Friday, September 30, 2005

Christianity the cause of societal dysfunction?

Ms Ruth Gledhill set the Blogs buzzing with her article in the Times. She reports on a study by Gregory Paul (a dinasaur palaeontologist and an anti ID man) available here. It seems that the study was of a poor quality and that Ms Gledhill misrepresented the study in her article. (See a Christian Statistician's view here.) What is more interesting is that the Times editor made the decision to print such an article... are the major players in the MSM nailing their colours to the mast? I wonder what discussion went on at the Times HQ over this?

How is all this related to ID you may ask... well interestingly about a third of Gregory Paul's article is about evolution and creation. He makes the link himself. He is seeking to debunk the idea that religion is the determining factor in the development of moral behaviour.

Darwinists want to claim that their doctrines are morally benign... both to society and to Christianity. This (to most fair minded people) is a huge error. Every clear view of the universe results in a particular view of morality. King David of Israel wrote a Psalm about it.... The fool said in his heart ... No God.....they are corrupt... Human goodness and purity is related to our distance from God and the character of our chosen King.

How many countries founded on atheism and Darwinism would you have liked to live in?

As G.K Chesterton put it..."even if I was an atheist I would still want my doctor, my lawyer and my banker to believe in God."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dawkins and Coyne – Just plain wrong.

Jerry Coyne Richard Dawkins

Dawkin's and Coyne have sought to provide a fundamentalist darwinian re-interpretation of the UK national Curriculum here
Guardian Article
(Thursday September 1, 2005)

They have given their considered opinion on a teach the controversy view of origins in biology. I argue here that they are just plain wrong.... both about intelligent design and about teaching science.

They say that the whole intelligent design movement is simply an attempt to sneak religion into science and that there is no controversy in science about biological origins. They repeat the usual objections to the intelligent design movement… that it is creationism poorly disguised. This is a mistake and these two educators ought to know better. Jonathon Witt has pointed out that the origins of the Intelligent Design movement are entirely different from the origins of the Scientific Creationism movement (see here.)

To classify intelligent design with phlogiston, alchemy and the “stork theory” is simply indulging in silly talk and they should know better.

They immediately undermine their own parallels by taking intelligent design much more seriously than my daughters would take the stork theory!

They seek to establish the point that intelligent design theory does not belong in science lessons simply because it is not science. This is because “positive evidence for it would fill peer reviewed journals”

They claim that “There simply isn't any ID research to publish” this is simply false and they both know it is false. See here.

There is also mounting clear public domain evidence (as opposed to private suspicions and hearsay) that there is a real problem with publishing ID material in the normal peer reviewed literature.

They claim that all that ID people ever do is criticise evolution offering negative evidence that it is a paradigm that lacks clear proof. This is also wrong… such is the power of Behe’s arguments in Darwin’s Black Box that it has caused serious self examination for many biologists. His challenges are clearly causing a stir or the two words “intelligent” and “design” would not be the buzz words that they are.

What I find most interesting in this whole debate is that it is causing the ardent Darwinists like Dawkins and Coyne to make statements which clearly betray an uncritical approach to evolution. They are making silly statements which will with increasing frequency come back home to haunt their own rafters….

How about this one…

Biologists, on the other hand, can confidently claim the equivalent "cinematic" sequence of fossils for a very large number of evolutionary transitions. Not all, but very many, including our own descent from the bipedal ape Australopithecus. And - far more telling - not a single authentic fossil has ever been found in the "wrong" place in the evolutionary sequence. Such an anachronistic fossil, if one were ever unearthed, would blow evolution out of the water.

Do any full time palaeontologists want to comment on this statement???

The UK national Curriculum specifically mentions Darwin’s theory of evolution in the ideas and evidence section of KS4 Sc1:
1) Students should be taught:
b) how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence [for example, Darwin's theory of evolution]
c) ways in which scientific work may be affected by the contexts in which it takes place [for example, social, historical, moral and spiritual], and how these contexts may affect whether or not ideas are accepted

In this context is the National Curriculum referring to the kind of controversies that Dawkins and Coyne would have students focus on (namely the Cambrian Explosion, Evolution of human behaviour, sexual selection, the target of natural selection and natural selection versus genetic drift) or is it referring to a much more interesting and fundamental controversy about whether the big picture of evolution is actually true or not?

I would argue that set in the context in which it is found here (especially noting the immediate following statement c) we have to conclude that Dawkins and Coyne are seeking to impose their own view of what should be taught rather than seeking to fairly interpret what the national curriculum actually states.

I would argue that to exclude the teaching of special creation and intelligent design means the re-writing of history which Dawkins and Coyne rightly oppose when it comes to the denial of the Holocaust. The actual historical context for the acceptance or rejection of Darwin’s theory was very much that of Judeo Christian views of creation and the validity or otherwise of the Mosaic account of origins in the first book of the bible. To pretend that it was otherwise is just as much a rewriting of history as Holocaust denial.

To exclude such a fundamental controversy actually does disservice to budding scientists… Even if intelligent design turns out to be completely wrong it will still have done a monumental service to the cause of true science by forcing biologists to look more carefully at the differences between objective evidence and subjective assumptions. This is something that Dawkins and Coyne seem to be most reluctant to do.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Origins of Intelligent Design

Jonathon Witt (Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute) has a brief account of the origins of the Intelligent design movement. His main point it that this movement is historically distinct from Creationism and it is therefore an error to state that it is the latest attempt by Creationists to overthrow the Edwards v. Aguillard 1987 ruling in the US Supreme Court. This interesting article is available here.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Who invented the wheel?

Have you ever wondered how they got the huge stones to Stonehenge? It is said that these huge blocks of stone had to be dragged all the way from Wales!

Most accounts have a description of sledge --> log rollers --> primitive wheel rather like the diagram bellow:

The picture below shows the worlds smallest man made motorised wheel. A University of California physicist has created the first nano-scale motor. The entire electric motor is about 500 nanometers across, 300 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

However it will suprise you to know that the primitive wheels that men invented were not the first and the tiny motor above is not the smallest.

Da nah! Enter the bacterial flagellum!

Here are bacteria shown on the end of a pin. On the end of a bacterium there is sometimes a whiplike structure called a "flagellum." It has been shown that this is in fact by far the smallest functional wheel and motor rolled into one. This is the structure which is at the heart of the intelligent design debate. The real question is who invented this wheel and this tiny motor. It is made up of more than 40 seperate complicated parts each one of which has it's own gene to code for its assembly. Each part is needed to make the motor work. A diagram of one of the parts required for the motor to work is shown on the right. Each of these components has a precise set of instructions coding for its construction. The real question is how is it possible for atheists to know all of this and still maintain that Darwin was right.

Darwinism....absolutely broken down?

The closing words of Darwin's greatest book (The origin of Species) are these:

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

Down House where Darwin worked.

Darwin gives the smallest possible nod to a deity in these words but we cannot suppose that he was serious in wanting to acknowledge that the origin of life was caused by an intelligent designer since his life was devoted to the removal of the notion of teleology from biology. What he did not know however was how inappropriate was his statement about the simplicity of the organisms that supposedly started the dance of life.

"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case.
(Charles Darwin)

There are two examples which (as far as I am concerned) provide exactly what Darwin failed to find.

1. The origin of life (abiogenesis) - far from being simple is the greatest problem for naturalistic biology that I know (despite the failure of modern biology to acknowledge its immensity)

2. The origin of complex structures showing many complex interdependent parts like the bacterial flagellum.

I think if Darwin were alive today he would be honest enough to admit defeat in the face of modern molecular biology and acknowledge that his theory had in fact ..."absolutely broken down."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Where does Darwin Lead Us?

Evolutionary Hymn

Lead us, Evolution, lead us
Up the future's endless stair;
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us.
For stagnation is despair:
Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
Lead us nobody knows where.

Wrong or justice, joy or sorrow,
In the present what are they
while there's always jam-tomorrow,
While we tread the onward way?
Never knowing where we're going,
We can never go astray.

To whatever variation
Our posterity may turn
Hairy, squashy, or crustacean,
Bulbous-eyed or square of stern,
Tusked or toothless,
mild or ruthless,
Towards that unknown god we yearn.

Ask not if it's god or devil,
Brethren, lest your words imply
Static norms of good and evil
(As in Plato) throned on high;
Such scholastic, inelastic,
Abstract yardsticks we deny.

Far too long have sages vainly
Glossed great Nature's simple text;
He who runs can read it plainly,
'Goodness = what comes next.'
By evolving, Life is solving
All the questions we perplexed.

Oh then! Value means survival-Value.
If our progeny
Spreads and spawns and licks each rival,
That will prove its deity
(Far from pleasant, by our present,
Standards, though it may well be).

C S Lewis

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Who was the first Darwinist?

King David about 1000BC spoke of those in his own day who said in their hearts "There is no God!"

Atheists have been around for a long time!

It is also important to remember that Darwin was not the first Darwinist. There have been many who seek to create God free zones in the universe in the past and there will be many more in the future. Lucretius the Roman poet gave a startlingly up to date account of natural selection about 60 years before Christ.

"In those days also the telluric world
Strove to beget the monsters that upsprung
With their astounding visages and limbs-
The Man-woman- a thing betwixt the twain,
Yet neither, and from either sex remote-
Some gruesome Boggles orphaned of the feet,
Some widowed of the hands, dumb Horrors too
Without a mouth, or blind Ones of no eye,
Or Bulks all shackled by their legs and arms
Cleaving unto the body fore and aft,
Thuswise, that never could they do or go,
Nor shun disaster, nor take the good they would.
And other prodigies and monsters earth
Was then begetting of this sort- in vain,
Since Nature banned with horror their increase,
And powerless were they to reach unto
The coveted flower of fair maturity,
Or to find aliment, or to intertwine In works of Venus.
For we see there must Concur in life conditions manifold,
If life is ever by begetting life
To forge the generations one by one...

And in the ages after monsters died,
Perforce there perished many a stock, unable
By propagation to forge a progeny.
For whatsoever creatures thou beholdest
Breathing the breath of life, the same have been
Even from their earliest age preserved alive
By cunning, or by valour, or at least
By speed of foot or wing. And many a stock
Remaineth yet, because of use to man...

But those beasts to whom
Nature has granted naught of these same things-
Beasts quite unfit by own free will to thrive
And vain for any service unto us
In thanks for which we should permit their kind
To feed and be in our protection safe-
Those, of a truth, were wont to be exposed,
Enshackled in the gruesome bonds of doom,
As prey and booty for the rest, until
Nature reduced that stock to utter death. "

(Lucretius De Rerum Natura 5 837-77)

Lucretius was a brilliant poet and it was his superb Latin poetry that ensured that the ideas of the materialist Philosopher Epicurus remained current in peoples minds following the Renasiance. It was this kind of thinking that prepared the intellectual world for the ideas of Charles Darwin.

King David in his Psalms connects heart atheism with the lowering of moral standards and the disruption of society... that connection is still obvious following Darwins efforts.