Doctorow+Nature » « As long as I’m saying nice things about Kansans… It’s not just Kansans! Minnesotans are pretty smart, too. Read the letter to the Minnesota Daily by Alex Galaitsis; he gets it. It’s written in response to a budding young he-said-she-said journalist who wrote a truly insipid article a few days ago. Share this:PrintEmailShare on TumblrTweet Doctorow+Nature » « As long as I’m saying nice things about Kansans…
Cause when a professor decides what to include in a biology class, they always ask freshmen what they think.
That article was truly awful. Galaitsis did an excellent job of pointing out why, but I doubt anyone’s listening.
Hmm… Clicked the link and nothing happened. Did they take the article out?
Gerry L says
The original article was a pretty pitiful piece of writing — from the opening paragraph on through the list of quotes. Is the Minnesota Daily an actual newspaper? Maybe poor Jamie got the assignment to deliver an article on this subject and just slapped something together. Alex’s response had so much more substance than the “paid content.”
Thanks for noticing, PZ!
Consier this either a defense or attack of the Daily as you wish, but that style is pretty much the norm when it comes their reporting, and it bugs the shit out of a lot of people. No matter what the article – be it about ID or just some fluff piece – it seems that they always have to step outside and ask whoever happens to be walking down University Ave at the time what they think.
Fortunately, their editorial board has both brains and balls, so at least that balances it out.
I think the paper daily had a trimmed version of the letter, at least I don’t remember a couple of paragraphs while reading it over my morning bagel.
Gerry: the MN daily is the local free student newspaper. Useful for priming journalism resumes and cleaning up oil spills. Not for wrapping fish though, the ink isn’t good for you…
I agree with BJHokanson, though. The editorials are the most reasonable part of the paper, although they are often “balanced” by some real right-wing kooks on the rest of the opinion page. When I last read the paper regularly, there seemed to be a turf war raging between the College Republicans and the loonier “Campus Republicans.”
Also, from the Daily, Opinion section
Playing with flagellum: Evolution takes place as a result of random, spontaneous changes in genetic material.
OK, the link just turned blue instead. One more time.
Playing with flagellum
We dont want to shun science or shun the faith, (Shaw) said. One should be able to talk about ideas freely in education.
Naturally those ideas discussed should not include:
other creation myths
because when the fanatics say that ideas should be freely discussed it goes without saying that those ideas should only be the ones that they agree with.
I like the Clinton article response below as well. Good angry people up there!
Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says
Yowza! At least he admits it’s based on faith. I don’t see how discussing only biology in the biology classroom woud “defeat the purpose of academic freedom”. Maybe someone could explain that to me.
Mmmm yeah; University of Minnesota vs. Bethel ‘University’. Sounds like balance to me.
I read that article and had the same reaction as this guy did. Watch, now some asshat is going to write a response to his letter and the this old thing will continue.
Heh – Clinton response guy was actually from Florida. I’m thinking they just wanted to make fun of Floridians, or else needed some crazy guy for, uh, oh yeah – balance.
What I want to know is, when are the Christian Universities going to start teaching evolution in Bible studies? You know… teach the controversy.
Actually, I went to a young earth creationist high school and they taught “evolution” (i.e. natural selection) exactly as it appears in other text books. Microevolution was endorsed with a few caveats. For example, many so-called “proofs” of macroevolution that have since been discredited by other scientists were discussed.] Scientific assumptions involving many techniques were questioned, including those relating to radiometric dating, etc. We were then shown how natural selection itself is not what conflicts with the Bible. In fact we were taught that it’s likely that the biological diversity within particular families (birds, dogs, humans, etc.) most likely resulted from prototypes just as Darwin proposed. It is there that macroevolution was taught, but from a perspective that showed the holes in the idea.
Macroevolution, afterall, is not really observable. What everyone cites as proofs of natural selection are often limited to microevolution regimes: bacteria, viruses, biological pest control, etc. Even in the fossil record we can’t prove any genetic relationships between any groups of fossils. We also don’t find the transitional forms one would expect to find. Theories like “punctuated equilibrium” were invented to bridge this gap. But it’s not science, it’s a guess informed by one’s background information and assumptions that may happen to fit a set of facts.
When anyone starts talking about how we got here they’ve crossed from science into metaphysics and philosophy. Since no one (in the macroevolutionist’s view) was there to observe and record how we got here (the bedrock principle of science) and since the fossil record is inadequate, not a single scientist (myself included) can venture anything more than speculation as to what happened that caused the world to be here. To make such guess carries with it a list of assumptions.
To form a hypothesis (an educated guess), one is informed by his assumptions about his information and past experience. Everyone has assumptions: the naturalist assumes uniformitarianism and that he can’t resort to anything supernatural for explanation while the creationist assumes that his trustworthy History Book that has never failed him is reliable on this point as well. Everyone also has bias: the scientist must write proposals for research that is attractive to funding agencies to continue as a scientist, wants to be accepted by her peers as an erudite colleague, and has a vested interest in what she has written in the past, and the creationist is biased toward sharing his message of hope to the world as his Bible has told him. The importance of understanding that we have assumptions and bias is hard to overemphasize since everyone assumes they don’t have either. Even more importently, we must make sure we have the right set of assumptions. I fully acknowledge that my assumptions lead me to my view of the origins of life on earth. Will you?
This is where intelligent design and macroevolutionary naturalism fall short on science. Both deal with ultimate questions including the origin of life, the universe, and everything. However, they rarely teach nor acknowledge their own set of assumptions. Scientists have gotten into a habit assuming that all their assumptions are valid and are not worth mentioning. Since most ID proponents come from the same stock and trade, they have the same habit of not acknowledging that they assume that the mind-numbing complexity they see in biology must have been designed by…something. It’s my opinion that intelligent design proponents have seen the complexity of the cell and biochemistry and have admitted to themselves, “maybe this didn’t happen on accident. This reflects intelligence.” Therefore, ID is an attempt to challenge the assumptions of evolutionary naturalists on the same pseudo-scientific grounds on which the naturalists have made their philosophical assertions about the origins of life.
If some scientists would have stayed out of the philosophy realm and not began attempting to proove naturalism (a belief system), I don’t think the present controversy between ID and “evolution” would be playing out this way. Science can become a religion if you let it, and many people have done just that. If they would admit this, then the ID crowd might pipe down a bit. ID scientists are only attempting to play the same game. Whenever an evolutionary naturalist argues that intelligent design is not scientific, he argues against his own position of evolutionary naturalism. This debate should be about the philosophy of science, not about natural selection and microevolution.
The Rev. Schmitt. says
Patrick, a lot of what you just stated has been dealt with an appallingly large number of times on Pharyngula and by scientists in general. A good resource to check out mainstream scientific thought as regards evolution is here: http://www.talkorigins.org
No (or at least no mainstream) scientist is trying to ‘prove naturalism’. However, science has been shown to be efficacious a horrendous number of times – ie., all of them – because it rests on a predictable, ordered universe. Methodological naturalism is necessary for useful, predictive science which encourages more research and tangible results. ID ‘scientists’ conduct no research, make no tests, make no predictions, have no theory, and have no model explaining a large body of data, and avoid peer reviewed publishing. They are not playing the ‘same game’ as biologists whatsoever.
And it helps to understand what you’re criticising: biological evolution most assuredly does not deal with the origin of life, the origins of the universe, or everything. It deals with how life on Earth has changed and developed over time.
-The Rev. Schmitt.
Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says
If some scientists would have stayed out of the philosophy realm and not began attempting to proove naturalism (a belief system), I don’t think the present controversy between ID and “evolution” would be playing out this way.
I vigorously disagree. Evidence shows that the ID movement began as soon as the Edwards v. Aguillard decision made “Creation Science” illegal to teach, thus necessitating a name change.
Those who promote (prove is not the right word) philosophical naturalism, e.g. Dawkins, do not attempt to force their beliefs to be taught as science in the public school classrooms the way Creationists do.
I suspect a truer understanding of the problem is the electoral success of Bush, who sold out entirely to the Fundies to get votes. Now that they’ve won, they think the spoils belong to them.
I recently was reading another discussion on Pharyngula, where in a discussion on whether evolution and abiogenesis should be talked about separately or if doing so is a copout someone someone asserted the following:
“Biological evolutionary theory says nothing about gods or external influences. But it’s long past time that we acknowledged the unspoken truth, the reality that causes so many people to desparately cling to creationism: the concept of evolution makes the concept of God unnecessary, and therefore rationality demands that it be discarded due to the Law of Parsimony. Before Darwin, it was possible to be a rational, intelligent, educated person and, without contradiction, believe in a Creator. After Darwin, it became impossible.
“Like it or not, religion is now obsolete. People don’t like being made obsolete, and groups composed of many people will fight harder against obsolescence than individuals will.”
Such rhetoric among fellow evolutionists reveals the personal disdain in which they hold their “creationist” enemies. (Discussions about George Bush usually end in the same manner, inspite of the “facts” of his ASVAB scores.) Most evolutionist rants on which I’ve eavesdropped usually end in similar, and often more vicious, ad hominem attacks on the mental capacities of their opponents. Would an evolutionary naturalist call Albert Einstein someone who was neither rational, intelligent, nor educated? Or would an evolutionist just say he believed in God while contradicting his intellect?
It seems that evolutionists view such belief in God as merely an “opiate of the masses” which is invoked when things cannot be explained. This implied definition of what makes up someone’s belief in God is simplistic and ignores the transformation that has taken place in the individuals themselves. For example, since Christ taught “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” it transforms my behavior such that I will not degrade into ad hominem attacks on people who disagree with me. Furthermore, His teaching “to love [my] enemies” causes me to have a burden of concern for all those I talk to who would see themselves as my enemies. Otherwise, I would simply live as a hermit and leave everyone else alone. It is love which motivates me to speak to you. Naturally, we all would tend to ignore these commands when they are not in our interest. In fact, as you may have felt in your own experience, such commands as the ten commandments, and Christ’s even more difficult commands in the sermon on the mount (e.g. don’t look after a woman to lust after her, don’t even call your brother a fool, etc.) seem to stand as a list of unattainable idealities. Who in our culture would entertain the idea that someone could actually consistently live life by these standards of morality? I mean, to never deceive someone?
Therefore, this “Law” stands in condemnation on our behavior as a race and as individuals, and even though one person might be able to keep some of the commands better than his friend, we all are law-breakers. I offer in comparison to the quote above that no one likes to be called a law-breaker either. We as humans desire psychological comfort and good feelings. So to banish this feeling of guilt, humans seek to absolve themselves of the need for a Creator. This was predicted in the New Testament (Romans 1), and is found to be true of poeple today. And people falsely say that the Bible makes no predictions. It also made the prediction that man would one day say to a stone, “you made me.” This is precisely what abiogenesis and evolutionary naturalism are saying.
Goebels taught us that if we repeat something long enough eventually people will believe it. Evolutionary naturalism is a subterfuge that attacks the very heart of Christian teaching. If the Bible is incorrect in its first few books, why should it be trustworthy on what it says about how to live life or about what happens after death? For that matter, why do we care what it has to say about the value of life. If we can undercut the need for a Creator, then we have no responsibility to Him, and we can absolve the guilt feelings from our imperfect comparison with the perfect standard that He put forth. Naturalism “all the way back” as one has put it in another posting on this website precludes the Bible just as the quotation at the beginning of this post declares. However, the Bible does not preclude biological microevolution from which most “proofs” of evolution come.
Contrary to what most evolutionists are saying on this website, to admit to the supernatural does not preclude a pursuit of science. Otherwise scientists like Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, Samuel Morse, Louis Pastuer, Johannes Kepler, and a long list of others who not only believed in God but believed exclusively in the Bible should have their contributions rejected by the scientific community. The idea that a creationist cannot be a good scientist is a commonly repeated fallacy on this website which ignores the deeply rooted Christian faith of significant contributors to scientific endeavor even long after Darwin’s book was published. Furthermore it denies the present contributions from scientists who may espouse creation.
Ockham’s razor is regularly invoked as if belief in God is completely unwarranted. But does philosophical naturalism explain the whole of our existence better than the creationist account? Or does evolutionary naturalism fail to explain a host of other phenomena? Afterall, evidence of the supernatural is all around us. The laws of logic are quite unnatural. They have no physical existence. In fact, Nobel Prize winner Sir John Eccles concluded that “the brain is a machine that a ghost can operate.” But perhaps the moral evidence is more obvious. How else do people overcome their natural tendencies and choose right over what their genes and environment have dictated. Children from families with a long history of alcoholic abuse reject their own tendency toward the abuse of alcohol and are transformed by God through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Slave traders of the lowest order such as John Newton have been miraculously transformed from their destructive lifestyles to become caring pastors and missionaries. Prostitutes caught in the endless cycle of degradation have been converted to become productive members of society and loving wives and mothers. “Jane Roe” became a believer and is spending the rest of her days fighting that which she was used to create, a right for prenatal abortion when circumstances may not be ideal. Entire native tribes from the Amazon to New Guinea have laid down their spears and not repaid their adversaries the retribution due them because of Christ(Read Through Gates of splendor or Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot). Such indescribable transformations defy a natural explanation and there is nothing unreasonable about ascribing these things to the supernatural.
This confirms the scripture’s predictions about such transformations in individuals who will surrender their own way to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. “He who has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Christ.” Another thing that evolutionary naturalism does not explain is the holistic nature of the Bible. Does any other book written over thousands of years by over 40 different writers ever have such internal consistency and accurate historical references? Where does the evidence point? It points to the Bible’s being accurate and reliable for the things that it says. Besides this, natural history has confirmed the veracity of the Bible on countless occasions. Sir Walter Raleigh, determined to discredit the book of Luke, was quite disappointed when it seemed that every stone that he turned over further confirmed Luke’s historical references as being accurate.
Where does the assumption of evolution point? When humans are considered with regards to natural selection, the evolutionary mechanism has been short-circuited. We keep alive people who are biologically “less-fit” for survival all the time. The natural conclusion of evolutionary theory is what occurred in Germany during World War II. Viewing non-Aryan peoples as being less evolved, they systematically exterminated them. There is no real basis for racism in the Bible, despite non-biblical speculation. However, racism is very easy to derive from evolutionary theory.
I do not advocate teaching Intelligent Design in science classes in public school. However, I am in favor of teaching the limitations of science and the limitations of evolutionary thoery in science classes. I was taught about evolution in a Christian school, but the speculative side of it was called into question. You must admit that secular biology texts for primary and secondary school rarely share contrary evidence to macroevolution. Furthermore the most convincing examples, which have later been shown to be hoaxes are still taught as fact. I know geneticists, entomologists, and other biologists who were taught similar to the way I was who have become great scientists while retaining their belief in the Bible.
As a matter of clarification, I claim no virtue to religion in its own right. Believing in something false, however sincerely that belief may be held, has its consequences. Both good and bad things proceed in the name of “religion.” To amalgamate all religions into one group grossly misunderstands the distinctions between them and the above truth: someone can be sincerely wrong. For example, to believe that blowing yourself up and killing other infidels in the process will ensure your entry to paradise (which is certainly held sincerely by nearly all those who partake in this kind of “martyr’s death”) will not result in the desired outcome. Such an action is destructively misguided, as is a “Christian” who bombs an abortion clinic. He may have acted sincerely…while he sincerely avoided Christ’s command to “love his enemies.”
ivy privy says
False dichotomy. Perhaps he would point out that accounts of Einstein believing in a God are exaggerated, as revealed by his own words
If you want to lecture people on how the Bible improves people’s morality, you should stop lying.
Bible slavery quiz
Slavery in the Bible