Why is This in the New York Times?

From today’s New York Times:

There is nothing much unusual about the 197-page dissertation Marcus R. Ross submitted in December to complete his doctoral degree in geosciences here at the University of Rhode Island.

His subject was the abundance and spread of mosasaurs, marine reptiles that, as he wrote, vanished at the end of the Cretaceous era about 65 million years ago. The work is “impeccable,” said David E. Fastovsky, a paleontologist and professor of geosciences at the university who was Dr. Ross’s dissertation adviser. “He was working within a strictly scientific framework, a conventional scientific framework.”

But Dr. Ross is hardly a conventional paleontologist. He is a “young earth creationist” — he believes that the Bible is a literally true account of the creation of the universe, and that the earth is at most 10,000 years old.

Each year countless graduate students toil away in obscurity. never getting more than token recognition for all of their hard work. But if you go through all that, and are also willing to endorse goofy religious ideas, then you get profiled in the Times.

How was Ross able to do competent work in paleontology while not believing very much of what he wrote in his thesis:

For him, Dr. Ross said, the methods and theories of paleontology are one “paradigm” for studying the past, and Scripture is another. In the paleontological paradigm, he said, the dates in his dissertation are entirely appropriate. The fact that as a young earth creationist he has a different view just means, he said, “that I am separating the different paradigms.”

He likened his situation to that of a socialist studying economics in a department with a supply-side bent. “People hold all sorts of opinions different from the department in which they graduate,””he said. “What’s that to anybody else?”

The issue isn’t holding opinions different from the those of your department. It’s writing things in your thesis that you yourself do not believe. It takes a certain lack of intellectual integrity to do that.

The article goes on to raise some allegedly difficult questions:

And, for some, his case raises thorny philosophical and practical questions. May a secular university deny otherwise qualified students a degree because of their religion? Can a student produce intellectually honest work that contradicts deeply held beliefs? Should it be obligatory (or forbidden) for universities to consider how students will use the degrees they earn?

Nothing challenging here. The answer is No to all three questions.

This is a complete non-story. By all accounts Ross produced competent scientific work. That he was effectively an actor playing a character reflects very badly on him, but does not reflect badly on URI. If he chooses to use his degree to lend credibility to asinine religious ideas that’s his business. The rest of us will have to settle for bashing him for the things he now does. It’s not the job of URI, or any other university, to pass judgment on the religious views of others.

Shame on the Times for making a mountain out of this molehill.

Comments

  1. #1 Blake Stacey
    February 12, 2007

    I find it funny, in a macabre way, that none of the umpty-ump commenters at Pharyngula (myself included) thought of asking the question which you pose in your title. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see an article of this length in, say, The Chronicle of Higher Education, but if this runs on the New York Times front page, above the article on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s plans for the Iraq War, then I can only conclude that the culture is mad.

  2. #2 Terry
    February 12, 2007

    Lloyd Geering a New Zealand Theologian calls it ‘spiritual schizophrenia’

  3. #3 Rev. Yvonne Miller
    February 12, 2007

    For better or worse, most of us know that the real purpose of a Ph.d is to admit the applicant to the larger community of scholars. Intellectual integrity should be a pre-condition to that acceptance. It’s that simple. Yes, there will always be hedging and fudging in order to produce the required word count, but this is really really simple. It’s called dishonesty.

  4. #4 beth
    February 13, 2007

    Anything to distract the populace from the war. Haven’t you noticed? The number of homeless/lost/lame puppy stories that have run on the front page of my local rag in the last year is shameful.

  5. Jason wrote:

    “It’s writing things in your thesis that you yourself do not believe. It takes a certain lack of intellectual integrity to do that.”

    As Krauze has put it, Marcus Ross simply behaved like a good methodological naturalists, conducting his research as if the reptiles he studied were 65 million years old.

    http://telicthoughts.com/all-those-liars-for-jesus

    At Telic Thoughts is a question to you:
    What do you really think of scientists who adopt methodological naturalism?

  6. #6 David Heddle
    February 13, 2007

    Jason

    At least yours the most reasoned response I have read from the usual suspects. If I understand what you are writing, you agree that he completed the requirements, therefore he deserves the degree. Questions about his character, legitimate or not, are for prospective employers to ask.

    Ross did nothing wrong, nothing unethical, nothing dishonest, and based on this story, his integrity should not be called into question. He agreed to a certain amount of work for which he would be awarded a PhD, and he delivered. His science, as far as I know, is not being called into question. Even arguing from a premise you don’t actually believe is fairly common in science. People often argue this way: even if I grant your assumption, which I don’t actually believe, you are still wrong because…

    Ross, we can presume, wanted a PhD to teach at a YEC university like Liberty. He searched the marketplace and found what he needed, made an agreement with an advisor and a committee, and delivered the goods. Those of us with PhDs in science are not priests–our motive for obtaining our PhD is irrelevant. Only the completed work matters.

    Rev. Yvonne Miller

    For better or worse, most of us know that the real purpose of a Ph.d is to admit the applicant to the larger community of scholars. Intellectual integrity should be a pre-condition to that acceptance. It’s that simple. Yes, there will always be hedging and fudging in order to produce the required word count, but this is really really simple. It’s called dishonesty.

    I think you are wrong on all accounts. The Ph.D. may be a requirement for entrance into this high-sounding “larger community of scholars,” whatever that is, but it is not the purpose. The purpose is personal. Many people obtain PhDs without ever seeking or desiring admission to the “larger community.” And again, Ross was not dishonest. But all accounts he was open about his YEC views, but even that doesn’t matter. I’ll repeat a not-far-fetched hypothetical scenario I’ve used elsewhere: a graduate student who does a string theory thesis comes to believe that string theory is wrong. We would not demand that he stop, throw away his work, and even transfer to another university if his present one was filled with string theorists only. It would be fine for him to finish, and then change directions after completion. He may, even though he doesn’t “believe” what he is doing, end up producing the definitive string theory work. The only dishonesty in a thesis that I can think of is fabricating data and similar professional misconduct.

  7. #7 natural cynic
    February 13, 2007

    Why is This in the New York Times?

    Man bites dog

  8. #8 Jason Rosenhouse
    February 13, 2007

    David-

    As I said in my opening post, I have no problem with Ross receiving his PhD. He met the requirements and did competent work, which is all URI should care about.

    But your attempts to defend his integrity fall flat. He wasn’t hypothetically accepting a premise for the sake of argument, and he wasn’t someone who initially accepted some premise and then later came to believe that it was wrong. Instead he wrote a thesis whose arguments were premised on statements, particularly regarding the dates of various events, that he personally did not believe. This shows that for him the thesis was not an attempt to grapple seriously with some open problem in his subject, and was not an attempt to actually futher the state of scientific knowledge. Instead, the thesis was something he wrote for the sole purpose of obtaining a sought-after credential.

    After all, part of obtaining a PhD is a public defense of your thesis. That means he had to get up in front of a group of experts and stand behind the assertions in his dissertation. If he did not believe those assertions, this is rather dishonest.

    That is of no relevance to URI, which should not be in the business of worrying about motives. But it does reflect badly on him, and it is certainly something a hiring committee ought to take into consideration.

  9. #9 Larry Fafarman
    February 13, 2007

    I have long believed that teaching students to question Darwinism does no harm because scientists can still do good science in evolution-related fields even while believing that all or part of evolution theory is untrue. As an engineer, I know that engineers frequently use analytical tools that are counter-intuitive or non-intuitive, e.g., (1) the use of complex numbers and complex-plane vectors in the analysis of AC circuits and (2) in the Joukowski transformation of conformal mapping, the aerodynamics of a rotating cylinder is used to determine the aerodynamics of fixed-wing airfoils.

  10. #10 Crudely Wrott
    February 13, 2007

    natural cynic: Succinct, with just the right “bite.” Thanks for the grin.

  11. #11 Blake Stacey
    February 13, 2007

    (a) Would you fly in a plane designed by an “aerospace engineer” who believed that metals for the fuselage should be chosen by Ouija board, and weak points detected by dowsing rods?

    (b) We’re not living in 1859 anymore. I don’t call the people who build planes “Wright-Brothersian”; nor should the sum total of evolutionary biology be called “Darwinism”.

    (c) Questioning a claim is always important, all the more so when the claim comes from the men in white coats. Nevertheless, there is a vast divide between questioning an assertion — looking under the hood and kicking the tires of an argument — and swallowing a fallacious line of reasoning. When we learn how to question well, we find that the discoveries of science, evolution chief among them, stand with unparalleled strength. The fact that life evolved to its current diverse state via mutation and selection is one of the best-verified statements of human history. By all means, we should make clear how we arrived at this discovery, dragging all the embarrassing moments into the light so our children are less likely to repeat them. Encourage doubt, but let doubt be guided by knowledge.

    (d) Whether an idea is “intuitive” or not is a matter of judgment and taste. I find complex numbers pretty darn intuitive: turn and scale, baby, turn and scale. Building intuition is one of the tasks of science education.

  12. #12 Jon S
    February 13, 2007

    Although it’s to be expected, it’s sad to see Dr. Ross being called dishonest and have his integrity and character attacked. After reading the article it’s clear that he was open and honest about his beliefs, which actually demonstrates integrity. He certainly doesn’t have to believe any of the assertions in his dissertation in order to stand by his understanding of them. We often hear the old canard that creationists aren’t real scientists, but this article easily refutes that, which I think is the real issue at hand. Only with a self-serving definition of science could anyone make such a claim. A paleontologist (or any other scientist) doesn’t have to believe in millions or billions of years in order to use the scientific method. I understand completely what he means by separating the two paradigms. As a child I grabbed all the dinosaur books I could get my hands on, and I could recite all the geological eras, and memorized everything I could in the books, but I never believed the eras because I was able to separate what the world believed from what the Bible taught. To say he shouldn’t have become a paleontologist just because he doesn’t believe the ruling paradigms is like saying someone who doesn’t believe in UFOs shouldn’t become an authority on UFOs because they won’t be able to support the existence of UFOs.

  13. #13 Jeff
    February 13, 2007

    Ross should go to law school. The ability to convincingly argue any side of an issue, regardless of personal beliefs or feelings, is explicitly developed there, and highly valued among lawyers.

    Based on my own experiences in grad school, in economics and engineering, I would say that Ross is just one of many that sell out to their beliefs, in order to get the prized diploma. He is different only in admitting to it. I dropped out of econ because I got fed up with the unscientific propaganda being taught, and the negative reactions to my questioning. Other students felt as I did, but kept their mouths shut, went along with the party line, and got their degree. That’s just the way it works — he who rocks the boat falls overboard.

    I’m not excusing what Ross did, or implying it’s right because it’s common — just pointing out that it IS common in academia. He is not unusual.

  14. #14 Rev. Scott
    February 14, 2007

    Each year countless graduate students toil away in obscurity. never getting more than token recognition for all of their hard work. But if you go through all that, and are also willing to endorse goofy religious ideas, then you get profiled in the Times.

    Don’t worry, Jason, if Ross is planning on publishing anything peer-reviewed, this notoriety won’t be doing him any favors; you can bet that the scientific communities will scrutinize his every word.

  15. #15 windy
    February 14, 2007

    This is not peer reviewed but a poster abstract:

    Author(s): Nelson, PA; Ross, MR
    Title: Problems with characterizing the protostome-deuterostome ancestor.
    Source: DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY, 271 (2): 601-601 254 JUL 15 2004

    I wonder which paradigm he was operating under, though?

  16. #16 Charles Toney
    February 14, 2007

    I am very impressed with all the discussion on evolution.

    But, I was wondering where you got that brain you’re using to come up with all the stuff on evolution?

  17. #17 Blake Stacey
    February 14, 2007

    Charles:

    It evolved.

  18. #19 Patricia White
    February 14, 2007

    Can you prove that it evolved?

  19. #20 Blake Stacey
    February 14, 2007

    The webpages to which I linked give plenty of evidence (and there’s plenty more) that the human brain, like all other biological structures, is the product of beneficial accidents, shaped by time and death. No evidence exists to the contrary. This is what “proof” is about.

  20. #21 Patricia White
    February 14, 2007

    You’ll probably say that no, of course you can’t prove that it evolved, there is no way to. That’s why it is called a “theory” of evolution. And, no, I can’t prove what I believe either. But what if I am right and it took intelligence to create intelligence? Then you will be completely out of luck when your time is up. EVERY knee will bow, either here on earth or in heaven one day. It is your choice…you’ll have to use that wonderful brain that He gave you to decide. He hopes it is a decision for Him. You can’t sit on the fence. You’re either for Him or against Him.

  21. #22 Patricia White
    February 14, 2007

    Shaped by time and death? That sounds like gibberish. What if it was perfectly shaped by, of course, a perfect creator?

  22. #23 Joe
    February 14, 2007

    This is reminiscent of a graduate student (G. Gonzalez) at U. of Washington who led two lives. In one, he was an astronomer, in the other a creationist. He urged-on two professors (who were unaware of his religious ideas) into believing that there are powerful reasons to believe that Earth is the only place in the Universe that supports life; which supports Gonzalez’s religious view.

    The professors (Ward and Brownlee) wrote a book making those arguments. (They have written other, equally silly books.) They even duped the editors at Scientific American into publishing their feeble arguments in October 2001. Gonzalez was outed in Skeptical Inquirer at about that time.

  23. #24 Blake Stacey
    February 14, 2007

    “The secrets of evolution are time and death. Time for the slow accumulation of favorable mutations, and death to make room for new species.” That’s from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.

    If it took intelligence to create intelligence, where did the first perfect intelligence come from?

  24. #25 Charles Toney
    February 14, 2007

    What if the first perfect intelligence didn’t give the intelligence He created the ability to comprehend him for whatever reason? What if only the first perfect intelligence knew where He came from?

  25. #26 Patricia White
    February 14, 2007

    The one who designed all of this has always been and will always be. He had the power to create the universe. And He also created us. You can’t get much more powerful than that.

  26. #27 JasonY
    February 14, 2007

    Patricia White,

    There is overwhelming evidence for evolution. There is no evidence at all that your God exists. That’s why you need faith to believe he does, right?

  27. #28 windy
    February 14, 2007

    Shaped by time and death? That sounds like gibberish. What if it was perfectly shaped by, of course, a perfect creator?

    Whence the fossils of human ancestors with much smaller brains, then? Did the ‘perfect’ creator need to practice?

  28. #29 JasonY
    February 14, 2007

    Charles Toney,

    What if the first perfect intelligence didn’t give the intelligence He created the ability to comprehend him for whatever reason? What if only the first perfect intelligence knew where He came from?

    I don’t know. I don’t really understand the relevance of the questions. What’s your answer? What if those speculations are true?

    And what reason is there to believe that they actually are true?

  29. #30 Victor Reppert
    February 14, 2007

    Is anyone actually suggesting that you have to be a scientific realist in order to get a Ph.D? Or that it is deceitful to say, “This is the best we can do within the confines of the existing scientific paradigm, but I don’t believe it is true?” Would anyone complain if a Hindu who believed that the physical world is maya or illusion wrote a dissertation about the nature of matter?

  30. #31 JasonY
    February 14, 2007

    Joe,

    The professors (Ward and Brownlee) wrote a book making those arguments. (They have written other, equally silly books.)

    Assuming the book you’re referring to is Rare Earth, I’d say you’re the one who is silly–or, rather, ignorant–since you are completely misrepresenting the argument of the book. As the book’s subtitle (“Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe”) implies, W&B argue not that “Earth is the only place in the Universe that supports life,” but that animal life, and more specifically intelligent animal life, is likely to be rare. They do not argue that simple (e.g., bacterial) life is likely to be rare. Indeed, they say that, on the basis of current evidence, it seems likely that bacterial life is common in the universe. They support their argument with scientific evidence suggesting that the conditions under which animal life, and especially intelligent animal life, can evolve are narrow and that those conditions are likely to be rare in the universe. There are certainly rational and scientific grounds for challenging their argument, but it is hardly “silly.”

  31. #32 windy
    February 14, 2007

    Is anyone actually suggesting that you have to be a scientific realist in order to get a Ph.D? Or that it is deceitful to say, “This is the best we can do within the confines of the existing scientific paradigm, but I don’t believe it is true?”

    He doesn’t seem to believe it’s the best we can do, if he submits posters on YEC/ID to a scientific meeting and publicly supports YEC. The goal of these movements is to get mainstream science to adopt the ID paradigm (or perish in the process), not to support private non-scientific beliefs.

  32. #33 SLC
    February 14, 2007

    Re Farfarman

    If we are going to spend class time encouraging students to question the theory of evolution, then we should also spend time encouraging students to question the spherical earth theory, the heliocentric solar system theory, the theory of relativity, the theory of quantum mechanics, the theory of the periodic table, etc. The theory of evolution is at least as well founded as any of those.

    Re Heddle

    Would Mr. Heddle be at all concerned if a PhD student selected a problem in celestial mechanics as a thesis topic and announced that he rejected the General Theory of Relativity?

  33. #34 Victor Reppert
    February 14, 2007

    Windy: I think you didn’t read me all the way to the end. I said that what he was implying was this is the best we can do within the confines of the existing scientific paradigm. That’s different from saying this is the best we can do scientifically.

    I suspect that if you read his dissertation it probably said “These are the parameters within which I will be working.” The impression I have was that his creationist views were not a secret to his examiners.

  34. #35 Joe
    February 14, 2007

    @JasonY
    If you think about what Ward & Brownlee argued, it is the possible rarety of an Earth-like planet in a Solar-like stellar system. It is an interesting argument.

    What is silly, is thinking that they can extrapolate from the single data point of advanced life on Earth to the far reaches of the Universe. We don’t allow extrapolations from single points because you can draw an infinite number of curves through a point.

    They also argue from ignorance. For example, they argue that a Jupiter-like planet is necessary for life, and they give reasons. But they ignore the possibility that some other factor, of which they are unaware, can obviate the need for such a planet.

    If you read the book thoughtfully, it is silly.

  35. #36 JasonY
    February 14, 2007

    Joe,

    If you think about what Ward & Brownlee argued, it is the possible rarety of an Earth-like planet in a Solar-like stellar system. It is an interesting argument.

    No, their argument is much broader than that. Either you haven’t read Rare Earth at all, or you have completely misunderstood it. W&B argue not only that Earth-like planets are likely to be rare in a “Solar-like stellar sysem” but also that “Solar-like stellar systems” are likely to be rare themselves. This conclusion is based on extensive astronomical evidence regarding the proportions and distributions of different types of stars and galaxies.

    What is silly, is thinking that they can extrapolate from the single data point of advanced life on Earth to the far reaches of the Universe.

    They’re not “extrapolating,” they’re drawing conclusions from evidence.

    They also argue from ignorance. For example, they argue that a Jupiter-like planet is necessary for life, and they give reasons. But they ignore the possibility that some other factor, of which they are unaware, can obviate the need for such a planet.

    This is nonsense. The mere fact that it is logically possible that some other factor may obviate the need for a Jupiter-like planet to allow complex life to evolve does justify the belief that any such factor actually exists. The evidence suggests that a Jupiter-like planet is necessary to produce the conditions necessary for the evolution of complex life (primarily, to sweep up comets and other debris left over from solar-system formation and so prevent frequent extinction-causing impacts on Earth-like planets).

    If you read the book thoughtfully, it is silly.

    I have read it carefully and I see nothing “silly” about it. You certainly haven’t presented any serious argument in support of your characterization of the book.

  36. #37 windy
    February 14, 2007

    I suspect that if you read his dissertation it probably said “These are the parameters within which I will be working.”

    I doubt that it says that – but what parameters would those be? There is nothing in methodological naturalism that predicts a priori that mosasaur fossils are tens of millions of years old.

  37. #38 Charles Toney
    February 14, 2007

    JasonY,

    There is overwhelming evidence for evolution. There is no evidence at all that your God exists. That’s why you need faith to believe he does, right?

    Does this overwhelming evidence include a time when evolution started or how it started or what existed before it started?

  38. #39 JasonY
    February 14, 2007

    Charles Toney,

    No, not really. It depends what you mean by “started.” We do have various very rough estimates for the first appearance of different kinds of life in the evolutionary record (single-celled organisms, multi-celled organisms, animals, hominids, etc.)

  39. #40 SLC
    February 14, 2007

    Re abundance of intelligent life

    It should be pointed out that Ernst Mayr, who cannot be considered in any way, shape, form, or regard a nutcase, argued that intelligent life would be rare in a debate with Carl Sagen, who took the opposite point of view.

  40. #41 Patricia White
    February 14, 2007

    Long before evolutionists found the “evidence” you speak of, there was the knowledge of one true creator. You have faith that your evidence points to accidental intelligence (which seems absurd to me) and I have faith that our intelligence comes from the creator’s perfect intelligence. One of us is right and the other is wrong. If I am wrong, so be it. I have attempted to live a life to please the perfect creator. However, if you are wrong, it doesn’t matter what type of life you have lived, eternity is no good for you. It is the sad truth and the only truth I have ever believed, even after sitting through a few collegiate level biology classes.

  41. #42 JasonY
    February 14, 2007

    Patricia White,

    We don’t accept evolution on faith. We accept it on evidence. I don’t know why you think your faith is a more reliable guide to the truth than evidence. Or, indeed, than someone else’s faith. Why believe, through faith, that there is one God, rather than two, or many, or none? Why believe, through faith, that Jesus is the Son of God, rather than that he is not? How do you decide what to believe through faith? Is it just a random choice? A matter of taste or aesthetics? A matter of how you were raised and what you were taught by your parents? Or what?

  42. #43 Charles Toney
    February 14, 2007

    I find it interesting that Charles Darwin used his brain that evolved from something to figure out that his brain evolved from something but couldn’t figure out what it started from or what existed before it started evolving. I wonder if there were any other limits on his evolved brain? How do we know that all that proof we here about is true?

  43. #44 Patricia White
    February 14, 2007

    I think God reveals himself to us in many ways. Just look at this world and the beauty of the earth and the animals and the immensity of the universe. It can’t all be an accident. Look at all He created and how perfectly it works and the complexity of it all. Also, His Word is undeniable if you read any of it. I love the quote that the Bible is something “a man couldn’t write if he would and wouldn’t write if he could.” It is simple to say the name Jesus, but read anything that He said and it is no longer simple. It is wisdom beyond understanding and truth that cannot be refuted. I know that it isn’t how I was raised or a random choice. I think that the more perfect you see yourself, the less perfect you see Him.

  44. #45 Charles Toney
    February 14, 2007

    JasonY,

    Doesn’t your evolved brain determine what you believe? Or He who created your brain? Or He who created the stuff your brain evolved from?

    Can you change what your evolved brain believes? Can you change what your evolved brain believes about evolution?

  45. #46 Charles Toney
    February 14, 2007

    Does evolution include the Supernova’s that formed all the large atoms that are in our bodies & brains?

  46. #47 Jason
    February 14, 2007

    Patricia White,

    think God reveals himself to us in many ways. Just look at this world and the beauty of the earth and the animals and the immensity of the universe. It can’t all be an accident. Look at all He created and how perfectly it works and the complexity of it all. Also, His Word is undeniable if you read any of it.

    This is an argument from evidence. You’re arguing that the existence of your God is evident from observation of the natural world and from reading the Bible. So where does the faith come in? If you have evidence, you don’t need faith.

    And if the existence of your God is demonstrated by evidence, why doesn’t everyone believe in that God? Why do so many people believe in a different God than you do (many people–Hindus, for example–believe in multiple Gods), or not believe in any God? That fact suggests that you may be misunderstanding the evidence, that you are drawing unreliable conclusions from it.

  47. #48 S. Rivlin
    February 14, 2007

    Charles Toney,

    The truth of the (scientific) proof is in the scientific method. The scientific method has proved itself numerous times as the only way to test hypotheses, accept or reject them, based on the presence of supportive or unsupportive scientific evidence, respectively. Evidence is not required for faith to prosper.

  48. #49 Patricia White
    February 14, 2007

    I didn’t say that one doesn’t need faith. I said you have faith in your evidence and I have faith that the evidence I see and read proves God created us. I don’t think that we are here as a result of “beneficial accidents” as you commented. Simply impossible. I also don’t believe that finding a fossil proves that there is no God. You don’t think the One who created the entire universe is not powerful enough to create a fossil? Think about all that is around you and all that goes on inside your head and imagine, “what if God really did make me in His image?” What if my conclusions are not unreliable but are based on evidence that has been given to us so that we could have just a small amount faith. He said faith the size of a mustard seed was adequate. He wanted us to know. Not everyone believes because He gave us brains that can think and make decisions. What would be the point in creating billions of tiny robots?

  49. #50 Jason
    February 14, 2007

    Patricia White,

    It’s hard to make sense of your statements. Why do you have faith “that the evidence I see and read proves God created us?” Why not have faith that the evidence you see and read does not prove that God created us? How do you decide what to believe through faith? Out of all the different things that you could believe through faith, how do you decide which things to actually believe through faith? Why not believe, through faith, that there are two Gods? Or three? Or a multitude of Gods? Or no Gods at all?

    Perhaps you could explain clearly what you mean by the words “faith” and “evidence,” because you seem to be using them in unconventional ways.

  50. #51 Glen Davidson
    February 14, 2007

    He’s been more or less vetted for teaching, despite the fact that he’s too stupid or dishonest even to recognize that it isn’t just a “philosophy” that separates real science from magic (the best philosophies make room for evidence, not the other way around), and no doubt is telling lies to his students. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a “subjective” recognition that the guy is not of the material that can utilize science honestly and with integrity. Indeed, that is what graduate programs are supposed to be about, judging beyond the “objective requirements” to decide whether the guy is a real scientist or someone able to follow a kind of recipe.

    But that’s not the main reason I’m writing. Why is ‘man bites dog’ in the papers and not ‘dog bites man’? Because it’s unusual, because Ross is more of a spectacle, like Anna Nicole Smith, rather than an honest Ph.D recipient. Rosenhouse may not like it, but that’s just the way it is, and it’s not going to change.

    It may even be that this is a significant portion of the reason why this anti-scientist went through the Ph.D process, for he could stand out among a crowd who was writing little more than what was required. Of course Jason doesn’t like the little geek being rewarded for doing little more than espousing nonsense while following the proper “recipe”, but the only way to stop it would be to quit making exceptions for religious nonsense where it is quite unlikely that personal nonsense wouldn’t be given a pass.

    Thus his complaint really boils down to the problem of Ross’s being awarded a degree to teach and do what he derides as merely a paradigm coming out of a philosophy. If Jason doesn’t like the ‘man bites dog stories’ he just might have to decide that after all there is nothing wrong with judging against someone who can follow the rules of science without understanding how and why they exist.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

  51. #52 Russell Blackford
    February 15, 2007

    I agree with your basic line.

    Moreover, he could have just said one page 1, “Hypothetically, on the basis of standard assumptions X, Y, and Z, what seems to follow from the evidence? Let’s hypothesise A and then test it, blah, blah.” He would then have produced useful science for anyone (i.e. all other reputable scientists) who accept X, Y, Z, without being dishonest. Given that he made his position clear to the university, there was no need for such an explicit framing device.

    As I said in some other forums, it’s a dismaying exercise in epistemic relativism, or something similar, but I don’t see why he should have the Ph.D stripped from him or anything similarly drastic.

  52. #53 Blake Stacey
    February 15, 2007

    I wrote about the epistemic relativism aspect of this kerfluffle over here.

  53. #54 Blake Stacey
    February 15, 2007

    Life had arisen almost immediately after the origin of the Earth, which suggests that life may be an inevitable chemical process on an Earth-like planet. But life did not evolve much beyond blue-green algae for three billion years, which suggests that large lifeforms with specialized organs are hard to evolve, harder even than the origin of life. Perhaps there are many other planets that today have abundant microbes but no big beasts and vegetables.

    Carl Sagan, Cosmos, p. 32. In the video version I recall he says that planets with big beasts and vegetables “might be comparatively rare.” I don’t think we have the data to refine this statement, although we do know of many more planets outside our solar system than in — 200, at last count.

  54. #55 a view from the lurkerverse
    February 15, 2007

    Your analysis matches my opinion on the matter pretty much exactly. Good for the university: the university taught him the material correctly. Bad for him: he found a way to simultaneously lie while making true statements. That says to me that if he reaches one conclusion in a job he will prevent the conclusion most likely to keep/improve his job rather tahn the most correct one; afterall, how does dishonesty in the workplace differ from dishonesty in a dissertation?
    Time Cube is also a ‘paradigm’ for looking at the world, but that doesn’t make it correct.

  55. #56 JustinianRex
    February 15, 2007

    Patricia White, Charles Toney,

    I think you are mistakenly confusing evolution as somehow being an attack on religion. The issue is not that Mr. Ross is a Christian. I know many Christians, including many priests that I have great respect for, who have no problem synthesizing evolution with the idea of a Creator. For the sake of being precise, when asked what caused the Big Bang they would respond a Creator, and frankly it seems to be to be a non-issue. There is plenty of room for theists and atheists to disagree upon the existence or nature of a Prime Mover while accepting basic science.

    But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. -Thomas Jefferson

    The true issue lies in Mr. Ross’s adherence to the idea of Young Earth Creationism, i.e. that the world is only 6-10,000 years old. That’s it. Debates about the existence of or perfection of a Creator or philosophical questions that can neither be proved or disproved through science.

  56. #57 Patricia White
    February 15, 2007

    JustinianRex,

    I don’t think it is a mistake that Jason’s theory of evolution is an attack on religion. I agree with you that creationism and evolution are not mutually exclusive. I believe, however, that Jason would disagree with you and me. He believes that this universe and we are here because of a series of accidents. I believe it took intelligence to create intelligence. No mistakes about it. I draw different conclusions from evolutionary evidence and Jason doesn’t even recognize the evidence that can so clearly be seen around him and read in the Bible.

  57. #58 Charles Toney
    February 15, 2007

    Charles Toney,

    The truth of the (scientific) proof is in the scientific method. The scientific method has proved itself numerous times as the only way to test hypotheses, accept or reject them, based on the presence of supportive or unsupportive scientific evidence, respectively. Evidence is not required for faith to prosper.

    Posted by: S. Rivlin | February 14, 2007 10:11 PM

    S. Rivlin,

    Does this mean that evolution or any part of it can be duplicated in the lab? Did the developers of the scientific method use evolved brains to develop the method to use to confirm that their brains had evolved from one cell animals?

  58. #59 CBBB
    February 15, 2007

    I just don’t understand why this guy picked Paleontology. Isn’t the whole point of the field to study lifeforms that existed millions of years ago? Why study a field if you reject its entire premise?

  59. #60 Charles Toney
    February 16, 2007

    Shaped by time and death? That sounds like gibberish. What if it was perfectly shaped by, of course, a perfect creator?

    Whence the fossils of human ancestors with much smaller brains, then? Did the ‘perfect’ creator need to practice?
    Posted by: windy | February 14, 2007 04:59 PM

    Windy,

    What makes you think He was practicing? Maybe he was just creating. Maybe Creation is still going on as we speak. Maybe Creation will go on forever & ever. Maybe Creation actually never started. Maybe it’s more than Science can deal with. What then?

    What’s a few old bones got to do with anything?

    Anyone who has lived forever in a Universe that has no top, or bottom or sides,
    I call ‘perfect’.

  60. #61 Kevin
    February 16, 2007

    Jason R Help!

    what is this doing on our internet tubes?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/why-evolutionary-biology-_b_41385.html

    and why do they allow him to waste digital trees?

    .

  61. #62 Charles Toney
    February 16, 2007

    Charles Toney,

    What if the first perfect intelligence didn’t give the intelligence He created the ability to comprehend him for whatever reason? What if only the first perfect intelligence knew where He came from?

    I don’t know. I don’t really understand the relevance of the questions. What’s your answer? What if those speculations are true?
    And what reason is there to believe that they actually are true?
    Posted by: JasonY | February 14, 2007 04:59 PM

    JasonY,

    I’ll answer both of my questions for you first. If we were created by He who put that Sun out there 4 billion years ago (looked at NASA pictures of this 4 b. year old monstrous ball of fire lately?), & put those other 400 billion or so Suns in our galaxy & also put the other billions of Suns in each of the 100 billion or so galaxies Hubble can see out there, it is very easy for me to see why He hasn’t as yet given all of us the ability to use science to prove he exists. It might take a while. What do you think He looks like? How do you think he feels? I just don’t believe he looks like a young Jewish minister or anyone else. I’m just not convinced we all know whom we’re dealing with here.

    There is no answer to my second question because I believe He has existed forever in a universe that has no top or bottom or sides. He didn’t come from anywhere but also came from everywhere.

    The relevance of my questions?

    � I’m assuming evolution is still just a theory. I’m not aware that evolution has been proven beyond a doubt if it has. A theory of how we have changed since single cell organisms I think you said. Which in fact is probably a miniscule segment of the total time we have actually been a work in progress, so to speak. Of course, getting us to the one cell stage could have taken eons & a few Supernovas (& black holes?). So I assume there is still as of yet no law against considering other answers to this as of yet still unsolved puzzle?

    � Also, evolutionary theory seems to rely heavily on our 5 senses. Looking at old bones, microscopes, etc. Just a lot of looking. And I think there is much more to this infinite universe we live in than what we can see, smell, hear, touch & feel.

    The answer to your last question is the easiest. How can we prove through science that our Creator exists if He hasn’t given any of us, as yet, the ability to prove he exists through science? Sorry to have to answer your very pertinent question with a question.

    More on this later I’m sure. Somebody has been at this 14 billion years or so, give or take.

  62. #63 Miles
    February 16, 2007

    Hey wait a minute. The Kansas Citizens for Science people are always telling us that they just want the kids to UNDERSTAND evolution; but they don’t have to believe it.

    After all, evolution is not about belief anyway, they say.

    But what you are saying, Jason, is that if you understand the material and handle it well, thats NOT enough!

    You have to BELIEVE it.

    I knew it all along, its just amusing to see you let the cat slip out of the bag.

  63. #64 Charles Toney
    February 16, 2007

    Kevin,

    Who is “they”?

  64. #65 Ken Watts
    February 17, 2007

    Fascinating discussion.
    The most interesting thing about creationists to me (and I used to be one) is that they base their belief on a book, and, more particularly, on their interpretation of an ancient book.
    They get this interpretaion by applying scientific assumptions to a book that is pre-scientific.
    If they asked what the assumptions of the authors of these texts were, they might find that the texts aren’t remotely interested in anything that even relates to evolution.

  65. #66 Charles Toney
    February 18, 2007

    Ken,

    The question before the house is where did that brain come from you’re using to come up with all this stuff?

    There’s only one right answer. I DON’T KNOW.

    I think its evolution BUT, I’m really not sure.

  66. #67 Leni
    February 18, 2007

    Charles wrote:

    Also, evolutionary theory seems to rely heavily on our 5 senses. Looking at old bones, microscopes, etc. Just a lot of looking. And I think there is much more to this infinite universe we live in than what we can see, smell, hear, touch & feel.

    Off the record: I held my head in my hands and actually made weeping noises when I read this. And also laughing noises…

    On the record:

    Charles. Charles. Charles. I don’t really know where to begin, but let’s try here:

    A lot of looking is what one does in order to find things that are not obvious. You should try it sometime!

  67. #68 Charles Toney
    February 18, 2007

    Leni,

    I hope no one is loosing it here. We need to make some progress.
    Let’s try to do a little more thinking while we’re looking.

  68. #69 Andrew R
    February 18, 2007

    Are we twins Leni? And then I wander off still shaking my head,muttering one word, faarrrkkkkk!

  69. #70 Charles Toney
    February 18, 2007

    Is this how one goes about proving evolution is a fact rather than just another theory?

    Does walking around muttering really help?

  70. #71 Andrew R
    February 18, 2007

    To cut to the chase Charles, just slip outside into the big lab, y’know the one with the big blue roof. After that wander down to the nearest hospital and ask the eminently qualified about staph infections.I had a rather nasty experience with this several years ago, and even as a lay person I’ve forgotten more about evolution than you care to remember.

    I am neither qualified or as articulate as Jason and many of the posters here but really, I can understand why PZ and co. wander around crow calling.

  71. #72 Charles Toney
    February 18, 2007

    Does this mean that it is a fact that your brain evolved from some old bones? Or is evolution just another theory about where your brain came from?

  72. #73 Andrew R
    February 18, 2007

    Blake S put a couple of links up previously,so go back and read them,several times.

  73. #74 Charles Toney
    February 18, 2007

    Is anyone suggesting that we should believe the theory of evolution which is postulated by individuals who aren’t sure or don’t know or can’t prove where there brains came from?

  74. #75 Leni
    February 18, 2007

    Charles…First, brains don’t evolve from old bones.

    Nothing does. Mostly because individuals don’t evolve, populations do. But even if individuals did evolve, they certainly would not do so after they had died.

    But if course, you know so much about evolution and science. You probably already know that. I mean, it’s not like you’d arrogantly dismiss the painstaking research of hundreds of thousands of scientists (most of whom were and are undoubtedly Christian) without really considering their work. Right? Or maybe just bothering to read a couple of the links provided?

  75. #76 Leni
    February 18, 2007

    Is anyone suggesting that we should believe the theory of evolution which is postulated by individuals who aren’t sure or don’t know or can’t prove where there brains came from?

    The beliefs of people who assert evolution is true are of no consequence.

    The only thing that matters is the evidence. You can go read about some of it at the links provided.

  76. #77 Charles Toney
    February 18, 2007

    I’m glad someone bit on the joke on the bones.

    Also, I’m glad to know as an individual I didn’t evolve.

    I’m not sure what the number of scientists or their religious associations
    have to do with the fact that evolution is just a theory.

    Are we sure that interpretation of the evidence doesn’t matter? Is there
    unanimous agreement on the entire body of evidence? What would all that
    evidence do without some interpreters?

    How much does one have to read about evolution before it becomes something besides just a theory or guess?

    I have read some & promise to read some more. But, I’m not impressed. Kinda seems like an exercise in futility at this point.
    Seems like if as many highly intelligent people as you said have worked on this
    thing for so long it would have graduated from being just an educated guess by now. I don’t know if my reading this stuff will help it much.

  77. #78 Andrew
    February 19, 2007

    ” I’m glad to know as an individual I didn’t evolve.”

    We know.

  78. #79 Charles Toney
    February 19, 2007

    I understand that there’s a lot of evidence out there thats been analyzed over & over & over (3 seems to be the number to use to impress) by a very large number of currently “very intelligent” scientists for a very long time. BUT, I’m concerned that they still haven’t been able to prove where all that evidence, including us, came from beyond their current theory phase.

    They still apparently don’t know whether or not the process by which we continue to progress, even at this moment, from one cell organisms might be under the control of a Designer or Creator that they can’t see or hear or taste or smell or feel.

    How long did a then current “very intelligent” scientific establishment proclaim that the Earth was flat?

    It seems to me that many on this blog spend a lot of time rereading & rereading & rereading then rehashing & rehashing & rehashing the same material which doesn’t seem to contribute a lot to their goal of proving that the theory of evolution is a fact rather than just another educated guess. Then criticizing & criticizing & criticizing those who don’t believe their analysis of the evidence. All of which is there right, but I’m not sure it’s a very efficient use of one’s time.

    However, I choose not to waste my time any longer on this seemingly endless process of rereading & rehashing & criticizing that doesn’t seem to be making much progress.

    So if & when evolution is proven to be a fact rather than just a theory by the current or future “very intelligent” scientific establishments, someone please send me an e-mail & I”ll be glad to send some more comments.

    And if any choose to hammer on me for a while after I”m gone from this blog, feel free. That’s okay too.

  79. #80 Leni
    February 19, 2007

    I see he’s gone but what the hell. I typed it all out and oh well. I enjoyed it.

    *******************************

    Charles wrote:

    Are we sure that interpretation of the evidence doesn’t matter?

    Of course interpretation of data matters. That’s pretty much what a hypothesis is. Opinions on unrelated matters are, however, irrelevent. Or at least they ideally should be.

    Is there
    unanimous agreement on the entire body of evidence?

    There is some disagreement as to what causes cancer too. Should we just assume then that cancer doesn’t exist too?

    You think the world is a complex place, and you appear to appreciate complexity, and yet you lay down this stinking pile of vacuous, simplistic idiocy as if were a meaningful argument? You honestly think that because scientists disagree about certain aspects of evolution that this therefore means evolution is false?

    Charles, get real.

    Seems like if as many highly intelligent people as you said have worked on this
    thing for so long it would have graduated from being just an educated guess by now. I don’t know if my reading this stuff will help it much.

    First of all, I am not highly intelligent. I’m average, just like most of the other humans out there.

    Second I don’t work on evolution.

    Third, nice cop out. Why bother reading anything that isn’t the bible? It’s all… imperfect anyway. And of course, if Charles calls it an educated guess, Well. I *guess*… take that science!

    Charles, the honest thing to do would be to just admit that you don’t want to believe in it because you don’t want to.

    What would all that
    evidence do without some interpreters?

    How much does one have to read about evolution before it becomes something besides just a theory or guess?

    The two things are not causally related. Evolution is a fact, described by the details of the theory whether or not you read about it.

  80. #81 David D.G.
    February 19, 2007

    How long did a then current “very intelligent” scientific establishment proclaim that the Earth was flat?

    In a word: Never. Scientific investigation proved the Earth’s roundness, and even to a close degree its actual size, during the time of the ancient Greeks. It is only UNscientific (or at least PREscientific) establishments that ever have claimed otherwise, and most of even those have accepted this particular bit of scientific discovery. Why? Because it is verifiable and it works — the same reasons that evolutionary theory is accepted by those who engage it honestly and fairly.

    ~David D.G.

  81. #82 trrll
    February 19, 2007

    I understand that there’s a lot of evidence out there thats been analyzed over & over & over (3 seems to be the number to use to impress) by a very large number of currently “very intelligent” scientists for a very long time. BUT, I’m concerned that they still haven’t been able to prove where all that evidence, including us, came from beyond their current theory phase.

    Nothing in science is ever proved beyond the “theory phase,” because in scientific parlance, “theory” means “an explanation or generalization that is well supported by observations.” Some theories are stronger than others (although there is pretty much no theory that is any stronger than evolution), but there is no point at which theory graduates to fact. Even gravity is “only” a theory. What are facts? They are the individual observations that support a theory. “Yesterday, I dropped an item and saw it fall to the floor” is a fact. “Objects fall under the influence of a universal attractive force” is a theory.

  82. #83 Joe
    February 19, 2007

    @JasonY,

    http://www.biolsocwash.org/id_statement.html

    Victor Stenger: “Rare Earth did not represent the views of most investigators in the fledgling field of astrobiology, who are generally more optimistic about the chances of other forms of intelligent life in the universe. In his follow-up 2001 book, Life Everywhere, astronomer David Darling rebutted the arguments in Rare Earth one by one.”

    As I said, you have to read Ward & Brownlee’s book thoughtfully, not wishfully.

  83. #84 Charles Toney
    February 20, 2007

    He’s back, for a little while anyway.

    When I got back home late last night & checked your blog I was amazed at all the attention I had gotten while I was gone. I really appreciate it.

    So I thought I’d give some of you a little more to chew on. Like throwing red meat to a crocodile.

    I was truly amazed at the variations in responses – all from those who have apparently evolved from the same single single cell organism. How long ago now?

    I was also amazed at the general weakness in some of the comments – no real facts – just more vagueness.

    Some seemed to be almost hysterical, yet still shallow & almost meaningless. Makes me think there’s some deep problem in evolution that’s being covered up. Do I smell a rat here?

    So I took your advice & went back & started reading starting from the beginning. I hate to enter a movie in the middle, just like everybody else. But, it seems to me that’s just what the “very intelligent” scientific community has done with Creation or evolution as they call it.

    I was amazed to find out that none of the hundreds of thousands in the “very intelligent” scientific community have been able to produce their first single cell living thing that can reproduce itself & evolve. Amazing. They’ve come oh so close. But the last time I checked close only counts in horse shoes.

    I guess my main concern today is:

    Why can’t the “very intelligent” scientific community actually create one living thing? Maybe they just haven’t tried hard enough? Maybe they need to try harder? I’ve read where two scientists produced some amino acids one time. I’m sure they must be close to creating their first single cell living thing that can then evolve into something bigger & more complex.

    Until then, are we sure the “very intelligent” scientific community isn’t just watching the Creator create, calling it evolution & doing a play by play of it like spectators at a football game? Have they entered the movie in the middle?

    Like explaining gravity (thanks trrll for the analogy) which they can’t see, just the evidence that it’s happening? They can see Creation (evolution) at work. They just can’t see it. Or see He who’s Creating or evolving or both.

    They know pretty much how it works but can’t reproduce it. That’s called Creation.

  84. #85 Kevin
    February 20, 2007

    Charles wrote:

    “I was amazed to find out that none of the hundreds of thousands in the “very intelligent” scientific community have been able to produce the first pizza ever made that can melt its own cheese.”

    I’m waiting!

    Here’s a hint Charlie, you can order a pizza for 20 bucks. When you can rustle up 20 million bucks for the study, you can join the one in progress right now.

  85. #86 David D.G.
    February 20, 2007

    Charles Toney:

    I was amazed to find out that none of the hundreds of thousands in the “very intelligent” scientific community have been able to produce their first single cell living thing that can reproduce itself & evolve. Amazing. They’ve come oh so close. But the last time I checked close only counts in horse shoes.

    Charles, please drop the baseless smug condescension. It helps nobody, including you.

    (And to everyone else, please try not to respond to the flame bait. It only feeds the troll.)

    Also, Charles, please note that evolutionary theory DOES NOT include abiogenesis; I can understand your confusion on that point, but evolution has nothing to do with the start of life — only its development after that point.

    If you want to deal with abiogenesis as a separate issue, fine — but don’t claim that it has anything to do with evolution or evolutionary theory, which makes no claims whatsoever about initial creation of life or lack thereof (though it does disprove the biblical account of creation, which is not necessarily the same thing).

    If you are going to criticize evolutionary theory (or, rather, make puerile sarcastic slams aimed at teasing evolutionary scientists in a critical fashion), it would behoove you to know what the theory does and does not actually address. Otherwise, you look as foolish as someone criticizing the police department for the laws it creates (which it doesn’t do).

    ~David D.G.

  86. #87 MarkP
    February 20, 2007

    Indeed, Charles. When you say things like this:

    Why can’t the “very intelligent” scientific community actually create one living thing?

    …it doesn’t challenge anyone and certainly doesn’t create these emotional responses you are projecting onto us. At most it just amuses us that someone so uninformed on the subject, could be so condescending regarding his opinion on it.

    The only intellectual value of your posts here has been as evidence for the maxim: show me a critic of evolution, and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t understand evolution. Thanks.

  87. #88 Leni
    February 21, 2007

    I doubt Charles is going to drop the condescending attitude. That’s pretty much all he’s got left.

    He’s already used “Evolution must be false because scientists are big dummies who can’t create life” and “Evolution must be false because those same dummy scientists (that no one should take seriously except me when it suits me) debate about it”.

    Gee, what else is there to say really?

    If we are so dense that we can’t see the inherent truth and compelling rationale in those very nuanced and well-thought out arguments, then Charles doesn’t have a lot of other options except to act like a condescending little jackass. Right, Charles?

    Anyway, it is amusing Mark, to an extent. Insofar as I can use it as a spring-board for sarcastic remarks. And also because his arguments are so, so bad they’re actually funny. But it’s also kind of offensive.

    It’s not offensive that someone would call a scientist or some scientists unintelligent. (Besides this being self-evident, I’ve met my fair share of them. And we all have our moments.) It’s that there seems to be this underlying assumption that people in general are stupid because we can’t do the things Charles attributes to god. Unfortunately this deficiency undermines the value of all science, not just evolutionary biology. We should probably take it further and say that it undermines all human endeavor, not just science. But the Charles’ of the world rarely want to follow their arguments to the logical conclusion.

    They’d rather just cherry-pick evolution and global warming. Nevermind that they are perfectly content about that same institution when pecking away at their keyboards, taking aspirin and driving to church on Sunday.

    Anyway, it’s like saying medical doctors are not intelligent because we have not cured cancer. Or even better: we aren’t heroic because we haven’t mastered flight the way Superman has.

    There is something really, really wrong with that. Yes, it is childish, idiotic and humorously superficial, but it’s a little disturbing too. Underneath all that anti-science bluster is the assumption that people are unworthy because we can’t meet Charles’ ridiculous standards. That would explain a lot about Charles if it were just him that thought this way, but we all know he isn’t alone. Or even unusual.

  88. #89 Charles Toney
    February 21, 2007

    It’s that time again. Its taken us 3.5 to 3.9 billion years to get to here (actually 14 billion plus) so I hope nobody gives up.

    Some pretty harsh comments. Makes me wonder if I might be on to something.
    Also, seems like some might be having trouble seeing the forest for the trees.

    I would hope we could evolve beyond the shallow, simplistic thinking & occasional arrogance & personal attacks.

    Boohoo, you don’t believe me because you don’t understand me. Where have I heard that before?

    For those who like to use big words to impress anyone or make themselves feel important or intelligent, I’m not sure it’s helping.

    For those who are trying to Bs themselves through life, lots of luck. We can’t spend much time on meaningless comments that aren’t contributing anything to anything except to some ego trip.

    And if you can’t handle a little condescension, sorry I can’t help you.

    Finally, if anyone feels the need to go off on some endless, meaningless, deadened tangent, feel free. Please don’t waste our time with it.

    I think the question still before the house is “where did we come from?”

    At this point I guess I find it most interesting that the so called evolutionists call their theory the “theory of evolution” or development rather than the “theory of creation”.

    Some then turn around & start claiming or implying that they’re 100% sure they know how life was first created when they actually don’t. They’re still trying to figure out how their first single cell ancestor was actually Created.

    Many of the rest claim that their theory or best guess is the best or most reasonable or most rational because it uses the scientific method or whatever. But, in actuality you either know how you were created or you don’t know how you were created. And no one actually knows. So at this point it’s simply a matter of what you believe or what you can convince others that you know. A simple convincing game.

    Why is the theory of evolution the most reasonable or whatever? Simply because it has taken the time to look at the evidence that shows how we have progressed since about 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago? Which doesn’t seem to be such a big deal since that simply uses skills & intelligence that was built into their first single cell ancestor whom they haven’t been able to recreate. I don’t see how this proves where we came from. All after the fact information it seems to me. It’s all good to know & very interesting & everything but doesn’t describe the total process of our Creation. Which is the only real question as far as I’m concerned. And we actually started evolving or being created eons before the 3.5 to 3.9 billion year ago period that the theory of evolution is looking at. Supernovas, etc.

    Why did that first single cell ancestor have the ingredients necessary to develop to the point where it could figure out how we got from there to here, but not figure out how we got from wherever to there?

    Your whole theory needs a lot of cleaning up & clarification it seems to me.

  89. #90 MarkP
    February 21, 2007

    Good points Leni, you are onto something I’ve noticed about Christian thinkers. Because they were raised with absolute truths handed down by the gods, they think in absolutes. The only probabilities they comprehend are 100% and 0%. Everything else is “random”. Charles’ screed right above mine supplies much supporting evidence for this. The idea of partial knowledge is anathema to him: If we don’t know everything, then we know nothing. If we can’t do everything, we can’t do anything. I suppose that is why he and people like him will be stuck at the lowest level of this discussion forever, because the first step involves partial knowledge and he can’t handle that.

    So all he can do is parade his ignorance as some sort of badge of honor. He aks questions without seeking the answers (which are all over the web), and makes statements beginning with “I don’t see…”, as if that makes any difference. And then of course there is the cherry on top of concluding that his point has validity because he gets so much criticism. There’s nothing to be done with a mentality that far removed from reality except laugh at it.

  90. #91 Charles Toney
    February 21, 2007

    How convenient. My straight man.

    What is the probability that there is more than one absolute in the universe?

    Who said, “Before God we are all equally wise – and equally foolish.”?

    What God was he referring to?

  91. #92 Leni
    February 21, 2007

    Charles wrote:

    Some then turn around & start claiming or implying that they’re 100% sure they know how life was first created when they actually don’t.

    Pot, meet kettle!

    Mark wrote:

    … And then of course there is the cherry on top of concluding that his point has validity because he gets so much criticism.

    Ugh, I know. And the questions are getting even dumber. Did you see the last one?

    ‘What god was he refering to?’ Who the fuck cares, Charlie. Go read about the brains already.

  92. #93 Charles Toney
    February 21, 2007

    Actually it was the most famous of all Jewish Scientists, Albert Einstein, who said, “Before God we are all equally wise – and equally foolish.” Someone who contributed so much to all mankind.

    Einstein also said “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”

    I’m not sure how the analogy of pot & kettle relate to know & believe. No where in the 7 definitions of “believe” in my Word dictionary does the word “know” appear. I believe.

    Anyway, it is becoming clearer to me why evolution apparently remains in disfavor with so many.

    Maybe too many kooks on the fringes?

  93. #94 MarkP
    February 21, 2007

    One of the ways some Christian thinkers like Charles reveal their assumption of absolutes is the way they fixate on quotes of authority figures as if they were Holy Writ. It is remarkable how they think that modern scientists must uphold everything spoken by Charles Darwin, or Einstein, or whatever source of a quotemine they can find. The idea of independently verifiable information is not part of their world view, which is why no matter how much information we give them to support our view, it has no effect. One cannot wake a man pretending to sleep.

    Yes Leni, the questions are getting sillier. I could sarcastically retort in kind with “If Jesus was the lamb of God, then where is his wool?”, but I suspect its point would be missed. Arguments made of questions are relatively weak anyway. Eventually one has to put forth facts in support of one’s claims, and the logic that connects them. People like him never get to that point. No need when one already has The Truth ™.

    We’d better be careful. His most recent intellectual gyrations are so in line with what we are saying, he is liable to be accused of being one of our sock puppets.

  94. #95 Joe
    February 23, 2007

    @Jason Y,

    I cited the wrong source for Victor Stenger’s article on the silly book “Rare eart.”
    http://www.csicop.org/sb/2005-09/reality-check.html

  95. #96 Charles Toney
    February 24, 2007

    Does anyone know where we came from?

    Anybody have a Yes or No?

    In my humble opinion:

    We Christian Believers, of course, believe God created all things. There is variation in our beliefs. Some believe He created everything all at once. Some believe His Creation is still going on, will never end and actually never started. And everything in between. Some atheists seem to think this agrees somehow with their theory of evolution, but it doesn’t. It’s simply our beliefs. And of course these beliefs are continually changing like all of God’s Creation. We couldn’t keep our Beliefs constant even if we wanted to. Those of other Faiths around the world believe in their Creator also. We do not call what we believe a theory. We all believe that there is only one absolute in this infinite universe we live in.

    Those without Faith, or the atheists, again with a wide range of & changing beliefs, do not believe in a creator. Some have looked at a lot of the physical evidence that shows how we have developed since about 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago, but not before, & propose a theory of evolution, again with variations & continually changing. They tend to believe we somehow started from a single single cell ancestor, but as yet do not know how this happened. They have estimated the probability of this having happened at somewhere above 99%, depending on whom you ask, but still do not know for sure even though some try to imply that they do. Still no cigar. They do not believe in any absolutes.

    I found this bit of advice from Dr. Einstein for any amonst us who might happen to be intelligent fools.

    “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

    Of course, the bigger & more complex, the more job security. I hope no one is getting in a panic about that.

    Finally, I’m not sure which definition of theory (or maybe all?) the atheists are using? There are at least 5 of them in Word.

    DEFINITIONS OF THEORY

    “1. rules and techniques: the body of rules, ideas, principles, and techniques that applies to a particular subject, especially when seen as distinct from actual practice
    economic theories

    2. speculation: abstract thought or contemplation

    3. idea formed by speculation: an idea of or belief about something arrived at through speculation or conjecture
    She believed in the theory that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

    4. hypothetical circumstances: a set of circumstances or principles that is hypothetical
    That�s the theory, but it may not work out in practice.

    5. scientific principle to explain phenomena: a set of facts, propositions, or principles analyzed in their relation to one another and used, especially in science, to explain phenomena

    Encarta ” World English Dictionary ” & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.”

    DEFINITIONS OF BELIEVE

    “1. vt accept as true: to accept that something is true or real
    I don’t know which story to believe.

    2. vt accept as truthful: to accept that somebody is telling the truth
    Nobody will believe you!

    3. vt credit with something: to accept that somebody or something has a particular quality or ability
    No one believed her capable of such a malicious remark.

    4. vi think that something exists: to be of the opinion that something exists or is a reality, especially when there is no absolute proof of its existence or reality
    believe in reincarnation

    5. vi trust: to be confident that somebody or something is good, or will be effective
    We all believe in you.

    6. vi think something is good: to be of the opinion that something is right or beneficial, and, usually, to act in accordance with that belief
    believe strongly in freedom of expression

    7. vi religion have religious faith: to have a religious belief

    [Old English belyfan , an alteration of earlier gelēfan . Ultimately from a prehistoric Germanic word meaning "to love, trust."]
    Encarta ” World English Dictionary ” & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.”

  96. #97 MarkP
    February 24, 2007

    Does anyone know where we came from?

    Does anyone know where I came from? Yes, I came from my mother.

    Does anyone know where the first human came from? Yes, our proto-human ancestors.

    Does anyone know where the very first life form on earth came from, or exactly how it was formed? No, that question has not been answered with much certainty yet. We have intriguing possibilities, but that’s about it. That many religious people are fond of making up stories with no factual basis to believe in, in the meantime, is completely immaterial.

  97. #98 hoary puccoon
    February 25, 2007

    Charles Toney quotes Einstein: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… it takes a touch of genius and a little courage to move in the opposite direction.”
    Absolutely true. Darwin first began to doubt creationism because Charles Lyell had the genius and courage to realize the geological forms we see today are the result of ordinary, observable forces like vulcanism and erosion, not some mysterious special creation.
    Mendel needed genius and courage to maintain inheritance could be simple either/or dichotomies.
    Watson and Crick needed genius and courage to come up with a simple but correct structure for DNA.
    Crick, again, needed G&C to put aside the elaborate hypothesized schemes for the genetic code and realize DNA bases are simply read three at a time.
    The current evo-devo researchers have needed G&C as well, to discover genes are much more similar across widely varying phenotypes than anyone had previously guessed.
    In fact, the entire history of evolutionary theory is nothing more than the replacement of the mysterious and inexplicable with simple, comprehensible, and testable hypotheses. Some of them (protoplasm, for instance) have been rejected. Others (including, unfortunately, the evolution in crop pests of resistance to pesticides) have been confirmed so often, in so many ways, that they can be confidently relied on even by people who think they don’t believe in evolution. Hence, those hypotheses have left scientific theory behind entirely and entered the realm of established fact.
    So, yes, Charles, it does take genius and courage to simplify our understanding of the world. And that’s exactly what evolutionary biologists have done.

  98. #99 Charles Toney
    February 26, 2007

    Of course, I wouldn’t be a true Christian if I didn’t believe that all of us, we of all Faiths, we whom are atheists, evolutionists, agnostics, we without belief, were all children of He Who Has Always Been, He Who Will Always Be. At different stages of Creation, if you will?

    It seems to me that some church goers still believe that they decide whether or not they go to church. But, I believe He decides whether you go to church or not. I believe going to church is a gift He gives to you.

    I think of Mr. Einstein’s words on relativity – something to the effect – about the station pulling into the train. I believe He comes to us, we don’t go to Him.

    My father-in-law, who passed away at 92, & I are the only ones of Faith I can think of at this moment you didn’t & don’t believe in a Satan or Devil. My father-in-law was a prince of a man with practical beliefs and limited church attendance who helped me immensely with mine.

    As Dr. Einstein said,

    “I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil.”

    I think this is simply a misunderstanding concerning all that is necessary to give us the best lives possible over the “long term”. Necessary attitude adjustments if you will. And as with everything else, this will be worked out.

    I don’t plan to spend a lot of time on all of this or get too serious about it & go crazy in the process I can assure you.

    I plan to spend 99.99% of my time working very hard to enjoy this life He has given me in this small place down here in His infinite universe. Most importantly enjoying my precious family He has given me. But, not excluding all my material possessions which are His & He gave them to me. My TV, my car, my apartment, my computer, rock & roll, ad infinitum.

    And some time talking to Him with my prayers. Asking Him for assistance when the going gets tough. And thanking Him for His assistance, for my precious family most of all, all my materiality He has given me & for all the wonderful memories which can take a lot of time but requires very little.

    And stop interfering in everybody else’s lives.

    Finis.

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