Saturday, January 29, 2011

Are the "Good Guys" Losing in America?


The battle between science and religion has been going on for centuries. Part of the conflict is over the teaching of evolution in American public schools. Religious parents don't want their children exposed to ungodly evolution and the most vocal of them want creationism taught as part of the science curriculum.

Now you might think that that this particular battle has been decisively won by the "good guys" because of all the court victories. Not so. The results in the classroom reveal that evolution is not being taught except in the most liberal states and a substantial number of teachers are teaching creationism in spite of the law.

You can read postings on The Panda's Thumb [Who controls America’s schools? Who should?] and on Pharyngula [Bad science education in the US]. Each of these authors has their own take on the issue.

I want to raise another question. What good has it done to win all the court cases? Has it prevented an even worse disaster? Has relying on lawyers to defend evolution been the right strategy or should more emphasis have been placed on promoting good science instead of the American Constitution?

There's one point that few people raise. Evolution is taught badly even in universities—and so is everything else. You might think that by the time a student graduates with a degree from university he or she will be knowledgeable enough to reject superstition and rely on critical thinking. If we can't even do a good job of teaching adults in university then how can we expect public school teachers to do any better? In an ideal world every parent who is a university graduate should be an ally of their child's teacher when it comes to supporting good science education.


74 comments :

  1. I think the issue is a matter of rate. As scientists we know that in the long run truth wins. It is our impatience with the rate of change that causes the science community to ignore hearts and minds and go to crime and punishment. Science may have the law on it's side but that is ofetn a pyhrric victory. Science needs to take a page from religion's playbook ... emphasize the positive aspects of science, focus on indoctrinating the young and reveal complexity only to the mature and capable ... and expect to wait for generations to move the culture.

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  2. Unfortunately, down here we have no choice but to depend, in part, upon lawyers. I would suggest that Prof. Moran consider that even very well educated folks with PhDs in scientific subjects from reputable universities like Jason Lisle, Guillermo Gonzalez, Michael Behe, Kurt Wise, Marcus Ross, etc. reject the theory of evolution, suggesting that education alone will not do the job.

    Take the case of Kurt Wise for instance. As Richard Dawkins puts it, there is no evidence no matter how extensive or overwhelming that would cause Dr. Wise, PhD in paleontology from Harvard, student of Stephen J. Gould, to accept evolution and an old earth.

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  3. I am even more pessimistic. I think that understanding modern science is, frankly, beyond the ability of the general public in the USA. Sorry....maybe I am wrong.

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  4. Larry said… “The battle between science and religion has been going on for centuries. Part of the conflict is over the teaching of evolution in American public schools.”

    First, the “battle” is ultimately between two religions, two worldviews, atheism and theism. Any straightforward reading of virtually any dictionary will define “religion” as a broad term that includes any prepositional belief system adopted by two or more people concerning things like human life and its place in the universe. That includes atheism, which is where the real objection lies for theists, especially because many evolutionists refuse to openly acknowledge their naturalistic belief system preferring to mask it under the guise of science. Evolutionism and creationism are simply optional expressions used to confirm or support atheism and theism. Evolutionists are not always atheists. I just finished “ORIGINS: A Reformed Look At Creation, Design, & Evolution” by Deborah and Loren Haarsma, evolutionary science professors at Calvin College. They are fervently religious (Christians) who believe evolution was/is God’s way of making everything.

    Second, in a representative government, the majority rules. In America, and for at least the last 100 years (spanning a period of indescribable scientific advancement), the vast majority (confirmed by countless major polls) of school tax-paying citizens do not believe in naturalism or neo-Darwinist evolution. However, the small minority ruling academia insists on teaching naturalistic evolution exclusively, not even allowing naturalistic evolution the opportunity to openly compete for its place in the mind of the public.

    Third, Larry said, “Now you might think that that this particular battle has been decisively won by the "good guys" because of all the court victories.” The “good guys” (atheists/naturalists) have won by sticking to science. If the bad guys (theists) ever stick to science, the courts will be forced to open up the options competing for what science tells us about ourselves. The so-called “good guys” only “lose” credibility for not welcoming the same ‘tests’ for naturalism in academia, as they do for science posits. Thank goodness for Sandwalk, where ‘tests’ for naturalism are welcome.

    Liberal Arts Chemist said... “I think the issue is a matter of rate. As scientists we know that in the long run truth wins.” Indeed, truth will win in the end. The truth is that naturalistically and cosmically speaking, in the long run, the universe will end/die, and along with it any notions of an evolutionary process that is ever self-improving.

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  5. The relevant comparison is to the 1920s or 1960s or 1980s. Evolution education is on average much better now than it was back then.

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  6. What us lawyers (those on the side of Truth, Justice and the American Way, at least) are really fighting for is to restore, maintain and protect a secular government. While evolution/creationism is a major battleground in that fight, it is hardly the only one. But a secular government is not enough to guarantee a good educational system. Teachers, I suspect, became teachers, for the most part, because they wanted to teach, not to become social activists. Faced with parents who are cultural warriors, mostly from the creationist side, it's natural enough that they keep their heads down. Most Americans now want evolution taught, though they also want ID taught because of the IDers' campaign to play on American ideals of "fairness." Teachers and other educators are going to have to carry the often unpleasant load of working to improve the system. The states (all but two of them) are working on coming up with nationwide educational standards that could help.

    No one fighting these cases thought it would improve science education. At best, they thought it could keep it from getting even worse.

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  7. If you look at the title of the Science article, "Defeating creationism in the courtroom, but not in the classroom," you'll see that the authors don't think the courtroom method works. They clearly say that we have to keep fighting in the courts, because the consequences of losing would be bad, but it's not a way to win the war.

    One problem with SLC's comment: you could get an undergraduate education in biology in many places and still pass while denying evolution and ignoring the evidence. I know that my first few years as an undergrad were heavy on rote memorization and drilling through those gigantic encyclopedic biology texts -- there was no opportunity to really think about biology.

    It got better as an upperclassman, but then I specifically chose electives that emphasized the evolutionary component.

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  8. Especially if someone has been brainwashed into believing religious ideas and then goes into science as a "mole" bent on proving their religion, it's quite possible to have someone with scientific credentials dissing evolution. Some people can divide off the believing part of their mind so that they can function in a normal, scientific environment in the modern world, except perhaps for not believing that humans have visited the Moon. But other people are even more delusional, and they may still function well enough to hold a job and write letters. I once met a woman who thought that she was keeping the USSR and China from invading the U.S. by performing certain ritual "blessings." A few evolution-deniers don't change the facts: evolution is a vast, well-supported, and extremely well researched explanation for the changes we see around us both now and in the past. The kooks should not get air time: their brains have been polluted with fixed ideas imparted at a young age or embraced because of an emotional need for certainty.

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  9. We have to fight both battles - to keep religion and flat-earthers from shutting us down, and also to improve the quality of public education.

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  10. The religious "Fundamentalista" and the atheist "Darwinista" are both dead wrong. All evidence pleads for aa planned evolution which is now complete with the present biota which, in my opinion, like nearly all its predecssors, will also become extinct. In short there is every reason to believe that exactly like ontogeny, phylogeny has also proceeded on the basis of information already present at the beginning or more likely beginnings. The notion that chance and natural selection ever played a significant role in organic evolution is a fantasy without a shred of experimental or descriptive evidence in its favor.

    In short -

    "A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable."
    John A. Davison

    jadavison.wordpress.com

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  11. Let's not confuse two problems. Legal victories have helped preserve the right of good and bad teachers to teach evolution. How to get better teachers, of science or any other subject, is a whole 'nother matter.

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  12. 'You might think that by the time a student graduates with a degree from university he or she will be knowledgeable enough to reject superstition and rely on critical thinking'

    I'm starting to think that this isn't something that comes with knowledge, its more a question of personality. I work with many very intelligent people who regularly make catastrophic failures in critical thinking (I work in marketing). Many of these people have skills in other areas and it feels as though critical thinking is almost an innate skill or personality trait, that if you're not born as a critical thinker, it can be very tough to become one.

    Maybe superstitious thinking is the norm? Maybe there was an evolutionary bias for supersitious thinkers in early human history? I can certainly see benefits to group cohesion. Often being the lone critical thinker spoiling everyone's fun can be quite lonely

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  13. I find myself wondering if we overestimate the abilities of universities here. My thinking was most definately formed there, but the anti-intellectuality that appears to come with a lot of religion is depressingly common. Given how bad some of my students report their high school science teachers to have been, its no wonder there might be a lack of trust in higher education.

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  14. SLC says,

    Unfortunately, down here we have no choice but to depend, in part, upon lawyers. I would suggest that Prof. Moran consider that even very well educated folks with PhDs in scientific subjects from reputable universities like Jason Lisle, Guillermo Gonzalez, Michael Behe, Kurt Wise, Marcus Ross, etc. reject the theory of evolution, suggesting that education alone will not do the job.

    I don't understand. Are you admitting that relying on the law to promote good education is a failed strategy?

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  15. Re PZ Myers

    The problem goes beyond biology. Lisle and Ross are young earth creationists (I don't know about Gonzalez) who are astrophysicists by training. It boggles the mind to conceive that somebody with a PhD in physics from a reputable university could possibly believe in a 6000 year old earth, but, apparently, the insanity of fundamentalist religion trumps everything else for these folks (c.f. Dawkins on Wise).

    Re Larry Moran

    Let me make my position perfectly clear so that there be no misunderstanding. In the USA, it is absolutely necessary to proceed along both the education and the legal tracks. However, due to the outsize influence of fundamentalist religion here, education alone just won't do the job because there are millions of folks who are not educationable and they vote and serve on school boards. By the way, it is my understanding that the Canadian Government faces similar problems in the Province of Alberta, also, as I understand it, a stronghold of fundamentalist religion.

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  16. Re Denny

    Just for Mr. Dennys' information, creationism and ID cannot be scientific explanations because they are unbounded. Since the god of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures is all powerful, she can do anything, thus goddidit cannot be falsified. A necessary requirement for science is that, at least in principle, a scientific theory must be falsifiable. Thus, it must be possible to state that if a prediction of the theory is not observed or the theory predicts that a particular observation will not be observed but in fact is observed, it must be modified or abandoned.

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  17. SLC says,

    By the way, it is my understanding that the Canadian Government faces similar problems in the Province of Alberta, also, as I understand it, a stronghold of fundamentalist religion.

    According to your logic the situation in Alberta must be hopeless since we don't have a constitutional ban on religion in the public schools. If Canadians can't use the legal tactic then how are we ever going to teach evolution?

    There are lots of other countries that don't lawyer-up whenever the creationists try to get their views into the public schools. I guess they must be much worse at teaching evolution, no?

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  18. Denny says,

    Any straightforward reading of virtually any dictionary will define “religion” as a broad term that includes any prepositional belief system adopted by two or more people concerning things like human life and its place in the universe. That includes atheism, which is where the real objection lies for theists, especially because many evolutionists refuse to openly acknowledge their naturalistic belief system preferring to mask it under the guise of science.

    That's fascinating logic. Let me ask you something, "Do you believe in the tooth fairy?"

    If the answer is "no" then does it mean you are a member of the religion of a-toothfairyism? Do I get to accuse you of having a "naturalistic belief system" just because you've failed to be convinced by any evidence of the tooth fairy?

    What about all the gods that you don't believe in? Is that because you are a naturalist or might there be some other reason you've rejected them?

    The onus is on you to convince me that your god exists. Your failure to do so doesn't mean that my lack of belief is a religion.

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  19. Harriet says,

    I am even more pessimistic. I think that understanding modern science is, frankly, beyond the ability of the general public in the USA. Sorry....maybe I am wrong

    What about other countries? Is it beyond the ability of the general public in India, China, or Japan?

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  20. According to your logic the situation in Alberta must be hopeless since we don't have a constitutional ban on religion in the public schools. If Canadians can't use the legal tactic then how are we ever going to teach evolution?

    Come on, Larry! Are you seriously saying that Canada has no way to deal with local governments that choose to deny minority rights? Seems that you have an even stronger legal system than we do, since your courts have aleady enforced the right of gays to marry across the country, while we are still struggling with it. Should the proponents of gay marriage have eschewed the courts?

    There are lots of other countries that don't lawyer-up whenever the creationists try to get their views into the public schools.

    Riight! If a local school defies the Canadian education standards, what happens? I rather suspect that if a local Canadian school banned evolution or required creationism, there would be resort to the legal system and lawyers.

    Again, we are not counting on these cases to produce good education, we are pursuing them to stop violations of our laws. If Canada has achieved the "paradise" where lawyers don't get involved in enforcing the law, you ought to tell everyone how.

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  21. Larry asks,

    What about other countries? Is it beyond the ability of the general public in India, China, or Japan?

    Fascinating question. The USA combines two traditions that have proved antithetical almost everywhere else, religious wingnut-ism and sci-tech capitalist progressivism. (It nearly requires Max Weber to figure out how these two can mix.) So we've got a nation feeling fat and happy off the work of science and technology, but a large number of citizens figure that fat-and-happy situation must be the work of Jay-sus.

    India and China are at the moment trying like hell to get as fat-and-happy as the USA, and neither they nor Japan have ever had to worry about Xtian exceptionalism coopting credit from science and technology for economic progress.

    Europe has had a few more centuries than the USA to get thoroughly tired of both Catholicism and Protestantism, and Canada hasn't had to cope with the USA's strain of religiously based nationalist exceptionalism.

    So perhaps no other nation has been quite "lucky" enough to've been made so well off by science and technology while having such a large proportion of its citizenry wanting desperately to give the credit to fairy tales that date back to the Bronze Age.

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  22. Since the Bible-banging and atheist fanatics are both dead wrong and mutually intolerant, I will call on Albert Einstein for the explanation.

    "The there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source...They are creatures who can't hear the music of the spheres."
    Alice Calaprice, The New Quotable Einstein, page 204

    To which I add - They are both blind as the proverbial bat to the world around them, a world in which chance could never have played a significant role.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

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  23. First, SLC said... Re PZ Myers, “The problem goes beyond biology. Lisle and Ross are young earth creationist.” Correction. Hugh Ross is absolutely NOT a young-earth creationists. He is an old-earth creationist. SLC, you are misguided about your thoughts concerning Ross.

    Second, although I am an old-earth creationist myself, I thought I'd contribute this to the discussion, for fun.

    “Creationism Still Advocated in (U.S.) H.S. Biology Classes, Study Finds:” http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/01/28/hs-biology-teachers-advocate-creationism-class/?test=faces

    Notice how often the author treats the terms (naturalistic) evolution and science as synonyms. Makes one cynically think that the word science should be stricken from the English language and substituted with evolution.

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  24. There is no "battle" and there is no "debate." There is only the Truth which is immune to opinion. Real scientists don't debate, they discover and then try to transmit their discoveries to receptive minds of which there have always been all too few. I am obviously wasting my time here since I cannot evoke a response. Besides I have no respect for blogs which promote pseudonymy as the vast majority all do. I wrote an essay on the subject - "The Cowardice of Anonymity." A person who must protect himself with an alias is very insecure and probably terrified that he might be wrong.

    "A man in armor is his armor's slave."
    Robert Browning

    jadavison.wordpress.com

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  25. Re Jud

    I think that Mr. Juds' analysis is spot on. The difference between the USA on the one hand and Canada/Western Europe/Japan/India/China on the other had is that fundamentalist religion is much weaker in the latter countries then in the USA.

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  26. Jud says,

    So perhaps no other nation has been quite "lucky" enough to've been made so well off by science and technology while having such a large proportion of its citizenry wanting desperately to give the credit to fairy tales that date back to the Bronze Age.

    So, religion is the problem right? The reason science education is in such poor shape is because Americans are too religious.

    What's the solution? Shouldn't educated Americans be trying to wean the general public away from their silly superstitious beliefs? Maybe what's needed is more direct attacks on the problem. Maybe it would be better to bring the creationism nonsense into the classroom and use good science reasoning to expose it as nonsense?

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  27. Larry,

    First, my apologies for misspelling “propositional.”

    Second, from an online dictionary, Religion = meaning #4: “A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.” That’s atheism.

    Third, when I attended the “Has Science Found God” confernece at U of T a few years ago, and asked one of your professor peers if atheism coud be defined as a religion, he said, ‘Yes,’ without qualification.

    Fourth, Isn’t atheism a propositional belief system adopted by two or more people concerning things like human life and its place in the universe?

    Fifth, Larry said, Denny, “The onus is on you to convince me that your god exists.” No it’s not. Any more than the onus is on me to convince you that I love my wife. If you could observe my actions toward my wife, putting aside anything I may say, you would be free to discern from those actions whether I love my wife or not. It’s the same for God. He speaks to everyone through His natural created revelation and His supernatural (Biblical) revelation. You are free to discern from both whether He exists or not, and whether there may be any consequences beyond what you believe.

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  28. SLC said... Re Larry Moran, “Let me make my position perfectly clear … there are millions of folks who are not educationable…”

    Larry said, “modern science is, frankly, beyond the ability of the general public in the USA.”

    WOW!

    First, I think that “educationable” is not a word. What’s that say about being “educationable”?
    Second, such statements say more about the views of the people making them than about the people at whom they are directed, and they don’t seem very scientific.

    Anonymous SLC said... Re Denny, “Just for Mr. Dennys' information, creationism and ID cannot be scientific explanations because they are unbounded.” Personally, I seldom use the term ID, and almost never as a noun. Old-earth creationism can indeed be “bounded” because it refers to the same raw scientific data that naturalists use (without a naturalistic/atheistic/materialistic) philosophical interpretation, therefore, it does have natural scientific boundries/limits.

    Anonymous SLC said... Re Denny, “Since the god of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures is all powerful, she can do anything, thus goddidit cannot be falsified.” As time passes and scientific tools improve, a creationist view becomes more falsifiable. All scripture does is provide 20 minimum chapter-length ancient creation accounts (virtual predictions), all of which have so far proved to be consistent with what recent science has confirmed. I, of course, omit any reference to young-earth creationist notions, because they are not mime.

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  29. Wht good does it do to challenge everything Larry Moran believes when he refuse to even acknowledge my presence. That is cowardice reminiscent of that exhibited by Pee Zee Myers, Wesley Elsberry and Richard Dawkins. Moran might as well just banish me. I would rather be banished than ignored. My distinghuished sources which provide me with 90 percent of OUR science were all ignored as well. That is the only reason Darwinian mysticism still persists. It is the biggest scandal in the history of biological science.

    There now. I feel somewhat better.

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  30. Science education in the USA might be in a poor shape because Americans are too religious, or because funding for education is too low.

    But what is the solution? If Americans are too religious, the solution will be social security: social security comes on top in surveys as the thing that negatively correlates with religiousness. Social security means paying taxes, in the conviction the government is a valueable public institution. Improving education means paying taxes, in the conviction of paying for the public good.
    USA?

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  31. Larry writes:

    What's the solution? Shouldn't educated Americans be trying to wean the general public away from their silly superstitious beliefs? Maybe what's needed is more direct attacks on the problem. Maybe it would be better to bring the creationism nonsense into the classroom and use good science reasoning to expose it as nonsense?

    Heh, I sure don't claim to have the answer - which doesn't mean I haven't thought about the question long and hard. Believe me, growing up Jewish in Bethlehem, PA, "The Christmas City," and living for a time in Oklahoma ("Where the Bible Belt buckles on") I've been thinking about religion in the USA and its impacts since I was in grade school.

    The first job I had when I lived in Oklahoma involved drafting and working (successfully) for the passage of legislation making it easier for domestic violence victims to get quick help from the police and courts. This was in a state which (at least at the time, maybe still) had a religiously-inspired law on the books saying something very much like "The husband shall select the mode of living and the wife must conform thereto."

    Long story short, we did not choose to attack religiously-based attitudes around family, which would have been an absolute losing battle. Instead we made a true, accurate, favorable case for the legislation from a crime prevention and law enforcement perspective.

    There's also the fairly recent example of Reagan shifting the politics of the USA in a more conservative direction by an 8-year version of his "Morning in America" campaign ads, presenting his views as a path to a happier, more ascendant place for America and her people. That IMHO worked a lot better for people tired of Carter-era negativity than a message saying "You're wrong, Democrats!" George H. W. Bush tried negative attacks with a "tax-and-spend-liberal" campaign aimed at Bill Clinton, and it didn't work well at all. (I can fairly be accused of cherry-picking here, since negative politics did seem to work in Bush Senior's first campaign, and in both of Bush Junior's.)

    OTOH, there's a lot to be said for moving the Overton window. I've been extremely pleasantly surprised by how quickly (though it certainly seems glacially slow to those most personally affected) public attitudes toward gay marriage seem to be changing. Gay rights activists have had a great deal to do with this. However, I wouldn't be shocked if the Mormon Church's interstate campaign in California against gay marriage had the unintended effect of pissing off a lot of people who hadn't thought much about the issue up to that point. No one likes a busybody, particularly a rich one throwing its weight around far away from its base.

    What I take from these instances is that a positive approach helped - working *for* your goal, rather than working *against* the "other side." So although I've said the magnitude of the role religion plays in American life is an impediment to good science education, I personally feel promotion of the wonder of science, competitiveness of our kids in future job markets, etc., will be more effective than attacking religion.

    That's the way it worked for me - science was just so great and made so much sense that religion withered under the comparison. In contrast, an attack on my religion would have been very unlikely to succeed; I'd been told my religion was garbage often enough since I was a child that more criticism would have rolled off like water off a duck's ass.

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  32. Re Denny

    First, SLC said... Re PZ Myers, “The problem goes beyond biology. Lisle and Ross are young earth creationist.” Correction. Hugh Ross is absolutely NOT a young-earth creationists. He is an old-earth creationist. SLC, you are misguided about your thoughts concerning Ross.

    Had Mr. Denny troubled to read my first comment, he would have known that I was referring to Marcus Ross, not Hugh Ross, no relation that I know of. Try to keep up. However, I did erroneously identify Marcus as an astrophysicist. His PhD, from the University of Rhode Island, is in geosciences.

    Mr. Denny identies himself as an ID creationist who does not necessarily agree with a literal interpretation of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.

    1. I would ask him if he believes that Joshua caused the earth to stand still for a day. Aside from the non-appearance of the catastrophes that would follow from such an event, which non-appearance would violate the laws of physics, there is no record of such an event from other civilizations that were contemporaneous with Joshua. By the way, I would point out that many ID creationists endorse a young earth, including William Dumbski under pressure from his current employer.

    2. Does Mr. Denny accept the common ancestry of apes and humans? If not, how would he explain the startling finding that human chromosome 2 has been identified as corresponding to the fusion of ape chromosomes 12 and 13?

    Re Larry Moran

    Maybe it would be better to bring the creationism nonsense into the classroom and use good science reasoning to expose it as nonsense?

    I would agree with this except that some 15% of science teachers are creationists. I seriously doubt that Prof. Moran would argue that these folks would tell the truth about creationism. We'd have to bring in those pesky lawyers to remove them from the classroom.

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  33. Denny says,

    Second, from an online dictionary, Religion = meaning #4: “A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.” That’s atheism.

    I don't deny that there are some atheists who behave that way but it's wrong to characterize the lack of belief in supernatural beings as a religion.

    My belief—if you want to call it that—is that science is the only valid way of discovering knowledge. It's not actually a belief since it's based on pragmatism; i.e., it works.

    One of the consequences of relying on science as a way of knowing is that I don't believe in things that have no supporting evidence. Thus, I don't believe in the Loch Ness monster and I don't believe in gods.

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  34. Denny says,

    Fourth, Isn’t atheism a propositional belief system adopted by two or more people concerning things like human life and its place in the universe?

    No. You are confusing the lack of belief in gods (atheism) with rationalism, or perhaps humanism.

    I'm not a humanist but I do have some ideas about how humans should behave. Those ideas have nothing to do with the fact that I don't believe in Krishna or Gitche Manitou.

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  35. Denny says,

    Fifth, Larry said, Denny, “The onus is on you to convince me that your god exists.” No it’s not. Any more than the onus is on me to convince you that I love my wife.

    If you want me to respect your belief in supernatural beings then you have to convince me that there's a good reason. You can't say that you don't have to do that then go around claiming that my lack of belief is a "religion." That makes no sense.

    It would be like me saying that your lack of belief in Giche Manitou is a religion. Or to take a more extreme example, it would be like me saying that your lack of belief in a 6,000 year old Earth is a religion.

    You are not under any obligation to back up your claims but it you refuse to do so you surrender your right to criticize others for not sharing them. After all, it's not up to atheists to argue your case for you.

    You don't have to prove to anyone that you love your wife, unless, of course, you start criticizing me for not loving your wife. :-)

    Do you have a photo?

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  36. John Pieret:

    If a local school defies the Canadian education standards, what happens?

    Nothing. There are no "Canadian" education standards. Education is constitutionally a 100% provincial jurisdiction, as you might expect in a bilingual country. We have no federal equivalent of a Secretary of Education.

    I'm not sure what the legal standing of creationism is in Canada. I don't think it's ever been tested. My personal feeling is that the courts would probably agree that it violates Section 2(a) and/or 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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  37. Denny:

    If the bad guys (theists) ever stick to science, the courts will be forced to open up the options competing for what science tells us about ourselves.

    If the "bad guys" ever stuck to science -- real, pure science without the Nestle's Quik of metaphysical powder stirred into it to make it palatable for the deliberately ignorant -- they wouldn't BE "bad guys" anymore. They'd be naturalists, and there'd be no more superstitious mud for them to fling at the courts non-stop to see what sticks.

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  38. I think if the US courts ever agree to "teach the controversy", they should also insist the same of all education. Every Sunday school class should be required, by law, to have a qualified biologist present at least half an hour of "the controversy" to impressionable young minds whenever the story of Genesis is brought up. Teach the children about the controversy! Let them decide!

    Or, let Sunday school classes be Sunday school classes and teach what they teach, and science classes be science classes and teach what they teach.

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  39. Larry asked

    I want to raise another question. What good has it done to win all the court cases? Has it prevented an even worse disaster? Has relying on lawyers to defend evolution been the right strategy or should more emphasis have been placed on promoting good science instead of the American Constitution?

    The only good answer is 'More than one of the above.'

    The court cases have in at least some instances prevented even worse disasters. For example, immediately after the Kitzmiller decision the Ohio State Board of Education excised a creationist lesson plan from its model science curriculum, citing that decision, thereby removing it from recommended material for every public school in Ohio. That's no small benefit.

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  40. Larry said, “…it's wrong to characterize the lack of “belief” in supernatural beings as a religion.” I’m not criticizing the lack of a “belief,” or even the lack of your “belief.” I simply think that no one has no “belief.” And I think it’s God that gives humans an appetite for belief. Wikipedia defines atheism as a rejection of belief in the existence of deities. Wikipedia does not define atheism as no belief. Naturalism and materialism are companions of evolution and atheism. They are philosophies. (Paraphrased from Wikipedia) ‘Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.’ Few of these “philosophical problems” can be measured through “pragmatism.” Philosophies are necessary because there are (for humans) many things that pragmatism cannot answer. Some would say the most important things. Not being able to see God (in a pragmatic sense) as we see each other is not proof of non-existence. One cannot optically measure an orgasm, but we sure know it’s real. A biochemist may even venture a pragmatic explanation of orgasms, but it would likely not be as meaningful as the experience. Few people have the gifts for or get the chance to excel at science, as in biochemistry. Most are left to find answers elsewhere in life’s experiences. Is it a curse to be left only with non-pragmatic answers? Is a non-pragmatic answer invalid? What about science’s pragmatic answers that seem to be consistent with something a seemingly non-pragmatic as the Bible (old-earth creationism). Actually, the Bible is the most pragmatically tested book in human history. What if a scientist, even an atheistic scientist, used the principles of the scientific method to test the Bible?

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  41. Blogger heleen said... “Science education in the USA might be in a poor shape because Americans are too religious, or because funding for education is too low.” Science education in the USA might be in a poor shape because Americans are too religious in their brainwashed devotion to entertainment, and an obsession with who’s going to get the last of the bachelor’s roses, or be knocked off a giant inflated mud-soaked ball, or see a latest way to portray a cadaver, or tune in to see who can do the most lasciviously suggestive dance, or watch the no talent fools who are suckered into singing on national TV as though they are in the shower. What student could possibly have time to aspire to a noble career in science and make a commensurate sacrificial commitment to homework? As to funding for education being too low, Common! Many countries with smaller per-pupil funding and larger class sizes (S. Korea and Japan) achieve higher student performance.

    Blogger Larry Moran said... “What about other countries? Is it beyond the ability of the general public in India, China, or Japan?” In science it’s important to look for ‘correlations’ in the data. Many of the "Are the ‘Good Guys’ …" bloggers seem to have missed an obvious correlation between great scientific advancements within a U.S. system described as religious based and exceptionalist that brought wealth, stability and opportunity to a greater proportion of its citizens than any other culture in history.

    Larry asks, “What about other countries?” Check out: Creation and evolution in public education at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_and_evolution_in_public_education

    Larry writes: "What's the solution? ... Maybe it would be better to bring the creationism nonsense into the classroom and use good science reasoning to expose it as nonsense?" Eureka! What a novel thought. Freedom of expression. A free and open testing of ideas. Non-exclusive thought, like all those religious nuts. Actually match science against philosophical ideology. Let people bring their scientific ignorance into the arena of science and see what's really going on. Let atheists defend their ideas with theists. Would evolutionists be brave enough to do that? I'm an old-earth creationist and I'm ready.

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  42. Lone Primate said... Denny: “If the bad guys (theists) ever stick to science, -- real, pure science without the … metaphysical -- they wouldn't BE "bad guys" anymore.” At the risk of over generalizing, the scientific method begins with the simple proposition of asking a question and constructing a suggestion or premise to answer the question. Naturalists come to the table of science with the a priory view that the question and premise are not allowed to have any connection to anything that cannot be materially measured, even though their simple and profound curiosity itself is not measurable. Larry earlier said, “My belief—if you want to call it that—is that science is the only valid way of discovering knowledge.” No disrespect intended, Larry wants to have it easy. He wants his knowledge measurable. That’s great if one is a renowned and respected biochemist. But, we’re all more than our occupations. At the end of the movie “Saving Private Ryan” the lone surviving Ryan, near the end of his life, turned to ask his wife if he’d been a good husband. Ryan had survived war, made a measurable living, drove a measurable car, made measurable kids, etc. But, pondering his survival and existence, he wanted to know if he’d been a good husband (There’s the meaning and purpose thing again). How do you measure a good husband? It’s that kind of question that creationists think must be inextricably woven between the material and non-material worlds. For creationists like me, it’s that conundrum that makes it seem unreasonable to sum up science and life as something that explicitly and exclusively limits “discovering knowledge” to the material. As a point of fact, questioning one’s success as a husband in non-material ways seems like it calls for the scientific method to be applied to things like the Bible, which purports to answer such questions. If the Bible offers reliable answers about husbands and is also consistent with science’s findings, I refuse to be called a “bad guy.”

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  43. Larry raised Kitzmiller (Judge over the Dover, PA School/Intelligent Design) case. The Dover case was a loser from the start, in part because teachers were instructed to read an ID statement in class, a type of disclaimer, I guess. Not a way to fairly and accurately handle either controversy or science. Also, ID (as a noun) isn’t really a theory to be matched against evolution, which provides a quantifiable testable model. ID is, in my opinion, a sort of philosophy about science. As such, it cannot match up in a court case against evolutionary science. If a case were brought that offered a competing testable theory, and surfaces the fact that there are viable alternative theories about our origins, and if a fair unbiased Judge were available that would not be intimidated and overwhelmed by the complexity of science and the evolutionist lobby, an option for viewing what science reveals might become available – not just for old-earth creationists like me, but also for a public that longs for a view of science that is not atheistic at its core. The numbers of kids who have a latent interest in things scientific might even grow.

    Lone Primate said... “I think if the US courts ever agree to ‘teach the controversy’ (in public schools), they should also insist the same of all education. Every Sunday school class should be required, by law, to have a qualified biologist present at least half an hour of ‘the controversy.’” I don’t know where you live, Lone Primate, USA, Canada or elsewhere, but generally speaking, in the USA, Sunday School classes are typically part of a Church or other religious organization. Churches are not funded by the public. They have historically been allowed to be self-supporting and tax-exempt. Therefore, they are free to be as exclusive in their teachings as they wish. It’s called ‘freedom.’ Public schools, however, are funded by the public. Whether or not one has kids in the school system, money is taken from earners for schools. Hypothetically, school districts have control over how public money is spent to educate their children. The payment of taxes (hypothetically) gives tax-payers the right to “teach the controversy.”

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  44. Denny writes:

    Science education in the USA might be in a poor shape because Americans are too religious in their brainwashed devotion to entertainment, and an obsession with...see[ing] a latest way to portray a cadaver....

    Ya mean like that guy nailed to a stick I see in all the churches?

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  45. Re Larry Moran

    Attached is a link to a blog post over at the Dispatches web site which illustrates the problem with teaching evolution in public schools in the USA.

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2011/02/american_teachers_often_ignore.php#more
    Re Denny

    I notice that Mr. Denny responded to some comments but failed to respond to the two questions I posed to him. What's the matter Mr. Denny, are you afraid to admit that the Hebrew and Christian scriptures might be less then authoritative on scientific subjects? For instance, in one of your comments you stated the following:

    Actually, the Bible is the most pragmatically tested book in human history. What if a scientist, even an atheistic scientist, used the principles of the scientific method to test the Bible?

    How's the pragmatic claim that Joshua caused the Sun to stand still in the sky for a day working out for you? Here's a scientific claim made in the Hebrew scriptures that is manifestly malarkey, not only because of its violation of the laws of physics but because it was unobserved by other civilizations in existence at the time of Joshua.

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  46. Denny says,

    Blogger Larry Moran said... “What about other countries? Is it beyond the ability of the general public in India, China, or Japan?” In science it’s important to look for ‘correlations’ in the data. Many of the "Are the ‘Good Guys’ …" bloggers seem to have missed an obvious correlation between great scientific advancements within a U.S. system described as religious based and exceptionalist that brought wealth, stability and opportunity to a greater proportion of its citizens than any other culture in history.

    It's good to think about data. I remember how shook up people were when the USSR launched Sputnik. It was obvious in 1957 that an atheist totalitarian country was doing better science that the USA.

    I also learned from my history books that countries like Great Britain and Germany have been hugely successful at science, especially on a per capita basis. Unfortunately for Denny those countries aren't very religious. It's going to get worse when China (mostly non-religious) and India (wrong religion) get going.

    Finally I note that American exceptionalism rears it's ugly head with the claim that, "... brought wealth, stability and opportunity to a greater proportion of its citizens than any other culture in history."

    That's just not true. Among Western industrialized nations America is dead last when it comes to the distribution of wealth.

    Let's take a simple number like the percentage of the population below the poverty line. In America that value was 12% in 2008. Guess how many countries do a better job at bringing wealth stability and opportunity to their citizens? The answer is here.

    Oops.

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  47. Re Denny

    Here's another query for Mr. Denny. In 2nd Chronicles, it is stated that a bowl was made with a diameter of 10 cubits and a circumference of 30 cubits. That would seem to imply the pi = 3. How's that pragmatic claim coming along?

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  48. Denny writes:

    If a case were brought that offered a competing testable theory, and surfaces the fact that there are viable alternative theories about our origins, and if a fair unbiased Judge were available..., an option for viewing what science reveals might become available – not just for old-earth creationists like me, but also for a public that longs for a view of science that is not atheistic at its core.

    If there were a competing testable theory, no court case need be brought. The competing testable theory would be subject to the same testing as any other candidate scientific theory, and if it fit the data better than the current state of evolutionary theory, it would become accepted scientific fact and be taught in science classes without objection from scientists (or me).

    As you quite accurately state, ID is not a testable scientific theory, so that isn't a candidate.

    I observe that you mention a "testable" theory and an "unbiased" judge, then talk about "a view of science that is not atheistic at its core." If the goal is to arrive at a "non-atheistic" view of science, then the word "unbiased" cannot mean what you think it means, since an unbiased judge by definition cannot have in mind the predetermined goal of a non-atheistic result.

    Nor can "testable" mean what you think it means, since the result of a testable theory will be whatever the tests indicate, and thus cannot be presumed to satisfy a longing for "a view of science that is not atheistic at its core." Indeed, in 151 years of testing theories of origin of species since Darwin published, no requirement for supernatural/theistic agencies has emerged, yet people such as yourself keep asking for a theory that incorporates such a requirement in spite of the testing results.

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  49. Larry Moran said... “Oops.” Was that because, to make a point about “distribution of wealth,” you mistakenly sent me to a web site about “Population below poverty lines” listing many countries headed by bloodthirsty tyrants where wealth is routinely stolen by the dictators vs. societies that are free of tyranny? Was it because you mistakenly choose to compare the U.S. with the poverty levels of countries that do not have comparable economic health and stability – countries where the poor cannot routinely obtain world class medical care at nearby hospitals as they routinely do in the U.S? Was it because you overlooked the fact that notable scientific strides were made in Great Britain and Germany while they still observed a semblance of orthodox Christianity, and included many devout Christians. Was it because you mistakenly choose to take China’s 8% as a comparable poverty figure, when everyone knows that it’s still basically an agrarian society where millions of people in the central hinterland live at a subsistence level, and are becoming jealous of the growing (Western/US-style) prosperity brought to a comparative few in big cities? Or, was it because you are having trouble finding countries that adhere to neo-Darwinian evolution as strictly as the U.S. and Canadian scientists and university level educators do?

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  50. What a joke this blog is, teemimg with one named blowhards terrified at being identified It is just one more Pharyngula, After The Bar Closes or Panda's Thumb without a scintilla of signficant commentary. The only difference beween Sandwalk and the others is that Larry Moran hasn't banished me - yet. He prefers to just pretend that godless, aimless Darwinism is settled science immune to criticism.

    That has been the posture of the Darwinians for a century and a half during which Darwin's Victorian dream has been destroyed several times by some the greatest biologists of that interval. It is no longer acceptable to ignore the critics of the biggest hoax in the history of science.

    Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for Darwinian mysticism.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

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  51. SLC said... Re Denny, “Here's another query for Mr. Denny. In 2nd Chronicles, it is stated that a bowl was made with a diameter of 10 cubits and a circumference of 30 cubits. That would seem to imply the pi = 3. How's that pragmatic claim coming along?”

    In anticipation of the apocalypse blizzard tonight, I’ve been warming up the generator and getting the candles out. Maybe I missed something. Some do claim that the 2nd Chronicles passage does look suspiciously like pi, the mathematical constant. But, I don’t get your connection between this and former thread references to pragmatism.

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  52. Jud said... “If there were a competing testable theory, no court case need be brought.”
    Precisely. Hugh Ross’ book “Creation as Science” contains Table F.1: called Predictive Tests For Creation/Evolution Models that (for example purposes) lists only 89 brief and specific predictive ‘tests.’ The Table has four columns. One for Naturalism (Evolution), Young-Earth, Theistic Evolution, and Hugh Ross’ Reasons To Believe (Old-Earth) Model. The rows of the table list scientific predictions from each view in the Simple sciences, the Complex sciences, plus Theology and Philosophy, against which actual scientific findings from all fields of science can be matched to validate or invalidate each view’s predictions. At the RTB web site (ww.reasons.org), a search for “rtb model” goes to the many recent scientific discoveries that RTB believes confirm its model over evolution’s.

    Jud said... “…since an unbiased judge by definition cannot have in mind the predetermined goal of a non-atheistic result.” I read the transcript of the Dover, PA (ID) case, and it seemed to me that the judge was biased in favor of evolution. It’s arguable that evolution in that case represented atheism. It seems to me that evolution at Sandwalk is seldom anything else.

    Jud said... “… people such as yourself keep asking for a theory that incorporates such a requirement in spite of the testing results.” No. People such as myself keep asking for an ‘interpretation’ that is not shaped by a predisposition to atheism. For example, Larry would have us believe that his atheism is completely disconnected from the way he interprets science data. That’s like saying that Charlie Sheen separates his show’s plots from his personal behavior. Both Larry and Charlie mingle their worldviews with their professions. The difference between them is that Larry has integrity, and his work has great value.

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  53. Denny writes:

    Hugh Ross’ book “Creation as Science” contains Table F.1: called Predictive Tests For Creation/Evolution Models that (for example purposes) lists only 89 brief and specific predictive ‘tests.’

    I'll just give you one simple test, and we'll see how creation/design does vs. evolutionary theory, OK? It's so simple a 5-year-old could think of it, so if creation/design can't provide a valid answer, there's absolutely no reason to give such a "theory" any credence, is there? Here it is: Why do guys have nipples?

    There is a logical, testable (and confirmed), parsimonious answer from an evolutionary perspective. Please provide one from a creation/design perspective.

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  54. Re Denny

    1. Mr. Dennys' comments about Judge John Jones III are totally ludicrous. In the first place, the judge knew nothing about evolution when the trial started. As he has stated in several presentations since the trial, the testimony was the biology course that everybody who witnessed it wished he/she had had in college. In the second place, the judge is a theist, a communicant of the Lutheran Church in America. No atheist he. In third place, anybody who read the transcript would realize that the defenses' only competent witness, Michael Behe, was totally discredited under cross examination. Prof. Behes' scientific reputation, such as it was, was shredded. In the fourth place, the plaintiffs' expert witness, Prof. Ken Miller is a devout Catholic, no atheist he. In the fifth place, the defenses' attempt to discredit plaintiffs' witness Prof. Barbara Forrest was pathetic and amounted to nothing more then a smear attack on her as an atheist. The judge was manifestly unimpressed. In the sixth place, defense witnesses Buckingham and Bonsall and were caught lying on the witness stand. I can reliably inform Mr. Denny that judges to not appreciate it when witnesses take the stand in their courtroom, swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and then get caught lying. When that happens, they tend to take it out on the side that put them up (c.f. Lance Ito and Terry Ruckriegle). In fact, the judge was so annoyed that he took over the questioning of Buckingham himself after the latters' tissue of lies and evasions. Observers in the courtroom stated that the judge was red in the face with anger as he adjourned for the day.

    2. I notice that Mr. Denny responded to the pi = 3 query by avoiding the question. Typical creationist ploy.

    3. I notice that Mr. Denny failed to respond to questions about the common descent of apes and humans and the issue of Joshua causing the sun to stand still for a day.

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  55. Jud said..., “Why do guys have nipples?” Any human being that understands that the female egg contains two X chromosomes, and that a male sperm could provide another X chromosome, knows that the resulting zygote will be female. Hence, a human egg is a female and will have female characteristics like nipples. An (female) egg fertilized with a male Y chromosome will consequently have (undeveloped) nipples. This fact has nothing (apparent to me) to do evolution or creation theory

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  56. SLC said... “Mr. Dennys' comments about Judge John Jones III are totally ludicrous.” The fact that the judge is a theist means little, since most Christians seldom confront the conflicts presented by naturalistic (atheistic) evolution and their theistic faith. They mostly have more important things to do that engage in the kinds of contest that we are having. So, what’s so ludicrous about me agreeing on the general point that the Dover trial was dead from the start?
    2. “I notice that Mr. Denny responded to the pi = 3 query by avoiding the question. Typical creationist ploy.” I haven’t see a question regarding the 2 Chronicles passage, but I agreed that some have the notion that it represents pi. Please tell me the question, so I can avoid being called a ‘ployist’.
    3. “I notice that Mr. Denny failed to respond to questions about the common descent of apes and humans and the issue of Joshua causing the sun to stand still for a day.” Forgive me. Have you seen how many questions have been pejoratively directed at me? I have a life too, you know. Sometimes I pick the points I like best. Other times I watch TV, love my grandkids, spend all day shoveling snow, worry about my honey bees in the frigid weather, and wonder if I’ll ever have a full-time job again, which would limit my ability to answer questions even further. I'll go back and see the context of the “issue of Joshua” and see what I can do. Have a good day!

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  57. @Denny -

    I don't want to sound critical about this, but your explanation is factually incorrect. There are gaps in your knowledge about how humans (and by extension other organisms) develop, and this affects your ability to judge whether a creation/design explanation is scientifically satisfactory. However, even in the incorrect explanation you gave, there is the germ of an idea that will help explain why evolution, not creation/design, gives the only scientifically satisfactory explanation of why men have nipples.

    Let me first run through what actually is the case for sperm and ova. When these cells are formed from precursor cells, the number of chromosomes is halved. In that process, one of the two "gender chromosomes" is taken to form each sperm or egg. Thus eggs do *not* have two X chromosomes, they have one (and each sperm does *not* have X and Y chromosomes, it has either/or), and eggs are therefore not "female." The fact that we all come from fertilized eggs is therefore not responsible for the fact that both men and women have nipples. Think about it for a moment, and you can see it doesn't work: we all come from fertilized eggs, but we do not all have ovaries.

    However, your description, erroneous as it was, captures the beginnings of an idea that shows why evolutionary biology provides the explanatory power which creation/design utterly lacks. That essential idea is *contraint*. Evolution is constrained by the materials available to it, meaning predecessor species and their genomes. This makes evolution an essentially conservative process. Even changes in body plans that appear large externally tend to be created by rather conservative changes on the genetic level, for example by duplication of prior genetic code rather than wholesale changes in large areas of that prior code.

    Now, thinking of evolution as a constrained, conservative process, let's look at the differences between men and women. Men and women cannot both have ovaries or both have testes. That degree of sexual differentiation is absolutely necessary for reproduction. It is also (luckily for us men) necessary to human survival that women have nipples. Other animals feed their young in other ways, but we are constrained by our more recent ancestry to the provision of milk.

    On the other hand, it is not necessary to species survival that men must differ from women concerning the presence of nipples. And quite evidently, nothing has occurred in the way of selection or neutral genetic variation to differentiate men from women in this regard. Thus the presence of this apparently useless bit of equipment on the male body is not at all problematic or unexpected from an evolutionary perspective.

    On the other hand, consider creation/design. It is utterly unconstrained. There is no apparent reason that any creator/designer would or should provide men with such useless equipment. Thus creation/design can only answer "Well, that's what the Creator/Designer decided, for reasons we can't understand." In fact, that's all it can *ever* answer regarding any fact of morphology. Giving the same answer for everything, Creation/Design thus renders itself useless to answer anything.

    So: Evolutionary theory gives a thorough explanation that can be tested and factually verified, while Creation/Design is helpless in the face of a question any 7-year-old might ask.

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  58. Re Denny

    OK Mr. Denny, I'll put it this way, is pi equal to 3 as implied by the Hebrew scriptures? That's a yes or a no.

    As for Judge Jones, as he has explained on several presentations he has made, any decision he made had to be based on the Lemon law, which is the result of a Supreme Court decision. Thus, based on the Lemon Law, any judge who ruled differently would be overturned by a higher court because it was obvious that the Dover schoolboards' policy did not have a secular purpose. That's what the Lemon law says. If Mr. Denny doesn't like the Lemon law, take it up with the Supreme Court. Mr. Dennys' ignorance of constitutional jurisprudence is as manifest as his ignorance of science.

    I really get a laugh out of Mr. Dennys' explanation of why human males have nipples. If, in fact, humans are the result of an intelligent design, the presence of useless nipples on males does not seem very intelligent to me. Would Mr. Denny care to elucidate us as to what is intelligent about nipples on a human male. By the way, most male animals don't have nipples.

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  59. SLC said..., “I notice that Mr. Denny failed to respond to questions about … Joshua causing the sun to stand still for a day.” I have never spent time dissecting the Joshua 10 passage, either for its obvious scientific implications, its historical context, or its spiritual life lessons. However, in the absence of any contradicting scriptures, I accept it as literally true. I accept it, even though my basic understanding of cosmic and solar physics denies that life on earth could survive such an event. I accept it as literally true the same way I trust airlines for safe passage in an airplane built with a quarter million parts produced by the lowest bidders. Despite all the physical possibilities for a crash, airlines have proven reliable in overcoming those physical possibilities. I accept it the same way my wife accepts my fidelity to her. That is, she knows there are no physically measurable ways in which she can confirm my likelihood to be unfaithful. She knows that I am tempted, as any man is, when it comes to certain stimuli. But, she also knows that she can trust me based on almost four decades of day-by-day behavior. Her “faith” in me does include intellectual knowledge, but goes beyond the limits of knowledge. It goes to what I have demonstrated as non-physical fact (vs. faith) through the choices and motives I have revealed. My experience with life and God does the same for me, and therefore, I trust God. For skeptics, my literal acceptance of the Joshua passage may surface the dreaded “faith” issue. My experience with many skeptics has been that they apply a lot of scholarship to examining and understanding things like science and evolution. However, they often refrain from applying scholarship to scripture. And, if they do apply honest mental effort to examining scripture, they seem to stumble over the issue of a good God allowing suffering and/or death. The Bible is not a dime store novel - once read, put on the shelf. Nor is it, “Principles of Biochemistry,” a textbook.

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  60. SLC and Jud.
    Well, you guys offer some interesting thoughts, and you seem to have gotten a real laugh at my expense. I’m going to ask a retired evolutionary biology professor and skeptic about some of your remarks. In the mean time, even though it’s not a classic creationist view, check-out “Why do men have nipples?” at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-do-men-have-nipples (Scientific American, September 17, 2003) by Andrew M. Simons, a professor of biology at Carleton University in Ottawa, ON (Just down the road from Larry). I look forward to your reply. Later, I hope to supply a classic creationist view.

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  61. SLC and Jud , are you going to tell Carleton University biology professor Andrew M. Simons what you think of his ideas about why human males have nipples (published in Scientific American, September 17, 2003), or should I?

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  62. If Mr. Denny accepts the claim in the Hebrew Scriptures that Joshua caused the sun to stand still for a day, how does he explain the fact that other civilizations in existence at the time of Joshua failed to note what would seem to have been a rather startling event?

    Mr. Denny is still avoiding the question as to whether pi = 3, as implied in the Hebrew Scriptures.

    Mr. Denny is still not responding to the query as to whether he accepts common descent, including humans. If he does not, he should explain the interesting observation concerning ape chromosomes 12 and 13 relative to human chromosome 2.

    I fail to understand how the article by Prof. Simons in any way, shape, form, or regard supports Mr. Dennys' creationist views. Mr. Denny still fails to inform us why a designer would endow males with nipples and how such a design is intelligent. Since they are useless on males, they seem to be rather extraneous.

    Just to keep rattling Mr. Dennys' cage, astrophysicist Neil Tyson has posited the question as to why a designer would design male mammals with a combined waste elimination system/reproductive system? Again, doesn't seem very intelligent to me.

    Incidentally, relative to the chromosome issue, Mr. Denny doesn't have to consult a retired evolutionary biology professor. There is a video available on Youtube which is a portion of a presentation by Brown Un. biology professor Ken Miller which carefully explains why the issue is strong evidence for common descent. He can also find a Youtube video of Dr. Tyson commenting on the combination waste elimination/reproduction system.

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  63. SLC and Jud.

    Here is my support for design/creationism on the matter of human male nipples.

    1. I stand by my first brief layman’s explanation in this thread based in part on “Why do men have nipples?” at - http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-do-men-have-nipples - by Carleton University biology professor Andrew M. Simons in the September 17, 2003 issue of Scientific American. Quoting Simons, “… the genetic ‘default’ is for males and females to share characters, the presence of nipples in males is probably best explained as a genetic correlation that persists through lack of selection against them, rather than selection for them.” This could be interpreted as a design characteristic and creationism.

    2. Men can lactate and men exposed to the appropriate hormones will develop even breast tissue. This can happen in puberty when small amounts of estrogen can be produced. Since the (naturalistic) potential for males lactating without a nipple would be pointless and painful, I see this one favoring design/creationism.

    3. The argument re. male nipples concerns the physics and physiology of the human chest wall. Nipples serve as anchor points for small muscles within the skin. God used the one design of the chest wall that would work well for men and women. Another one for design/ creationism.

    4. Functionally, nipples (even males) are great "sensitive" areas to enjoy the pleasures (which God also created) of touch. Since human pleasure, as expressed in passion and sex, is more than the instinctive involuntary process experienced by non-human life, I think this favors design/creationism again.

    5. The evidence for or against design works both ways. If there is no conceivable point to God designing them, there is also no conceivable evolutionary advantage.

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  64. 5. The evidence for or against design works both ways. If there is no conceivable point to God designing them, there is also no conceivable evolutionary advantage.

    This shows the incredible ignorance of Mr. Denny. I should probably stand aside and let Prof. Moran, who is far more knowledgeable about genetic drift then I am, comment on this but not all features in the animal kingdom are due to Darwinian natural selection. Genetic drift is also an engine of evolutionary change. There
    there are a number of posts on this blog that describe genetic drift and I suggest that Mr. Denny look back in the archives.

    Mr. Denny still hasn't told us whether he accepts common descent or told us why other civilizations at the time of Joshua failed to note the loss of a day. How about it? Nor has he seen fit to comment on the waste elimination system/reproductive system combination, an example of incompetent design if I ever heard it.

    After Mr. Dennys' next response, I bring up the presence of ERVs in the genomes of virtually all animals, which Ed Brayton mentioned over at his blog as very strong evidence for common descent.

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  65. Denny writes:

    1. I stand by my first brief layman’s explanation in this thread based in part on “Why do men have nipples?” at - http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-do-men-have-nipples - by Carleton University biology professor Andrew M. Simons in the September 17, 2003 issue of Scientific American. Quoting Simons, “… the genetic ‘default’ is for males and females to share characters, the presence of nipples in males is probably best explained as a genetic correlation that persists through lack of selection against them, rather than selection for them.” This could be interpreted as a design characteristic and creationism.

    Denny, if you cannot even understand that in the passage you quote and in the full article, Dr. Simons is saying the same thing I did, and completely disagreeing with your factually incorrect "brief layman's explanation" then there's no use taking this further. (Go ahead, ask Dr. Simons whether human eggs have two X chromosomes, or look it up in any decent biology text or online.)

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  66. Denny:

    Naturalists come to the table of science with the a priory view that the question and premise are not allowed to have any connection to anything that cannot be materially measured

    So do scientists. There's no difference between a "naturalist" and a "scientist", other than perhaps one describes the discipline and the other the actual practice of it.

    He wants his knowledge measurable.

    That's because if it isn't measurable -- that is, in some way objectively demonstrable -- then it isn't really knowledge. It may be opinion, or belief, or even fiction. But it's not knowledge in any applicable sense. This is why we are able to speak of "science" effectively as one thing, whereas, except in the broadest possible terms, we cannot do the same with religions. Scientific disciplines complement each other, because their knowledge is demonstrable. Religions exclude one another, because their opinions are contradictory.

    How do you measure a good husband?

    Objectively, you don't. Do you think someone who's held up as a model husband in Afghanistan, say, would be YOUR idea of a "good" husband? Or vice-versa? "Good" is just about as wishy-washy and subjective a term as the human mind has ever come up with. There are only a handful of very fundamental things most people agree on as "good"; the rest change with time, place, and circumstance. Things like gravity, the speed of light in a vacuum, and that replication errors occur in DNA, don't.

    If the Bible offers reliable answers about husbands and is also consistent with science’s findings

    To quote the ephors of Sparta: "If".

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  67. Denny:

    Churches are not funded by the public.

    What's the real problem, Denny? Scared to let the kids hear ALL the evidence? Scared to let them learn there's no way all those animals and their provisions could fit on a little boat, say, or that the inbreeding that would have resulted would mean most species would have quickly died out after the flood, etc.? If we're gonna teach the controversy, then hey -- LET'S TEACH THE CONTROVERSY!

    Public schools, however, are funded by the public.

    And are governed, as I understand it, by a First Amendment that denies the establishment of a religion in public institutions, which the courts have held both creationism and ID to be. It's called "freedom".

    So fair's fair. If you want to intrude on science, then provide equal time to intrude on religion.

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  68. Denny:

    Some do claim that the 2nd Chronicles passage does look suspiciously like pi

    What a surprise that people should do that when the ratio of a diameter and radius is evoked. Now even in places in the Deep South, if your kid gave gave 30 and 10 as the relative values for that circle, he'd flunk. Well, these are the relative values we're being given by the supposed designer of the universe. "Six by nine; forty-two. I always knew there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe..."

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  69. Denny:

    An (female) egg fertilized with a male Y chromosome will consequently have (undeveloped) nipples.

    We understand the process. We're asking why your god would feel the need to "design" males with "(undeveloped) nipples" in the first place. A fetish? A place to hang a ring? A nice spot for pinch-clamps? What?

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  70. Denny:

    Functionally, nipples (even males) are great "sensitive" areas to enjoy the pleasures (which God also created) of touch.

    So's the anus, Denny. What conclusions would you like us to draw from the fact that your god apparently designed that, too...?

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  71. Jud. This is one more answer to your question, “Why do guys have nipples?”

    If an X chromosome sperm fertilizes an X chromosome egg, one of the two X chromosomes undergoes X-inactivation, which inactivates one of the X chromosomes, so that only one set of virtually duplicate genes can develop properly. Until about week six after conception, the human embryo’s male or female sexual elements (already genetically determined) are on a common developmental track, subject to the presence of an SRY gene (absence = female default). At about week seven, the embryo’s sexual organs are modified to further develop as either male or female. This six week common (male and female) developmental track can be seen to reflect a very efficient and optimized developmental ‘design’ model. Putting aside the notion of nipples being a vestige of unguided evolution (subject to more evolutionary change, I guess), a creation view/model can provide logical rationale for men having nonfunctional breasts and therefore nipples. This view is consistent with more and more formerly presumed vestigial anatomical organs (e.g. appendix, Tail bone, junk DNA) now known to have functional purpose.

    Jud, you asked me why guys have nipples. You said my answers were “factually incorrect.” I welcome your correction of my cited facts. Until then, I have given you rational scientific and teleological answers. I think the ball’s in your court to come up with a rational explanation for why nipples on guys are an purposeless accident. Woops. I think that’s an oxymoron.

    Lone Primate said... , “Denny: We understand the process. We're asking why your god would feel the need to ‘design’ males with ‘(undeveloped) nipples’ in the first place.”

    Two reasons, and I already gave you the first;
    1. “efficient and optimized ‘design.’” vs. inefficient randomized evolution.
    2. Because the Designer wants to be seen.

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  72. 1. “efficient and optimized ‘design.’” vs. inefficient randomized evolution.

    Then why don't humans have just one sex? Your god does, after all. If he were after a one-body-fits-all solution, as you're suggesting to get around the stupidity of giving male mammals nipples, then why males at all? Why not simply make humans capable of parthenogenesis? Even some other vertebrates are capable of this, so apparently your god's not opposed to the idea.

    Nope, sorry, the efficiency suggestion falls on this hurdle.



    2. Because the Designer wants to be seen.

    Then why doesn't he just show up and shut all doubt down once and for all?

    I'm curious too as to why you've glossed over the rather incongruous detail that your god also saw fit to cluster an impressive amount of pleasure-receptive nerves around the anus, to the extent that every human being passes through an anal fixation stage. Seems a little at odds with the admonitions laid out in his supposed best-seller. Care to address that?

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  73. appendix

    A) The use of which is...? and:

    B) Why is it so superfluous to human survival that it has no life-limiting consequences to the organism upon its removal? That is to say, why design and incorporate it in the first place?

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  74. Tail bone

    How is it a "tail bone" unless it was at some point a "tail", Denny? :)

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