I continue down the path first explored by researcher and ID critic Gregory Paul. This time, I decided to look only at England, Australia, Canada, and the United States. Not only do these countries all speak the same language, but they do so because the latter three are all recently derived from the former. Thus, one might reasonably expect these four countries to be the most similar, helping to filter out many of the extraneous factors that could influence our interpretations. Furthermore, these four similar nations provide a nice spread for Mr. Paul's criterion of strong belief in God (22%, 30%, 40%, and 62%). A remarkable new correlation has been discovered.
Archive for September, 2005
ID Critic Gregory Paul published a "study" purporting to show a strong correlation between relgious faith and societal dysfunction. The study has already been sufficiently debunked by statistician Scott Gilbreath. But I thought I would have some fun with this also.
A new "study" by Gregory Paul has been brought to our attention by Bill Dembski . As you can see from Dembski's blog, the "study" is being given significant media attention.
The "study" appears in The Journal of Religion and Society.
The journal "promotes the study of religious groups and beliefs among the various peoples of the world, past and present, with emphasis on American religions and the Western religious traditions." Does the "study" fit in this journal? Consider the journal's mission and the other articles .
Now, several of our readers and commentators consider themselves scientists or very knowledgeable about science. Of course, anyone on the internet can make that claim, so let's put them to the test. Here's the study.
I'd like to see our critics tell us a) whether this study is science and b) whether this study is any good. If it is not good, what's wrong with it?
If they go silent on us, I'll have a look this weekend.
Kenneth Miller has published an open letter, which Bill Dembski has put online here. The part that caught my eye was this:
Many of you accused me of "mocking God" for pointing out that remarkable frequency of extinction would make an "intelligent designer" look ridiculous. In fact, it was exactly because I do not mock God that I pointed out how ridiculous this view of an "intelligent designer" would be.
Now, I wouldn't accuse Miller of "mocking God", and whether the frequency of extinction makes an "intelligent designer" look ridiculous is a debate for some other time. I wish simply to examine what Miller is here arguing. This goes beyond simply arguing against the idea that intelligence can be detectable. The implication of the argument (if one accepts it as valid) is that neither evolution itself nor its outcomes were intended in any sense, even indirectly by setting up physical laws to do the job (as Steve pointed out here), because the person intending it wouldn't be very intelligent for doing it that way.
That is to say, Miller is once again arguing that evolution is "without plan or purpose," something he has stated elsewhere is a philosophical claim rather than a scientific one, and one which he repudiated when responding to Cardinal SchÃ¶nborn and had removed from his own textbook.
Now, of course, Miller is entitled to hold whichever opinion he wants on this, but it would be nice if he would choose one and stick to it, especially when testifying in court. Regardless of where you stand on the topic, isn't it time for a little intellectual integrity on the part of Ken Miller?
From The Secular Web (a.k.a. "Infidels"), "An Atheist Defends the Design Argument", by Toby Wardman. The article is a couple of years old, and thus doesn't adress the Avalos spectacle. Still, it does a formidable job at quickly and clearly adressing some of the most common arguments against the fine-tuning thesis.
The dictionary defines a polymath as a:
A person of great or varied learning.
A list from Wikipedia represents some of the most admired individuals in history. Where are they today?
According to Jonathan Witt's report, we read:
Also, in yesterday's testimony, Miller called attention to a factual error in Pandas. In today's questioning, he conceded that the "elephant" edition of his own high school biology textbook contained an error, describing evolution as a "random and undirected process." Miller said that that wasn't a scientific statement, and it was removed from subsequent editions.
I'm glad that Ken Miller has officially admitted that his science textbook was propagating non-scientific statements about reality. But Ken's explanation is not good enough. Here are more questions that naturally follow:
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I haven't been posting as much as I'd like to recently, as real-life commitments are craving for my attention. In situations like this, I have to rely on my ability to get others to write my posts for me, in blog-speak known as "guest posts". So it's without further ado that I present… a post by Guillermo Gonzalez about his experiences at the Iowa State University:
According the MSNBC report on the Dover ID case:
Miller also challenged the accuracy of "Of Pandas and People" and said it almost entirely omits any discussion of what causes extinction. If nearly all original species are extinct, he said, the intelligent-design creator was not very intelligent.
Theists should take note of this. Miller also believes that God created the cosmos and not only endowed it with its laws but also sustains them (so evolution can do its "random and undirected" thing). Since those laws are responsible for this vast extinction, to be consistent, one would also expect Miller to think that God did a poor job of designing them.
Imagine a school board faced with the ID debate coming up with its own creative solution to the dispute. The school board draws its inspiration from an editorial that appeared in Nature:
Scientists would do better to offer some constructive thoughts of their own. For religious scientists, this may involve taking the time to talk to students about how they personally reconcile their beliefs with their research. Secular researchers should talk to others in order to understand how faiths have come to terms with science. All scientists whose classes are faced with such concerns should familiarize themselves with some basic arguments as to why evolution, cosmology and geology are not competing with religion. When they walk into the lecture hall, they should be prepared to talk about what science can and cannot do, and how it fits in with different religious beliefs.
The school board thus draws the outlines of a lesson plan that will be used in 11th grade science classrooms.
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The moral dimension to the ID debate exists largely because of two very different views about humanity. On one side there is the Sanctity of Life while the other side rallies around the Quality of Life. The former view is largely religious in nature, arguing that all humans have intrinsic value as a consequence of their divine origin. The other is largely secular, often defining "quality" to reflect a valued mental state "“ the use of reason unhindered by pain and suffering. It is this divide that fuels the debates about abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, etc. These are all debates about who we are.
I was surfing the internet for more information about the eugenicist William Hamilton. After all, Hamilton is the source for Richard Dawkins' "selfish gene" perspective, yet eugenics is another topic Dawkins steers clear of. I stumbled across this article by Steve Sailer. Sailer is another fan of Hamilton and scolds Dawkins for not being willing to follow his Darwinian logic all the way to the end. You'll have to read the article for yourself.
Sailer is also a eugenicist. You can familiarize yourself with his perspective from a speech he gave to Lady Thatcher at the Hudson Institute conference.
Sailer also heads up something called The Human Biodiversity Institute. Their mission is clearly eugenic in essence:
The constant innovation in genetics and reproductive technologies is a sign that the evolution of the human race is about to accelerate almost unimaginably. Thus, we can no longer afford the comforting illusion that evolution doesn't really apply to humanity. We desperately need to understand the social impact of the various possible changes in our gene frequencies. Fortunately, we have a huge storehouse of data available to base predictions upon: the vast amounts of existing biological diversity. Unfortunately, we now discourage serious thinkers from examining it. Our only chance of foreseeing the potential world-shaking impact of Galtonian artificial selection rests in the honest, unstifled study of Darwinian natural selection. God help us if we don't start helping ourselves.
Okay, but then things get interesting.
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In his article on ID, Ker Than quotes Republican Senator Rick Santorum, who explains his interest in the debate:
It has huge consequences for society. It's where we come from. Does man have a purpose? Is there a purpose for our lives? Or are we just simply the result of chance? If we are the result of chance, if we're simply a mistake of nature, then that puts a different moral demand on us. In fact, it doesn't put a moral demand on us.
Yet as we have seen, evolution itself is not the fulcrum. Neither is science. The fulcrum is the theological and philosophical inclinations a person brings to science and evolution. Yet why is it that evolution, and science, are constantly entangled in the debate about morality?
Denyse O'Leary has found this t-shirt for kids:
The sign on the sleeve reads: "babyPolitico: activism starts early". Now, we all know that Dawkins thinks that it's "a kind of child abuse to speak of a Catholic child or a Protestant child". I wonder if he's going to do anything about this?
I'd like to take a closer look at Ker Than's article on ID as it relates to the whole issue of morality and evolution. I don't think I have ever addressed this issue, as morality is not relevant to my interest in ID. Nevertheless, I think it is a major component that drives the socio-political expression of ID.
While denying that ID is religiously motivated, ID proponents often portray evolution as its own kind of religion, one that is atheistic and materialistic, whose converts no longer cast their eyes towards heaven but who rather seek to build heaven here on Earth using their scientific knowledge.
The implication is that by destroying the idea that Man is the paragon of God's creation, evolution robs life of meaning and worth. And by limiting God's role in creation, evolution opens up the terrifying possibility for some that there is no God and no universal moral standard that humans must follow.
He then turns to atheist Barbara Forrest:
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