NTS LogoSkeptical News for 12 September 2006

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

MIOS MEETING

Metroplex Institute of Origin Science

Hear Dr. Billy Caldwell

Present

Genesis And The Barnett Shale

The Barnett Shale is the largest gas producing formation in Texas. It covers at least sixteen counties. There are over five thousand wells in this formation west of the Metroplex. One hundred sixty wells are operating around the clock. It is believed that this formation will support this kind of production for another fifty years.

Dr. Caldwell is a petroleum geologist has been working in this field for over 50 years. He is eminently qualified to discuss the origin of The Burgess Shale. He will describe how and when it was deposited and how it fits in to the Genesis account. Don’t miss this fascinating presentation.

Bucky Auditorium
Medical Office Building
2126 Research Row, Dallas, TX
Tuesday, September 5th, 7:30 PM

Britain's human history revealed

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5317762.stm

By Jonathan Amos Science reporter, BBC News, Norwich

Eight times humans came to try to live in Britain and on at least seven occasions they failed - beaten back by freezing conditions. Scientists think they can now write a reasonably comprehensive history of the occupation of these isles.

It stretches from 700,000 years ago and the first known settlers at Pakefield in Suffolk, through to the most recent incomers just 12,000 years or so ago.

The evidence comes from the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project.

This five-year undertaking by some of the UK's leading palaeo-experts has reassessed a mass of scientific data and filled in big knowledge gaps with new discoveries.

The project's director, Professor Chris Stringer from London's Natural History Museum, came to the British Association Science Festival to outline some of the key findings.

What has been uncovered has been a tale of struggle: "In human terms, Britain was the edge of the Universe," he said.

The project has established that a see-sawing climate and the presence of intermittent land access between Britain and what is now continental Europe allowed only stuttering waves of immigration.

And it has extended the timing of what was regarded to be the earliest influx by 200,000 years.

More than 30 flint tools unearthed in a fossil-rich seam at Pakefield, Lowestoft, on the east coast, represent the oldest, unequivocal evidence of humans in northern Europe.

But the story from then on is largely one of failed colonisation, as retreating and advancing ice sheets at first exposed the land and then covered it up.

"Britain has suffered some of the most extreme climate changes of any area in the world during the Pleistocene," said Professor Stringer.

"So places in say South Wales would have gone from something that looked like North Africa with hippos, elephants, rhinos and hyenas, to the other extreme: to an extraordinary cold environment like northern Scandinavia."

Scientists now think there were seven gaps in the occupation story - times when there was probably no human settlement of any kind on these shores. Britain and the British people of today are essentially new arrivals - products only of the last influx 12,000 years.

"Australian aboriginals have been in Australia longer, continuously than the British people have been in Britain. There were probably people in the Americas before 12,000 years ago," Professor Stringer explained.

Dr Danielle Schreve from Royal Holloway, University of London, has been filling out part of the story at a quarry at Lynford, near Norwich.

She and colleagues have found thousands of items that betray a site occupied some 60,000 years ago by Neanderthals.

The discoveries include the remains of mammoths, rhino and other large animals; and they hint at the sophistication these people would have had to employ to bring down such prey.

It seemed likely, she said, that the Neanderthals were picking off the weakest of the beasts and herding them into a swampy area to kill them.

"In the past, Neanderthals have been described as the most marginal of scavengers, and yet we have increasing evidence that they were supreme hunters and top carnivores," Dr Schreve told the festival.

One major piece of this great scientific jigsaw remains outstanding: extensive remains of the ancient people themselves.

What we know about the early occupations comes mostly from the stone tools and other artefacts these Britons left behind; their bones have been elusive.

Professor Stringer is confident, though, that major discoveries are still ahead.

Some of the earliest human settlements would have been in what is now the North Sea. Indeed, trawlermen regularly pull up mammoth fossils from the seabed, for example.

"There are very many promising sites in East Anglia where there is tremendous coastal erosion going on. That's bad news for the people who live there now; and we don't want it too happen to quickly either because we need time to get to grips with what's coming out of the cliffs."

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/5317762.stm

Published: 2006/09/05 16:41:37 GMT

© BBC MMVI

2006 Texas Bigfoot Conference

From: "Craig Woolheater-TBRC" craigw@texasbigfoot.com

With great sadness I must make the following announcement. As the result of several circumstances, the 2006 Texas Bigfoot Conference will not take place.

Ironically, the cancellation decision was not the result of declining interest. In five brief years the annual conference grew quickly to become the largest event of its kind, attracting over 500 attendees in 2005. However, the TBRC has been very active on other fronts as well.

This year the TBRC helped organize, in conjunction with the University of Texas at San Antonio's prestigious Institute of Texan Cultures, the critically acclaimed "Bigfoot in Texas?" exhibit and lecture series, which opened on April 7, 2006. Planning for this major event commenced in February of 2005. The lectures series included presentations in four separate months. Daryl Colyer and I were there to assist with and oversee all of the presentations. Others in the TBRC also put much time and effort into the project. The exhibit closed on July 30, receiving much media attention.

Happily, I also have some wonderful news to share. In an exciting development, the ITC is donating the panels produced for this exhibit to the TBRC. We are working to open a permanent Bigfoot museum in Jefferson, TX, featuring these fantastic resources. Needless to say, this project will take up a good portion of our free time for the foreseeable future.

Because I have simply not had the necessary time required for planning, I have made the decision to cancel rather than produce an event that does not meet my standards for excellence. However, be assured that the TBRC will be back in Jefferson next year for the 2007 event. This will fall on the weekend of October 20, 2007, the 40th anniversary of the Patterson/Gimlin film. Our Texas Bigfoot Museum will be open by that time as well.

I know many people will be disappointed by this turn of events, none more than myself. We will be back next year with an event that will be worth the wait.

Sincerely, Craig Woolheater

Texas Bigfoot Research Center will not take place.

Ironically, the cancellation decision was not the result of declining interest. In five brief years the annual conference grew quickly to become the largest event of its kind, attracting over 500 attendees in 2005. However, the TBRC has been very active on other fronts as well.

This year the TBRC helped organize, in conjunction with the University of Texas at San Antonio's prestigious Institute of Texan Cultures, the critically acclaimed "Bigfoot in Texas?" exhibit and lecture series, which opened on April 7, 2006. Planning for this major event commenced in February of 2005. The lectures series included presentations in four separate months. Daryl Colyer and I were there to assist with and oversee all of the presentations. Others in the TBRC also put much time and effort into the project. The exhibit closed on July 30, receiving much media attention.

Happily, I also have some wonderful news to share. In an exciting development, the ITC is donating the panels produced for this exhibit to the TBRC. We are working to open a permanent Bigfoot museum in Jefferson, TX, featuring these fantastic resources. Needless to say, this project will take up a good portion of our free time for the foreseeable future.

Because I have simply not had the necessary time required for planning, I have made the decision to cancel rather than produce an event that does not meet my standards for excellence. However, be assured that the TBRC will be back in Jefferson next year for the 2007 event. This will fall on the weekend of October 20, 2007, the 40th anniversary of the Patterson/Gimlin film. Our Texas Bigfoot Museum will be open by that time as well.

I know many people will be disappointed by this turn of events, none more than myself. We will be back next year with an event that will be worth the wait.

Sincerely, Craig Woolheater
Texas Bigfoot Research Center

Scientists unveil Brazil dinosaur model

http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2006/08/28/scientists_unveil_brazil_dinosaur_model/

By Michael Astor, Associated Press Writer | August 28, 2006

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil --Scientists on Monday unveiled a replica of a skeleton scientists said was from the largest dinosaur species yet discovered in Brazil -- a mid-sized herbivore that roamed central Brazil some 80 million years ago during the late Cretaceous period.

A scientific description of the dinosaur, which represents a previously unknown species and measured some 13 yards from head to tail, was published on Aug. 11 in Brazilian National Museum's bulletin.

Scientists named the dinosaur species Maxakalisaurus topai in homage to the Maxakali Indian tribe, which inhabits the region of Minas Gerais state where the bones were found.

"This is the biggest dinosaur yet described in Brazil," said Alexander Kellner, lead author of the scientific description. "We have found the bones of what appear to be larger dinosaurs, but we still haven't been able to put them together for scientific descriptions."

Kellner said the bones were excavated near the Serra da Boa Vista, a mountain near the city of Prata, some 440 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro, over the course of four field seasons between 1998 and 2002.

The dinosaur, which weighed an estimated nine tons, belongs to the Titanosaur group, which means Titanic lizard. Kellner said four species in that group have been discovered so far in Brazil.

Dr. Kristina Curry Rogers, curator of paleontology of Science Museum of Minnesota and who was not involved with the discovery, reviewed Kellner's paper and confirmed Maxakalisaurus represented an important new species.

"It's pretty cool really. It's a pretty complete Titanosaur. They've even got a little of a skull which is incredible for a Titanosaur because we've found maybe less than 10 skulls for that group," Rogers said by telephone from Minnesota.

Rogers said the find was also interesting because the Brazilian scientists found osteoderms, or bony plates that some dinosaurs develop within their skin. Because the skin rarely survives along with the fossil, however, scientist are unsure where the osteoderms were placed on the living dinosaur.

"It tells us a little bit more about the family, because only some have these specialized bones," Rogers said. "It gives us a little more information."

Kellner said out of the 1,000 known dinosaur species in the world, only 15 have so far been described in Brazil -- a country larger than the continental United States. By comparison, some 50 dinosaur species have been discovered in neighboring Argentina, including the Argentinasaurus, also a Titanosaur, which is probably the largest dinosaur yet discovered, weighing around 100 tons and measuring around 100 feet (30 meters).

"If dinosaur species were soccer goals, Brazil would be getting pounded," Kellner said.

He said it was especially hard to find dinosaur remains in Brazil, because so much of the country is jungle, whereas dinosaur fossils are most likely to be found in deserts and semiarid regions.

Kellner added that a lack of adequate funding also hindered dinosaur research in Brazil.

© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Evolution debate rears head again in Ohio

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2006-09-06T232537Z_01_N06261689_RTRUKOC_0_US-LIFE-EVOLUTION-OHIO.xml

Wed Sep 6, 2006 7:25 PM ET

By Andrea Hopkins

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - Americans who question evolution are testing a new tactic in Ohio, arguing that schools should be required to discuss all controversial issues from creation to stem cell research and global warming.

In what critics on Wednesday called a new attempt to bring religion into the classroom, the Ohio State Board of Education will consider a proposal next week that would oblige schools to teach critical thinking in all subjects.

The proposal, to be discussed on Monday by a school board subcommittee in Columbus, is the latest gambit by those who believe Darwin's theory of evolution should be taught as only one disputed explanation for the origin of humankind.

School board President Sue Westendorf said the committee would debate but probably not vote on the proposal. It is designed to replace curriculum rescinded in February after a Pennsylvania court ruled that teaching the theory known as "intelligent design" in that state was unconstitutional.

The debate between those who accept the theory of evolution and those who believe in the Biblical account of creation has bubbled up periodically in U.S. schools since before the Scopes "monkey trial" in Tennessee 80 years ago.

The Pennsylvania decision handed down last December found that "intelligent design" -- a theory that God must be behind evolution because life is too complex to be random -- was a religious doctrine without any scientific merit.

Ohio teachers had been allowed to question evolution under a model lesson plan approved in 2004, but the school board canceled it in February after the Pennsylvania ruling.

The board, made up of religious conservatives and moderates, has been trying to replace the lesson plan ever since. Westendorf said the new proposal was aimed at broadening the disputed curriculum to require debate on topics beyond hot-button questions surrounding religion and science.

"This is about critical thinking in social studies, science, math -- all of the entities, because there are controversial topics in all of those areas," she said.

But critics said conservative Christians were simply trying to find a back-door way to teach that God created the earth.

"Ohio has always been the bellwether. Things are floated in Ohio to see if they work, and if they work, they'll try to get them adopted elsewhere," said Lawrence Krauss, a member of the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, which opposes the teaching of religion in public schools.

John West, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, which promotes the teaching of intelligent design, said the proposed new policy was "good pedagogy and good for students" because it would teach them how to sift and analyze evidence.

"Students don't like to be told that there are some questions they don't have the right to raise."

© Reuters 2006

America's evolution from God

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/dailycourier/guestcolumn/s_469445.html

By Rosemary Fike Saturday, September 9, 2006

The United States of America no longer can be called a Christian nation. In fact, we could be called a nation of fools. We are quietly allowing our schoolchildren to be taught Charles Darwin's theory of evolution although it is not supported by the evidence.

To the contrary, it has been proven that evolution is a scientific impossibility. It appears as if a fanatical cult has overtaken the scientific community, bringing lawsuits against anyone who dares attempt to contradict their flawed theory.

Now we have a generation of children being taught in school that they are just accidents of nature and have evolved from algae. Where are the 70 percent of Americans who claim to believe in God, and what exactly do they believe?

Even according to Charles Darwin himself, if evolution were true we would find evidence in the fossil record. There should be millions of transitional fossils, "missing links," but not a trace has ever been found. Instead, the fossil record shows the sudden appearance, fully formed, of all the complex invertebrates and fish (supposedly the first vertebrates) without a trace of ancestors.

The Bible declares that God created the heavens and the Earth and all living things and all the evidence bears this out. But scientists, although they admit they cannot even begin to understand or explain the complexity of so much as the human eye, would have us believe they have the answers to life's origin.

The theory of evolution has suffered major blows through modern science. Creationism or Intelligent Design has been rejected because these scientists claim that it cannot be "observed or empirically tested in a laboratory." But can evolution be observed or empirically tested? The answer is a resounding no.

Another big problem for evolutionists is the "laws of probability," which clearly show that it is impossible for life to evolve from nonliving matter. Random impersonal chance, no matter how long the time period, does not produce complexity and organization; it only produces greater chaos and disorganization. Things just do not evolve upward as evolution requires.

Critics point to the removal of any notion of God from public schools and its replacement with Darwinism as leading America's youth down the path of increasing violence. Darwinism brings hopelessness and despair; Creationism brings value and significance.

Ironically we continue to ask for God's blessing, especially in times of crisis. We recite "...one nation under God," and sing "God bless America" as our children sit in classrooms where the Name that is above all names cannot be mentioned. Our children must not hear that God had any part in their origin.

Abraham Lincoln's words spoken in his proclamation for a National Day of Fasting and Prayer are certainly relevant today:

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."


Monday, September 11, 2006

INTELLIGENT DESIGN

http://www.realtruth.org/articles/0306-idatd.html

A Telling Debate

article from NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2005 Issue

Controversy is intensifying as to whether the theory of Intelligent Design should be addressed by science teachers in public schools. Why is this issue so divisive?

On September 26, 2005, a civil trial began in a federal court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, centering on the theory of Intelligent Design (ID). This theory proposes that the universe is too intricate and complex to have developed through evolution and natural selection.

The lawsuit Kitzmiller et al v. Dover Area School District has been brought against the Dover, Pennsylvania, school board by eleven parents in that town. The American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have come to the aid of this group of parents, while the school board is being represented by attorneys from the Thomas More Law Center, who state that they are doing so in the interest of preserving Christian religious freedom.

The parents object to the Dover school board requiring 9th grade biology teachers to read the following statement before beginning a unit on evolution: "The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

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

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

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

Note that Dover teachers are not required to teach ID alongside evolution—they are merely required to read this statement before setting forth the standard evolutionary views. Yet, three of the parents in the suit have testified that this statement alone is harmful to their children. Why has this seemingly objective, measured disclaimer caused such a firestorm?

Two Camps

The court battle has brought to the stand expert witnesses on both sides of the issue. One of these is Dr. Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University and a prominent advocate of Intelligent Design. His 1996 book Darwin's Black Box essentially began the ID movement. Although Dr. Behe is Catholic, he maintains that his theory is not based on religious convictions, but rather on physical evidence seen in nature. He believes that the "irreducible complexity" of natural processes and mechanisms demonstrates that the universe and life could not merely have happened through random, unguided forces, but rather was designed.

Opponents contend that ID is simply a new name for creationism—the acceptance of the Bible's creation account in the book of Genesis. They believe that discussing Intelligent Design in a public school violates the principle of separation of church and state. (As an aside, the phrase "separation of church and state" can be traced back to an 1801 letter sent by President Thomas Jefferson to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut. It is not found in the U.S. Constitution or any of its amendments, as some mistakenly assume.)

Witnesses testifying on behalf of the plaintiffs assert that ID cannot be classified as scientific, as it cannot be tested or disproved. (Of course, evolution fails to meet the same criteria.) Some have compared ID to medieval sciences such as alchemy, and the president of Cornell University has called the effort to bring this theory into the classroom "very dangerous" (The New York Times).

Elsewhere, the National Academy of Science and the National Science Teachers' Association are not allowing their copyrighted materials to be used by the Kansas Board of Education in Kansas' science curriculum, due to the curriculum's critical stance toward evolution.

At Iowa State University, 120 faculty members signed a petition declaring that Intelligent Design is not science. This was in response to one of their colleagues, a faculty astronomy teacher, who wrote a book that contends that Earth had to have been designed. Similar battles are in progress at the University of California at Berkeley and Ohio State University.

The majority of academia seem to oppose even entertaining the possibility of the universe having originated from anything other than blind chance and happenstance.

Predictably, some prominent media outlets are already framing this debate with a pro-evolution slant. Articles drawing comparisons between the Pennsylvania lawsuit and the "Scopes Monkey Trial" of 1925, a case in which teacher John Scopes was charged with violating a Tennessee state law that forbade the teaching of evolution. Some consider the media coverage of this high-profile trial, which in general ridiculed the creationist side, to have been a tipping point, influencing public opinion in favor of evolution.

The Crux of the Controversy

Dr. Behe believes that he has faced considerable bias against his theory. In court, he stated, "My ideas on Intelligent Design have been subjected to a thousand times more scrutiny than anything I've written before" (The New York Times).

Again, we must ask, why is there so much opposition even to the mention of an alternate theory of origins?

Evolution has largely been accepted as fact by those who are considered highly educated. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul describes the state of those who are willingly ignorant of the Creator: "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things…Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator" (Rom. 1:19-23, 25).

Why must the status quo of evolution be maintained? This can be answered by merely connecting the dots. If the universe was designed, this implies that there is a designer. This designer would have to be superior to human beings in intellect and power. This sounds suspiciously like a "Supreme Being"—God. If God exists, then He is sovereign over His creation. If this Creator happens to be the God who inspired the Holy Bible, then this God sets forth laws and requires that human beings live by them.

However, living within God's laws is contrary to human nature: "Because the carnal [fleshly, natural] mind is enmity [hostile] against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). The human mind vehemently opposes the notion of subjection—being ruled!

Continuing the passage cited earlier, Paul goes on to describe the character and mindset of individuals who choose to ignore the reality of God's existence: "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate [unfit, worthless, rejected, debased, degraded, useless] mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Rom. 1:28-32).

This is a very strong description—and warning!

Acknowledging a Designer eventually leads to uncomfortable questions regarding law and sin, right and wrong. It is far easier to swallow evolutionary propaganda because blind, purposeless natural forces do not require human beings to change their ways or to submit to any standards of behavior.

Also, those on both sides of this debate are purportedly seeking the truth on the question of origins. However, speaking of the nature within all human beings, we read, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9). The theory of evolution places human beings at the top of the food chain, accountable to no higher authority—veritable "gods" (Gen. 3:5). This sounds like a comfortable position, if it were accurate. But this scenario is a case of mass delusion—self deception on a grand scale.

On the other hand, blurring a very real and personal Creator God into a nebulous, anonymous "intelligence" does not honor that God!

However, we can be thankful that the question of origins will soon be settled conclusively! After Jesus Christ returns to establish His government on the earth (Isa. 9:6), true education will prevail: "…yet shall not your teachers be removed into a corner any more, but your eyes shall see your teachers: And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left" (Isa. 30:20-21).

To learn more, read our brochure EVOLUTION – facts, fallacies and implications.

EVOLUTION: Fact or Fiction?

http://www.realtruth.org/articles/0201-efof.html

Part 2

article from JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2004 Issue

Nearly universal in its teaching, evolution stands upon many assumptions. We will discuss the facts—the truth—about this "science."

In the previous issue, we looked into the illogic of evolution—and the fallacies it employs. We also explored the assumption that evolution is a scientific fact, and showed that it is not even a scientific theory. But there is much more to learn about this "theory."

Two primary aspects of evolution form its foundation. The first one attempts to explain the origin of the universe itself. The second is an explanation of the supposed mechanism that caused non-living matter to turn into plants, which then turned into fish, on to animals and then to human beings.

The more you understand about evolution, the less you will understand why it is taught to millions of schoolchildren.

Cause and Effect—A Scientific Law

There is a great law that governs the entire universe. It is so fundamental that you often apply it without even knowing. Everyone uses it and is impacted by it, whether in industry or in everyday life. It is the law of cause and effect.

If you drop a ball, it falls to the ground. The effect is that the ball falls and hits the ground; the cause is gravity. If you get wet after jumping into a pool, the effect is getting wet—the cause is jumping into the pool. As you can see, "cause and effect" is simply common sense.

This understanding is so universal that it has been granted the status of a scientific law. As discussed in the last issue, for something to be established as a scientific law, it must come under rigorous scientific scrutiny. This further shows the fundamental nature of cause and effect. Part of this law's definition states that you may never have an effect that is greater than its cause.

This aspect of cause and effect agrees with another law of science—thermodynamics. Thermodynamics is the study of the dynamics of thermals (heat). It is made up of three basic laws, on which ALL disciplines of science are based. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is directly related to cause and effect. It is best summarized by saying that everything moves toward disorder—or a condition known as entropy. Consider these examples:

If water being heated on a stove is at 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and the burner is turned off, the temperature will drop instead of rise. It will move toward colder rather than hotter. If you spin a top, it will, over time, stop spinning. The energy used to perform any particular task changes from usable to unusable during the process. It will always go from a higher energy level to a lower energy level—where less and less energy is available for use.

This is closely related to the law of cause and effect. Scientific laws cannot be broken, nor will they contradict each other. Scientifically speaking, because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, every cause will create a lesser effect!

How does a more advanced life form—the effect—stem from a simpler life form—the cause? This breaks the Second Law of Thermodynamics. With these concepts in mind, you may already be seeing contradictions in the theory of evolution.

Survivors Survive

One of the most basic concepts in the theory of evolution is "survival of the fittest." Simply put, it is the concept that nature selects the fittest and most adaptable of a species to produce offspring and therefore survive.

Sounding logical, this theory is taught throughout schools worldwide. By reading this series, you are beginning to see that we must always prove what is assumed to be true.

Notice: "Once upon a time, it all looked so simple. Nature rewarded the fit with the carrot of survival and punished the unfit with the stick of extinction. The trouble only started when it came to defining fitness...Thus natural selection looks after the survival and reproduction of the fittest, and the fittest are those which have the highest rate of reproduction...We are caught in a circular argument which completely begs the question of what makes evolution evolve" (Arthur Koestler, Janus: A Summing Up, 1978).

In other words, the fittest are those who survive, and those who survive are deemed the fittest. This is circular logic! Evolutionists have assumed that just because something survived, it is the fittest of the species. You may now begin to understand why properly understanding logical fallacies becomes so important. Evolution is rampant with them!

The theory of "survival of the fittest" is what is called a "tautology," a way of saying something redundant. For instance, "survivors survive"; "water is wet"; "matter is material" ; and so on. Such a statement does not prove anything, because it is nothing more than a truism.

Yet, even with such information, evolutionists willingly ignore the facts: "Most evolutionary biologists seem unconcerned about the charge and make only a token effort to explain the tautology away. The remainder... simply concede the fact. For them, natural selection is a tautology which states a heretofore unrecognized relation: The fittest—defined as those who will leave the most offspring—will leave the most offspring."

"What is most unsettling is that some evolutionary biologists have no qualms about proposing tautologies as explanations. One would immediately reject any lexicographer who tried to define a word by the same word, or a thinker who merely restated his proposition, or any other instance of gross redundancy; yet no one seems scandalized that men of science should be satisfied with a major principle which is no more than a tautology" (G.A. Peseley, The Epistemological Status of Natural Selection, 1982).

But some scientists may argue, "We have seen natural selection. It happens around the world on a daily basis. This theory is provable!" But is it? These scientists point to natural selection removing the unfit. But this does not create new attributes in a species or, for that matter, create a new species! For evolution to be valid, better, more advanced creatures would have to survive, lending to the creation of new species.

A famous Dutch botanist best explained the problem by stating, "Natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest" (Hugo deVries, Species and Varieties: Their Origin by Mutation, 1905, emphasis ours.).

Since all systems in nature are well balanced, there must be a mechanism that keeps those systems balanced. Therefore, natural selection is very effective for removing the unfit from a species. This can be witnessed by the instinctive actions of a lion attacking the weakest of a zebra herd. The zebra herd remains healthy, because the weak are removed.

Interestingly, the idea of natural selection did not form in the mind of Charles Darwin. In fact, natural selection was documented 20 years earlier, by creationist zoologist/chemist Edward Blyth. Darwin changed the concept from the "natural process of selection" to the "natural means of selection." He changed it from a readily understood and accepted theory to a circular logic truism!

Like all such truisms, the concept of natural selection attempts to explain everything, but, in reality, it explains nothing. Falsely assumed by so many, this aspect of evolution is nothing more than a redundant statement.

An Eternal Universe

No matter how science tries to simplify the theory of evolution, there is always the problem of explaining where the universe began. What is its origin?

There are only two possibilities: (1) It appeared at a certain point in time, or (2) it has always existed.

Both of these ideas require some investigation. Is the universe eternal? Did it form? And is this possible to prove either way?

Since we are unable to travel back in time, you may quickly think that it is impossible to know if the universe had a beginning. Matter has an amazing property. It decays! In fact, everything is moving into a further state of decay. You see this principle at work all around you. If you clean your house, it will eventually become messy again. Even if you are not living there, dust will form and its general state will decay. Your body also evidences this concept. Keeping yourself in shape is work. If you stop exercising or eating properly, you will quickly get out of shape.

These are just everyday examples of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. But how does this prove that the universe is not eternal?

With the coming of the Atomic Age, beginning with Madame Curie's discovery of radium in 1898, came the knowledge that all radioactive elements continually give off radiation. Consider! Uranium has an atomic weight of 238.0. As it decomposes, it releases a helium atom three times. Each helium atom has an atomic weight of 4. With the new weight of 226.0, uranium becomes radium. Radium continues to give off additional atoms until the end product eventually becomes the inert element called lead. This takes a tremendous amount of time.

But, what does this mean? It means that there was a point in time when the uranium could not have existed, because it always breaks down in a highly systematic, controlled way. It is not stable like lead or other elements. It always breaks down. This also means there was a specific moment in time when all radioactive elements came into existence. Remember, none of them—uranium, radium, thorium, radon, polonium, francium, protactinium and others—have existed forever.

This is the Second Law of Thermodynamics at work! As Henry Moore stated, "The Second Law requires the universe to have had a beginning" (Scientific Creationism, 1974). And it represents absolute proof that the universe came into existence or, in other words, that the universe is not eternal! That leaves only one possibility. At one point in time, something—or someone—caused the universe to come into existence.

This brings us back to the concept of cause and effect. In this case, the universe is the effect—but what is the cause? We have seen that every effect must be less than the cause. So as vast as our universe is, there must be something greater which caused it. This is consistent with the scientific laws we have already discussed.

Of course, scientists have also come to similar conclusions—the universe is not eternal and there needs to be a "first cause." Ignoring the true first cause, they attempt to explain the universe in many other ways. The most common is often referred to as the "Big Bang Theory."

Big Bang—or Big Hoax?

At its very core, the Big Bang Theory states that a particular event caused the formation of matter, with our modern universe expanding from that initial event. After the big bang, another theory takes over. The "inflationary model" was created to explain how a single event caused the expansive universe that exists today.

However, both concepts break laws of science. As we saw with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, energy is continually moving into a more chaotic state—with less usable energy—not into a larger, more complex universe. How ridiculous that this FACT is ignored!

But an even bigger problem is the First Law of Thermodynamics, often called the Law of Conservation of Energy. It is memorized by high school students, and is a basic fundamental law of science. It states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can only change its form.

This too flies in the face of the big bang theory! If energy cannot be created, then something certainly cannot appear from nothing. Evolutionary scientists also understand this problem. Often, attention is taken away from the lack of explanation of the creation of matter by asserting explanations on how the universe "grew." By lumping the initial creation of matter with the expansion of the universe, scientists have created a series of "smoke and mirrors," which, as we have seen before, is often the only way to explain various aspects of evolution.

Many scientists, such as Alan Guth, have also raised this point: "First of all, I will say that at the purely technical level, inflation itself does not explain how the universe arose from nothing...Inflation itself takes a very small universe and produces from it a very big universe. But inflation by itself does not explain where that very small universe came from" (Fred, Heerren, Show Me God, 1995). Such deceit is taught as fact in schools!

One of the greatest mathematical minds of the modern world closed the door on the inflationary model: "The new inflationary model was a good attempt to explain why the universe is the way it is...In my personal opinion, the new inflationary model is now dead as a scientific theory, although a lot of people do not seem to have not heard of its demise and are still writing papers on it as if it were viable" (Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time, 1988).

Like so many aspects of evolution, even when it has been proven to be inaccurate, it is still taught as fact. The smoke and mirrors continue!

Changing the Rules?

Since we have seen that the universe could not have come from "nothing," is it possible to explain its existence? Must the creation of the universe follow the rules of science?

Any parent is responsible for creating the rules for their household. At any time, they can change those rules. It is in their power to modify, adjust or even discard these rules. The child in that house must continue to live within the confines of those rules, no matter how they are changed.

So it is with the universe. As the Creator of the universe, God established its rules and has the power to modify them. When He created the universe and matter, He then established the laws of science.

Interestingly, the First Law of Thermodynamics actually proves that God has always existed. Remember that this law means something could not come from nothing. Science has proven that if there was not an eternal God-being to create the universe, there would never have been a universe. Since something can never come from nothing, God had to always exist! Unwittingly, science has proven God's existence, while at the same time disproving evolution!

Nobel Prize winning physicist Louis Neel stated, "The progress of science, no matter how marvelous it appears to be...leads to dead ends and shows our final ineptitude at producing a rational explanation of the universe." And I would also add, any rational explanation for plants, animals and people. Instead of looking for the truth of creation, science has chosen confusion, deceit and suppositions. But now you can see through two more of these evolutionary illusions, to the Being that did create you—the God of the universe!

In our brochure "Evolution—Fact or Fiction?", we will further disprove the theory of evolution by showing more of the weak arguments used to explain how man and animals today exist on earth. Also, many of the common misconceptions about creationism will be explained. Finally, some proofs showing the REAL Creator of the plants, animals, mankind and the universe.

You will have been supplied with the facts—the truth—of your existence. What will you do with those facts?

04/01/13 RT-2-1-5

Intelligent design may resurface in Ohio talks

http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060907/NEWS04/609070349/-1/NEWS

Article published Thursday, September 7, 2006

Group criticizes teaching plan under board's review

By IGNAZIO MESSINA BLADE STAFF WRITER

The controversy over teaching intelligent design in Ohio's public schools likely will re-emerge Monday before the state board of education.

A proposal under consideration by a board committee is a Trojan horse carrying religion into the science curriculum, a group claimed in a news teleconference yesterday.

Members of the group, Campaign to Defend the Constitution, spoke against a proposal to the board's achievement committee which they said names evolution, global warming, stem-cell research, and cloning as "controversial" ideas that need to be handled in a special framework.

The timing of the group's announcement was puzzling to Sue Westendorf, chairman of the state board of education.

"What I am picking up from the media is that there is concern about an agenda item that is in our achievement committee," Ms. Westendorf said. "That has been there since February."

Ms. Westendorf said the committee asked the board's staff to come up with a framework for teaching "controversial topics."

J.C. Benton, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education, said a draft form of the document could be used to cover subjects ranging from stem-cell research and abortion issues to religious tolerance. But the document does not list any of those topics, or evolution or intelligent design, he said.

"It was to be a template or guide for teachers when they teach controversial subjects," Ms. Westendorf said. "Apparently a lot is being read into this."

The Ohio Board of Education voted 11-4 in February to send back to the drawing board language in its science curriculum that critics charged set up a debate between evolution and creationism in the classroom.

Intelligent design generally holds that the creation of life on Earth was too complex to have occurred by happenstance.

Critics have said intelligent design is creationism in disguise and has no place in science classes next to Charles Darwin's theory that life evolved over a long period of time from a single-cell organism.

The board voted to remove the language from both the broad standards spelling out what students are expected to learn as well as the specific, optional lesson plan spelling out how it could work in the classroom.

The board approved broader science standards in 2002 that, for the first time, mentioned the word "evolution."

The standards also mentioned the words "intelligent design" for the first time in a parenthetical phrase stating that a requirement that students "critically analyze" evolutionary theory does not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.

In January, the board voted 9-8 to keep the language. The vote in February was a reversal of that - partially prompted by threats of litigation.

The motion in February to remove the language was made by Martha Wise, an elected board member from Avon whose district includes Toledo. She was joined from northwest Ohio by Lou Ann Harold, of Ada.

Ms. Westendorf, of Bowling Green, opposed the motion. At-large member Emerson J. Ross, Jr., of Toledo, who supported the curriculum in February, left the meeting before the vote was taken because of an apparent timing conflict.

Patricia Princehouse, a lecturer in philosophy and evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University, who joined the Campaign to Defend the Constitution group, said treating evolution and other topics as though they are somehow different from the rest of science is a way to sneak creationism back into the science curriculum.

"Creationists in Ohio seem to be trying to outdo Kansas right now for extremism," she said.

In 2005, Kansas introduced criticism of evolution into teaching standards.

Ms. Westendorf said the debate over teaching intelligent design versus evolution is likely to become a political issue in this fall's election races for the Ohio Board of Education.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:
imessina@theblade.com
or 419-724-6171.

Quick Evolution and Intelligent Design News Roundup

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/09/quick_evolution_and_intelligen.html

There is a great deal of newsworthy items this week in regards to the debate over evolution and intelligent design. Here are links to a few.

Over at the Whitepath.com, muslim science writer Mustafa Akyol takes on --and bests, in my opinion-- the NCSE's Nick Matzke.

Check out the ID The Future podcast about academic freedom and the Baylor Tenure Scandal.

There's been much talk about the Pope's conclave on evolution last weekend. At Darwinia.com, Nemo points out: "The status of science is at risk from the confusions of Darwinists. If they need to be reminded of this by evangelicals, so much the worse for scientists, who should never have let this situation develop from their own obsessive dogmatism."

Denyse O'Leary at Post-Darwinist blogs on the recent claims that obesity is a result of evolution. "Apparently, we are assured, the obesity pandemic is to be blamed on the twin sacred bulls of "evolution" and the "environment", not on sedentary lifestyles, self-indulgence, or an aging population. And, you guessed it, research funds are urgently needed to combat the growing mountains of pudge."

And at Uncommon Descent, Dave Scott challenges a forthcoming article by Nick Matzke et. al. on a supposed evolutionary pathway for the bacterial flagellum. Readers might also want to read Stephen Meyer and Scott Minnich's related paper on the "co-option" argument, "Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits in Pathogenic Bacteria," as presented to the Second International Conference on Design & Nature, Rhodes Greece.

Posted by Robert Crowther on September 7, 2006 3:17 PM | Permalink

Hot Selling Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design Getting Rave Reviews

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/09/hot_selling_politically_incorr.html

http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=232&program=CSC&isEvent=trueHuman

Human Events this week published a review of Jonathan Wells' new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, by another author from the Politically Incorrect Guide series of books, Tom Bethell. Bethell is a senior editor at the American Spectator, is author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science," and "The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity through the Ages." Bethell writes:

"The story he tells is remarkable. Open-minded readers will surely conclude that the propaganda campaign on behalf of Darwinism has become so furious precisely because the scientific evidence for it is so weak."

Tomorrow, Sept. 7, Wells will speak about the book at release party in Seattle. As there will be lots of Wells' colleagues and supporters in attendance Discovery Institute will be filming the event for one of its future film projects. and TVW will be broadcasting the discussion on television throughtout the Pacific Northwest (and you'll be able to watch it on their website if you can't attend or are from outside the area).

Even if you are well versed in the evolution debate you can learn a thing or two from Wells. As Bethell points out in his recommendation of the book:

"Even those already conversant with the subject will learn a hundred new things, all tending to persuade us that life is a matter of design, not chance."

Posted by Robert Crowther on September 6, 2006 2:58 PM | Permalink

All Plots Move Deathward

http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/09/06/mclemee

By Scott McLemee

Last month, Thomas M. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton published Without Precedent, an account of their time as co-chairs (Republican and Democratic, respectively) of the 9/11 Commission. Whatever the uses of a deliberate and scrupulous bipartisanship in political life, it does not make for good memoir-writing. I read it, but kept slipping into that mild coma that is an occupational hazard for anyone who reviews a lot of not-very-good or just-sort-of-okay books for newspapers.

Yet one thing about Without Precedent did prove quite interesting: the strong emphasis on conspiracy theorists. Or rather, to be more exact, the authors' preoccupation with trying to head them off at the pass. The spectre of the Warren Commission must have haunted their dreams. They put a lot of thought into establishing what they call "core principles" intended to prevent "the kinds of conspiracy theorizing that have followed in the wake of other inquiries." They mention this guiding intention not once or twice, but roughly a dozen times.

"We decided to be open and transparent," they write, "so that people could see how we reached our conclusions about 9/11, and we demanded access to every document and witness in part to demonstrate that we had left no stone unturned in our investigation. We also adopted a policy of openness to the general public: people could send information to our offices, and somebody would review that information."

Clearly preventing conspiracy theory was a major concern — which also suggests that Kean and Hamilton must have known that it was, for all practical purposes, an effectively hopeless endeavor. The impulse to frame things in terms of conspiracy has very deep roots. It is not an American specialty, by any means. But there is something sobering about reading the pamphlets from the years just before the Revolution and discovering that the patriots were, let's say, a tad paranoid at times. (George Washington worried about the "systematic plan" of King George and minions to turn the colonists into slaves "as tame and abject," as he put it in an interesting turn of phrase, "as the blacks we rule over with such arbitrary sway.")

The idea that malevolent secret forces are at work behind current events is much too seductive to banish. And now, as the fifth anniversary of the attacks approaches, we have regular reminders that the 9/11 commissioners' efforts at prophylaxis have failed. The single best-publicized source of conspiracy theory on the matter is a group calling itself Scholars for 9/11 Truth whose members have been much in the news lately. Both Kevin Barrett and William Woodward belong to the group, and I've read Barrett's work in one of their journals.

Now, a word about labels before we go on. You will not find many kind words about the "The 9/11 Commission Report" in publications associated with Scholars for 9/11 Truth, such as the magazine Global Outlook. (It is now starting to show up at some newsstands, inconspicuously mixed in with other journals of news and commentary.)

But not all criticisms of the report have been works of conspiracy theory, by any means. A few months after it appeared, the essayist Benjamin DeMott made a shrewd initial assessment of the punches pulled by the commission in the course of its investigation. And there is a tough-minded little book by the political reporter James Ridgeway called The Five Unanswered Questions about 9/11, published last year. Each sees the official account of 9/11 as inadequate. The commission (they contend) did not push hard enough to identify and hold accountable those whose malfeasance permitted the terrorists a chance to strike.

According to Scholars for 9/11 Truth, however, the events of that day were not a product of systemic failure. Very much to contrary: It was an all-around success for the U.S. government, which attacked its own citizens and, in the case of the Twin Towers, used hidden explosives to bring them down through "controlled demolition," since the impact of two jetliners could not have done it.

Furthermore, there may have been a third plane in the air at the time. "Was it meant to confuse defensive response?" asks a contributor to The Journal of 9/11 Truth, published by the group. "Was it monitoring (or controlling) the attacks? Was it a back-up in the event of a miss on the towers?"

Let's ask another question, just to round things out: Did that mysterious third plane near the Trade Center actually, you know, exist?

My first encounter with this group's work was in February, when I came across a paper by James H. Fetzer, a professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, whose name seemed vaguely familiar. And so it was. I had interviewed him some year back about one of his books. Before 9/11, he had carved out a niche for himself in the world of JFK "assassinologists." (You are supposed to call them that. "Buffs" just makes them mad.)

Anyway, Fetzer had done some really groundbreaking work on the famous Zapruder film, which you have almost certainly seen at some point, whether or not you knew that was what it is called. It is the short, grainy, rather shaky home movie of the Kennedy motorcade in Dallas, in which the viewer sees the back of the president's head explode in a cloud of blood and brains.

Other conspiracy-minded researches had studied the horrific images, frame by frame, in an effort to determine just how many gunmen were involved and where they might be located. The ensuing debates kept assassinologists occupied for many years.

To Fetzer, their work seemed naive. He argued (at great length, and in a depth of detail that I cannot pretend to have fathomed) that the Zapruder film itself is a hoax. "The film was redone using techniques of optical printing and special effects," as Fetzer has explained, if "explained" is the word one wants, "which allow combining any background with any foreground to create any impression that one desires, which included removing series of frames that would have given the plot away, such as that the driver pulled the limousine to the left and stopped after shots began to be fired...."

Assassinology has been an overcrowded discipline for some time. Even in the mid-1970s, newcomers were being encouraged to specialize in ever more narrow sub-fields. (That advice sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it?)

By contrast the subject of 9/11 offers a whole new set of problems. It demands fresh new developments in conspiratorial research — new theoretical approaches to explain the evidence, or even to bring it into existence, as in the case of the mystery jet.

It proves difficult to read very much of this material without recalling that Richard Hofstadter once devoted a book to The Paranoid Style in American Politics (1965). Over the years, historians have spent a lot of time arguing with this or that element of its argument, and my friend Rick Perlstein has been merciless in his treatment of how Hofstadter approached Barry Goldwater.

Whatever its failings as analysis, though, Hofstadter's book is very good indeed as phenomenological description. So it is no surprise to find a good explanation for Scholars for 9/11 Truth in it, even though Hofstadter himself died in 1970.

The conspiratorial mentality or "paranoid style" — for which important events in public life are best understood as the product of hidden, malevolent forces controlling history — is strongly prone to assuming a scholarly form. As Hofstadter puts it: "One should not be misled by the fantastic conclusions that are so characteristic of this political style into imagining that it is not, so to speak, argued out along factual lines. The very fantastic character of its conclusions leads to heroic strivings for 'evidence' to prove that the unbelievable is the only thing that can be believed."

The charge that conspiratorial thinking is incoherent simply will not hold up. "It is nothing if not coherent," writes Hofstadter. The conspiratorial understanding of history is actually "far more coherent than the real world, since it leaves no room for mistakes, failures, or ambiguities. It is, if not wholly rational, at least intensely rationalistic...."

And finally, it gives people overwhelmed by history something to do — nothing very useful, perhaps, but then you can't have everything. It demands "the laborious accumulation of what can be taken as convincing evidence for the most fantastic conclusions," writes Hofstadter, "the careful preparation for the big leap from the undeniable to the unbelievable."

Well, there are all sorts of ways of handling trauma. It's no surprise that this one has emerged. Whether or not 9/11 itself could have been prevented, something like Scholars for 9/11 Truth was perhaps inevitable.

But so is the free exercise of critical intelligence, which is why I am glad to be able to end with this link to an encouraging development: The Journal of Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories.

Scott McLemee writes Intellectual Affairs each week. Suggestions and ideas for future columns are welcome.

Response to Barbara Forrest's Kitzmiller Account Part IV: The "Wedge Document"

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/09/response_to_barbara_forrests_k_3.html

During the Kitzmiller trial, Barbara Forrest testified at length about the "wedge document," insinuating that motives can disqualify a view from being scientific. Discovery Institute responded to these arguments long ago. Dr. Forrest recounts her testimony in her Kitzmiller account:

My first slide made its significance clear: "[C]ould I have the first slide, please? This is the first page of the Wedge Strategy, and this is the opening paragraph of it. Quote, 'The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which western civilization was built.' This . . . states very well the foundational belief behind the intelligent design movement and the reason that they have rejected the theory of evolution." [32] As I continued, the judge heard the strategy's explicitly Christian goals: "Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialistic worldview and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."

As noted, a full response to Dr. Forrest's comments cannot be seen unless one reads Discovery Institute's The "Wedge Document": "So What"?. But let's assume that everything Barbara Forrest says here is correct. So what if some ID-proponents believe that human beings are created in the image of God and that motivated them in their work? Even Ken Miller, a notable defender of theistic evolution, would probably agree with the doctrine of "Imago Dei."

Yet as is the common theme, these types of arguments can also cut against evolution, if applied fairly.

Suppose that during the Kitzmiller trial, an ID-proponent who was brought into court as an "evolution expert" (we'll call him Jack) and testified about a key passage from the Third Humanist Manifesto. Jack explained that this humanist manifesto includes the "notable signer" Eugenie Scott, who is executive director of the National Center for Science Education and "is perhaps the nation's most high-profile Darwinist" (Nature, 434:1065). Yet Jack explains that this manifesto states a view in contention with the theistic perspective stated in the "wedge document":

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life [] without supernaturalism ... Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing.

(Third Humanist Manifesto)

Does Jack's testimony imply some anti-religious motives on the part of some secular humanists like Eugenie Scott? Most likely. Does this mean that evolution is therefore unscientific and unconstitutional? Absolutely not.

My point here is not to harp upon Eugenie Scott's religious (or a-religious) beliefs, but to explain that the metaphysical views of a scientist have no bearing upon the validity of her scientific viewpoint or whether her viewpoint constitutes a scientific theory.

If desired, it would be easy to use Dr. Forrest's logic against her. We could construct conspiracy theories about the anti-religious aims of Barbara Forrest and her affiliated groups without any great effort. Consider this quote from the Amici Curiae brief submitted in Kitzmiller by 85 scientists in support of academic freedom for intelligent design:

Plaintiff's expert Barbara Forrest is on the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association (NOSHA). NOSHA is also an affiliate of the Council for Secular Humanism which it describes as "North America's leading organization for non-religious people." NOSHA's links page boasts "The Secular Web," whose "mission is to defend and promote metaphysical naturalism, the view that our natural world is all that there is, a closed system in no need of an explanation and sufficient unto itself." Most notably, NOSHA is an associate member of the American Humanist Association, which publishes the Humanist Manifesto III. In 1996, this American Humanist Association named Richard Dawkins as its "Humanist of the Year." To help underscore the anti-religious mindset of these organizations, in his acceptance speech for the award before the American Humanist Association, Dawkins stated "faith is one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate."

(Brief of Amici Curiae Biologists And Other Scientists In support of Defendants, internal citations omitted for clarity)

My point is not that Dr. Forrest's views are therefore disqualified, but to show that anyone can spin motivation theories if they want. Motives are irrelevant, and claiming that religious (or anti-religious) motives disbar a theory from being scientific is not a valid form of argumentation, for an idea must be judged apart from the motivations or personal beliefs of its proponents. Again, this was explained in the amicus brief:

The motivations and religious views of scientists have nothing to do with the scientific validity of their discoveries. For example, the eminent scientists Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler were devoutly religious and believed God created a rationally comprehendable universe. Despite their religious motivations, their scientific investigations led to accurate explanations of motion which became the bedrock of physical mechanics. Amici thus assert that motivations for conducting scientific investigations have no bearing upon the empirical validity or scientific nature of the conclusions theirin. ... Amici detail these [anti-religious] affiliations [of ID-critics] not because religious (or anti-religious) beliefs are relevant to a scientific argument, but to demonstrate that the legal rule proposed by the plaintiffs would jeopardize the scientific contributions of many critics of intelligent design just as much as the contributions of some intelligent design proponents.

(Brief of Amici Curiae Biologists And Other Scientists In support of Defendants)

Regardless, it is most unfortunate that Judge Jones seems to have adopted Barbara Forrest's "ignore the ID-science, only talk about religious beliefs of ID-proponents" methodology. He wrote, citing to Dr. Forrest, "A careful review of the Wedge Document's goals and language throughout the document reveals cultural and religious goals, as opposed to scientific ones. (11:26–48 (Forrest); P-140)" (pg. 29 of online version). But is that a true statement? Consider these plainly stated scientific goals from the "wedge document":

"Five Year Goals ... To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory. ...

Twenty Year Goals ... To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.

The scientific research goals here are plainly stated. Why did Judge Jones therefore claim "the Wedge Document's goals and language throughout the document reveals cultural and religious goals, as opposed to scientific ones"?

When assessing if an idea is science, motives don't matter, but Judge Jones failed to recognize the scientific goals of the "IDM" as he puts it. He was purely incorrect on this point, and made this false statement while implying a dangerous rule-of-law which scrutinizes religious beliefs or motives of the proponents behind an idea as a test for whether that idea is scientific. Sadly, this rule, if applied fairly, could prohibit the teaching of evolution.

...and be sure to read The "Wedge Document": "So What"? for a complete commentary regarding Dr. Forrest's allegations on this topic.

Posted by Casey Luskin on September 8, 2006 7:07 PM | Permalink

Evolution stand vital to voters

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/letters/sfl-brmail967sep10,0,9559.story?coll=sfla-news-letters

Jill Kaeppel
Margate
Posted September 10 2006

The evolution vs. intelligent design inclusion in high school biology classes seems to be finished, per federal judgment.

But since cases can be revisited with new arguments and new supporters, this topic may still be open to future debate. It seems such a divisive subject was not included in the review of the Broward County School Board candidates. As a parent and voter, I would have found a refresher on this subject useful in deciding my votes for the School Board. I can remember only one current School Board member's specific opinion on the subject and noticed the primary endorsement from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Archive and Internet research has yielded very little further information on the earlier biology debates in the county. I don't know whether to vote on or to skip these ballots without this information, which is very important to me and, probably, to other voters.

DEBUNKING 9/11 MYTHS: WHY CONSPIRACY THEORIES CAN'T STAND UP TO THE FACTS

[Danger: Malkin alert, Ed.]

http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/books/five_years_after_9_11__tinfoil_hats_attack_postopbooks_michelle_malkin.htm


BY THE EDITORS OF POPULAR MECHANICS
FOREWORD BY SEN. JOHN MCCAIN
HEARST, 192 PAGES, $14.95

September 10, 2006

I GET several e-mails from 9/11 conspiracy theorists every week, usually typed in all capital letters with minimal punctuation and maximum sputter. Here's a typical message I received last Tuesday: "It appears you are not a believer. So, I have only one question, perhaps, but doubtfully, you can answer. WHY DID BUILDING SEVEN COME DOWN?"

As it happens, Popular Mechanics magazine's new book, "Debunking 9/11 Myths," answers that question concisely - with the caps key off. Among the unhinged fever swamps in academia and on the Internet, there is widespread suspicion that World Trade Center 7 collapsed as a result of a controlled demolition set by Secret Service and CIA agents who had offices there.

Reality check for the Twilight Zoners: Federal investigators and experts believe a combination of massive damage from falling debris plus raging fires led to a progressive collapse of WTC 7, causing structural failures that brought the building down.

Popular Mechanics patiently bats down the paranoid delusions of Bush-bashers and terrorism-deniers who have seized on flimsy evidence and cherry-picked quotes and misquotes to bolster their cockamamie theories.

Consider how the conspiracists have abused 20-year veteran New York City firefighter Louie Cacchioli. A People magazine article attributed this quote about WTC 7 to Cacchioli after the attacks: "We think there was [sic] bombs set in the building." But Cacchioli told Popular Mechanics he was misquoted: "I said, 'It sounded like a bomb.' I tried to explain what I meant [after the fact], but it was already out there."

Cacchioli has been contacted repeatedly by people hoping he will say there were bombs in WTC 7, but he refuses to do so. According to the book, Cacchioli is "distressed at the inaccurate use of his name in conjunction with conspiracy theories."

He's not alone. Popular Mechanics also interviewed Marc Birnbach, a freelance videographer whose words have also been twisted by the tinfoil hat brigade. On the day of the attacks, Birnbach told Fox News in a live broadcast that he "didn't see any windows" on United Airlines Flight 175 before it crashed into WTC's South Tower. Revisionists have exploited the no-windows statement to perpetuate claims that the South Tower was hit by a military cargo plane or fuel tanker.

Never mind that chunks of fuselage with passenger windows from Flight 175 were found in debris at Ground Zero. Or that the simple explanation for Birnbach's inability to see the windows is that the plane was banked sharply as it approached the South Tower, tilting the windows upward. Or that Birnbach himself rejects the cargo plane/tanker nuttiness: "I think they are completely out of line."

In their quest for "truth," the 9/11 Truthers' response to reality is just that: "Never mind."

If it were only a fringe few spewing tall tales about 9/11, Popular Mechanics' book wouldn't have been worth writing. But the movement has gone mainstream, with champions including actor Charlie Sheen and the Web site "Scholars for 9/11 Truth." There are now nearly two dozen of them at colleges and universities across the country accusing the White House of engineering 9/11, ranting about planted bombs, lecturing and selling books.

The movement has seeped into the political arena as well. DNC chair Howard Dean notoriously entertained "Bush knew" theories on a Beltway radio show in 2003. This past week, Democrat Bob Bowman - who fingers Dick Cheney, not Osama bin Laden - as 9/11's mastermind, won Florida's 15th Congressional District primary. Another Truther seeking office: Democrat Joshua Smith, in Washington state, who wants Rep. Jim McDermott's seat.

Multiple uploads of "Loose Change," a leading 9/11 crackpot documentary, have been posted on YouTube.com and downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. The director, Dylan Avery, appeared on a radio show recently to scoff at American Airlines Flight 77 pilot Chuck Burlingame. Avery mocked hijackers' using box cutters and plastic knives to subdue passengers. He then accused the father of 11-year-old victim Bernard Brown Jr., a passenger on Flight 77 on his first plane ride for a school field trip, of having advance knowledge of the attacks because he "took an unusual day off work" from his job at the Pentagon to play golf. In a painful twist of fate, Brown's son's plane was crashed into the Pentagon.

"Debunking 9/11 Myths" is a necessary antidote to counteract the vile and poisonous effects of Trutheriness. Unfortunately, it will not cure the persistent symptoms of Bush Derangement Syndrome that have blinded so many to the evils of jihad that exploded before our eyes five short years ago.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Evolution education update: September 1, 2006

A statement from FASEB in defense of teaching evolution, and a reminder from Geotimes that it isn't only in the schools that it is in need of defense.

FASEB ADDS ITS VOICE FOR EVOLUTION

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, which is composed of twenty-two scientific organizations representing over 84,000 members, issued a public policy statement on the teaching of evolution on December 20, 2005 -- coincidentally, the same day in which teaching "intelligent design" was ruled to be unconstitutional in Kitzmiller v. Dover. The statement reads, in part:

***

Science education has become increasingly important in driving innovation and discovery, and in enabling citizens to make informed decisions and to compete in the 21st century workplace. For these reasons, it is critical to preserve the integrity of science education by opposing the mandatory teaching in science classes of creationism, intelligent design, and other concepts not based on sound scientific principles.

Proponents for non-scientific accounts of the development of life, including creationism and intelligent design, contend that evolution alone should not be taught in science classes. Arguing that evolution is "just a theory," rather than a fact, they insist that intelligent design should be offered as an alternative to evolution or given "equal time", and that schools should "teach the controversy" surrounding evolutionary theory.

FASEB does not support these views. We also affirm that these positions seriously undermine science education.

***

And it concludes:

***

FASEB considers evolution a critical topic in science education and strongly supports the teaching of evolution. FASEB opposes mandating the introduction of creationism, intelligent design, and other non-scientific concepts into the curricula of science. FASEB opposes introducing false controversies regarding evolution or other accepted scientific theories into the curricula of science. FASEB calls upon the scientific community and American citizens to defend science education by opposing initiatives to teach intelligent design, creationism, and other non-scientific beliefs in science class.

***

In a press release announcing the statement, FASEB's president Bruce R. Bistrian commented, "Evolution is a critical topic to science education and is the basis for understanding biology and medicine." "The scientific community must rise to the challenge of defending science education against initiatives that push for the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in classrooms," he added. "To not do so would be a grave disservice to our nation's students."

For FASEB's statement (PDF), visit:
http://opa.faseb.org/pdf/EvolutionStatement.pdf

For the press release announcing the statement (PDF), visit:
http://opa.faseb.org/pdf/EvolutionStatement12.20.05.pdf

"MUDDLING SCIENCE AT PARKS AND MUSEUMS"

Challenges to evolution education occur in informal learning environments as well as the public schools, as "Muddling science at parks and museums," published in the August 2006 issue of Geotimes, reiterates: "As reported in the December 2005 Geotimes, some parks and museums have stepped up to the task to make evolution understandable, so as not to be confused with religious beliefs such as 'intelligent design,' which holds that the complexity of life is evidence that something intelligent must have designed it, and 'young-Earth creationism,' which holds that God created Earth and life about 6,000 years ago. Despite these efforts, however, science museums and parks across the United States are facing the challenge of educating what remains a largely confused public." Among the problems discussed is the controversy due to the continued sale in the official Grand Canyon National Park bookstores of a young-earth creationist book expounding the flood geology account of the Grand Canyon's formation.

For "Muddling sciences at parks and museums" in Geotimes, visit:
http://www.geotimes.org/aug06/education.html

For Geotimes's previous article, visit:
http://www.geotimes.org/dec05/education.html

For NCSE's coverage of the bookstores controversy, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/rncse_content/vol24/5100_flood_geology_in_the_grand_can_12_30_1899.asp
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/rncse_content/vol24/4521_bibliolatry_revisited_review__12_30_1899.asp

REMINDER

If you wish to subscribe, please send:

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

Sincerely,

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

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

NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today!
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Naturopaths looking to practice in Florida face opposition

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/sep/10/naturopaths_looking_practice_florida_face_oppositi/?local_news

By I.M. Stackel (Contact) Sunday, September 10, 2006

Can someone be accused of practicing health care without a license if the state doesn't have a licensing mechanism for that particular specialty?

Florida officials say Naples resident Ron Steriti has been illegally practicing medicine.

Steriti protests that he has a four-year degree in naturopathy from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, and is licensed in Vermont.

The standoff has been going on for more than two years, and doesn't look like it is going to end any time soon.

Florida no longer recognizes naturopathy as a licensed medical specialty.

Naturopaths generally use plant-based homeopathic substances to stimulate the body's natural self-healing powers.

The last of the Florida naturopaths were licensed in 1955.

There are only seven licensed naturopaths left in the state, and Steriti isn't one of them.

Steriti says an April 14 "cease and desist" notice filed against him by the Florida Department of Health represents a "complete (state) crackdown on all forms of alternative medicine" but state records don't support his claim.

The problem between Steriti and the state Department of Health — and the refusal of legislators to reinstate a licensing mechanism — centers upon a dispute over the words "medical" and "physician."

A naturopathic practitioner since 1999, Steriti said if he had known all this, he never would have used those terms at his Web site or in his ads.

State officials raise excellent questions about what naturopaths do, he said, contending it is some of the "goofy" ones who give the rest of the practitioners a bad name.

He said he has heard of cases in which so-called naturopaths have taken diabetics off of traditional medication and placed them on herbs.

He's also concerned that his case has affected chiropractor Jim Goldman. The state cited Goldman for "aiding and abetting" an unlicensed medical practice, by allowing Steriti to share offices, Steriti said.

The April notice to Steriti was the culmination of a Department of Health investigation opened in 2003.

Steriti calls it entrapment.

Steriti said he closed his naturopathy practice more than two years ago, and has only been selling vitamins from his Web site.

That's how the state caught him, but it's a bogus charge, Steriti said.

An undercover investigator called Steriti for a telephone consultation and begged him to meet her, Steriti said.

"Supposedly, I wrote a prescription for a drug," Steriti said. "It was Tryptophan. It's a dietary supplement."

L-Tryptophan is an amino acid that became a Federal Drug Administration-regulated substance in March 1990.

Once widely available in health food stores, Tryptophan was pulled off the market after a contaminated batch was discovered. Since then, distribution of Tryptophan has been a disputed issue, with many contending that the pharmaceutical makers lobbied FDA officials to regulate it because it was viewed as an alternative to prescription sedatives.

The FDA has since relinquished control and, last year, Tryptophan again became available in health food stores.

The April order also noted that Steriti misleadingly uses a Ph.D. after his name. Steriti says he got his doctorate in electrical engineering.

On his Web site, NaturDoctor.com, he's listed as Ronald Steriti, ND, Ph.D.

According to the Department of Health, someone filed a complaint about Steriti. The state notice didn't say who complained.

In February 2004 an undercover investigator went to the office Steriti shared with Goldman Chiropractic. She was given a clipboard, and asked to fill in her medical complaint and history.

The April order never identifies the employee by name, referring to her only as the "undercover investigator."

The investigator reported that she complained to Steriti of night sweats, hot flashes, tiredness and sleeplessness. She also told Steriti her thyroid was off balance, according to the cease-and-desist 14 notice. The investigator reported that Steriti took her blood pressure and asked if her gynecologist suggested hormones. She told him she refused to take hormones.

He then diagnosed her as having adrenal failure, and advised her to take licorice root, as well as liver pills. Adrenal glands help regulate the human body's reaction to stress.

He suggested she use Tryptophan for her sleeplessness.

The investigator was given a Web site at which she could buy Tryptophan. Steriti then provided the person with a handwritten list of nutrients she could purchase from him, and Steriti made a second appointment for her, noting the date on the back of his business card. His business card stated he was a naturopathic medical doctor (NMD.)

His current Web site states he is a naturopathic physician, who graduated from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, and a natural health consultant.

Despite Steriti's contention that the state is targeting all alternative practitioners, Thometta Cozart, a spokeswoman for the health department's Medical Quality Assurance office, said the state has issued only four cease and desist orders to Florida naturopaths in the past six years.

The last was to Steriti. Maribel Santacruz of Miami and Robert Morse of Port Charlotte were cited in 2000, and Melissa Robinson of Fort Lauderdale in January.

Cozart said it doesn't take a complaint to warrant a cease and desist order.

There are various reasons why Medical Quality Assurance might get involved, she said.

"In general, a complaint against an unlicensed person may involve an act that could be performed by more than one profession. For example, an unlicensed person providing herbs to a person for the purpose of treating a medical condition may be practicing naturopathy, medicine, and/or dietetics/nutrition counseling," Cozart wrote in an e-mail. "When faced with unlicensed practice, the (licensing) office evaluates the facts of the case, the definition of relevant practice acts, and what the unlicensed individual is holding themselves out to be. The decision on what to put in a cease-and-desist order is based on that evaluation and it may include more than one profession to cover the different possibilities."

Unlicensed medical activity is a third-degree felony.

"If there's been a bodily injury, it becomes a second-degree felony," Cozart said.

Leah Hamrick, an analyst for the state Health Care Regulation Committee, said few naturopaths are allowed to practice in the state.

There have been legislative attempts to regulate naturopaths in the past few years, but they have failed.

That includes proposed 2006 legislation, which died in the House and Senate health-care committees in the spring.

As it stands, anyone who has a naturopathic practice is illegally practicing medicine, Hamrick said.

Asked if one could be considered unlicensed if there is no licensing mechanism in place, Hamrick said definitions in Florida statutes are fairly straightforward.

Chapter 458.305 (3) defines the practice of medicine as "the diagnosis, treatment, operation, or prescription for any human disease, pain, injury, deformity, or other physical or mental condition," Hamrick said.

There are Florida laws for naturopaths under Chapter 462, but now they apply only to anyone who was licensed prior to Oct. 1, 1985.

Naturopathy was defined as "the use and practice of psychological, mechanical, and material health sciences to aid in purifying, cleansing, and normalizing human tissues for the preservation or restoration of health, according to the fundamental principles of anatomy, physiology, and applied psychology, as may be required."

Medical Quality Assurance regulates more than 40 recognized health-care professions, including acupuncturists, chiropractors and nutritionists.

The state 2004 Sunrise Report on Proposed Licensure of naturopaths noted that Florida naturopaths who were — then — members of the Florida Naturopathic Physician Association, "consider themselves to be general practitioners trained as specialists in natural medicine."

"Naturopathic physicians perform physical examinations, laboratory testing, gynecological exams, nutritional and dietary assessments, metabolic analysis, and allergy testing," states the Sunrise Report.

Along with the Florida Medical Association, Collier County Medical Society members have opposed licensing naturopaths, Society executive director Margaret Eadington said.

The association fights off nearly every proposed new rule that would license naturopaths, she said.

"That is not to say that these people don't have roles (in the health-care community) but they shouldn't be doing the jobs medical doctors are doing," Eadington said.

The general feeling among medical professionals is, "if you want to be a doctor, go to medical school," she said.

The issue is the scope of practice. Physicians attend medical school, then have a long training period after that, she said.

State and local medical professionals don't want to blur boundaries regulating scope of practice, she said.

According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Steriti is one of nine naturopath members in Florida. He lists himself as specializing in attention deficit disorder, cancer, chronic fatigue, homeopathy and women's health.

According to the cease-and-desist order, since Steriti isn't licensed in any health-care profession, his use of the initials of NMD is "entirely inappropriate."

"Steriti's representation that he holds a Ph.D., albeit potentially truthful, is in the area of engineering. Engineering is a subject matter unrelated and unhelpful in the health care field and represents another example of how Steriti's claims in the Web site are misleading," states the cease and desist order.

Regarding the list of charges filed in all of the cease and desist orders, Cozart said this: "This is not an unusual practice. In criminal law, a person found with stolen property from a residence will be charged with burglary and receiving stolen property. This is called charging to cover the 'exigencies of proof.'"

Michelle Clark, incoming president of the Florida Naturopathic Physicians Association, said while her organization is some 50 years old, she has only five members. That's because one can't be listed as a member unless one is licensed by the state.

Clark said that folks who practice naturopathy are often licensed in another health-care discipline, such as in acupuncture or as a chiropractor, specialties that the state will license.

Florida Naturopathic Physicians Association is gearing up for a membership drive, which would change its bylaws and allow nonlicensed naturopaths like Steriti to become "associate" members, Clark said.

Evolution education update: September 8, 2006

A review, coauthored by Nick Matzke, of the evidence for the evolution of bacterial flagella appears in Nature Reviews Microbiology, while in Ohio there is renewed concern about the resurgence of attempts to undermine the treatment of evolution in the state science standards. And there's still time to reserve a spot on the next NCSE excursion to the Grand Canyon!

PALLEN AND MATZKE IN NATURE REVIEWS MICROBIOLOGY

On September 5, 2006, Nature Reviews Microbiology, one of the leading journals in its field, released "From The Origin of Species to the origin of bacterial flagella" in advance online publication form. The article, by Mark J. Pallen of the University of Birmingham and Nicholas J. Matzke of NCSE, reviews the evidence for the evolution of the bacterial flagellum -- which proponents of "intelligent design" notoriously adduce as a clear example of a designed rather than evolved structure. In the words of the abstract:

***

In the recent Dover trial, and elsewhere, the 'Intelligent Design' movement has championed the bacterial flagellum as an irreducibly complex system that, it is claimed, could not have evolved through natural selection. Here we explore the arguments in favour of viewing bacterial flagella as evolved, rather than designed, entities. We dismiss the need for any great conceptual leaps in creating a model of flagellar evolution and speculate as to how an experimental programme focused on this topic might look.

***

Pallen and Matzke begin by reminding microbiologists of the way in which their discipline became relevant to the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, "where the term 'flagellum' and its cognates appeared 385 times in the transcripts of the 6-week trial." Proponents of "intelligent design" such as Michael Behe and Scott Minnich -- both of whom testified for the defense in Kitzmiller -- have contended that "irreducibly complex" systems such as the bacterial flagellum could not have evolved. At the trial, Kenneth R. Miller, testifying for the plaintiffs, effectively countered such contentions.

After describing Miller's arguments, Pallen and Matzke note that talk about "the" bacterial flagellum is incorrect: "By even the most conservative estimate, there must therefore be thousands of different bacterial flagellar systems, perhaps even millions. Therefore, there is no point discussing the creation or ID of 'the' bacterial flagellum. Instead, one is faced with two options: either there were thousands or even millions of individual creation events, which strains Occam's razor to breaking point, or one has to accept that all the highly diverse contemporary flagellar systems have evolved from a common ancestor."

Evidence for the evolution of bacterial flagella includes the existence of vestigial flagella, intermediate forms of flagella, and, importantly, the pattern of similarities among flagella protein sequences. Pallen and Matzke demonstrate that almost all of the core flagellar proteins have known homologies with non-flagellum proteins -- contrary to repeated claims from the "intelligent design" movement, such as Minnich's claim in his expert report that "the other thirty proteins in the flagellar motor (that are not present in the type III secretion system) are unique to the motor and are not found in any other living system." (Further details are provided by Matzke in a post at The Panda's Thumb blog.)

Pallen and Matzke offer a call for continued research on flagellar evolution, citing both the need to debunk "the suspicion among members of the public that maybe there is some mystery here, that maybe the ID proponents do have a point" and the prospect of thereby gaining further understanding of bacterial flagella. After sketching a few avenues for future research, they pointedly comment, "Like Darwin, we have found that careful attention to homology, analogy and diversity yields substantial insights into the origin of even the most complex systems."

For Pallen and Matzke's article (PDF; subscription required), visit:
http://www.nature.com/nrmicro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/pdf/nrmicro1493.pdf

For Matzke's comments on The Panda's Thumb blog, visit:
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/09/flagellum_evolu.html

CONCERN OVER RENEWED ANTIEVOLUTIONISM IN OHIO PERSISTS

There is concern again about the resurgence of attempts to undermine the treatment of evolution in the state science standards in Ohio. According to the current science standards for the tenth grade, students are expected to be able to "[d]escribe that scientists may disagree about explanations of phenomena, about interpretation of data or about the value of rival theories, but they do agree that questioning, response to criticism and open communications are integral to the process of science." At a meeting of the state board of education's Achievement Committee on July 10, 2006, Colleen Grady proposed the addition of "Discuss and be able to apply this in the following areas: global warning; evolutionary theory; emerging technologies and how they may impact society, e.g. cloning or stem-cell research."

Grady's proposal was widely regarded as a clear attempt to circumvent the board's February 2006 vote to retract a controversial model lesson plan and to remove the indicator on which it was based from the standards; the indicator, which called for students to be able to "describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory," was generally criticized as providing a pretext for instilling scientifically unwarranted doubts about evolution. The Columbus Dispatch reported (July 11, 2006), "Education Department staff will put Grady's proposal into draft form for consideration at the board's September meeting. It is not clear whether there is enough support among committee members to recommend any proposal to the full board."

Now that the September 11, 2006, meeting of the board is imminent, the Campaign to Defend the Constitution is urging supporters of the integrity of science education to lobby school board members to reject Grady's proposal should it be introduced. The Toledo Blade (September 7, 2006) reported that during a teleconference on September 6, 2006, members of the Campaign described the proposal as "a Trojan horse carrying religion into the science curriculum." The Blade added, "Patricia Princehouse, a lecturer in philosophy and evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University, who joined the Campaign to Defend the Constitution group, said treating evolution and other topics as though they are somehow different from the rest of science is a way to sneak creationism back into the science curriculum."

A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Education told the Blade that no specific topics would be mentioned in a draft of the proposal, and the Akron Beacon Journal reported (September 7, 2006), "The nine-page document itself is evolutionary. Earlier this year, a proposal was to encourage debate of specific issues: Evolution, global warming and stem cell research. Now, it encourages students to conduct research and have open discussion in the classroom." Nevertheless, board member Martha Wise commented that the proposal "is a lot of gobbledygook -- it's just another wedge into the teaching of ID in science classes." Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University worried, "When they teach history, are they going to say some people say the Holocaust never happened?"

The chair of the board, Sue Westendorf, told the Blade that the controversy over teaching evolution is likely to become a political issue in the 2006 elections. Perhaps the bitterest electoral battle bodes to be in the Seventh State Board District (encompassing Ashtabula, Portage, Summit, and Trumbull counties, including Ohio's fifth largest city, Akron), where antievolution incumbent Deborah Owens Fink is facing three challengers, the Beacon Journal (August 25, 2006) reported: John Jones, who works for the utility company Ohio Edison; Dave Kovacs, a philosophy student at the University of Akron; and Tom Sawyer, a former teacher, mayor of Akron, and member of Congress, who enjoys the support of the newly formed pro-science-education coalition Help Ohio Public Education.

For the Campaign to Defend the Constitution and its alert, visit:
http://www.defconamerica.org/
http://ga3.org/campaign/ohio_edboard_web

For the story in the Toledo Blade, visit:
http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060907/NEWS04/609070349/-1/NEWS

For the two stories in the Akron Beacon Journal, visit:
http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/news/15458643.htm
http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/living/15358033.htm

NCSE AND THE GRAND CANYON

Explore the Grand Canyon with Scott and Gish! Seats are now available for NCSE's next excursion to the Grand Canyon -- as featured in The New York Times (October 6, 2005). From July 17 to July 24, 2007, NCSE will again explore the wonders of creation and evolution on a Grand Canyon river run conducted by NCSE's Genie Scott and Alan ("Gish") Gishlick. Because this is an NCSE trip, we offer more than just the typically grand float down the Canyon, the spectacular scenery, fascinating natural history, brilliant night skies, exciting rapids, delicious meals, and good company. It is, in fact, a unique "two-model" raft trip, on which we provide both the creationist view of Grand Canyon and the evolutionist view -- and let you make up your own mind. The cost is $2200; a deposit of $500 will hold your spot. Call or write now: seats are limited.

For further information on the Grand Canyon trip, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/GC2007

For a summary of the article in The New York Times, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2005/ZZ/3_seeing_creation_and_evolution_10_6_2005.asp

REMINDER

If you wish to subscribe, please send:

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

Sincerely,

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

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

NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today!
http://www.ncseweb.org/membership.asp

WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 8 Sep 06 Washington, DC

TELEPHONE TELEPATHY: IT'S TOO MUCH TO BE A MERE COINCIDENCE.

Even as President Bush this week called on Congress to give him "additional authority" for the "warrantless eavesdropping program," Rupert Sheldrake, who is funded by a grant administered by Trinity College of Cambridge University, was explaining to the British Association for the Advancement of Science that we can already do it telepathically. Sheldrake claims that when the phone rings we know who is calling. Perhaps he could get in touch with President Bush, with or without the phone. Sheldrake is the "scientist" who claims pets are telepathically in touch with their owners. He was followed by a psychiatrist who thinks near-death experiences are evidence of an afterlife. I seem to be getting telepathic messages from Congress that there is no way they can deal with Bush's requests before the election, however, I haven't a clue as to why BAAS chose to showcase this session.

ETHANOL: LOOKING FOR A GREEN ENERGY SOLUTION? GET OVER IT. There is something very appealing about a green solution to the energy problem. Sorry. Franco Battaglia, chemical physicist at the U. of Modena, Italy, calculated that if all of Italy was devoted to growing corn it could only supply half of their fuel needs. It also takes oil to pump oil, but Kevin Delin points out that the energy balance for oil production is 10-to-1 (down from 100-to-1 and declining). That an argument is even taking place over whether EB is positive or negative means it would be a major life style adjustment at best. Ethanol from sugar cane made Brazil an energy exporter, as Cesar Cusatis, a physicist at Universidade Federal de Parana, observes. But he concedes that byproducts including alkanes are a serious problem, even with the Amazon River to use as a sewer. Worse, sugar cane is grown with cheap hand labor, condemning much of the population to serfdom.

THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND.
Opinions are the author's and not necessarily shared by the University of Maryland, but they should be.

Archives of What's New can be found at http://www.bobpark.org What's New is moving to a different listserver and our subscription process has changed. To change your subscription status please visit this link:
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America's evolution from God

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/dailycourier/guestcolumn/s_469445.html

By Rosemary Fike Saturday, September 9, 2006

The United States of America no longer can be called a Christian nation. In fact, we could be called a nation of fools. We are quietly allowing our schoolchildren to be taught Charles Darwin's theory of evolution although it is not supported by the evidence.

To the contrary, it has been proven that evolution is a scientific impossibility. It appears as if a fanatical cult has overtaken the scientific community, bringing lawsuits against anyone who dares attempt to contradict their flawed theory.

Now we have a generation of children being taught in school that they are just accidents of nature and have evolved from algae. Where are the 70 percent of Americans who claim to believe in God, and what exactly do they believe?

Even according to Charles Darwin himself, if evolution were true we would find evidence in the fossil record. There should be millions of transitional fossils, "missing links," but not a trace has ever been found. Instead, the fossil record shows the sudden appearance, fully formed, of all the complex invertebrates and fish (supposedly the first vertebrates) without a trace of ancestors.

The Bible declares that God created the heavens and the Earth and all living things and all the evidence bears this out. But scientists, although they admit they cannot even begin to understand or explain the complexity of so much as the human eye, would have us believe they have the answers to life's origin.

The theory of evolution has suffered major blows through modern science. Creationism or Intelligent Design has been rejected because these scientists claim that it cannot be "observed or empirically tested in a laboratory." But can evolution be observed or empirically tested? The answer is a resounding no.

Another big problem for evolutionists is the "laws of probability," which clearly show that it is impossible for life to evolve from nonliving matter. Random impersonal chance, no matter how long the time period, does not produce complexity and organization; it only produces greater chaos and disorganization. Things just do not evolve upward as evolution requires.

Critics point to the removal of any notion of God from public schools and its replacement with Darwinism as leading America's youth down the path of increasing violence. Darwinism brings hopelessness and despair; Creationism brings value and significance.

Ironically we continue to ask for God's blessing, especially in times of crisis. We recite "...one nation under God," and sing "God bless America" as our children sit in classrooms where the Name that is above all names cannot be mentioned. Our children must not hear that God had any part in their origin.

Abraham Lincoln's words spoken in his proclamation for a National Day of Fasting and Prayer are certainly relevant today:

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."

Allow 'Critical Analysis' in Ohio

http://www.theintelligencer.net/editorials/articles.asp?articleID=10390

For the News-Register

Should students in Ohio public schools be encouraged to think about what they are taught? Or should the state's position be that they ought to accept whatever is dished out in lectures and textbooks on subjects ranging from global warming to the national debt?

Some members of the state Board of Education believe that students ought to be encouraged to apply critical analysis to the subjects they study. They want the state to provide guidelines that could help schools teach the skill to their students.

But critical analysis, believe it or not, is not politically correct in the minds of some Ohioans. They object to encouraging students to use it — especially if the subject being taught is evolution.

At one time the state did offer teachers help in encouraging students to apply critical analysis to the concept of evolution. But earlier this year, the state Board of Education voted 11-4 to eliminate that optional lesson plan from material provided by the state. Opponents of the idea said that critical analysis was being used to allow some teachers to question the concept of evolution on religious grounds. It allowed proponents of the creationist theory of life to suggest to students that it is a viable alternative to evolution, said opponents of critical analysis.

Now, a committee within the state board wants to offer teachers an optional "framework" for handling controversial issues through critical analysis. No teacher would be required to use them.

Opponents of the idea claim it is unacceptable — simply because of the possibility that critical analysis might be applied to the study of evolution.

A sort of modern witch hunt has developed in public education. The "witches" in this situation are those who dare to question what has become orthodoxy in teaching of biology. And yes, it is a very narrow orthodoxy — a sort of secular fundamentalism.

It has worrisome ramifications. If critical analysis cannot be applied to the study of evolution, what's next? Will it be decided that certain political theories should not be questioned too closely? Will those in education who do not stress a mechanistic theory of creation heavily enough be hunted down and ejected from their profession?

No subject taught in public schools should be exempted from being analyzed thoroughly and objectively. Those who would reject such critical analysis are less interested in educating children than in indoctrinating them. Ohioans should not allow that.

Kenya bishop leads anti-evolution fight

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1868904,00.html

Evangelists want fossil exhibits kept out of sight

Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday September 10, 2006
The Observer

The world's most important collection of human fossils may soon be hidden from public view - if religious leaders get their way.

In a move that has stunned scientists, senior clergy have demanded that the bones and skulls currently exhibited in Nairobi's National Museum of Kenya be removed from display to prevent young Africans from being corrupted.

'It's creating a big weapon against Christians that's killing our faith,' said Bishop Boniface Adoyo, who is leading the hide-the-bones campaign. 'When children go to museums they'll start believing we evolved from these apes.' Not surprisingly, the bishop's remarks have infuriated scientists who consider the museum's collection to be unrivalled anywhere else in the world. Its fossils include those of the 4 million-year-old apeman, Australopithecus anamensis, the 1.5 million-year-old remains of the Nariokotome boy, the most complete skeleton of an ancient human ever found, and a series of other bones that highlight crucial phases of our evolutionary past.

Many of these fossils were discovered by palaeontologists Louis and Mary Leakey in areas around Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana and are generally regarded as providing stark demonstrations of how our species was shaped by natural selection.

Their son, Richard Leakey, and his wife Maeve, have continued this fossil-hunting tradition. They too have been dismayed by the bid to suppress the museum's fossils. 'The church is being ridiculous,' said Richard Leakey. 'Its leaders are out of step. Evolution theory is accepted across the world. This is scientific history and Kenya has the best of this evolutional history. Globally, few can match that claim to fame.'

The National Museum of Kenya is currently preparing to reopen next year after completing massive EU-funded renovations. As part of that work a special exhibit, The Origins Of Man, which displays the key finds around Africa's Great Rift Valley - considered by many the cradle of humanity - is now being set up.

However, it is this display that African evangelicals say they find offensive, because it promotes Darwin's theory of evolution. As a result, they are demanding that the display be removed or at least shunted to a less prominent location.

'When museums put it out there that man evolved from apes, theologically they are affecting many people who are Christians, who believe God created us,' says Bishop Adoyo, the chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, which claims to represent churches of 35 denominations with nine million members.


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