and three are professors who are no longer employed by the university. The first three in the list below are still happily and gainfully under the employ of the University of Washington, and one of those seems like he wishes he never signed the damn thing.

-Scott Chambers of the Chemistry Department. According to the UW Daily he says ID "provides a broad, satisfactory framework for understanding the origin of the cosmos, and the origin, diversity and complexity of life on earth."

-George Gates from Otology-Neurotology. The Daily quotes Gates as saying, "I simply affirm that science and religion work in parallel magesteria and each has much to learn from the other," and "Most of creationism and ID are funded privately because they don't qualify as science," with the caveat that he is skeptical of ID and creationism.

-Elden Whipple is a professor in the Earth and Space Sciences department. Whipple was named Alumni of the Year by Multinomah Bible College in recognition of his commitment to the Lord.

-Lyle Jensen, who is not currently listed in the Biochemistry Department. Jensen told the Ohio school board, "While students should surely learn about the scientific strengths of evolution, they should also have the opportunity to learn about scientific weaknesses with the theory. I strongly urge you to retain the Critical Analysis of Evolution Lesson Plan so that Ohio students are objectively informed concerning the facts of biology and trained to be better scientists."

-Robert Marks is no longer with the UW Computer Science department. He was the faculty advisor to the Campus Crusade for Christ for fifteen years here before moving to Baylor.

-Bijan Nemati was with the Physics department, but doesn't appear to be currently employed by the University. He's mentioned a lot in this film review.

Suzanne Sawyer Vincent, Ann Gauger, Ronald S. Carson and Jarrod W. Carter look like they PhD'd themselves at the UW and signed on to the "Dissent from Darwin."

Here's the full list in god-fearing PDF format.

Everyday Beliefs About Food Refuse To Give Way To Scientific Evidence


Article Date: 22 Aug 2006 - 0:00am (PDT)

Marieke Saher's recent doctoral dissertation for the Department of Psychology at the University of Helsinki analyses everyday beliefs about food and health. By these beliefs she refers to people's ideas about whether certain foods are healthy, what might have caused a stomach upset, or whether a medicine really works. "People can sometimes be so convinced of their ideas that it is impossible to disprove them even if rational expert evidence exists to do so," says Saher.

According to Saher, in most cases people's everyday thinking and beliefs are in line with expert views, but sometimes they lead to an opposite conclusion from what scientific evidence would suggest. Such beliefs can seldom be shaken by rational arguments. It has been suggested that some of these beliefs come close to superstition. Saher's surveys focused on four everyday beliefs: the concept that "you are what you eat", attitudes towards genetically modified (GM) and organic food, and belief in alternative medicine.

The first survey revealed that people draw conclusions about each other solely based on dietary habits: those who ate healthily were considered to be more disciplined in general but were also presumed to be less likable. The survey did not, however, establish whether this phenomenon was based on a superstition whereby food is believed to somehow taint the personality, or on normal everyday ideas.

Saher detected a weak correlation between attitudes towards organic and GM food and superstition, in that those who were prone to superstition were more negative towards GM food and more positive towards organic food than respondents on average. Strong correlations were detected between superstition and belief in alternative medicine - the more a respondent believed in alternative medicine the more likely he or she was to also believe in paranormal phenomena such as astrology, telepathy or palm reading.

Belief in alternative medicine and paranormal phenomena was also linked to a willingness to disregard the boundaries between biology, physics and psychology, and to apply the concepts of one discipline to another. A person who thinks in this manner might, for example, describe the physical concept of energy as a living entity, as if it belonged to the sphere of biology, or through the concept of evil, a psychological attribute. According to Saher, such thinking does not necessarily indicate that a person is poorly educated, because rational knowledge is not linked to these beliefs in any way. Some respondents simultaneously held conflicting superstitious and rational notions about certain phenomena, without the rational thoughts exercising any overriding effect on the superstitious elements. This might go some way towards explaining why certain everyday beliefs are so hard to overthrow with any rational argument.


Founded in Turku in 1640, the University moved to Helsinki in 1828. The University of Helsinki has nine faculties: Theology, Law, Medicine, Arts, Science, Education, Social Sciences, Agriculture and Forestry, Veterinary Medicine.



Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sickle cell 'quack' deported before


A GERMAN chiropractor who Bahraini authorities are warning people to stay away from has already been thrown out of the country once, sources told the GDN yesterday.

They said he came here eight years ago, but was escorted out of the country by police after he was caught practising from hotel rooms.

Bahraini authorities were again warned a year ago that Ralf Jorgensen was back and offering sickle cell treatment based on no scientific evidence and that his activities should be stopped.

The warning was delivered by sickle cell specialist Dr Graham Serjeant, professor emeritus at the University of the West Indies, who claimed that Jorgensen draws blood from his patients, mixes it with something else and injects it back into their muscles.

Dr Serjeant, from the UK, was asked to file a report on Jorgensen by the Health Ministry's Licensing Directorate when he visited the country in September last year.

He has specialised in sickle cell diseases for the last 40 years and is a frequent visitor to Bahrain, which he last visited in July.

"I was asked for my opinion and I clearly suggested there was nothing known about the therapy this gentleman uses," Dr Serjeant told the GDN yesterday from Kingston, Jamaica, where he works.

The Health Ministry warned people on Monday about the dangers of undergoing Jorgensen's treatment at the Al Shafi Alternative Medicine Centre, in Janabiya, saying it could severely harm them.

"There have been no known clinical trials on his techniques and there is no known evidence on the effectiveness of the treatment," said Dr Serjeant, who has written two books and published over 400 scientific papers on sickle cell disease.

"That was one concern, but another concern was the way he treated his patients."

Dr Serjeant said that in his 40 years of experience, he had never heard of the treatment being used elsewhere.

"How can anyone draw blood intravenously, manipulate it outside the body and inject it back into the patient intramuscularly and claim that is doing the patient any good?" he asked.

"I would never do it. No medical man would ever attempt it. It's not medicine."

Dr Serjeant added he is convinced the treatment has no scientific basis.

"It is all psychological," he said. "The use of an invasive technique is never adopted."

It is understood Jorgensen charges BD2,000 for the treatment over a six-month period.

Sources said that patients would visit him almost on a daily basis.

Normally, hospitals treating patients with sickle cell disease do perform blood transfusions in addition to drug therapy.

However, they do not extract blood and then re-inject it into the body.

"Many of this gentleman's patients had come to me and spoken about the money they were charged," added Dr Serjeant.

"The poor patients would do anything to get their children some relief, even if psychological, for any amount of money. This is not the way."

He claimed that he could provide the same psychological relief to patients with the help of a banana.

"And the banana does not cost the BD2,000 that this gentleman is charging," he said.

Dr Serjeant added that in Bahrain, where sickle cell disease is the most common cause of hospital admittance, there has to be more awareness on how to treat the condition.

"It is high time the people be made aware of practices that have no medical basis," he said.


Prof Serjeant has developed a major comprehensive clinical and research facility for the management and investigation of over 5,000 patients with sickle cell disease, an inherited blood abnormality affecting between 300,000 to 500,000 births annually worldwide.

He has also supervised one of the world's largest sickle cell clinic overseeing the clinical care of over 5,000 patients and is experienced in all manifestations of sickle cell disease.

Since 2000, he has been assisting in the development of sickle cell services and research in Uganda, East Africa, where sickle cell disease affects 25,000 babies born annually.

Al Shafi Alternative Medicine Centre owner Mohammed Abdulrahman has previously claimed none of the 39 patients his clinic has treated have complained to the ministry.

He said he had a licence to operate an alternative medicine centre and that was what he was doing.

However, the Health Ministry has said Jorgensen is not a doctor, not allowed to give injections and the drugs he is using are not allowed in Bahrain.

It said he was only a bone specialist who had been summoned several times and told to stop operating, but had not listened.

Monday, August 21, 2006

'Evolution' Study Implies U.S. Science Education Lagging Behind Europe


But Creationist Ken Ham Says Opposite Is True

By Mary Rettig August 21, 2006

(AgapePress) - The president and CEO of a creation apologetics group says the U.S. is ahead, not behind, in science, as claimed by a recent worldwide study on belief in evolution.

A researcher from Michigan State University studied beliefs about evolution in 34 countries, including the United States. The study found that in most European countries, at least 80 percent of adults believe in evolution. However, in the U.S. only about 40 percent were whole-hearted believers in Darwin's theory -- and 39 percent called it "absolutely false."

Jon Miller, the MSU researcher who conducted the study, attributes his findings, in part, to the influence of what he calls "fundamentalist religious beliefs on attitude toward evolution [and] pro-life attitudes" as well as the politicization of the evolution issue in America. Miller observes that "... individuals who hold a strong belief in a personal God -- and who pray frequently -- were significantly less likely to view evolution as probably or definitely true than adults with less conservative religious views." He also blames a "lack of genetic literacy" among American adults.

The team conducting the study indicates that overall, this is a bad sign for American science education, suggesting it indicates current science instruction is not "effective." But Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis sees it differently. Ham says it is really a sign of good things in the U.S.

"[Americans are] actually ahead of the curve because they're really taking real observational science into account and understanding that the science of genetics does not confirm that man evolved from ape-like creatures," explains the Christian apologist.

And as to the implication that American science education is lagging? "One of my interpretations of this particular study is this," say Ham. "In America, people have been exposed to different views and exposed to the observational science -- real science that you can observe in the present."

Ham says people in the U.S. have been exposed to more critical thinking about evolution and are no longer just believing in it without question. "They've been exposed to that to see that there is evidence that confirms the Bible's history is true," he says.

In addition, Ham says the U.S. should be encouraged that people are thinking critically about evolution because that encourages more study that will likely continue to cast doubt on the theory of evolution.

Mary Rettig, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online.

© 2006 AgapePress

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Darwinists Say: Don't Ask Tough Questions Because that Will "Disrupt" Evolution Education


[Graphics omitted.]

"Understanding Evolution," a website promoting pro-Darwin-only science / theology for usage in schools, has a page entitled "Direct Interference with Teaching and Learning," which lists "[t]actics used to disrupt or interrupt the teaching of evolution in the classroom" (emphasis added). With a title and description like that, I was expecting to read about sinister tactics that I would never support. I would be the last person to endorse interruptive, disruptive, or otherwise rude behavior towards any teacher, regardless of what is being taught or regardless of students' views of the subject matter. So I visited the page, where I found the following "disruptive" and "interruptive" tactics:

(1) "Opting out"

Now I would encourage everyone to learn as much about evolution as they possibly can. In fact, that's what I did in school, which is why I tried to take as many classes at the college level on evolution as I could. I wouldn't encourage people to "opt out" of learning about anything, much less a fascinating subject like evolution. But I would hardly label "opting out" of class time on evolution a "[t]acti[c] used to disrupt or interrupt the teaching of evolution."

The second "tactic" is even more incredible:

(2) "Ten Questions to ask your biology teacher

These are a series of misleading questions based on some of the antievolutionary claims by Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution."

Of course, this "tactic" is referring to the ten questions which Jonathan Wells lists here as questions which students can ask teachers about common inaccurate or incomplete discussions of evolution in biology textbooks. I suppose this Darwinist website feels it is disruptive for inquiring minds to ask questions like these (all taken from Wells's Ten Questions):

Q. "Why do textbooks use drawings of similarities in vertebrate embryos as evidence for their common ancestry – even though biologists have known for over a century that vertebrate embryos are not most similar in their early stages, and the drawings are faked?"

Q. "Why do textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life's building blocks may have formed on the early Earth – when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?"

Q. "Why do textbooks portray this fossil as the missing link between dinosaurs and modern birds -- even though modern birds are probably not descended from it, and its supposed ancestors do not appear until millions of years after it?"

(All quotes from Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution)

So now politely asking these hard questions about textbook discussions of evolution apparently is classified as a "disruptive" or "interruptive" "tactic"? And guess where the visitor is led to handle this "disruptive" and "interruptive" "tactic" of students asking hard questions about material in their textbooks? They're sent to Responses to Jonathan Wells's Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher on the NCSE website!

So Darwinists believe that it is "interruptive" or "disruptive" for students to point out that the diagrams of embryo drawings were fraudulent, that the Miller-Urey experiment was irrelevant to the atmospheric chemistry happening on the early earth, or that there is a lot more to the Archaeopteryx story than is told in the textbook? Does this website really help students in their "understanding evolution?"

By labeling "opting out" and asking these hard questions "disruptive" or "interruptive" "tactics," it seems that this website has one goal: require the students to be glued to their chairs with their mouths shut while they hear only pro-evolution science and theology.

...If you have such a dangerously, disruptively inquiring mind, be sure to read Wells's response to the NCSE at Inherit The Spin: Darwinists Answer "Ten Questions" with Evasions and Falsehoods.

[This page, including its title, were edited a within 2 hours after posting for clarification and grammar.]

Posted by Casey Luskin on August 18, 2006 12:28 PM | Permalink

Show links Darwin, Hitler ideologies


Holocaust was fallout of evolution theory, says new production

Posted: August 19, 2006 1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com

Charles Darwin should share with Hitler the blame for the 11 million or more lives lost in the Holocaust, a new television special explains. And, the program says, the more than 45 million American lives lost to abortion also can be blamed on that famous founder of evolutionary theory.

"This show basically is about the social effects of Darwinism, and shows this idea, which is scientifically bankrupt, has probably been responsible for more bloodshed than anything else in the history of humanity," Jerry Newcomb, one of two co-producers, told WorldNetDaily.

Author and Christian broadcaster D. James Kennedy said the new "Darwin's Deadly Legacy," is a ground-breaking inquiry into Darwin's "chilling" social impact, and it will air nationwide on Aug. 26-27 on "The Coral Ridge Hour."

Co-producer Jerry Newcomb said before the advent of Darwinian beliefs, the basic concept was that man was made in the image of God, and was therefore valuable. But Darwin changed all that.

"Karl Marx wouldn't embrace all (Darwin's) tenets, but said, 'This is a scientific theory on which we can base our theory of man,'" Newcomb told WND.

Ann Coulter, bestselling author of "Godless: The Church of Liberalism," and a WND columnist, said Hitler simply was taking Darwinism from the theoretical to the practical.

"He thought the Aryans were the fittest and he was just hurrying natural selection along," she said.

"We talk about the link between Darwin and Hitler, and in the middle ground, eugenics," said Newcomb. "Darwin led to eugenics, which led directly to Hitler."

"I was just shocked about a week ago, (when a news report) talked about a designer clinic, where you could design your own baby. They said everybody seems to want perfect Aryans. Where have we heard that?" said Newcomb, who worked with John Rabe on the project based on the book "Darwin's Deadly Legacy," by Richard Weikart.

"I never knew about the link between Darwin and Hitler until after reading Richard Weikart's book," said Coulter.

Coulter is among the experts who appear in the special. Others are Weikart, Lee Strobel, author of "The Case for a Creator," Jonathan Wells, author of "Icons of Evolution," and Human Genome Project Director Francis Collins.

"To put it simply, no Darwin, no Hitler," said Kennedy, who is host for the special. "Hitler tried to speed up evolution, to help it along, and millions suffered and died in unspeakable ways because of it."

The program also addresses eugenics, a term coined by Darwin's own cousin, Francis Galton, who campaigned for using human genetics as a means to breed superior beings.

In the United States, nearly three dozen states at one point mandated sterilization programs to prevent the "feeble-minded" and other "defectives" from reproducing.

A direct result of that concept is today's Planned Parenthood, the production shows. Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger believed in removing what she called the "dead weight of human waste," the program says.

"Eugenics is applied Darwinism," said Coulter.

The culmination of that belief system appears to have been the Columbine massacre. There, students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 12 other students, a teacher, and themselves, after setting out on a plan to kill 500.

"Harris wrote on his website, 'YOU KNOW WHAT I LOVE??? Natural SELECTION! It's the best thing that ever happened to the Earth. Getting rid of all the stupid and weak organisms,'" the report says.

Reports show that on the day of the attack Harris wore a T-shirt with the words, "Natural Selection."

Kennedy said all this happened because of a set of theories with "a crumbling scientific foundation."

Coral Ridge Ministries said it also has published a companion book to the television special, called "Evolution's Fatal Fruit: How Darwin's Tree of Life Brought Death to Millions."

It was written by Tom DeRosa, executive director of the Creation Studies Institute, and examines the social consequences of Darwin's theory.

There was a point when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1927 authorized the sterilization of a "feeble minded" woman from Virginia. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes concluded, in that decision, that "three generations of imbeciles are enough."

Using the same belief structure, Hitler at one point ordered the destruction of 100,000 Germans because they were considered "useless eaters."

Coral Ridge Ministries is a Christian broadcasting organization with radio and television programming that reaches 200 nations.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Evolution education update: August 18, 2006

In Ohio, a new coalition is supporting evolution education by working to unseat a member of the state board of election. Meanwhile, a study of the public acceptance of evolution throughout the developed world, with NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott as a coauthor, appears in the pages of Science. And writing in The New York Times, Lawrence M. Krauss urges continued vigilance, even after the electoral victory in Kansas.


A newly formed coalition in Ohio, Help Ohio Public Education, is seeking to unseat a member of the board of education who was at the forefront of efforts to compromise the treatment of evolution in the state science standards. Speaking to the Columbus Dispatch (August 12, 2006), HOPE's chair, Lawrence M. Krauss of Case Western University, explained, "We hope to raise the profile of school-board elections ... We've seen in Ohio and Kansas how significant these elections can be."

HOPE is targeting Deborah Owens-Fink, who represents the Seventh State Board District (encompassing Ashtabula, Portage, Summit, and Trumbull counties, including Ohio's fifth largest city, Akron), and whose term of office expires at the end of 2006. Writing in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (August 11, 2006), Krauss contended that Owens-Fink "has systematically worked to dilute and distort the teaching of science in the state."

HOPE expects to recruit Tom Sawyer -- a former teacher, mayor of Akron, and member of Congress -- to challenge Owens-Fink in the November 2006 election. The Akron Beacon-Journal's editorial (August 17, 2006) was enthusiastic about the prospect of Sawyer's campaign, and commenting of his supporters, "They grasp the critical need for a rigorous science curriculum, one that avoids detours into the realm of faith. In Tom Sawyer, they have a candidate who recognizes the difference this election can make."

The Columbus Dispatch (August 17, 2006) threw its editorial weight behind HOPE, commenting, "HOPE deserves the attention of Ohio voters. The group's members include some of the brightest minds in Ohio, people who are in a position to know the kind of scientific base students should have before they move onto college and out into the world, where their understanding of science will play a crucial role in keeping the nation economically competitive."

For HOPE's website, visit:

For the story in the Columbus Dispatch, visit:

For Krauss's column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, visit:

For the editorials in the Akron Beacon Journal and the Columbus Dispatch, visit:


The August 11, 2006, issue of Science features a brief article on "Public Acceptance of Evolution," written by Jon D. Miller of Michigan State University, Eugenie C. Scott of NCSE, and Shinji Okamoto of Kobe University. Reviewing the past twenty years of polling in the United States, Miller, Scott, and Okamoto observe, "After 20 years of public debate, the percentage of U.S. adults accepting the idea of evolution has declined from 45% to 40% and the percentage of adults overtly rejecting evolution declined from 48% to 39%. The percentage of adults who were not sure about evolution increased from 7% in 1985 to 21% in 2005."

They also compare the levels of acceptance of evolution in the United States with those in thirty-two European countries and Japan, noting that "Only Turkish adults were less likely to accept the concept of evolution than American adults," and posing the question, "How can we account for this pattern of American reservations about the concept of evolution in the context of broad acceptance in Europe and Japan?" Using a two-group structural equation model, they identify three relevant factors: the acceptance of fundamentalist religious beliefs, the politicization of science, and the widespread ignorance of biology.

"These results should be troubling for science educators at all levels," Miller, Scott, and Okamoto warn. "Basic concepts of evolution should be taught in middle school, high school, and college life sciences courses and the growing number of adults who are unsure about these ideas suggests that current science instruction is not effective." They also warn scientists that the "transformation of traditional geographically and economically based political parties into religiously orented ideological coalition marks the beginning of a new era for science policy" in which science is no longer protected from overt partisanship.

Eugenie C. Scott spoke about the article with Lisa Mullins of "The World" (a co-production of the BBC World Service, Public Radio International, and WGBH Boston) on August 10, 2006; audio of the segment is available on "The World"'s website (scroll to "Evolution interview"). Scott drew attention to the longtitudinal nature of the study, which used the same question over twenty years of surveys: "We found that the percentage of Americans accepting evolution declined from 45 to 40 percent, but what was interesting was that the percentage of don't-knows increased," she commented.

Jon D. Miller told the Toronto Globe and Mail (August 11, 2006), "When you compare the U.S. to Europe, it's clear we're way out in right field by ourselves ... There is a different [P]rotestant movement in this country, one that often rejects science. It's different than that of Europe and certainly of Canada." "The findings should be of substantial concern to science educators in the United States," he added, "because we've spent billions of dollars, we have a high percentage of young people going to college and taking science courses and yet we have a very ambivalent attitude on a subject that's a closed book almost everywhere in the world."

A LiveScience story published by Fox News on August 11, 2006, provided a detailed look at the survey along with comments from Miller, Scott, biologist and blogger P. Z. Myers, a representative of the Discovery Institute, and NCSE's Nick Matzke. Both Scott and Myers emphasized that the problem is not merely one of education, with Scott quipping, "The rejection of evolution is not something that will be solved by throwing science at it" and Myers remarking, with reference to Kitzmiller v. Dover, "The creationists are still creationists -- they're not going to change because of a court decision."

For the article in Science (PDF; subscription required), visit:

For Eugenie C. Scott discussing the article on "The World," visit:

For the story in the Toronto Globe and Mail, visit:

For the Live Science story via Fox News, visit:


In his op-ed column for The New York Times (August 15, 2006), Lawrence M. Krauss hailed the results of the August 1, 2006, primary election in Kansas, which he described as "a victory for public education [that] sends a message nationwide about the public's ability to see through efforts by groups like the Discovery Institute to misrepresent science in the schools." But, he warned, "for those of us who are interested in improving science education, any celebration should be muted" in recognition of the challenges that remain: political machinations, "plain old ignorance," and the sadly prevalent idea that knowledge is a threat to faith.

He concludes with the thought, "As we continue to work to improve the abysmal state of science education in our schools, we will continue to battle those who feel that knowledge is a threat to faith. But when we win minor skirmishes, as we did in Kansas, we must remember that the issue is far deeper than this. We must hold our elected school officials to certain basic standards of knowledge about the world. The battle is not against faith, but against ignorance." Krauss, a professor of physics and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University, is the author of several books, including, most recently, Hiding in the Mirror (Viking 2005).

For Krauss's commentary, visit:

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.


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

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism is now available:

NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today!

WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 18 Aug 06 Washington, DC


The weekend seminar in early September will examine the impact of of Darwin's theory on Catholic teaching of creation. The Popes "student circle" includes Austrian Cardinal Schoenborn whose support of intelligent design created controversy a year ago http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN05/wn071505.html.

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 What's New is moving to a different listserver and our subscription process has changed. To change your subscription status please visit this link:

Alternative Medicine: Acupuncture can reduce chemotherapy side effects


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Each year, millions of patients undergo chemotherapy as part of treatment for cancer. Chemotherapy is an important and effective treatment for cancer, using very strong drugs that target cancer cells to eradicate them. Although beneficial in controlling some cancers and increasing survival of patients, chemotherapy can have many negative side effects including nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, anemia, body ache, headache, night sweats, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

Acupuncture has shown promising results in controlling common side effects of chemotherapy. Using thin, sterile acupuncture needles in specific points on the body, acupuncture is used to redirect energy through acupuncture channels (or meridians). It has been shown that patients who use acupuncture in conjunction with a chemotherapy regimen can better tolerate treatment and experience fewer side effects.

To find a licensed acupuncture provider, look for the LAc (Licensed Acupuncturist) credential.

-- Iman Majd, resident, Bastyr Center for Natural Health

Bastyr is a non-profit, private university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees, with a multidisciplinary curriculum in science-based natural medicine. The university's Seattle teaching clinic, Bastyr Center for Natural Health, is the Northwest's largest natural medicine clinic. Go to www.bastyr.edu or www.bastyrcenter.org.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Most Americans Want Two Theories in School


August 17, 2006

- Many adults in the United States believe both creationism and evolution should be studied in the country's public schools, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. 58 per cent of respondents support teaching both theories, down six points in a year.

Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species" was first published in 1859. The book details the British naturalist's theory that all organisms gradually evolve through the process of natural selection. Darwin's views were antagonistic to creationism, the belief that a more powerful being or a deity created life.

In the United States, the debate on the topic accelerated after the 1925 Scopes trial, which tested a law that banned the teaching of evolution in Tennessee public schools. In 2004, Georgia's Cobb County was at the centre of a controversy on whether science textbooks that explain evolutionary theory should include disclaimer stickers.

The theory of intelligent design suggests certain biological mechanisms are too complex to have developed without the involvement of a powerful force or intelligent being.

Earlier this month, more than 200 Greek academics signed a petition urging the government to improve the teaching of evolution in the European nation. The group claims the curriculum is "disorganized" and, in some cases, "completely nonexistent."

Polling Data

Would you generally favour or oppose teaching creationism along with evolution in public schools?

	            Jul. 2006         Jul. 2005	
Favour                     58%                 64%	
Oppose                    35%                 26%	
Don't know / Refused 7%                 10%	

Source: Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Methodology: Telephone interviews to 2,003 American adults, conducted from Jul. 6 to Jul. 19, 2006. Margin of error is 3 per cent.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"The Vampire's Heart" - A Response by David Berlinski to James Downard


Has a pathway been demonstrated for the evolution of the eye? Today David Berlinski asked me to post his first response to James Downard. It is regarding Mr. Downard's response to Ann Coulter (the first 3 of which are found here, here, and here).

Berlinski's response to Mr. Downard is a fascinating read, and I wholeheartedly agree with Berlinski when he reminds everyone that "evidence, like courtesy, must be displayed if it is to be believed." Be sure to read the full response as well (the full version of The Vampire's Heart has a technical response to Mr. Downard regarding the evolution of the eye).

The Vampire's Heart
David Berlinski

1) James Downard has recently posted a critique of Ann Coulter's Godless to Talk Reason. Entitled 'Secondary Addiction,' it is an exercise remarkable both in its indignation and the length required fully to express it.

Although it is Ann Coulter's book that is under discussion, I note that it is my views that from time to time are under attack.

"Berlinski is a special case," Downard writes (addressing readers of Talk Reason). "I happen to know that he is theoretically aware of much of the information you are about to read. And the reason I know this is because, a few years ago, I sent it to him -- at his specific request. That none of these data filtered through to Coulter suggests two pedagogical possibilities (not mutually exclusive): that Berlinski has no skill at retaining or communicating relevant subject matter, and Coulter is one pretty dull student."

Now these, I must observe, are uncharitable remarks, the more so since they divulge part of a private correspondence without ever indicating the whole. As it happens, I did read James Downard's unpublished manuscript, and I thought that if edited it could very easily become a commendable contribution to the literature. I have not in any way changed my opinion. Downard and I worked together toward this end for six months. As an MIT author, I then asked the MIT Press for an expedited reading. The manuscript was turned down, and turned down again at the Princeton University Press. I showed the manuscript to my New York publishers, only to be told – reasonably, I think – that its commercial prospects were negligible. I also asked contributors to Talk Reason for help in placing the manuscript. I received no response.

With these facts in mind, I am minded to observe that James Downard thought rather more of my "skill at retaining or communicating relevant subject matter," when he believed that he might derive some benefit from my acquaintance than he does now.

2) Having on a number of occasions driven a stake through the heart of Nilsson & Pelger's well-known essay about the formation of the eye, I have recently been alarmed by twitches in the resulting corpse, most obviously in Downard's essay.1
This note will thus serve as a follow-up stake.

The facts: Nilsson & Pelger's study, which was widely considered a computer simulation, contained no computer simulation whatsoever. It contained, in fact, no computer analysis at all, perhaps because it contained no analysis at all. It was Richard Dawkins who conveyed the widespread impression to the contrary, writing about a computer simulation that did not exist with the excitement of a man persuaded that he had seen a digital vision. As, indeed, he had. Commentators at the time came to Dawkins defense with a gratifyingly prompt display of personal generosity, so that what was, in fact, a complete fabrication took on the aspects of an understandable but trivial error. Any man, after all, might mistake nothing for something.

James Downard is now prepared to accommodate the obvious: "True, a 'computer' wasn't involved in these calculations," he writes, "so let's all slap Richie Dawkins for being a bad student."

Now I yield to no man in my eagerness to see Richard Dawkins slapped, but Downard's remark, although true in essence, is also both misleading and tasteless.

Misleading because: 1 it suggests by means of scare quotes that the word computer has been given an unusual denotation; and 2 because the issue at hand is not a computer calculation but a computer simulation; and 3 because fabricating data is hardly a schoolboy error, like flubbing the declension of a Latin verb.

And tasteless because: So long as my fingers are hovering over the keyboard, Richard Dawkins is and will remain Richard Dawkins.

In my original essay, I drew attention to the fact that Nilsson & Pelger's study contained no defense whatsoever of its chief assertion, namely that 1829 steps are required to transform a light-sensitive patch into a functioning eye:

Moreover, Nilsson and Pelger do not calculate the "visual acuity" of any structure, and certainly not over the full 1,829 steps of their sequence. They suggest that various calculations have been made, but they do not show how they were made or tell us where they might be found. At the very best, they have made such calculations for a handful of data points, and then joined those points by a continuous curve.
The calculations to which Nilsson & Pelger appeal are neither in their paper, nor in their footnotes, nor in a technical appendix, nor are they available on their website. In the twelve years since their paper was published, they have never appeared in any public forum.

In responding to my observation – no data, no evidence, no calculations, and thus no reason to assent – James Downard has now managed inadvertently to confirm the alarming currency of Dawkins' urban legend: "When I wrote Nilsson to check up on these matters, I did ask about his data set, and he readily supplied a neat summary of the ten variables involved in the simulation and the stages of their acquisition," (emphasis added).

It is a great merit of Nilsson & Pelger's study that based as it is on a non-existent simulation, it can be defended on that basis as well.

Downard is nonetheless still persuaded that had I pursued the matter more diligently, I might have discovered at least the raw data missing from Nilsson & Pelger's original paper. "I confirmed with Nilsson that Berlinski had never even bothered to request the original data summary, let alone establish that there was anything biologically unjustifiable about it."2

This is correct. I never bothered. If James Downard were to claim possession of a flying pig, it is presumably not my responsibility to inquire after the particulars. It is his responsibility to make those particulars plain. By the same token, serious scientists making an historically important claim have an obligation to publish their evidence, or in the age of the Internet, to make it publicly available on-line. This Nilsson and Pelger did not do, and this they have never done.

It is astonishing to me that in a long essay in which he affirms his own partiality to the methods of science, James Downard does not once consider the completely uncontroversial principle that evidence, like courtesy, must be displayed if it is to be believed.

1. "A Pessimistic Estimate of the Time Required for an Eye to Evolve," Proceedings of the Royal Society, London B (1994) 256, 53-58, and hereinafter, Nilsson & Pelger. My critique, 'A Scientific Scandal,' together with the letters it elicited and my responses, may be found on the Discovery Institute website.

2. The data set that Downard claims to have received from Nilsson is reprinted in my appendix; it was posted originally on Talk Reason. Three obvious comments. Despite Downard's claim that he is able to discern 1,829 steps in this list, I myself can see only 41, the missing steps swallowed in a grand etcetera. 2 The list describing these steps is incomprehensible. And 3, there is no indication at all as to how these steps were derived, or from what.

(...continued in full, here)

This was only part of Berlinski's response to Mr. Downard. Be sure to read the full complete response, The Vampire's Heart, where Berlinski gives technical analysis of Mr. Downard's claims.

Posted by Casey Luskin on August 16, 2006 10:22 AM

Is this Heaven? No, this is Science! (My Review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design at Amazon.com)


Below is a review of Jonathan Wells's new book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design I posted at Amazon.com:

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design was a fun, quick read. I should state upfront that I work at the Discovery Institute, where the author Jonathan Wells is a Senior Fellow. I'm not getting paid extra to write this review--in fact it's late, I'm hungry, and I want to leave the office and go home as I write this. Nonetheless, I feel it's only fair for the sake of disclosure and honesty that I say who I am as a reviewer.

Jonathan Wells will get called a lot of names for writing this book. In fact, look at the other reviews---namecalling and personal attacks have already begun! But as Wells recounts in chapters 7, 9, 10, 11, 13 and 16, a number of pro-intelligent design faculty have been similarly persecuted because they were sympathetic to intelligent design (ID). So if you're a curious [...]browser wondering why critical reviewers engage in so much personal attack and namecalling against Jonathan Wells, you'll understand these tactics completely after you read the documentation in Well's book.

Wells starts off by defining the debate: the debate isn't about whether evolution (i.e. change through time) has occurred, and it doesn't center around the age of the earth. The debate about design in biology is over whether undirected natural selection acting upon random mutations has produced all of the complexity of life, or whether some aspects of life are best explained by intelligent causation.

So what is intelligent design? Wells explains that it isn't an argument from ignorance, it isn't an argument for God, it isn't an argument for perfection, and it isn't an argument against all forms of evolution. But it is an argument that some aspects of the universe are best explained by an intelligent cause. As Wells puts it, "[m]ost people who consider themselves ID advocates maintain not only that design is empirically detectable in the cosmos as a whole, but also that some features of the natural world (such as shapes of rocks at the base of a cliff) are not designed in the same sense that other features (such as the information in DNA) are designed." (pg. 9) Why does Marshall Berman therefore say ID "threatens all of science and society?" (pg. 7)

Let's also talk about honesty. Wells has a good discussion of the Cambrian explosion. Wells explains he believes this fossil evidence challenges Neo-Darwinism, while honestly and openly acknowledging that prominent paleontologists like James Valentine believe Neo-Darwinian theory can withstand the fossil evidence. Wells also concedes that claims from an old pro-ID textbook "Of Pandas and People" were overturned when scientists later discovered fossils cited to support the evolution of whales. Would a dishonest Darwin-critic make these concessions?

Wells does find some Darwinists making questionable claims. For example, the book recounts a fascinating incident about the documentary film Flock of Dodos. The film insinuates that Dr. Wells lied to claim that the fraudulent embryo drawings by the 19th century embryologist Ernst Haeckel still appear in modern biology textbooks. Wells writes that the film "claims Haeckel's embryos haven't appeared in biology textbooks since 1914." (pg. 28) Yet Wells also writes, "Yet [the film's producer, Randy] Olson knows that many recent textbooks do contain Haeckel's faked drawings." This is true, because many modern biology textbooks do contain Haeckel's embryo drawings.

Wells also exposes some false scientific claims by Darwinists. For example, the author of one of the textbooks I showed to Randy Olson also wrote "Molecular phylogenies support many of the relationships that have long been postulated from morphological data." Wells then recounts much data which shows otherwise, letting evolutionists speak for themselves about the contradictory data. A similar incident occurred when Darwinist scientist Gary Hurd told the Kansas State Board of Education that the terms "macroevolution" and "microevolution" "have no meaning outside of creationist polemics." (pg. 56) What's that again? Wells quotes numerous pro-Darwinian biologists discussing the meanings, and distinctions, between "microevolution" and "macroevolution." Hardly "creationist polemics."

Finally Wells turns to intelligent design. Wells explains that ID is based upon positive evidence, because "[w]e observe in the present that intelligent agents can and do generate new information." (pg. 98) The inference to design is not an argument-from-ignorance, but an argument based upon our positive understanding of the information created when intelligent agents act. But is it science? Wells explains Darwinists criticisms "collaps[e] into a contradiction: ID isn't science because it isn't testable, and, besides, it has been tested and proven false." (pg. 140)

But Wells also reports the sad truth that some of these misrepresentations have had an impact upon law and education. One federal court judge in Georgia ruled that a disclaimer encouraging students to question evolution was unconstitutional due to the alleged religious motives of Darwin-critics. Yet Wells notes that a Darwinist educator in Ohio claimed that God guided her to remove "creationism" from the Ohio science standards!

If you're looking for a highly technical book, this isn't it. The "PIG" series is notoriously easy-to-read, and mainstream and so I have to admit that as someone with a science background, I would have loved more detail. If you're anyone seeking a book full of fascinating anecdotes and straight-talk about the debate over Darwinism and intelligent design, written by a credentialed biologist with enjoyable writing skills, this truly is the book for you.

Posted by Casey Luskin on August 15, 2006 09:02 PM

Mussels' Fast Evolution Turns Scientists' Heads


by Kerry Grens

Enlarge The Asian shore crab, Hemigrapsus sanguineus. Science

Day to Day, August 16, 2006 · Since its arrival in the 1980s, the Asian shore crab has become one of the most dominant crab species in New England. But the area's native blue mussel has evolved to develop a defense against it -- in remarkably short order.

As New Hampshire Public Radio's Kerry Grens reports, the Asian shore crab was first reported on the Atlantic coast in New Jersey, in 1988. In the two decades since, the crabs have migrated north to Penobscot Bay in Maine and south to North Carolina.

New Hampshire graduate student Aaren Freeman and associate professor of zoology James Byers found that as the crabs have worked their way up and down the coast, the mussels have evolved a way to fend them off -- and they've done it in the blink of an evolutionary eye.

Freeman says that when a mussel senses crabs nearby, it will thicken its shell. The result, he says, is a more secure mollusk -- crabs usually crush mussels' shells.

The thickening process takes a few months, and it's a drain on the mussel, costing it energy that could go toward reproduction. To save energy, the thickening process is like a switch: when crabs are around, mussels flip the switch on. If the mussels don't sense crabs, they leave the switch off.

Scientists have long known that mussels could thicken their shells in response to other varieties of crabs-but what they didn't know was that the mussels could rapidly evolve the same response to a new crab predator.

Freeman argues that it's taken the blue mussel just 15 years. He found that only the mussels from Long Island Sound, whose ancestors have lived among Asian shore crabs since the 1980s, will flip the thickening switch when the crabs are present.

Mussels from northern Maine, where Asian shore crabs have not yet arrived, don't thicken their shells when they are placed in the same environment as the crabs.

Byers says mussels have also evolved a defense against starfish. Now he wants to know whether the mussels can fend off both predators at once. His study appears in the current issue of Science magazine.

"Killer" Fossil Find May Rewrite Story of Whale Evolution


James Owen for National Geographic News

August 16, 2006

The discovery of a bizarre species of fossil whale from Australia with huge eyes and flesh-ripping jaws provides valuable new insights into the evolution of whales, researchers say.

The previously unknown species lived about 25 million years ago and was an early ancestor of modern baleen whales, which feed by filtering plankton from seawater. This group includes the blue whale, the largest animal ever to inhabit the planet.

But the newfound predatory whale likely hunted sharks and other fish despite its relatively small size and suggests that baleen whales weren't always the toothless gentle giants we see in our oceans today.

The new species, Janjucetus hunderi, had a maximum body length of about 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) and sharp, serrated teeth measuring up to 1.4 inches (3.5 centimeters) long.

Discovered in cliffs on a surfing beach near Torquay in southeast Australia, the prehistoric whale is described in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Scientists identified the new species as a baleen whale from distinctive skull features.

No Gentle Giant

The author of the study—paleontologist Erich Fitzgerald from Monash University in Clayton, Australia—says the weird sea mammal shows that the earliest baleen whales were surprisingly unlike their living relatives in appearance and lifestyle.

He says the fossil also forces a major rethinking of how modern baleen whales evolved their unique feeding system.

These whales use long, hair-fringed, flexible plates called baleen to filter huge quantities of seawater, capturing thousands of planktonic animals such as krill in a single mouthful.

"It is most likely that Janjucetus preyed upon large fish, and maybe even some of the smaller sharks that cruised the seas off southern Australia 25 million years ago," Fitzgerald said.

The whale captured meals one at a time, Fitzgerald adds, using its powerful jaws to "rip off and swallow larger chunks of flesh from its fishy prey."

The animal's "truly enormous eyes for its size" represent an adaptation for heightened underwater vision, he says, which also suggests it was an active marine predator.

But the whale's skull indicates it couldn't produce ultrasonic signals—meaning it didn't use sonar or echolocation, like some dolphins and certain whales do today.

Instead, Fitzgerald says, Janjucetus probably had to rely on its big eyes to sense potential prey in the dim light under the surface of the sea.

Its other unusual features include a broad, short snout.

"There is no other known whale or dolphin, whether fossil or living, with such a remarkable combination of attributes," Fitzgerald said.

He says the sea creature challenges the current notion that large body size and adaptations for filter-feeding and swallowing small prey in bulk were the key to the evolution of modern baleen whales.

Scientists have found fossils of other ancient baleen whales with teeth. But those species all used their teeth for an early form of filter feeding, unlike the new find.

Freak of Nature?

The new fossil is "important and provocative," agreed Ewan Fordyce, a geology professor and whale evolution expert at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

"Until now, our model of baleen whale history saw filter-feeding as a key adaptive feature in that lineage, arising at the beginning," he said. "We have long thought of all the whales in that lineage as 'bulk' filter-feeders."

But Janjucetus could have been something of a freak among early baleen whales, he says, possibly having evolved in isolation and with little connection to today's species.

"Perhaps Janjucetus isn't so much typical of the start of baleen whales but represents a later side branch that acquired its strange features through evolutionary 'reversion,'" Fordyce said.

Such processes—where a species reverts back to a more primitive form—have been seen in other animal groups.

Fordyce says there is little evidence of other whales living in Australian waters 20 to 30 million years ago apart from the "equally strange and probably related Mammalodon," another early, toothed baleen whale.

He adds that rocks in New Zealand dating from the same period contain plenty of fossil whales and dolphins "but no hint of Janjucetus."

"Perhaps that tiny whale lived isolated in a restricted seaway that had little contact with other waters," he said.

The new fossil find fits in with the theory that modern whale lineages originated 34 to 35 million years ago in response to changing ocean conditions, Fordyce adds.

"Rapid climate change at that time led to a modernization of ocean circulation and probably to major changes in food resources," he said, triggering the evolution of new dolphins and whales such as Janjucetus.

Scientists Find Brain Evolution Gene


By SETH BORENSTEIN , 08.16.2006, 03:28 PM

Scientists believe they have found a key gene that helped the human brain evolve from our chimp-like ancestors.

In just a few million years, one area of the human genome seems to have evolved about 70 times faster than the rest of our genetic code. It appears to have a role in a rapid tripling of the size of the brain's crucial cerebral cortex, according to an article published Thursday in the journal Nature.

Study co-author David Haussler, director of the Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said his team found strong but still circumstantial evidence that a certain gene, called HAR1F, may provide an important answer to the question: "What makes humans brainier than other primates?" Human brains are triple the size of chimp brains.

Looking at 49 areas that have changed the most between the human and chimpanzee genomes, Haussler zeroed in on an area with "a very dramatic change in a relatively short period of time."

That one gene didn't exist until 300 million years ago and is present only in mammals and birds, not fish or animals without backbones. But then it didn't change much at all. There are only two differences in that one gene between a chimp and a chicken, Haussler said.

But there are 18 differences in that one gene between human and chimp and they all seemed to occur in the development of man, he said.

Andrew Clark, a Cornell University professor molecular biology who was not part of Haussler's team, said that if true, the change in genes would be fastest and most dramatic in humans and would be "terrifically exciting."

However, the gene changed so fast that Clark said that he has a hard time believing it unless something unusual happened in a mutation. It's not part of normal evolution, he said. Haussler attributed the dramatic change to the stress of man getting out of trees and walking on two feet.

And it's not just that this gene changed a lot. There is also its involvement with the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for some of the more complex brain functions, including language and information processing.

"It looks like in fact it is important in the development of brain," said co-author Sofie Salama, a research biologist at Santa Cruz who led the efforts to identify where the gene is active in the body.

The scientists still don't know specifically what the gene does. But they know that this same gene turns on in human fetuses at seven weeks after conception and then shuts down at 19 weeks, Haussler said.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press.

Teen With Cancer Can Forgo Chemotherapy


By SONJA BARISIC The Associated Press Wednesday, August 16, 2006; 10:51 AM

ACCOMAC, Va. -- A 16-year-old cancer patient 's legal fight ended in victory Wednesday when his family's attorneys and social services officials reached an agreement that would allow him to forgo chemotherapy.

At the start of what was scheduled to be a two-day hearing, Accomack County Circuit Judge Glen A. Tyler announced that both sides had reached a consent decree, which Tyler approved.

Starchild Abraham Cherrix is shown during an interview at his home in Chincoteague, Va., June 26, 2006. Cherrix has been involved in a court battle that has stretched back to March as his family tries to win the right to forgo chemotherapy for his cancer and pursue an alternative herbal treatment, the sale of which was banned in the United States in 1960. A trial was set to begin Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2006. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) (Steve Helber - AP)

Homeward-bound residents cross a bridge in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah activists provided money for the trip to many refugees around the country. (Georges Farah -- Bloomberg News)

Under the decree, Starchild Abraham Cherrix, who is battling Hodgkin's disease, will be treated by an oncologist of his choice who is board-certified in radiation therapy and interested in alternative treatments. The family must provide the court updates on Abraham's treatment and condition every three months until he's cured or turns 18.

Tyler emphasized that the decree states that the parents weren't medically neglectful.

Abraham saw the doctor last week, and defense attorneys told the judge that the doctor has indicated that he thinks that Abraham can be cured.

After the short hearing, the judge looked at Abraham and said, "God bless you, Mr. Cherrix."

Last summer, the teen was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system considered very treatable in its early stages. He was so debilitated by three months of chemotherapy that he declined a second, more intensive round that doctors recommended early this year.

He since has been using an alternative herbal treatment called the Hoxsey method, the sale of which was banned in the United States in 1960.

After Abraham chose to go on the sugar-free, organic diet and take liquid herbal supplements under the supervision of a Mexican clinic, a social worker asked a juvenile court judge to intervene to protect the teen's health. Last month, the judge found Abraham's parents neglectful and ordered Abraham to report to a hospital for treatment as doctors deem necessary.

Lawyers for the family appealed, and an Accomack County Circuit Court judge suspended that order and scheduled a new trial to settle the dispute. The judge scheduled the trial for two days but has indicated he would like to finish in one, said John Stepanovich, a lawyer for the parents.

Abraham is still on the Hoxsey method, but Stepanovich stressed that the family hasn't ruled out other possible treatments, such as immunotherapy or radiation treatment in small doses.

According to the American Cancer Society, there is no scientific evidence that Hoxsey is effective in treating cancer in people. The herbal treatment is illegal in the United States but can be obtained through clinics in Mexico, and some U.S. naturopathic practitioners use adapted versions of the formula.

On the Net:

Abraham Cherrix: http://www.abrahamsjourney.com

American Cancer Society information about Hoxsey method:


Evolution backers seek to influence election


Story from the Sunday, August 13, 2006 Edition of the Chronicle-Telegram

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS — Supporters of teaching Darwin's theory of evolution to schoolchildren have launched a campaign aimed at unseating a state Board of Education member who has supported critical evaluation of the theory.

Help Ohio Public Education, a coalition of evolution proponents, on Friday announced an advocacy group headed up by Lawrence Krauss, director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case Western Reserve University.

"I think what you're seeing is grassroots democracy at work. This is a referendum on intelligent design and creationism," said G.R. Schloemer of Cincinnati, a Republican board member who supports the evolution theory and has the group's support. "This issue has bogged down the board since I came on five years ago. We've got a very divided board. There is no trust among any of us."

The four-year terms of nine members on the 19-member board expire at the end of this year, with voters going to the polls in November to fill five of the vacancies and the others to be appointed by the next governor.

Help Ohio Public Education — HOPE — is targeting board member Deborah Owens Fink, a Republican who seeks re-election. The group is hoping to run former Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Sawyer against her. Both are from the Akron area.

Sawyer said he is circulating petitions and plans to announce his intentions this week.

In February, the board voted 11-4 to delete a state standard and corresponding lesson plan that encouraged students to seek evidence for and against evolution. Critics said the lesson echoed arguments from proponents of intelligent design.

"They got what they wanted," said Owens Fink, who voted to keep the standard. "I don't understand why they are even engaged on the topic. Ohio isn't Kansas."

Earlier this month, voters in that state ousted a conservative state Board of Education majority that had pushed anti-evolution standards.

Following the Ohio vote, Owens Fink said she supported altering the state standards to require students to critically analyze more aspects of science, such as physics and chemistry, rather than singling out evolution.

The board's decision came after a federal judge in December banned a local school board in Dover, Pa., from teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in high school biology classes because it would violate the separation of church and state. The judge called intelligent design religion masquerading as science.

Intelligent design says some features of the universe are so well-ordered and complex that an intelligent cause is the best way to explain them. Most scientists view it as a new form of creationism.

"We hope to raise the profile of school board elections," Krauss said of HOPE. "We've seen in Ohio and Kansas how significant these elections can be."

Board President Sue Westendorf said Owens Fink has not put a personal agenda ahead of education.

"This is going to be an interesting election, but I hope (voters) pay attention to the larger issues," she said. "The economy and its ties to education — that's what is going to make us competitive."

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