Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Live and Let Live

Believe and let Believe, Worship and let Worship

Boundary Patrols of the Eschatological Type

I don’t understand the truth surrounding the world. All religions should be given freedom to worship, and all should leave science classes to science.

Hardly any of the right wing Christians understand the truth about the scriptures. Genesis and Deuteronomy for example have been taken out of context many times, particularly in the Creation vs. Evolution debate that seems to be quite serious in the US, they continually treat them literally, and where they are repeated elsewhere in the scriptures.

It is clear from the evidence of such authors as Margaret Barker1 and Robert Dunn2, that the Deuteronomists were responsible for many changes in the scriptures, including the monotheist beliefs that are promoted by creeds all over the Judeo-Christian world, not to mention Islam.

Science has proceeded since the ”The Enlightenment” on various levels to extend our knowledge of the natural world, and this has indicated an ancient Earth where all life is related, where many different fields of science have confirmed what Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace first proposed, represented by On the Origin of Species by Natural Select, published in 1859, it created a stir then and now. The Modern Synthesis, Evolutionary Biology, Evolutionary Development, Genetics, and many others confirm Evolutionary Theory as it is now understood and progresses to a better understanding of the natural World.

Yet we find a large number of the Western population hanging on an old interpretation of the Holy Scriptures that causes them to believe the account in Genesis is a literal interpretation of how the Earth and the Universe was put together rather than the Foundation Myth it seems to be. This also includes the idea of a Great Flood should be extended to a concept of a Universal Flood. Science has shown none of these events occurred as described and interpreted, not only that, there is no evidence to support a 7000 year Erath and a Universal Flood about 4000 years ago. Yet they continue with pseudo-science explanations for these events conducting various campaigns, writing books and lecturing, debating, etc. In all this they are seriously presenting these arguments, they believe them, and will go to many lengths not exactly honest to present them and get them accepted by society, particularly in the US.

The most recent is the Kitzmiller vs. Dover School District, Dover Pennsylvania Federal Case, Judge John E Jones III, presiding. Here the defendants were shown to be liars and motivated by religion in their attempt to introduce a non-science tract into the Year 8 Biology Class. The Science Teachers themselves had refused to participate and it appears the only conspirators were those on the school board, named in the court case and their supporters. They disgraced their cause, their religions and made the whole Intelligent Design movement appear to be liars and cheats and on top of that, cowards in battle (the Discovery Institute pulled out before the trial started).

Yet, despite this embarrassing loss, the guns are still firing as previously mentioned in an earlier posts, Never a Dull Moment 2, Never a Dull Moment 3, Florida, people are loosing their jobs for supporting science in a science education position, and Intelligent Design advocates are losing their jobs for refusing to do what they were contracted to do, conduct research into evolutionary effects. And a graduate Ms SA Smith found some serious plagiarism3 and unattributed material at a presentation by William Dembski, a scion of the Discovery Institute. I would have thought, that being honest and truthful in your dealings with your fellow humans is an essential part of Christianity and many other religions, as well as atheism as it is practiced. Why aren’t these fellows held accountable? I guess Ms SA Smith is right when she says she is not a Harvard lawyer, neither am I.

All we can do is point out these flaws in their arguments to anyone that will listen, some feel this is futile, indeed the great Stephen Jay Gould recommended that these creationist/ID proponents be not debated, because they always set up the environment in their favor, only when an outside forum (a federal court fro example) can the truth come out.

Meanwhile I heard Christopher Hitchens speculate that perhaps the concept of Noma has its benefits, referring the SJ Goulds, Non-overlapping Magisteria concept. So perhaps we should all confine ourselves to what we are representing and give up on misrepresenting subjects we know nothing about.


1 Flock of Dodos by Randy Olson.

2. Judgment Day, Intelligent Design on Trial, PBS NOVA Special on the Kitzmiller vs. Dover School Board.

3. PBS Airs False Facts in it’s “Inherit The Wind” Version of the Kitzmiller Trial. A criticism of the PBS documentary above from the Discovery Institute.

4. Margaret Barker

5. Robert Dunn

6. Ms SA Smith posted to Panda’s Thumb in November a post DI Expelled for Plagiarism, showing false claims using plagiarized material which was unattributed to it’s original authors. It is well worth visiting to see the perfidy of the ID proponents, in this case William Dembski who didn’t appear at the Dover trial.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Faith in Politics

Finally we have a Prime Minister who has a rational and caring policy consistent with the Christianity I understand and have been taught and read all these years.  Basically, he agrees that a good Christian has Faith as a doing word.  That they follow the example of Christ and minister to the poor and needy, whatever their circumstance and condition.


The example by the overtly Christian John Howard (who recently lost his seat and his party (Liberal Party of Australia) lost Government) was one of a vindictive judge of all, incarcerating people arriving on our shores without documents and denying them due process.  Passing draconian laws that criminalized what was a difficult and arduous way of arriving in Australia, splitting up families, and causing untold psychiatric harm to innocent people. Fortunately there is an end in sight now.


Parts of the Australian Labor Party and other organizations like Safecom in Western Australia. Legal representatives for these same undocumented visitors, asylum seekers.  With authors such as Robert Manne, David Corlett, Clive Hamilton and many others, I have learnt of the Fascist nature of John Howard and his Cabinet of mean spirited people.  They are gone now with the extraordinary thing, The Prime Minister lost his seat, only the second time since federation.  I would like to think that pure self-interest is now discredited and a more humane society.  Remember the Media confirms, sometimes with a delay, these important observations, so we must mention The Melbourne Age and The Australian to round it out.


As I watch the US and the Bush Presidency self destruct where contradictions appear more frequently from within.  Hopefully it is indeed just a matter of time before a change occurs in that great nation.


1 The Monthly, October 2006, Faith in Politics, Kevin Rudd


2 Kevin Rudd at New College, UNSW, 26 October 2005, Kevin Rudd’s Social Gospel


3 Quarterly Essay


4. Project Safecom





Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Never A Dull Moment 3: Florida

Debate Over teaching Evolution Moves To Florida.

I don’t know whether it is because Jeb Bush is the Governor and he is related to GW Bush of the Whitehouse and former Governor of Texas but Florida is experiencing a problem with Evolution being taught in Schools.  The new standards for teaching Science in Public Schools have meant Evolution is being called Evolution for the first time and a deeper curriculum is required of teachers.  Florida is making every effort to raise the standard of it’s students who are not performing well in National Standards tests.

This has resulted in opposition to evolution and the Intelligent Design hypothesis being presented as a viable alternative alongside evolution.  This is of course not true, the Intelligent Design Hypothesis has no scientific support, verification at all, and is not falsifiable under the rules science operates.

They haven’t understood the Dover, Pennsylvania case, Kitzmiller vs. Board of education, which was classified by a Federal Judge as a religious attempt and against the US Constitution, you know, where the Government may not make any law prescribing Religion, yes, that one.

I will watch this case too and report back or if you have anything to add please do so.

Never A Dull Moment 2

Further information has come to light about the Creation vs. Evolution debate in the US to my last post.


With reference to Jonathan M Gitlin’s article (Intelligent Design Resurface in Court, School Board) it appears there is some additional facts of the cases discussed.


Nathaniel Abraham the Post Doc who was fired from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, for failing to work in an area he was contracted to do, who has commenced a law suite for wrongful dismissal over his Intelligent Design Beliefs, apparently works for Liberty University.  Whether someone can refuse to work a contract which contradicts his basic beliefs will be answered in court.  If the dismissal was fair and above board, he will lose the case, otherwise Intelligent Design has won one round.  I wander where the Discovery Institute is in all this?



Monday, December 10, 2007

Never A Dull Moment

Will Science and Religion Kiss and Makeup?

Peter Smith at The Courier Journal gives us an interesting story about a odd couple in this great conversation about science and religion, or more detailed, Evolution vs Creation.

In the center of the Bible Belt and therefore the anti-evolution universe we find Rev Michael Dowd author of “Thank God For Evolution” and Connie Barlow, “From Gaia To Selfish Genes” his wife conducting a campaign, they want to make the “evolutionary story” as interesting and relevant as the Creation Museum, 2800 Bullittsburg Church Road, Petersburg, Kentucky.

They had the nerve to take Michael and Connie into the Creation Museum with the cameraman in tow, whether they realized Michael was an evil evolutionist (conflated to evolutionist don’t forget) or not, it apparently went well and Dowd and Barlow continue with their campaign, visit them and give them support, rational thought and religious conviction can work together, unlike Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, says, and this example shines through the murk.

Meanwhile in Iowa and Texas, being an Intelligent Design supporter in the Science Faculties is getting more difficult.

1. Intelligent Design theory influenced ISU tenure vote, The Des Moines Register, December 1, 2007.

2. State Science Curriculum Director resigns under pressure, Channel 8 News, Austin, Texas, December 3, 2007.

These two stories appear opposites and I find curious, one a professor failing to get tenure because the faculty voted his application down, for the simple reason that he supports Intelligent Design (a now discredited idea) even though his area of expertise does not involve it or evolution.

The other is a curriculum board member resigning because she opposes Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design has been discredited in court and in the science literature, many times, so why does she feel she has to resign. Chris Comer told the News reporter that she had no comment and had retained council. I suspect she has a good case and the allegations of misconduct and insubordination are false and put out to try and cover this incident for what it was.

I tend to supporting both parties, after all, if you are a in the Physics and Astronomy faculty like department and biological evolution or intelligent design is not taught in your classes and tutorials then tenure should be based on your performance and published work, not how you feel about unrelated material.

The second is more complex because internal politics has by all observations conspired to make her life difficult, and thus she must make her case, which I am confident she can win, since those pressuring her are ignorant of the law.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Election Pork Barrelling in Oz

The Liberal Party here in Australia are at it again trying to bribe people to vote for them, this is so typical of this Political Party and I am hoping the Australian Electorate will be much wiser. Maybe we will be more safer with the Labor Party here in Australia. Unfortunately they are the two choices we have with the Democrats too small to have any effect.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Evolution under the Long White Cloud

Christopher Taylor has written an excellent introduction about the enigmatic Moa, a flightless bird of New Zealand. Not only Flightless, but no wings. Christopher explained why this creature has always been a bird, and in his blog he explains the taxanomic issues surrounding this beastie. The biological and paleontological evidence varies as to reliability, and it does raise issues. At least we can preface why certain decisions are made and anyone can come along and with additional evidence and change it. This is something our creationist brothers can't offer, the animals (creatures) are set in concrete as to kind, what ever that means.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Creationists Can't Make The Case

Sometimes it seems that the US is far away from reality. NASA and many schools in that country teach evolutionary biology successfully with post doc work on going as we find many branches of science backing up Darwins original idea, with some modification as one would expect, yet people who are on the creationist side fail to understand the science, what's next.

A High Percentage of Evangelical Christians Simply... [Derived Headline]

A high percentage of evangelical Christians simply will not consider the possibility that God might have created the world and living things and used evolution as one of the means to do so. We seem to have moved into the realm of ideology.

Political philosopher Kenneth Minogue in "The Liberal Mind" says, "An ideology may ... be defined as a set of ideas whose primary coherence results not from their truth and consistency, as in science and philosophy, but from some external cause; most immediately, this external cause will be some mood, vision, or emotion ... The intellectual mark of ideology is the presence of dogma, beliefs which have been dug deep into the ground and surrounded by semantic barbed wire."

For many years, I accepted the creationist view, as it was always stressed as a vital support to evangelical Christianity. But I have gradually become troubled by the fact that in creation science the "right" answers seemed to be known even before the observations and experiments. In "Science Held Hostage," physics professor Howard J. Van Till (himself an evangelical Christian) pointed out that the role of creation science "is not to discover answers to open-ended questions, but to provide the appearance of scientific warrant for answers already established by other means."

The other warning signal for me was the ever repeated creationist claim that practically the entire scientific establishment was engaged in a virtual conspiracy to conceal and distort evidence in order to support the theory of evolution. The more I thought about that, the more preposterous it appeared.

I undertook to read what the evolutionists had to say. A few of them have tried to use science as a club against religion, such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins - an approach which, by the way, violates the parameters of science. But most of them dealt intelligently and persuasively with the material evidence.

Joan Roughgarden, Christian and the daughter of missionary parents, is an eminent scientist at Stanford University. In her new book, "Evolution and Christian Faith," she sets forth a challenge to those who consider intelligent design to be scientific:

"What would intelligent design proponents need to do to make their program scientifically credible? I would like to see four scientific points addressed. Intelligent design scientists need to publish an objective procedure to screen for complexity so that the five best-case candidates for irreducibly complex traits can be defined for analysis.

Then, they need to explicitly state and present direct evidence for specific hypotheses about when the traits first appeared and in what form. Next, they need to demonstrate that natural breeding acting on random mutations does not account for these best-case complexity candidates. Finally, should existing evolutionary theory prove inadequate, then intelligent design scientists need to show that no possible material modification of the theory can be made that would account for the candidate traits. If all four criteria are met, then I would say that the intelligent design program has succeeded scientifically. Until then, it's hot air."

Her comment refers to the creationist claim that some biological structures are so complicated that they could not have evolved since they wouldn't have been functional until all the parts were simultaneously in place. It is a claim refuted many times by mainstream scientists.

As to the charge that evolutionists have distorted and concealed evidence to support their case, the truth seems to be more nearly the opposite. In "Science Held Hostage," previously cited, professor Van Till, together with co-author geologists Davis A. Young and Clarence Menninga (all evangelical Christians) point out that it is the creationists who have played fast and loose with the facts. Three standard creationist claims for a recently created Earth are the level of dust that has accumulated on the moon, the amount of salt that has drained from the Earth into the oceans, and the rock layers of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

According to the creationists, if the earth and solar system were billions of years old as mainstream science claims, there would be much deeper dust on the moon and vastly more salt in the ocean. As to the Grand Canyon, the claim is that almost all of the exposed rock cliffs were laid down in the great flood of Noah.

Young and Menninga demonstrate exactly how some of the most famous creationist writers have manipulated and falsified the evidence in each of these. Example: the creationists deny that there are any erosion levels between layers of rock in the Grand Canyon as that would indicate a lengthy passage of time between their positioning, not the short time of the Genesis flood. In fact erosion levels are well documented. They are there for all to see.

If my fellow evangelicals will be patient, a truer case for biblical religion is coming.

(Grael Gannon, of Bismarck, is a teacher at Shiloh Christian School.) Creationists can't make a case

(c) 2007 Bismarck Tribune. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Source: Bismarck Tribune