NTS LogoSkeptical News for 28 June 2007

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Inside the Creationist dispute

http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070628/LIFE/706280331/1005

Column by Kevin Eigelbach

Last week, The Post reported on a lawsuit an Australian creationist group is pursuing against its American cousin, the Boone County-based Answers in Genesis.

The lawsuit details AIG's alleged attempts to steal magazine subscribers from Creation Ministries International.

According to CMI, though, it's also part of AIG's ongoing attempts to destroy it, an organization AIG worked with closely for two decades.

It's all detailed in a 40-page report by Clarrie Briese, a former chief state magistrate in Australia, and a member of CMI.

The report is a must read if you want a behind-the-scenes look at the foremost proponents of the idea that God created the universe from nothing in six days, 6,000 years ago.

Briese chaired a committee that CMI formed to investigate allegations that AIG had made. AIG didn't cooperate with the investigation.

After looking over about 700 pages of evidence, Briese found no wrongdoing by CMI, but lots on the part of AIG.

In his view, the dispute began in August 2004, when officers of both groups asked Answers to reorganize, in part to make the ministry less dependent on its founder, Ken Ham.

The reformers also wanted to address the problem of low staff morale at Answers.

According to Briese, in a letter to the Answers board, then-Answers COO Brandon Vallorani wrote, "Ken's track record with staff has been To Put It Mildly less than desirable. He is perceived to be harsh and unforgiving .... There is an unhealthy fear of Ken."

Until the reform attempt, the two ministries had excellent relations. They had common board members, they shared articles, they even shared the Answers in Genesis name and the same Web site.

But that all changed quickly.

AIG in America fired Vallorani, its second-in-command, and gave him a payout on condition of silence, according to Briese.

When Ham sees a threat to his dominant position in the worldwide creationism movement, he retaliates, Briese wrote, and that's what he proceeded to do to CMI.

Ham's a persuasive guy, as those who have talked with him can attest. Vallorani evidently learned that first-hand.

"I just got off the phone with Ken," the report quotes Vallorani as saying in an e-mail. "I have just been 'spun' to agree with him on every point. I watched it happen. I felt it happen. I can't believe it happened. Now I don't know up from down." In October 2005, Briese found, Ham persuaded the Australian group's board of directors to sign documents that gave virtual control of CMI to AIG.

Briese concluded that, had the board known what they were signing, they never would have done so, because the documents were too damaging to CMI. That board later resigned after CMI management and the creationism community in Australia protested.

Ever since then, CMI has tried to get Answers to nullify or renegotiate those documents, but Answers won't do it.

AIG also misled subscribers to the CMI magazines into thinking that they were not available anymore, while signing them up for subscriptions to AIG's new magazine, "Answers." This caused massive financial damage to CMI, Briese found.

I remember when we interviewed Ham for a story about the new magazine.

Did he mention the CMI magazines that already existed, or that AIG was co-opting those subscribers? No, he didn't.

Briese found evidence of other, dirtier retaliation as well. I'll write more about that next week.

Staff reporter Kevin Eigelbach writes on religion for The Post. Reach him at keigelbach@cincypost.com.

Council of Europe refuses to condemn creationism

http://www.functionpix.com/index.php/article/Council_of_Europe_refuses_to_condemn_creationism/1432/

Article by Michael Petek

Tuesday 26th June 2007, 16:55

A report by the Committee on Culture, Science and Education is rolling out the big guns against advocates of creationism. It states that the biblically-based theory endangers human rights and democracy.

But the Council of Europe is opposed to adopting the report and has referred it back to be reworked.

The definitive text of the report was published by French socialist Guy Lengagne. "If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights" it states.

He leaves no doubt of how dangerous he finds the theory, which holds that the earth did not evolve into what it is today, but was created by God according to the biblical account. Hence the title of the report, "The Dangers of Creationism in Education."

Creationism in any of its forms or religious expressions, "is not based on facts", writes Lengagne in the report. "From a scientific view point there is absolutely no doubt that evolution is a central theory for our understanding of the Universe and of life on Earth."

Lengagne warns especially against teaching creationism in biology lessons as an alternative to the theory of evolution. It should be taught, if at all, in religious education.

A majority on the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly found Lengagne's report, still to be debated this week, to be insufficiently reflective. 63 of the 119 members rejected it and referred it back for reconsideration by the Committee. The Chairman of the Conservative bloc, Belgian Luc van der Brande, explained that criticism of creationism was unbalanced.

Rapporteur Lengagne, a lecturer in mathematics at the University of Amiens, gave drastic examples in the report of what could happen if creationists were to gain influence. The search for a cure for AIDS could be obstructed, and fundamentalism and extremism strengthened.

Lengagne gives an explicit warning of the links between religious extremism, which often lurks behind denial of the theory of evolution, and right-wing politics. Advocates of strict creationism were out to replace democracy by theocracy.

Lengagne reacted with horror at the Council's criticism. "We are witnessing a change of direction for a return to the Middle Ages, and too many members of this Assembly can't see it" he said.

Scientists resolve trichromacy debate

http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/index.php?feed=Science&article=UPI-1-20070628-10344600-bc-us-trichromacy.xml

ATHENS, Ohio, June 28 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists believe they've solved the long-standing question of which came first: primates' ability to see colorful food or see colorful sex?

Ohio University researchers Andre Fernandez and Professor Molly Morris believe trichromatic color vision -- the ability to discriminate red from green -- was a pre-existing sensory bias that then drove the evolution of red-orange pelage -- the hair or fur of a mammal -- and skin, possibly through sexual selection.

The adaptive significance of trichromatic color vision has always enticed debate. The conventional theory is that primates evolved trichromatic vision to assist in foraging by allowing them to detect red/orange food items from green leaf backgrounds. However, some empirical studies have called into question the extent to which trichromacy functions in foraging, while others suggested trichromacy evolved so primates could use physical traits such as red skin in socio-sexual communication.

"Taken as a whole, this study provides the first statistical support for the hypothesis that a pre-existing bias promoted the evolution of red traits in primates through sexual selection and explains why current foraging performance does not always correlate with the ability to discriminate red," said Fernandez, lead author of the report.

The research is reported in the American Naturalist.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International.

Evolution is one big hoax

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/letters/evolution-is-one-big-hoax-858550.html

Ciaran Farrell objects to Kevin Myers' refusal to use the term "natural selection". Maybe this is because no such phenomenon exists. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever of the existence of such a phenomenon. The Theory of Evolution is pure drivel. It is the greatest hoax that has ever been foisted on a gullible planet, since the story of The Emperor's New Clothes.

Charles Darwin was a sincere scientific researcher, in an era that knew nothing of the amazing internal complexity of organic life forms that has since been uncovered.

The Theory of Evolution is not based on any science. It is in fact a religion, and one of the largest and most fanatical religions in the world. The crudely manufactured "evidence" that is offered by evolutionists is facile and primitive and consists entirely of wishful thinking.

Every form of organic life, without exception, develops from a tiny speck that proliferates according to fixed rigid steps, of astonishing complexity, to create a single living entity of trillions of cells.

The idea that this originated from some mad messy mutation of crazy matter is the height of insanity.

Not a single trace of the remains of any of this vast multitude of failed mutations has ever been found.

Evolutionists have the same rights as the rest of us to preach their religion, but let's call a spade a spade. The only explanation for their fanaticism is their outrage at other people believing in a man in the sky.

JOHN LUNDBERG,
TALLAGHT D 24


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dawkins and Krauss: the Goofus and Gallant of Teaching Evolution

http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/06/dawkins-and-kra.html

By Brandon Keim June 25, 2007 | 3:01:23 PM

In the new Scientific American, physicist Lawrence Krauss and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins -- both prominent defenders of evolution, but with very different styles -- discuss their tactics for debating evolution with people of religious faith. The contrast is quite entertaining:

Dawkins: I like your clarification of what you mean by reaching out. But let me warn you of how easy it is to be misunderstood. I once wrote in a New York Times book review, "It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that)." That sentence has been quoted again and again in support of the view that I am a bigoted, intolerant, closed-minded, intemperate ranter. But just look at my sentence. It may not be crafted to seduce, but you, Lawrence, know in your heart that it is a simple and sober statement of fact. [...] To call somebody ignorant is no insult. All of us are ignorant of most of what there is to know. I am completely ignorant of baseball, and I dare say that you are as completely ignorant of cricket. If I tell somebody who believes the world is 6,000 years old that he is ignorant, I am paying him the compliment of assuming that he is not stupid, insane or wicked. [...]

Krauss: ... I was recently asked to speak at a Catholic college at a symposium on science and religion. I guess I was viewed as someone interested in reconciling the two. After agreeing to lecture, I discovered that I had been assigned the title Science Enriching Faith. In spite of my initial qualms, the more I thought about the title, the more rationale I could see for it. The need to believe in a divine intelligence without direct evidence is, for better or worse, a fundamental component of many people's psyches. I do not think we will rid humanity of religious faith any more than we will rid humanity of romantic love or many of the irrational but fundamental aspects of human cognition. While orthogonal from the scientific rational components, they are no less real and perhaps no less worthy of some celebration when we consider our humanity.

The importance of promoting evolution without defining religion as some kind of ignorant voodoo has been a regular theme here at Wired Science.

In the end, the ultimate enemy of enlightenment isn't belief in a particular thing, but dogma and self-righteousness -- qualities that are amply demonstrated both by people of faith and by people of science.

Quite a few people manage to hold on to their religious convictions -- belief in God, in non-arbitrary morality, etc. -- while accepting that natural selection is real, the earth billions of years old, and so on. It's these sort of people that evolution's defenders need to produce.

Krauss seems to get this, but the boorishness of people like Dawkins doesn't help anyone, except maybe people who think scientists hate God. Is there some way of making him switch teams? At this point, the best thing that could happen to the public acceptance of evolution would be Richard Dawkins' full-fledged conversion to Christianity, whereupon his alienating intellectual tendencies would show moderate, generally sensible fence-sitters the stupidity of fundamentalism.

Related Wired coverage here.

Should Science Speak to Faith? [Scientific American] [extended version]

ID Proponents Applaud Darwinist's Open-Mindedness

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070625/28156_ID_Proponents_Applaud_Darwinist's_Open-Mindedness.htm

By Doug Huntington Christian Post Reporter

Mon, Jun. 25 2007 02:55 PM ET

Scientists from a major pro-intelligent design (ID) think tank praised a Darwinist this past Friday over an article he wrote on their controversial concept.

In the article published in The Christian Century, J. Scott Turner, faculty of the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry in Syracuse, N.Y., scolded his colleagues over their reactionary stance against ID thought – which argues that life is a result of a "designer."

Scientists at the Discovery Institute, a grouping of ID advocates, hope that the Darwinist's article will help open the door for other evolutionists to be less close-minded about ID.

"Hopefully Turner's criticisms will strike a chord with Darwinists who might otherwise close their ears to the argument for academic freedom for ID-proponents," explained Casey Luskin, co-founder of the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center, on the Discovery Center website. "Given the intolerance towards ID-sympathy that Turner describes, let us also hope that the chord is heard but the strummer is not harmed."

While Turner is very open with his stance about the issue and disagrees with ID science, he sees the negative backlash given to supporters of the issue and feels that it is unwarranted. Instead, he argues that science is meant to be discussed with arguments on both sides rather than one side being silenced completely.

"[The] modern academy [is] a tedious intellectual monoculture where conformity and not contention is the norm," wrote the SUNY professor. "Reflexive hostility to ID is largely cut from that cloth; some ID critics are not so much worried about a hurtful climate as they are about a climate in which people are free to disagree with them."

There have been several cases throughout the year in which supporters of ID thought have been strongly affected for their beliefs by academic and scientific institutions.

The most recent publicized incident involved astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, author of pro-ID book The Privileged Planet, who was denied tenure at Iowa State University (ISU). The professor had strong credentials and had exceeded the typical number of peer reviewed journals needed to receive tenure at the university. He had written 68 papers, 53 more than the ISU's required 15.

He also had the highest score among the entire faculty in the astronomy department ,according to the Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS), which calculates the scientific impact of scientists in astronomy.

Several professors at the school even admitted that his ID belief, which Gonzales never taught to students, was the main factor in denying him tenure.

"It's a sad day for science and free inquiry when tenure is denied to a scientist of Guillermo Gonzalez's caliber," said Dr. John G. West, associate director of the Center for Science & Culture for the ID think tank Discovery Institute, on the Discovery Center website.

ISU President Gregory Geoffroy, who denied Gonzalez's appeal for tenure, "has clearly demonstrated that academic freedom is not as important to Iowa State University as passing an ideological litmus test," he added.

In Turner's article, the Darwinist addressed these problems against ID proponents, and how they are unfairly treated. He personally cited an incident involving hostility against Richard Sternberg, former editor of the scientific journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, from scientists at the Smithsonian Institute.

"It would be comforting if one could dismiss such incidents as the actions of a misguided few. But the intolerance that gave rise to the Sternberg debacle is all too common," wrote Turner. "The attitudes on display there, which at the extreme verge on antireligious hysteria, can hardly be squared with the relatively innocuous (even if wrong-headed) ideas that sit at ID's core."

As another main point, Turner explained the role that ID can play in education and that it should not so easily be thrown away as bad theory. While evolution has a place in the classroom, he explained that ID also has beneficial traits that can lead to more balanced science, even if it is not all correct.

"[I]ntelligent design … is one of multiple emerging critiques of materialism in science and evolution. Unfortunately, many scientists fail to see this, preferring the gross caricature that ID is simply 'stealth creationism,'" added the Syracuse professor. "[But] ID is not popular because the stupid or ignorant like it, but because neo-Darwinism's principled banishment of purpose seems less defensible each passing day."

Behe Responds to Propaganda Attacks Against The Edge of Evolution

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/06/the_propaganda_against_behe.html

Fenton Communications, the left wing public relations firm that handles the Darwinist propaganda machine (along with groups like Moveon.org), undoubtedly has been anticipating the publication of Michael Behe's new book, The Edge of Evolution, and helping to promote book reviews against it. Our friends at the Darwinist lobby, National Center for Science Education, are also on the case. They erroneously think that they can strangle this Hercules in his crib.

In terms of the interests of real science, it is a shame, though no surprise, that the initial Darwinist reviews are defensive and tendentious.We have asked Dr. Behe, a senior fellow of Discovery Institute, to reply to some of them and he has agreed, starting with Jerry Coyne's review from The New Republic. Since the same journals that would not provide space for him to reply to his critics after Darwin's Black Box was published are unlikely to afford him access now (they have made it clear that it is a high academic crime to allow Darwin critics to speak for themselves), we hope that objective readers will spend a little time to "tear and compare."

I am collecting stories of great scientists who were maligned in their time by the establishment journals and associations only to be vindicated later. Fortunately, Michael Behe, unlike some of his predecessors, is a relatively young man. He also has the merit of debating actual facts instead of hearsay and suppositions. The Edge of Evolution is outstanding.

Posted by Bruce Chapman on June 25, 2007 12:11 AM | Permalink

Analysis finds echinacea might really work

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/health/321278_echinacea26.html

Last updated June 25, 2007 9:59 p.m. PT

But not all scientists believe that it fights colds

By LAURA GEGGEL P-I REPORTER

A new scientific analysis indicates that echinacea, the North American flower widely used to protect against colds, actually works, contradicting previous studies that said it has no effect on colds.

It's the latest topic in which conflicting conclusions may leave consumers wondering what to believe.

Some researchers are questioning the latest findings. Even an author of the report says it shouldn't be taken as the final word on whether echinacea does indeed offer protection against colds.

Furthermore, other basic measures -- such as washing your hands -- are likely to be far more effective as cold-preventers, some researchers involved in previous studies have said.

The latest study, published Sunday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, wasn't new research but an analysis of 14 previous studies.

The review found "echinacea decreased the odds of developing the common cold by 58 percent."

The plant reduced the chances of getting a cold by nearly two-thirds compared with a placebo, according to the review. Echinacea also decreases a cold's duration by 1.4 days, according to the Lancet's review.

Craig Coleman, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Connecticut and co-author of the study, said that it suggests that more research on echinacea is needed.

Coleman also told the Los Angeles Times that his analysis showed echinacea was less effective again rhinovirus, the most common cold virus.

"At the least it should be brought back to the table as a potential drug that could be studied to prevent the common cold," Coleman told the Times.

Echinacea has been brought back to the table many a time, despite several studies that have said it doesn't live up to many of the claims made about it.

In 1999, Dr. Carlo Calabrese, then co-director of research at Kenmore-based Bastyr University, a pioneer in the natural medicines field, published a study showing that people who took echinacea over a six-month period had more respiratory infection symptoms than those who received a placebo. His study did not address echinacea's effectiveness for treating existing respiratory symptoms.

In 2003, Dr. Jim Taylor, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, led a 524-child study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found no evidence that echinacea was effective.

Children given echinacea did not recover from colds any faster than children given placebos.

He completed the study with Bastyr University.

However, although it was not part of the protocol, Taylor noticed that those taking echinacea were less likely to get sick later in the study.

Taylor also noticed that many of the studies reviewed in the latest analysis were sponsored by industry, while the studies with more negative results received money from the National Institutes of Health. This observation may not mean much, Taylor said, just that more research was needed before conclusions about echinacea's effects could be reached.

Dr. Wallace Sampson, editor of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and an emeritus adjunct professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, had a different take. He called the study of echinacea "absurd."

It is hard to quantitatively measure cold symptoms with consistency across studies, Sampson said, adding "there is no more reason to study it for colds than to study it for auto accidents."

Still, countless people routinely take echinacea as a remedy for wintertime colds and swear by its effectiveness.

"Echinacea is one of the most commonly used herbal products," wrote a co-author of the analysis published Sunday, Sachin Shah of the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy.

Scientists don't know, however, how it exactly works other than by stimulating the immune system.

Nor do they know if it is safe or if it interferes with other drugs, Shah said.

Given the conflicting claims and lack of clear information about its safety, what should a consumer do?

For Sampson, the skeptic, the answer is simple: Don't use it.

Taylor, the UW professor and pediatrician, is more ambivalent but doesn't exactly give echinacea a ringing endorsement.

"I don't use it right now. I don't think this article would change my mind," he said.

"I don't think this is a definitive result. I don't think it decides it better one way or the other.

"I think we're closer to finding out how effective it is, but we still have more research to do."

Echinacea, also known as purple cornflower, is among roughly 3,000 plant species used in up to 50,000 health care products, according to the trade group American Herbal Products Association. The plant and its roots are made into tea, juice, extract and external preparation, according to the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

This report includes information from Bloomberg News. P-I reporter Laura Geggel can be reached at 206-448-8397 or laurageggel@seattlepi.com.

Austin entrepreneurs launch electromagnet company

http://www.statesman.com/business/content/business/stories/technology/06/26/0626magnet.html

Three Austin entrepreneurs have started a new company focused on electromagnetic therapy.

By Dan Zehr

American-Statesman STAFF

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Three Austin entrepreneurs have teamed up for what might be one of their most ambitious projects — trying to take a piece of alternative medicine to the mainstream.

Barry Thornton, Bill Hayden and Andrew Heller have backed Austin Medical Research and its new Dyna-Pulse device, which they say relieves pain, reduces swelling and helps eliminate sleeping disorders without side effects, pills or injections.

Austin Medical Research's Dyna-Pulse device is a new approach to pulsed electromagnetic therapy. Studies have shown that the technology is effective at soothing pain and other symptoms. But exactly how it helps people is not completely understood.

Thornton, who helped launch ClearCube Technology Inc., developed the device and will run the company. Hayden, whose list of business startups includes 360Commerce Inc., is one of the primary investors in the firm. And Heller, a former IBM fellow who worked with Thornton on ClearCube's blade PCs, has lent his money and advice to the project.

The Dyna-Pulse is a new take on pulsed electromagnetic therapy, which uses low-level pulses of energy to interact with tissues and soothe pain, swelling and other ailments. Multiple studies have shown that the therapy works, and doctors for years have used pulses of electromagnetic energy to help mend bone fractures that refuse to heal.

But this type of therapy floats in a sort of limbo, close to mainstream but regarded as alternative medicine.

"This technology is right on the cusp of making the transition into legitimate medicine," Thornton says. "I want to commercialize it."

But here's the catch: No one has proved how pulsed electromagnetic therapy really works.

"The Holy Grail for this therapy and any other therapy is to find the mechanism of its action," says Mary Johnson, an associate professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine and author of several studies on the therapy. "The precise mechanism of action for every tissue and cell hasn't been teased out yet.

"But these electromagnetic fields have a therapeutic effect," she says. "They reduce inflammation and help alleviate pain."

Thornton said he thinks he has found the grail — the underlying science that explains why the therapy works — and in so doing can build a better product.

The device delivers a pulse of electromagnetic energy to a sore spot. Simply put, the pulse cleans off a layer of debris that sometimes forms around ions in the bloodstream, so the ions then can better interact with cells. That helps the cells release waste and pull in nourishment, Thornton says, giving tissues what he calls a "micro-massage."

The hard part is shaping the pulse, wave and frequency on a case-by-case basis to get the best results. And if his theory is correct, Austin Medical Research will have a leg up on how best to shape the electromagnetic pulse. The firm also will start a database to compile information on how to best shape the therapy for different people and problems.

"It's not something off the wall," Heller says. "It's science, it's not about finding the natural resonance of aliens."

The Dyna-Pulse will sell for about $400 on the low end. Systems designed for practitioners, complete with a software and analysis package, will sell for about $3,500.

Thornton warns that the device is not a cure for anything. Think of it as ibuprofen without the pharmaceuticals. And other than the therapy designed to help mend stubborn bone fractures, none of the myriad small companies with a pulsed electromagnetic device has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Because it's a not a drug, and it's not touted as a cure for anything, Thornton says, the Dyna-Pulse doesn't require FDA approval. But an FDA certification — and the legitimacy that comes with it — would send sales soaring, especially because it would open the door for insurance companies to pay for the therapy. But that will come only with more conclusive testing.

"If I can get some third parties to do scientific testing," he says. "That will be my salvation — if someone else tries to shoot me down."

He'll likely find plenty of archers aiming for him. Several researchers, including some involved with companies developing similar devices, say they would wait to find out more information about Dyna-Pulse before commenting on it. Although they all say they want to see pulsed electromagnetic therapy become more mainstream, they're skeptical about making it sound like more than it is.

"There's a lot of chaff, but there's wheat there, too," says Allen Rosenspire, an immunology and microbiology researcher at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Rosenspire earned one of a handful of grants to study the therapy from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

He says the therapy helps reduce pain and swelling but hasn't seen a conclusive reason why.

Even the FDA-approved bone-fracture therapy hasn't been fully explained, he says.

Rosenspire compares it to global warming. Scientists have been studying it for decades, but no one knows each precise interaction between every cause and effect. A conclusive explanation will take a large number of experiments, a large number of errors and eventually a broad scientific consensus.

"This may be their theory, and they may in fact be right," Rosenspire says of Thornton's claims. "And it's quite possible their device might actually work, even if they've got the theory wrong."

For now, the underlying science might not make a whit of difference for Dr. Jarrod Bagley's patients at Corrective Chiropractic in Austin. Bagley has been testing the Dyna-Pulse device with about 90 patients.

"Everyone has had positive feedback," he says, "but I can't specify what it's from."

In almost all cases, Bagley has been using other therapies in addition to a Dyna-Pulse prototype. On the handful of patients he used only the electromagnetic therapy, Bagley says, almost all reported improvement.

Those positive reports are what has Thornton and Heller excited about the therapy's prospects. And it's what gives their venture a different twist. For potential customers, what matters is that it works, not how.

"It might be more important to prove there's a market for something, then let the market help you perfect it," Thornton says. "It's the ultimate customer feedback model."

dzehr@statesman.com; 912-5932

European rights body calls off creationism vote

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?alias=european-rights-body-call&chanId=sa003&modsrc=reuters

June 25, 2007

By Gilbert Reilhac

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - Europe's main human rights body on Monday cancelled a scheduled vote on banning creationist and intelligent design views from school science classes, saying the proposed resolution was one-sided.

The resolution, which the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly was due to vote on Tuesday, said attacks on the theory of evolution were rooted "in forms of religious extremism" and amounted to a dangerous attack on scientific knowledge.

Believers in creationism or intelligent design argue that some life forms are too complex to have evolved in accordance with Charles Darwin's theory.

Some conservative groups in the United States, both religious and secular, have long opposed the teaching of Darwinian evolution in public schools but U.S. courts have regularly barred them from teaching religious views of creation.

Pressure to teach creationism is weaker in Europe, but an Assembly committee got active because a Muslim creationist book has appeared in several countries.

Guy Lengagne, the French Socialist member of the Assembly who drew up the report, protested after the Parliamentary Assembly voted to call off the debate and vote, and to send the report back to committee for further study.

"I have enough experience of parliamentary procedure to know that this is a first-class burial (for the report)," he said.

Deputies said the motion by the Christian Democratic group of parliamentarians also won support from east European deputies, who recalled that Darwinian evolution was a favorite theory of their former communist rulers.

While Darwin said mankind evolved through natural selection, creationism says God made the world and all life in six days, as depicted in the Bible. Polls show about half of all Americans agree with this while most Europeans support evolution.

Supporters of the intelligent design view want it taught in science class along with evolution. A U.S. court ruled this out in a landmark decision in 2005, dismissing this more recent argument as "neo-creationism."

The proposed resolution said the Council of Europe's 47 member states should "firmly oppose the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline on an equal footing with the theory of evolution by natural selection."

"The teaching of all phenomena concerning evolution as a fundamental scientific theory is therefore crucial to the future of our societies and our democracies," it said.

The resolution would not have been binding on member states.

UK decides intelligent design is not science

http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2192888/government-decides-intelligent

Schoolchildren should not be taught neo-creationism, rules government

Iain Thomson, vnunet.com 26 Jun 2007

The UK government has confirmed that 'intelligent design', sometimes called neo-creationism, will not be taught in schools as part of the National Curriculum.

The statement came in response to a petition calling for the doctrine not to form part of British education.

A similar case in the US occurred in 2005 when a Pennsylvania court found that intelligent design was not a scientific theory and "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents".

"The UK government is aware that a number of concerns have been raised in the media and elsewhere as to whether creationism and intelligent design have a place in science lessons," said the government in its response to the petition.

"The government is clear that creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science."

It continues that intelligent design can be referred to in classes, but that it must be made clear that it is not science and that pupils will not be tested on the subject.

The report will come as a relief to many who worry that Britain is increasingly being targeted by those who seek to introduce intelligent design into school science classes.

Despite the US court ruling, intelligent design is still taught in many American schools and President Bush has expressed his wish that this should continue.

"We are very pleased about the decision," said Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society.

"It is very important that the government has made such a plain statement of intent that intelligent design will not be taught in science classes. It is not science and has no business posing as such and creating confusion for children in schools."

The concept of intelligent design states that the variety and complexity of life on Earth could not be down to evolution, but must instead have been created by an intelligent entity.

The concept first surfaced in the mid-1980s as attempts were made to overturn the teaching of evolution in schools.

One of the main advocates for the theory is the Discovery Institute in the US, which receives some funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 1999 a memo from the organisation was leaked, the so-called 'Wedge document', which outlined the Institute's 20-year plan for attacking evolution.

Its stated objective was to "defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies and to replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God".

The Discovery Institute has never denied creating the document, but claims that its importance has been overblown by conspiracy theorists.

Protests against Council of Europe refusal to debate creationism

http://www.expatica.com/actual/article.asp?subchannel_id=25&story_id=41304

STRASBOURG, France, June 26, 2007 (AFP) - Members of a Council of Europe committee on Tuesday denounced a decision by the Council assembly's not to debate a report on the controversial doctrine of creationism.

The Council's culture, science and education committee, which approved the report in May, described Monday's decision by the Council's assembly was taken "under confused and probably irregular conditions".

On Monday, the Council's parliamentary assembly adopted a proposal to send the report back to the committee without debating it.

Belgian assembly member Luc van den Brande, who on Monday successfully proposed the amendment to send Lengagne's report back, insisted it was unbalanced in its condemnation of creationism.

Van den Brande, who is president of the Assembly's conservative group, had suggested the question was more of scientific than a political one.

But in a statement issued Tuesday, the committee, called for the report to be considered at the assembly's next plenary session in October.

They expressed their support for the author of the report, Socialist assembly member Guy Lengagne, and insisted the problem of creationism in teaching was a "politically topical question".

"Freedom of thought and discussion is a fundamental value of the Council of Europe," said the statement.

Lengagne himself attacked the decision on Monday, saying "I can only see this as a ploy on the part of people who will use any means they can to combat the theory of evolution and impose creationist ideas."

Creationism is a religiously based doctrine that rejects evolution, holding that God created the Earth and the Universe over a fixed period of time: in its Christian version, over six days, as set out in the Bible.

The belief has become an increasingly accepted teaching in a number of countries, particularly in the United States.

Intelligent design, a more subtle version of the doctrine, argues that nature and biological structures are so complicated that they must have been designed by an unidentified intelligent being, and not have evolved by chance.

In his report, Lengagne warned that religious fundamentalists were pushing for creationism to be taught in European schools alongside or even in place of the scientifically based theory of evolution.

Copyright AFP


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Evolution education update: June 22, 2007

Answers in Genesis is being sued by fellow young-earth creationists. The creationist measure in Tennessee is dead, at least for now. And NCSE is seeking candidates for a position in its Public Information Project.

ANSWERS IN GENESIS IN LEGAL TURMOIL

In the wake of the opening of its creation "museum" in northern Kentucky, Answers in Genesis is in the news again, due to a lawsuit filed against the young-earth creationist ministry in the Supreme Court of Queensland, Australia, by a rival ministry. The lawsuit is ultimately due to the acrimonious schism of AiG in 2005, due to differences between the Australian branch, headed by Carl Wieland, and the United States branch, headed by Ken Ham, over the structure and management of the organization.

In the schism, the AiG branches in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa became Creation Ministries International, and the AiG branches in the United States and the United Kingdom continued as Answers in Genesis. CMI is now suing AiG over a number of issues arising from the schism, particularly control of Creation magazine; CMI alleges that the Kentucky group in effect stole subscribers for its new Answers magazine by ceasing to distribute Creation and claiming that it was "no longer available."

The story broke in the mainstream media with a report about the lawsuit in The Australian (June 5, 2007), followed by a similar report in the Lexington Herald-Leader (June 17, 2007), one of the major newspapers in the vicinity of AiG's Kentucky headquarters. Both articles provide a useful introduction to the complicated history, and the tangle of accusations and counteraccusations, surrounding the schism.

For further details and links to relevant documentation, however, consult a useful summary on the Duae Quartunciae blog, as well as the blog of Jim Lippard, a long-time observer of creationist groups who was reporting on the AiG schism from early 2006 and who was a quoted source in the Herald-Leader's article. A piece by Lippard on the schism is to appear in a future issue of Reports of the NCSE; in it, he concludes, "creationism continues to evolve in fascinating ways."

For the story in The Australian, visit:
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21848726-28737,00.html

For the story in the Lexington Herald-Leader, visit:
http://www.kentucky.com/news/state/story/100183.html

For the story at the Duae Quartunciae blog, visit:
http://duoquartuncia.blogspot.com/2007/06/answers-in-genesis-lawsuit.html

And for the relevant stories on Jim Lippard's blog, visit:
http://lippard.blogspot.com/search/label/Answers%20in%20Genesis%20schism

TENNESSEE CREATIONIST MEASURE IS DEAD FOR NOW

WMC-TV in Memphis reports (June 16, 2007) that Senate Resolution 17 failed to pass during the first session of the 105th General Assembly of the state of Tennessee. Introduced by Senator Raymond Finney (R-District 8) on February 21, 2007, the resolution, if enacted, would request the commissioner of education to justify the fact that creationism is not taught in the state's public schools. It was quickly attacked, with the Bristol Herald Courier (March 1, 2007) editorially commenting, "This is the so-called 'teach the controversy' approach that creationists have adopted in an effort to make an end run around court rulings that prevent overt instruction in creationism in public schools," and a colleague of Finney's asking the state's attorney general to investigate whether the bill would be unconstitutional -- it would not be, the attorney general's office replied, adding that it "clearly appears to constitute a rhetorical device designed to advocate the teaching of creationism as an alternative to the theory of evolution." Later, Finney told the Associated Press (March 14, 2007), "I'm not sure I'm going forward with that ... I'm probably going to reword it anyway." The 105th General Assembly is in adjournment until January 8, 2008, when it is possible that SR 17 will be revived.

For WMC-TV's story, visit:
http://www.wmcstations.com/Global/story.asp?S=6668014

For NCSE's previous coverage of events in Tennessee, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=TN

HELP WANTED

Please feel free to circulate the following job announcement to qualified candidates!

The National Center for Science Education, a non-profit organization that defends the teaching of evolution in the public schools, seeks candidates for a position in its Public Information Project.

Staff members in the Public Information Project provide advice and support to local activists faced with threats to evolution education in their communities. They also provide information on evolution, evolution education, and related issues to the general public, the press, and allied organizations, and contribute as needed to NCSE's publications, both in print and on-line. Excellent communication skills, both written and oral, are necessary, as are a high degree of computer literacy and the ability to work cooperatively.

Candidates must have at least a college degree; advanced degrees in the sciences, particularly biology and geology, or in the history and/or philosophy of science, and/or science education, are pluses. A record of involvement in or understanding of the creationism/evolution controversy, or church/state separation issues in general, is also a plus.

This is a full-time permanent position with medical, dental, and retirement benefits in Oakland, California, to start as soon as possible. Telecommuting is not an option. Travel and public speaking may be required. Salary in the high 30s or low 40s, depending on qualification and experience.

Send c.v., brief writing sample, and the names of three references to NCSE, either by mail to NCSE, 420 40th Street, Suite 2, Oakland CA 94609-2509, by fax to (510) 601-7204, or by e-mail to pip@ncseweb.org. No calls, please. Materials must arrive by July 9, 2007, to be considered. NCSE is an equal opportunity employer.

For the same posting on NCSE's website, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2007/ZZ/55_help_wanted_6_20_2007.asp

If you wish to subscribe, please send:

subscribe ncse-news your@email.com

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

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

Sincerely,

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

Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools
http://www.ncseweb.org/nioc

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

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

Editorial - Tuesday, June 19, 2007 @ 16:00

http://www.theobserver.ca/webapp/sitepages/content.asp?contentid=577668&catname=Editorial&classif=

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law 20 years ago today, in 1987, requiring public schools to teach creationism if they taught evolution. The debate over whether "intelligent design'' should be taught alongside evolution continues in the U.S. In 2006, a poll by Zogby International found that about 69 per cent of respondents chose the option that biology teachers should teach Darwin's theory of evolution, but also "the scientific evidence against it.''

Consumers Losing Faith in Traditional Complementary & Alternative Health Information Sources

http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=38563

NaturHeal (www.naturhealonline.com)
(WebWire) 6/7/2007 10:57:53 PM

Consumers Are Increasingly Losing Trust In Magazines Or Books Authored By Pharmaceutical Companies and Alternative Medicine Practitioners; Who Are Likely Biased Towards Recommending Products That Pay Them Best.

Friday 8th June 2007 -- Speculation, disputes and endorsements on complementary & alternative medicine are happening almost on a daily basis. Alternative health advice is being dispensed with a profit motive at the detriment of consumer health.

Despite this, the best intended complementary & alternative health advice continues to perpetuate over thousands of years from father to son, mother to daughter, and from one friend to another through a simple medium - word of mouth.

Individuals are now falling back on this time-tested method of seeking complementary and alternative health information, but using the internet as a communication enabler.

By connecting over online discussions with trusted friends and family members to provide facts, advice and opinions on the multitude of wellness treatments and remedies, individuals today are able to access more testimonials or counsel than they have ever been able to, and making better choices on what works best for them.

The findings are gleaned from more than 150 articles and online discussions on NaturHeal, an independent social media & original content website not linked to any health product brand or practitioner, for individuals to obtain and share facts, advice and opinions on alternative health topics.

According to NaturHeal Editor Daniel C, people have always been happy to reach out to others and share their time-tested testimonials and counsel, instead of counting on pharmaceutical companies or big-name alternative health therapists to provide advice.

"I've always experienced it in my personal life when exchanging alternative health tips with family and friends, but was still surprised by the number of visitors to NaturHeal?s website who repeatedly share their stories, opinions and advice in a truly self-less and objective manner", says Daniel C, editor of NaturHeal.

"The real contributors to better knowledge and understanding of alternative health topics are consumers themselves, NaturHeal has simply acted as a platform to let people get real facts, objective opinions and unbiased advice from the millions of other well intended individuals out there."

NaturHeal (www.naturhealonline.com) is a brand and practitioner independent platform for individuals to obtain and share facts, advice & opinions on complementary, alternative and natural health treatments and therapies.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Belief in creation, evolution not incompatible

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070622/EDIT02/706220339/1090

BY THOM M. SHUMAN

I've been thinking about Ed the last few days. Ed was a high school classmate who attended the same church as I did. We were in high school in a time (early 1960s) and a place (south Alabama), where the debate between creation and evolution was still alive. There were folks around who had lived through the Scopes trial in Tennessee, and who believed the fight for the "good name" of God the Creator still needed to be waged. And so the debate over God vs. Darwin would pop up in youth group or Sunday School.

Ed, who was fascinated by science, was troubled by the seemingly conflicting beliefs. He could see with his own eyes, in class, the wonder of creation, but also the evolutionary changes that had taken place. It was a real crisis of faith for him, for it was made very clear to us, in a number of ways, that a choice had to be made.

Then one Sunday evening, Ed came to youth group all excited. In looking at materials in the library, he had found that vestigial remains of legs had been found in snakes - that at some point in their evolutionary development, snakes had walked. Science had confirmed that account in Genesis (3:14) where God told the serpent that it would move on its belly from that point on.

I'll never forget the look of pure joy on Ed's face. It was no longer an either/or situation. He could believe that God had created everything, and continue to learn from the science that taught him the intricate marvels of that creation. He could be a theologian as well as a scientist. He could be a person of mystery as well as a person of reason.

I've been thinking of Ed, and all the women and men like him I have known who give thanks for the God who created everything, and who give thanks for the God who continues to teach us, through science, the wonders and intricacies of that good and evolving gift.

Thom M. Shuman is pastor of Greenhills Community Church, Presbyterian.


Friday, June 22, 2007

New ground in debate on 'curing' gays

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-exgay18jun18,0,4259057.story?coll=la-home-center

New ground in debate on 'curing' gays

Christian ministries who see homosexuality as a treatable disorder are starting to think that choice may not be a factor.

Alan Chambers directs Exodus International, widely described as the nation's largest ex-gay ministry. But when he addresses the group's Freedom Conference at Concordia University in Irvine this month, Chambers won't celebrate successful "ex-gays."

Truth is, he's not sure he's ever met one.

With years of therapy, Chambers says, he has mostly conquered his own attraction to men; he's a husband and a father, and he identifies as straight. But lately, he's come to resent the term "ex-gay": It's too neat, implying a clean break with the past, when he still struggles at times with homosexual temptation. "By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete," Chambers said.

His personal denunciation of the term "ex-gay" his organization has yet to follow suit­ is just one example of shifting ground in the polarizing debate on homosexuality.

Despite the fundamental gulf that divides them, gay-rights activists and those who see homosexuality as a sinful disorder are starting to reach agreement on some practical points.

Chambers and other Exodus leaders talk deliberately about a possible biological basis for homosexuality, in part to explain that no one can turn a switch and flip from gay to straight, no matter how hard they pray.

WHO DESIGNED THAT? CREATIONISM V. INTELLIGENT DESIGN

by Tom McIver

In Who made that?, the widely-repeated Isaac Newton orrery tale,[1] the moral is that because all complex mechanical devices must have a maker, so too must the universe have a maker. Creationists extend the same reasoning to animals and human beings: Since we know that people didn't make the first people or other animals, the maker must have been God. For legal and political reasons, however, Intelligent Design theorists avoid naming God as the Designer. Because of this, ID has been well described as "The Faith that Dare Not Say Its Name."[2]

Some traditional creationists, however, strongly resent ID's reluctance to openly identify the Designer as the Christian God. Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis (AiG), for instance, is skeptical of those creationists who see intelligent design as a battering ram to smash down the constitutional doors and allow the Bible back into schools. "It's not even against evolution, not really, because they don't tell you what that intelligence is. It could open a door for Muslim belief, for Hindus, for New Age."[3] "AiG's Views on the Intelligent Design Movement" laments ID's evasion regarding the age of the earth and its "refusal to identity the Designer with the Biblical God."[4]

At the Answers in Genesis Mega-Conference on Creationism, held at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, several speakers criticized ID. John Whitcomb (co-author, with Henry Morris, of The Genesis Flood),[5] said it errs in thinking that evolution can be defeated by science and "mere" rationalistic arguments alone without appeal to the Bible. The tragedy of ID, he warned, is that it deliberately stops short of honoring God, trying to appeal to all anti-evolutionists without bringing in religion.

Georgia Purdom of AiG dismisses ID as "refurbished Natural Theology." The Natural Theology movement, she said, aimed to provide knowledge of God apart from the Bible, but failed in promoting belief in biblical Christianity. ID investigates the effects of intelligent (divine) cause but not the Intelligent Cause -- the Christian God -- Himself.[6]

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY DESIGN

In order to deny unconstitutional sectarian religious purpose, ID leaders claim publicly not to be concerned about the identity of the Designer. The designer, they say could be a god of any religion, not necessarily the Christian God of the Bible, and perhaps not even a supernatural deity at all. If we play out this argument, then all candidates would be equally plausible, including the Demiurge of Gnostic belief. In Gnosticism, the ultimate, purely transcendent God did not create anything physical. It was Plato's "demiurge" who created the evil physical world. Called Yaldabaoth in the Nag Hammadi gnostic text, On the Origin of the World, the demiurge is frequently equated with Satan.

Neo-gnostics today specifically praise Intelligent Design theory for supporting gnosticism. The "Gnostic Friends Network" (www.enemies.com), in articles such as "Intelligent Design: Proof of the Demiurge?" refer to the creator god Yaldabaoth as a Demiurge, a fallen angel or evil space alien:

The gnostics taught that God was a mad scientist named "Yaldabaoth" who had been created by accident and built the earth as a prison for pre-existent human souls. He cloned Adam, raped Eve, and kicked them both out of Paradise when Christ came in the form of a serpent to liberate them.[7]

Would IDers really accept this? It is unclear how serious such neo-gnostics are, but -- given our American guarantee of religious freedom -- if they were to insist on presenting their views in classrooms it would require unconstitutional entanglement with religion just to find out.

The Designer could also very well be Islamic. Islamic creationists have made heavy use of "creation science" materials from traditional creationist organizations, simply omitting references to Christianity. They welcome intelligent design theory even more eagerly, as it comes already stripped of such references. The most prolific Islamic creationist proselytizer, Harun Yahya (a pseudonym), writes books such as Signs of God's Design in Nature, filled with the standard creationist examples. (His 1995 book includes denying the Holocaust.)[8] Again, this does not seem the kind of belief Christian ID activists would want promoted in schools.

ID promoters, claiming their unnamed Designer need not even be a deity, mention ET. Among those who take this idea seriously is Claude Vorilhon ("Rael). Rael claims that extraterrestrials created life on Earth as experiments in genetic engineering. Each human race had separate creator. The ETs' home planet later tried to destroy Earth when created humans acquired forbidden scientific knowledge, but exiled ET creators helped Noah build a rocket to escape. Deriding the "Neo-Darwinian Myth," Rael appeals to Paley's watchmaker argument, though mistakenly attributing it to Einstein. In 1998 Rael updated his theory with Intelligent Design: Message from the Designers.[9]

Many other extraterrestrials have jumped on the Design bandwagon, spawning a new genre. Zechariah Sitchin promoted the idea that we are the result of deliberate creation by aliens in a series of books beginning in 1976 with The 12th Planet. ETs from the planet Nbiru, he claimed, brought DNA to Earth four billion years ago; later, they genetically engineered the resulting primitive hominids into humans for use as slaves. In "The Case of the Intelligent Designer" and "Creation, Evolution, Intelligent Design," Sitchin expresses delight at ID's willingness to accept ETs as the possible Designers.[10]

Perhaps the Designer has evolved. In Olaf Stapledon's 1937 sci-fi novel Star Maker, the Intelligent Designer is a thoroughgoing evolutionist, and is himself evolving. Our cosmos is but one in a vast series of creations, some of them non-evolutionist. The results of each successive creation suggest to the Designer ways to modify his next creation.[11] Positing an evolving designer would eliminate some vexing problems for creationists, such as existence of species competition and extinction. All species on Earth could be specially created, but during different stages of the Designer's evolution, thus exhibiting imperfect or conflicting characteristics.

DESIGNERS ALL THE WAY DOWN

Because ID officially refuses to identify the Designer, ID could not only be non- or anti-Christian, but could just as well be plural -- Multiple Designer theory. Scientifically speaking at least, Multiple Designer theory makes more sense than creation by a single designer. Different species could have been designed by different entities; and certainly different categories of creatures, such as predators and their prey, or parasites and their hosts, suggest separate (and competing) designers.

Theodicy -- the problem of the existence of evil -- led Darel Finley to conclude that multiple designers must be responsible, and he completely divorces ID from religion. Invoking computer programming and video-game analogies, he proposes that all life on Earth was created by unknown Designers for "entertainment" -- ours as well as theirs.[12]

Even single species could be designed by more than one entity. The following joke, which I first heard on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, suggests either imperfect design or competing designers:

Three engineering students were arguing about who designed the human body. One insisted that the human body must have been designed by an Electrical Engineer because of the perfection of the nerves and synapses. Another disagreed, and exclaimed that it had to have been a Mechanical Engineer: "The system of levers and pulleys is ingenious." "No," the third student said, "you're both wrong. The human body was designed by a Civil Engineer. Who else but a Civil Engineer would have put a toxic waste line through a recreation area?"

Maybe the most logical conclusion is that the human body was designed by a committee of engineers!

Another (probably) apocryphal story has it that a famous scientist, following a cosmology lecture, was accosted by a little old lady who informed him that the Earth does not orbit the Sun, but rests on the back of a turtle. The bemused scientist asks her what the turtle stands on. Another turtle, she replies. "And that turtle?" asks the scientist. "You're very clever," she says, "but it's no use. It's turtles all the way down."[13]

Creationism and ID have this same turtle problem. Positing a supernatural Creator or Designer is not a scientific answer. It can always be asked: who designed the Designer? Logically, it could be designers all the way down -- another form of Multiple Designer theory.

DARWIN'S DOG, DARWIN'S GOD

Thomas Huxley famously described himself as "Darwin's bull dog," and the label stuck. He defended Darwin against detractors and campaigned ceaselessly for evolution, even though disagreeing with Darwin about natural selection. Another important contemporary ally was prominent Harvard botanist Asa Gray. Gray attempted to reconcile evolution with providential Christianity by proposing that God guided or specified the variations acted upon by natural selection. Though exceedingly grateful for Gray's endorsement of evolution, Darwin could not accept this compromise, as it negated his theory's reliance on chance variation. In 1860 Darwin wrote to Gray:

But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other, I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe, and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.[14]

Darwin is here considering the possibility that natural laws and initial conditions of the universe were designed, but not individual species: a kind of design that allows for fully naturalistic evolution. He is also movingly confessing our inability to solve the problem of evil.

Before Darwin, proponents of "natural theology" unabashedly used examples such as the ichneumons as proofs of supernatural Design. The great entomologist William Kirby appealed to ichneumons as exemplars of providentially provided instinct. In his Bridgewater Treatise (part of the famous book series commissioned to show the "Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Creation") he opined that God "furnished the predatory tribes with organs and offensive arms" because He foresaw the Fall, which introduced death and carnivorous behavior into the world. Parasites and other evil creatures were most likely created "subsequently to the fall of Adam, not immediately or all at once, but when occasions called for such expressions of the divine displeasure."[15]

The brilliant amateur entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre, a contemporary of Darwin who never accepted evolution, described ichneumon behavior in exquisite detail.[16] After Darwin, creationists continued to appeal to the amazing adaptations of parasitic ichneumons. They became almost an icon of design, displaying miraculous adaptation and instinctive behavior that could not possible have evolved. Adaptations of both predator and prey species would seem to favor multiple and competing Designers, but creationists, unbothered by the apparent cruelty, interpreted these simply as additional proofs of God's Design.

After Darwin, creationists continued to point to the adaptive behavior of ichneumons.[17] "The very intricacy of the scheme used by this wasp demands that some superior Intelligence devised the entire thing," said one creationist.[18] Another declared that such wasps not only refute evolution but tell us "something about a Creator who obviously had a lot of architectural expertise along with a pretty ingenious imagination."[19]

ID theorist Jonathan Wells maintains that God didn't design bad things such as ichneumons, just the good stuff. Bad things result from degeneration by "micro-evolution." Strict creationist Purdom shuns such reasoning, accusing ID of making God the author of evil instead of attributing it to Original Sin.[20] This is valid criticism of ID but shows that any creationist explanation requires consideration of God's purpose, attributes, and personality -- thus entangling it with religion. Some creationists celebrate examples of parasitic adaptation as proving Design while blithely ignoring the theological problem of evil that this opens up. IDers try to ignore this problem or dismiss it as "micro-evolution," but are then called to account by many of their more openly creationist brethren.

CREATIONISTS ALL THE WAY UP

ID theory claims to be scientific and not religious. In its most general sense, such as the "designed laws" mentioned as a possibility by Darwin, belief that God created the universe or natural laws need not conflict at all with evolution. This is not, however, what ID activists are after. Like other creationists, they oppose evolution, denying common ancestry of humans and other animals. Some allow for limited evolution (the "micro-evolution" accepted by many creationists), and a few, such as Michael Behe, will even admit common ancestry, but all reject "naturalistic" evolution: evolution that operates solely by natural law, via natural selection, without supernatural input. In the spectrum of Intelligent Design belief -- or what they like to call their "big tent" enclosing all who accept "mere creation" -- we find that it is indeed creationists all the way up.

All creationist arguments inevitably lead to entanglements with religion and theology with questions regarding the designer's identity or nature. They result in discussion about the intent of the designer, why ID designed things the way they are. Why sub-optimal design, like human weak knees and bad backs? Why apparent cruelty, such as evidenced by the ichneumons? Why parasites? Why death at all? If a designer is responsible, these all lead to religious rather than scientific responses. We have seen, with respect to predators and parasites, that whatever the response, all creationist explanations end up either confronting or conspicuously avoiding the problem of evil: a religious and theological issue.

William Paley, whose 1802 Natural Theology promoted the argument from design, was adamant that the design argument revealed the personality of the Creator, and demonstrated that He was the Christian God of the Bible.[21] Modern IDers try to deny that it reveals anything about the Designer other than his existence, but fellow creationists such as Morris, Ham, and Purdom chastise them for disguising and hiding from the true religious issue.

Evolution can be accepted with or without belief in God or the Bible, but teaching creationism, including ID creationism, requires entanglement of religion with science. Trying to hide, disguise, or deny the identity of the designer does not alter this. Pretending that the intent, purpose, and result of ID teaching is scientific rather than religious does not divorce ID from religion; instead, it results in even greater entanglement with even more religious beliefs.

REFERENCES & NOTES

1 McIver, Tom. 2003. "'Who Made It?' The Isaac Newton Orrery Story: Another Mythic Tale Misused by Creationists." Skeptic 10(3):84-93.

2 Coyne, Jerry. 2005. "The Faith That Dare Not Say its Name." New Republic, Aug 22/29: 21-33.

3 Powell, Michael. 2005. "In Evolution Debate, Creationists are Breaking New Ground." Washington Post, Sep. 25:A3.

4 Wieland, Carl. 2002. "AiG's Views on the Intelligent Design Movement." www.answersingenesis.org/docs2002/0830_IDM.asp

5 Whitcomb, "The History and Impact of the Book The Genesis Flood." Paper presented at Creation Mega-Conference (Lynchburg VA), July 18.

6 Purdom, George. 2005. "The Intelligent Design Movement: How Intelligent Is It?" Paper presented at Creation Mega-Conference (Lynchburg VA), July 20.

7 Gnostic Friends Network. "Intelligent Design: Proof of the Demiurge?" www.enemies.com

8 Yahya, Harun. 2001. Signs of God: Design in Nature. Istanbul: Global. ___. 1995. Soykirim Yalani [Holocaust Deception]. Istanbul: Alem.

9 Rael (Claude Vorilhon). 1986. Let's Welcome Our Fathers from Space: They Created Humanity in their Laboratories. Tokyo: AOM. ___. 1998. Intelligent Design: Message from the Designers. At www.rael.org.

10 Sitchin, Zechariah. 2002a. "The Case of the Intelligent Designer." http://www.sitchin.com/designer.htm ___. 2002b. "Creation, Evolution, Intelligent Design." Fate, Nov.

11 Stapledon, Olaf. 2004 [1937]. Star Maker. Wesleyan Univ. Press.

12 Finley, Darel Rex. 2005. Mechanism: The Ugly Truth That Nobody Wants to Know. http://alienryderflex.com/mechanism/

13 Stephen Hawking, in relating this anecdote at the beginning of his Brief History of Time, suggests the scientist was Bertrand Russell. Other versions identify him as Thomas Huxley, Carl Sagan, and others.

14 Darwin, Charles. 1959. Autobiography. New York: Harcourt, Brace.

15 Kirby, William. 1835. On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Creation of Animals and in their History, Habits and Instincts. London: Pickering, pp. 11-13.

16 Fabre, Jean-Henri. 1915. The Hunting Wasps. New York: Dodd and Mead.

17 Custance, Arthur. 1975. Man in Adam and in Christ. Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, pp. 58-60.

18 Meldau, Fred John. 1974 [1959]. Why We Believe in Creation Not Evolution. Denver: Christian Victory, pp. 102-103.

19 Vandeman, George. 1978. Tying Down the Sun. Mountain View CA: Pacific Press, pp. 83-84.

20 Purdom, 2005.

21 Paley, William. 1802. Natural Theology. London.

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SBC Leader Terms Theistic Evolution a Lie

http://www.ethicsdaily.com/article_detail.cfm?AID=9022

Bob Allen 06-07-07

Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler said last week on his call-in radio show that theistic evolution--the middle ground between belief in evolution and that God created the world directly--is a "lie"--and that Christians can't have it both ways.

Commenting on the media's surprise after three Republican presidential candidates indicated in a recent debate they reject evolution and protests surrounding opening of a "Creation Museum" near Cincinnati, Mohler read an e-mail on Friday's "Albert Mohler Radio Program" he said he received in response to something he recently wrote.

"Why do you insist on driving people away from organized religion?" the e-mail said. "I am a 60-year-old Baptist chemist, science educator, Sunday-school teacher, parent and grandparent. I believe in evolution, the how of life, and I believe in God, the why of life, and see no conflict in these beliefs. I understand that God had a hand in creation of the world and all the life in the world, and science helps us to understand more about those processes every day. When organized religion forces me to choose religion or science, I will no longer participate in organized religion. This is just one more reason that young adults are rejecting organized religion."

Mohler described the e-mail as a challenge, and he took it. "You choose between belief in God and belief in evolutionary theory," Mohler said. "If you write something like this, either you don't understand evolution, or you don't understand what it means to affirm that God created the earth, because there is nothing that is reconcilable between those two propositions."

That, Mohler explained, is because at the heart of Darwinian evolution is the theory of natural selection, which rules out any supernatural outside influence. "Without natural selection, you have no evolution," Mohler said. "You just have people who want to call their theory evolution."

Semantics aside, Mohler said there are also theological problems associated with belief that humans evolved gradually from apes.

He agreed with a caller who pointed out that evolution requires death of millions of animals before the sin of Adam. If that is true, the caller said, then death is not the penalty of sin, and if death is not the penalty for sin, then Christ's cross does not atone for sin.

"Tim, you're caught thinking like a Christian," Mohler said. "That's drawing the lines, connecting the dots. And you're absolutely right…. That is completely incompatible with texts going from Genesis 1 and 2 to Romans 5 and on. It's incompatible with the whole picture of the Bible."

Another caller said evolution rules out belief in a literal Adam, also raising questions about original sin and the atonement. Mohler played out both points.

"The grand story of the Bible is a story of creation, fall, redemption and consummation," Mohler said. "It's the story of God glorifying himself first by creating this universe, this cosmos, as we know it, and within that creation creating human beings--the conscious climax, apex of that creation--the only being made in his image, the only being able to know him, to be related to him, to worship him, of course the only creature also able to obey and disobey him consciously."

"But the doctrine of creation stands at the very beginning," Mohler said. "Without that you don't have anything else that matters that follows."

"If the world is simply a naturalistic accident," Mohler said, "then there is nothing to Christianity, there is nothing to anything else, and religion is then nothing more than manmade artifact to make meaning in an otherwise meaningless world. It's just a made-up meaning."

Then there's the issue of the Edenic fall. "You have to explain why sin entered human experience," Mohler said. "You have to explain why the earth is in the condition it now is."

"If you don't have Adam and Eve, you don't have the story," he said. "You've got no starting point. You've got no basis."

Mohler continued: "And furthermore, if we're not all literally the descendants of Adam and Eve, then there's no explanation of how Adam's sin was imputed to us. And without that you have no need for the imputation of Christ's righteousness. You have no explanation of the cross. You have no need for this."

"And of course the whole thing at the most fundamental level doesn't make sense," Mohler said. "God can't be the redeemer if he wasn't the creator."

Other evolutionary concepts like random mutation by chance, Mohler said, undermine teaching about God's providence.

"If the world is simply operating on its own, and the main operation of the world is something you're going to define as chance and contingency," Mohler said, "if God is not sovereign over every atom and molecule in the universe, he's not the God of the Bible. That's just the bottom line."

Mohler questioned what would prompt protestors to travel to Petersburg, Ky., to carry signs picketing the Memorial Day grand opening of the $27 million Creation Museum, built with private funds by Answers in Genesis.

"I'll be honest, I've never protested anything in my life," Mohler said. "I've never stood out on a sidewalk with a sign in my hand. To think of doing that at the opening of, frankly, a museum of Darwinism is simply beyond my motivation. What in the world would motivate people to do it against a museum dedicated to creation?

"I'll tell you what will do it. The shaking of the foundations, that's what's doing it--the realization of evolutionary scientists that the vast majority of Americans aren't buying their theory. You're hearing panic in the high church of Darwinism."

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

Daniel in the Dino's Den

http://www.therevealer.org/archives/main_story_002853.php

03 June 2007

Why it would be a sin not to include dinosaurs in illustrated children's Bibles.

By John D. Spalding

Last night I was reading Zondervan's Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories to my four-year-old twins when I came to a disturbing realization. Though the children's Bible includes hundreds of illustrations depicting all sorts of animals--snakes, camels, sheep, fish, doves, lions, donkeys, whales--I couldn't find a single dinosaur anywhere. I hoped to spot at least a brachiosaurus grazing on treetops in the Garden of Eden, or perhaps a ravenous velociraptor chasing a shepherd across the Judean wilderness. But no.

Until this week, I was unaware that the biblical world was full of dinosaurs. On Monday, the $27 million Creation Museum opened in Petersburg, Kentucky, and the curtain went up on the wondrous revelation that triceratops and T-rexes were as common in Abraham's day as cats and dogs are in ours. Founded by the Answers in Genesis ministry, the museum hopes to counter the wicked theory of evolution, contending that God created the Earth from scratch barely 6,000 years ago. On the sixth day, they say, He created the dinosaurs.

Paleontologists, of course, insist that fossils show that dinosaurs and humans were separated by more than 60 million years. But Answers in Genesis co-founder Mark Looy isn't swayed by such evidence. "They all had to exist at the same time because they were all made on the same day," Looy told Salon. "There may not be any fossil evidence showing dinosaurs and people in the same place at the same time. But it is clearly written that they were alive at the same time."

As the Creation Museum sees it, the fossils date after the great flood, and that there were two of every kind of dinosaur on Noah's ark. What a strategic miracle the ark must have been, considering it had to house reptilian creatures that stood several stories tall and could have consumed entire villages for brunch. The food supply on Noah's ark must have entailed a forest, and the ark itself must have been much larger than the Bible modestly reports. According to Genesis, the ark was 30 cubits (45 feet) tall by 300 cubits (450 feet) long. A single sauroposeidon, however, was some 60 feet tall and 130 feet long. By my rough calculation, Noah's ark must have been the size of 30 World War II aircraft carriers. This may sound fantastic, but it was probably a piece of cake for Noah to build considering that God ran the lumberyard.

To rectify the omission of pre-historic creatures from my boys' copy of The Beginner's Bible, I scanned images from the book and photoshopped in a bunch of dinosaurs. I suggest that Zonderkidz, the children's division of Zondervan, makes similar dino additions to their next edition. It's a vast improvement, enriching familiar Bible stories and making them so much more exciting. Trust me, Zonderkidz—your sales will soar. Now that our family Bible is filled with huge flesh-eating monsters, my kids can't put the dang thing down!

To help you out, here's a list of Jurassic additions I made:

* Jacob, returning to his homeland with his sheep, a donkey, and a camel: I added a friendly Stegosaurus to protect the patriarch on his journey.

* David and Goliath. I replaced the Philistine giant with a T-rex, making David's victory that much more impressive.

* Daniel in the Lion's den. The Bible doesn't say the den didn't include raptors, so I inserted a pair of the two-legged, razor-toothed carnivores among the lions. Now the look of calm on Daniel's face bespeaks an even greater miracle!

* Jonah, swallowed by a fish: I'm sorry, but a "big fish" is just too vague. So I turned him into a Dunkleosteus terrelli—"the first king of the beasts." This sea creature was 33 feet long, weighed four tons, and had bladed jaws more powerful than a T. rex's.

* The Nativity scene: Your sheep, donkey, and cows are as sweet and cuddly as stuffed animals—and just as boring, so I added an iguanodon to the background. You can only see a portion of the 3 1/2-ton beast's back leg and part of his tail, but the creature's massive size accentuates the smallness of the stable in which the Savior was born.

*Jesus' sermon on the mount: In your illustration, Jesus points at little blue birds flying overhead, and in the text he says: "Look at the birds. Do they store up food in a barn? No. God feeds them." Once again, a ho-hum artistic interpretation of the Gospels. I replaced these harmless, fluffy fowl with rapacious pterodactyls. With their broad wings and long, toothy jaws, these flying lizards certainly had no need to store food in barns. In fact, they look like they might swoop down and snatch up some disciples. Hmmm. Are the pterodactyls foreshadowing the Rapture? With the addition of dinosaurs, anything in the Bible is possible.

John D. Spalding is the editor of SoMAreview.com and the author of A Pilgrim's Digress: My Perilous, Fumbling Quest for the Celestial City.

Evolution education update: June 8, 2007

Barbara Forrest explains the "intelligent design" creationist movement for the Center for Inquiry, while Richard Milner reviews a bumper crop of books about creationism for Natural History, and the Tallahassee Scientific Society raises its voice for evolution.

"UNDERSTANDING THE INTELLIGENT DESIGN CREATIONIST MOVEMENT"

The Center for Inquiry released a new position paper, "Understanding the intelligent design creationist movement: Its true nature and goals," on May 29, 2007. Written by Barbara Forrest, the paper examines "the ID movement's organization, its historical and legal background, its strategy and aims, and its public policy implications," arguing that, "In promoting 'intelligent design theory' -- a term that is essentially code for the religious belief in a supernatural creator -- as a purported scientific alternative to evolutionary theory, the ID movement continues the decades-long attempt by creationists either to minimize the teaching of evolution or to gain equal time for yet another form of creationism in American public schools. Accordingly, the ID creationist movement threatens both the education of the nation's children and the constitutional separation of church and state, which protects the religious freedom of every American."

Barbara Forrest is a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and a member of NCSE's board of directors; with Paul R. Gross she wrote Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (Oxford University Press, 2004), the definitive chronicle of the "intelligent design" movement's so-called Wedge strategy, recently published in paperback with a new chapter about Kitzmiller v. Dover. Forrest testified for the plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller trial, and Judge Jones wrote in his ruling, "Dr. Barbara Forrest ... has thoroughly and exhaustively chronicled the history of ID in her book and other writings for her testimony in this case. Her testimony, and the exhibits ... admitted with it, provide a wealth of statements by ID leaders that reveal ID's religious, philosophical, and cultural content." The Center for Inquiry seeks "to promote and defend reason, science, and freedom of inquiry in all areas of human endeavor."

For the position paper (PDF), visit:
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/uploads/attachments/Forrest_Paper.pdf

For information about the Center for Inquiry, visit:
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/

And for information about Creationism's Trojan Horse, visit:
http://www.creationismstrojanhorse.com/

SUMMER READING IN NATURAL HISTORY

Writing in the June 2007 issue of Natural History, Richard Milner reviews a batch of books centering on the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, explaining, "Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District was the first time anyone had challenged a public school district in the federal courts about the teaching of ["intelligent design"], which the parents argued was not a scientific theory at all." Among the books reviewed are Michael Shermer's Why Darwin Matters, John Brockman's anthology Intelligent Thought, Matthew Chapman's 40 Days and 40 Nights, Edward Humes's Monkey Girl, and Gordy Slack's The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything, as well as Randy Olson's documentary Flock of Dodos.

NCSE makes its appearance, too. Milner is enthusiastic about Eugenie C. Scott and Glenn Branch's anthology Not in Our Classrooms, which he says "features essays by biologists, educators, philosophers, and theologians, each approaching the subject from a distinct perspective. Branch offers his own handbook for activists, and others attack ID not only as pseudoscience, but also as an exemplar of pandering politics, poor pedagogy, and tacky theology. The collection gives teachers plenty of ammunition for fighting verbal battles or answering students' questions."

Milner also writes, "Of all the witnesses to testify at the trial, the chroniclers agree, the hero was Barbara C. Forrest, a philosopher and historian from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond." He praises Creationism's Trojan Horse, in which Forrest and her coauthor Paul R. Gross "tracked the creationist movement's history -- through the group's own internal documents [i.e., the Discovery Institute's Wedge document] -- and revealed that its objective was never scientific, but had always been religious." Forrest is a member of NCSE's board of directors, and Creationism's Trojan Horse is now out in paperback, with a new chapter on Kitzmiller.

For Milner's review, visit:
http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/index_reviews.html

For information about Not in Our Classrooms, visit:
http://www.ncseweb.org/nioc

For information about Creationism's Trojan Horse, visit:
http://www.creationismstrojanhorse.com/

And for the Seattle Weekly's story about the Wedge document, visit:
http://www.seattleweekly.com/2006-02-01/news/discovery-s-creation.php

TALLAHASSEE SCIENTIFIC SOCIETY ADDS ITS VOICE FOR EVOLUTION

On June 4, 2007, the Tallahassee Scientific Society adopted a resolution (RTF) on the teaching of "intelligent design" as science, in response to the recently initiated review of Florida's state science standards. Noting the scientific community's consensus on the evidence for and the importance of evolution as well as the scientific and constitutional problems of "intelligent design" and its predecessor creation science, the resolution expresses the society's support for "the teaching of evolutionary theory as the only plausible scientific approach yet known to understanding the biological, chemical and physical underpinnings of how life developed and changed over time" and opposition to "any reference to ID in Florida science education textbooks or science classroom instruction as anything other than a theological concept worthy of study only in such courses as religion, philosophy or history." Established in 1989, the Tallahassee Scientific Society is a group of laypersons, scientists, engineers, and educators dedicated to increasing scientific literacy in the Big Bend area of Florida.

For the statement (RTF), visit:
http://www.tss.eng.fsu.edu/ID_resolution.rtf

For information about the Tallahassee Scientific Society, visit:
http://www.tss.eng.fsu.edu/

If you wish to subscribe, please send:

subscribe ncse-news your@email.com

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

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

Sincerely,

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

Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools
http://www.ncseweb.org/nioc

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

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

God vs. Jim Sparks

http://www.styleweekly.com/article.asp?idarticle=14590

June 20, 2007

A local biology professor takes on the director of Kentucky's Creation Museum.

by Sarah Mogin

With the Chesterfield County School Board's recent decision to keep intelligent design out of science textbooks, Style decided to air out some issues. We caught up with Ken Ham, president of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, and former VCU biology professor Jim Sparks, who got the boot last year for protesting a university-sanctioned text that referenced intelligent design.

Style: How old is the earth and where did it come from?

Ham: My answer would be you can't prove absolutely how old the earth is because all dating methods are based on assumptions. But if you use the Bible's history, then the Bible would suggest many thousand years old.

Sparks: [It's] approximately 4.5 billion years old…. Where specifically the earth came from has to do with the swirling gases that were in our solar system that are part of the spiral galaxy that we inhabit called the Milky Way.

Can we consider the Bible an accurate source of scientific information? Is it literal or metaphorical?

Ham: From a Christian perspective, the Genesis as metaphorical means you might as well throw Christianity away and the rest of the Bible away. All of the New Testament doctrines are built on Genesis 1-11. All of the gospel message about Christ and salvation is built on Genesis 1-11. … Something can't be a metaphor the first time it's used. To use something as a metaphor, it has to have a literal meaning first. So the first time sin is used, it can't be a metaphor.

Sparks: The Bible is the basis of Judeo-Christian, Western civilization. … So it's useful. In terms of material reality, it's not the best source. … I believe that there's both a spiritual and material reality, and not everybody does that. Most scientists are atheists; they don't believe in a spiritual reality. They just believe in a material reality, and that's all you can tangibly identify, so that's all that exists. … And scientists probably spend more time pondering those questions on their own. We just don't write papers about it; we write papers about science.

What evidence outside of the Bible do we have to support creation theory?

Ham: I would say the arguments from design are arguments for a creator. [If] you want to look at the design of the cell … everything has to be there to make it work. We all agree on the rules of logic. We know that "A" will never be "not A," … things like that. Where did those laws come from? Why do we agree on them?… In other words, it's irrational not to believe in God. If it's a chance-random universe, why should the rules stay the same? If it's a chance-random universe and your logic evolved by chance-random process, how do you know it evolved the right way?

Sparks: I wouldn't use the word "theory" when I was talking about religion, because a theory is a specific logical construct. … Whereas religion is not a theory, it's a revelation. It's a different sort of thing.

What do you have to say about carbon dating, which has confirmed the existence of fossils on this planet that are tens of thousands of years old?

Ham: Carbon can only go about a hundred thousand years at the most because of the half-life of carbon-14, which is just over 5,000 years. You shouldn't find carbon-14 in fossils or coal or anything like that, but you do. You find it in all sorts of places.

Sparks: It varies, but it varies in a statistically predictable range. It's not like something will be dated 10,000 years one day and 1,000 years the next time.

Why or why not should students learn about both creationism and evolution?

Ham: We're not an organization that's demanding creation be taught in schools. In fact, if someone's an atheist, I wouldn't want them to teach creation to students because they'd teach it in a different way. What I believe is teachers should have freedom to critically analyze things as they do with all ideas.

Sparks: I would not personally recommend learning about creation as a topic, but students should be learning about religions and the fallacies that they have. And creationism could fall into that story. So I would definitely say that I think you should teach creationism, but not in science classes.

Creationism should be taught in schools

http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/features/display.var.1485473.0.0.php

In the beginning was the void. In the void God created heaven and earth, day and night, with the sun to rule the day and the moon to rule the night. Earth was divided into lands and seas. God filled the seas with whales and fish and the skies with birds. On the land He created grass and trees, animals of all sorts and finally, in His own image, humans.

In the beginning was the void. In a single, massive convulsion all of space and time came into being. Matter swirled, condensed and coalesced. Stars formed, ignited, grew, died and blew apart - spreading new, heavier elements across space to form planets, comets and meteors.

New molecules appeared, some of them simple and some of them stunningly complex. From those foundations, over billions of years, the processes of evolution brought about the living world - and us.

advertisementThese are two wonderful, exciting and self-consistent accounts of the origins of the world - and yet in school science lessons, almost invariably, only one of the above theories is discussed.

Whether or not creationism should be taught is a source of huge controversy in the US and a growing debate in this country. It's a bad-tempered argument. "Creationism is just a myth," growl the evolutionists. "Evolution is just a theory," snort the creationists. Both sides are wrong, and the error of each stems from a misuse of the word "just".

Where did creationist accounts come from? Nowadays we know them as tales from books: from the Bible, from Norse mythology, from Ovid. They were not written as literary exercises, though, and they did not spring into being ready-made. They were developed over time as a result of observing the world, and as a result of honest, intelligent attempts to find coherent explanations for what was seen. They were, in short, not "just" myths - they were the scientific theories of their day.

We believe the sun is a huge ball of gas, glowing as a result of gravitationally induced nuclear fusion. But is that really preferable as a theory to Phaeton's golden chariot soaring across the sky?

Of course it's preferable. The idea of Phaeton's chariot is as unsatisfactory an explanation of the sun to people who could make pinhole cameras as Genesis is to people who can examine the origins of fossils.

The essence of science and the scientific method is falsifiability: all scientists, whatever their discipline, constantly try to prove themselves wrong, and no theory which is not falsifiable has any place in science. (This, by the way, is why creationists are wrong to dismiss evolution as "just" a theory. To be a scientific theory means to be rigorously tested and improved against evidence, and to survive attempts at disproof. There is no "just" about it.) To let pupils understand this process we must take them through the life of a theory: from tentative conception, through evidence-based consolidation, development, modification, strain and, finally, abandonment. Pupils should then understand better how modern theories about the world have arisen and about how they in turn might be - will be, in most cases - modified or discarded.

Creation theories are perfect examples of this. What evidence suggested that a six-day creation was a reasonable postulation? What differences in observations explain the difference between the Norse, Greek and Jewish theories of creation? And, crucially, what further evidence led to the scientific rejection of all these models? Why do intelligent, educated people no longer believe the world was created at 9am on October 3, 4004BC?

We should not teach creation stories in science simply to dismiss them as fanciful or wrong. That would be pointless and arrogant, and it would do a grave disservice to those who developed them. We should teach them as honest but misguided attempts by intelligent people to make sense of the world around them, just as we attempt to make sense of the world around us.

By Dr Ian Johnston
Dr Ian Johnston is a staff tutor in technology with the Open University in Scotland.

European human rights body fights creationism

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070620.wcreate0620/BNStory/International/home

TOM HENEGHAN

Reuters

June 20, 2007 at 8:29 AM EDT

PARIS — Europe's main human-rights body will vote on a proposal next week to defend the teaching of evolution and to keep creationist and "intelligent design" out of science class in state schools in its 47 member countries.

The unusual move shows that a U.S. trend for religiously based attacks on the theory of evolution is also worrying European politicians, who now see such arguments put forward in their countries by Christian and Islamic groups.

A report for the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly says the campaign against evolution has its roots "in forms of religious extremism" and is a dangerous attack on scientific knowledge.

"Today, creationists of all faiths are trying to get their ideas accepted in Europe," it said. "If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights."

The Council, based in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, oversees human-rights standards in member states and enforces decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

Creationism teaches that God created the world and all beings in it, as depicted in the Bible. Polls in the United States indicate that about half of all Americans agree with this, while most Europeans support the theory of evolution.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that teaching creationism in science class in public schools violates the separation of church and state.

Supporters of "intelligent design," which holds that some life forms are too complex to have evolved, say it is a scientific theory that should be taught in school. A U.S. court has rejected this, however, and the Council report dismisses it as "neo-creationism."

'A fundamental scientific theory'

The proposed resolution to be voted on Tuesday says member states should "firmly oppose the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline on an equal footing with the theory of evolution by natural selection."

"The teaching of all phenomena concerning evolution as a fundamental scientific theory is therefore crucial to the future of our societies and our democracies," it says. The resolution would not be binding, but the debate and vote should be a barometer of pro-evolution thinking in Europe.

The report, drawn up by French Socialist Guy Lengagne for the Assembly's Committee on Culture, Science and Education, says creationist ideas could be discussed in non-scientific contexts, such as classes on culture or religious studies.

"All leading representatives of the main monotheistic religions have adopted a much more moderate attitude," it added, noting that Pope Benedict stated in a recent book that the Roman Catholic Church does not share the creationists' Biblical literalism.

The report highlighted a recent Muslim creationist campaign by Turkish writer Harun Yahya, whose lavish 750-page Atlas of Creation it said has been distributed free to schools in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain.

It quoted University of Paris biologist Hervé Le Guyader as calling this "much more dangerous than the previous creationist initiatives, which were often of Anglo-Saxon origin."

The report also cites small groups of creationists — mostly Christians — working in France, Switzerland and Britain and notes that some officials have questioned the teaching of evolution in Poland, Italy, Serbia and the Netherlands.

The Royal Society — Britain's academy of sciences — and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams have spoken out against teaching creationism in schools there.

Bloomberg: 'The Percentage of People who Believe in Creationalism is Really Scary.'

http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/180585.aspx

June 20, 2007

Just a hunch. Michael Bloomberg may not do too well with the Fundamentalist crowd. Not after lines like the one below as reported by The New York Sun:

Mr. Bloomberg's freewheeling question-and-answer session was peppered with the kind of provocative, blunt talk that could appeal to some voters while alienating others. "It's probably because of our bad educational system, but the percentage of people who believe in creationalism is really scary for a country that's going to have to compete in a world where science and medicine require a better understanding," he said in one such foray.

Read the whole article here. This is the same line that people like Chris Matthews from MSNBC and other "so called intellectual scholars and scientists" bring up all the time. Why do they "diss" the people who believe in creationism? I like scientists don't get me wrong. I love science but they got Pluto wrong. Is science gospel? Bring it to me in a test tube and then let's talk.

As for Bloomberg, this is a guy who was a lifelong Democrat, then became a Republican and is now an Independent. That's like saying I was a lifelong Yankees fan, then became a Mets fan and now I'm somewhere in the middle. What is Bloomberg? Does Bloomberg know?

9/11 Bombshell: WTC7 Security Official Details Explosions Inside Building

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/june2007/190607interview.htm

Says bombs were going off in 7 before either tower collpased Steve Watson
Prison Planet
Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Alex Jones show today welcomed Loose Change creators Dylan Avery and Jason Burmas to discuss an exclusive interview they have conducted with an individual with high level security clearance who was inside the Office of Emergency Management in World Trade Center 7 and has descibed and detailed explosions inside the building prior to the collapse of any of the buildings at ground zero on 9/11.

The interview, to be featured in the forthcoming Final Cut of Loose Change is currently under wraps but the creators have allowed some details to leak purely to protect themselves and the individual involved who has asked to remain anonymous until the film is released.

We can reveal that the individual concerned was asked to report to building seven with a city official after the first attack on the North tower but before the second plane hit the South Tower and before their eventual collapse, in order to provide the official with access to different floors of the building.

The city official he was escorting was attempting to reach Rudy Guiliani, who he had determined was inside building 7 at that time. According to Avery and Burmas this official now works for Guiliani partners.

The individual was also asked to provide access to the Office Of Emergency Management on the 23rd floor of the building, this was the so called "bunker" that was built inside WTC7 on the orders of Rudy Guiliani.

When he got there he found the office evacuated and after making some calls was told to leave immediately.

It was at this point that he witnessed a bomb going off inside the building:

"We subsequently went to the stairwell and were going down the stairs, when we reached the sixth floor, the landing that we were standing on gave way, there was an explosion and the landing gave way. I was left there hanging, I had to climb back up and now had to walk back up to the eighth floor. After getting to the eighth floor everything was dark."

The individual in a second clip detailed hearing further explosions and then described what he saw when he got down to the lobby:

"It was totally destroyed, it looked like King Kong had been through it and stepped on it and it was so destroyed i didn't know where I was. It was so destroyed that had to take me out through a hole in the wall, a makeshift hole I believe the fire department made to get me out."

He was then told by firefighters to get twenty blocks away from the area because explosions were going off all over the World Trade Center complex.

The key to this information is that the individual testifies this all happened BEFORE either tower collapsed, thus building 7 was at that point completely undamaged from any falling debris or resulting fires. It also means that explosions were witnessed in WTC7 up to eight hours before its collapse at around 5.30pm.

listen to the clips here.

Avery and Burmas, who played the two short clips of the interview prior to further analysis and more clips to be played on their own GCN radio show later tonight at 7pm CST, further described how the individual had witnessed dead bodies in the lobby of 7 and was told by the police not to look at them.

This is vital information because it is in direct conflict with the official claim that no one was killed inside building 7. The 9/11 Commission report did not even mention building, yet here we have a key witness who told them he saw dead people inside the building after explosions had gutted the lower level.

What makes all this information even more explosive is the fact that this individual was interviewed by the 9/11 Commission as they conducted their so called investigation.

The fact that the building was not even mentioned in the report in light of this information thus becomes chilling and indicates that officials have lied in stating that they have not come into contact with evidence of explosive devices within the buildings.

Avery and Burmas successfully contacted the individual after discovering a TV interview he did on 9/11 while they were trawling through news footage from the day in research for the Final Cut.

Avery says that he can and will prove beyond any shadow of doubt that the individual was in building 7 on 9/11 and that what he is saying is accurate.

Copyright © Prisonplanet.com

National Education Board Reviews Election Procedures

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/21/education/21board.html

By CORNELIA DEAN
Published: June 21, 2007

The officers of the National Association of State Boards of Education are reviewing their election procedures, after a nominee's withdrawal left them with only one candidate for the office of president-elect: a member of the Kansas school board who supported its efforts against the teaching of evolution.

The review will not be completed before balloting ends next month. In a letter to board members, the officers said they had established a group to recommend changes for their consideration at their annual meeting in October.

The Kansas candidate is Kenneth Willard, a Republican who voted with the conservative majority in 2005 when the school board changed the state's science standards to allow inclusion of intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism.

Voters replaced that majority, but Mr. Willard, an insurance executive from Hutchinson, retained his seat. If he becomes president-elect of the national group, he will take office as its president in January 2009.

When they learned Mr. Willard would be unopposed, some scientists and others urged state boards, each of which has one vote, to write in other candidates. But the association's bylaws make no provision for write-in votes.

In a telephone interview, W. Bradley Bryant, the president of the association and parliamentarian of the Georgia state board, said he believed that Robert's Rules of Order would advise treating a write-in "as a vote that was never cast."

Mr. Bryant, however, said the board had not made a decision.

In their letter to board members, the officers said they espoused diversity of views and tolerance as core values for their organization and for education. But Mr. Bryant said it would be a mistake to assume that meant that the group took a position on the teaching of creationism or related ideas in science classes.

Mr. Bryant, who would not say where he stood on the issue, said it had never arisen in his years on the national board.

Creationist Museum Facing Lawsuit

http://www.local12.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=5fab1936-5088-4753-abf3-5bdd75d7e42c

Last Update: Jun 21, 2007 4:59 PM

The operators of a new Creationist museum in Petersburg faces a lawsuit from another creationist group.

Creation Ministries International in Australia is suing, saying Answers in Genesis told people who subscribed to their magazine that it was no longer available.

Answers in Genesis then switched subscribers to their own publication.

Both groups accuse each other of "unbiblical" conduct.

Answers in Genesis tells the Kentucky Post that the lawsuit is baseless and without merit.

Beckwith: Dawkins Unwittingly Endorses Purpose in Nature

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/06/beckwith_dawkins_unwittingly_e.html

Over at the First Things blog On the Square, Francis Beckwith carefully shows how even Professor Dawkins cannot escape the common sense perception that the world is filled with agency, and those agents have a proper function. To get at all this, Beckwith describes Dawkins' lambasting of Kurt Wise, the young-earth creationist who did doctoral work under Stephen Jay Gould at Harvard.

Dawkins writes:

I find that terribly sad . . . the Kurt Wise story is just plain pathetic—pathetic and contemptible. The wound, to his career and his life's happiness, was self-inflicted, so unnecessary, so easy to escape. . . . I am hostile to religion because of what it did to Kurt Wise. And if it did that to a Harvard educated geologist, just think what it can do to others less gifted and less well armed.

Now Beckwith's point is not to defend young-earth creationism. Rather it is to call Dawkins to consistency. If one believes, as Dawkins does, that our perception of purpose in the natural world is merely an illusion, then one cannot chide another for not fulfilling his non-existant purpose. In other words, Dawkins' critique of Wise depends upon saying, "Dr. Wise has a purpose that he is not fulfilling, and I judge him by this universal standard to have erred in his acceptance of creationism." Dawkins must accept this hidden premise of purpose, or else he must revoke his critique of Wise. For if intrinsic purpose is an illusion, and human beings have no proper congnitive function from which Wise has deviated, then by what standard can Dawkins claim that Wise has erred?

Beckwith notes that if design in living systems is really an illustion, then

this means that [Dawkins'] lament for Wise is misguided, for Dawkins is lamenting what only appears to be Wise's dereliction of his duty to nurture and employ his gifts in ways that result in his happiness and an acquisition of knowledge that contributes to the common good. Yet because there are no designed natures and no intrinsic purposes, and thus no natural duties that we are obligated to obey, the intuitions that inform Dawkins' judgment of Wise are as illusory as the design he explicitly rejects. But that is precisely one of the grounds by which Dawkins suggests that theists are irrational and ought to abandon their belief in God.

So if the theist is irrational for believing in God based on what turns out to be pseudo-design, Dawkins is irrational in his judgment of Wise and other creationists whom he targets for reprimand and correction. For Dawkins' judgment rests on a premise that—although uncompromisingly maintained throughout his career—only appears to be true.

As Daniel Dennett has said, Darwinism is a Universal Acid; it eats through all our old notions. If only Dawkins would take this to heart. To see a similar philosophical consequence of Darwinism that Dawkins has trouble maintaining, see this post.

Posted by Logan Gage on June 21, 2007 3:43 PM | Permalink


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Questions and Answers from Mike Behe About The Edge of Evolution

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/06/questions_and_answers_from_mik.html

On Mike Behe's Amazon author's page there is an enlightening 13 part Q&A in which he clarifies his position on a number of issues related to the debate over evolution and intelligent design. It is well worth reading, as is the new book. Here is a just a taste of the types of questions that are posed to the author:

In Edge of Evolution you indicate that some of the evidence supporting common ancestry is pretty persuasive. Yet a number of scientists have questioned some of the evidence for common ancestry. Do you think it is beyond the pale for them to do so? In your mind is it scientific to question common ancestry?

In my view it is certainly not "beyond the pale" for a scientist to question anything. Questioning and skepticism are healthy for science. I have no solutions to the difficult problems pointed to by scientists who are skeptical of universal common descent: ORFan genes, nonstandard genetic codes, different routes of embryogenesis by similar organisms, and so on. Nonetheless, as I see it, if, rather than Darwinian evolution, one is talking about "intelligently designed" descent, then those problems, while still there, seem much less insuperable. I certainly agree that random, unintelligent processes could not account for them, but an intelligent agent may have ways around apparent difficulties. So in judging the likelihood of common descent, I discount problems that could be classified as "how did that get here?" Instead, I give much more weight to the "mistakes" or "useless features" arguments. If some peculiar feature is shared between two species which, as far as we can tell, has no particular function, and which in other contexts we would likely call a genetic accident, then I count that as rather strong evidence for common descent. So, if one looks at the data in the way that I do, then one can say simultaneously that: 1) CD is very well supported; 2) grand Darwinian claims are falsified; 3) ID is confirmed; 4) design extends very deeply into biology.

Posted by Robert Crowther on June 19, 2007 9:07 AM | Permalink

Origins of life befuddle supporters of evolution

http://www.timberjay.com/current.php?article=3421

Tuesday, June 19, 2001907 Volume 18, Issue 24

By Letter to the editor from John Fisher- Cook, Minn.

The theory of evolution faces no greater crisis than on the point of explaining the emergence of life. The reason is that organic molecules are so complex that their formation cannot be explained as being coincidental and it is manifestly impossible for an organic cell to have been formed by chance. The claim that inanimate materials can come together to form life is unscientific; science being defined as that which has been confirmed by experiment or direct observation.

What is amazing is that evolutionists cling with religious fervor ("faith") to their belief in this myth despite amassing mountains of evidence to the contrary.

One of the leading authorities on molecular "evolution", Alexander Oparin, says this in his book

(ironically titled "The Origin of Life"): "Unfortunately, the origin of the cell remains a question which is actually the darkest point of the complete evolution theory."

Since Oparin, evolutionists have performed countless experiments to try to prove a cell could have formed by chance. However, every such attempt has only made clearer the complex design of the cell and refuted their hypotheses. Professor Klaus Dose, president of the Institute of Biochemistry at the University of Johannes Gutenberg states: "More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on earth, rather than its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or a confession of ignorance."

The following statement by geochemist Jeffrey Blade from San Diego Scripps Institute makes clear the helplessness of evolutionists concerning this impasse: "As we leave the 20th century, we still face the biggest unsolved problem we had when we entered the 20th century. How did life originate on earth?".

John Fisher DVM

Cook, Minn.

Lawsuit: Firm's training was front for Scientology

http://www.dailysouthtown.com/news/433823,dst_bti_619.article

June 19, 2007 STNG News Service

A former employee of a Southland telecommunications company claims the company's required training included courses "designed to indoctrinate employees" in Scientology, and when she objected to the religious aspects of the training she was fired.

Margaret Warfield, of Montgomery, filed her religious discrimination lawsuit in federal court Monday against BTI Communications Group.

According to the company's Web site, BTI Communications Group is a business telephone and communications technology company headquartered in Lemont, with branch offices in Santa Fe Springs and Sacramento, Calif.

Warfield worked for BTI from Sept. 6, 2005, until she was fired on Dec. 9, 2005. According to the lawsuit, she was required to attend mandatory training courses that were offered through Hubbard College.

"The training courses (were) provided through Hubbard college, known as the Hubbard Management System, based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology," the suit says.

"The teachings in the management courses required by BTI were not truly courses in management but in fact were courses designed to indoctrinate employees in the religion of Scientology," the lawsuit also claims.

Warfield told management of her objections to the courses and that she did not want to attend them based on the Scientology teachings, and as a result, she was fired, the lawsuit says.

BTI, the lawsuit claims, "refused to make any accommodation for (Warfield) and her religious beliefs, and continued to insist, on a regular basis until her time of termination, that (she) embrace the religious teachings of the Scientology Church."

According to the company's Web site, BTI was founded in 1985 in Chicago by Eric Brackett. BTI's clients include The Options Clearing Corporation, Lawndale Christian Health Center and Sea Breeze Financial Services Inc.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.