Pharyngula

Are our high schools teaching evolution?

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research

The Ecological Society of America has just published an article that surveys the state of science teaching in the US. Some of the results are somewhat reassuring — the majority of our college-bound high school students are at least getting exposed to evolution to some degree — but they’re also getting taught creationism to an unfortunate degree. Here’s the abstract to give you the gist of the story.

How frequently and in what manner are evolution, creationism, and intelligent design taught in public high
schools? Here, I analyze the answer to this question, as given by nearly 600 students from major public universities nationwide in a survey conducted during the spring of 2006. Although almost all recent public high-school graduate respondents reported receiving evolution instruction, only about three-quarters perceived that
evolution was taught as a “credible scientific theory”. Creationism and intelligent design were reportedly presented almost one-third and one-fifth of the time, respectively, though respondents recalled that both concepts
were presented as lacking scientific credibility much more often than not. The survey results are presented in
composite form and also disaggregated with respect to the strength of evolution-related state standards, red
state-blue state divisions, and the regional location of states within the country.

You can also hear the author discussing the methodology and results in a podcast, which I think is a wonderful idea. (Maybe every paper should be accompanied by a 15 minute podcast in which the author explains the work to a general audience…).

Here’s the good news/bad news data.

The good news: look at that, 92% are getting taught about evolution to varying degrees. I also think it’s good news that 26% say they’re getting “in depth” instruction, although, of course, this is self-reported by students who probably don’t know how much depth there is. At least this tells me that a solid majority of teachers are trying, and are not silenced by pressure from the public.

The bad news: 30% are getting taught about creationism, and 20% are learning about intelligent design. That’s a waste of time and resources, and it’s an indicator that the urgings of creationists for a false “fairness” might be having some effect.

Now, of course, maybe they’re learning about creationism in high school because the teacher is slamming it as bogus nonsense, as I do in my university classes. There’s a little good news there, too: over 70% of the time, evolution is taught as credible theory, but as for creationism…

Additionally, when intelligent design is taught, it is
perceived to be presented as a credible scientific theory at
a rate higher (34%) than that for creationism (18%).
This confirms one of the few narrow points of agreement
between intelligent design’s proponents and critics: intelligent design is intended to look more “like science” and
less “like religion” — and to these recent public high-school graduates, it does.

So we can say that the majority of the time creationism is taught, it is disparaged to some degree and is not taught as a credible scientific theory. That’s reassuring. Of course, we could take a glass-half-empty view and note that in those cases where ID is taught, it’s taught as a credible theory an appalling third of the time, and it’s also a successful strategy for boosting the reputation of creationism.

The situation isn’t quite as bad as I feared, although there is a significant minority that are getting taught creationism uncritically in the public schools. What I’m missing is a couple of things. This is information taken from a select population of college bound students, and those students are more likely to have had exposure to science, and are also more likely to be attentive. I’d like to know what impressions other students have of their science instruction.

This is also a collection of exactly that, student impressions. I’d like to see a complement to this study that surveys actual curricula and faculty attitudes. I know how tuned out students can be, so I can’t say that I entirely trust student reports.


Bowman KL (2008) The evolution battles in high-school science classes: who is teaching what? Front Ecol Environ 6(2):69-74.

Comments

  1. #1 Glen Davidson
    February 25, 2008

    That’s the problem with ID, it disagrees with the facts of science less than old-style creationism (not denying the age of the earth, etc.), while it’s even more deliberately against science as an evidence-based discipline than 90% of YECism has ever been.

    Their raison d’etre is to oppose using evidence to decide things (which they call the “naturalistic” worldview). The creationists were always pro-science, but transparently excepted their own nonsense.

    The IDists would destroy all of science if their tripe were to prevail and to be consistently applied.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  2. #2 James F
    February 25, 2008

    I’m happy to say that back in NJ not only was I taught evolution, but my bio teacher also put a total smackdown on creationism (much to the chagrin of one creationist girl in class).

    Looks like the ID crowd is on the move in Texas again, working through, surprise! the board of education: http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/02/evolution-on-tr.html

  3. #3 kerovon
    February 25, 2008

    As a student in a Texas public high school, I’m happy to say that in my biology class we went in depth into evolution and did not bring up ID/creationism. However, I don’t think we are representative of education in Texas because we are a science magnet school. Unfortunately, the state board of education is going to try to force ID through the curriculum process and into our schools. My only consolation is that my biology teacher said that he will refuse to comply with the curriculum if they do, and our principal supports that idea.

  4. #4 Glen Davidson
    February 25, 2008

    By the way, today, finally, I listened to an interview with Mark Mathis that is about a month old (I was perusing Google at the same time, to ease the boredom, and anger at his lies). Usual crap, uninteresting dishonesty, the whole bit. What I probably hated the most is that Mathis knows how to sound like he’s being reasonable (he’s been a newscaster), even when he’s spewing hatred of the “other.”

    One thing struck me, though, which is that when Crowther asked if any “Darwinists” were open-minded enough to say that ID should be considered along with science (not their words, naturally), Mathis said he was impressed with what William Provine stated, which is that he is open to discussing ID when students bring it up.

    And I thought, what science teacher would not do that? I mean, not forever, one has to get around to the science soon enough. Plus, some HS teachers might not know how to discuss ID. But I can’t think of any professors at college or university level who wouldn’t be willing to discuss ID if it were a concern of students. Does anyone know of professors who would not do what impressed the abysmally ignorant Mathis?

    It just seems to me that Mathis swallows preacher’s lies (including those of ID fellows, since I can’t think of any term more appropriate than “preachers” for them) whole and spits them out in a grotesquely dishonest “documentary.” He must actually think that “Darwinism” is taboo on college campuses, rather than being disparaged like any other pseudoscience would be.

    Anyhow, while it’s a bit OT, not too much. Clearly, from the data, creationism and ID are discussed plenty in the educational establishment, while Expelled is telling of the conspiracy in which the educational, news, and governmental establishments all conspire to prevent discussion of such “compelling science.” Lord, these guys are dumb schmucks!

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  5. #5 True Bob
    February 25, 2008

    My son was exposed to creationism here in middle school, in Central Virginia. When I heard it would be discussed, I was pretty miffed, but then I found out it was getting very short coverage, featuring the big it’s-not-science smackdown.

  6. #6 Skwee
    February 25, 2008

    They should probably say what they mean by “briefly discussed.” Do they mean “But there’s a book called ‘Of Pandas And People’ that you could read for a different perspective,”?
    Or do they mean, “Creationism is a religious explanation, not a scientific one. My job is to make sure you understand the theory of evolution.” My experiences have been with the latter.

  7. #7 Theo Bromine
    February 25, 2008

    Canada usually gets good press in these parts, but I am ashamed to say that the Ontario high school curriculum has no teaching of evolution until Grade 12 Biology, a science course taken by only a minority of students. There is no mention of evolution in the general science courses in grades 9 and 10. So while kids are unlikely to get creationism in schools here, it’s very easy for a student who has been indoctrinated with creationism at home and/or in church to easily avoid seeing any scientific challenge to this in school.

  8. #8 Mollie
    February 25, 2008

    I wasn’t exposed to more than about a day of evolution in high school, although I am reasonably sure now that my high school biology teacher would personally have liked to have gone into greater depth.

    I got virtually all of my pre-university knowledge about evolution from Gould, Dawkins, Sagan, and a handful of other great writers, which in retrospect was not such a bad way to go.

  9. #9 H. Humbert
    February 25, 2008

    Simply saying creationism “is not science” is not sufficient to be called a “smackdown. In fact, that strikes me as a woefully insufficient criticism. Rather, what teachers should be telling students is that literal creationism is not true, why we know this, and the dishonest tactics of those who assert otherwise. Literal creationism is not a religious explanation. It is a failed scientific one. There are religious explanations which are compatible with the findings of science. Creationism is not one of them.

  10. #10 Mister Troll
    February 25, 2008

    What the students *report* as being taught — and in how much depth — may not reflect what actually *is* taught.

  11. #11 Mister Troll
    February 25, 2008

    Oh, right. Last paragraph. I swear that wasn’t there before I posted!

  12. #12 aporeticus
    February 25, 2008

    The missing option, of course, is “neither”. This is what I was taught in high school. Sort of an “avoid the controversy” approach.

  13. #13 vhutchison
    February 25, 2008

    We need to keep in mind that these were college bound students and may not be representative. In Oklahoma, based on interviews with teachers, we estimate that as many as 50% get no evolution coverage. A study in Arkansas showed a similar result. In rural parts of the country, especially in the Bible belt, I suspect that many students never hear the ‘e’ word.

    The Oklahoma teaching standards do not mention the word ‘evolution’ (political move)and thus received an F from the Fordham Foundation, but evolutionary concepts are clearly included at several grade levels. We urge teachers to use these standards when they get complaints by saying they are teaching what the State requires.

    In week-end workshops for teachers on the teaching of evolution presented by Oklahomans in Science Education (OESE) we have found that teachers receive a great deal of pressure from administrators, parents and students to ignore evolution. They want to know how they can resist such pressures, especially since their jobs may be on the line. The teaching standards alone often do not provide them with sufficient backbone to resist the religious elements in their communities.

  14. #14 touched by his noodly appendage
    February 25, 2008

    I taught creationism as an introduction to evolutionary science. We went through the Genesis myth and the FSM creation myth. I then asked my students to highlight the scientific evidence for both myths. One of the students was a bit perturbed that there was exactly the same amount of evidence that Yahweh created us as there was that His Noodlyness was responsible for creation.

    I was disheartened to learn from a colleague that (unknown to the school head) my replacement when I left teaching was a YEC. Yikes!

  15. #15 Ford
    February 25, 2008

    Uh, did anyway else find the second to last option in that survey data chart confusing? The first questions could’ve varied from evolution to creationism, but how does “Did not take HS biology” fit under the headings of evolution, creationism, and ID and how do they get different percentages? With the other options you could substitute evolution, etc., but how would you do that for the absolute statement of “Did not take HS biology”? Do you see what I’m talking about? Sorry if I’ve done a terrible job explaining my observation. Perhaps it explains it in the podcast, but I dare not open it on this painfully slow computer.

  16. #16 malendras
    February 25, 2008

    I was one of the people who would have reported “Evolution: Yes, Mentioned Briefly” and “yes” to ID and creationism. I went to catholic school, ao it comes with the terrirory (sad as it is to say.) Also, pre-high school classes don’t even touch on the issue. Most of my knowledge of evolution was gained from outside sources.

    By the way, when I say “Mentioned Briefly,” I do mean briefly. We had, as I recall, under two minutes of discussion on it. Which was in chemistry class.

  17. #17 raven
    February 25, 2008

    From what I’ve heard, evolution isn’t taught in much of Arkansas and much of Texas. The sources are credible and some of this is from articles in the mainstream press.

    There was one on Arkansas featuring science teachers who were all anonymous because they wanted to keep their jobs.

    Don’t know about other states but have the feeling that in hardcore fundie areas, evolution either isn’t taught or taught as one of those theories invented by satan.

    Here on the West Coast teaching creationism in public high school classes can get a teacher in trouble and quickly.

  18. #18 Anon
    February 25, 2008

    Re: the 15 minute podcast idea: Seconded!!

    I also think an archive of videorecordings of experimental methodology for each study would be helpful. I’ve seen too many discrepancies between what happened in the lab and how it looked once written up in a methods section.

    Yeah, I know, that wasn’t the point of your post. Just sayin’

  19. #19 Aquaria
    February 25, 2008

    I’ll throw in with the people from the lower half of the country who attest to the lack of evolution taught in schools. Back in the 70s, my ONLY exposure to evolution was in an advanced biology class with stringent admission requirements. 12-20 kids a year got to take this course. I was one of the privileged. We only had 12 kids in the class that year.

    The teacher had bought college biology textbooks with his own money to explain evolution to us. They were old, probably mid-60s, but the basics of how it worked were (then) good enough for high school students in East Texas. And he told the class, right up front, that if they didn’t like learning evolution, they could withdraw from the class for the rest of the year. Period.

    He had to buy the books himself, because, yep, we were under the persecution of the Gablers. It was bad enough they did this to science, but they did it to ALL subjects: Lit, history, government–you name it, we had crap textbooks for it. That biology teacher wasn’t the only one who referenced to older textbooks to teach basics. Two of my English teachers dragged out textbooks from the 60s for reference material. I don’t remember what was so horrible in it that kids in 1968 could handle the material and kids in the late 70s couldn’t, but the Gablers had decided in the interim that teenagers didn’t need to read it.

    I shed no tears when they died. ZERO. My education was anything but, thanks to the ignorant nosy-mindedness of morons like them. I still feel grossly inadequate to even comprehend science, to this very day. Our science education was so pitiful that even the basics are troublesome for me sometimes. And to think, I took advanced courses at one of the (then) premier pubic school systems of the state, which gave me something of a clue. Imagine how it was for students without such an opportunity.

  20. #20 John
    February 25, 2008

    Went to Catholic grade school and high school (graduated HS in 2001) in Wisconsin and I don’t recall ever being introduced to intelligent design OR creationism. The only time we would have touched on creation myths would have been during Religion class, but that never crossed over into science. Though we were never taught evolution in depth, it certainly pervaded any biological science we discussed.

    In fact, I wasn’t aware there was even a controversy until my college years, when I really became an atheist and a skeptic, and found out that people outside my blue state bubble actually believed in that crap.

  21. #21 Mike
    February 25, 2008

    Is our children learning evolution?

  22. #22 Florida High School Teacher
    February 25, 2008

    In my high school government class, I teach evolution by natural selection as a fact, and I do my subtle best to ridicule the mutually exclusive creation stories by presenting about a dozen of the most ludicrous sounding (to a modern high school student in Florid, e.g., the Hopi spider woman) along with the Christian creation account. You know, equal time. Incidentally, only about half of my seniors said they had ever heard of Darwin.

    Anyway, in my class, after I give a brief talk on Darwinism, we watch Carl Sagan explain natural selection (from Cosmos). Then we study how evolution affects government and economics by looking at in-group/out group dynamics, cheater detectors, game theory and the prisoner’s dilemma, etc. I use Paul Rubin’s “Darwinian Politics” as a guide, along with Will Wilkinson’s short paper “Capitalism and Human Nature.” This year I incorporated Michael Shermer’s “The Mind of the Market” as well.

    The kids are really interested in evolution when it’s explained well (Sagan) and when they realize it continues to affect their lives and behavior.

    Of course, when I explain that evolution is a fact, some of my dumber students reply that “it depends on what you believe.” I explain that, even if natural selection were 100% false, it wouldn’t at all depend on what one believed; it either is or isn’t true. I add that, of course, it is true.

    And others complain that I’m “brainwashing” them. I ask why they didn’t have the same objection when I explained that demand curves slope downward. The answer they don’t know, of course, is that their parents haven’t spent years filling their brains with economics mush, so they don’t perceive learning economic truths as “brainwashing.”

    I guess the point is, even if the science teachers aren’t doing their jobs, some of us in the social sciences are picking up the slack.

  23. #23 C Barr
    February 25, 2008

    In my high school science department, most of us were proud of our emphasis and success on building a curriculum around the theme of evolution. But we had a creationist on board who would teach the genesis account of creation along with the conventional scientific view of Earth history. He would close his classroom doors and show students his church’s antievolution videos. Eventually our department wouldn’t let him teach the life sciences. But if you can control your class and the administration hears few complaints, then they’re unlikely to stir the pot by trying to restrain such an individual.

  24. #24 stanley
    February 25, 2008

    Florida HighSchool teacher — you are a disgrace to the education system, as you are doing nothing but dumbing-down your students. It’s too bad one of your students doesn’t call you on your teaching of natural selection as “fact”……as you can’t name even one scientifically-confirmed example of directional (creative) selection.

    ToE is a bonafide joke.

  25. #25 Florida High School Teacher
    February 25, 2008

    “Bona fide” is two words, Stanley. Didn’t learn that in church?

  26. #26 uknesvuinng
    February 25, 2008

    #21 beat me to the punch. I swear I can’t read anything on education anymore without “is our children learning?” going through my head.

    @#25 Nylon-eating bacteria. Drug resistance. Is two too many examples?

  27. #27 Jim Harrison
    February 25, 2008

    The issue isn’t whether or not evolution is mentioned in high school courses. The real question is whether kids graduate with some real knowledge of biology or not. My guess, admittedly based on personal experience and some rather old studies, is that evolution is not effectively taught–even the people I meet who claim to accept the validity of evolution often don’t have a very good idea of the subject.

    Our system has a tough enough time conveying noncontroversial content, especially when it involves concepts that must be understood instead of facts that can simply be memorized. Add the reluctance of teachers to rile up parents to this intrinsic difficulty and it’s no wonder the system fails.

  28. #28 C. David Parsons
    February 26, 2008

    The atheists responding to this blog are so happy that his/her atheism is reinforced by athiest biologists and visa versa.

    Fortunately, the innocents within the classroom have help on the way in the form of a new series of textbooks based on physical science.

    THERE IS A NEW DISCIPLINE:

    The Quest for Right, a series of 7 textbooks created for the public schools, represents the ultimate marriage between an in-depth knowledge of biblical phenomena and natural and physical sciences. The several volumes have accomplished that which, heretofore, was deemed impossible: to level the playing field between those who desire a return to physical science in the classroom and those who embrace the theory of evolution. The Quest for Right turns the tide by providing an authoritative and enlightening scientific explanation of natural phenomena which will ultimately dethrone the unprofitable Darwinian view.

    The backbone of Darwinism is not biological evolution per se, but electronic interpretation, the tenet that all physical, chemical, and biological processes result from a change in the electron structure of the atom which, in turn, may be deciphered through the orderly application of mathematics, as outlined in quantum mechanics. A few of the supporting theories are: degrading stars, neutron stars, black holes, extraterrestrial water, antimatter, the absolute dating systems, and the big bang, the explosion of a singularity infinitely smaller than the dot of an “i” from which space, time, and the massive stellar bodies supposedly sprang into being.

    The philosophy rejects any divine intervention. Therefore, let the philosophy of Darwinism be judged on these specifics: electron interpretation and quantum mechanics. Conversely, the view that God is both responsible for and rules all the phenomena of the universe will stand or fall when the facts are applied. The view will not hinge on faith alone, but will be tested by the weightier principle of verifiable truths – the new discipline.

    The Quest for Right is not only better at explaining natural phenomena, but also may be verified through testing. As a consequence, the material in the several volumes will not violate the so-called constitutional separation of church and state. Physical science, the old science of cause and effect, will have a long-term sustainability, replacing irresponsible doctrines based on whim. Teachers and students will rejoice in the simplicity of earthly phenomena when entertained by the new discipline.

    The Quest for Right is not only an academic resource designed for the public schools, but also contains a wealth of information on pertinent subjects that seminarians need to know to be effective: geology, biology, geography, astronomy, chemistry, paleontology, and in-depth Biblical studies. The nuggets from the pages of Biblical history alone will give seminarians literally hundreds of fresh ideas for sermons and teachings. The ministry resources contained in The Quest for Right serve as invaluable aids that will enrich graduates beyond their highest expectations.

    You will not want to miss the adventure of a lifetime which awaits you in Volume 1 of The Quest for Right.

    Visit the official website for additional information and to purchase a copy: http://questforright.com/

    “A book that will change the world.” – Wayne Lin, Editor, Tate Publishing LLC

  29. #29 Bride of Shrek
    February 26, 2008

    Its just not a proper “mad creationist” thread until Stanley pops up.

    In Aus in the late 80′s going through high school teaching creation was actually NOT allowed at all in mainstream subjects and I understand its still the same now. Going through the education system here I’d never even heard of creationism and we’re taught the whole monkey thing from an early age (though now I prefer to think of myself evolved from oranges). Interestingly this is not just in the state run or private secular schools but in the private religion-affiliated schools too. I went to a private secular school for five years and then, because of a SNAFU, had to attend an Anglican school for a year. At neither was creationism even mentioned in our biology classes. It IS however taught solely as a concept in the subject of “Religious Education” which is totally optional and, as you would guess, fuck all students take…. Yeah, I’m 18 and have a free period once a week I can either a) listen to somneone crap on about the Shroud of Turin or b) slope off to the library and make out with my boyfriend behind the stacks. You decide what we all chose.

  30. #30 PZ Myers
    February 26, 2008

    We’ve dealt with your kooky book before, Parsons. You’re a delusional loon.

  31. #31 MAJeff
    February 26, 2008

    I quite honestly don’t remember what i learned in H.S. biology. I remember liking chemistry; but physics not so much (which lasted into college). I think that’s why rediscovering a lot of it–which I knew bits and pieces of as an outsider–has been so fun.

  32. #32 Scott Hatfield, OM
    February 26, 2008

    A few points, PZ:

    1) The survey probably understates the degree to which ‘intelligent design’ may be embedded in some curricula, since ID advocates often slip it in as just another way of looking at evolution

    2) It is difficult to effectively teach evolution in the culture we live in without some acknowledgment that some regard it as controversial, that it has religious implications, and that there are pseudo-scientific movements (ID and other forms of creationism) attempting to get their foot in the biology classroom. We can not assume that every student who reports ID or creationism is getting an advocacy lesson, nor that every teacher who completely omits ID etc. is doing a better job than those who don’t.

    3) Neither of the above nuanced points is likely to be appreciated by students who learned a ‘cookbook’ version of scientific method which fails to consider what makes an inference valid, a hypothesis scientific, an experiment controlled. This is a common failing at all levels of instruction in my experience.

  33. #33 genewitch
    February 26, 2008

    I had the luxury of going to several high schools in my HS career, and i was there from 94-98. I can assure you there was only one mention of a deity of any sort, that was in i believe 11th grade biology, when the teacher was going to do the 2 weeks of evolution section of the semester. He basically said that if you believed in god that evolution shouldn’t offend you.

    One thing we did have to do though is have our parents sign a release so we could attend that class for those two weeks. If i recall correctly, no one didn’t have a signature.

    I also attended a Jewish private school. No mention of creationism there. Go figure.

  34. #34 genewitch
    February 26, 2008

    not that this will get read, nor will i be able to tell (i don’t thinK)
    But the whole “this is why creationism is a lie” isn’t something that should be taught in a biology class. Personally, i believe it’s an ethics topic. So it’s in the realm of philosophy.

    my 2 cents.

  35. #35 Tatarize
    February 26, 2008

    .07% were taught Creationism in depth? What more is there to the story? You were made out of clay by God. Done. There’s no depth.

  36. #36 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    The issue isn’t whether or not evolution is mentioned in high school courses. The real question is whether kids graduate with some real knowledge of biology or not.

    and how, exactly, do you separate the two?

    You can’t GET a real knowledge of biology without learning about evolution.

    EOS

  37. #37 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    There’s no depth.

    true it’s all shallow drivel, but those devoted to creationism often make time to detail their moronic ideas about flood geology, radio dating, etc.

    this is what they call “evidence”, remember? It hardly matters that someone pulled it out of their ass, so long as they can use it to confuse kids.

  38. #38 Flaky
    February 26, 2008

    When they teach ID or creationism, what exactly do they teach? What is there to teach? Dembski’s ID filter or Behe’s handwaving about bacterial flagella?

  39. #39 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    jeebus, it’s like i didn’t just post or something.

    if you REALLY want to know the kind of shit they teach kids, visit the AIG website, or visit this site:

    http://kids4truth.com/hometwo.asp

    and make yourself ill.

    seriously, you should know your enemy better than to think they have nothing to say other than “goddidit”.

    they have LOTS to say…

    all wrong.

    also, you should check out this sometime, and familiarize yourself with the more common creobot arguments (as they NEVER vary):

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

  40. #40 Peter Ashby
    February 26, 2008

    I would echo Bride of Shrek from over the Tasman. In New Zealand I don’t remember specific evolution related classes/modules, it was more like Dobzhansky, everything we did was related to evolution. It pervaded everything. I think the problem with how the debate has skewed things in the US is that this is lost. The creationists and IDiots have coralled evolution into a ghetto so that they can better excise it from the curriculum. It needs to be like Dobzhansky said, it should pervade every biology lesson, implicitly as well as explicitly.

  41. #41 Lilly de Lure
    February 26, 2008

    In the UK we’re kind of similar to the position Peter Ashby and Bride of Shrek have described re the teaching of creationism (mostly – the “City Academy” idea of our glorious St. Tony has lead to several state schools being bought out by religious kooks who do teach out-and-out creationism – apparently this is OK because it leads to “diversity” in education. Grrrrr).

    Unfortunately my memories of School Biology lessons were that they tended to avoid evolution as well – we had lots of lessons about how the gut works (almost a year of it) but only 3 lessons on anything remotely similar to evolution. Even then the module was called “classification” and you passed it with flying colours if you could tell the difference between a newt and a lizard. I’d’ve given up on it completely if it hadn’t have been for David Attenborough and Richard Dawkins (do any other UK pharyngulites remember Dawkins’s Christmas Lectures? Fantastic!).

    Even allowing for the fact that I went to a religious school (chapel every day, the works) I get the impression having spoken to other people that this is a fairly typical experience of Biology teaching in UK Schools. Does anyone from the UK feel the same, or was my school just bizarre?

  42. #42 Damian
    February 26, 2008

    Lilly de Lure,

    I’m happy to say that my experience (in the early 90′s) was nothing like yours. We were following the National Curriculum, and most of our biology lessons were spent learning about evolution. We studied the fossil record, mutation, natural selection, genetic drift, common ancestry, human evolution, abiogenesis, and much, much more. Most of our biology exams were specifically concerned with TOE.

    It sounds like you really missed out?

  43. #43 Daniel Murphy
    February 26, 2008

    The number that caught my eye was the less than 1% who said they did not study high school biology. I realize this is a survey of college or college-bound students. But did 99% really take a year-long course in biology?

    At my own California 70s high school biology was taught but was not a required class, the biology teacher was a loon, and I satisfied the one-year science requirement with chemistry instead. Apparently CA requires two years of science now, but that includes 9th grade, and there’s no requirement that one of them is biology. Pity.

  44. #44 Lilly de Lure
    February 26, 2008

    Damian:

    It most certainly does! I’d’ve killed to have been taught about all of that stuff in School rather than have had to have read about it myself (although to be fair we did have a bit of genetics, but we never got further than very basic inheritence and no connection with evolution was made).

    I actually remember mentioning the fossil record and human evolution to my biology teacher and asking her about it – I was told bluntly that she wasn’t paid to teach Geology and I would have to wait until University to study them. As for abiogenesis, it was mentioned in Scripture lessons as evidence for the existence of God and that was about it.

    I’m very happy to conclude that my school experience was indeed as odd as I thought it was at the time.

  45. #45 Marina Muilwijk
    February 26, 2008

    I went to high school in the Netherlands, in the late 70′s / early 80′s. At the time, evolution was not part of the national curriculum and not on the national exam. This means that it was quite possible to start university without ever having learned about evolution.

    Schools could teach it if they wanted to (mine did), but many christian schools apparently taught some form of creationism. At least, that’s what my biology teacher claimed: “I’m now going to teach about evolution, and you should consider yourselves fortunate, because those poor kids at the christian school down the road have to make to with Genesis”.

  46. #46 Flex
    February 26, 2008

    I supppose I was one of the lucky ones who had a HS biology teacher who based the entire structure of the course around evolutionary theory (although I have to admit I didn’t appreciate it’s elegance at the time).

    However, I would have had to answer that we were exposed to creationism. We did spend a single half-class period at the beginning of the semester on creationism, and it was slammed as a myth.

  47. #47 Peter Ashby
    February 26, 2008

    That would be true Flex, if the numbers of iconoclastic youngsters were constant, but the trend amongst them is for more iconoclasm as you put it. it is in this that the optimism relies, not the simple fact of the young being iconoclastic.

  48. #48 Dougal
    February 26, 2008

    I’m fascinated by the notion that 0.07% of respondents believed they were taught Creationism “in depth”. What would an in-depth treatment of a field that concentrates on poor rebuttals of evolution look like?

  49. #49 Lilly de Lure
    February 26, 2008

    What would an in-depth treatment of a field that concentrates on poor rebuttals of evolution look like?

    Maybe the kids memorise the entire output of the Disco Institute – extra credit if they can regurgitate Dumbski’s “work” accurately enough to give the maths teacher a nervous breakdown?

  50. #50 tintin
    February 26, 2008

    @ Lilly #41

    I too remember spending most of 2 years studying Human Biology (in the 80s). I vaguely remember looking at flowers and that’s about it. There must have been more but I don’t think fossils, or anything to do with evolution were mentioned. Possibly five minutes on classification but no more.

    I do remember that 2 of us considered too thick to do Biology had to do Human Biology instead and I do recall that the curriculum for that sounded much more interesting which doesn’t say much for the Biology we were supposed to be learning.

    Funnily enough, I didn’t do Biology for A Level (Years 12-13) and I’m now wondering where I first heard about evolution. It must have been my parents but I don’t remember any occasion.

  51. #51 firemancarl
    February 26, 2008

    Hpoefully, in another 5 years or so, this study can include children in Florida.

  52. #52 Lilly de Lure
    February 26, 2008

    There must have been more but I don’t think fossils, or anything to do with evolution were mentioned. Possibly five minutes on classification but no more.

    Oh dear, perhaps I wasn’t so odd after all! I was taught a little later than you (early ’90′s) but that sounds about right. Certainly I heard too didn’t hear the word “evolution” at school at all – I heard it for the first time via David Attenborough.

  53. #53 Greg
    February 26, 2008

    I took standard biology in Arizona; I don’t recall being explicitly taught about evolution, but it probably was taught. When I took AP biology in high school (in Virginia), the AP teacher told us that it was forbidden to talk about evolution in the non-elective biology classes. In an elective class, like AP Bio, it was assumed that evolution would be explained and elucidated.

  54. #54 Sarcastro
    February 26, 2008

    I took biology at a somewhat prestigious Christian prep school (Ted Turner and Pat Robertson are alums!) and we did evolution and left creationism for Religion & Philosophy class. I then went to the local state college where my Anthropology 101 prof refused to cover the evolution chapter (I dropped that one like a hot potato).

  55. #55 Ronald Cote
    February 26, 2008

    I would think that the average inquisitive student would be interested in the origination of life. How did he get here? There are but two ortions. God created or He didn’t. Or,we are products of inconceivable complexity magically assembled by natural means over incomprehensible periods of time. Those are the most logical choices and the current controversy centers around them. But many do not want to allow our youth to decide based upon scientific evidence only on the presumptive views of biased atheistic evolutionists. In other words, sacrifice the opportunity for our youth to be part of an important real debate in order to sell our own tainted viewpoint. It is called censorship.

  56. #56 Mark
    February 26, 2008

    #15, that’s what I was thinking. I have to conclude that either the questionnaire was extraordinarily badly written, or the people running the poll had no idea how to analyze the results.

  57. #57 True Bob
    February 26, 2008

    Ronald, which is more magic, evolution or goddidit? It’s goddidit. Evolution has rules, magic skypappy doesn’t.

  58. #58 Dianne
    February 26, 2008

    My sister’s biology teacher at a public HS in Texas turned out to be a creationist. I went to a private school. They taught evolution for a full trimester and creationism wasn’t mentioned at all. Somewhat to my disappointment: I was hoping for a good fight.

  59. #59 Rey Fox
    February 26, 2008

    “It is called censorship.”

    It’s actually called “the consensus of experts”. It’s the same reason that mechanic schools have largely abandoned teaching that fairies make engines run.

    Keep it in the churches, Ronald.

  60. #60 Steve_C
    February 26, 2008

    When creationists have some scientific evidence for a creator, let us know Ronald.

  61. #61 Ronald Cote
    February 26, 2008

    True Bob, My guess is evolution! Please illucidate on the rules you mention. Rey, Changing the name,isn’t very convincing. Keep evolution with the Fairy Tales. Steve, just look out the window. All of this magnificent complexity is by chance over time? What are you smoking? And please cite some scientific evidence for your fantasia. All you evols have smart comments with zip for backup. Get real, open your crania and seek the truth, it will set you free rather than keep you captive to a deceitful fairy tale.

  62. #62 skyotter
    February 26, 2008

    Ronald Cote: i adore irony, and that you can aver, with a straight face, that natural processes more “magic” than Special Creation is the apotheosis of irony

    so, thank you for that

    *hugs irony*

  63. #63 skyotter
    February 26, 2008

    “… that natural processess ARE more ‘magic’ …”

    *sigh*

  64. #64 spurge
    February 26, 2008

    I see Ronald is displaying classic creationist projection.

  65. #65 True Bob
    February 26, 2008

    While I am not a scientist, I have a spare understanding of evolution. So here’s a rule for you. Evolution requires changes by modification of descendents*. That is, over time, a population has changes in characteristics via alterations, and accumulation of alterations, to their offspring. Also, no shortcuts, i.e. no miracles, no magic tricks, gotta obey the laws of physics, etc.

    goddidit theory is 100% magic. No rules, at all. Not measurable, no predictions, not detectable, not bound by the laws of physics, and on and on. It’s the ultimate cop-out. I don’t know, so god. Is there a teeny tiny god in every nuclear reactor? Tiny gods in your TV? I bet you don’t know how fission works. Ever been to a magic show? There isn’t really any magic, it is all illusion – the audience is misled, just like you are about gods.

    *scientists, I am but a miserable engineer, please correct me if I’m off.

  66. #66 Wrought
    February 26, 2008

    Well, I grew up in Wales, in the UK, and I can remember our science teacher introducing us to evolution and on the second lesson saying “I suppose I should point out that in some schools in the world, like in America, they teach an alternative theory to evolution.”

    Our ears picked up… what could this alternative theory be?

    “They teach that God literally made the world in seven days. You know, Adam and Eve and all that. I felt I should tell you all that in the name of fairness.”

    Blank looks all round. We sit there waiting for the punchline. The teacher nods, sheepishly. Then we break out into laughter. “No way!” we laugh. Hahahahahaha.

    And then we got back to work.

    That’s the way Creationism should be taught.

  67. #67 pholidote
    February 26, 2008

    I would have responded evolution in depth, a little creationism, and no ID. I don’t see the problem with that in the proper context. Our textbook traced the history of each problem, and showed the evolution of current theory by the scientific rejection of former theories. Hence, old superstitions about abiogenesis were taught as a kind of scientific prehistory. That seems to me the best kind of science teaching: introduce competing theories, and show how experiment rejects one. Especially since most of what one learns in school is simply taught as dogma (or something related: language classes teach arbitrary conventions; much else is simply common knowledge which was directly witnessed and not controversial).

  68. #68 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    I see Ronald is displaying classic creationist projection.

    *bing*

    winner!

    I’d add Ronald to the ever growing database I have of creobots who exhibit projection as their primary mode of expressing themselves, but he’s already in there.

  69. #69 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    Hence, old superstitions about abiogenesis were taught as a kind of scientific prehistory

    Science crawling out of the primordial ooze.

  70. #70 spurge
    February 26, 2008

    “winner!”

    I can has cookie?

  71. #71 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    No, you’re watching your weight, remember?

    oh, alright, just one though.
    :P

  72. #72 AC
    February 26, 2008

    If Evolution is a fact, why are you afraid of creationism? If it is not, then show me a decent reference that puts evolution beyond all reasonable doubt and **answers** the major claims of creationism/ID. Until I see that, I will consider evolution to be an attempt to cut the inconvenient notion of God from the consciousness of society.

  73. #73 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    If Evolution is a fact, why are you afraid of creationism

    nobody is afraid of stupidity… just the results obtained from letting it run rampant.

  74. #74 AC
    February 26, 2008

    Well then disprove it

  75. #75 CJO
    February 26, 2008

    sigh.

    Proofs are for geometry. Science is about inference to the best explanation. Unknown actions at an unknown time by an unknown agent of unknown capabilities doesn’t even qualify as an explanation under any reasonable epistemology, much less the best explanation.

    And if you want a single reference that “**answers** the major claims of creationism/ID,” may I suggest the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims?

  76. #76 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    Well then disprove it

    assuming by “it” you mean creationism…

    why?

    would it make you feel better to know?

    somehow, I rather doubt it.

  77. #77 Steve_C
    February 26, 2008

    I ask Ron for evidence of a creator and he points out the window…
    he could have easly just pointed to his crotch.

    Hey I got your creatah right hee… Ohhhh. Badda-bing.

    Fucktard.

    We have the dna, the fossils and the time. He has a 2000 year old myth created by bronze age cultists.

    I’ll ask again… where’s the evidence Ron? Don’t point out the window to the biological evidence for evolution, which is EVERYWHERE, it just makes you look deranged.

  78. #78 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    he could have easly just pointed to his crotch.

    naw, that would be a really small argument.

  79. #79 AC
    February 26, 2008

    Unknown actions at an unknown time by an unknown agent of unknown capabilities doesn’t even qualify as an explanation under any reasonable epistemology, much less the best explanation.

    ID does not qualify as this at all. It posits a ‘first cause’ of the observable universe who is unexplainable within that universe because he is outside it. If you hold there is no first cause, then justify the extraordinary claim of an infinitude of causes.

  80. #80 CJO
    February 26, 2008

    “unexplainable,” but apparently male. How did you arrive at that conclusion? Is there a book or something where I can find out more about this ‘first cause’? Sounds like a heckuva guy.

  81. #81 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    ID does not qualify as this at all.

    the hell you say.

    all you have to do is show us how a fictional designer actually operates in the world, and you too can formulate a hypothesis to test whether a particular organism/artifact was in fact designed by it.

    simple.

    the problem is, the designers of ‘Intelligent’ design can’t even begin to detail such a thing. while they play “hide the potato” with who they think the actual “designer” is, even those that admit they think it the xian god would be thought blasphemous by their fellow believers to even suggest they could know the mind of said god.

    IOW:

    those who support ID support a notion that is as empty as their heads.

    and that’s pretty vacuous.

    face it, AC, you’ve been lied to, and swallowed it whole hog, just in order to find some MATERIALISTIC support for your beliefs.

    doesn’t that trouble you at all?

    you hate materialism because you’ve been told to, right?

    so why do you prefer an idea whose very nature relies on a dependence on seeing the materialistic effects of a supposed designer?

    oops.

    Are you SURE you actually want to know the truth?

  82. #82 AC
    February 26, 2008

    No, I am conscientously excluding revelation. I have no evidence to show that this designer did not simply walk away after he created the world.

    #80 even speaking religiously, he is neither male nor female since he does not reproduce.

  83. #83 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #80 Look in the running brook for your book

  84. #84 AC
    February 26, 2008

    Ichthyic do you believe in an eternal or an immortal universe? An eternal universe has no beginning, and no end. An immortal one has no end but a beginning. If there is a beginning then explain it to me scientifically and if you can repeat it do so, otherwise it is not experimentally verifiable and consequently out of the domain of science.

  85. #85 spurge
    February 26, 2008

    “I have no evidence to show that this designer did not simply walk away after he created the world.”

    No, you have no evidence for a designer at all.

  86. #86 AC
    February 26, 2008

    Actually, I have presented a logically valid argument showing that science cannot explain the origin of the universe without recourse to an external agent.

  87. #87 spurge
    February 26, 2008

    “Actually, I have presented a logically valid argument showing that science cannot explain the origin of the universe without recourse to an external agent.”

    You have done no such thing.

  88. #88 AC
    February 26, 2008

    1) The Universe must have a beginning
    2) That Beginning is non-repeatable
    3) Science cannot investigate non-repeatable events
    4) Science cannot investigate the beginning

  89. #89 spurge
    February 26, 2008

    1) The Universe must have a beginning

    Prove it.

    2) That Beginning is non-repeatable

    Again, prove it.

    3) Science cannot investigate non-repeatable events

    Not true.

    4) Science cannot investigate the beginning

    Not true.

  90. #90 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    “1) The Universe must have a beginning”

    You’re, quite possibly, wrong already.

  91. #91 AC
    February 26, 2008

    3) Science cannot investigate non-repeatable events

    If not true, specify an example

  92. #92 AC
    February 26, 2008

    “1) The Universe must have a beginning”
    That is a reasonable assumption. The burden of proof is on those who think that the universe does not have a beginning.

  93. #93 Steve_C
    February 26, 2008

    AC. You’re a hypocrit. According to your argument… we CAN’T know how the universe originated. Claiming there’s a “designer” goes against your own argument.

    Nice one.

  94. #94 DanioPhD
    February 26, 2008

    AC, you are boring me to tears. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. The ‘evidence’ for ID/Creationism? Not so much. Evolution happened. It is an indisputable fact which, incoveniently for you, does not align precisely with the bronze age fairy tales you have been taught as true history.

    The resources available for people who wish to explore and understand evolution, the theory, the evidence, the reality of it, are abundant and readily available. One link has already been provided for you. Please make an attempt to educate youself before continuing your wholly unoriginal tactics of moving the goal-posts, yammerinig about ‘proof’ and pretending that any aspect of the drivel you have typed here is ‘logically valid’. You are a troll. Please go away.

  95. #95 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    “…specify an example.”

    I think we ought to know exactly what you mean by non-repeatable. Helps to avoid goalpost shifting later on.

    Science is investigating the Big Bang. I venture to guess that would be included in your term.

  96. #96 spurge
    February 26, 2008

    By your logic AC we can’t study history since it can’t be repeated.

    I guess all my history classes were a waste of time.

  97. #97 AC
    February 26, 2008

    “2) That Beginning is non-repeatable”
    explain to me how you can repeat the beginning in such a way that you are sure there is no outside bias. In fact, the only possible demonstration I can come up with is the process of booting up a computer which corresponds very closely to intelligent design.

  98. #98 Gill Grissom
    February 26, 2008

    3) Science cannot investigate non-repeatable events
    If not true, specify an example

    Oy. You ARE an idiot.

    G. Grissom.
    Las Vegas Crime Lab.

  99. #99 spurge
    February 26, 2008

    “That is a reasonable assumption.”

    Only to the ignorant.

  100. #100 CJO
    February 26, 2008

    1) The Universe must have a beginning
    Possibly true, possibly not. Care to support your premise?
    2) That Beginning is non-repeatable
    Given that 1) is utterly unsupported, the truth of this hardly matters. I’ll note that it’s equally unsupported.
    3) Science cannot investigate non-repeatable events
    False premise.

    Lastly, even if we accept your premises, all you’ve done is proved that science cannot explain the origin of the universe with or without recourse to an external agent.

  101. #101 spurge
    February 26, 2008

    The main problem you have AC is your total ignorance about how science actually works.

  102. #102 AC
    February 26, 2008

    To the best of my knowledge, a theory must be “experimentally verifiable”. If the situation cant be repeated, it cannot be verifiable. The Big Bang does not count as science for the same reason as ID. Applied Science like forensic science is the application of experimentally verified theories to real-world situations.

  103. #103 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    Ichthyic do you believe in an eternal or an immortal universe?

    what I “believe” is as irrelevant to science as what you believe.

    science does not progress on the basis of “beliefs” but on the basis of hypotheses that provide explanatory and predictive power for what we actually observe.

    If those hypotheses fail to provide explanatory or predictive power, they are abandoned as wrong.

    I doubt you will understand this as you repeat the arguments of Paley, which were shown to have no such explanatory or predictive power, even in his day.

  104. #104 Gil Grissom
    February 26, 2008

    To the best of my knowledge, a theory must be “experimentally verifiable”. If the situation cant be repeated, it cannot be verifiable. The Big Bang does not count as science for the same reason as ID. Applied Science like forensic science is the application of experimentally verified theories to real-world situations.

    Your knowledge is not very extensive.

    Why are you soft on crime?

    G. Grissom
    Las Vegas Crime Lab

  105. #105 CJO
    February 26, 2008

    To the best of my knowledge
    I think you’ve found the root of the problem.

  106. #106 True Bob
    February 26, 2008

    If Evolution creationism is a fact, why are you afraid of creationism evolution? If it is not, then show me a decent reference that puts evolution creationism beyond all reasonable doubt and **answers** the major claims observations of creationism/ID hundreds of years of verifiable investigation. Until I see that, I will consider evolution creationism to be an attempt to cut the inconvenient notion of God reality from the consciousness of society.

    Fixed it for you.

  107. #107 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    “The Big Bang does not count as science for the same reason as ID.”

    Very good demonstration of Spurge’s point in #101.

    Big Bang Cosmology explains observations and makes predictions that can be verified. ID is just some hand waving and claims of personal incredulity.

    Not a particularly strong position to argue from.

  108. #108 AC
    February 26, 2008

    So, scientific theories are not required to be ‘experimentally verifiable?’ If that is true, then how is it better than armchair philosophy?

  109. #109 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    To the best of my knowledge (LOL), a theory must be “experimentally verifiable”. If the situation cant be repeated, it cannot be verifiable. The Big Bang does not count as science for the same reason as ID.

    no, you are confusing experiment with hypothesis.

    an EXPERIMENT must be repeatable.

    a hypothesis is based on observation, which can then be tested.

    we don’t need to witness an actual big bang in order to support a hypothesis of such via evidence we see like background radiation levels, expansion speeds, etc. We formulate testable hypotheses about the observations of such background radiation, and from there gather more and more support for the larger hypothesis that a big-bang was at the start.

    it is hardly the case that the theory (based on multiple tested hypotheses) of the big bang is based on actually witnessing it.

    but then, if you think for just a tiny second, you might realize that the vast majority of hypotheses you take for granted on a daily basis are not based on direct observation of the core of the hypothesis, but on the results of such an event.

    If I find a core of fused sand that looks like a branch when I dig in the dirt, even though I didn’t witness the lightning strike, I can hypothesize that it was lightning that caused it.

    you don’t think lightning comes from Thor, do you?

    *sigh*

    why am I bothering.

  110. #110 spurge
    February 26, 2008

    “So, scientific theories are not required to be ‘experimentally verifiable?’”

    No one made any such claim.

  111. #111 True Bob
    February 26, 2008

    If that is true, then how is it better than armchair philosophy?

    Because, troll-of-the-day, scientists have The Comfy Chair.

  112. #112 AC
    February 26, 2008

    Icthyic, I stand corrected.

  113. #113 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    “So, scientific theories are not required to be ‘experimentally verifiable?’”

    They are required to be experimentally verified and have explanatory power. Are you even reading what anyone is writing? Have you ever actually read a science related book?

  114. #114 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    Hmm, AC is assuming experimentally verifiable means “I did it in my lab yesterday” and that’s the only way to validate theories.

    What he doesn’t seem to be aware of is that theories also make predictions about undiscovered evidence. And that the Big Bang, evolution, and every other scientific theory currently accepted by most scientists have been validated that way, as well as by bench experiments.

  115. #115 AC
    February 26, 2008

    However, barring an oscillating universe, the big bang is simply an alternate name for the first cause.

  116. #116 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    Icthyic, I stand corrected.

    *jaw drops*

    Because, troll-of-the-day, scientists have The Comfy Chair.

    can we poke him with the soft cushions, now?

  117. #117 gil Grissom
    February 26, 2008

    AC, you are being mocked because you’re aren’t thinking very deeply, nor are you particularly knowledgeable about how science is done.

    Crimes are non-repeatable events…but there is such as thing as forensic science.

    Gil Grissom
    Las Vegas Crime Lab

    (and yes, you’re being mocked with this sig)

  118. #118 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    True Bob,

    Not The Comfy Chair. Next thing you know they’ll have The Very Soft Pillows.

  119. #119 AC
    February 26, 2008

    How is the possibllity of external forces (such as oberserver bias) influencing the experiment ruled out?

  120. #120 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    However, barring an oscillating universe, the big bang is simply an alternate name for the first cause.

    a meaningless distinction.

  121. #121 Gil Grissom
    February 26, 2008

    However, barring an oscillating universe, the big bang is simply an alternate name for the first cause.

    Going soft on crime again, eh?

    Gil Grissom
    Las Vegas Crime Lab

  122. #122 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    How is the possibllity of external forces (such as oberserver bias) influencing the experiment ruled out?

    by peer review.

  123. #123 spurge
    February 26, 2008

    Time for nonsense is over.

    Time for beer is here.

    Have fun.

  124. #124 AC
    February 26, 2008

    “AC, you are being mocked because you’re aren’t thinking very deeply, nor are you particularly knowledgeable about how science is done.”

    Well then, I stand ready to be informed in how science works.

  125. #125 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    “How is the possibllity[sic] of external forces (such as oberserver[sic] bias) influencing the experiment ruled out?”

    Through careful experimental design, peer review, and repeated experiments.

  126. #126 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    Time for beer is here.

    Yaaaayyy!

    *glug*

  127. #127 gwangung
    February 26, 2008

    How is the possibllity of external forces (such as oberserver bias) influencing the experiment ruled out?

    You consider alternative explanations–note that you have to consider the mechanisms for such explanations and then look for evidence of this mechanism.

    Just stating observer bias, without a mechanism, isn’t science.

  128. #128 AC
    February 26, 2008

    How does that eliminate observer bias? What if there is an unknown genetic bias which prevents humans from making unbiased observations?

  129. #129 True Bob
    February 26, 2008

    “first cause”? More like first event.

    You shouldn’t be even going down that path. Astrophysics is a very esoteric field. Big Bang /= M80

    Multidimensional mathematics requires you to stay pretty current. From your arguments I would guess that you are not really familiar with it. I find it very hard to get past three dimensions plus time, so I am way out of my depth in dealing with a universe of 4 dimensional space-time with hidden dimensions. Flatlander.

  130. #130 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    I have a better question for AC.

    When those who claim that God has their ear and talks to them, how is the possibility of observer bias ruled out?

  131. #131 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #130 Im not claiming revelation, I’m merely arguing from the existence of a beginning to the existence of a creator.

  132. #132 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    “Well then, I stand ready to be informed in how science works.”

    This isn’t really the best forum for teaching something like that. However, if you go to you local book store, you should find tons of useful information. Hell, the internet is right at your fingertips. Then, you can come back here with specific questions. If you come back realizing there are people here who know a lot more than you or I, you stand to learn a lot. Just don’t act like you know so much more than you do.

  133. #133 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #132 I find it best to get all my assumptions out on the table at the beginning of the discussion so that I can play with an open hand.

  134. #134 gwangung
    February 26, 2008

    How does that eliminate observer bias? What if there is an unknown genetic bias which prevents humans from making unbiased observations?

    If you don’t know the mechanism, if you don’t know how to detect it, it’s the functional equivalent of pink, invisible unicorns interfering with your measurements. Just because you use sober-sounding terms like “observer bias” doesn’t mean you understand them or how they may affect the research or that they exist.

  135. #135 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    re: #131

    It was already pointed out to you that you haven’t established the existence of a beginning.

  136. #136 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    What if there is an unknown genetic bias which prevents humans from making unbiased observations?

    Exactly. How does one make any kind of claim about a living God when there’s no objective way to determine it’s not actually Satan, Loki, or a combination of a bad upbringing and too much Jägermeister?

  137. #137 AC
    February 26, 2008

    I know, and I need to work that argument out. But ‘common-sense’ tells me that it must exist.

  138. #138 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    I’m merely arguing from the existence of a beginning to the existence of a creator.

    I thought you were asking US to prove something?

    only now do you begin to realize where the burden of proof actually lies…

    *glug*

  139. #139 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #136 You are putting words into my mouth, I never made that claim and I am not about to make it.

    #134 I understand the argument you make, however I was merely pointing out that science is not as sure as scientists often claim it to be.

  140. #140 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    ‘common-sense’ tells me that it must exist.

    common sense told everyone that the world was flat, once upon a time.

    *glug*

  141. #141 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #140 actually going back to at least Greece, the world was known to be round.

  142. #142 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    however I was merely pointing out that science is not as sure as scientists often claim it to be.

    two points:

    1. it entirely depends on the “science” you are talking about as to how sure scientists are of it.

    2. What you REALLY mean to say is that science is not as sure in your mind as you think scientists claim it to be.

    a not so subtle distinction.

    *glug*

    man… that waitress is HOT!

  143. #143 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    #140 actually going back to at least Greece, the world was known to be round.

    and your point?

    *glug*

    That waitress is TOTALLY into me, I can tell.

  144. #144 Steve_C
    February 26, 2008

    Wow. MIght big admission there… you’re willing to admit the world is how old????
    3,000? 4,000 years old?

    Don’t strain yourself.

  145. #145 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    AC, I know you haven’t claimed revelation, and it’s good that you reminded me.

    However, I’ve not yet met an ID supporter who doesn’t then make the giant leap in his or her head to claim that the designer in ID is actually the God she or he has been led to believe in through revelation.

    Why do you believe in a god at all? Surely, your first step to belief was not an argument ‘from the existence of a beginning to the existence of a creator’ in the absence of external forces suggesting you should believe?

    If a designer were to exist, or you could prove that the universe requires a Creator, then how do you know the god(s) you believe in is/are that creator?

    Why aren’t you worried that the ID might reveal the creator to be Brahma?

  146. #146 AC
    February 26, 2008

    Re. 138

    I am, because every argument for evolution has come across either has big gaping holes in it, is based on widely disputed experiments, or redefines terms to fit its purposes. Creationism/ID is older, and consequently needs to be adequately disproved before I will consider alternate theories. I actually believe in theistic evolution as being the most consistent with reason and observation

  147. #147 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    #136 You are putting words into my mouth, I never made that claim and I am not about to make it.

    Fine. Tell us you don’t believe in any named gods then.

    If you can’t, then the question stands, regardless of whether you want to deal with it or not.

  148. #148 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    #141

    “#140 actually going back to at least Greece, the world was known to be round.”

    How is that relevant to what Ichthyic was saying? The point is that common sense isn’t always helpful or correct.

    #136
    “too much Jägermeister”

    That doesn’t work for me on a Tuesday. Can we make it Friday instead. I will join spurge for that beer though.

  149. #149 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #145 I cannot reasonably prove the God I believe in is the Intelligent Designer, but I hold on faith that he is. If a valid logical argument shows that the creator is Brahma, I will convert.

  150. #150 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    …btw, there are STILL flat earthers about:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth_Society

    *glug*

    *slap*

    hmm, I still think she’s into me.

  151. #151 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    I am, because every argument for evolution has come across either has big gaping holes in it, is based on widely disputed experiments, or redefines terms to fit its purposes.

    You’re dead wrong there. Please give examples of each, one at a time, and we’ll show you why.

  152. #152 AC
    February 26, 2008

    What is the best argument you have for evolution, maybe you know one which I havent run into.

  153. #153 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    every argument for evolution has come across either has big gaping holes in it, is based on widely disputed experiments, or redefines terms to fit its purposes.

    Index to Creationist Claims
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

    *glug*

    show me the way to go home…

  154. #154 Ronald Cote
    February 26, 2008

    Idiotthic and Steve C,you apparently are not afraid of stpidity your common bond is a vivid display of it publicly!! And Ichthiotic, you are letting stupidity run rampant- it’s called evolution!
    True Bob, Your not being a scientist is obvious and you are letting your engineering mind set keep you from objectivity. Try the refreshing feeling of opening the cranium to other viable possibilities.
    To other evols, I did not expect pearls of wisdom, but am always surprised at public statements of ignorance and stupidity. Sounds like I struck a nerve or two. Butta bling!!

  155. #155 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    Re: #146, #152

    I think you ought to tell us what these big gaping holes are. I’m willing to bet we can fill most of those in for you. If not, we should be able to tell you were to find some info. TalkOrigins is always a good place to start.

  156. #156 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    “Try the refreshing feeling of opening the cranium to other viable possibilities.”

    What other viable possibilities? I’m not aware of any that are being promoted.

  157. #157 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    Try the refreshing feeling of opening the cranium to other viable possibilities.

    Anytime you wanna show us how by spending a week worshipping at a Balinese Water Temple, we’ll be happy to follow your model, Ron.

  158. #158 AC
    February 26, 2008

    First, lets discuss moustraps.

    How would a mousetrap evolve step by step while remaining functional every step of the way?

  159. #159 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    What is the best argument you have for evolution?

    Oh, I see. You haven’t heard of a thing called evidence, have you?

  160. #160 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #159 What evidence?

  161. #161 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    “First, lets discuss moustraps.”

    BINGO!!!!

    What did I win?

  162. #162 AC
    February 26, 2008

    from talkorigins:
    > In spite of the complexity of Behe’s protein transport
    > example, there are other proteins for which no transport
    > is necessary

    This statement completely jumps over Behe’s objection without even answering it.

  163. #163 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    How would a mousetrap evolve step by step while remaining functional every step of the way?

    Oh, I see. You want us to explain a biological process and how it refers to an inanimate object.

    Okay, Sport, just as long as you’re prepared to explain, using our modern understanding of physics, how rocks fly and capture prey.

  164. #164 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    #159 What evidence?

    Okay, thanks for playing.

    I have a question for you? How come Jesus had three nipples?

  165. #165 AC
    February 26, 2008

    If a mousetrap is conceded to be irreducibly complex, then explain exactly the difference between inanimate objects and the living objects which abiogenetically arose from them.

    As for rocks, I could close my eyes and blather about quantum teleportation.

  166. #166 CJO
    February 26, 2008

    Oooh, ooh, me! me!

    Too much Jagermeister?

    Oh, and Ichthyc, you’re dreaming, man. Any fool can see she’s totally into me.

  167. #167 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #164 I admit ignorance and am eagerly waiting for a sampling of your knowledge.

  168. #168 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    CJO, get your eyes of my woman! That goes for you too, Ichthyic.

    re #164

    Most arguments go right over Behe’s objections because they aren’t real arguments. They’re just the personal incredulity that I mentioned earlier.

  169. #169 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    the difference between inanimate objects and the living objects which abiogenetically arose from them

    Perhaps you also need a refresher course in chemistry. There’s a lot to be worked out in abiogenesis. You might want to read up on protobionts first. However, your disingenuousness notwithstanding, our very imperfect knowledge about the conditions and aspects of life at its beginnings does not invalidate the evidence for evolution that abounds much later, especially after evolution gave rise to bodies that could fossilise.

    You still haven’t answered my question about Jesus’ three nipples. Fine then. If Jesus was supposed to be so good, how come he had three wives and five concubines when he became King of Judea?

  170. #170 AC
    February 26, 2008

    re #169
    however, if living creatures abiogeneetically arose from inanimate molecules, then they must be fundamentally the same.

  171. #171 Kseniya
    February 26, 2008

    OMG!

    Mousetraps are ALIVE?!?!?

    O_O

  172. #172 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #171
    I guess they must be, especially since the wooden platform is made out of organic compounds.

  173. #173 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    re #170

    Yeah, we’re mostly water and carbon, inanimate molecules. Did you have a point with that?

  174. #174 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    however, if living creatures abiogeneetically arose from inanimate molecules, then they must be fundamentally the same.

    Yeah, just like how salt, arising from chlorine and sodium, is poisonous and explodes when in contact with water. Fundamentally the same.

    And this is a tit-for-tat here, not a free lunch. You want us to answer your questions about evolution, then you better start answering my questions about Jesus.

    Where exactly did Jesus get the money to purchase all the animals for his huge underwater zoo?

  175. #175 AC
    February 26, 2008

    re #173

    what distinguishes an animate object from an inanimate one? In fact, a mousetrap moves… it must be animate.

  176. #176 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    re #172

    organic compounds != life or are you proposing some new definition?

  177. #177 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #176

    What is life?

  178. #178 Kseniya
    February 26, 2008

    BUT… but what it the platform is make of A SYNTHETIC MATERIAL? Does that mean… that is’s like a golem-mousetrap? That’s just freakin evil, man.

    Do golem-mousetraps reproduce themselves and develop from single-celled zygotes like regular, wooden-based mousetraps? Or are they sprung, fully-formed, from the brain of the false god Jupiter?

  179. #179 AC
    February 26, 2008

    Would a self-replicating robot be alive?

  180. #180 Rey Fox
    February 26, 2008

    Ronald Cote #154 translation: “I have absolutely nothing to say.”

    All this because people had to go to church when they were growing up. Sigh.

    The thing that struck me just now is this notion that “an infinitude of causes” is an extraordinary claim. For me, that’s just the only way to see things. If we get to a cause/effect from which we can’t go back further and posit a cause for that, I wonder, why not? It must be a super-duper special kind of cause. Ordinary effects and causes, we all know those exist. First Cause? You got some explaining to do with regards to that.

  181. #181 Kseniya
    February 26, 2008

    Mommy… Why?

  182. #182 AC
    February 26, 2008

    I always find it interesting when my intuitions prove to be true. I can’t say that this conversation has aided my acceptance of evolution in the slightest when scientists are either unable or unwilling to answer simple questions.

  183. #183 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    what distinguishes an animate object from an inanimate one? In fact, a mousetrap moves… it must be animate.

    Uh, you’re the one who brought up inanimate as term for some reason.

    And now you’re asking us to define the term for you?

    What are you, a freshman philosophy major who thinks he’s got some kind fancy rhetorician’s game goin’ on?

    You’ve got to be fucking joking. I ate pompous retards like you in during the break between first and third period.

  184. #184 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #180 the first cause is different precisely because it explains the rest of the system and is unexplained by the system.

  185. #185 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    re #174
    “Where exactly did Jesus get the money to purchase all the animals for his huge underwater zoo?”

    Wasn’t it when he knocked over the tax collectors?

    re #176
    From the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (11th Ed.):
    animate: adjective alive or having life.

  186. #186 Steve_C
    February 26, 2008

    Holy shit this guy is dense.

    Because the unenlightened came up with “skydaddydidit” for existence it has to be disproved, despite the fact that it never had any evidence?

    There’s a whole box full of gods that existed before the old testament god… do you have to disprove all of those first too?

    Fucking hell.

  187. #187 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    I always find it interesting when my intuitions prove to be true. I can’t say that this conversation has aided my acceptance of Intelligenct Design in the slightest when the religious are either unable or unwilling to answer simple questions.

  188. #188 AC
    February 26, 2008

    re #184

    actually #163 brought up the concept of an inanimate object, and I have been trying to discover what makes it different.

  189. #189 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    I always find it interesting when my intuitions prove to be true.

    you at post #112:

    I stand corrected

    you should have stopped there.

    *glug*

    Mommy… Why?

    because.

  190. #190 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    Okay, AC. I’ll go with you on your little mental joyride around the gym.

    Are self-replicating robots alive? They’d be just as alive or not alive as viruses.

  191. #191 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #186 all you have to do is disprove the concept of a first cause

  192. #192 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #190 how is a bacteria more alive than a virus, or what is the definition of life?

  193. #193 Kseniya
    February 26, 2008

    I always find it interesting when my intuitions prove to be true. I can’t say that this conversation has aided my acceptance of evolution in the slightest when scientists are either unable or unwilling to answer simple questions.

    I always find it interesting when ignorant folk delude themselves for the purpose of perpetuating their ignorance.

    I suppose EDUCATING YOURSELF using the… let me think… what tremendous source of knowledge and information might I access without even leaving my chair?

    Crumb. Damn. heck. Can’t think of one.

    Oh, what the heck. Let’s give the guy what he wants. I’ll get strained peaches out of the pantry. Anybody got a spoon?

  194. #194 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    actually #163 brought up the concept of an inanimate object, and I have been trying to discover what makes it different.

    Oops, my bad. Non-self-replicating is more accurately what I meant by inanimate.

  195. #195 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #194 I was just going from a vague conception of the meaning of the term ‘alive’

  196. #196 Kseniya
    February 26, 2008

    (Takes notes)

    (Rock: not alive)

    (Copy-protected CD: not alive)

    (Moustrap: alive)

  197. #197 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    hey, before AC goes all “Andria” on us, can i suggest we just repost David’s post here for him to digest?

    here ’tis:

    Just for documentation purposes, in cases Andria decides not to post my comment:

    ===============================================

    Here’s your monster comment 220 that is for the most part a plagiate. It’s a Gish gallop: a debate tactic that consists of spouting so much nonsense in so little time that the opponent is dumbfounded, not knowing where to begin, and knowing that refuting all of it would take several hours.

    So what? It’ll be easy.

    My dear evolutionists, This has been fun. I believe in one kind of evolutionism.

    Two mistakes right there.

    First, scientific theories aren’t something you believe in or don’t believe in. They are testable — falsifiable (otherwise they wouldn’t be scientific) –, and that means that if they are wrong, we can find that out, no matter how sincerely and fervently we or anyone else believes in them. Belief is irrational. Science is not.

    Second, scientific theories aren’t ideologies. They aren’t “-isms”. To call them such is dishonest. Or would you call yourself a gravityist?

    Micro-evolutionism. But Macro-Evolutionism

    There is no difference between “microevolution” and “macroevolution”. Biologists invented these terms in the early 20th century when evolution wasn’t well understood yet. It has since turned out that the terms are useless. Let mutation, selection and drift (if you don’t know what exactly these terms mean, ask me or ask Google) go on for long enough, and you’ll see “macroevolution” no matter how you define it. That’s because there’s simply nothing to prevent it from happening.

    continues to have nothing but circular reasoning behind it.

    So? Explain, if you can.

    I realize, though, that this is a dead-end where debate is concerned, because none of you will change, and I will not change.

    Wrong. We are talking about science, not about religion. We, and you, will go wherever the evidence leads us, and we — like you — will immediately change our minds when our opinions are disproven. This is of crucial importance for science. If we are wrong, we can find out that we are wrong. That’s the big advantage of science over any other so-called “way of knowing”.

    “Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.”
    – Thomas Henry Huxley. Called “Darwin’s Bulldog” because he defended On the Origin of Species with more fervor than the ever-cautious, ever-polite Darwin did.

    Here I thought I was just randomly posting a query to someone else’s opinion on a random blog!

    Hundreds like you have come before you. Pharyngula has been among the most widely read blogs in its field for years. Hundreds of creationist drive-by trolls have posted the ever-same talking points, believing they had made an original point.

    It’s not your fault you didn’t know this situtation, but I think you could have easily imagined it.

    And it seems I have become the only defender of faith, God, and a divine Creation.

    “Defender of God”? Isn’t that, like, blasphemy or something? Are you saying God can’t defend himself?

    Also, you have never answered the question of why you confuse Christianity and creationism. The two are not the same.

    I will however give a couple of parting thoughts, because while no one can win at this, what is there to lose in at least saying what you believe anyway?

    Your beliefs might be either disproven or shown to be untestable and therefore outside science. That’s what.

    (Which is apparently what you are doing, and I will continue to do throughout my life).

    We don’t believe. We test hypotheses.

    The only proof of Creation is in the objects of Creation.

    All of which can also be explained in other ways — so they aren’t proof. No surprise there. Outside of math and formal logic, nothing can ever be proven.

    That’s the point of the “flying space monkey” and “Santa Claus” comments I forwarded.

    I love examples, so I’m going to use a nice simple example for you guys. Our example lies in the beautiful example of a car (you’ve probably heard this before). Take your pick which kind of car you’d like to imagine. Okay, even such a normal thing as a car, could not exist, without a creator.

    See, that’s where the analogy already breaks down. Cars don’t reproduce. They don’t even grow. Try again.

    Evolution is something that happens to populations, not to individuals. It requires reproduction with imperfect inheritance. That means that living beings (including viruses) evolve, languages evolve, and evolution can be simulated in computers, but that basically is it. Oh, universes might evolve, too, but that’s very difficult to test and probably not the simplest explanation for the observations it’s supposed to explain. (Therefore it’s not a very popular hypothesis at the moment.)

    Normal plausibility tells us, that things prone to disorder do not HAPPEN upon order. Shake things up in a blender, and you’re not going to come up with anything but a shake.

    You overlook that order is sometimes the energetically preferred state of affairs. Water vapor is disorder — liquid water is partial order — ice is order. That’s because of electrostatics: water molecules have a positive and a negative pole, so that they stick to each other in a certain pattern. Destroying that pattern requires energy. Or take the paranut effect. Take random solid objects, put them in some container, and shake that container. If you shake long enough and then open the container, you’ll find that the biggest objects are on top and the smallest at the bottom. That’s because the shaking creates spaces between the objects — the small ones can fall through, the big ones can’t. Or take well-shaken sandy and muddy water and let it settle. Regular layers will settle on the bottom: the biggest grains will fall out first, so the bottom layer will be coarse sand, and the finest grains will fall out last, so the top layer will be fine clay. Geologists call this a fining-upwards sequence. I’ve seen several on top of each other in a 10-million-year-old nearshore seafloor in northwestern Austria: every time a storm came, it stirred the water at the shore where it stirred up sand and silt, the water spread offshore to the point where I was, and then the coarsest grains fell to the bottom, then the next coarsest grains, and so on. Coarse sand grading into middle sand grading into fine sand, coarse silt, middle silt, fine silt, coarse clay, middle clay, fine clay. Then the fine clay continues upwards till the next storm layer, which again begins suddenly with coarse sand.

    In answer to those of you who demand proof of God – I offer you the very breath you use to speak out against God. Who gave it to you?

    This has already been answered on the Pharyngula thread.

    Let’s put it this way: Those babies who didn’t have the reflex to start breathing when they were born have already died, so that nobody has inherited the lack of this reflex, so the trait has disappeared from the population. That’s called natural selection.

    Don’t you even know that most Christians today believe that God’s existence cannot be proven? That God is above the understanding of puny humans?

    In Austria, all schoolchildren who at least nominally belong to one of the largest local religions get religious instruction in school. My Catholic RI teacher told me that a God who could be proven would be poor! The idea is that 1) God is simply greater than that, greater than a puny human brain; 2) if God were proven, there would be no free will anymore, but God wants us to have free will, so he refuses being provable.

    I should also mention what might be the most important point here: Atheists aren’t dystheists. Dystheists like Dr. Behe believe that God exists and is evil. They can “speak out against God”. Atheists believe that God does not exist. Logically, they cannot speak out for or against God. They speak out against the — in their eyes delusional — belief in any deities. Can you speak out against Ea, the Sumerian water god who sent the worldwide flood that only Utnapishtim and his family survived in their ark? No, because you believe he’s a fairytale in the first place.

    You think I’m going to offer you a proverbial offering of fire like that of Elijah?

    Huh?

    You think I’m going to say that Leviticus is what all good Christians base their lives around (which, btw to be ‘technical’, the Old Testament way of sacrificing animals was [...]

    Blah, blah, blah. No, the vast, vast majority of atheists are ex-Christians. Everyone knows Leviticus isn’t the whole Bible. Everyone knows, for example, the New Testament and what it says.

    The only proof in God is when you know him personally.

    Do you?

    And yes, (thank you for pointing this out) by know, I do mean believe.

    Then you should say “believe” rather than “know”. By doing so, you would also no longer conceal the fact that a belief cannot be a proof.

    Often, as you well know in your own studies, for even the most objective scientist, their bias sneaks into their hypothesis and they will present their beliefs as ‘fact’.

    See? You didn’t follow my link, so you still don’t know what “fact” even means. Go read it, and then come back. It’s just about 12 lines of text.

    “Even the most objective scientist” will occasionally overlook evidence and therefore present a hypothesis that is already disproven, or (more commonly) will overlook an alternative hypothesis and will therefore present their own as the only one that can so far explain the facts when that is not the case. No scientist will ever present a hypothesis as a fact, because hypotheses explain facts. They cannot become facts.

    What did Creation and God ever do to you?

    Why did Napoleon cross the Mississippi?

    Lastly, many of you complained that you wanted me to answer your dozens of specific questions concerning Evolution.

    “Specific”! Hah! We were asking you the very basics!

    I’m not going to pansy around and pretend I have all the answers. I don’t. And you do?

    We understand the very basics, yes. We understand what on Earth we are talking about.

    But since I have been demanded answers for my beliefs, I have a few questions of my own.

    How logical.

    And no, they are not original with me (so if you pick them apart, you’re picking apart someone else).

    So what? Whether something is wrong doesn’t depend on who came up with it.

    1. Where did the space for the universe come from?

    Why did Napoleon cross the Mississippi?

    This is yet another wrong question. There is no such thing as “space for the universe”. The universe is space, with energy and matter in it.

    2. Where did matter come from?

    Matter is a form of energy. When you inject energy into a vacuum, you create elementary particles. This is inevitable according to quantum physics, and indeed it is observed. Heating a lightbulb creates photons (particles of light), for example.

    Energy… in sum, the universe apparently contains zero energy, because the sum of all energy (including matter) is equal to the sum of all gravity.

    3. Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)?

    We don’t know. But we’re working on it. Spend a few hours in Wikipedia, and you will get a glimpse into this active field of research.

    4. How did matter get so perfectly organized?

    What do you mean?

    5. Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing?

    See above.

    6. When, where, why, and how did life come from non-living matter?

    When? Between 4.4 and 3.85 billion years ago. Where? Somewhere in liquid water, probably on Earth. Why? Because it could happen. Everything that can happen happens sooner or later.

    The numbers I got from a paper (which I think I can send you) that showed the Earth already had a crust and an ocean 4.4 billion years ago, and from another (which I don’t have, but which is cited in textbooks) that found chemical evidence for life in 3.85-billion-year-old layers. If you don’t know how radiometric dating works, just look it up on Wikipedia, it has a good article on that.

    7. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?

    “Learn”? That’s again a wrong question. If you leave nucleic acids alone under certain conditions, they will get copied, because of nothing else than temperature and electrostatics.

    8. With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?

    It didn’t reproduce sexually. It reproduced asexually. And then its offspring started mating occasionally.

    Man, that was easy. Did you really believe that the ability to reproduce sexually automatically makes asexual reproduction impossible? Sorry — did you even read what you copied from Hovind?!?

    9. Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and decrease the chances of survival?

    “Want” simply doesn’t enter into the question.

    (Does the individual have a drive to survive, or the species? How do you explain this?)

    It’s simple: those who haven’t had enough surviving offspring have already died out, and their lack of fertility and/or protection and/or nourishment for the young with them. Natural selection. We are the descendants of those that had enough surviving offspring. It really is that simple.

    10. How can mutations (recombining of the genetic code)

    This doesn’t mean anything. Whoever wrote it doesn’t know what a mutation or the genetic code are.

    create any new, improved varieties? (Recombining English letters will never produce Chinese books.)

    Is that supposed to be a comparison?

    Any mutation creates something new. If it manages to change the amino acid in the resulting protein (about 1 in 3 mutations does that), and if this doesn’t change an amino acid into a chemically very similar one, then something new will happen to the organism.

    What “improved” means depends on the circumstances. The most famous example is sickle cell anemia. If you have two copies of the mutated gene, you die from sickle cell anemia. If you have one copy, you suffer from things like shortness of breath. Bad, no? Not in the region in West Africa where sickle cell anemia is widespread. It just so happens that the malaria parasite cannot enter the deformed red blood cells that result from the mutated gene. So, over there, those who have two copies of the mutated gene die from sickle cell anemia — and those who have two normal copies die from malaria. Those who have one copy of the mutated and one of the normal version survive.

    Or take vitamin C. Normally, vertebrates can make vitamin C. Apes (such as us) and guinea pigs have lost this ability: one of the genes for an enzyme in the chemical pathway has acquired a mutation that disables it. Bad, no? No, because we get enough vitamin C from our food. Not needing to produce all those enzymes, which would require energy, is an advantage: we can invest this energy in growth or reproduction.

    (Incidentally, humans and chimps at least have exactly the same mutation in that gene. Why could that be? Guinea pigs have another.)

    11. Is it possible that similarities in design between different animals prove a common Creator instead of a common ancestor?

    By “prove”, you don’t mean “prove”, you mean “are evidence for”. Similarities alone are compatible with both ideas, so we’ll have to look for something else.

    So let me present the fact that the similarities have a pattern. A tree-shaped pattern. Why are there intermediates between “reptiles” and mammals, but none between mammals and insects? If there were intermediates between everything and everything, the theory of evolution would be in trouble. (I told you it’s falsifiable.) The speculation of creation, on the other hand, is compatible with all imaginable scenarios. It can “explain” everything and nothing. If it were wrong, we could never find that out by disproving it. Therefore it is not science.

    Simple, isn’t it?

    12. Natural selection only works with the genetic information available

    Yes, but don’t forget that the available information changes all the time — mutation.

    and tends only to keep a species stable.

    This depends on the enviroment. When the environment is stable and the species (or, rather, population) is well adapted to it, we see stabilizing selection. When the environment changes, a few individuals have traits that fit the new environment better than the majority of the population, and then we see directional selection. By “see” I mean it has been observed in the field; check out e. g. the studies by the Grants on the Darwin finches.

    How would you explain the increasing complexity in the genetic code that must have occurred if evolution were true?

    Increasing complexity? No, increasing diversity of complexity. Sometimes, being complex is an advantage, so it’s selected for. Sometimes, it’s a disadvantage, so it’s selected against. There is no overarching trend in evolution. It really is just mutation, selection, and drift — or at least these three factors are enough to explain everything we observe.

    13. When, where, why, and how did:
    Single-celled plants become multi-celled?

    Several times independently: red algae once, green algae twice. (Yellow and brown algae once more each, but they aren’t actually plants — they have red algae inside their cells.) The fossil record of marine plants isn’t good, but the oldest known remains of multicellular red algae were 2.1 billion years old last time I read something on the topic.

    Where: Somewhere in the sea.

    Why: Because cooperation sometimes has net advantages.

    (Where are the two and three-celled intermediates?)

    Learn about colonial green algae, will you? Google Micraster and Volvox, for instance. Also, what about cell chains that are so common among fungi and green algae?

    Really, isn’t that taught in biology lessons in the USA?

    Single-celled animals evolve?

    At least 1.3 billion years ago, probably.

    Where: Somewhere in the sea, probably on the floor.

    Why: Because filter-feeding sometimes is the easiest way to get food. Compare choanoflagellates and sponges.

    Fish change to amphibians?

    Not directly. Limbs evolved from fins sometime between 380 and 390 million years ago, probably in a vegetation-rich body of water, perhaps an estuarine swamp. Amphibians ( = everything more closely related to the frogs, salamanders and caecilians than to us) evolved from other limbed vertebrates sometime around 350 million years ago, most likely in a possibly coastal swamp; this has no “why”, it’s simply a split.

    Amphibians change to reptiles?

    Never. The closest relatives of the amniotes (mammals, “reptiles”, and birds) are not the amphibians, but the diadectomorphs; amphibians and amniotes have a common ancestor that lived sometime around 350 million years ago (see above). By definition, the origin of Amniota is the divergence between the mammal branch (Theropsida) and the bird branch (Sauropsida — turtles, lizards and crocodiles are on the bird branch); this probably happened sometime between 315 and 335 million years ago, on land. Sorry for not being more precise — I can’t be, because the fossil record consists mostly of holes, and because the formation of Pangea had progressed pretty far at that time.

    Reptiles change to birds? (The lungs, bones, eyes, reproductive organs, heart, method of locomotion, body covering, etc., are all very different!)

    Congratulations! I am a paleontologist, my specialty are… drum roll… dinosaurs! The “where” of all this questions is easy: on Pangea. The “when” and the “why” are different for each.

    Bird lungs are shared by at least one of the two dinosaur branches, as well as by the pterosaurs. So let’s say 240 million years ago, for greater endurance. Many of today’s “reptiles” have lungs that approach a crude version of bird lungs to various degrees; imagining how the bird-style lungs evolved is very easy. Unfortunately the only good description I’ve seen is in a very technical book, and it relies heavily on illustrations, so I can’t reproduce that here. (I don’t even have the book here with me in the first place.)

    How do we know? Because bird-style lungs usually leave traces on and in bones: first the vertebrae in the shoulder region, then all neck and trunk vertebrae and ribs, then the sacral vertebrae, then the tail vertebrae (sometimes), then the wishbone, breastbone, and hip bones, then the upper arms and thighs, and so on. This we find in the fossil record in this order.

    The eyes? The eyes aren’t different. Birds have ordinary vertebrate eyes — more normal ones than most mammals, in fact. What is your source talking about?

    By the reproductive organs I suppose you mean the fact that in most birds only the right ovary is functional and that they lay one egg per functional ovary at once? Oviraptorosaurs, dromaeosaurids and troodontids (close relatives of birds) laid their eggs pairwise: one egg per functional ovary, like in birds. We’ve found their nests, complete with brooding parent on top and baby skeletons inside. Other dinosaurs, like crocodiles, laid eggs en masse.

    The shift to a single egg per functional ovary must have happened between 230 and 170 million years ago (fossil nests are rare), on Pangea, as a shift from r-strategy (lots of cheap offspring, of which a few will survive simply because they’re so many) towards K-strategy (heavy investment in a few offspring that get a good start into life and will therefore more likely survive). The shift to a single egg per ovary must have happened between 170 and 70 million years ago, probably at the later end of this span, anywhere on land (birds can after all fly), probably for the same reason. (K-strategy and r-strategy are extremes of a very broad spectrum.) It may also have been an advantage for flying (two ovaries are probably heavier than one).

    The hearts of birds and crocodiles are almost identical. This type of heart (4-chambered) differs from that found in lizards (3-chambered with varying degrees of separation of the left & right halves of the main chamber) only in degree. The 4-chambered heart must have evolved about 260 million years ago, on Pangea, and has the advantage of giving greater endurance.

    “Method of locomotion” means “flight”, I suppose? How flight evolved is an active field of research, but a few things are clear. For example, feathers and probably wings were already present; it is also logical that wings had evolved for something else (like sexual selection or brooding) before they were first used for flight. Around 180 to 160 million years ago, on Pangea. The advantages of flight are self-evident.

    Feathers are scales that are lengthened, split down the middle of the underside, and in most cases opened. The first bristle-like feathers must have appeared between 170 and maybe 200 million years ago (they don’t fossilize normally) and had advantages like insulation, but may have first appeared as something that sexual selection acted on.

    14. How did the intermediate forms live?

    Between what? In most cases it’s self-evident how intermediate forms lived. Be more precise.

    15. When, where, why, how, and from what did:
    Whales evolve?

    About 55 million years ago, from chevrotain-like even-toed ungulates. (So did the hippos, the whales’ closest living relatives.) Probably on the shores of the Tethys ocean, maybe in Pakistan. How? Here you are asking for a treatise because we are have discovered a whole tree of intermediate forms in the last 20 years!!! Spend a few hours in Google. Why? Because they had no competition in the sea — the mosasaurs had died out 10 million years earlier.

    Sea horses evolve?

    No idea. I’m not an ichthyologist.

    Bats evolve?

    Also about 55 million years ago. Their closest identified relatives are the odd-toed ungulates plus the carnivorans plus the pangolins (together called Zooamata). The last common ancestor of all these animals must have looked like a shrew. The bat branch took to the trees and perhaps started gliding and using its arms to grasp insects… the fossil record is poor here. Only two weeks ago it was found out that flight appeared before echolocation in bats. The advantages of flight to a tree-living insectivore are obvious.

    Eyes evolve?

    Whose eyes? Eyes evolved several times independently from light-sensitive cells. (Those cells, however, are very old.)

    Ears evolve?

    Whose ears? A cricket’s?

    Hair, skin, feathers, scales, nails, claws, etc., evolve?

    Skin is, basically, simply the outer — or upper — cell layer of a two-layered animal.

    Feathers — see above. Hair, feathers, scales, and claws including nails are all just outgrowths of the skin. You’ll be surprised to learn that the same gene, called Sonic hedgehog (no joke), is involved in all outgrowths from animal body walls, all the above as well as teeth, taste buds, and limbs.

    Which evolved first (how, and how long; did it work without the others)?
    The digestive system, the food to be digested

    The food came first. Not all organisms even eat other organisms, you understand.

    the appetite

    Very late.

    the ability to find and eat the food

    When you swim in a watery solution of your food, and when the food diffuses through your cell membrane, you don’t have this problem.

    the digestive juices

    See above.

    or the body’s resistance to its own digestive juice (stomach, intestines, etc.)?

    Must have evolved in tandem with the digestive enzymes and the acid production. Step by step.

    The drive to reproduce or the ability to reproduce?

    Cell division comes automatically.

    The lungs, the mucus lining to protect them, the throat

    The throat. Lungs are just an outgrowth of the esophagus. The mucus came last, because when you live in water, you don’t dry out.

    or the perfect mixture of gases to be breathed into the lungs?

    “Perfect mixture” is ridiculous. We have adapted to the mixture that is there.

    Of course, oxygen was dumped into the air long before lungs evolved.

    DNA or RNA to carry the DNA message to cell parts?

    RNA. Pretty obviously. Go read Wikipedia.

    The termite or the flagella[te!] in its intestines that actually digest the cellulose?

    First the “flagellates” which were originally free-living. I bet lots of such free-living organisms still exist.

    The termites originally ate rotting wood where the cellulose was already mostly decomposed. One of the two branches of the termite family tree still does just that.

    The plants or the insects that live on and pollinate the plants?

    The plants. Ever heard of wind pollination? I mean, please!

    The bones, ligaments, tendons, blood supply, or muscles to move the bones?

    Never noticed that animals without bones have muscles, too? If you’re small enough, you can have one without the other.

    The nervous system, repair system, or hormone system?

    Hormones first, nerves later. There is no such thing as a “repair system”. You know, Hovind likes making stuff up.

    The immune system or the need for it?

    The need for it — but gradually, like the immune system. It’s an arms race.

    16. There are many thousands of examples of symbiosis that defy an evolutionary explanation.

    Provide one if you can. Hint: you can’t.

    17. How would evolution explain mimicry? Did the plants and animals develop mimicry by chance, by their intelligent choice, or by design?

    By mutation and selection. Mutation is random, selection is not — those who look most similar to what they’re imitating are eaten the least often. Simple. Really simple.

    18. When, where, why, and how did man evolve feelings?

    Man didn’t. They’re all much older.

    Love, mercy, guilt, etc. would never evolve in the theory of evolution.

    Wrong. Look up “kin selection” and “reciprocal altruism”. It’s all quite obvious, really.

    19. *How did photosynthesis evolve?

    AsteriscMost of the intermediates are still alive. The form most widespread today, which uses water as the hydrogen source, is the chemically most difficult one and came last. The precursor uses hydrogen sulfide instead, which is much safer; bacteria that use it are widespread in oxygen-poor or -free and sulfur-rich layers of seashores today. A yet older method is to directly use hydrogen. That’s easiest. This, too, still exists today.

    20. *How did thought evolve?

    We’re working on it.

    21. *How did flowering plants evolve, and from that?

    That’s a very active field of research. The “how” is pretty obvious: more and more protection layers accumulated around the seed. What their closest relatives are is unclear: either bennettites or cycads or pentoxylopsids or glossopterids or gigantopterids or gnetaleans or all of the above plus conifers. Come back in 10 years, and I’ll probably be able to tell you.

    22. *What kind of evolutionist are you? Why are you not one of the other eight or ten kinds?

    Tell me about those “kinds”. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

    23. What would you have said fifty years ago if I told you I had a living coelacanth in my aquarium?

    “Really? That I wanna see.”

    Except what you mean isn’t 50 but 70 years ago. This happens when creationists copy from each other over 20 years. The first Latimeria chalumnae was discovered in 1938.

    24. *Is there one clear prediction of macroevolution that has proved true?

    See above on the lack of a difference between “micro-” and “macroevolution”. Also see above for the treelike pattern of similarities among organisms. Also see above for how science works: you should ask “is there one clear prediction of the theory of evolution that has proven wrong, and is there one clear prediction of the speculation of creationism that has proven wrong?”

    25. *What is so scientific about the idea of hydrogen as becoming human?

    Huh?

    26. *Do you honestly believe that everything came from nothing?

    “Believe” doesn’t enter into the question. It currently looks like everything came either from nothing or from nothing-with-quantum-physics-in-it (which is a more realistic state of affairs than “nothing” can be); I don’t know of any evidence against this, so I have to accept this hypothesis for the time being.

    After you have answered the preceding questions, please look carefully at your answers and thoughtfully consider the following questions.

    1. Are you sure your answers are reasonable, right, and scientifically provable, or do you just believe that it may have happened the way you have answered? (Do these answers reflect your religion or your science?)

    I am sure they are reasonable. I am not absolutely sure they are all absolutely right — science isn’t finished yet! I am, however, certain that all reflect the best of my knowledge of the evidence.

    There is no such thing as “scientifically provable”. Is not understanding science a prerequisite for being a creationist, or what? (On second thought, it probably is.)

    My religion? I’m an apathetic agnostic, I have no such thing as a religion.

    2. Do your answers show more or less faith than the person who says, “God must have designed it”?

    They show a complete lack of faith. It’s all “show me the evidence, show me, show me, show me”. Compare the story of St Thomas. :-)

    3. Is it possible that an unseen Creator designed this universe?

    It’s certainly possible, but it’s neither testable nor a necessary hypothesis to explain anything. Thus, it is a completely useless assumption, at least for now.

    4. Is it wise and fair to present the theory of evolution to students as fact?

    No. It is wise and fair to present evolution as an observed fact, because that’s what it is, and to present the theory of evolution by mutation, selection and drift as the only testable explanation that people have so far come up with.

    5. What is the end result of a belief in evolution (lifestyle, society, attitude about others, eternal destiny, etc.)?

    There is no such thing as “belief in evolution” in the first place. The evidence is clear — it doesn’t go away if we stop believing in it.

    But even if, what end result should there be? I can’t think of one.

    6. Do people accept evolution because of the following factors?
    - It is all they have been taught.

    That’s certainly the case for some people, but not for scientists. Scientists follow the evidence where it leads.

    - They like the freedom from God (no moral absolutes, etc.).

    Does not follow. What are you talking about? Has it ever entered your mind that not all Christians are creationists (for the fifth time now)?

    - They are bound to support the theory for fear of losing their job or status or grade point average.

    Ridiculous! If you can overturn a widely accepted theory, you get the Nobel Prize. In this case the one for Physiology Or Medicine. The more revolutionary your results*, the greater your fame.

    * I didn’t say “beliefs”. I didn’t even say “opinions”. I said “results”. Research results.

    - They are too proud to admit they are wrong.

    People for whom this is true shouldn’t go into science. And indeed, very few of them do. Among creationists, on the other hand… ouch.

    - Evolution is the only philosophy

    BZZZT! Wrong. The theory of evolution is science, not philosophy. The difference should be clear by now.

    that can be used to justify their political agenda.

    Various distortions of the theory of evolution have been used to “justify” any political ideology, except theocracy. Various forms of any religion have been used to “justify” any political ideology, no exceptions this time.

    7. Should we continue to use outdated, disproved, questionable, or inconclusive evidences to support the theory of evolution because we don’t have a suitable substitute (Piltdown man, recapitulation, archaeopteryx, Lucy, Java man, Neanderthal man, horse evolution, vestigial organs, etc.)?

    Why exactly did Napoleon cross the Mississippi?

    Please. Nobody has used the Piltdown forgery as evidence for anything in biology ever since it was discovered to be a hoax (by paleoanthropologists who noticed it didn’t really fit into the human family tree). Every biologist, as far as I can tell, knows that Haeckel’s “law” of recapitulation is a drastic oversimplification (ontogeny evolves, too — the Pharyngula stages of mammals, birds and frogs are very, very similar, but their blastula stages are very different, for example, because of the different amounts of yolk they carry). Nothing is wrong about Archaeopteryx — Sir Fred Hoyle’s claim of forgery were easily and quickly disproven, and several new specimens of Archie have been discovered in the decades since, not to mention lots of other ancient birds and near-birds. Nothing is wrong about Lucy, Java Man, or the Neandertalers — if you think otherwise, please explain. Horse evolution is very well documented: it’s not a pole, as it was illustrated in the 19th century and unfortunately in general textbooks till much later, but a tree. Google for it. And what’s up with vestigial organs?

    8. Should parents be allowed to require that evolution not be taught as fact in their school system unless equal time is given to other theories of origins (like divine creation)?

    Note the misuse of “theories”.

    Firstly, “equal time” is a bit silly. Some ideas require more time for explanation than others. Creationism is just “goddidit” — evolution is more complicated than that. Secondly, did you follow this link? Its point is that Christianity is not the only religion with a creation myth. You’d have to teach literally hundreds of such stories. That would easily fill up an entire school year, and I don’t just mean the biology classes. Thirdly, we are talking about the USA. According to the big-C Constitution, you are allowed to teach either all religious ideas of creation or none. Given the aforementioned time constraints, it’s much easier to teach none of them and to teach science instead.

    9. What are you risking if you are wrong?

    Nothing, why?

    As one of my debate opponents said, “Either there is a God or there is not. Both possibilities are frightening.”

    And therefore neither of them can be true, or what?

    But did you notice? Hovind or whoever changed the topic here: from evolution to religion.

    10. Why are many evolutionists afraid of the idea of creationism being presented in public schools?

    We aren’t. We are afraid of evolution not being sufficiently presented in public schools — plus all the problems mentioned above, such as the Constitution.

    If we are not supposed to teach religion in schools, then why not get evolution out of the textbooks? It is just a religious worldview.

    Wrong, see above.

    11. Aren’t you tired of faith in a system that cannot be true?

    Faith doesn’t even enter the question here, and “cannot be true” is something you will have to demonstrate. Good luck.

    Wouldn’t it be great to know the God who made you, and to accept His love and forgiveness?

    Once again a change of topic from evolution to religion…

    Sure, it would be great, if he exists in the first place. That remains to be demonstrated. Many Christians, never mind believers of other religions, agree that it can’t be.

    I was thinking about making a webpage of this, but then it really is all covered in the ICC anyway.

  198. #198 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    re: #191

    One of the ways of looking at the first cause issue is thus:

    In the beginning, the Universe existed only on the quantum scale. For sizes smaller than the Planck distance, space and time no longer seem to mean much of anything. Without those as demarcations, causality becomes a non-issue.

    Of course, my training is in biochemistry, not physics, but I don’t think I fucked that up too badly.

  199. #199 AC
    February 26, 2008

    Ok so a self-replicating robot would require at the minimum:
    1) a nervous network
    2) a system for replicating itselt including the replication system.

    the nervous network would have a minimum tree which would still be operable, and the replication system would have a minimum design which would work. Has there been any studies which show how such structures could develop?

  200. #200 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    #190 how is a bacteria more alive than a virus, or what is the definition of life?

    Bacteria also carry out metabolic processes; virii do not. Virii cannot reproduce without hijacking the reproductive processes of something else.

    So, are we going to play science trivia all night, or are you going to make a claim at some point?

    And you’d better start answering questions about Jesus, or start paying me for tutoring you in high school biology and chemistry.

  201. #201 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    Ok so a self-replicating robot would require at the minimum:
    1) a nervous network
    2) a system for replicating itselt including the replication system.

    Why would it need those?

  202. #202 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #198 outlines a theory of the first cause which is suspiciously similar to the description of God

  203. #203 Rey Fox
    February 26, 2008

    “all you have to do is disprove the concept of a first cause”

    The hell we do. The only reason you seem to think that a first cause is necessary is that you can’t conceive of infinity. And, I suspect, because you can’t conceive of life without being created for some purpose. Well too bad.

  204. #204 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #201 I was wrong, it only requires a system for replicating itself. What simple structure is there that has been shown to do this?

  205. #205 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #203 I meant “all you have to do to prove me wrong is to disprove the concept of a first cause”

  206. #206 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    #198 outlines a theory of the first cause which is suspiciously similar to the description of God

    #198:

    In the beginning, the Universe existed only on the quantum scale. For sizes smaller than the Planck distance, space and time no longer seem to mean much of anything. Without those as demarcations, causality becomes a non-issue.

    Huh? Since when is God described as being of Planck length?
    Please give Scripture references.

    Unless of course, you mean some sort of pantheist Spinozan God.

    If you do, advise how your Planck-length First Cause God then decided pigs were unclean for humans to eat but not wolves.

  207. #207 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    hey… AC…

    http://udel.edu/~mcdonald/mousetrap.html

    A reducibly complex mousetrap

    go figure.

    again, you might want to visit talk origins if you are actually interested in learning some basics, as opposed to pretending you are interested here.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/behe/review.html

  208. #208 Rey Fox
    February 26, 2008

    “#198 outlines a theory of the first cause which is suspiciously similar to the description of God”

    ?!

    Sure, if you read the Bible upside down and translated into Catalans while ingesting massive quantities of mescaline.

  209. #209 AC
    February 26, 2008

    #203 When I boot a computer for the first, the first cause in the computers world would be the depression of the button from that point, the computer effectively observes or teaches itself everything it has to know in order to carry out the task I give it. In that case, I am ‘god’ and the computer is my creation. From within the computer’s world, it would be absolutely absurd to try to explain the cause of the first cause.

  210. #210 AC
    February 26, 2008

    Thanks, I got to go.

    That animation of a mouse trap was especially helpful.
    TTYL

  211. #211 Rey Fox
    February 26, 2008

    “all you have to do to prove me wrong is to disprove the concept of a first cause”

    I can do no such thing because you’re not even wrong.

  212. #212 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    #201 I was wrong, it only requires a system for replicating itself. What simple structure is there that has been shown to do this?

    Just as I thought. You didn’t read about the protobionts, did you?

    Well, I’ll spell it out for you: MICROSPHERES! MICROSPHERES! MICROSPHERES!

    Didja get that? Should I repeat myself? MICROSPHERES ARE SIMPLE STRUCTURES THAT HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO REPRODUCE UNDER APPROPRIATE CONDITIONS!

    How about that? Got another fucking question? Let’s answer your other one again, since that was so fucking fun!

    AC: What simple structure is there that has been shown to [replicate itself]? (Keep in mind that I won’t do any learning on my own.)

    Sidney Fox, 1957: Microspheres! They self-replicate by budding! Got that AC?

  213. #213 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    re #206, #208

    Thanks guys. I was starting to think I had really screwed something up in that description.

    Of course, AC never got around to explaining why he thinks the universe needs a cause. Other than his intuition, that is.

  214. #214 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    Fuck.

    Next time, I’m just gonna beat the shit outta these retards.

  215. #215 DanioPhD
    February 26, 2008

    Note to AC: “not even wrong” ? “right”

  216. #216 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    #214

    And to think, I passed up on the chance to watch the proceedings on the Kevin Miller thread for this.

  217. #217 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    Next time, I’m just gonna beat the shit outta these retards.

    LOL

    it’s often more productive.

  218. #218 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    Of course, AC never got around to explaining why he thinks the universe needs a cause. Other than his intuition, that is.

    They never do.

    At least AC admitted the occasional error, which pretty well qualifies him for sainthood given the low ethical standards of most cdesign proponentsists.

  219. #219 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    re #218
    I was completely stunned the first time he “[stood] corrected.” The second time I almost spilled my beer.

  220. #220 Blake Stacey
    February 26, 2008

    Saying “science can only study repeatable events” is like saying I can’t know anything about how I was born. The event only happened once, but consequences of that event can be investigated through experiments which can (a) in principle be repeated and (b) provide multiple lines of evidence which support one another.

  221. #221 Sastra
    February 26, 2008

    AC #146 wrote:

    Creationism/ID is older, and consequently needs to be adequately disproved before I will consider alternate theories. I actually believe in theistic evolution as being the most consistent with reason and observation.

    You’re going all over the place here — as evinced by bringing up a cosmological argument like the kalam to refute evolution. “First cause of the universe” has nothing to do with a biological theory which scientifically addresses how different forms of living things became the way they became.

    Theistic Evolution” =/= Intelligent Design (repeat: does not equal)

    Theistic Evolution says that God works through the laws of nature, which were set in the beginning, and that His Will is carried out by natural, non-miraculous step-by-step processes — such as evolution — which form complex things from simple beginnings.

    Intelligent Design Creationism says that the laws of nature could NEVER form complex things from simple beginnings without direct, miraculous interference from a supernatural (or very powerful) being or beings. Looked at theistically, God could not have set out His purposes from the beginning. The Moment of Creation could not have been perfect. No, God — or someone else — has to keep stepping in, to guide things along lest they fall apart.

    These are two very different approaches which people who believe in God can use. The first will not conflict with evolutionary theory at all (it may be an unnecessary hypothesis, but that’s a different argument.) And there’s no reason a theistic evolutionist couldn’t also champion the kalam argument. “First Cause” doesn’t refute evolution, even if it works.

    Focus.

  222. #222 True Bob
    February 26, 2008

    Next time, I’m just gonna beat the shit outta these retards.

    Man, there is no end to the shit these bastards will produce.

  223. #223 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    Focus.

    LOL

    yeah, like that’ll happen.

    more beer!

  224. #224 Sastra
    February 26, 2008

    Dang, he left while I was writing that…

  225. #225 MAJeff
    February 26, 2008

    more beer!

    “To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

    Who needs a deity when there’s beer? I’ll take beer every time (unless it’s Milwaukee’s Best).

  226. #226 Sastra
    February 26, 2008

    I don’t drink beer. So it will have to be chocolate.

    Or maybe one of those mixed drinks which comes with whipped cream on it. And has chocolate in it.

  227. #227 spurge
    February 26, 2008

    I can see going out for a pint was a much more productive activity than trying to educate AC.

  228. #228 Brownian, OM
    February 26, 2008

    I liked yelling at him about the microspheres, though. So fun.

  229. #229 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    I’ll take beer every time

    http://www.lyricsdomain.com/6/frank_zappa/titties_and_beer.html

    yeah, OK, so maybe 1/2 of that equation might not work for some of us.

    :p

    *sigh* I do miss Zappa, though.

  230. #230 True Bob
    February 26, 2008
  231. #231 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    agreed. currently my favorite comic.

    did you know he is getting his own show on Comedy Central?

  232. #232 True Bob
    February 26, 2008

    Yep, and it’s about time. I was living for his segments on The Daily Show.

  233. #233 sdej
    February 26, 2008

    I’m gonna have to agree with Brownian. That was kind of fun. I rarely even post and this was the first time I’ve joined in on a Pharyngula pile-on.

  234. #234 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2008

    congratulations on your first creobot Shenanigans!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cow_Days

    if you saw that episode, you now know when it’s time to go home and get your broom.

    :p

    happens every day here on Pharyngula; eventually you’ll get bored of beating these morons over the head with your broom.

    It doesn’t work to refer them to presentations of evidence, btw, so don’t even bother.

    anything longer than a paragraph will be pretty much ignored.

    they do like animations, though.

  235. #235 True Bob
    February 26, 2008

    they do like animations, though.

    shiny objects, too.

  236. #236 deang
    February 26, 2008

    Like some of the above commenters suggest, Texas, where I live, is probably doing pretty poorly on teaching evolution in schools. I was fortunate enough to take an independent interest in life sciences in elementary school, but I remember middle school and high school science classes as barely touching on the subject of evolution, though biology labs did cover genetics and heredity. That would have been the late 70s/early 80s, when the fundie Christers were just becoming the retrograde political movement they are today. They weren’t yet threatening Texas classrooms back then, though. Recently, my otherwise intelligent 11-yr-old Texas niece told me she doesn’t believe in evolution, that she believes in the bible: “Did you know that teachers want to teach that God created everything but the schools won’t let them?!” I suspect a teacher probably told her this, though she denied it. If only Texas really did prohibit instructors from teaching religious beliefs in science courses. Meanwhile, I’m trying to find good books on biological science to send to my niece.

  237. #237 Goffer
    February 27, 2008

    AC #209: “When I boot a computer for the first, the first cause in the computers world would be the depression of the button from that point, the computer effectively observes or teaches itself everything it has to know in order to carry out the task I give it. In that case, I am ‘god’ and the computer is my creation. From within the computer’s world, it would be absolutely absurd to try to explain the cause of the first cause.”

    True. But you, the ‘God’, also live in a world. What if our ‘designer’ is just a dude in a computer lab in his own world? Is that truly a worthy an all powerful creator whom to worship?

    Also, what about the creator theory: Every time I clap, a universe in another dimension is created? Am I the god of those universes? Did I design them intelligently? What about if every time a star went supernova, a universe in another dimension is created? Or in the centre of every black hole, there is another universe?

    There are an infinite amount of causes that could have brought our universe into existence, and only a few would require an intelligent agent to start.

  238. #238 Bride of Shrek
    February 27, 2008

    You know, given it seems we mostly agree that David’s uberpost is the bee’s knees in answer to the average godbot troll, I suggets we invent a new verb. Marjanovi?

    Eg.

    “That troll is pissing me off isn’t it about time someone Marjanovi?ed him/her.”

    “That was hysterical, did you see the creationist run like a scared rabbit when we Marjanovi?ed him/her.”

    “The troll thought they were invincible until they underwent Marjanovi?ation.”

    Of course this would require an ok by David but come on, its a bit cool in a nerdish, sciency type way don’t you all think?

  239. #239 Steve_C
    February 27, 2008

    Can we shorten it a little?

    Marjanoed?

  240. #240 thad
    February 27, 2008

    I dare you to read this whole post through before deciding which side I am coming from.

    Amazing how evolutionary science has become the Catholic Church of the modern age. In the Dark Ages anyone who declared that the earth wasn’t flat was declared a heretic, no matter what the scientific evidence was.

    Now, anyone who disagrees with evolutionary theory is declared stupid and their valid reasonings declared “psuedo-science” at the least. Some have even lost their jobs over it.

    The fact is that evolutionary theory is so full of holes that even top evolutionary scientist have stated publicly that a – they know it’s full of holes, but b – they can’t bring themselves to believe the alternative. The writer of this article and the majority of posters here have (hopefully) covered the scientific holes (that means more than just the “it can’t be true because there is no God” arguments) in intelligent design so I don’t need to rehash those.

    I, for one, was taught both evolution theory and intelligent design, side by side (and yes, it was in a private school). Both were treated fairly with strengths and weaknesses of each theory exposed. This is what we ought to be teaching. Giving only one side amounts to nothing more than indoctrination, not teaching. This holds true whether you believe in intelligent design or evolution.

    Unfortunately in schools and universities (as is evidenced by the writer of the article) we teach people what to think, not how to think. We ought to teach people to think critically then give them the evidence for both sides and let them come to their own conclusions.

  241. #241 Samantha Vimes
    February 27, 2008

    The mousetrap that evolves is known, these days, as a housecat. Many generations ago, its ancestors were wildcats. Much much further back, there was a mousetrap that was something more between a cat and a dog, related to them both, and I’m not really sure when rodentia developed in comparison to the predator clade, so it might not have been mice but other interesting prey being trapped and eaten. Go back far enough and there are neither mice nor cat-like mammals… and we have the fossil record to prove it.

  242. #242 CJO
    February 27, 2008

    The fact is that evolutionary theory is so full of holes that even top evolutionary scientist have stated publicly that a – they know it’s full of holes, but b – they can’t bring themselves to believe the alternative.

    Let’s get a source on that. Should be easy to find us such a “public statement” from a “top evolutionary scientist,” rather than a vague insinuation.

    I, for one, was taught both evolution theory and intelligent design, side by side (and yes, it was in a private school). Both were treated fairly with strengths and weaknesses of each theory exposed. This is what we ought to be teaching.

    Because misery loves company? We should be teaching this because you turned out so wise and knowledgeable? Tell us, O educated one: what are these “strengths” of ID you were taught, and what “weaknesses” of evolutionary theory were, um, revealed to you?

    Giving only one side amounts to nothing more than indoctrination, not teaching. This holds true whether you believe in intelligent design or evolution.

    First, nobody “believes” in evolution. The whole freaking point of science is that you can see for yourself. You don’t have to just pick something arbitrary and decide to believe in it. Nature decides. Evolution is taught in science class because it’s the consensus view among scientists –the overwhelming preponderance of evidence points to it.

    Unfortunately in schools and universities (as is evidenced by the writer of the article) we teach people what to think, not how to think. We ought to teach people to think critically then give them the evidence for both sides and let them come to their own conclusions.

    That is what we do, when evolution is actually taught. There is no evidence for ID that I’m aware of, and the only reasonable conclusion is that all life is related and developed its present diversity via the differential reproduction of varying forms. I suppose you are in possession of the evidence that should be presented in favor of the other side? Then let’s have it, champ.

  243. #243 Kseniya
    February 27, 2008

    Enjoy the film, Thad.

    Can we shorten it a little?

    “Marooned”
    :-)

  244. #244 Steve_C
    February 27, 2008

    Marooned works for me… reminds me of Bugs Bunny. “What a maroon.”

    Wonder where thad’s private school is… wonder if it’s secular.
    More evidence that private doesn’t mean better.

  245. #245 Kseniya
    February 27, 2008

    Thad’s first line was pure BS. He made his position statment in the first line of the second paragraph.

  246. #246 True Bob
    February 27, 2008

    Oh, I like the symbolism of “marooned”. All on their own, relying on nothing but their wits…

  247. #247 Rey Fox
    February 27, 2008

    “What if our ‘designer’ is just a dude in a computer lab in his own world? Is that truly a worthy an all powerful creator whom to worship?”

    Oh my Dog…Tron flashback. What if the Designer/Creator turned out to be…Jeff Bridges?

    Might make me start going to church again. “The Creator Abides.”

  248. #248 Kseniya
    February 27, 2008

    “The Creator Abends.”

  249. #249 Elise
    February 28, 2008

    Woah. I can only say “WTF”

    I suddenly understand anti-creationism so much more clearly.

    I live in Australia. The thought of Creationism being taught at school is completely absurd to me. Oh we have our share of crazies – my year eight science teacher was a full on fundamentalist christian.

    He taught us evolution – he didn’t believe in it, but he taught it to us. In a way which was certainly convincing. He did mention to us that he didn’t think it was true, when asked why he made it clear to us that it was because of the Bible that he didn’t believe in evolution and that he was more than happy to talk about that sort of thing with us but that as this was science class it wasn’t the time or place. Surprisingly he was one of the best teachers I had. He taught us that not all of the science you learn at high school is true – it’s simplified bullshit that doesn’t actually make sense, “Lies to Children” and all that.

    Er, went off track there. He was an awesome science teacher, is what I am saying. He was also a crazy christian.

    Even the crazy christian science teachers (of which there are very few) in my country teach evolution.

  250. #250 AC
    February 28, 2008

    Just one more note,

    1) I do not think the Bible completely rules out evolution.
    2) in response to #247 yes it is, after all the computer operator has complete control over what the computer thinks.

  251. #251 Ichthyic
    February 28, 2008

    1) I do not think the Bible completely rules out evolution.

    I wonder why on earth you would conclude that anybody in this thread would care what you think, after your previous ejaculations?

    2) in response to #247 yes it is

    The designer really is Jeff Bridges?

    great! now all you have to do is go back and ask Jeff how he designs things, so we can formulate hypotheses to test if Jeff designed the human immune system, bacterial flagella, or any of the other not-actually-irreducible things you morons go on about.

    AC, you should change your handle to BC = “blind comic”.

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