Thursday, April 13, 2006

Steve Jones’ Lecture.

Steve Jones argues that the evidence presented in Darwin’s Origin of Species provides a case which is “difficult to deny.” Thus after reading the Origin of Species it is no longer possible to be both a scientist and a creationist.

He focused on the changes in the AIDS virus and the changes in the gene frequencies of certain kinds of receptors for HIV as a clear demonstration of evolution by natural selection.

He then looked at the similarities and differences between the chimp and the human genome and the differences in gene expression in different tissues between chimps and humans.

According to Steve it is the origin of language that makes us human and we ourselves are the only intelligent designers not someone else up in the sky!

The Wedge Strategy
In the question section at the end there was a question about Creationism and its increase in the UK and whether we should be worried about it. This (to me) produced the most interesting responses from Steve Jones.

His explanation of the increase of creationism was that it has its roots in the reassertion of Islamic identity of muslim groups in the UK with a sort of copy cat effect on Christians. (I think this is wrong)

He sees creationism as a deliberate choice to be ignorant and therefore as expressing a choice for irrationality which is dangerous.

He blames the establishment of faith schools for this and criticies the Blair government for promoting faith schools in the UK.

The wedge strategy he says is a strategy to change society in the US and is very dangerous. The thin end of the wedge is to get creationism into schools. This will in time produce a fundamentalist society which will be a tremendous improvement and we can get back to burning witches and things again.

Steve showed little understanding of what creationism is and little understanding of its history. Given that the title of the talk was “Why creationism is wrong and Evolutionism is right” it was a disappointing talk. Steve is a gifted communicator and an able presenter but this talk simply does not deal with the issues that need to be dealt with. It showed no understanding of the real differences between the intellectual structure of intelligent design and historic creationism and really did not deal with the controversy at all.

It is the issue of the origin of life and the origin of irreducible biological complexity that is the interesting area in this debate. Continually presenting evidence for micro-evolution and homology does not really move us further forward as to whether random change is a sufficient explanation for biological complexity.

33 Comments:

Blogger allygally said...

"The wedge strategy he says is a strategy to change society in the US and is very dangerous. The thin end of the wedge is to get creationism into schools. This will in time produce a fundamentalist society which will be a tremendous improvement and we can get back to burning witches and things again."

the Prof. is right. The aim is to use education as the thin end of the wedge to destroy the separation of church and state in the USA. The DI and others make little atempt to hide this as one of their main aims.

"It showed no understanding of the real differences between the intellectual structure of intelligent design and historic creationism and really did not deal with the controversy at all."

According to the Dover decision there is no diffeence between ID and previous versions of creation science. So the Prof is right again.

"It is the issue of the origin of life and the origin of irreducible biological complexity that is the interesting area in this debate."

The ToE is not really concerned with origins: it addresses the development of life, and evolution by natural selection. A refutation of Irreducible Complexity can be found here:
http://www.case.edu/artsci/biol/debate.htm

"Continually presenting evidence for micro-evolution and homology does not really move us further forward as to whether random change is a sufficient explanation for biological complexity."

Continually saying "It looks very complex to me, so it is proof for Genesis 1", really only takes us backward, which is what the Prof means when he says that:

"creationism as a deliberate choice to be ignorant and therefore as expressing a choice for irrationality which is dangerous."

7:02 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

"The ToE is not really concerned with origins: it addresses the development of life, and evolution by natural selection."

ToE and OoL are closely related areas of sudy and are two adjacent peas in the naturalism pod.

If you look in most textbooks you will find them close together.

I would say that macro-evolution and a chance OoL are two sections of a single chapter in the atheist's statement of faith. ;-)

8:49 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

"separation of church and state in the USA"

Interestingly the doctrine of the seperation of the church and the state is a basically protestant doctrine developed in the aftermath of the Reformation. The idea however has slowly corrupted into the idea of an atheistic state with the only religion allowed to influence the affairs of the state being atheism.

Originally the idea was two spheres of sovreignty both under God.

8:54 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

"According to the Dover decision there is no diffeence between ID and previous versions of creation science. So the Prof is right again."

The Dover decision was infallible?

8:55 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Continually saying "It looks very complex to me, so it is proof for Genesis 1",


If that is all the ID movement was saying it is hard to see what all the fuss is about!

I am trying to be fair to the arguments of both sides...

8:58 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

"It showed no understanding of the real differences between the intellectual structure of intelligent design and historic creationism and really did not deal with the controversy at all."

It's healthy to engage in debate but it is also clear that the DI has no other motive but to promote a 'contrivance' not a controversy - there isn't one. In over ten years of supposed development their theory is still devoid of any substance so so it can hardly be called 'intellectual'. Not even the Templeton's genuine offer of funding was taken up? In the real world of research that doesn't happen, ergo ID isn't researchable.

As for the conflation with creationisms, it is precisely because of ID's inability to distinguish itself from it's creationist roots that they lost in Dover. They left an undeniable paper-trail to the fact.

Also, it always amuses me to see atheism labelled as a religion.

10:57 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Brian,

Atheism is clearly a religion using the word "religion" in the sense "a particular system of belief" especially the thoughts which provide the basis of an obligation or moral bond. What we are seeing is that it is associated with a moral framework which is very different from the Judeo-Christian framework upon which our legal system was developed.

I am interested in your amusement. Can you explain?

7:48 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Discovery response to Charles L. Harper Jr comment "foundation asked intelligent design proponents for research proposals” but that “they never came in.”
here

8:15 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

"It's healthy to engage in debate but it is also clear that the DI has no other motive but to promote a 'contrivance' not a controversy - there isn't one. "

This response is becoming more and more ridiculous. See here

8:18 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

"it is precisely because of ID's inability to distinguish itself from it's creationist roots that they lost in Dover."

If that is the reason ID lost at Dover then Dover is clearly a mistake.

8:26 am  
Anonymous Brian said...

There are a numerous qualified people out there who spend there own time and effort debunking the concepts of ID. It's esy to come up with a concept that sounds vaguely scientific. Unfortunately it takes a bigger effort to dismantle the arguments in a rigorous manner. The only science being done with ID is in showing it's weaknesses, which are numerous. This leads to a false perception that ID is being debated in the scientific community rather than being debunked.

Where is the ID research? If you want to engage in scientific debate you have to produce some science first. Every output to-date has been shown to be unreliable in the scientific arena. The Behe/Snokes paper is touted as 'drawing on ID concepts' yet doesn't mention ID? That's it? As I mentioned earlier, over ten years of 'research' and their output is still of zero value in any scientic manner. They do have a very good PR machine though which keeps this false debate alive.

9:26 am  
Anonymous Brian said...

Andrew

By definition atheism is a 'disbelief' in the concept/benefits of there being a deity. It is a choice not to subcsribe to a religious viewpoint. It doesn't deny any religious perspective, just takes the option of of not believing in them. I don't see that as being religious - it is religious-neutral?

Labelling it as a religion (I'd never heard that before), as has happened lately in the ID camp, amuses me because of the attempt to deflect the religious motives of ID. They are labelling ID opponents as religiously motivated by virtue of the fact that they believe natural phenomena arise through the action of nature, not divinity. There is nothing wrong with believing in both but that doesn't make both science, or for that matter religion.

9:27 am  
Blogger allygally said...

Brian,

"Atheism is clearly a religion using the word "religion" in the sense "a particular system of belief".."

"Black" is clearly "white" in the sense of "a particular colour of paint".

10:14 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Andrew Rowell said...


"ToE and OoL are closely related areas of sudy"

Granted

"and are two adjacent peas in the naturalism pod."

They are scientific theories. Like gravity and relativity and..you name it. All naturalistic explanations. Is your point that all naturalistic explanations are atheistic?

"If you look in most textbooks you will find them close together."

Indeed. But they are not the same. The ToE says nothing about origins, but creationists, who are obsessd by origins, seem bothered by it. Why?

"I would say that macro-evolution and a chance OoL are two sections of a single chapter in the atheist's statement of faith."

Not everyone who rejects creationism is an atheist. Not everyone who accepts ToE is an atheist. Are you obsessed with atheism?

"I would say that..." Belief and fact and evidence and proof are not the same thing.

1:17 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Andrew Rowell said...

"Interestingly the doctrine of the seperation of the church and the state is a basically protestant doctrine developed in the aftermath of the Reformation. The idea however has slowly corrupted into the idea of an atheistic state with the only religion allowed to influence the affairs of the state being atheism."


The USA instituted the separation of church and state because so many of its early population had fled Europe precisely because of state persecution of their religion. Ironically, despite the efforts to destroy the separation, in the long run it is religion that would suffer if the state was allowed to interfere in faith matters.

I am interested in why it is so important to you to pretend that atheism is a religion. Can you explain?

1:30 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Andrew Rowell said...

"According to the Dover decision there is no diffeence between ID and previous versions of creation science. So the Prof is right again."

The Dover decision was infallible? "

The Dover decision was comprehensive. It was also scathing. And it was a total defeat for ID and creationism.

If you do not think so, why not read the judgement and post a refutation of the judge's key findings. If you are right, the decision should be easy to discredit.

1:42 pm  
Blogger Paul (probably - maybe Liz) said...

Allygally: Well, the Discovery Institute would already have claimed to have discredited the verdict. Of course, you would dispute their analysis....

10:39 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

Paul: care to post any specific criticisms of the ruling so we can discuss them?

11:45 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally

The ToE says nothing about origins, but creationists, who are obsessd by origins, seem bothered by it. Why?

The Theory of evolution can be divided in two (I think very usefully for the purposes of more intelligent debate) Micro-evolution- changes among and between species that can be observed directly within the lifetime of a research project.

Macro-evolution - an extrapolation from the observed changes combined with evidence from fossils to provide a comprehensibe account of the origin of all living organisms on the planet from the first simple living organisms.

Macro-evolution is proposed as an entirely random- chance process without any intelligent input at all.

Naturally the question immediately follows... how did the first living organism arrive.. and hence the very close relationship between the two especially in biology texts.

"The ToE says nothing about origins, but creationists, who are obsessd by origins, seem bothered by it. Why? "

The ToE is one strand of an account of biological origins without the involvement of intelligence.

Creationists are convinced that biology on the planet could not be what it is without some intelligent input.

Many of them are concerned about this area especially because it is an area of study which has huge religious implications.

Our explanations of origins whatever it is will always have religious implications.

Some Creationists are convinced that the OoL and ToE explanations of origins are irreconcilable with their deeply held religious views and that at least in some areas they have to choose between one or the other... both cannot be true.

Understandably they want to be certain either way as they believe that huge issues hang on their decision on this matter.

Does that help?

10:38 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally,

"Not everyone who rejects creationism is an atheist. Not everyone who accepts ToE is an atheist. Are you obsessed with atheism?"

I would disagree with the first proposition and agree with the second.

Am I obsessed with atheism? Hmm
Do I appear to be?

I am very interested in atheism indeed. Atheism alarms me and I worry a great deal about it and would love to see it decline worldwide.

Obsessed... in the sense of a persistent worry and anxiety.

10:46 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

"I would say that...Belief and fact and evidence and proof are not the same thing."

I entirely agree. Belief ought to be the response to fact and evidence and proof.

10:50 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally,
"I am interested in why it is so important to you to pretend that atheism is a religion. Can you explain? "

Good I am glad you find it interesting. I find this subject fascinating... I am trying to explain...but struggling... I will do another post on this...another off-topic I am afraid!

10:52 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally,
"The USA instituted the separation of church and state because so many of its early population had fled Europe precisely because of state persecution of their religion. Ironically, despite the efforts to destroy the separation, in the long run it is religion that would suffer if the state was allowed to interfere in faith matters."

The separation of church and state was understood in a theistic context which is totally different from the way it is understood today. The founders understood both the church and the state to be "under God".

10:56 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally,
"The Dover decision was comprehensive. It was also scathing. And it was a total defeat for ID and creationism.

If you do not think so, why not read the judgement and post a refutation of the judge's key findings. If you are right, the decision should be easy to discredit."

I have read the judgement and while I am shocked at some of the things that the pro-ID people did I also felt strongly that the Judge was swallowing the ACLU position hook line and sinker like a very greedy fish! My immediate impression was that it is very difficult for any of us to be objective about this.

I really do not believe that this is the end of the story with regards to ID and the US legal system.

11:09 am  
Blogger allygally said...

Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally,
"The Dover decision was comprehensive. It was also scathing. And it was a total defeat for ID and creationism.

I have read the judgement and while I am shocked at some of the things that the pro-ID people did I also felt strongly that the Judge was swallowing the ACLU position hook line and sinker like a very greedy fish!"

So why not, as I suggested, analyse the judge's mistakes and post them for our education?

"My immediate impression was that it is very difficult for any of us to be objective about this."

Objective-Scmobjective (if I may be so bold). The IDers lied and cheated, bluffed, blustered and blundered through a total swamp of misinformation and misdirection. The objective truth is that they had no real case and the made it worse by arrogance and hubris. They were found out, exposed to ridicule and retired hurt, claiming the umpire was biased and someone interfered with their bat. Objectively, so much is obvious.

"I really do not believe that this is the end of the story with regards to ID and the US legal system.2

Probably not. The US fundies have hundreds of millions of $ and an army of fanatics at their disposal. Thousands of man-years will be wasted in the contining fight to keep a sane and civilised society safe from the creationists.

11:37 am  
Blogger allygally said...

Paul (probably - maybe Liz) said...

"Allygally: Well, the Discovery Institute would already have claimed to have discredited the verdict. Of course, you would dispute their analysis.... "

Yes, they would say that, wouldn't they. But you don't believe them, do you?

11:42 am  
Blogger allygally said...

Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally,
"I am interested in why it is so important to you to pretend that atheism is a religion. Can you explain? "

Good I am glad you find it interesting. I find this subject fascinating... I am trying to explain...but struggling... I will do another post on this...another off-topic I am afraid! "

Atheism is a religion in the same way as not collecting stamps is a hobby.

11:45 am  
Blogger allygally said...

said...

Allygally

The ToE says nothing about origins, but creationists, who are obsessd by origins, seem bothered by it. Why?

The Theory of evolution can be divided in two (I think very usefully for the purposes of more intelligent debate) Micro-evolution- changes among and between species that can be observed directly within the lifetime of a research project.

Macro-evolution - an extrapolation from the observed changes combined with evidence from fossils to provide a comprehensibe account of the origin of all living organisms on the planet from the first simple living organisms.

Macro-evolution is proposed as an entirely random- chance process without any intelligent input at all.

Naturally the question immediately follows... how did the first living organism arrive.. and hence the very close relationship between the two especially in biology texts.

"The ToE says nothing about origins, but creationists, who are obsessd by origins, seem bothered by it. Why? "

The ToE is one strand of an account of biological origins without the involvement of intelligence.

Creationists are convinced that biology on the planet could not be what it is without some intelligent input.

Many of them are concerned about this area especially because it is an area of study which has huge religious implications.

Our explanations of origins whatever it is will always have religious implications.

Some Creationists are convinced that the OoL and ToE explanations of origins are irreconcilable with their deeply held religious views and that at least in some areas they have to choose between one or the other... both cannot be true.

Understandably they want to be certain either way as they believe that huge issues hang on their decision on this matter.

Does that help? "

A bit. But I think it is the enormous timescales that frighten creationists. Using random mutation and natural selection it takes millions of years for the required complexity to arise. But creationists think the world was made yesterday (to be fair, the day before yesterday). Fear that their holy book might not be inerrant drives them to challenge the evidence and invent any concept they can in an attempt to allow them to hold on to their myths. Intelligent Design is just the latest ruse, as the Dover decision shows. It is creation science in a (not very convincing) disguise.

12:25 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally,

It is a little more complex than you have presented it. ie creationists are frightened of time longer than 6000 years or so.

There are some creationists who are happy with whatever amount of time the geologists latest suggestion is BUT they still think that biology needs intelligent input to get where we are now.

I think that you assessment of Dover is very PandasThumbish and I have the feeling reading your response that it is pointless me saying anything to you about what I think the problems are with the Dover Judgement because you have made up your mind totally...

I will have a go but you will have to be patient!

12:49 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally,

"It is a little more complex than you have presented it. ie creationists are frightened of time longer than 6000 years or so."

Perhaps. But they are afraid of the timeline. Naturally enough, it destroys their beliefs.

"There are some creationists who are happy with whatever amount of time the geologists latest suggestion is BUT they still think that biology needs intelligent input to get where we are now."

There are some who accept a longer time as a fallback position, reluctantly, because the evidence cannot be denied(what does that say about the creatonists who still insist on denying it?). The "designer" idea is an old idea. ID is its new dress. Judge Jones made them peform an embarrasing striptrease, showing the creationis flesh beneth the veil.

"I think that you assessment of Dover is very PandasThumbish.."

Unfair as well as ad hominem. I followed the evidence as it was posted and I read the judgement on the day it was announced. I may not be a scientist or a lawyer, but I can read.

"... and I have the feeling reading your response that it is pointless me saying anything to you about what I think the problems are with the Dover Judgement because you have made up your mind totally..."

I have a position. Try to dislodge me from it. That is what argument and discussion is about.

"I will have a go but you will have to be patient.."

I await your analysis.

11:10 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

It seems David Heddle, astrophysicist and ID proponent, agrees with the judge.: ID is not science.

Is his agreement with Dover also "very PandasThumbish"?

http://helives.blogspot.com/

4:17 pm  
Anonymous Richard H said...

Quote from Andrew Rowell: "I am very interested in atheism indeed. Atheism alarms me and I worry a great deal about it and would love to see it decline worldwide."

Why does it concern you that there are people who do not subscribe to any particular existing faith based belief system on the planet?

What would be your view if all athiests acknowledged your concern and all subscribed to a faith different to your own? ie. they would no-longer be athiests but would also not believe in what you believe in.

9:41 am  
Blogger allygally said...

After David Heddle's adoptio of the religious nature of ID, William Dembski also seems to have veered toward religion in his understanding of IC if not ID. You will be aware that the human immune system is one of Prof Behe's examples of IC, and it is NOT designed by god (according to IDers).

But Dembski has this to say;

"Our immune system is an amazing work of common grace by which God, acting preemptively, mitigates the harm these microbes would otherwise cause us."

Support from the ICR for Judge Jones.

read more here;

http://www.designinference.com/documents/2006.04.christian_theodicy.pdf

1:24 pm  

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