States Seek to Allow Intelligent Design in Classrooms

This article from Fox News contains some encouraging information as well as some very disturbing information. I will post my comments following the text of the article.

State Legislators Seek Bills to Allow Questioning of Evolution Theory in Schools

Thursday , May 01, 2008

By Julienne Gage

FC1

MIAMI, Fla. —

The debate over evolution is evolving. Although federal courts have banned teaching “creation theory” or “intelligent design theory” in public schools, legislators in several states are seeking new ways to allow teachers to cast doubt on the theory of evolution.

The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill this week that will require schools to teach “critical analysis” of evolution.

On Tuesday Michigan introduced a similar “academic freedom” bill. Louisiana, Alabama and Missouri also have legislation under debate, although no state has adopted a law yet.

Opponents say these bills that allow the questioning of evolution are a smokescreen for teaching creationism or intelligent design.

Creation theory is the religious belief that God created all life. Intelligent design is the theory that some features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an “intelligent cause.” While advocates contend intelligent design is a scientific theory, a federal judge in 2005 ruled that the theory is religious in nature and it is unconstitutional to teach it in public schools.

In Florida, Rep. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, who sponsored the House bill, insists it would “not permit, nor authorize, nor allow the teaching of creationism or intelligent design” or any other religious theory.

But the bill would offer supplementary scientific information and encourage teachers and students to engage in discussion that criticizes evolution.

“I do not expect teachers to go into the classrooms and present a bizarre array of theories,” Hays told FOXNews.com. “The theory of evolution, which most practicing biologists are teaching today, is inadequate in explaining our existence in the eyes of some scientists. Teachers need to be able to bring their students up to date.”

The state already has a measure that protects teachers who challenge evolution, but the Florida Senate has stopped short of ratifying the House’s proposed bill requiring it be taught.

But critics of these “academic freedom” measures say they are backdoor entries to teaching creationism.

“These anti-evolution bills are really the creationism du jour, an end run around the legal decisions that have banned the outright teaching of creationism,” said Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, Calif.

Scott said these bills tap into American cultural values of free speech and equality, but with the intended result of allowing the students themselves to “flip over to this dichotomous thinking that God must have created us.”

John West, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute — a Seattle-based think tank that supports intelligent design and offered language that most state legislatures have used to pattern their bills — said the measure merely encourages discussion, not outright teaching, of intelligent design.

“We oppose intelligent design mandates,” West said. “The text of both (Florida) bills make very clear that this isn’t protecting the right to give religious critiques.”

He added that the Discovery Institute opposes teaching creationism in the classroom and supported the 2005 ruling by a federal judge in Pennsylvania that banned a policy requiring ninth grade science teachers in Dover, Pa., to read a statement acknowledging the existence of intelligent design theory before teaching evolution.

Rep. John Moolenaar of Midland, Mich., who sponsored his state’s academic freedom bill and was a science major in college, said it’s only fair that students and teachers question, for example, phenomena like the sudden appearance of diverse species, not explained by theories of gradual progression.

“Educators should have the freedom to bring in the best scientific information to facilitate those discussions,” Moolenaar said. “We’re trying to get students to ask the question: What scientific evidence exists for what theories?”

But Scott said applying a “fairness” argument to science teaching is “wrong-headed,” and that such legislation is a disservice to Florida and the country’s science and biotechnology industry.

“Any student shaky on this subject can kiss those careers goodbye,” she said.

Dean Falk, Chairwoman of Florida State University’s Department of Anthropology, agreed. “I was totally taken aback. Florida already has a reputation for being very conservative when it comes to education and teaching science. This underscores that, so I think it’s an embarrassment,” she said.

Earlier this week, the Louisiana Senate passed a bill allowing local school boards to approve supplementary materials to be added to the science curriculum. Some teachers in the state are using 7-year-old textbooks.

In similar moves, the Alabama State Senate passed a non-harassment bill for teachers expressing critiques of evolution, and Missouri’s House of Representatives is expected to vote next week on a bill that would allow for intelligent design to be taught as a hypothesis.

Michigan’s bill, introduced Tuesday night, protects teachers and students from being penalized for discussing challenges to traditional scientific theories on such topics as biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, human impact on climate change and human cloning.

The hot button issue of course is how far to push the scientific debate and whether proposed legislation is really going to be limited to just scientific discussions.

—————————————————————————

1. I think it is great that some states are taking action to end the monopoly that evolution has had in science classrooms for decades.

2. Why is it that almost every other scientific discipline welcomes new ideas and research, but evolutionary biology seems intent on not even giving competing views a chance to be heard. To me this practically screams of how inadequate the theory of evolution is. If scientists are so confident that evolution is a fact that is irrefutable than the thought of a competing theory should not alarm them. In fact, since evolutionary theory is so perfect in its explanation of the origins of life, they should welcome the debate because they could prove just how silly other theories are when compared to evolution. Unfortunately, it appears that they do not have this confidence in their theory. Instead of promoting an intelligent debate, they seem content to sit in their ivory towers and lob verbal bombshells claiming that intelligent design is a completely unscientific theory that is steeped religion rather than science.

3. “Any student shaky on this subject can kiss those careers goodbye.” Eugenie C. Scott-executive director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, Calif. I find this statement highly disturbing. Ms. Scott is essentially threatening that anyone who is stupid enough to believe in religious creationism, like ID, will/should be blacklisted by the scientific community. This is a prime example, from one of the America’s leaders in science education, of the complete and total bias that is pervasive among many in the scientific community. She intends to squash any thought of ID by insuring that those who think to question evolution are not given a forum to pass on their ideas.

4. Here are some excerpts from an article written by my Natural Science professor (Michael Newton Keas) when I was at Oklahoma Baptist University. He is currently a professor at Biola and is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute. He advocates “teaching the controversy” and I fully agree with him.

One way to motivate students to study science and to think critically is to examine case studies of scientific controversy. Through case studies students will gain insight into the standard scientific procedure of inferring the best explanation from among multiple competing hypotheses. Charles Darwin argued, “a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question” (Origin of Species, p. 2). In today’s climate of public educational policy, this would mean, at a minimum, teaching not just the strengths of Darwin’s theory, but also the evidence that challenges it….A “teach the controversy” approach presents biology in a livelier and less dogmatic way. Students will learn science as it is actually practiced. Scientists often debate how to best interpret data and they even argue over what counts as legitimate “scientific explanation.” Controversy is normal within science (not just an intrusion). Students will learn to distinguish better between evidence (factual data) and inference (reasoning to conclusions). Students need these skills as citizens, whether they choose careers in science or other fields.

Dr. Keas and others in the ID movement are right, it is time to “teach the controversy.” There are more resources than ever available to those who wish to see what ID is all about and to study the areas where Darwinian evolution falls short.

My wife and I plan on homeschooling our kids for at least the first 2/3 of their education. I think we would be remiss not to explain to them the theory of evolution, however, we would also be remiss not to show them books like Jonathan Wells’ Icons of Evolution which refutes some of the main tenants of the theory. We would also be remiss not to teach them about many of the facts presented in Guillermo Gonzalez’ fabulous book The Privileged Planet. I think it is obvious where our bias will lie, but at least both sides will be taught and evolutionary theory will be presented as just that, a theory. One that is so full of holes it looks like moldy swiss cheese and forces the scientific community to attempt to hide the stench by squashing anyone who shows up with a rosier smelling idea.

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “States Seek to Allow Intelligent Design in Classrooms

  1. “1. I think it is great that some states are taking action to end the monopoly that evolution has had in science classrooms for decades.”

    Do you feel the same way about the monopoly that the atomic theory of matter has had? If not, why not?

    “2. Why is it that almost every other scientific discipline welcomes new ideas and research, but evolutionary biology seems intent on not even giving competing views a chance to be heard.”

    Only someone who knows nothing about the vigorous REAL debates that occur in biology could make such a statement. Biologists debate new ideas all the time, and new research is not just welcomed–it is essential. Every week, dozens of papers are published that present new research, and new ideas.

    “3. “Any student shaky on this subject can kiss those careers goodbye.” Eugenie C. Scott-executive director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, Calif. I find this statement highly disturbing. ”

    Would you also find it disturbing if she said that about someone who was shaky on the heliocentric model of the solar system “kissing those careers [in astronomy] goodbye”? If not, why not?

  2. Wow, John. You just illustrated the point of this entire article. Evolution is considered dogma and anyone willing to question it is given a good smack in the kisser. Or they lose their tenure. Well done.

    The vast majority of the United States acknowledges the truth of the shape of the earth, Einstein’s theory of relativity, the structure of DNA, and dozens of other scientific theories that are widely known. Evolution? Well, a really good-sized chunk of us just don’t buy it (like 50-60% I believe. I can look up the number and annotate this quote if you demand it).

    When you think about how most people do not take the time to actually understand most of the discoveries and theories coming out of modern science and that most people believe purely what the media or their teacher says about those discoveries and theories, you would think the vast majority of the U.S. would acknowledge the “fact” of macro-evolutionary theory. But they don’t.

    I’m sure you could also argue that those same people believe the moon is made of green cheese. But 50-60% is a lot of VERY stupid people. Are you sure there’s really that many idiots in the U.S? I mean, come on. They teach this stuff in public school every day, and over half of us don’t buy it?

    Maybe evolutionists should spend more time finding solid evidence and plugging the gaping holes in their theory (origin of the cell, lack of transitional forms, Cambrian explosion, etc., etc.) than tossing verbal and academic grenades at the ID scientists.

  3. “Evolution? Well, a really good-sized chunk of us just don’t buy it (like 50-60% I believe. I can look up the number and annotate this quote if you demand it).”
    Number of believers is in no way indicative of the truth value of an idea.

    “When you think about how most people do not take the time to actually understand most of the discoveries and theories coming out of modern science and that most people believe purely what the media or their teacher says about those discoveries and theories, you would think the vast majority of the U.S. would acknowledge the “fact” of macro-evolutionary theory. But they don’t.”
    You’re kidding, right? ALL people SEE of evolution is ‘controversy this’ and ‘theory in crisis’ that. OF COURSE people who don’t take the time to understand the real science are going to think there are legitimate claims to the validity of evolution. There’s a movie in theaters right now full of bunk anti-evolution pseudoscience. When is the last time you remember ANY movie addressing the FACT that the theory of evolution is the most successful theory in all of science, ever?
    Did you know that we’re more sure about the theory of evolution than we are about the theory of gravity?

    “But 50-60% is a lot of VERY stupid people. Are you sure there’s really that many idiots in the U.S?”
    No, they’re not stupid in the least bit. But they’ve been lied to and manipulated by people using religious issues to maintain power.

    “Maybe evolutionists should spend more time finding solid evidence and plugging the gaping holes in their theory”
    There is not one single ‘gaping hole’ in the theory of evolution.
    Yes, there are matters that haven’t been settled yet, but they are higher order matters. There has never been one single SHRED of evidence that suggests a fundamental flaw in the theory of evolution.

    I’m pretty sure you don’t even understand what the theory of evolution even is. Here’s a kicker for you – evolution is a fact. It has been observed, we know beyond one shadow of a doubt that things evolve. The theory of evolution is an attempt to explain WHY things evolve. If the theory of evolution were proven wrong tomorrow, it would not change the FACT that we KNOW things evolve. It would only mean we don’t know WHY things evolve.

    A quote by Saint Augustine that you’d do well to read:
    “If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]”

  4. “Wow, John. You just illustrated the point of this entire article. Evolution is considered dogma and anyone willing to question it is given a good smack in the kisser.”

    Not at all. If you think you can falsify the Theory of Evolution, the Nobel Prize will be yours. Have at it!

    “Or they lose their tenure. Well done.”

    Not even the producers of Expelled make the claim that a tenured professor has had hir or her tenure removed. You must know something they do not.

    “The vast majority of the United States acknowledges the truth of the shape of the earth, Einstein’s theory of relativity, the structure of DNA, and dozens of other scientific theories that are widely known. Evolution? Well, a really good-sized chunk of us just don’t buy it”

    As Jason notes, what does the majority opinion of the general public have to do with it? Do the majority of these people know the difference between allopatric and sympatric speciation? Do the majority of these people understand the Schroedinger wave equation or the Bernoulli principle? No. But that general lack of knowledge of particular scientific principles has nothing to do with the evidential strength behind those principles. Your majority argument is a pure red herring.

    ” . . . you would think the vast majority of the U.S. would acknowledge the “fact” of macro-evolutionary theory.”

    As Jason also notes, the counter-scientific propaganda of the fundamentalists (coupled with the fundamentalist-driven dilution of our public school science curricula) has massively harmed science education in this country. Countries that do not have this organized counter-science propaganda machine have much higher levels of acceptance of the evidence for evolution.

    “Are you sure there’s really that many idiots in the U.S?”

    I can think of a few.

    “Maybe evolutionists should spend more time finding solid evidence and plugging the gaping holes in their theory”

    Is our understanding of evolution somehow different than our understanding of Universal Gravitation. After all, we have not measured the gravitational force of every star and planet in the universe. Do the “gaps” in the Theory of Universal Gravitation bother you as much as the alleged “gaps” in the Theory of Evolution? If not, why not?

    “tossing verbal and academic grenades at the ID scientists.”

    The term “ID scientist” will remain an oxymoron until members of the ID community actually start doing scientific research, collecting data to support their hypothesis. Other than Behe, there is no one in the ID community who is a research biologist. At least, there is no one that I can think of. But even Behe accepts speciation and the common ancestry of humans and other primates.

  5. “Wow, John. You just illustrated the point of this entire article. Evolution is considered dogma and anyone willing to question it is given a good smack in the kisser.”

    Not at all. If you think you can falsify the Theory of Evolution, the Nobel Prize will be yours. Have at it!

    “Or they lose their tenure. Well done.”

    Not even the producers of Expelled make the claim that a tenured professor has had hir or her tenure removed. You must know something they do not.

    “The vast majority of the United States acknowledges the truth of the shape of the earth, Einstein’s theory of relativity, the structure of DNA, and dozens of other scientific theories that are widely known. Evolution? Well, a really good-sized chunk of us just don’t buy it”

    As Jason notes, what does the majority opinion of the general public have to do with it? Do the majority of these people know the difference between allopatric and sympatric speciation? Do the majority of these people understand the Schroedinger wave equation or the Bernoulli principle? No. But that general lack of knowledge of particular scientific principles has nothing to do with the evidential strength behind those principles. Your majority argument is a pure red herring.

    ” . . . you would think the vast majority of the U.S. would acknowledge the “fact” of macro-evolutionary theory.”

    As Jason also notes, the counter-scientific propaganda of the fundamentalists (coupled with the fundamentalist-driven dilution of our public school science curricula) has massively harmed science education in this country. Countries that do not have this organized counter-science propaganda machine have much higher levels of acceptance of the evidence for evolution.

    “Are you sure there’s really that many idiots in the U.S?”

    I can think of a few.

    “Maybe evolutionists should spend more time finding solid evidence and plugging the gaping holes in their theory”

    Is our understanding of evolution somehow different than our understanding of Universal Gravitation. After all, we have not measured the gravitational force of every star and planet in the universe. Do the “gaps” in the Theory of Universal Gravitation bother you as much as the alleged “gaps” in the Theory of Evolution? If not, why not?

    “tossing verbal and academic grenades at the ID scientists.”

    The term “ID scientist” will remain an oxymoron until members of the ID community actually start doing scientific research, collecting data to support their hypothesis. Other than Behe, there is no one in the ID community who is a research biologist. At least, there is no one that I can think of. But even Behe accepts speciation and the common ancestry of humans and other primates.

  6. John and Jason,
    Have either of you read any of Michael Behe’s books? What about the two books that I mentioned in my blog post? If you have actually read Behe you can’t deny that what he is doing is very well researched and done just as scientifically as the work any other scientist is doing. If you have read Jonathan Wells’ book, you can’t deny that some of the pillars of Darwinian evolution are incredibly shaky. If you have read Guillermo Gonzalez’ book you can’t deny his research and knowledge of astronomy and astronomical phenomena.
    Also, trying to dismiss ID as something that only religious nuts with an agenda support illustrates the incredible bias that many in the scientific community have. How can you explain a brilliant mathematician like David Berlinski (see his recent book “The Devil’s Delusion”), who happens to be an agnostic with no religious card to play, being a strong proponent of ID and finding many elements of Darwinian evolution preposterous?
    The point is that what these scientists are doing is valid science because they are going where their research leads them, not where their religious beliefs point. It is the scientific establishment that is being closed minded as they try to paint all ID scientists as having some religious motivation. Instead of trying to shut down the debate, they should welcome it. Since they obviously believe that Darwinian macro evolution is a fact, they should have no problem defending it against ID. However, they seem content to avoid the debate by trying to completely shut ID out the system by denying professors tenure, controlling the science curriculum (which should be decided by states and not the federal government), and crying that ID is really a tool of the religious to get God back in the classroom.
    I welcome the debate. Do you?

  7. You both completely ignored the holes I mentioned.

    The origin of the cell is very important, and no one ever wants to admit that they haven’t a clue. I’ve heard everything from soap bubbles to crystals to aliens. All of those ideas are difficult to swallow, perhaps just as difficult as the idea of a higher being.

    I know that there are some transitional forms between ape and man that are authentic. That’s fine. But what about the lack of transitional forms for pretty much everything else? There should be thousands with all the fossils we have, and they just aren’t there. No one wants to explain that either.

    And my point in citing the lack of belief in evolution was simply this:

    Other scientific discoveries had difficulties being accepted, such as the fact that the earth revolves around the sun. Suddenly man was not the center of universe, and people freaked. And the church freaked. Understandable.

    Evolution has had a decent amount of time and lots of support from the scientific community to enter the popular consciousness as fact. Simply put, it hasn’t. Even though the church freaked when earth was no longer the center of the universe, people still eventually accepted that scientific fact.

    The church freaked when Darwin wrote Origin of the Species. Understandable at the time. But we live in a science-based world now. No more spontaneous generation or voo-doo. We know about bacteria, DNA, and atoms. Heck, watch CSI! Science is cool now. The church is no longer in control of science, government, or the media (and saying otherwise is absurd.) We trust science, and we’ve had time to digest the theory as a society.

    But it’s given us collective indigestion.

    If evolutionary theory is truly without flaw, I’d argue that we would be recognizing it as fact by now. Instead we’re finding more and more reasons to disagree with it. I think that is significant.

  8. “Have either of you read any of Michael Behe’s books? What about the two books that I mentioned in my blog post? If you have actually read Behe you can’t deny that what he is doing is very well researched and done just as scientifically as the work any other scientist is doing.”

    I have not read Behe’s books, but I have skimmed them, and I have read his testimony and his expert report from the Kitzmiller trial, and I am generally familiar with his arguments.

    Sorry to disappoint you, but Behe is NOT presenting any original science in support of his ideas. If you would like to see what original scientific work looks like, pick up any issue of Nature, Science, JACS, Phys Rev, or any of the many scholarly scientific journals that are out there, and I’m sure you will immediately see the difference. Behe’s books are merely “popular” books written for a lay audience. There is no original data anywhere in them, so far as I have ever seen.

    As far as Wells is concerned, each of his seven examples of the so-called “Icons of Evolution” have been examined, and been thoroughly debunked. Let us take just one example: Haeckel’s embryo drawings. Wells argues that modern biology textbooks are using Haeckel’s embryo drawings to illustrate contemporary thought on comparative embryology. To but it bluntly, Wells is lying. Most modern textbooks simply use photographs of embryos to illustrate points regarding comparative embryology. The few textbooks that actually use Haeckel’s drawings use them only in an historical context, to illustrate how Haeckel was wrong. See, e.g, Futuyma.

    “The point is that what these scientists are doing is valid science because they are going where their research leads them, not where their religious beliefs point. It is the scientific establishment that is being closed minded as they try to paint all ID scientists as having some religious motivation. Instead of trying to shut down the debate, they should welcome it.”

    Excuse me, but exactly what original research are these “scientists” doing? Where are their experiments? Where is their data? Even by the IDC establishment’s own reckoning, the research output of journal articles in support of IDC is in total about the same as an average week’s output for evolutionary biology. Despite the fact that the Discovery Institute is lavishly funded, and has a stated goal of producing original scientific research, their research simply has not materialized.

    As far as IDC being a stalking horse for religion, the evidence speaks for itself:

    “Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”
    – William Dembski

    @Laura –

    Regarding the first cell: You are confusing abiogenisis with evolution. Evolution explains how life changes over time. It does not seek to explain how life arose in the first instance.

    Abiogenesis is an interesting and active area of scientific research. While we do not yet have a good explanation of how the first cell formed, we are closer to an answer than you might imagine. Lipid vesicle self-assembly, amino acid self-assembly, the self-replication of simple protein structures such as prions–all of these are providing scientists with valuable clues, and fruitful research paths.

    Now, if you wish to hypothesize that a supernatural being formed the first cell, and you think you can design a research program to test this hypothesis, well . . . good luck is all I can say. Supernatural explanations are not part of science, and even if they were, no one else has ever devised a reliable, verifiable, repeatable method for testing for supernatural causation.

  9. John,
    Here are some sources to consider before implying that ID’ers are lacking in the area of research and publication:

    Meyer, S. C. DNA and the origin of life: Information, specification and explanation, in Darwinism, Design, & Public Education (Michigan State University Press, 2003), Pp. 223-285. (PDF, 1.13MB)

    Behe, M. J., Design in the details: The origin of biomolecular machines, in Darwinism, Design, & Public Education (Michigan State University Press, 2003), Pp. 287-302

    Stephen Meyer, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117 (2004): 213-239.

    Lönnig, W.-E. Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis and the origin of irreducible complexity, Dynamical Genetics, Pp. 101-119. (PDF, 2.95MB; HTML)

    Jonathan Wells, “Do Centrioles Generate a Polar Ejection Force?,” Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum 98 (2005): 37-62.

    Scott Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer, “Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits,” Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Design & Nature, Rhodes Greece, edited by M.W. Collins and C.A. Brebbia (WIT Press, 2004). (PDF, 620KB)

    Del Ratzsch, Nature, Design, and Science: The Status of Design in Natural Science (State University of New York Press, 2001).

    A. Voie, “Biological function and the genetic code are interdependent,” Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, Vol 28(4) (2006): 1000-1004.

    John A. Davison, “A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis,” Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum 98 (2005): 155-166.

    M.J. Behe and D.W. Snoke, “Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues,” Protein Science, 13 (2004): 2651-2664.

    D. A. Axe, “Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds,” Journal of Molecular Biology, Vol. 341 (2004): 1295–1315.

    W.-E. Lönnig & H. Saedler, “Chromosome Rearrangements and Transposable Elements,” Annual Review of Genetics, 36 (2002): 389-410.

    I could keep going if you would like. The point is, ID researchers are being published and are doing solid researcher. I’m no biologist, my degrees are in psychology and religion, but I have written and done enough research to know that these are respectable publications.

    The idea that what the research they are doing is less significant because they piggy back on previous research is completely irrelevant. Very few, if any, research projects can claim complete originality. Using the research of others in no way lessens the validity of the research.

  10. Oh, and by the way Laura, the number of identified transitional fossils is so large, that I don’t think anyone has been able to put together anything even resembling a comprehensive list. But the know examples are vast. TalkOrigins has a good collection of famous transitional fossils.

    But I confess that I am a little confused by your argument. If you accept human evolution from earlier non-human primates, why do you balk at the evolution of other species?

    @ Caleb –

    Since you mentioned Behe, I’m sure you are aware that Behe has, in his latest book, stated that he accepts the common ancestry of the genera Pan and Homo. That is to say, that humans and chimps share a common ancestry. Behe accepts this, based on the overwhelming evidence.

    Caleb, will your faith permit you to likewise accept this evidence? Or does your religious faith require you to reject this evidence?

  11. I haven’t thoroughly read all the above comments, but one thing that stuck out to me after my study of the organ systems of the human body is the fragile balance and harmony between the systems. Each system is closely related to another. For example, the urinary system ties to the circulatory system in that the kidneys control blood pressure and pH of blood as well as filter blood. The sophistication of the body is insane. The more I study it, the more it blows my mind how incredibly Intelligent our Creator is. 🙂
    Yep, I’m a Creationist.

  12. John,

    We’re talking about origins research unless I’m completely mistaken. That begins with the cell. So yes, it is relevant.

    And if you’re going to argue that I can’t set up a test to prove a higher being designed the first cell, I agree with you. It is equally impossible to set up a research design that could tell us how a cell formed by random chance. So we’ll just say that we’re both using untestable hypotheses and leave it at that, shall we?

    My point on the transitional forms was I am willing to say that there are some fossils that aren’t fakes or frauds like the pig tooth or other famous examples. I’m also aware of very different interpretations of many of the major examples, but I’m not interested in debating you on that.

    As far as ape to man, I don’t believe it, purely because of my background in psychology. Language development/acquisition and the formation of the conscience (a sense of “fair play”) don’t have good explanations in evolutionary psychology. I’ve looked, and the arguments are feeble at best. We are fundamentally different from animals. The fact that we’re having this discussion is a perfect example.

    I won’t be responding any more because this is proving how nothing can be gained from this discussion. This whole conversation fails to recognize the larger issue: ID scientists have the right to do research, publish in journals, and teach without fear. It’s called academic freedom. Or freedom of speech, if you like. We have right to believe what we want and say what we think.

    And you have the right to disagree. Enjoy it.

  13. I believe the point that Behe and other ID’ers try to make is that, even if you espouse evolution and believe that all life descended from a common ancestor, evolution fails horribly in explaining the origins of life.

    That is why many in the ID movement are not “young earth creationists.” They simply find Darwinian evolution lacking in explaining the origins of life.

    I happen to agree it is lacking. If you go back far enough, evolutionary theory falls apart.

    I freely admit my bias in this argument. I believe the Biblical account of creation. I also disagree with many in the intelligent design movement who hold to evolution and the variations of the big bang theory. I do, however, agree with them on the central tenant: there is a Designer.

    I could go into all sorts of theological and philosophical arguments for why so many so desperately want evolution to be true. It takes God out of the picture and there is no accountability to a higher power. How incredibly liberating! With God out of the picture, morality becomes subjective, ever “evolving” and opens us up to all sorts of horrors like abortion on demand and even genocide (and yes, I do know about how religion can be twisted as in the Crusades to supposedly justify brutality).

    I know, I’m committing the unpardonable sin by mixing science with my faith and for many it tarnishes my credibility beyond repair.

    Personally, even if I am wrong about earth being young and a literal six day creation, I still believe that the evidence points to a Designer. Plus, I believe that the accountability my faith demands makes me a better human being than I otherwise would be.

    So, slap a label on me and call me a religious nut job, but I believe that true science, in the end, will ultimately point back to a Creator.

  14. Wow. Quite a debate going on here!

    As for “if you want to see good science, pick up the journals,” I would contend that a lot of mediocre science gets published in good journals. You should see my journal club on a weekly basis. We rip nearly everything to shreds.

    As for ID people “not doing good science,” you have to admit, they’re dealing with a topic that’s very, very hard to do experiments on. Our lifespans are too short to recreate the primordial soup in a laboratory and then wait a billion years to see if any cells form. And we have no way of transporting ourselves back in time to watch whatever intelligent being we happen to believe in plant the first cell there. So the best we can do, on either side of the fence, is speculate based on what we observe in the modern day. And that brings me to the real point…

    The problem with this whole debate is not that anyone is doing sloppy research and presenting false evidence, it’s that we’re interpreting the same good evidence in two different ways. I absolutely agree with the skeptics–evolution IS a fact. We’ve watched it happen, with AIDS on a daily basis and the flu on a yearly basis and bacteria way more often than we’d like and even mice in Yellowstone National Park once. A vast majority of the church, with the possible exception of a handful who are trying too hard to be literalists, HAS gotten used to Darwin’s theory. The difference is not acceptance vs. denial of fact, it’s intepretation of fact.

    True Darwinists look at the evidence and see the (untestable, by the way) possibility that the concept of descent from a common ancestor can be traced all the way to a single cell and, beyond that, to the concept of abiogenesis and the descent of all life from chemicals.

    ID theorists look at the evidence and see the (untestable, by the way) possibility that common descent can be traced all the way back to the first cell but can’t be traced all the way back to chemicals.

    Some modern Creationists look at the evidence and see the (untestable, by the way) possibility that common descent can’t be traced back to the first cell, but can be traced back to “prototype” animals (God created animals, but not the same animals we have today).

    We’re all accepting the evidence but interpreting it according to our own worldviews. The question remains: why is this such a threat to the scientific community, when this has been the norm for all other fields of academia from eternity past? No matter what your worldview is, you can presumably continue to use the highly successful theory of evolution as a framework for research.

  15. Call me crazy but… You’re dead wrong.

    Newtonian physics was the law of the land for ages, and then Einstein’s physics “replaced” Newtonian physics, at large extent. That’s how science works. If there’s something out there as credible or more credible with a ton of evidence and a good basis in natural reality, it has the power to overturn evolutionary theory.

    But not the fact.

    Evolution — the fact — happens. It undeniably happens. While the medium for the evolution of species could change (this would be the theory of evolution) and has changed (so much since Darwin’s time it’s not even “Darwinian”, as most would claim), but you can’t change that it does happen, regardless of whether it’s by natural selection as proposed by Charles Darwin, or some other crazy mechanism.

    If someone were to say that physics didn’t exist and goddidit, scientists are going to fight HARD to keep that out of the science textbooks, because even if it were true it’s not scientific.

    In order for something to be scientific, it has to be provable in every aspect (evolution is, ID is by logical inference alone), it has to be testable in every aspect (evolution is, ID is not), and it has to be observed in nature (prior yet again).

    How does evolution “undeniably happen?”

    Viruses. Bacterial infections. HIV evolves so rapidly that the medicines we use to control it inside the bodies of those infected are often resisted in very few generations. Diseases like HIV evolve because they’re bad at copying themselves, and by chance eventually a strain will arise due to the high rate of multiplication by the virus in which there is resistance (whether partial or full) to whatever medicines were used prior. This is the notion of natural selection in action. The ones that are resistant to the medicines being taken are the ones most likely to survive and breed, thus creating more and more strains of multiple-resistant HIV.

    I know a guy who has taken 14 out of 19 medications available to him. That’s incredible. But that’s also how fast the virus replicates, coupled with how badly it replicates itself.

    That’s also how evolution works.

    The same can be said for many diseases, viruses and otherwise. Influenza. The reason you get a flu vaccine year to year is not that different strains are spreading year-by-year (they are, but for a rather unorthodox reason to many), but instead that the single strains are evolving so fast that they resist the older vaccines. This is exactly what we see in HIV, many anti-biotic resistant infectious diseases and likewise.

    So if it happens on a small scale so fast, why doesn’t it happen on large scale observably? It does.

    Traits that have been passed on by those most fit to survive in human society itself (height, for example) have made us live longer and have better aspects than our ancient relatives, or even more recent ones. Though this isn’t the most beneficial or welcome example: look at women’s shoe size from 1800 to present. The change is drastic, and even though the practical use is almost null, it’s still there. This is, again, how evolution works.

    Thing is, when you’ve got big creatures, it takes a very very long time to transition to new species or develop so differently that certain types of animals look very different even in the same animal class.

    Dogs. Your domesticated dog, for example, was made small, medium, or large from selective breeding. From wolves. When we started to domesticate “dogs,” they were still wolves. But yet they’ve led to such animals as chihuahua — and this is provable because this happens in the time span of a few hundred years.

    How can this happen so fast though, and not in nature? Simple enough: they’re intelligently designed, if you’ll pardon the pun.

    We force animals to breed to our specifications, thus guiding their evolution. But it will still take millions of years for your common domesticated dog to become an entirely new species of animal. It’s still well on its way though.

    Plus, the evidence for transitions throughout nature is mind-boggling. Ever seen Archaeopteryx? Tiktaalik? Archaeopteryx transitions dinosaurs to birds, while tiktaalik transitions fish to amphibians.

    Even supposedly discredited evolutionary oddities like “Lucy” (which isn’t fake, by the way) are solid proof of evolutionary transitions.

    Regardless, the purpose of “Academic Freedom” is not to promote freedom in academia.

    It’s made to promote freedom to challenge evolution and evolution alone. If it were to, say, challenge the notion that the Earth was round, we’d have a few raised eyebrows. But since it’s about “just a theory”, everyone wonders why we can’t have some scrutiny.

    An example I used on another blog to a history teacher was as follows: To say you want to question the so-called holes in evolution for purposes of validating whether it happens or not is like questioning whether the US exists based on all that we don’t know about it.

    Point being we do know enough about evolution, including having seen it in action, to say it does exist. Just like the United States. We didn’t see the constitution being written, but this is documented in history books. Sure, no one was around to see evolution, but nature left some documentation for us in the form of fossils. There are literally THOUSANDS of transitional fossils you WON’T learn about in average schools because of how hard the same people pushing academic freedom have pushed to keep them out of the textbooks.

    So what is their goal?

    If you get someone questioning evolution — the theory — because we don’t know everything about it (and we never will, as goes for any theory, including gravitation and general relativity as a whole), it’ll lead to two things:

    1. Students will see evolution being challenged and wonder why it’s the only thing being challenged, then question its validity despite the fact that it is THE MOST WELL SUPPORTED SCIENTIFIC THEORY IN EXISTENCE, and;
    2. Someone will eventually question that if “evolution has so many holes, why are we teaching it?” or “it alone?”; you should know what happens next. But to fill in the blanks, it goes something like this: evolution is omitted, or intelligent design is given its own section in the science section.

    Intelligent design is not testable. It’s not science.

    It says life was too complex to have arisen at random, so it must have been designed. This appears to be a universal law, so who created the creator? Then who created the creator’s creator? Who created the creator’s creator’s creator? Ad infinitum. It never ends. Each designer would require a designer, which means that one of them has to be the character called god.

    I would have no problem with this, except this tells you nothing about life. It doesn’t tell you why we were designed, it doesn’t tell you who the designer is, it doesn’t tell you what the designer used to design, and it doesn’t allow us to study him.

    You need all of those things to be science. You have to study every aspect of something for it to be scientific. This is simple enough, really!

    If doubt is cast on evolution, who is to say the benefits won’t disappear? The reason you have medicine for ANY illness you would experience during your lifetime is because we understand evolution and intelligently design (lol) the solutions.

    Given all of this, doesn’t it seem rather… absurd to deny or question the validity of evolution?

    If you want to question the validity of evolutionary theory, fine, but you must find a better mechanism for change of species than natural selection. If you can do that, you’re going down in history, and science will be changed yet again.

    By the way, I’m a 17 year old 11th grade student who has been homeschooled since 2002. My parents brought me into homeschooling for fear of things like evolution and taught me via Christian books. As you can see, it’s had the adverse effect, but some aren’t so lucky.

  16. @ Copache:

    I’m impressed: you show a better understanding of scientific principles, and the evidence that scientists rely on, than most adults. I seriously hope you are considering a career in science.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s