Why Conservatives Are Often Wrong About Science

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ScienceEveryone, regardless of political leaning, has one issue on which they disagree with the body politic of their respective affiliation. Mine happens to be science. In particular, the misrepresentation and misunderstanding of science so often perpetuated in the conservative news. In US society, the most notable attacks on science have come by way of two issues: the theory of evolution, and global warming.

In the first instance, evolution, the attacks have been entirely faith-based. In the second, attacks have come in the way of imagining vast, global conspiracies. The first attack has no merit (I’ll explain why. Settle down.) The second… well, maybe there’s something there, after all.

Before global warming became the contentious issue du jour, the Evolution v. Creationism/Intelligent Design strawman dominated the headlines. In 2005, the Kansas Board of Education voted to back Intelligent Design, by expecting students to understand it for state assessment tests. What was actually taught in the classroom was left up to local school boards. (Read the Washington Post article here. Read Wikipedia’s overview of the controversy here.)

In 2008, renowned economist and recognized smart guy, Ben Stein, narrated a film entitled “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” which claimed to explore the controversy between Evolution and Intelligent Design “fairly.” The movie’s official website has since disappeared, so the best link I could find is, again, to Wikipedia.

I watched Mr. Stein’s film. Not only does he claim, incorrectly, that there is vast contention of Darwinian theory in biological academics (there isn’t), he blames Evolution for Nazism, Communism and Eugenics. He downplays the role of The Discovery Institute in Intelligent Design’s momentary popularity, and even claims Evolution is a theory that has been largely disproved, which is ridiculous and false. Oddly, he explains what ID isn’t, but never really talks about what it is (other than, very briefly, touching on the concept of Irreducible Complexity.)

Mr. Stein, Creationists and other Conservatives miss the fundamental problem with Intelligent Design: it isn’t science. Therefore, it has no place in the science classroom, for the same reason I have no business being Pope.

Before I completely disenfranchise my conservative and religious readers, let me clarify. I have no problem with ID, or even Biblical creationism being taught in schools. The former is, frankly, a beautiful philosophy, and the second comes from a book and set of beliefs upon which much, if not most, of our society is founded. I just don’t think they belong in the science classroom. I also don’t think liberal politics should be taught as part of art history, or Spanish as part of a choir class.

Scientific theories comply with the scientific method. Science narrows its scope in an attempt to answer certain questions about the nature of the universe. It does not attempt to answer all questions. In fact, my very first physics teacher opened her first day of class with the following:

“Science has nothing to say, one way or another, about the existence of God. The scientific method tests the provable and attempts to answer those questions that can be answered.”

Or words to that effect. For the record, aside from being a first rate physicist, she was also a born again Christian.

The scientific method consists, basically, of the following process:

  1. Developing a hypothesis – usually based on observation. This hypothesis should be stated in a way that it can be disproved.
  2. Forming predictions based on the hypothesis – in other words, if the hypothesis is correct, then it should result in recognizable results.
  3. Setting up and conducting experiment(s) that test the hypothesis – based as much on predicted results as the hypothesis itself.
  4. Evaluation and improvement – this includes not only evaluation of the results, but refining the process (or throwing out the hypothesis).
  5. Confirmation – including publishing the data and the methodology in recognized, peer reviewed journals so that others may confirm or overturn the results.

There’s no way to test for God, or a Creator if you prefer not to use religiously loaded terms. Therefore, one can’t use the scientific method to prove the underlying concept of Intelligent Design: that there is a master architect at work.

As for global warming, the attacks are two-pronged. The first argument points to vigorous debate among scientists and jumps on any view that disagrees with global warming science as “proof” that the entire field has been debunked. It hasn’t. There is much more conflicting data in the study of global warming than there is in the study of evolution, it’s true. But that is part of the scientific process.

Also, conservatives tend to point to meteorologists (who, as a group, tend to disbelieve global warming exists) as proof the science is bunk, while largely ignoring climatologists (who largely believe global warming does exist). Meteorologists are trained only in short term weather patterns. Climatologists receive much more vigorous training, and understand long term climate patterns that weathermen do not. Conveniently, geologists and geophysicists are almost universally discounted as liberal hacks by conservatives, though these are some of the most qualified scientific minds studying the issue.

Also, people tend to point out false data, such as a particularly cold winter on the East Coast as proof that global warming is bunk. I heard this repeatedly on Fox News all Winter long. Of course, when it turned out the maple syrup industry in Vermont was going to have a very bad year due to unseasonably warm temperatures and a very early Spring, all the conservative newsies shut up.

In actuality, there is good science backing up and refuting global warming and, more specifically, anthropogenic global warming (AGW). This is as it should be and is a vital part of the process. While it’s true that ice caps are increasing in size, it’s also true ocean temperatures are warmer than ever recorded. Just as one example.

The other attack on global warming comes in the form of the “who profits?” inquiry. Conservatives point out Al Gore has made literally millions of dollars off the GW controversy. Glenn Beck points out the Chicago Climate Exchange, who’s involved and how much money is being made. It is noted that some of the same people influencing climate and energy policy are the same people making a killing off of the resulting “Green” movement.

This second argument is extremely compelling, and I believe it does point to a GW, or AGW, conspiracy. But let’s not conflate business opportunists and political/social “conspiracies” with the science they’re using to bolster their positions.

Finally, lest it seem I’m blasting my fellow conservatives, let me point out I think scientists themselves share a large part of the blame for the misunderstanding, purposeful or not, of the scientific method and the academic community. When evolutionary biologists like Richard Dawkins make concerted and repeated attacks on religion and faith, how else are conservatives with religious views supposed to react? Of course they see science as an attack on faith when the same, supposedly objective, scientists use their bully pulpit to attack their values.

Conservatives are suspicious of a largely liberally funded Green movement when scientists misrepresent their data, as in the now famous Climategate Scandal. (Incidentally, those scientists involved in the scandal were mostly cleared of wrongdoing.)

When liberals use science they don’t understand, and then lie about it to push an agenda, conservatives are naturally skeptical of the whole agenda, including the science.

When scientists blame conservatives, or write them off as science deniers, involving themselves in political one-sidedness rather than concentrating on advocating their science fields of study, for a failing agenda, then non-scientists look at the political nature of their attacks.

American society has launched a large scale attack on Christianity and fundamentally Western religious views. American society has pushed Global Warming as a universal truth, when there is still real controversy over the issue among scientists themselves. Naturally, conservatives are skeptical. But let’s not blame good, honest science for the mistakes of its advocates.

_______

I’m going to leave the comments open on this one for as long as possible. Also, I’ll approve any comments with as many links as you choose to put in them (I think I moderate at two or more links), as long as they pertain to the discussion: either about science and how it’s used, or about Evolution/ID and GW/AGW.

I hope you are encouraged to participate, no matter what your opinion may be. Keep in mind, vigorous discourse is encourage, but profanity, ad hominem attacks and inappropriate links will be deleted.

Also, if you have any general science questions (like “what is the difference between a hypothesis and theory?” I’d be happy to answer them if I can)

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Comments
32 Responses to “Why Conservatives Are Often Wrong About Science”
  1. creationbydesign says:

    There’s no way to test evolutionary claims about natural history (e.g. the origin of human beings). Evolutionary theory is an interpretation of the data — it also includes much which is (necessarily) speculative and is based on imagination, to a large extent. I don’t think Ben Stein said there is “vast contention” — on the contrary, the point of the movie is that the minority opinion is being shut out of academia.
    From a conservative standpoint, I think it would be good to focus on how evolutionary theory has been used as a philosophical or political weapon, and for the cover-ups within the science community that are designed to protect the theory. Evolutionary theory is a major foundation of liberalism (and certainly of atheism). I think also you’re understating the conflict between evolution and religion, certainly with regards to the origin of human beings. Science also conflicts with religion on moral grounds since amoral scientists could argue that scientific experiments should be pursued, no matter the cost.
    I disagree with other points you raised, but I think you also did a good job in maintaining some balance to your criticism of conservatives. You did mention Richard Dawkins’ misuse of science to attack religion and that is important. I would recommend Michael Behe’s two books and Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell as good foundations for the scientific arguments for ID.

    • chrisisright says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. I disagree with you about the speculative and imaginative nature of Evolutionary theory, but mostly because I’ve studied science and have great “faith” in the scientific method and process. My actual background is in Physics, so much of what I know about Darwinian theory comes second-hand from biologists I know.

      In fact, Mr. Stein’s film claimed that Evolutionary theory had been pretty much debunked. I can’t remember his exact wording, but that did seem to be the conclusion.

      I totally agree with you, however, on how Evolution has been used as a foundation of atheism and of liberalism, and that it is often used as a political and philosophical weapon. Full disclosure: I am myself an atheist, but I have great respect for people of faith, and for faith itself. I think it’s horrible that scientific inquiry is used to try and disprove something that, by its own stated standards, is neither provable or disprovable. I realize we disagree about the “provability” of ID, and perhaps once I’ve delved further into the subject, I’ll change my mind. However, we certainly are of one mind that Evolution has been used as a tool to divorce people from a belief in God, which, while I don’t share that belief, is a fundamental underpinning of our entire society.

      I would like to think that scientists are more moral than you give them credit. I like to think that, as a student of science, I have firm moral standards. But I do think you raise a valid point and I will interpret what you wrote to mean “those scientists who are amoral,” of which there are certainly some.

      I’m unaware of cover-ups to protect the Evolutionary theory. Perhaps you’re talking about those people who have lost their jobs for promoting or, at least, stating the merits of ID, in which case I do know that has happened, and I admit I’m conflicted on that issue. Maybe the books you’ve suggested will give me further insight into that area of study.

      Again, thank you for commenting! I was afraid I would alienate my readers who have faith, who doubt Evolution, who support ID, or all three. From your comment, I’ll take it that I managed to at least open a dialogue, rather than shut one down.

      For my own edification, as well as that of anyone who may read this, I’ve included links to the books you suggested below. (They’re links to Amazon.com. Of course, readers should feel free to purchase those books wherever they see fit.)

      Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution – Michael J. Behe
      The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism – Michael J. Behe
      Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design – Stephen C. Meyer

  2. Nature Made says:

    When it comes to environmental topics, the media gets it wrong far more often than it gets it right. Nature Made

    • chrisisright says:

      Just so you know, there’s absolutely no need to drop a link to your site in the body of the comment, as providing it in the comment field provided for your URL will cause your name to become a hyperlink.

      If you want to provide a link to something in the comment, please keep it relevant to the conversation. I’m not here to provide links to your blog, and all links are marked with the “rel=nofollow” attribute anyways, so it won’t do you any good.

      Also, comments with links in them are automatically held in queue for moderation. I’ve kept your comment as is this time, just so I could mention this to anyone else who might make the same mistake.

      Thanks.

  3. Warren Loomis says:

    Chris,

    Science has ignored some facts on Global Warming. The Earth has experienced many Ice Ages and Warming periods… without Human Activity. How come and why wouldn’t the alleged Warming (that has subsided) be any different than any other warming period. ? Most if not all of natures forces are out fo the control of man and science. Patterns in nature are very common. Yet scientists are relying on maybe 50 to 60 years to data, to jutify theri findings. Thanks

    • chrisisright says:

      Warren,

      You make a very good point. I don’t think all science is ignoring this, hence the very real controversy within the scientific community. I believe measurements actually go back over 100 years, but the point you make is still valid.

      I, for one, believe that Global Warming is fact. However, I don’t know what this might mean, partly for the reasons you point out. I’m much more skeptical about AGW.

      As for Warming subsiding, you may be right. I was given bad information re: ocean temperatures being higher than ever. I found NOAA’s page on the subject here.

      Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

    • Kobra says:

      Yes, the earth experiences natural warming and cooling cycles. However, when the rate of change of global temperature (dT/dt) gets too high, the results can be catastrophic for life. People are concerned that irresponsible human activity could directly result in a global environment that is unsuitable for the only lifeform that humans directly care about: humans.

      It isn’t worth destroying our race and rendering our planet borderline uninhabitable just because we don’t want “big government” telling us not to pollute.

      The best course of action is to minimize our impact on the climate so we don’t push it outside of its range of metastability.

    • chrisisright says:

      kobra: That’s a valid point. This isn’t just about big government, however. It’s about a lot of things: the misuse of science to push political agendas (from either the left or the right), the dispute raging among scientists themselves on this issue.

      Still, I think you sum up a very rational concern with regards to AGW: if it’s fact and if we can act on it, then we definitely should do so. It would be a shame to blow the whole ball game because we conflated honest scientific fact with the propagandizing of that fact by greedy public figures.

  4. creationbydesign says:

    Chris,
    Thanks for a thoughtful reply. I usually expect hostility or insulting remarks and it’s great that you did none of that. That’s rare to find and greatly appreciated.
    Yes, I meant “if there was an amoral scientist, then … etc.”. Of course, an amoral believer could do anythng also, but it would be in contradiction to religious teaching, whereas a nihilist would be fully consistent in performing experiments on humans (without informing them, for example).
    Regarding the cover-ups, yes those cases where scientists have lost jobs or tenure due to their support of ID are one problem, but I was thinking more of cases where prominent evolutionary scientists exaggerate claims and fail to admit the weaknesses in their theory.
    This is one obvious (of many possible) examples from evolutionist Jerry Coyne. Here, he candidly admits that he (and he attempts to speak for all neo-Darwinists) is willing to cover up his true motives and convictions, in order to win support from unknowing theistic-liberals. This, he claims, is a “dirty little secret”. The reason for the cover-up? He doesn’t hesitate to say it … to “get grants funded”.

    http://www.tnr.com/article/books/seeing-and-believing This disharmony [between science and religion] is a dirty little secret in scientific circles. It is in our personal and professional interest to proclaim that science and religion are perfectly harmonious. After all, we want our grants funded by the government, and our schoolchildren exposed to real science instead of creationism. Liberal religious people have been important allies in our struggle against creationism, and it is not pleasant to alienate them by declaring how we feel. This is why, as a tactical matter, groups such as the National Academy of Sciences claim that religion and science do not conflict. But their main evidence—the existence of religious scientists—is wearing thin as scientists grow ever more vociferous about their lack of faith.

    There are many more examples.
    Yes, I think the books I recommended will show this more clearly, but also show the science. Thanks for linking to those and thanks again for promoting a positive discussion.

    • chrisisright says:

      Thanks again for the information. I’m always disquieted by scientists who promote their personal agendas by way of their professions. Personally, while I do acknowledge Evolution disagrees with a literal interpretation of Biblical creation, I can’t see how it disproves creationism in general.

      I think it’s always wise to shine a light on the motives of scientists, especially when they are willing to twist facts to get funding. And, similarly, to shine a light on the purpose of the funding itself. Good funding should be granted on the basis of: Let’s see if this hypothesis is valid or not. Never on the basis of: Prove this is true.

      Having studied in scientific circles, it is true that the majority of scientists (at least in my personal experience) are non-believers. On a completely personal note, if there were anything that would lead me back to a religious faith, it would be the miracles I’ve seen in the form of mathematics and the laws of physics upon which the Universe functions.

      I suppose scientists, who are private people as well, have every right to state their opinions on other matters, but when they link their opinions to their professions, they promote this idea that science and religion conflict. And, of course, to believers, this provides evidence that it does so. I think it’s important to draw a distinction between real scientific inquiry and the philosophies of scientists.

      —-

      In the interests of fairness, I’m linking to the homepage of another film about the Evolution/Intelligent Design debate, this one from the point of view of biologists: Flock of Dodos

      Also, I’m going to edit your comment just slightly, but only to correct the HTML in the link you left (currently, the word “This” is part of the link, causing it to not function correctly).

    • chrisisright says:

      OK. I’ve read Professor Coyne’s article. Aside from what you quoted, he points out that Behe himself agrees with many of the tenets of Evolution.

      I think the article makes many very good points, but has some flaws as well. The fact that one couldn’t possibly both believe in science (specifically Evolution) and in an active God that participates in creation is flawed. Many people do. Famed former radio host and fervent Christian Bob Larsen defined a miracle as “something that violates the laws of thermodynamics,” for example.

      Coyne makes some of the points I made in my original post: that the underlying tenet of ID is simply re-wrapped creationism and isn’t, in fact, science. As promised, I’ll continue to keep an open mind and consider the material you’ve presented.

      He also points to atheists and the scientific community as being part of the problem, as I did. Well, I left out atheists, but pointed to Dawkin’s attacks on religion.

      He is also wrong about religion’s inability to reconsider facts that conflict with teachings of faith. For example, it was once the position of the Catholic Church that the sun revolved around the earth. To say anything else was heresy. Science proved them wrong, but faith ultimately wasn’t hurt.

      At any rate, this was a very interesting article, and could reasonably be used to support both our positions regarding ID, so I thank you doubly for sharing it and I hope others who stumble across this post read it, including the attached comments to that post.

  5. Kobra says:

    @creationbydesign

    The problem with Intelligent Design is that it is an untestable assertion that leads to infinite regress. “Life is complex; therefore it was designed by something more complex, which had to have been designed by something more complex, and so on and so forth,” versus, “Life is complex because these specific complex adaptations have had billions of years to emerge.” The second one is more reasonable, IMO. But if you disagree, that’s fine. We can settle this disagreement in the science lab– not in the town hall.

    Some arguments people make in favor of intelligent design are compound probabilities that generate very small numbers by treating evolution as if it happened all at once and not as a result of a gradual process.

  6. As a Christian – I believe that creationism doesn’t belong in the schools. However, I also don’t believe that evolution does either. I have not seen credible evidence that humans landed on this earth because bacteria evolved into something complex.

    Godless, by Ann Coulter, has a wonderful chapter on evolution and how there really isn’t any credible proof of it. The fact that scientists are researching it and therefore it’s called “science” doesn’t impress me. It’s just politically expedient to keep feeding the evolutionary monster to keep creationism OUT. Liberals live in fear that if they lose a toe-hold in the education system that Christians will swoop in and fill it. They will perpetuate lies and go to great lengths to make sure their agenda moves forward and stays on top. It’s part of the doctrine of liberalism just as creationism (which also eludes rational scientific explanation) is a doctrine of Christianity.

    Humans and animals ADAPT to their environment but we haven’t seen any true evolution that I’m aware of. A fish might adapt from being a cold water fish to a warm water fish – but it’s still a fish. I could move to AZ and nearly pass out from the heat for the first year I live there and not be bothered by it after that. But, I haven’t gained any special evolutionary cooling mechanisms to do cope nor did I turn into a lizard – I just adapted to the heat. To me, that’s not evolution.

    • chrisisright says:

      Red Mom/Blue State:

      Allow me to gently point out the flaw in your logic. You say there’s no credible proof of evolution and that it is used solely as a tool to keep creationism out of classrooms. 1) The Supreme Court has already ruled that creationism be kept out of classroom, ergo it is hardly necessary to perpetuate such a farce 2) In fact, creationists and Christians have long launched attacks on science, where science doesn’t agree with a literal interpretation of the Bible. They’ve challenged: The Big Bang Theory, Carbon Dating, The Geo and Helio-Centric models of the Universe. Each time, science has been proven right and faith-based objectors have been proven wrong.

      You cite, as proof that Evolution doesn’t exist, Ann Coulter. Now, I love Ann Coulter, but she has an agenda to push, and that agenda is that liberals are automatically wrong about everything. Hardly objective. Furthermore, she is a lawyer and as far as I know, has absolutely no training in the sciences whatsoever. She is making the same mistake many creationists make: that Evolution must be wrong, therefore it isn’t really a science.

      In fact, there is plenty of evidence in support of Evolution. Not only do we have a fossil record and a genetic record, but many of the underlying tenets of Evolutionary theory have practical applications today. It is used to produce different plant species and forms part of the basis for genetic engineering, which is used to produce medicines, among other things.

      Now, the example you gave, of moving to a different climate and “adapting” to that climate is definitely not an example of true adaptation in the evolutionary sense, as you pointed out. It is an example of acclimatization. But, just for the sake of argument, let’s say the Biblical story of creation is correct. Humans were created, in the form of Adam and Eve, and all humans descend from them. While the story of the Tower of Babel explains why we have different languages, how do you explain different races? Why are some people black, others white and still others Asian? This is the beginning of adaptation. Where actual genetic traits change over time in response to the environment.

      We know about dominant and recessive traits, like eye color.

      The fact we have yet to observe sub-speciation in humans is because it takes thousands of generations to produce genetic mutation sufficient to give rise to a new species.

      But much of the study of Biology – including categorizing the plant and animal kingdom into families, species and sub-species, is an acknowledgment that Evolution actually occurs.

      In fact, according to the article creationbydesign linked to above, even Michael Behe – a staunch supporter of Intelligent Design – subscribes to many of the tenets of Evolution himself. To be fair, I haven’t read Behe’s own words on the subject, so Professor Coyne may be misstating him.

      One of the problems with Evolution is that many people think of it as one theory, rather than a family of theories. And they use the fact that parts of evolutionary theory have been proven wrong, or refined and restated, as “proof” that the entire over-arching family of theories must be incorrect. This is a lack of understanding of science, and is – to use your own argument from the other side – a tool of conservative Creationists to try and drive a wedge into the heart of scientific inquiry simply because it doesn’t support their literal interpretation of the Bible.

  7. Kobra says:

    “Humans and animals ADAPT to their environment but we haven’t seen any true evolution that I’m aware of.”

    You’ve contradicted yourself here.

  8. creationbydesign says:

    Good responses by all – thanks.
    I’ll offer this on Chris’ comment at the end:

    And they use the fact that parts of evolutionary theory have been proven wrong, or refined and restated, as “proof” that the entire over-arching family of theories must be incorrect.

    First, it’s important to recognize that your statement that it is “a fact” that certain parts of evolutionary theory have been “proven wrong” is not generally accepted in the evolutionary-science community. Where do we see this fact (and I agree that it is clearly a fact) that “parts” of evolutionary theory have been proven wrong?
    Additionally, how much of a theory needs to be proven wrong before we can say that the theory itself has been falsified? How can science (and not philosophy) determine that? If a theory makes a prediction and the prediction is proven false — why are we permitted to claim that “part of the theory” is right?
    This does not happen in a serious academic discipline (unlike evolution which is not serious) like mathematics.
    I could predict that 2 apples plus 3 apples actually equals 10 apples.
    We then test and check my prediction by adding 2 apples to 3, and find that my theoretical prediction is wrong.
    Am I now justified and saying that since 5 is included in 10 that my theory is “partially correct”?
    The slightest mistake in theories about physics can have disasterous results in application of the science (as in building bridges or skyscrapers or in space travel).
    With evolution, calculations can be 600% wrong and this has zero effect on the credibility of evolutionary theory itself.
    Again, if the evolutionary community would widely and fearlessly proclaim that it is a fact that “parts of evolutionary theory have been proven wrong”, then this would be a much different conversation. Instead, we find claims that there are no weaknesses at all in evolutionary theory:

    “There are no weaknesses in the theory of evolution,” said Eugenie Scott, an anthropologist and executive director of the National Center for Science Education.
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/legislature/stories/DN-evolution_22tex.ART.State.Edition1.4e90af7.html

    So, I think it’s important not to overstate the claim on either side. To those who say “evolution is a fact” and then point to some exceedingly trivial adaptation of an organism to environmental surroundings … this is deception and a cover-up. If “parts” of evolutionary theory have been proven false then the theory is wrong. It is supposed to predict outcomes. When the predictions fail, evolutionists patch together pages of exceptions — but that is just an after-the-fact “explanation” (which is still not even complete) and more ambiguity than any real theory should be able to permit. But there is great tolerance for such things because evolution is a philosophy and a worldview.

    • chrisisright says:

      creationbydesign: I don’t think you’re up on Evolutionary history. There has been widespread disagreement among scientists over how Evolution works. See the works of Lemarck and Darwin himself for hypotheses put forward that were later proven to be incorrect. Culver’s theory of “catastrophism” was replaced by supposedly better theories, and now catastrophism is making a comeback.

      There is still discussion in Evolutionary Biology regarding such things as the rate of change and the unit of change.

      As I’ve stated, Evolutionary Theory is an overarching field of study. It comprises tons of hypotheses, theories and studies, all of which support a general thesis. As I’ve also stated, Evolutionary Theory has real and practical applications in many fields of biology and genetics. Were it not for Evolutionary Biology, for example, there would be no insulin with which to help sufferers of diabetes, just as one example.

      Also, let me correct here a blatant fallacy being perpetrated in this conversation. The origin of life is not part of Evolutionary Theory. It is a separate topic: Abiogenesis. Evolutionary Theory presupposes that life already exists.

      You point to how theories in physics and mathematics would be thrown out if data didn’t support them, which is true. Ignoring the fact that Evolution comprises many theories (a fact I can’t state enough), let me show you a famous instance from general physics where conflicting theories actually produce the same data.

      In the 1600’s Newton postulated the Law of Gravity, summed up by a very simple mathematical equation. This law (and precious few things in science are ever elevated to the lofty standard of being labeled a law, rather than a theory), is correct in that it produces predictable, measurable results that agree with 90% of reality. It also happens to be an incomplete and somewhat erroneous explanation of gravity.

      In the 1900’s, Albert Einstein postulated the General Theory of Relativity. Unlike Newton’s Law of Gravity, Einstein’s theory involves complex mathematics. Also, whereas Newton’s Law of Gravity is only correct 90% of the time, the General Theory of Relativity is correct 100% of the time. So, conflicting theories in science. We should throw them out, right? No. For most practical purposes, Newton’s “Law” can be useful.

      I can show you example after example of the practical applications of Evolutionary Theory. Can you show me even one practical application of Intelligent Design? No, because it has none.

      And, while you have correctly stated that Evolution is used to support a worldview, you seem to be pointing to the speck in the eye of science while ignoring the mote in the eye of ID. ID is also supporting a philosophy and worldview; that of fundamental Christianity. Religion, and Christianity in general, have been attacking science for hundreds of years. I can’t think of one single instance where religion has been proved correct on matters of scientific inquiry. Can you?

      When you can show me one testable theory, and show me published data that supports it, indicating ID is a scientific field of study will hold more weight with me.

      I’m sorry if my tone sounds harsh at all. I’m still trying to keep an open mind. But you are clearly misstating facts, ignoring years of published scientific research, and completely ignoring that Evolution is not only a serious scientific area of study, but has practical results. Yet you can’t provide any actual scientific evidence that your own belief structure is an any way more meritorious.

  9. creationbydesign says:

    Chris,
    I appreciate your replies. I’m going to opt out of the discussion at this point (after a reply to Kobra). I think your tone is becoming more harsh and you’ve moved to ad hominem remarks against me. I hope you will not close your mind to some possiblities that you might not have considered. I think it would be best, rather than making absolute condemnations on ID (and posing rhetorical questions), to read the material I suggested and evaluate the arguments from those sources. I’m sorry if my comments might have caused a bad reaction, but in any case, I don’t want to continue along that path.
    Thanks for your time and I’ll look forward to reading your blog in the future.

    • chrisisright says:

      creationbydesign: I respect your right to participate or not, as you choose. However, please do not accuse me of ad hominem attacks against you when I have made none. I’ve attacked your argument, not your character. I consider your argument to be fallacious and, in some instances, downright disingenuous.

      Yes, that may be harsh, but no less harsh then your claim that Evolution isn’t even a valid scientific inquiry, which is dismissive at best, and extremely condescending.

      Also, my questions weren’t rhetorical. While you may not be interested in participating, I leave these questions out there for anyone who cares to offer proof that Evolution is false, or that Intelligent Design is true, in terms of the scientific understand of true and false.

      My original position has not changed. ID is a beautiful philosophy that can’t be proven or disproved using scientific methods. I have no problem with it being taught in schools, just not in the science classroom.

      I’m sorry vigorous debate makes you uneasy. I have no reason to dislike you personally, and I continue to welcome your participation on my blog, whether as a passive reader, or as an active participant. However, failure on my part to point out the many logical inconsistencies in your own arguments (as you have had no problem doing when you see them in mine) would be intellectually lax.

      Yes, I’ll probably read the books you suggest. I am interested in the (non-scientific) theory of ID. However, I can almost guarantee you I will find that any argument in support of ID ultimately boils down to a philosophical one.

  10. creationbydesign says:

    Kobra said:

    The problem with Intelligent Design is that it … leads to infinite regress. “Life is complex; therefore it was designed by something more complex, which had to have been designed by something more complex, and so on and so forth,” versus, “Life is complex because these specific complex adaptations have had billions of years to emerge.” The second one is more reasonable, IMO.

    I thought that was a very interesting and original response — one that I had never seen before. I also liked your suggestion that we work on this in the science lab rather than the town hall. That’s as it should be, IMO.

    With an infinite regress, I fully agree that this is not the most parsimonious solution. So, that would be a problem.

    “If some intelligence was necessary in the development of life on earth … then who designed the Designer?” This then cycles back.

    But let’s stop at the beginning of that proposal — if intelligence was involved, then we have a new series of arguments. Nature is not reducible to blind matter and physical laws alone. We can now investigate possibilites about the Designer.

    If billions of years can produce the cooperative, specified, functional, complexity that we see in the informational language of DNA, for example — then it can and it does. But when we observe the effects of mutations on the genome today, we find mutations mainly producing damage or doing nothing rather than building new features.

    So, for me, the question is: Can blind, random (and any process that contains a random variable is, by definition, random) processes create functional information? Or is the better solution: “Some intelligence was necessary in the development of life”? I find the latter to be much more convincing. Darwin, Newton, Einstein did as well, so I don’t think it’s an unreasonable conclusion to reach.

    But if you disagree, that’s fine. We can settle this disagreement in the science lab– not in the town hall.

    Some arguments people make in favor of intelligent design are compound probabilities that generate very small numbers by treating evolution as if it happened all at once and not as a result of a gradual process.

  11. creationbydesign says:

    Before leaving, let me help you recognize an ad hominem argument:

    I’m sorry vigorous debate makes you uneasy.

    See? This is a thinnly veiled insult. You don’t know anything about me, but you use your forum to make a personal comment about how “uneasy” you think I am, and this, you’ve concluded, is due to my reaction to a vigorous debate.

    The problem here is that this particular point is easy to refute. You claim I am uneasy. You have not tested this claim at all. You do not even know the person you’re making the claim about. There’s nothing scientific in it — it’s merely conjecture on a personal basis.

    I simply say, “no, I’m not uneasy with vigorous debate”.
    Your point is falsified. You cannot prove that you’re correct and you have no evidence to support your claims about my psychological state.

    This is the problem with ad hominem. You’ve made me the subject of the discussion. And again, this is something you know nothing about.
    If you want to debate my own psychological state, then you’d need to get to know me personally and study me somehow.
    I can suggest that it’s not a very good topic for your blog.

  12. I still challenge you to read the Ann Coulter book -at least chapters 8-11. You can read 8, 10 and 11 in their entirety here: http://books.google.com/books?id=xscITmebceoC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q&f=false Not sure why 9 is missing – too bad, it’s got some good stuff.

    She quotes Richard Dawkins of Oxford (a Darwin disciple) as saying, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”. Atheists NEED to continually work to prove evolution or else they are left with nothing to explain the origins of the universe and man except God. And the ACLU has made sure that nothing but evolution is taught in the schools.

    I just don’t see how it’s possible that random mutations created the well-designed world we live in. Even Darwin couldn’t explain his own theory at times and over a hundred years of research really hasn’t proven it either. Micro-evolution is often thrown around as proof, but that’s really just adapting to surroundings, not creating new species. If evolution is an ongoing process for which there were a LOT of evolutionary screw ups – where is the fossil evidence of screw-ups and why aren’t we seeing new species today?

    Honestly, this discussion is not going to go anywhere because the foundation of our respective arguments is immediately dismissed by the opposing side. There really isn’t a lot of common ground on this subject. Faith on both sides regarding our position is very strong. My definition of faith is a hope for things which are not seen but are true. Both of us possess a strong faith that our position is correct regardless of a lack of substantial and hard scientific evidence. Do I know God exists? I do. I have personal evidence of it. Do you know He doesn’t? I don’t know. You may say you do based on your belief in evolution.

    Respected LDS Scientist Henry Eyring said, ” “Is there any conflict between science and religion? There is no conflict in the mind of God, but often there is conflict in the minds of men.”

    My position is that I don’t care if I anger science by not believing everything they say I should -but, God, I can’t afford to disagree with – LOL

    • chrisisright says:

      I’m sorry, but you’re very, very wrong. There is plenty of evidence that species have adapted and changed over times, not just in microbiology, but on the large scale. It’s called the fossil record. We DO see evidence of species having changed over time. To deny it is simply to ignore the fact the evidence exists, which is fine, but while you’re at it, deny physics and quantum mechanics while you sit at your computer, which is based on the laws of both. It makes about as much sense.

      Sure, I’ll give Ann Coulter a read. Will you give Ernst Mayr a read? Are you willing to read any of the actual science published on the subject? Or do you just dismiss it out of hand because it doesn’t agree with your beliefs? You mentioned in another forum that Evolution insults your religious beliefs. How about the fact your religious beliefs state I’m going to burn in hell? How’s that for insulting?

      Did you even notice I myself cited Dawkins, who is a brilliant biologist by the way, as one of the very people responsible for science’s bad reputation among people of faith. I’m well aware of Dawkins’ repeated attacks on religion. However, as much of a jerk as he is, science itself stands alone.

      Now, be honest. How much time have you actually spent in a science classroom? I was a science major.

      There is plenty of evidence for Evolution on both the small scale and the large scale. It’s there, if you care to look for it. It’s funny you cite things like the ACLU keeping anything but Evolution out of the classroom. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled on creationism, and a Federal Court ruled on Intelligent Design. Do you have an alternate to these theories? And, scroll up and read both of our statements regarding the teaching of ID or even creationism. I support it being taught in schools (just not in the science classroom). You do NOT. By your own words, you do not.

      This is EXACTLY what conservative Christians get wrong about science. You’ll listen to evidence against science by anyone at all, regardless of their background, but you refuse to actually read anything scientific. Dawkin’s position on religion may be based on his study of science, but his views on the subject are NOT scientific views.

      Why do we not see evidence of genetic screw-ups? We do. All the time. We don’t need to see them in the fossil record. In fact, it would be a miracle if we did. I don’t know the exact statistics, but it must be something like 99.9% of all things that have lived have left no traces. It would be quite a coincidence to stumble across a genetic screw-up from millions of years ago. But we see babies born with genetic mutations all the time. ALL THE TIME.

      We see new species evolve over time. In fact, it takes thousands of generations to produce new species, which is why we see them ONLY in the fossil record. Would you like me to list them? Homo Erectus, Neaderthal, Cro-Magnons? Now that we can do DNA and genetic testing, we can even show that some of these species existed at the same time and inter-bred.

      Know anything about directed evolution? Scientists have used the theories of Evolution to create “cancer mice” (see “OncoMouse”), which is genetically disposed to be resistant for cancer.

      I can go on and on, but really, you could research the actual, very real proof for yourself. While Wikipedia is a hotbed of misinformation, it is a very good jumping off point for exploration, as many of the articles are quite accurate, including heavy citations of where the research comes from. Wikipedia’s Evolution page is one such page.

      You would like me to consider discrediting Evolution based on totally non-scientific “evidence” against it. You’ve cited Ann Coulter, citing Richard Dawkins (but his politics, NOT his science). You’ve invoked the ACLU. I’ve already stated that Evolution has been used as a political tool. All science has. But you’re using the same kind of argument you claim to be against. You’re using pure politics and philosophy to “disprove” science. Sure, I’ll explore the politics, philosophy and cultural debate, IF you agree to explore the science.

      In fact, it is religion that has repeatedly attacked scientific study and progress to promote its own agenda, not the other way around. For centuries. Shall I cite examples? Copernicus comes to mind.

      But who do religions run to when they want proof of their dogmas? People of faith have attacked carbon dating because it proves the earth is 4.5 Billion years old and that JUST CAN’T BE! But what science do the very same people employ to prove the Shroud of Turin is real? Carbon dating! The same people who claim science and God can’t coexist have even attempted to use science to prove the story of Noah’s Ark.

      You claim our views are widely disparate and that we can come to no agreement. But I’ve stated repeatedly that I see no reason why science disproves God. It doesn’t. People who claim it does are LYING. You’re the one claiming they can’t co-exist, but you use science every day: to drive, to live in a house (which relies on Statics for its architecture, a subset of Physics), to go to the doctor, to…well…do I really need to go on? Your Temple is built using science. The TV on which you watch religious programming is based on the laws of science.

      So, really, who has the agenda here?

      When and if a scientific theory that better suits the facts emerges, I will subscribe to it. I have no need for any scientific theory to support my atheism. I simply don’t believe in God. That’s as far as it goes. Should I go on and on and on about all the infighting occurring in Christianity as “proof” God doesn’t exist? Mormons disagree with Catholics, who disagree with Methodists. Further dissection shows that Reformed Mormons disagree with other Mormons. There are several synods within the Lutheran Church. And all of those churches have philosophical and political agendas. Shall I use your own argument? That because they’re pushing an agenda, their underlying worth is somehow discredited? Would you find that argument compelling?

      Let me come full circle. You know that Dawkin’s quote? The one you cite that Ann Coulter cited as proof of support of atheism? Yeah. Problem is, not only was Darwin a Christian, he was actually an Anglican clergyman. While his studies did change his views on religion, he always believed God was the ultimate lawgiver. Did, by chance, Ann Coulter mention that in her book? I doubt it.

    • Kobra says:

      “Atheists NEED to continually work to prove evolution or else they are left with nothing to explain the origins of the universe and man except God.”

      You’re mischaracterizing atheists. We are atheists because the evidence says there is almost certainly no god. The evidence does not say there is almost certainly no god because we are atheists.

      If there was a solid, testable, scientific way of evaluating whether or not there was a god that created this universe, there would be no atheists. There would only be fools and angsty rebellious teenagers. Until such a way exists, I will not believe in any deity and find suspect any pious claim of divine knowledge.

      • chrisisright says:

        I just wanted to point out I disagree with Kobra’s reasoning for atheism AND his assertion there is evidence that “there is almost certainly no God.” My own reasons for atheism are different and there is no evidence that God either exists or doesn’t exist.

        To claim there is evidence God doesn’t exist would mean we could develop a testable hypothesis to prove that assertion. We can’t. The belief in God falls completely outside the scope of scientific study.

      • Kobra says:

        I didn’t say “There is evidence that supports that there is almost certainly no god.” I said that there is almost certainly no god. Why? Because:

        a) There is a complete lack of empirical evidence provided by believers to support the claim that their religion’s god exists.
        b) Historical evidence (such as the Jesus story being basically plagiarized from the Zoroastrian god, Mithras) indicates that gods, goddesses, and other religiously inspired entities are nothing more than cultural traditions.
        c) There is no logical necessity for any god to exist. Some people (deists specifically) say that it is “possible” that some conscious entity created the universe. Fine, but if that’s all this entity did, they are not worth worshiping because there are no benefits for doing so.

  13. chrisisright says:

    Let me momentarily lighten up the conversation. I found this via a friend on Facebook. I was so afraid it was real! (Note: Probably best rated PG-13 for adult humor)

  14. chrisisright says:

    Kobra:

    Your actual words were: “We are atheists because the evidence says there is almost certainly no god.” I wasn’t quoting you directly, I was paraphrasing. Where I was quoting, I used quotation marks. Personally, I find my representation of your words and your actual words to have the exact same meaning.

    As to your assertions:
    a) Of course there’s no empirical evidence of God. How could there be? It is, however, perhaps ironic that Darwin himself saw proof of design in evolution. Yet so many people who support ID try to deconstruct evolution, when evolution was originally the first attempt to support that very notion.
    b) Personally, I agree with you on this one. Of course, people of faith will be offended by this, but I think the historical record substantiates what you say about the parallels between the stories of Mithra, Jesus and, if I’m recalling my Egyptian mythology correctly, Horus. However, I don’t think this disproves the concept of God. It simply shows that many cultures share similar ideas about their deities.
    c) This is true if you believe only scientific questions are valid questions. There are many philosophical questions left unanswered by science that follow the formal rules of logic. Similarly, many proponents of these philosophies find that, not only does God exist as a creator, but as a real participant in creation. Deists may see God as merely the intelligence that put creation into motion, but they are far from a full representation of people who have a completely logical philosophy which concludes God exists.

  15. Lisa says:

    I am a Christian and firmly believe that God created the earth and everything in it. My child goes to a Christian elementary school, where everything is taught from a Christian perspective and how God has a hand in EVERYTHING in our world.

    Why do you think mathematics is so perfect? Everything has an answer? Because it has a perfect creator.

    Why do human bodies work in sync with all of the other organs and systems within it? Because it had a perfect creator.

    Science has taken so many strides since the beginning of time, why is it that they can’t find the one “magic potion” that started evolution? Why is it that they can’t reproduce it? Why is it that scientists believe it has taken billions of years for one spec of evolution, but they only take into account the past 100 years when tracking global warming?

    In looking at science from a Christian perspective, I am completely at awe of how awesome my God is, to create these wonderful things for us. I’m at awe of the earth and how it works to sustain itself and sustain us! I’m at awe at nature and how everything has it’s cycle of life. I’m at awe at the human creature and how it performs the amazing miracle of reproduction from conception, incubating a baby, childbirth and how a human needs to be taught how to raise a baby, but an animal does it instinctively.

    While I am not a scientist, I am fascinated by all branches science. I think it is so cool how our universe was created! There are just too many variables that come out perfectly for me to believe they happened as a result of a happy accident. Biology and Chemistry were two of my favorite subjects both in high school and in college. I took what my teachers were teaching with a grain of salt, and for me, it’s always interesting to hear what other people believe, and especially how they came across their belief. What caused them to believe their belief is the absolute?

    I’m sure it’s simple and naive to “intellectuals” but if for just a moment, try to look at the world with the perspective of there possibly being a Creator. As a Christian, I believe there was a Creator. I believe it with every fiber of my being. There is no doubt. Why couldn’t it be possible that God created the earth and everything in it with enough intelligence that things could adapt and change to their environment? Could it be possible that he created humans and another species similar because he knew we would have the ability to test our science for medical applications?

    Unfortunately, I believe “intellectuals” think the human being has way more power than we really do. Power to change the environment, power to prove theories that we aren’t meant to understand.

    • chrisisright says:

      Lisa,

      As one scientific “intellectual,” allow me to say I think you have a really freakin’ cool perspective on things.

      • Lisa says:

        Thanks Chris! :) I was a bit nervous to write it and then post it! LOL I am quite often found naive or stupid when discussing things like this with my brother-in-law who is an intellectual and liberal, but yet grew up with a Christian family.

        I just don’t understand the fight between science and religion. From my perspective, why can’t they just get along!? I suppose scientists need to prove things, where religion takes things we can’t prove on faith.

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