Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings
ANTONY FLEW DIES
The philosopher Antony Flew died on April 8, 2010, at the age of 87, according to the obituary in the Telegraph (April 13, 2010). Born in London on February 11, 1923, Flew served in Royal Air Force Intelligence during World War II before graduating from Oxford University in 1947. He spent twenty years as professor of philosophy at the University of Keele and then almost a decade at the University of Reading; in his retirement, he was a part-time faculty member at York University. A prolific author with over twenty books to his credit, he was especially known for his work on the eighteenth-century philosopher David Hume, his conservative views on politics and education, and his writings on the philosophy of religion, in which he vigorously argued for what he called the presumption of atheism.
During his career, Flew took a degree of interest in evolutionary theory and its implications, publishing monographs on Evolutionary Ethics (1968) as well as Darwinian Evolution (1984; second edition, 1997) -- although his exposition was arguably marred by a fondness for claims of genetic linkage between intelligence and race. Toward the end of his life, Flew announced that he was renouncing his atheism in favor of a form of deism. The reasons for his conversion seemed to shift from interview to interview, although arguments associated with various forms of creationism were frequently mentioned. Flew's There is a God (2007) failed to clarify the matter, since, as The New York Times (November 24, 2007) revealed, Flew acknowledged that "he had not written his book."
For the obituary in the Telegraph, visit:
For Flew's announcement of his conversion, visit:
For the story in The New York Times, visit:
EVANGELICAL SCHOLAR EXPELLED OVER EVOLUTION
A noted evangelical Old Testament scholar resigned from his faculty position at a seminary in the wake of a controversy over his public acceptance of evolution. On March 24, 2010, a video featuring Bruce Waltke, Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, was posted on the website of the BioLogos Foundation. (Founded by Francis Collins, the BioLogos Foundation "explores, promotes, and celebrates the integration of science and Christian faith.") Entitled "Why Must the Church Come to Accept Evolution?" the video discussed "the danger that the Church will face if it does not engage with the world around it, in particular by acknowledging the overwhelming amount of data in support of biological evolution, which many evangelicals still reject."
On March 29, 2010, however, Waltke told BioLogos that the administration of Reformed Theological Seminary asked him to request that the video be removed. According to a blog post at BioLogos (April 2, 2010), "Dr. Waltke himself indicated that he still agreed with the content of the video. Indeed, Dr. Waltke has written previously on his support for theistic evolution ... However, given the brevity of the video, Dr. Waltke is concerned that his views might not be correctly understood. ... But despite repeated attempts to find an alternative solution, it has become clear that Dr. Waltke feels that the only remedy to his predicament is to remove the video." BioLogos complied with Waltke's request, while lamenting the necessity.
But that was apparently not enough for the seminary. Inside Higher Education (April 9, 2010) reported, "Michael Milton, president of the seminary's Charlotte campus and interim president of its Orlando campus, where Waltke taught, confirmed that the scholar had lost his job over the video." (Technically, Waltke offered his resignation, which officials at the seminary decided to accept.) Milton explained that Reformed Theological Seminary's faculty members are allowed to have different views on creation, but "Darwinian views, and any suggestion that humans didn't arrive on earth directly from being created by God (as opposed to having evolved from other forms of life), are not allowed, he said, and faculty members know this."
Waltke's views were already on record. In a post on BioLogos's blog (April 8, 2010), BioLogos's president Darrell Falk quoted Waltke's endorsement of theistic evolution from his book An Old Testament Theology (Zondervan, 2007), and commented, "Bruce made some equally strong statements with the BioLogos camera running and gave us the written permission to post the now-controversial video. What Bruce said on the video was simply an elaboration of things he had written already." Falk added, "Decades from now, when the Evangelical Church has come to terms with the reality of evolution, we hope she will look back at those who were the pioneers on its journey toward a fuller understanding of the manner by which God has created."
In a widely circulated letter to his colleagues at the Orlando campus of Reformed Theological Seminary, Waltke later commented, "I knew the issue of Genesis 1-3 and evolution was emotionally charged, but not this charged." The real issue, he explained, was that the video posted at BioLogos identified him as a professor at the seminary: "I was speaking as an individual, not as a representative of RTS. It may well be that I am the only one on the faculty holding the view of creation by the process of evolution as understood by mainline science, apart from its normal atheistic philosophy. As it stands, I dragged the whole community in the misunderstandings." Expressing regret for the turmoil, he added, "I find no fault with the RTS administration; in fact, I think they did the right thing."
For Inside Higher Ed's report, visit:
For the two posts at BioLogos's blog, visit:
For Waltke's letter, visit:
WHAT HAPPENED TO EVOLUTION AT THE NSB?
A section describing survey results about the American public's beliefs about evolution and the Big Bang was removed from the 2010 edition of Science and Engineering Indicators. According to a post on the AAAS's Science Insider blog (April 8, 2010) and a subsequent report in Science (April 9, 2010; subscription required), although survey results about evolution and the Big Bang have regularly appeared in the National Science Board's Science and Engineering Indicators, its biennial compilation of global data about science, engineering, and technology, they were absent from the 2010 edition.
NCSE's Joshua Rosenau decried the decision, saying, "Discussing American science literacy without mentioning evolution is intellectual malpractice ... It downplays the controversy." Also reportedly dismayed by the decision was the White House. "The Administration counts on the National Science Board to provide the fairest and most complete reporting of the facts they track," Rick Weiss, a spokesperson and analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told Science.
Previous editions of the Indicators reported the data about the public's beliefs about evolution and the Big Bang, and moreover highlighted the discrepancy between the overwhelming acceptance of evolution by the scientific community and the prevalence of doubt among the general public. The 2008 edition of the Indicators featured a sidebar on "Evolution and the Schools," for example, and the 2006 edition similarly featured a sidebar entitled "More Than a Century After Darwin, Evolution Still Under Attack in Science Classrooms."
The lead reviewer of the chapter, John Bruer, told Science that he recommended deleting the section because the questions seemed like "blunt instruments" for assessing public understanding. When asked whether people who reject evolution and the Big Bang could be considered to be scientifically literate, he replied, "There are many biologists and philosophers of science who are highly scientifically literate who question certain aspects of the theory of evolution," but conceded that they would not be likely to regard the statement about humans having evolved from earlier species as false.
Officials at the National Science Board defended the decision. Louis Lanzerrotti, chair of the board's Science and Engineering Indicators committee, told Science that the questions were "flawed indicators of science knowledge because the responses conflated knowledge and beliefs." George Bishop, a political scientist at the University of Cincinnati who is familiar with the difficulties of polling about evolution, regarded that position as defensible, explaining, "Because of biblical traditions in American culture, that question is really a measure of belief, not knowledge."
Jon Miller, a science literacy researcher at Michigan State University who originally devised the question about evolution, disagreed, however, asking, "If a person says that the earth really is at the center of the universe, even if scientists think it is not, how in the world would you call that person scientifically literate?" According to Science, "Miller believes that removing the entire section was a clumsy attempt to hide a national embarrassment. 'Nobody likes our infant death rate,' he says by way of comparison, 'but it doesn't go away if you quit talking about it.'"
The text deleted from the report is available on Science's website. It observes that 45% of Americans in 2008 regarded the statement "Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals" as true, whereas 78% of Japanese, 70% of Europeans, 69% of Chinese, and 64% of South Koreans regarded it as true. It also includes a sidebar entitled "How Schools Teach Evolution," summarizing the results of Berkman, Pacheco, and Plutzer's important paper "Evolution and Creationism in America's Classrooms: A National Portrait."
For Science and Engineering Indicators 2010, visit:
For the reports from Science, visit:
For the sidebars on evolution, visit:
For the deleted material (PDF), visit:
For Berkman, Pacheco, and Plutzer's paper, visit:
Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it.
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Respectful Insolence"A statement of fact cannot be insolent."
The miscellaneous ramblings of a surgeon/scientist on medicine, quackery, science, pseudoscience, history, and pseudohistory (and anything else that interests him)
Who (or what) is Orac?. Orac is the nom de blog of a (not so) humble pseudonymous surgeon/scientist with an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his miscellaneous verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few will. (Continued here, along with a DISCLAIMER that you should read before reading any medical discussions here.)
Category: Antivaccination lunacy • Medicine • Pseudoscience • Quackery • Science • Skepticism/critical thinking
Posted on: April 15, 2010 7:00 AM, by Orac
Although this blog is not the Denialism Blog, there is no doubt that one of the overarching themes of Respectful Insolence has been, since its very beginning, combatting science denial. Go back to the very beginning and read a couple of my earliest posts, dating way back to 2004. In one of them I discussed cancer cure testimonials and why they are almost never evidence of efficacy of a given alt-med therapy, a post that, in my ever-insolent opinion, holds up with anything I write today. In another one, I wondered how intelligent people could use alt-med, and in another one I discussed "intelligent design" creationism. In yet another post, I laid out the major topics of this blog for the year 2005, a list that is not too far from what I still write about today. In fact, that list reads like a menu of the various flavors of science denial. Oddly enough, vaccine denialism wasn't even mentioned in that list, an omission I found quite odd going back to reread my old stuff. In fact, although I had discussed vaccines before on Usenet, it did not become a major topic on this blog for a few months. Indeed, my takedown of anti-vaccine environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in June 2005 was arguably my first big splash in th blogosphere, a turning point for this blog, after which my traffic strated to climb.
Way back in 2004 and 2005, the term "denialism," although it might have been coined, was a term I had never heard of. Certainly, it was not a widely used term at the time. However, as more and more scientists and commenters appreciated the commonalities that unite various strains of anti-science movements, such as the anti-vaccine movement, creationism, alternative medicine, and animal rights extremists, it became clear that a blanket term was appropriate. Certainly, in my time blogging, the more I observed it didn't take long for me to appreciate these commonalities as well Some of them include a hostility towards experts, the arrogance of ignorance, and a tendency to conspiracy theories as a means of explaining why science won't accept pseudoscientific views, but that is not all. Certainly ideology and religion are major influences, particularly when it comes to creationism and the widespread disbelief in the scientific consensus in anthropogenic global climate change. Recently, Michael Specter wrote a book Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. (As much as I like the subject matter, God, how I hate long, tedious subtitles.) In February, he gave a TED talk and wrote an accompanying editorial. Naturally, at the five year plus mark that I've been applying not-so-respectful insolence to anti-science, not surprisingly I can't resist commenting--but only after a long-winded introduction. After all, I've got to be me.
In the editorial, Specter summarizes the problem very well:
American denialism threatens many areas of scientific progress, including the widespread fear of vaccines and the useless trust placed in the vast majority of dietary supplements quickly come to mind.
It doesn't seem to matter how often vaccines are proved safe or supplements are shown to offer nothing of value. When people don't like facts, they ignore them.
That this is true is undeniable. Anyone who peruses, even just occasionaly, the echo chamber that is the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism or peruse the comments after any particularly contentious issue to see antivaccinationists like J. B. Handley or the morphing troll Sue or promoters of quackery like homeopath Dana Ullman can't help but come to the conclusion that, no matter how much evidence, reason, and science show that a favored idea isn't true, people will cling to it. Indeed, they'll cling to it even tighter the more it is shown to be false.
One thing I share in common with Specter is the shock he relates at some of these pseudoscientific movements. He relates early in his talk how several years ago he did a story on vaccines and found himself to be shocked that there was opposition to what he describes as the "most effective public health measure in human history." Well do I remember, way back around 2001 or so, the first time I encounterd the anti-vaccine movement on the Internet, and I felt exactly the same shock that anyone would refuse vaccines or claim all the harm from them that the anti-vaccine movement did. So shocked was I that I started investigating. As I examined the science, it didn't take at all long for me to figure out that the claims of the anti-vaccine movement that vaccines cause autism, that shaken baby syndrome is a "misdiagnosis" for vaccine injury, or that vaccines cause various forms of autoimmune conditions like asthma and other chronic health problems are completely unsupported by scientific evidence. Don't get me wrong. I did learn that there is such a thing as vaccine injury. However, I also learned that such injury is rare and that, whatever the anti-vaccine movement claims, there is no credible scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism.
I also learned, as did Specter, that most of the people who are anti-science regarding specific issues, such as vaccines, genetically modified food (GMO), or alt-med are actually not stupid. Many of them are highly educated. He points out that, for a variety of reasons, people have lost confidence in institutions and in science itself, mentioning disasters such as Chernobyl, Bhopal, and Vioxx. It was at this point that one key aspect of people with anti-science beliefs was made plain. Specter quite correctly exhorted his audience to be skeptical, to question things. However, he also said that when the evidence is presented and compelling, you also have to do one thing more: Accept it.
As Yoda might say to ant-science pseudoskeptics, "That is where you fail."
If there's one thing that distinguishes healthy skepticism from denialism, it's a refusal to actually accept scientifically valid evidence against your position and consider changing your mind. Again, because I'm the most familiar with it and because its adherents show up to demonstrate this principle on this blog on a regular basis, I'll use the anti-vaccine movement as an example. No matter how much evidence is shown to them, no matter how many scientific studies fail to find a link between vaccines and autism, no matter how often I and others pick apart the conclusion-negating flaws of the "studies" presented by the anti-vaccine movement to support their position, they never, ever budge. Indeed, their usual response is to attack the messenger, as I have been attacked on many occasions, rather than to try to refute the evidence. The same thing, although usually with a lesser degree of vitriol, can be said of other anti-science movements. For those of you who know my real name, if you Google it you will turn up all sorts of anti-vaccine loons, supporters of quackery, and, if you dig deeper, Holocaust deniers attacking me.
The other thing that Specter gets right is how human beings believe anecdotes far more quickly than we believe science or, as he put it, "We don't believe a bunch of documents from a government official." I would have put it, "We don't believe a bunch of pointy-headed scientists telling us that our personal experience is misleading." After all, we know what we saw, right? Of course, as I've discussed time and time again, correlation does not equal causation. More importantly, coincidence is not uncommon but inevitable when we are examining large numbers of people. People do not understand that, which is why when parents notice the first symptoms of autism not long after a vaccine it does not necessarily mean the vaccine caused it. It might, but the only way to find out is to study large numbers of children, which, as Specter points out, has been done. The results have been about as resoundingly negative as it is possible to have in epidemiological studies.
Specter also has an amusing take on supplements, few of which have any real benefits. As he points out, what many supplements do is nothing more than to give you dark urine. Like Specter, I tend to agree. If you want to spend tons of money for supplements that are unnecessary and for which there is no evidence that they do anything other than give you dark urine, go for it. But don't pretend that you're getting a good deal for your money. Perhaps the most cogent observation is how we run from big pharma into the arms of big placebo. Specter didn't originate that lovely term. I've definitely heard it before. However, he did remind me of it again, and I will likely use it.
One thing that's clealry true about Specter is that he is an evangelist for genetically modified food. Indeed, even though I did in general like his book, the intensity of his chearleading for GMO was so strong that it disturbed me a bit (and, quite frankly, the chapter on Vioxx was a confusing mess). In other words, he didn't convince me that GMO is a panacea for global hunger. He did, however, make an excellent point that can be applied to another of anti-science movements, which often conflate political and policy issues designed to address the science with the science itself. Anthropogenic global warming is an excellent example of this, but GMO may be the best example, as Specter points out:
When people say they prefer organic food, what they often seem to mean is they don't want their food tainted with pesticides and their meat shot full of hormones or antibiotics. Many object to the way a few companies -- Monsanto is the most famous of them -- control so many of the seeds we grow.
Those are all legitimate complaints, but none of them have anything to do with science or the way we move genes around in plants to make them grow taller or withstand drought or too much sun. They are issues of politics and law. When we confuse them with issues of science, we threaten the lives of the world's poorest people.
We threaten more than that. Perhaps the best quote in Specter's entire talk was this: "When you start down the road where belief in magic replaces evidence and science, you end up in a place where you don't want to be."
Unfortunately, for more and more of the population, it seems, that's exactly where they're going. They don't want to be there, but unfortunately they won't realize it until there there. They might not even realize it even then.
Unfortunately, society will.
4:59 PM Wed, Apr 14, 2010
In an interview with me a few days ago, one candidate for the Richardson school board expresses support for the teaching of Creationism in science classes.So I ask an opponent of that first candidate for a position on that issue -- "Are you in favor or opposed to that?" -- and got an extended non-answer.
I'm not going to identify either candidate here, or even the Place, because I'm giving the second candidate a chance to produce a more responsive response. I may have been unclear in how I framed my initial query and/or the candidate may have misunderstood what I was asking. So I want to avoid any possibility of creating a wrong impression.
But am I out of line in thinking that the second candidate ought to 1) feel some obligation to give me (and the voters) a yes or no; and 2) not be surprised in 2010 that such a question might come up?
There's Richardson context for this question: Back in the early 1990s, elections for several RISD board positions got tangled up with questions about religion and public education.
And given how this conversation has gone, and out of fairness, I'm going to raise the Creationism question with all of the candidates still running, So the rest of you are now forewarned...
Michael Zimmerman, Ph.D..Founder, The Clergy Letter Project
Posted: April 15, 2010 12:07 PM
Last week I wrote about the problems the Discovery Institute had with my article arguing that the evolution/creation controversy was a battle between different religious worldviews rather than a struggle between religion and science.
Now I find myself writing about yet another major creationist organization's criticisms of my work for The Huffington Post. This time the attack is coming from Answers in Genesis, the people behind the $27 million creation museum-cum-theme-park just outside Cincinnati. You know who I mean -- they're the folks who show dinosaurs and humans comfortably cavorting and who declare that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.
There are two issues I need to address.
The first, why the criticism leveled by Answers in Genesis is meaningless nonsense, is rather trivial. The second, however, why any of us should care in the least about what creationist organizations have to say, is far from trivial. Indeed, I'd argue that it may well be one of the more important issues of our time.
Let me dispense with the trivial point first. Last month I discussed why social Darwinism was both a misnomer and a terrible idea, both scientifically and socially. Not surprisingly, Answers in Genesis disagreed. They simply repeated their argument that social Darwinism is a "logical ... conclusion of Darwinian scientific theory" and then, grotesquely, pointed to the existence of serial killers to support their absurd contention.
Such behavior is nothing new for Answers in Genesis and their founder, Ken Ham. Two outrageous but all-too-typical examples will make my point. Back in 1987 Ham published an article entitled "Creationism: Cure for AIDS?" in which he concluded that "the spread of AIDS can be stopped -- by simply rejecting false evolution." In an even more extreme move, Ham and Answers in Genesis opted to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11 by running ads in the Cincinnati Inquirer and in Christianity Today laying the attack at the feet of evolution.
Ham and his lot are clearly extremists, so why should we care what they do or say? Wouldn't we be better off simply ignoring them?
I wish it were so, but, as amazing as it might seem, Answers in Genesis and the Discovery Institute have the ability to shape public policy in frightening ways. Unless many of us keep pointing out what they're all about, they may well succeed in reshaping America and redefining science in a manner that will do irreparable damage.
And make no mistake about it, Answers in Genesis and the Discovery Institute are close cousins, even though they present different personas. Yes, the Discovery Institute is slicker -- with many more lawyers, better suits, and a bevy of political operatives -- than the young-earth- and fire-and-brimstone-preaching contingent that makes up the core of Answers in Genesis.
But, most importantly, both groups want the country recast as a Christian fundamentalist nation. And they both abhor the concept of evolution and want science redefined.
Am I being too extreme? You be the judge.
As I pointed out last week, Howard Ahmanson, Jr., one of the Discovery Institute's biggest donors, has expressed radical views about the role religion should play in America. And that's putting it mildly, since he's said, "My goal is the total integration of biblical law into our lives."
Take a look at the The Wedge, the Discovery Institute's original planning document, and cringe when you read that their goal is "nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies."
Or listen to Ken Ham's 2010 "State of the Nation" speech (yes, he thinks he's important enough to deliver a speech with that name!) and hear him call for a country based on "God's word" rather than "man's word."
Both organizations, apparently suffering from a bad case of science envy, are desperately calling for science to be redefined to include the supernatural. Yes, you read that correctly. Both think that science is too limited in its present form and that it needs to be expanded beyond its present search for natural explanations. Observation, experimentation, data collection, analysis, indeed, the entire scientific method, be damned; bring in supernatural explanations.
This would all be funny if groups of this sort weren't able to influence politicians, primarily at the local school board level and in state legislatures around the country. However, anti-evolution bills or pro-creationism actions persistently crop up, under various names, in state after state and town after town.
What may be saddest of all about this is that natural allies, people who care about high quality science instruction and respect for others, are being manipulated into attacking one another. Religion and fundamentalism are not synonymous and I've come to realize that deeply religious people are usually respectful of others with different beliefs. Fundamentalists, on the other hand, are typically intolerant of the slightest deviation from their own views. Which brings me back to my original point: the controversy is not between religion and science.
Whatever you may think of religion, the fact is that the majority of religions, including a majority of Christian denominations, view evolution as being fully compatible with their faith. When religion as a social construct is attacked because of the extreme pronouncements of people like Ken Ham, intolerance abounds and ignorance wins.
Posted: April 15, 2010 04:17 PM
At first glance, the scientific community -- and anyone who believes that science can tell us something about the nature of reality -- is compelled to reject the hypothesis that all organisms are the way they are because they were designed to be that way. But the creationists question that the stupendously varied panoply of life arose from mutations in the genome occurring by chance with the resulting organisms fitting by chance into environments where they can reproduce better than their predecessors. Such a chance-mutation and lucky-environmental-fit process is surely too "hit or miss" to have created the complex web of life in the biosphere. The theory that affirms it is bound to be false.
However, at the cutting edge of science, the theory of evolution doesn't rely on random serendipity. That view marks the classical Darwinist position, still championed by a few (though always fewer) mainline biologists. Richard Dawkins, for example, insists that the living world is the result of processes of piecemeal trial and error, without deeper meaning and significance. Evolution happens, but there is no purpose and meaning to it.
Take cheetahs, said Dawkins. They give every indication of being superbly designed to kill antelopes. The teeth, claws, eyes, nose, leg muscles, backbone, and brain of a cheetah are all precisely what we should expect if God's purpose in creating cheetahs was to maximize deaths among antelopes. At the same time, antelopes are fast, agile, and watchful, apparently designed so they can escape cheetahs. Yet neither the one feature nor the other implies creation by design: this is just the way nature is. Cheetahs have a "utility function" to kill antelopes, and antelopes have a utility function to escape cheetahs. Nature itself is indifferent to this game. This is a world of blind physical forces and genetic replication where some get hurt and others flourish. It has precisely the properties we would expect it to have if there were no design, no purpose, and no evil and no good in the world, only blind indifference.
If a Designer is responsible for the way the living world works, He/She would have to be at best indifferent to what comes about in that world, or at worst a sadist who enjoys blood sports. It's more reasonable, according to Dawkins, to hold that the world just is, without reason and purpose. The way it is results from random processes played out within limits set by fundamental physical laws. The idea of design is superfluous. Classical Darwinists echo French mathematician Pierre Laplace, who is reputed to have said to Napoleon that God is a hypothesis for which there is no longer any need.
Confronted with the classical theory, creationists are justified in pointing out that it's extremely improbable that all we see in the world of life, ourselves included, should be the result of chance processes governed by impersonal laws. The idea that everything evolved by blind chance out of common and simple origins is just theory, they say. The world is more than a random assembly of disjointed elements; it exhibits meaning and purpose. This implies design.
The creationist position would be the logical choice if -- but only if -- scientists would persist in claiming that the evolution of living species is a product of two-fold serendipity. But at the cutting edge, scientists no longer claim this. Post-Darwinian biologists recognize that the evolution of species is far more than the chance processes classical Darwinists say it is. It must be more, because the time that was available for evolution would not have been sufficient to generate the complex web of life on this planet merely by trial and error. Mathematical physicist Sir Fred Hoyle calculated the probabilities and came to the conclusion that they are about the same as the probability that a hurricane blowing through a scrap-yard assembles a working airplane.
Leading-edge scientists realize that the evolution of organic species is an orderly, highly coordinated process, even if it's not mechanistic and deterministic. The evolution of the living world is part of the great wave that created particles from the underlying virtual-energy and information field misleadingly called "vacuum" (and is better called unified field, nuether, or Akashic field). The wave unfolded in the cosmos by structuring particles into atoms, atoms into molecules, molecules into macromolecules and cells, cells into organisms, and organisms and populations of organisms into local, regional, and continental ecologies.
The wave of evolution could only have unfolded in a universe where the fundamental laws and constants are finely tuned to permit the emergence of complexity. Ours is such a universe. Physicists know that even a minute difference in these laws and constants would have foreclosed the possibility of life forever.
Our universe is staggeringly fine-tuned to the creation of systems of higher and higher orders of complexity, differentiation, and integration. That such a universe would have come about by chance is astronomically improbable. According to quantum cosmology, some 1 x 10500 (1 followed by five hundred zeros) universes could exist physically, but only a handful could give rise to life. That our life-supporting universe would have come about by a random selection from this enormous set of possible universes is a zillion times more improbable than that living species would have come about by random mutations. The great wave of evolution requires highly harmonized and coordinated processes in all its domains.
In the final count the evolution of life presupposes intelligent design. But the design it presupposes is not the design of the products of evolution; it's the design of its preconditions. Given the right preconditions, nature comes up with the products on her own.
The debate between creationists and evolutionists would be better focused on the origins of the universe than on the origins of life. Could it be that our universe has been purposefully designed so it could give rise to the evolution of life? For creationists, this would be the logical assumption. Evolutionists could not object: evolution, being an irreversible process, must have had a beginning, and that beginning must be accounted for. And our fine-tuned universe is entirely unlikely to have come about by chance.
So the creationist/evolutionist controversy really is pointless. Design is a necessary assumption, because chance doesn't explain the facts. But evolution is likewise a necessary assumption, for given the way this universe works, the evolution of complexity is a logical and by now well-documented consequence. Therefore the rational conclusion is not design or evolution. It's design for evolution.
Then why the controversy?
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
By Charles Martin
Noon-4 p.m. Sunday
1739 N.W. 16th
Organizers of the Psychic Fair at Coffy's Café want to be clear: There will be no spoon benders; no aged, wart-riddled hags putting hexes on thieving children; no snake-oil salesmen or swindlers preying on the desperate. In short, it's not as seen on TV.
"Hollywood has portrayed the intuitive arts in dark and mysterious ways," said Mark Maxey, a tarot card reader and event organizer. "All people have these abilities, just like everyone has the ability to play basketball, but some are just better equipped and more naturally talented. The same is true with your intuitive skills."
To help show the wide-ranging possibilities of the spiritual and the metaphysical, he helped put together the Psychic Fair as a way to give small tastes of a number of different techniques and ideologies, such as palm reading, triune brain theory, astrology, reiki and meditation.
Maxey said the participants come from different belief systems and use their intuitive skills as a supplement to their religion, instead of a replacement.
"We don't want you to give up your spiritual beliefs, but find what is best for you," he said.
Michael Lund and Cassie Shelton teach a class largely based on reiki, a Japanese healing technique sometimes called "palm healing." Shelton explained that the technique involves sensing the different areas of a person's body to find the source of a particular problem, like pain or congestion, and then "direct light" to that area. She said that reiki and other intuitive arts are good additions to traditional Western medicine, because they are focused on finding the root cause of medical problems.
"Traditional medicine treats the physical symptoms of things happening on the emotional and mental level," Shelton said. "A good example on that is people having issues with their thyroids. There tends to be communication issues in their life, either saying the things on their mind or even being honest with themselves."
Lund said the key for them as teachers and practitioners is to dispel the myth that the intuitive arts are just an abstract alternative medicine.
"It's not just a mystical experience; it's something very practical and real," he said. "There is something tangible that the person can take away from the experience. Anybody coming to get a reading or energy work done needs to have an open mind, and whatever comes to them will be very personal and something they can relate to."
Maxey said the best way to find a good teacher or practitioner of the intuitive arts is through word of mouth. With nationwide movements bringing the practices further into the mainstream, it's easier than ever to plug into a local community.
"These days, people are looking for more holistic ways to heal themselves, rather than just dumping a lot of pharmaceuticals into their body," Maxey said. "I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the medical profession, but I do think we need a mixture of Eastern and Western medicine to get complete healing." —Charles Martin
by Colby Cosh on Thursday, April 15, 2010 9:37am
Simon Singh MBE, the celebrated science writer and documentarian, has officially won his libel tilt with the British Chiropractic Association. In April 2008 Singh wrote a column for the Guardian about the persistence of pre-scientific ideas in the British chiropractic trade. What most people now think of as merely an expert form of massage began with the claim that spinal maladjustments were the source of virtually all disease in humans, and some chiropractors still believe they can cure a lot more than back and joint pain. Singh wrote:
You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact they still possess some quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything. And even the more moderate chiropractors have ideas above their station. The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.
I can confidently label these treatments as bogus because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world's first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.
(Singh's column went on to discuss the controversy surrounding the 1998 death of Saskatchewan chiropractic patient Laurie Jean Mathiason.)
English libel law is so tough on defendants that the world's rich and offended will torture jurisdictional logic to the point of incoherence if it means their complaint can be heard in an English courtroom. But the BCA had it easy; Singh was trapped right there on the island with them. They took him to court. And only him; they chose not to name the Guardian in their claim at all.
English libel requires the judge to issue pre-trial rulings on the meanings of offending passages. Singh, whose piece had appeared in the Comment section of the Guardian, argued before Sir David Eady that his use of the word "bogus" meant only that there is no good evidence for the effectiveness of the impugned treatments. But the judge not only closed off the fair comment defence; he ruled, without giving much indication that he was paying close attention to the arguments or the relevant text, that the term denoted conscious and deliberate dishonesty. This shifted a frightful burden of proof onto Singh, requiring him to show not only that British chiropractors were offering useless and unverifiable treatments, but that they did so with the certain and specific knowledge that they were useless and unverifiable.
It became clear almost immediately that the BCA had overplayed its hand. Eady's ruling rightly raised a worldwide clamour against the depraved state of the law and the health of free inquiry in the land of Newton and Darwin. (This has helped put libel reform on the agendas of all major parties in the current UK election.) It is, after all, almost not enough to say that science "depends" on the freedom to make tough evidentiary criticisms; considered socially, science is practically equivalent to the possibility of making them. Meanwhile, the beam of a million-watt searchlight had been attracted to the claims and conduct of the British chiropractic business. In a canonical demonstration of the Streisand Effect, the country's statutory regulator of chiropractic, which holds the activity and advertising of practitioners to an explicitly scientific standard, was obliged to launch literally hundreds of investigations into strip-mall spine-crackers.
The harm that British chiropractic has done to itself is incalculable; meanwhile, it has had to give up hope of impoverishing Singh, who had Eady's ruling overturned by the England and Wales Court of Appeal on April 1. In asking a public controversy concerning a question of evidence to be a matter for a libel suit, wrote the Lord Chief Justice, the BCA was inviting the court to serve as "an Orwellian ministry of truth". The court, he added, must decline to do so. (He did not neglect to throw in a pinch of old John Milton and his Areopagitica.)
One ought not to admonish the BCA for abandoning its libel action; it was self-evidently the right thing to do. But what does it say about British libel law that the Association did so almost immediately once the fair comment defence was made available to Singh—a commentator by profession, one whose standing to assess and challenge scientific evidence could hardly be higher? Just one month ago, Singh announced that he would be ceasing his newspaper column for good. One hopes he will reconsider, but it is still uncertain that he will recover his own defence costs, and the time and effort he has expended will never be recouped.
By Ethan Zohn | Thursday, April 15, 2010 3:00 PM ET
When you think of emergency disaster relief, Chiropractic doesn't immediately come to mind — well that's all about to change.
When we hear of the heroic things people do to help others in need we often conjure up certain graphic images. On 9/11, for example, rescue workers were dispatched to help those who needed it the most. The images of fire fighters, EMS crews, doctors and ambulances flood my mind. In Haiti, pictures of The National Guard and Red Cross are all etched in my brain like a permanent exhibition. One thing we don't immediately think of is chiropractic doctors. But they are there. They are there caring for the rescue workers just as much as they are caring for the victims.
Having staggered through my own journey with cancer, I'm no stranger to alternative medicine. I have been approached with every herb, drink, potion and powder under the sun. Visualization, music therapy, acupuncture — I've tried it all. You see, I'm a science guy. I majored in biology and completed all my pre-med requirements. I like proof, and was cool with my body being converted into a laboratory for doctors and their potential tools of healing. These were professionals with years of scientific research, so it must be the correct path, right? If you swallow this horse pill you will feel better. It's as simple as A+B=C. So for me, buying into the whole chiropractic thing was a challenge.
Chiropractic however, is not so alternative anymore; it's actually somewhat mainstream. Study after study shows the benefits of chiropractic care in the management of such conditions as headaches, neck pain, low back pain and other conditions. I know this first hand because my older brother, Lee, is a chiropractic doctor and the director of the Winchester Hospital Chiropractic Center just outside of Boston. In fact, chiropractic medicine is becoming an integrated part of mainstream health care and there are approximately 190 million visits to chiropractic physicians each year.
My brother, or should I say Dr. Zohn, who still makes me fester in the waiting room for too long, describes chiropractic as the relationship between the spine and the nervous system. He tells me that, "small spinal distortions caused by accidents, sports injuries, poor posture, chronic tension and stress can all compromise spinal biomechanics." And I tell him, "I'm in pain, my body is not functioning properly; fix me." Chiropractic is the science and art of detecting and correcting such problems. Chiropractors use adjustments to restore the proper position and movement of the bones and joints within the spinal column and extremities. Often, a "pop" or "crack" is heard. OMG, I love the crack! I call them "little cracks of joy." It sounds scary, but the noise actually results from the release of nitrogen and carbon dioxide from the joint. It doesn't hurt and truly feels fantastic.
I've played sports my whole life and you know what? I really haven't had that many injuries. And when I do have an injury, I heal quickly. I'm sure many factors have contributed to this, but having regular chiropractic care for many years leading up to this point in my life definitely hasn't hurt. Every professional sports team has a chiropractor on staff. They played a large role in the Olympics, caring for the athletes, and not just those that were injured. They were there at 9/11. They are in Iraq. They are at the United States Department of Defense. Chiropractors are pretty much everywhere.
So, what is it that makes a chiropractor close down his or her office and head to a disaster area, like Haiti to help those in need? I spoke to Doctor Peter Morgan and Mission-Chiropractic as he was preparing for his fourth trip to Haiti since the earthquake. He has been a chiropractor for 25 years and has extensive emergency relief experience, including organizing efforts after the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York. He and his volunteers had just returned from a regular chiropractic mission trip to Haiti on Monday, Jan. 11 —one day before the earthquake destroyed much of the country and killed as many as 230,000 people. Immediately, Dr. Morgan sprung back into action sending out numerous emails to local and national chiropractic organizations, and over a thousand emails to individual chiropractors to assemble a team willing to help. As this trip began, there were multiple objectives: to offer chiropractic care to the injured and non-injured people; to bring state-of-the-art water filtration systems to communities; to distribute food and water; and to offer hope and service to humanity.
After jumping on a flight to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, they rented three huge SUV's, picked up some clean drinking water and headed off to Port-au-Prince to start helping. For the next week, this team of doctors gave food, water and adjustments to everyone. They even helped deliver babies in the dark. "We adjusted a few thousand people in tent-city refugee camps around the corner from the Capitol building," Morgan explained. "The next day, we ventured into the fields behind the US Embassy, where we offered low-tech bandaging and wound care. As the first group of people were treated they rose with big smiles on their faces, the line started to grow and the trust was built. We adjusted hundreds of people who were living in makeshift tents constructed with sticks and bed sheets."
Chiropractors have been through serious schooling and have been given an incredible talent, says Dr. Morgan, "We have a unique gift that our office can be just our hands, we can travel all over the world and help people just by placing our hands on them." The chiropractic team usually takes turns evaluating injuries and administering adjustments for whole-body injuries including neck pain, low back pain, leg pain, shoulder pain and rib pain. Dr. Morgan feels he has a duty to use his profession to aid others in a time of need, "even if we are just helping the people who are helping the people." The response has been overwhelming according to Dr. Morgan, and is "usually followed by a hug, a look into their eyes and a big thank you for helping." Many of the injured Haitians pleaded to Misson-Chirpractic, "please don't forget us, please come back." A passionate Dr. Morgan finished up by saying, "one of my missions is to alleviate the suffering of others especially the poor, sick and disabled. When I do this I feel alive. It's hard to say no, so the decision to return again and again is an easy one."
Contributed by The Epoch Times (Reporter)
Friday, April 16, 2010 1:29
SYDNEY—In Australia, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have practised unregulated for decades. The good news is that national registration will soon be introduced—a move that is welcomed by the profession and the consumers.
Regulation of traditional Chinese medical (TCM) practitioners comes under the new National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for health professions.
From July 2012 all acupuncturists, Chinese herbal practitioners and dispensers will fall under the same level of regulation as doctors, optometrists or dentists. Accreditation will be more uniform across the states and registration standards more stringent.
Judy James, chief executive of the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medical Association (AACMA) says that the national scheme is well overdue.
"This will have a very positive effect in the long term. At the moment we can not regulate who practises in our own profession. It's the only way we can impose any standard across our profession as a whole," says Mrs James.
Under the scheme TCM practitioners will be registered only if they have acquired a four or five university bachelor degree in Australia or an equivalent overseas qualification. Compulsory entry exams will also be imposed for all overseas-qualified practitioners.
"[Now] people can do a three months course and offer their services ... [The national scheme] means that someone can't just pick up a shingle and hang it and say they are a practitioner after no training or very little training."
Professor Keryn Phelps, former President of the Australian Medical Association agrees that the lack of regulation has put consumers at risk.
"Consumers need to look whether the practitioner they are seeing is qualified and what qualification they have and make sure that the courses [they completed] are from a recognised institution.".
It is estimated that each year $60 billion is spent worldwide on alternative medicines and at least 50 per cent of Australians have tried some form of herbal treatment.
While there are few reported cases of adverse reactions to natural medicines alone, the danger lies in mixing of pharmaceutical drugs with herbs.
For example, simple therapeutic supplements made from garlic, gingko or ginger, may increase bleeding if taken together with blood thinning agents. A more serious side effect of this could be bleeding in the brain, otherwise known as stroke.
However, sufficient education of the consumer, alternative medicine practitioners and GPs could prevent such cases, says John Baxter from the National Herbalist Association.
"There's great necessity to educate people about the potential dangers of mixing herbs and drugs, because herbs are therapeutic agents and they can affect the way the body metabolises drugs. It can enhance a drug's action or it can reduce a drug's action," said Mr Baxter in an ABC report.
Meanwhile the Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia (CHC) has slammed the conventional medical practitioners for ignoring the growing trend in natural treatments.
In a statement published by the ABC's 7.30 Report CHC said that "GPs have been burying their heads in the sand for far too long and should make it their business to improve their knowledge of complementary medicines and potential drug-CM interactions—and to be more open with their patients."
CHC also stresses the importance of taking only Australian-approved natural remedies that have passed the manufacturing standards set by the Therapeutics Goods Association (TGA).
Consumers should look for packaged medicines which that have an "AUST L" or "AUST R" number on them, which indicates that the ingredients are either listed or registered by the TGA.
Thursday, 04/15/10 5:55pm
By Bill Mares
..(HOST) This week, VPR's commentators on weighing in on the state of education. Bill Mares - who grew up in Texas - has been following the controversy over its school curriculum with a mixture of bemusement... and dismay.
(MARES) Every ten years, like the census, the Texas State Board of Education looks at its school curriculum and decides what to revise. Since its members are all elected, this can be a highly charged process. This year the sparks flew across the nation.
Through hundreds of amendments to a teacher-written draft, the 10 to 5 Republican majority made a hard right turn. In a kind of intellectual spoils system, they have declared war on liberalism, secular humanism, and relativistic thinking.
They have pushed to give creationism equal standing with evolution. They have played down the role of Thomas Jefferson because he was a Deist and not a Christian. By calling the Constitution an "enduring" - not a "living" document, they emphasized its absolutes, not its flexibility. They have replaced the term "capitalism" with "free enterprise."
Why should we care? Isn't this just more knuckle-headed silliness in Texas? After all, one of my grade school books was titled The True History of the War Between the States, from the Southern Point of View.
Another reason to care is religious. As a Christian and a former high school history teacher, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. One of these Texas amendments declares that America was founded as a Christian nation.
Most people would agree that the Founders as a group were members of Christian denominations. Indeed, the Pilgrims were one Christian sect fleeing persecution from another Christian sect. To me, such a declaration is bad theology and bad law. First, its pretense takes the Lord's name in vain. And second, it comes dangerously close to creating an unconstitutional theocracy. I'm all for teaching about religion in schools. As an example, one of the eight mega-questions in my class on Western Civilization was "How has religion been a force for great good and great evil?" That evil can come from the pathological sense of rectitude that afflicts many "true believers."
I would quote to the Texas School Board the words of Oliver Cromwell to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."
More diplomatic are the words of Tom Ratliff, a Texas conservative who recently defeated the most rabid member of the School Board. He said: "The Board majority keeps wanting to talk about this being a Christian nation. My attitude is this country was founded by a group of men who were Christians but who didn't want the government dictating religion."
5:59 AM Fri, Apr 16, 2010
To recap, I'd posted a couple of days ago that a candidate in one of Richardson ISD school board races had expressed support for the teaching of Creationism in science class and I'd asked that candidate's opponent for a position in response. And got a non-answer. I told you I'd identify the candidates once I was sure I'd gotten the best answers possible. Here goes:
The first candidate is Raj Chari, who, in the process of a larger conversation about the need for greater rigor and discipline in schools, mentioned he was in favor of the teaching of Creationism in science classes. His opponent is incumbent Karen Holburn. I asked her for her position in a phone interview. She told me she wanted to think about her answer and send it to me. I agreed. Head for the jump to see her response. And then her second response. And why I still say she has not answered the question.
Here was her first answer:
Trustees need to focus on the academic success of every child in our district and not push personal agendas. The State Board of Education sets the curriculum for our schools and it is my job as a Trustee to ensure that the teachers are provided the resources they need to teach the curriculum.
Here was my reply:
With all due respect, you have not answered the question. The state sets minimum standards. The district can choose to go beyond those standards in some areas. For example, the health class requirement. Should a majority of the RISD board decide that parts of the minimum curriculum need shoring up for RISD students, I assume that discussion would also take place. In fact, isn't that part of what the implementation of the new vision statement is all about? Or am I misunderstanding? So I'll ask once more: Do you agree or disagree with your opponent that Intelligent Design (or Creationism) should be taught in science classes in the Richardson school district? I've got no stake in what you (or Mr. Chari, for that matter) would have me present as your positions. All I'm trying to be is as accurate and fair as possible. And if you want to stick with this answer, fine by me. But since he raised the issue, I will feel bound as a matter of fairness to either include your position or your unwillingness to express one.
Here was her next answer:
The State Board of Education sets the curriculum for our schools and it is my job as a Trustee to ensure that the teachers are provided the resources they need to teach the curriculum. The issue of teaching Creationism in science classes has not been voiced by our community. As Trustees, if this did become an issue within our community we would collaborate with community members, administrators, and teachers to study what the district's position should be and proceed from there.
To which I say: She has still not answered my question. Unless the answer is that, for one of the major hot-button issues in public education of the past century-plus, she has no position beyond what she thinks the community wants. Which is her right. But seems odd.
A candidate running for a different RISD board seat, Darryl Smyers, read the first post and my promise that I'd ask this question of all RISD board candidates. He sent me his answer:
Creationism is not a scientific theory so it cannot be taught in a science class.
How clear is that?
Now, perhaps in a social studies context, creationism, right along with various Hindu and Buddhist beliefs concerning the beginning of humanity, can be taught, discussed and debated.
And a school board member certainly has more on his/her plate than to be getting into areas better suited to parents and clergy.
Posted on: April 13, 2010 6:04 PM, by Josh Rosenau
Michael at "The Bible is the Other Side" is upset. He's been reading about the suppression of research on evolution acceptance among the American public, and doesn't like what he sees. In particular, he doesn't like yours truly, and the way people like me talk about science literacy:
There is a myth propagated by radical left leaning evolutionists that you can have a PHD and have papers published in mainstream science journals and have discoveries that save lives but if you doubt evolution then your an illiterate in science.
Oh my stars and LOLcats! This is so adorable that if I had a photograph of Michael, I'd stamp "literacy FAIL" all over it! "Your an illiterate" indeed!
Does the likes of Joshua Rosenau want to require students a recitation that pledges of allegiance to evolution? Do you want left leaning socialists forcing science curricula on students that say in order to understand science, you must believe that "nothing" banged and became everything by an unguided process?
Am the likes of Michael cretin creating a straw man? Do the likes of the sky color blue? Does anyone have video of "nothing" getting banged? Because that'd be pretty hot.
To return to the point, such as it is, no, I don't want "a recitation that pledges of allegiance to evolution," nor do I think science education should be politicized by socialists (whichever direction they lean), or by right-wing theocrats. Science education should cover the best available science, which means covering evolution and the Big Bang. On account if its not being a science, creationism doesn't belong in science class.
Michael expresses confusion that I was quoted referring to "the controversy," as if acknowledging a (social) controversy over creationism and evolution suggested that one must "teach this controversy in the public schools." Lest I be accused of taking his words out of context, the question he actually asks is:
Isn't this the same Joshua Rosenau from the NCSE who believes there is no controversy about evolution rather it's controversy is one concocted by creationists and the Discovery Institute?
Assuming I untangled that sentence's grammatical failings correctly, it is. That this social controversy has been ginned up by religious extremists doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and doesn't impact science education. I wish it didn't, and I don't want this social/political/religious controversy to be taught in science classes.
April 14, 2010
During a workshop for the BioLogos Foundation, founded in 2007 by Francis Collins, the evangelical, Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke said that the evangelical Christian community needs to engage with the world and accept evolution, or face a crisis. "If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult ... some odd group that is not really interacting with the world," Waltke says, according to Inside Higher Ed. For those comments, the Reformed Theological Seminary, which employed Waltke as a professor, asked for the video of the workshop to be taken down from the BioLogos site. Waltke also resigned. When asked whether seminary's zero-tolerance for evolution limited academic freedom, Michael Milton, the president of the school's Charlotte campus and interim president of its Orlando campus, tells Insider Higher Ed that "we are a confessional seminary. I'm a professor myself, but I do not have a freedom that would go past the boundaries of the confession. Nor do I have a freedom that would allow me to express my views in such a way to hurt or impugn someone who holds another view."
Here is a vignette from a small newspaper that will sound familiar to Southerners like me who were taught creationism in school:
Mark Tangarone, who teaches third, fourth, and fifth grade students in the Talented and Gifted (TAG) program at Weston Intermediate School, said he is retiring at the end of the current school year because of a clash with the school administration over the teaching of evolution . . . In an e-mail to Mr. Tangarone dated Sept. 8, 2008, [the school superintendent] rejected the basic program, citing for the most part the teaching of evolution: "While evolution is a robust scientific theory, it is a philosophically unsatisfactory explanation for the diversity of life. I could anticipate that a number of our parents might object to this topic as part of a TAG project . . . The TAG topics need to be altered this year to eliminate the teaching of Darwin's work and the theory of evolution."
And here is something that makes this story a bit less familiar: it took place in Connecticut.
A few months ago, I wrote about parents and school administrators who shy away from teaching young children about natural selection even as they encourage them to explore the world that evolution has given us. Their reasons are not always religious. Sometimes parents believe that children can't hoist in the complexity of evolutionary theory (which is actually elegant and simple if it's taught well, but that's another blog post). Sometimes they are worried that their children's teachers can't comprehend or accurately convey that same complexity. Sometimes they want to shield the very young from brute facts, or what one of my sources called "a theory where an awful lot of organisms have to die for things to work."
And sometimes, as in the Connecticut case—best as I can tell—there seems to be an odd, uneasy fusion of all three problems, as well as the religious issue, in play. The superintendent of the Weston school goes on in his e-mail to note that "evolution touches on a core belief—Do we share common ancestry with other living organisms? What does it mean to be a human being? I don't believe that this core belief is one in which you want to debate with children or their parents, and I know personally that I would be challenged in leading a 10-year-old through this sort of discussion while maintaining the appropriate sensitivity to a family's religious beliefs or traditions." But in the subsequent newspaper article, the superintendent backpedals from all that, saying that Tangarone, the teacher, is leaving merely because he is "a 'disgruntled employee' who is 'unhappy with being supervised.' "
You know what? I'd be disgruntled, too, if my supervisor told me he was scared to offend people by suggesting that we "share common ancestry with other living organisms"—or that I wasn't allowed to do my job because he found scientific facts to be "philosophically unsatisfactory." Surely the most philosophically unsatisfactory action one could take is to deny the truth.
By Shari Rudavsky
Posted: April 15, 2010
The federal government didn't need a crystal ball 15 years ago to see that alternative and complementary medicine was growing in popularity. Statistics suggested that more Americans were embracing therapies outside of mainstream medicine. In the 11 years since the National Center on Complementary and Alternative Medicine opened, interest in such treatments has only grown.
In 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 38.3 percent of adults said they used some form of alternative medicine, up from 36 percent five years earlier. Baby boomers are the largest group. Just over 44 percent of people ages 50 to 59 report using complementary medicine, including vitamins.
And the lines between conventional and complementary medicine are blurring. Many hospitals and mainstream physicians have adopted these techniques as options for patients.
Here are three examples of such therapies -- Healing Touch, biofeedback and Reiki -- that are offered in the Indianapolis area.
» Healing Touch therapy: Energy-based therapy designed by and for nurses
» Biofeedback therapy: Getting people in tune with their bodies
» Reiki therapy: Harnessing the energy that surrounds each of us
Call Star reporter Shari Rudavsky at (317) 444-6354
Jason Mick (Blog) - April 13, 2010 3:59 PM
In case you missed it, paleontologists, digging in South Africa have discovered the remains of a new species of hominid, Australopithecus sediba, buried in a cave. This little discovery is of tremendous importance as anatomical evidence points to the species being a close evolutionary relative to man, perhaps even a direct ancestor.
Gentry's polonium halos are a classic creationist argument. The claim that they somehow prove a young Earth was made by an untrained geologist and disproved 20 years ago, yet creationists still cite it as fact to this very day. (Source: Talk Origins)Desperate minds seek desperate arguments
I wrote a little story on the topic, analyzing the find, while briefly touching on the pertinent creationism vs. modern evolutionary theory debate that continues to rage to this day in America. I expected the story to get a few comments. I never expected, though that it would get over 575 comments, making it perhaps the most commented on story in DailyTech's history.
I think it's great that so many people are chiming in and sharing their thoughts, and I think its a real sign of our site's diversity and popularity. However, amidst those comments I saw some that really bothered me as a person who has worked in the fields of engineering and biochemistry in addition to my time here at DailyTech.
Take one reader, who writes:
Absolute Scientific Proof the Evolutionary Theory is Dead.
A story about two friends from day one.
This comment was rated up to a 3, so obviously some people agreed with it. However, the site and "proof" it cites, from a scientific perspective, are utterly worthless.
The site is full of inaccurate and egregious jewels. Among them is the claim that granite is called a "creation rock" by geologists and can not be created on Earth today. This is patently false. If such a term were ever used, it has no place in the field of modern geology. Further, granite is to this very day being produced in small quantities by metamorphism in amphibolite and granulite terrains. There's nothing magical about it.
The other "friend" that the site refers to is polonium, a radioactive heavy element. Polonium makes halos in granite, which a researcher named Robert V. Gentry claimed, starting in the 1980s were proof that the Earth was only 6,000 years old, as the literal reading of The Bible claims. Gentry was by all reports a decent researcher who was blinded by his obsession in proving creationism, which led to him reaching far outside his field of expertise (physics) into foreign fields like geology.
In this case, as with most of his arguments for a "young Earth" his "evidence" was shown to be completely wrong. There was indeed uranium in the exact deposits Gentry sampled from, he just failed to fall basic principles of geology. Of course this is understandable -- Gentry was no geologist. So his "proof" was just another red herring.
Here is a very informative read on the topic: "The Geology of Gentry's 'Tiny Mystery'".
The site also implies that there's something "magical" about polonium making its way into granite. Consider that silicon dioxide, the primary component of granite melts at 1925 K, while 527 K. Thus polonium would be molten and could easily make its way into cracks and crevices in granite that had cooled to a solid. Again, the claims are patently false and there's nothing magical or unknown here.
Basic science invalidates many of the supposed "proof" of creationism and a young Earth. Yet, while it's easy to disprove a bad argument, its hard to kill one. As I mentioned, here was an argument that was literally disproved over two decades ago, but there's a site out there still using it as evidence and one of our readers are referencing it as fact. And worse yet, apparently some in our readership were misled enough that they rated up the comment.
I don't have the time or energy to rebuke every falsehood set forth by a handful of the commenters in that thread, so I hope this was an informative example.
It's fine to believe whatever you want when it comes to evolution. An all powerful deity such as Xenu or the Christian God, could in theory create a reality with evidence to the contrary of the creation itself. Every single atom could have been set into motion perfectly to deliver an elaborate, yet misleading picture. Yet to scientists, we must interpret the picture that we see, and that picture clearly points that evolution created the species we see today and that the earth is billions of years old, not 6,000 years old. Believe what you want, but try not to reference false "facts" to justify your beliefs -- that's called spreading misinformation, and it's disingenuous.
By Eric Young|Christian Post Reporter
The evangelical professor who resigned from his position last week following the commotion over a pro-evolution video set the record straight over the weekend with an open letter to his colleagues.
The chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary also issued a statement to make it clear to the public that the multi-site school did not force Dr. Bruce Waltke to resign but had accepted the resignation that the professor, himself, had initiated.
"The RTS community and I want to readily and sincerely confirm our deep and abiding affection for Bruce Waltke," RTS Chancellor Ric Cannada wrote in his statement Sunday.
"Bruce initiated the offer to resign after a certain video became public which was bringing harm to RTS," he added.
The video in question, posted late last month, was part of an interview that the BioLogos Foundation had with Waltke during the 2009 Theology of Celebration workshop he attended in New York City.
In the video, titled "Bruce Waltke: Why Must the Church Accept Evolution?" and now no longer on the web, the distinguished Old Testament scholar discusses the danger the Church will face if it does not engage with the world around it – in particular with the issue of evolution, which many evangelicals reject.
"[I]f the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult … some odd group that is not really interacting with the world," said Waltke in the video that went up on YouTube and the website of the BioLogos Foundation as part of its "Conversations" collection.
"And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God's Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness," he added.
While Waltke believes that creation by the process of evolution is a tenable biblical position and the best Christian apologetic to defend Genesis 1-3 against its critics, many evangelicals cannot reconcile the belief in evolution with the authority of the Bible.
RTS, for one, states in its website that it believes "it is very important to reaffirm the Bible as the final authority for God's people" and claims that modern science, philosophy, and popular opinion have led many to deny the authority of Scripture.
"You will never find our professors questioning the absolute authority of the Bible," the school states. "Instead, we face the challenges of living for Christ by submitting ourselves absolutely to the Old and New Testaments as our ultimate authority."
While the administration of RTS had asked Waltke to request that the video be removed from BioLogos' website and YouTube page after its posting, RTS Chancellor Cannada made it clear Sunday that many national news outlets and blogs made "incorrect statements" and applied "wrong motives" to RTS when reporting on the incident.
Notably, however, Waltke's sudden resignation and RTS's brief announcement of it last week only fueled speculations and resulted in a large volume of comments condemning RTS for the move.
"Ric's acceptance of my resignation has only added to the emotional turmoil," Waltke acknowledged.
To set the record straight, Waltke expressed in his open letter Friday that he finds no fault with the RTS administration and thinks they did the right thing.
The Old Testament professor also apologized to his colleagues and the chancellor especially for not handling the matter more discretely.
Had he vetted the video, Waltke says he would have done a number of things differently – seven, according to his letter – including titling the video "why the church should accept creation by the process of evolution" instead of "why the church must accept evolution."
Waltke said he would have clarified in writing that the evolution he referred to was theistic evolution, not naturalistic evolution.
He also would have not included his position as an RTS professor in the video, as he was speaking as an individual, not a representative of RTS.
"This," Waltke said, "was the real problem."
Now, in the aftermath, Waltke's hope is that RTS's reputation will not be tarnished from the incident. He also hopes that the fiasco will not hinder RTS from being open to theistic evolution as he has defined it.
"I knew the issue of Genesis 1-3 and evolution was emotionally charged, but not this charged," he wrote.
In his letter, Waltke said he had received a call from the dean of another seminary, which offered him a teaching position there.
Though not identified by name in the letter, the seminary was revealed on Friday by Justin Taylor, editorial director at Crossway and a blogger at Between Two Worlds, to be Knox Theological Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale.
According to Taylor, Knox Theological Seminary is hiring Waltke to teach for their Winter and Spring terms.
Posted on: April 13, 2010 9:16 AM, by Ed Brayton
An interesting controversy has broken out in Knoxville, Tennessee over a biology textbook that calls creationism a "Biblical myth." A local parent is furious over this and wants the book removed and no longer used by the school district. Tony Whitson has been writing about the situation at his blog.
The parent, Kurt Zimmermann, is clearly an ignoramus who knows nothing about biology. And one could easily see this as just another ignorant attack on evolution from religious know-nothings. But is that really the best approach? I'm not so sure.
The passage in particular says this:
"Creationism: The Biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian God in 7 days."
I have a problem with this statement. First of all, it's not accurate. That is only one of many forms of creationism, Young Earth Creationism. There is also Old Earth Creationism. And there are non-Christian forms of creationism as well, like the Hindu creationism of Michael Cremo. And the phrase "Judeo-Christian" is a nonsense phrase; very few Jews, as opposed to Christians, have any problem with evolution at all.
But even if was an accurate phrase, would it be a good idea to put it into a biology textbook? I don't think so. I think schools have to be delicate in how they handle the religious beliefs of students. When a student says to a biology teacher that they believe in creationism, I don't think it does much good for anyone, including the student, to tell them, "Well that's just a myth."
How do I think they should handle it? I think they should be as tactful as possible. They should say something like this: "In this class, we are looking only at scientific explanations, not religious ones. One's religious beliefs have little to do with whether evolution is true or not. There are evolutionary scientists from every religious tradition and no religious tradition. Our job here is to look at the evidence and how science explains that evidence."
If a teacher says "Well that's just a myth," they've probably succeeded in shutting that kid off from all learning on the subject. This is basic human nature. If you tell someone that their beliefs, particularly religious beliefs that carry such a heavy emotional load, is a bunch of crap, they aren't going to thank you for correcting them -- they're going to become hardened to criticism and begin to self-justify. This is not a matter of opinion, there is a great deal of experimental data to back it up.
If, on the other hand, you tell them that there is no necessary conflict between the two, that one can accept the scientific explanation and still be of any faith at all, or no faith at all, there is a better chance that they'll actually learn the subject and give it some thought. And that, after all, is the whole point of education.
April 12th, 2010
Bruce WaltkeA noted evangelical Old Testament scholar resigned from his faculty position at a seminary in the wake of a controversy over his public acceptance of evolution. On March 24, 2010, a video featuring Bruce Waltke, Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, was posted on the website of the BioLogos Foundation. (Founded by Francis Collins, the BioLogos Foundation "explores, promotes, and celebrates the integration of science and Christian faith.") Entitled "Why Must the Church Come to Accept Evolution?" the video discussed "the danger that the Church will face if it does not engage with the world around it, in particular by acknowledging the overwhelming amount of data in support of biological evolution, which many evangelicals still reject."
On March 29, 2010, however, Waltke told BioLogos that the administration of Reformed Theological Seminary asked him to request that the video be removed. According to a blog post at BioLogos (April 2, 2010), "Dr. Waltke himself indicated that he still agreed with the content of the video. Indeed, Dr. Waltke has written previously on his support for theistic evolution ... However, given the brevity of the video, Dr. Waltke is concerned that his views might not be correctly understood. ... But despite repeated attempts to find an alternative solution, it has become clear that Dr. Waltke feels that the only remedy to his predicament is to remove the video" (emphasis in original). BioLogos complied with Waltke's request, while lamenting the necessity.
But that was apparently not enough for the seminary. Inside Higher Education (April 9, 2010) reported, "Michael Milton, president of the seminary's Charlotte campus and interim president of its Orlando campus, where Waltke taught, confirmed that the scholar had lost his job over the video." (Technically, Waltke offered his resignation, which officials at the seminary decided to accept.) Milton explained that Reformed Theological Seminary's faculty members are allowed to have different views on creation, but "Darwinian views, and any suggestion that humans didn't arrive on earth directly from being created by God (as opposed to having evolved from other forms of life), are not allowed, he said, and faculty members know this."
Waltke's views were already on record. In a post on BioLogos's blog (April 8, 2010), BioLogos's president Darrel Falk quoted Waltke's endorsement of theistic evolution from his book An Old Testament Theology (Zondervan, 2007), and commented, "Bruce made some equally strong statements with the BioLogos camera running and gave us the written permission to post the now-controversial video. What Bruce said on the video was simply an elaboration of things he had written already." Falk added, "Decades from now, when the Evangelical Church has come to terms with the reality of evolution, we hope she will look back at those who were the pioneers on its journey toward a fuller understanding of the manner by which God has created."
Posted on: April 12, 2010 8:32 AM, by PZ Myers
Kurt Zimmerman is pissed off. He's not a very bright guy, and he doesn't know much about biology or history, and he's extremely annoyed that not only is the local school teaching his kids stuff he didn't know, but they're actually telling them that his sources of information are wrong. You see, the only level of education we're allowed to raise children to is the Kurt Zimmerman level…which is a little scary. I was kind of hoping that sending my kids off to school would produce progeny who are smarter than me, and now I learn that they're only supposed to produce kids who are dumber than Kurt Zimmerman? How dismaying.
Anyway, Zimmerman is upset because he found a biology textbook that defines creationism as "the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian god in 7 days". This is mostly factually correct (one might quibble that the bible actually says their god created the earth in six days, and doesn't really say much about the universe as a whole…but really, when you're dealing with that degree of lunacy, 7 is the same as 6 is the same as canned beans), but seeing "myth" in the same sentence as "bible" has made Mr Zimmerman quite unhinged.
Zimmerman asked in December that the school immediately quit using the book "Asking About Life" in his son's class and all classes.
He said it could "mislead, belittle and discourage students in believing in creationism and pointedly calls the Bible a myth."
It's not misleading at all, it doesn't belittle students except in the sense that students who believe something that is wrong will be faced with a direct statement that they are wrong, and I should hope schools would discourage people from believing in stupid and fallacious mush! It also doesn't go as far as I'd like or that Zimmerman thinks it does: it does not call the bible a myth. It says that it contains a myth, which it does. It would be nice if we did have a high school biology book that called all of Christianity and Judaism a collection of myths, but we don't. Yet.
But Zimmerman has accomplished one triumph: he has won himself a brief spot on Fox News. The really astonishing thing about this clip is that the two Fox interviewers, Barbie and Dullard, actually come off as dumber than he is.
The good news, though, is that the local school board has decided not to decide anything about the book for 30 days. That's committee-speak for "let's wait for the noise and notoriety of Mr Zipperhead to die down a bit, so we can ignore the whole stupid proposal".
Oh, this is interesting: a commenter looked up the book on Google Books and got the actual, full quote from the book.
In the 1970s and 1980s, antievolutionists in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana passed identical bills calling for "equal time" for teaching evolution and creationism, the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian god in six days. But a court ruled that the "equal-time" bill was unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the separation of church and state.
That's even biblically accurate. And it's a very reasonable context in which to mention the topic of creationism.
Posted by admin on Apr 11th, 2010
In order to alienate people from true religions, Masons have devised many false religions of complex description assembling them all under the heading New Age.
Their purpose in this is to inculcate in that large segment of people who are abandoning materialist ideas, a new way of living and thinking. They want to establish a new system ornamented with metaphysical language and totally divergent from the true religion and faith in Allah (God) as revealed in the Qur'an. It is an irresponsible system with nothing to offer.
Many people are seeking for religion and Masons offer them a number of options all contained within the compass of their perverse ideas. And for every false religion they offer false gods to replace Allah (Surely Allah is beyond that).
In order to alienate people in Islamic countries from true religion, Masons are intent on offering the idea of intelligent design as the most appropriate alternative in these countries.
Of course, they do not pretend that what they are doing is against Islam; on the contrary, they claim that their activities are innocent and even serve to strengthen the foundations of faith in Allah. It is exceptional that, in Islamic countries, they include Islamic terms and ideas—however unwillingly—to their doctrine of intelligent design. In this way they try to conceal their real intentions and prevent objections from Muslims.
They employ the classic Masonic method of slow and gradual indoctrination and bringing the light slowly to sleepy eyes. Without revealing their purpose, they want to draw people into their superstitious religion.
However, Western supporters of this movement confess that this is a non-religious system of thought. For example, the American biologist, Michael Behe, one of the noted theoreticians of intelligent design, explains that intelligent design is not an idea based in religion but religious people can make good use of it in their arguments.
Those who accept the theory of intelligent design insist that religion and science should be separate and that science should not support creation and revealed religions.
They see themselves as outside revealed religions; they think that religion is a matter of faith and outside the parameters of science. Their view is that it would be wrong for science to rely on religion.
The official internet site of the Discovery Institute that represents this movement asks the question. 'Is the theory of intelligent design the same as the theory of creation?' The answer:
Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text. (http://www.discovery.org/csc/topQuestions.php#questionsAboutIntelligentDesign)
One of the focuses of the perverse belief systems that Masons have modeled along the lines of the New Age movement is intelligent design which has gotten a lot of media attention lately. This movement supports the theory that everything in the universe is the work of intelligent design. This theory does not accept the existence of Allah or the fact that He created everything saying that these ideas have nothing to do with science. They deliberately do not mention the name of Allah.
Their purpose is, given the fact that materialism and the theory of evolution (its imagined scientific support) have lately suffered an irremediable reverse, to offer people a spiritual quest on various perverse paths to follow; their goal to direct people away from revealed religions, especially Islam.
Masons employ the classic Masonic method of slow and gradual indoctrination and bringing the light slowly to sleepy eyes. Without revealing their purpose, they want to draw people into their superstitious religion.
The Theory of Intelligent Design: Another Kind of Deism.
The theory of intelligent design accepts neither revealed religions nor the existence of Allah. It has an abstract and abstruse concept of a designer.
It is interesting that Masons use the same logic in their writings when they say that the universe is like the intelligent designer-total conscious energy. They say this energy is conscious and that it is the Great Architect of the Universe.
But Masons insist that that this conscious energy is not Allah. (Surely Allah is beyond that)
We can see that advocates of intelligent design share the same logic as Masons when it comes to explaining their position. Their ideas are very much in tune with Deism which accepts the existence of a Creator while rejecting the validity of revealed religions.
Throughout history there have been several philosophers who have called themselves deists and believed in Allah but not in religion or revelation. Some well known deists were Heraclitus, Descartes, Voltaire and Leibnitz. Moreover, the fact that Voltaire was a known Mason recognized for his antipathy toward Islam, and Descartes was a Templar and a Mason of high degree is enough to demonstrate the Masonic roots of Deism.
While Masons accept the existence of a Great Architect, they do not see the need for revealed religions. The founders of the intelligent design movement, though they accept the existence of a designer, do not accept religion; their idea is that you do not have to be religious to accept this theory.
We can see that the supporters of the theory of intelligent design are not different from Deist philosophers. Deists have throughout history either openly or in secret fought against the religion commanded by Allah; they may have changed their names but they are basically just supporting the same old perverse logic.
Respect and Honor are in Islam
A Muslim may sincerely believe in the theory of intelligent design espousing it as being useful to Islam. But this is a serious error. Persisting in this error will eventually cause this person to honor the creature more than the Creator.
Therefore it is very dangerous for a Muslim to get involved in a movement about which he knows nothing and of whose content he is ignorant.
Allah warns believers against falling into such an error:
Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of. Hearing, sight and hearts will all be questioned. (Surat al- Isra', 36)
One of the most interesting things about those who accept the theory of intelligent design is that, although they claim to be Muslims, they do not revere the name of Allah.
Instead of saying that Allah has created the whole universe both animate and inanimate, they opt for a more abstruse expression such as there is intelligent design in the universe. Scientists in the West who espouse this theory admire the style of an intellectual philosopher and try to imitate it.
There is a very good reason why such people deliberately refrain from mentioning the name of Allah: they cannot understand the essence of religion and so they cannot experience faith deep in their hearts.
Since they cannot appreciate the subtle spirit of the Qur'an, the model of Islam they have invented in their minds is quite different from the Islam described in the Qur'an and the understanding of religion that genuinely exalts Allah.A faithful Muslim admires the character of those blessed prophets whose exploits are described in the Qur'an and takes his example from holy individuals.
A person with a mind that cannot properly appreciate religious morality and the power of Allah, admires instead a smattering of Western intellectuals, philosophers, thinkers, scientists and educators whose style they attempt to imitate.
This attitude is tantamount to saying I don't like the style of the prophets in the way they delivered their message; there's a deficiency in it. Of course, such an attitude is totally opposite to Allah's book and the attitude of a faithful Muslim who believes in the prophets.
As a result of this way of thinking, being known for one's Muslim character would be avoided at all costs by such an individual.
But being ashamed to mention the name of Allah is not something that Islam condones. Neither our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) nor his companions practiced religion in this way. They all practiced proper, religious morality as taught in the Qur'an and explained it to others. In this way, past prophets and their followers practiced religious morality perfectly.
Being ashamed of religion, rejecting the true path and seeking honor, glory and respect elsewhere will bring nothing but humiliation:
Who would deliberately renounce the religion of Ibrahim except someone who reveals himself to be a fool? We chose him [Ibrahim] in this world and in the Hereafter he will be one of the righteous. (Surat al-Baqara, 130)
In the Qur'an, Allah severly condemns being inclined to unbelievers and thus making the slightest compromise with the morality of the religion:
They were very near to enticing you away from some of what We have revealed to you, hoping that you would invent something against Us. Then they would have taken you as their intimate. If We had not made you firm, you would have leaned towards them a little. Then We would have let you taste a double punishment in life and a double punishment in death. You would not have found any helper against Us.
Those who do not make the Qur'an their guide and do not fear Allah in their hearts will not understand why Muslims continually remember Allah . (Surat al-Isra', 73-75)
They do not feel the necessity for doing this and, from their own intellectual point of view; they belittle the submission of believers to Allah and their loyalty to Allah and the Prophet.
The Lord tells us in the Qur'an about this point of view.
When they are told, 'Believe in the way that the people believe,' they say, 'What! Are we to believe in the way that fools believe?' No indeed! They are the fools, but they do not know it. (Surat al-Baqara, 13)
In another verse, the Lord says that only those who obey the Qur'an and fear Allah will be able to receive advice.
You can only warn those who act on the Reminder and fear the All-Merciful in the Unseen. Give them the good news of forgiveness and a generous reward. (Surah Yasin, 11)
Those who do not feel this fear of Allah, and do not try as hard as they can to fear Him will never be able to understand the eternal wisdom of the Qur'an.
An intellectual may enjoy the respect of his community for his knowledge and high level of culture. But these achievements will have value only when they are used for the good of Islam.
The reason why someone hesitates to revere the name of Allah and uses his knowledge to promote superstitious ideas may be because he wants to win the friendship and respect of people who have rejected Allah and Islam. This shallow and anti-religious behavior may well win them the respect they are seeking but it will certainly not be acceptable in Allah's sight. The Lord says in the Qur'an:
Do those who take the disbelievers as protectors, rather than the believers, hope to find power and strength with them? Power and strength belong entirely to Allah. (Surat an-Nisa', 139)
In the Qu'ran, Allah tells us about those who reject Islam and choose to follow other paths.
If the truth were to follow their whims and desires, the heavens and the Earth and everyone in them would have been brought to ruin. No indeed! We have given them their Reminder, but they have turned away from it. (Surat al-Muminun, 71)
As we said earlier, at the root of the theory of intelligent design there is an illogical presupposition that there must be a separation between religion and science. For this reason, to accept Islamic morality openly and believe in the existence of Allah will draw objections and criticism from theoreticians of intelligent design who have no belief in Allah or religion.
Therefore, the use of science to prove the unity of Allah and that Islam is a revealed religion would be ridiculed by the main proponents of this theory as well as by other intellectuals.
Therefore, a Muslim will not compromise on reverencing the name of Allah and defending Islam even if doing so would win him the whole world in return. This is because he is aware that being a Muslim brings him true honor.
Allah shows the Way to Islam
In the struggle against atheism, the mind that sees the theory of intelligent design as higher than the Qur'an or the truths of faith must consider the fact that it is Allah Who shows the way of Islam.
Allah reveals in one of the verses as follows:
If your Lord had willed, all the people on the Earth would have believed. Do you think you can force people to be believers? (Surah Yunus, 10)
In order to believe in Allah, a person with a sincere conscience does not first have to be persuaded that there is an intermediate stage such as intelligent design. Those who are ashamed to accept the true path of the prophets and messengers and turn their backs on religion seeking glory, honor and respect in other places will find that this brings nothing but great humiliation.
Indeed, someone who is confused by lack of knowledge or Darwinist propaganda may become an atheist or a skeptic.
But for a person with a sincere conscience, the scientific collapse of the theory of evolution is convincing proof of the existence of Allah and creation.
In order to believe in Allah, a person with a sincere conscience does not first have to be persuaded that there is an intermediate stage such as intelligent design.
Refuting the theory of evolution with the purpose of removing the obstacles before one's having faith in Allah is a scientific endeavour and a form of worship for Muslims.
However even if evolution is refuted, a stubborn, preconceived, irrational and malevolent atheist with an impaired reasoning may well not have faith. His mind may be clouded with various doubts.
Consequently it is clear that intelligent design will have no use to convince such a person about the existence of Allah.
A Muslim proves the existence of Allah to an atheist, a person in doubt, a Christian or a Budist through the wisdom communicated in the Qur'an and the signs of faith, and communicates the religion of Islam with the Qur'an. He never forgets that it is Allah Who shows the right path.
One verse of the Qur'an said by a sincere Muslim, or even one truth of faith, may be enough to bring the most avid atheist to faith.
For example Moses (pbuh) performed a miracle in the presence of Pharaoh's sorcerers and they immediately came to faith and prostrated themselves before Allah happy to die in His Way. Here are the relevant verses from the Qur'an:
The magicians threw themselves down in prostration. They said, 'We believe in the Lord of Harun and Musa.' Pharaoh said, 'Do you believe in him before I have authorised you? He is your chief, the one who taught you magic. I will cut off your hands and feet alternately and have you crucified on palm trunks. Then you will know for certain which of us has the harsher and longer lasting punishment.' They (magicians) said (to Pharaoh), 'We will never prefer you to the Clear Signs which have come to us nor to Him Who brought us into being. Decide on any judgment you like. Your jurisdiction only covers the life of this world.' (The magicians said to Pharaoh,) 'We have believed in our Lord so that He may forgive us for our mistakes and for the magic which you forced us to perform. Allah is better and longer lasting.' (Surah Ta Ha, 70-73)
It is interesting to notice that these people were first hostile to Moses (pbuh) but, by Allah's will, immediately became good Muslims.
It is very significant that these people did not come to faith through speaking to Moses (pbuh); he did not speak one word.
And he gave no scientific explanation.
Allah gave them a miracle from His own Presence to show them true path; there was no mediator.
Therefore, it is important to remember that to struggle against Darwinism and other systems that oppose the idea of creation is an act of worship commanded in the Qur'an.
The result of such worship is absolutely in the hands of Allah.
Allah has made human beings responsible only for telling others about religious morality.
Trying to show people the right path through intellectual explanations or the most obtuse philosophies is totally contrary to the Qur'an.
Science and intellectual knowledge have no power of their own; they cannot direct people to the right path.
This power belongs only to Allah, the Lord of Earth and heaven.
Muslims attitudes must be clear.
As we said earlier, those who accept the theory of intelligent design generally hesitate to mention the name of Allah.
Ingratiating onesef with unbelievers, concealing one's religion because of feeling ashamed or being nice to both sides have by no means any benefit to an individual. That is because, unbelievers would not accept such a person unless he entirely abandons his religion and stands firmly against Islam, openly remaining in their own ranks.
Consequently, such a person can live neither by the Islam in its true sense nor the "deist" philosophy he advocates. He can not remain to be a true advocate of any of them. He tries to ingratiate both sides yet is excluded from both of them and fails to find what he hopes for.
The state of such a person is clearly indicated in the verses:
The hypocrites think they deceive Allah, but He is deceiving them. When they get up to pray, they get up lazily, showing off to people, and only remembering Allah a very little. They vacillate between the two–not joining these or joining those. If Allah misguides someone, you will not find any way for him to go. (Surat an-Nisa, 142-143)
For further reading please visit www.harunyahya.com
Israeli legislature passes health care professions law.
By Shahar Kenin, DC, Past President, Israeli Chiropractic Society
After a long struggle, the Israeli Chiropractic Society (ICS) with its 61 members, is proud to announce that a new health care professions law was approved in March on a second and third vote in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament).
Many times before, we were close to a law, but didn't get the full support of the Ministry of Health. This time, we decided to push forward with a common health care professions law for professionals with an academic degree recognized by the government (chiropractors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, clinical dietitians, etc.). These professions were neglected for so many years and were not legalized. The plan now is to place them all under the oversight of the government.
The ICS fought for more than 20 years for a common law that would protect all 90 practicing DCs in a country of nearly 7 million people. In spite of the lack of a protective law, Israeli chiropractors made progress in their field with no help from the government. More than 10 DCs are practicing today in hospitals around the country, some work as chiropractors in the air force avionic clinic, some in public and private clinics, and others teach anatomy in medical schools.
Unfortunately, in Israel there are many imposters and charlatans, part of a disturbing and growing phenomenon of "do what you want; no one can stop you." Many alternative practitioners, lacking even the basic knowledge or even the anatomy, perform spinal manipulative therapy or "gentle chiropractic" as part of their practice. In many cases, the patient is in shock for a few days or is actually injured.
This unbearable and absurd situation took shape in the early 1990s, when alternative medicine flooded Israel as a popular, but uncontrollable practice and many colleges were opened. Now we have a sincere chance to stop them. Unfortunately the damage to the profession's image in the eyes of the public, caused by the increasing numbers of charlatans during the past 20 years, has been done. For example the HMOs use chiropractic as one of many forms of alternative medicine therapy. Some insurance companies used imposters for chiropractic services, although they know about it and the ICS has even urged them to stop.
The ICS tried to fix our public image with patient education, media and newspapers, telling the true story of chiropractic. Today, most new patients won't know the differences between an MD and a DC. Since we are small in numbers, most people think that a chiropractor is some kind of an MD who specializes in the spine or had some extracurricular learning, a course maybe in an alternative or Chinese medicine. Even the MDs from the Ministry of Health who worked with us to form the chiropractic law were amazed at the amount of education and training a chiropractor should have before licensure.
All of our DCs graduated from an accredited chiropractic institute recognized by the Council of Chiropractic Education International (CCEI). This contributed to the fact that we could present to the legislature a united front regarding the high level of control and professional regulation of chiropractic around the world. More than that, we also used the World Health Organization's definition of chiropractic, which is accepted worldwide. So far we are pleased with the progress, particularly in terms of this new health professions law. We now hope that with the passage of this important legislation, our public image will become even stronger and many of the imposters will disappear from the landscape.
Dr. Shahar Kenin, a 1999 graduate of National University of Health Sciences, is an Israeli chiropractor who has practiced for more than a decade in his private clinic. He is also employed by Tel Aviv University in the Department of Anatomy and Anthropology at the Sackler School of Medicine. Dr. Kenin has been a co-principal investigator on a number of research studies, including two studies conducted at Tel Aviv University on the histopathology of the internal thoracic artery and the motor activity response to spinal manipulative therapy in laboratory mice. He served as fifth president of the Israeli Chiropractic Society from 2005-2008 and was deeply involved in the making of the new law.
In Tennessee, Kurt Zimmerman, the father of a high school student wants the biology book banned.
Yeah, it dismissed Biblical creationism as a myth. So he took his case to the school board and complained, asking that the book be banned. Their response was actually very cool: they said no.
One reviewer's first impression of creationism's definition was similar to Zimmermann's in that "the authors must be offensively biased against this Christian view of the world," the reviewer wrote.
"Upon further investigation, however, I quickly realized there is more than one definition of the word 'myth.' In this case the word is used appropriately to describe a traditional or legendary story … with or without a natural explanation," the [school board] reviewer wrote.
Not the use of the phrase "offensively biased", indicating to me that the reviewer him or herself may be sympathetic to creationist claims. But they still came to the correct conclusion: the word myth just means an explanatory story.
I'm glad the board dismissed Mr. Zimmerman's claims, and I'll take whatever victory I can when it comes to stopping the forces of antireality. But still, it makes me flinch somewhat to hear this. Sure, we can't teach creationism in public school because it would be a clear violation of the First Amendment. But I can hope that in the future, everyone will know that we won't teach creationism because it's wrong.
Tip o' the fossil to SciBuff.
Reported by Priscilla - April 9, 2010
Yesterday, Fox & Friends provided some nice, Christian validation for a creationist dad who is upset that his son's biology book referred to creationism as a "myth." But Fox & Friends is, officially, an opinion show – and a Christian one at that – so it wasn't surprising to see them support a Christian who thinks that God created the world in 7 days, 6,000 years ago. I mean, who doesn't!!! Bill Hemmer's "America's News HQ" is supposed to be part of the official newsy line-up; but that didn't stop him from giving creationist dad, Kurt Zimmerman, some free face time on Hemmer's "news" show. While he didn't provide the validation given to Zimmer by Fox & Friends, Hemmer's treatment of the subject wasn't exactly "fair and balanced" as he offered no rebuttal to his guest who was allowed, once again, to promote his cause and the greater cause of challenging those evil, librul texts. But the thumbs up given by Martha MacCallum, to Zimmerman, at the end of the segment, would seem to suggest that "America's News HQ" shouldn't be included in the so called "fair and balanced" Fox "news" line-up. Ya think?
Poor old Kurt told Hemmer that the school board is tabling his request, to either ban or modify the book, for 30 days. Like Fox & Friends, Hemmer read the book's "myth" quote. Zimmerman said that if the word myth was changed, all will be forgiven. When Hemmer said that the book was in an honors class, Zimmerman (not a biologist!) said that just because a book is in an honors class "doesn't give it a license to be inaccurate and biased." (Uh, creationism is, uh, totally inaccurate but whatever…) Zimmerman said that it was the honors students who said "this is not correct." Hemmer veered into "opinion" when he said that from his reading of the news reports, "some of the (school) board members say "this man has a point." As I pointed out, a news report stated that the textbook committee approved the book and a number of parents, at this week's board meeting, supported the book; but you didn't hear that from Hemmer. Zimmerman said that the group was split three ways.When Hemmer asked if Zimmerman could win this, Zimmerman said that "he had accomplished all that he set out to do which was to bring this to the attention of American parents." (And FOX HELPED!) He added that parents should "challenge the board and challenge the school." (Let's hear it for ignorance!) He said that he's hearing from a lot of parents around the country. (And FOX HELPED!) He advertised his new Twitter "No Biased Books." Zimmerman said he was grateful to Fox who, once again, provided no reasonable rebuttal to what Zimmerman said.
Thanks to Media Matters we have the follow up comment (video) from Hemmer's blonde and leggy sidekick, Martha MacCallum, presumably an educated person, who said "good for him. Imagine if other religions had the word myth next to them in a textbook." (Uh, Martha, in discussing creation accounts from other cultures, the word myth is used and I don't think Fox would object to that) She added, "when kids read things in textbooks, they believe them. They say it's a fact." (Uh, right Martha, creationism is a myth). She repeated her endorsement of the Fox anti science agenda, "good for him."
Note: Media Matters has the context of the quote. It appears that "on page 299 that they were specifically talking about state laws passed in the '70s and '80s that mandated teaching biblical creation alongside evolution, and how those laws were overturned by the courts."
Comment: As the "church lady" would say "isn't it special" that Fox News is aiding and abetting book banning. But it's not surprising given that their "opinion" side provided blatant support for the conservative members of the Texas school board who want to rewrite history to fit conservative Christian standards. It should go without saying that these same board members support the creationist myth. And while Zimmerman's appearance on Fox & Friends was part of their right wing opinion format, his appearance on a "news" show would seem to indicate that Fox "news" is endorsing and promoting his cause – which seems to go beyond just this textbook. MacCallum's supportive comment, "good for him," clearly shows that Fox "News" is endorsing and promoting those fundamentalist Christians who seek to abandon the scientific method in favor of religion and force the reality based community to accept their demands. Should a "news" network facilitate the agenda of the radical Christian right? If so, then the "America" of "America's News HQ" isn't the religiously diverse America that I live in!
By CHARLES JOHNSON
Here's Fox News again, pimping creationism and fundamentalist grievance-mongering in a story about a parent in Tennessee who's trying to get a biology textbook banned.
Gretchen Carlson, in a voice dripping with horror: "A high school biology book is at the center of a small-town controversy because it describes creationism as … a Biblical myth, Brian!"
The definition of "myth:"
1 a traditional story, esp. one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.
Describing creationism as a Biblical myth is 100% accurate, of course, as you can see from the definition. But in their blinkered fundamentalist daze, these blow-dried empty talking heads are promoting the view that it's somehow deserving of respect on the same level with evolutionary science, and calling for banning books that don't give them what they want.
And now, of course, hard core creationists have picked up on this opportunity, and are pushing for even more outrageous concessions: Ban a Science Book? School Board Delays Action.
Karen Carson, of the West Knox County 5th District, tried to find middle ground with an amendment that would have upheld the school committee's recommendation but also offered to biology teachers a critical analysis of the textbook submitted by Zimmermann and written by Charles Voss. (Voss, a professor emeritus of electrical engineering at Louisiana State University, is a longtime activist for the cause of creationism and vice president of an outfit called the Origins Resource Association.) But Carson's amendment satisfied no one, especially after she revised it to make it subject to review by school system science staff, and it failed on a 3-6 vote.
That opened the floor to the real debate, where the most voluble contenders were Anderson, of East Knoxville's 1st District, and Dan Murphy, of the West Knoxville 4th. Anderson started out complaining about what he saw as weaknesses in the school committee's decision to affirm the textbook, but he soon moved into meatier territory. "I personally believe that there has to be some intelligence in the design of life," he declared, "and no science teacher would ever be able to convince me different than that. It didn't just happen in Walden's Pond." He suggested sending the textbook back to the school committee or to Central Office for further review.
Anderson's views were quickly seconded by Bratton, and Buttry went even further. "I think it is offensive," she said of the book's contrast of evolution and creationism. "I take exception to the fact that it's not presented as theory, it doesn't state that it's theory, it presents it almost as, well, a fact. 'This is the way it is.'"
Buttry then offered a substitute motion: "That we not uphold the recommendation of the review committee, and that the book be banned from Knox County schools."
After reading about Prof. Charles Voss, I Googled "Origins Resource Association" and discovered their website — a motherlode of crazy.
Includes this wonderful link:
Web page of Dr. Don Patton, frequent speaker at ORA seminars
Contains fascinating photos of dinosaur images made ca. 500 B.C., long before dinosaurs were known to science and yet remarkably accurate in their details. The conclusion: humans lived alongside dinosaurs.
Meet the Flintstones. These are the people who want to control what's taught in Tennessee science classes.