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Author Topic: Half a brain
KidA
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Mr. Peabody,

Two things. First, the "bursts of increased complexity" you're referring to is known as "punctuated equilibrium." It was proposed as a modification to traditional Darwinism in the early 1970's by Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldridge, and is now widely accepted as fact. It essentially states that stable environments can lead to periods of prolongued morphological stability, whereas sudden changes in climate, or other catastrophic events, can lead to bursts of evolution as the specimens least-fitted to the new environment die off. For instance, a change in climate might cause higher temperatures, rising sea-levels, and drier land. So a species of bird that formerly fed on insects and seeds now must become a beach-combing species - meaning that offspring with longer legs and longer beaks survive to procreate. There is no need for intelligent design to explain this phenonemon.

Second, the "eve" would've been the first modern human. I doubt that humans are the only species that can be traced to a single ancestor. It's tempting to link this to scripture - but you must remember scripture makes no reference to cro-magnons, homo erectus, or any of the number of other hominid species that predated "Eve" by hundreds of thousands of years. Also, there are many other religions that reference a divine mother of humanity - why should Christianity be the only one worthy of scientific consideration? Why not Hinduism, Buddhism, or Dogon cosmology - all of which, at times, seem to bear an eerie resemblence to what is known or implied by science?

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Weezah
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I have a question for you all. I am not well versed in evolution and darwinism. How does it reconcile the fact that entropy causes everything else in the universe to become more disorganized without some sort of work bieng applied? How would biological creatures trend to more complexity over time? Doesn't that defy entropy and thermodynamics?
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KidA
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Weezah,

Not really. You can have localized complexity. Entropy refers to the general trend within a closed system, and does not preclude localized complexity within the system.

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Weezah
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Wouldn't the entire ecological system trend towards disorder rather than complexity than?
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KidA
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No. The "closed system" is the entire universe, including all the potential energy locked into the structure of matter. The amount of energy used on earth in an inconsequential fraction of the energy produced by our sun.

You have to use energy to maintain complexity. A closed system - say an ecosystem - only breaks down if it runs out of energy (like a fishtank where you forget to feed the fish). But all the life on Earth only uses a tiny fraction of the energy contained on Earth - and we get more from the sun every day. Now, the sun will eventually run out of energy, become unstable, and explode, and there's entropy and thermodynamics for you.

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aupton15
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So KidA, it sounds like the major determining factor in your comparison is time. If you wait long enough, you will see entropy. We can feign stability and complexity, but it's relatively short-term and eventually breaks down. I'm still new to the whole idea, but this is my understanding. Please correct gently as necessary [Wink]
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KidA
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autopon - yes, I think that sounds right.

Let's separate the two elements - entropy and thermodynamics.

Heat (which comes from the kinetic energy of molecules) will always pass from the hotter to the cooler - you put ice in your soda to cool it down, and the ice eventually melts. The soda will never get hotter while the ice gets colder. This is a law of thermodynamics (the flow of heat energy).

Entropy is why the car wears out, why bodies get old, why things die. It's why there is no perpetual motion machine. Any complex system has to burn energy to function, which generates heat through friction and chemical reactions. The heat generated by life-process is a matter of thermodynamics, while the "loss" of order and the burning of fuel on the other end is a part of entropy.

An organism is an open system. It consumes food, which it converts to energy, which produces heat. The earth can be considered an open system, because it's supply of energy from the sun is already renewed, and it radiates heat as a result of all the biological and technological processes happening on it. So an organism can maintain an ordered state, or become even more highly ordered, as long as it has a steady supply of energy.

As to how the order emerges in the first place - many would argue its predestined, given time and luck, and the laws of physics and chemistry. A few simple elements and conditions can lead to enormous complexity (fractals, for instance).

[ December 27, 2004, 05:29 PM: Message edited by: KidA ]

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Paladine
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JL-

quote:
The theory of Evolution, as has been stated, is not a theory of how life came into existence. This seems to be your major stumbling block.

As far as I know, no theory of how life came to be is taught in our public school system. If they did teach something like that, it would belong in philosophy, or some other class not Science Class, the same place, if any, that Intelligent Design should be taught.

I can't help but be amused that my "major stumbling block" is something I've never said. The question of how life came into being is *very much* a scientific question. It's just one on which the jury's still out.

quote:
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outmoded gradualistic evolutionary theories.
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What are you talking about?

Mr. Peabody gives a satisfactory explanation. Modern evolutionary theory has largely abandoned (or significantly modified) the classical Darwinian evolution taught in schools. The kids (including myself a few years ago) are being taught a theory that's been out of date for a good 20 or 30 years now.

quote:
quote:
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I want science to be taught more in terms of *thought processes* than theories though.
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Then that wouldn't be Science Class.

What you want doesn't seem to be science. It seems you want a theory that has no scientific validity taught in Science Class. You should modify your argument to have this “theory” taught in some other class if you want to have any kind of legitimate argument. As is, you don't have a leg to stand on.

No, I want science classes to address less theory and more thought process. If there are alternate theories of how things came to happen, I want both presented fairly with all relevent evidence (or lack thereof), and for kids to be able to debate, learn, and make up their own minds. I don't want them being taught a theory as if it is fact. What I want is very much scientific, although if you want to put it into a philosophy class that'd be fine too. A class that addresses at length the issue of the origins of life, perhaps with non-scientific religious views from major religions as well as scientific theories would certainly be worthwhile.
---------------------------------------------

Donald-

quote:
The irony here is that, if your teacher was actually forbidden from teaching ID in science class whatsoever, he wouldn’t have been able to introduce the false dichotomy, and couldn’t have denigrated this particular belief.

As an aside, Paladine, if your teacher actually taught that ID was false, that evolution was fact and that life was produced randomly, then he was first and foremost a bad teacher, and secondly, he either didn’t understand the theory (or science in general) in the first place, or he was being purposefully deceitful in his presentation.

Or is it possible that, at the time, you simply misunderstood the subject matter, and projected some of these conclusions onto your teacher? The distinction between scientific theory and our general use of the word theory, and the differences between randomness and random selection are both subtle and significant. Many teachers fail to teach these concepts adequately, and I would argue most high school students fail to learn them successfully.

I'm fairly certain that I'm not projecting anything onto him, as he talked at length about the matter. I don't think he was deceitful; rather I think that he had an incomplete understanding of the material he was teaching and allowed his personal beliefs to fill in the blanks. That's nothing terrible on his part, but I can't help but think that if his personal religious views had been otherwise, and had similarly permeated his teaching, it would have been a much more major cause for concern. That is what troubles me.

quote:

Regardless, no current scientific theory precludes that a creator kicked off the process: until a creator can be included in some form of a scientific test, science can have nothing to say about it (scientists are another matter altogether.)

But if it can be demonstrated (as I believe that it has) that the random production of life is vastly unlikely, and that there is simply not enough time in the history of life on this planet for it to have evolved to its current level of extreme complexity by random means (or at least that this is so statistically unlikely as to be virtually impossible), that alone serves as evidence for the presence of a "creator" (Supernatural/immortal/moral God or otherwise). Mr. Peabody touches upon some of the evidence for Intelligent Design. I'm admittedly not familiar enough to authoritatively state that it forms a comprehensive and reasonably valid theory.

That said, I can't help but think that a major part of the reason it isn't even explored is that there is a pervasive anti-religious bias in the public education system, one which seeks to eliminate all mention of God, or even hint of his existence, from public institutions. This is an attitude with which I take great exception, and one which the founders would have rejected out of hand as well.

The creation of life and its development are not, as JoshuaD suggests, so simple as dealing out a royal flush. I know he understands it to be vastly more unlikely, but he presupposes the number of planets to be so great as to render the extremely improbable probable. I'm admittedly not familiar with the statistical studies here, but I'd be willing to bet my bottom dollar that he isn't either. I'd like some information on this, beyond what little I've found on the net, usually biased in favor of one side or the other.

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JLMyers
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quote:
If there are alternate theories of how things came to happen, I want both presented fairly with all relevent evidence (or lack thereof), and for kids to be able to debate, learn, and make up their own minds. I don't want them being taught a theory as if it is fact. What I want is very much scientific, although if you want to put it into a philosophy class that'd be fine too.
There are not alternate theories of how things came to happen being presented. There is the Theory of Evolution, which is NOT a theory of how life came into existance. What you want is not scientific, and I'm glad you agree to have it taught in philosophy class because that is where it belongs, if anywhere. If my boys are ever taught it I will be sure to explain to them that it is the theory of we don't know how it happened so it must be the work of God. In other words, wishful thinking by religious people.

And there are enough worlds with the prerequesites for life in this vast universe so that the royal flush theory is possible.

quote:
Mr. Peabody touches upon some of the evidence for Intelligent Design. I'm admittedly not familiar enough to authoritatively state that it forms a comprehensive and reasonably valid theory.

That said, I can't help but think that a major part of the reason it isn't even explored is that there is a pervasive anti-religious bias in the public education system, one which seeks to eliminate all mention of God, or even hint of his existence, from public institutions.

I don't know how you came to this conspiracy conclussion since you admit yourself that you don't know enough about the theory, but I hope you're right. God shouldn't be taught in public school.

quote:
This is an attitude with which I take great exception, and one which the founders would have rejected out of hand as well.
The founders had slaves, didn't allow women to vote, and were products of there time. We have come a long way in many areas, not the least of which is science, since their day. Welcome to the 21st century.

[ December 27, 2004, 09:04 PM: Message edited by: JLMyers ]

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Paladine
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quote:
The founders had slaves, didn't allow women to vote, and were products of there time. We have come a long way in many areas, not the least of which is science, since their day. Welcome to the 21st century.
Well and good. My point wasn't that "The founders thought this way, and so we should think this way too". My point was a legal one, namely that the mention of God in a public school is not a violation of any passage in the Constitution as it was written (misinterpretations aside). There is no way a local school board approving something concerning God in the curriculum is tantamount to Congress making a law respecting an establishment of religion. That's why I alluded to that passage in a previous post. Perhaps if you stop being so smug for a minute you'll grasp my meaning.

quote:
There are not alternate theories of how things came to happen being presented.
My point exactly.

quote:
There is the Theory of Evolution, which is NOT a theory of how life came into existance.
Please, please, please stop putting this into my mouth. I've never said evolution offered an explanation for how life came into existence, much less how new words come into existance.

quote:
And there are enough worlds with the prerequesites for life in this vast universe so that the royal flush theory is possible.
Source?

quote:

I don't know how you came to this conspiracy conclussion since you admit yourself that you don't know enough about the theory, but I hope you're right. God shouldn't be taught in public school.

Yes, unlike some, when I'm not extremely familiar with a theory I admit it rather than making "factual" statements which are in reality little more than a combination of speculation and poor pseudo-psychology. As to your statement that "God shouldn't be taught in public schools", maybe this calls for a separate thread, but why not exactly? I thought you just said that this issue might belong in a philosophy class? Or should we kick God out of there too, and establish a strictly anti-God educational system?
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DonaldD
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quote:
Please, please, please stop putting this into my mouth. I've never said evolution offered an explanation for how life came into existence, much less how new words come into existance – Paladine
Actually, you did, although you may have misspoken. See the following
quote:
All my science teachers have done nearly that. With the exception of calling out ID by name, they clearly prefaced the course, defining theories as theories, not fact. I just don't see any reason to bring up ID specifically. - JoshuaD

Well, mine didn't. I liked the guy, but my AP Biology teacher made no bones about his opinion that ID was absolutely false, evolution was fact rather than theory, and life was produced randomly. - Paladine

In a thread about Evolution and Intelligent Design, and in response to Joshua’s post alluding to ID, you crafted a sentence that referenced ID, then Evolution, and then the creation of life (“production” actually). It’s unclear whether your teacher taught this as part of the Evolution curriculum, whether you lumped the two together, or whether it was just an unclear turn of phrase.

quote:
But if it can be demonstrated (as I believe that it has) that the random production of life is vastly unlikely … - Paladine
Your turn. Source?

quote:
That said, I can't help but think that a major part of the reason it isn't even explored … - Paladine
OK, last one. I think if you scratch a little, you will find that ID has been critically explored. Unfortunately, the basic tenet of this belief system (it is not a scientific theory) is unprovable (which is why it is not a scientific theory); you cannot test for God. This is also why ID proponents have been relegated to negative proofs – ID must exist, since Evolution fails here, here and here. What ID proponents seem to fail to recognize is that, even if they did manage to prove that Evolution was bogus, it still would not magically turn ID into a valid theory. There might be a dozen other theories out there, of which one or two might very well model reality pretty accurately. It is not an either/or proposition.

At any rate, all that is left for researchers to study are the scientific attacks on Evolution theory itself. And these have, for the most part, been debunked. Of course, the great thing about this technique for ID supporters/researchers is that they can keep throwing stuff at the wall, and hoping it sticks. They never have to come up with any positive proof for their theory. If you want to review some of these ID explorations, check talkorigins.org, and more specifically talkdesign.org.

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Mr Peabody
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KidA,
Thanks! Nice update on the history of the REFINING PROCESS of the THEORY of evolution. I have been too busy as of late to go dig around the Net to get those details you included.

Response to 1ST paragraph last sentence of your 27-DEC-04 13:29 posting: I would hope no science teacher would ever even attempt to explain any structure, design, or phenomenon by attributing it to “intelligent design”. That is terribly UNSCIENTIFIC and would send observation discovery back to the dark ages. The point I am making is that I am in disagreement with the “DON’T WANT TO CONSIDER ANYTHING DIVINE CHURCH’s” (see my earlier posting) attempts to stifle the discover of inner space (individuals own minds/hearts/spirit) by declaring that Their (intelligensia) present interpretation of the discoveries of outer space (perceived through the 5 senses) gives them the authority to declare huge expanses of inner space research and discovery null and void.

Response to 2nd paragraph last sentence of your 27-DEC-04 13:29 posting: Exactly! Yes, I agree that there are many cultural religious histories that reference a Grand Mother of the people. Many schools of religious thought bear an “Eerie resemblance” to what is only recently being discovered through the scientific process. How is it that we are being able to substantiate further in our day, facts they considered important enough to be reserved in “sacred texts” so long ago in their day?

Is not the observation of peculiar parallels between historical religious texts and some scientific discoveries a sound data set of reasoning to not allow the “DON’T WANT TO CONSIDER ANYTHING DIVINE CHURCH’ to obstruct investigation of inner space by declaring it null and void in the science classes? Some of the most fascinating discoveries I have enjoyed are the parallels between inner space and outer space.

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Mr Peabody
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Just reread my own posting. 3rd paragraph: the word reserved was intended to be preserved!
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KidA
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Mr.P,

If a modern scientific discovery happens to correspond - in general sense - to something from once ancient religious text or another, I don't any reason to assume that this is anything more than a coincidence. Certain ideas, such as a Great Mother or Eve, or the creation of the universe in a cauldron of fire and chaos, recurr over numerous different religions and cultures because they speak to physchological and cultural experiences that all human beings have in common. For instance, many, many ancient societies viewed the Sun as a giver-of-life, and so it is not unexpected that many would see the world as being born from the sun or fire. Also, the fact that all people are born from women makes the creation of a Great Mother myth fairly straight-forward (although there are plenty of traditions that have totally different explanations). Until someone finds "e=mc2" or a periodic table in a 3,000 year-old scroll, I think it's safe to conclude that whatever account exists of human origins in a religious text is purely the result of human imagination, and not scientific observation.

As to "inner space", which includes spiritual and religious issues - obviously this is important, and I'm surprised that anyone thinks that our public schools have rejected this. It's called the humanities! Literature, history, art - all of these are about "inner space," and religion (including plenty of Christianity) is necessarily part of that. If you read any classic American or European novels, if you study Western art and music, if you take world history, it's all there. These things are not "soft" subjects - they are different aspects of the world as much in need of understanding.

But science is, by definition, not "inner space." There is nothing that can occur in a science class regarding notions of divinity that would still be science. Religion is, by definition, concerned with the metaphysical - that which cannot be quantified. Saying that religion and God have no place in science is not to the detriment of religion. If anything, relgion now suffers from too much literal-mindedness, and not enough spirituality. Teaching religion as something that can be broken down to numbers and scientific experiments seems to me to belitte it - what hubris, to think that God can be counted, weighed, and extracted from rocks and fossils!

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KidA
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That's rhetorical "hubris" - I'm not accusing you personally. [Smile]
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aupton15
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"I think it's safe to conclude that whatever account exists of human origins in a religious text is purely the result of human imagination, and not scientific observation."

While it may have been primitive, I think it's a bit harsh to say that no portion of these stories came from scientific observation. For instance, you talk about the idea of the original mother that occurs in many religious sources. Assuming an original mother follows logical thought, especially after observing that everyone who exists currently was born at one time. The idea of an original mother isn't really imagination as much as it is deduction (or induction, I always confuse the two). At any rate, it may be simplistic, but it's better science than some people are doing in the social sciences today (and I say that as a social scientist with a great deal of respect for those doing good science). While I agree that religion and science (or outer and inner space) don't need to be mixed in our schools, but there are elements of rudimentary science buried in some of these religious sources.

In my opinion, part of the problem in our PC culture is that things like this MUST be compartmetalized in order to assure that nobody's feelings get hurt, and to make sure that nobody confuses religious ideas with scientific theory. In a perfect world we would be able to recognize the ways in which all of this is really interconnected (and provide a great deal more money for holistic detectives like Dirk Gently).

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KidA
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The history of science and religion is, of course, deeply entangled. The history of Christianity is proof of that. For most of western history, there was no distinction between science and religion - there was just "truth" and the pursuit thereof. The ancient Greeks made divisions between different branches of philosophy, and in the middle ages and early renaissence most "scientific research" was a form a theology or philosophy. The modern distinction of which you speak is not a product of PC-culture - it's a product of the Enlightenment. It has nothing to do with anyone's feelings (people did not exactly accept modern science happily - they often tried to execute scientists), and everything to do with how science must be practiced if it is to be science.

Mythology is not science. That does not mean it doesn't start with observation of the natural world - more often than not it does. But if people concluded that all of humanity came from eve, this was not the result of any scientific process, in which a theory was tested against other explanations, and in which evidence was presented and weighed. Myths persist and are believed because of their "inner" meaning (i.e. they "feel" right). It might be profound, beautiful, and true on many levels, but it has nothing to do with science.

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Richard Dey
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I don't think KidA's made a mistake yet -- and he's from NY! He should be coaching the Giants.

If observation of the physical world (i.e., natura) is the task of science -- and its only avowed purpose, why is religion (i.e., those deifying meta natura) trying to hog it?

Science doesn't need religion to create its questions or determine its conclusions. It can and does exist independently.

Religion needs science to answer its questions even about where religion comes from, but gets all houghy if science asks any questions in return and then tells science what is true and untrue! For more than half a millennium, the Christian religion forbade autopsies!

Science hasn't told any religion that it is untrue -- even though it is numerically impossible that all religions are true, and scientifically unprovable that even one is right.

And yes, we do 'teach' religion in school -- even, offhandedly, comparative religion,

of Herakles and the Olympic Games
of Milton's Paradise Lost
of the Iliad
of the sack of Jerusalem by Vespasianus and Titus
of the Plymouth Plantation and the Witch Trials of Danvers
of Jim Jones
of Buddhist seminal retention
of totem poles,
of voodoo dolls and
of the creatio of mankind by some Egyptian god's masturbation?

just off the top of my head. How much religion at public expense do our kids need? and, considering the distasteful nature of so many religious beliefs and the impropriety of so many religious cults these days and yesterdays, aren't they really getting enough to deter them as it is?

Science is e pluribus unum, out of many sciences one -- for the fact that any branch of it must agree with a central databank of determined facts. It's like a federal system. Quantum mechanics cannot contradict gravitation mechanics -- or both systems remain moot.

That is not true of religion -- in which no two religions need agree, and noisily do not. Religious freedom -- at great risk to the public peace, has made it impossible to teach any of these sects in the schools as likely fact. Religion itself has made up this problem for itself; science didn't do it.

Any attempt to fuzzify creation myths with an 'intelligent mind' is not only unscientific but irreligious because this theory does not fully satisfy any one religion let alone all. It will also fail since there are plenty of theories out here which claim that the universe was created by two unintelligent minds.

Religion was an anachronism when the Momgod gave birth to it; it has always been out of date because it has always played parent to everybody else's child whilst never growing up itself. What religion looks at itself as requiring proof? as being likely wrong? Well, polytheistic Unitarians excepted.

If religion has morals to teach, one of those morals should be to respect everybody else's intellectual space, but religion cannot believe that a God who created the universe didn't give the godly the right to go anywhere in that space they wanted. One place the disruptive should not be allowed to go is into a science laboratory where dangerous experiments in determining truth are being undertaken ... or ringing doorbells at eight o'clock on a Sunday morning [Mad] !

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DonaldD
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Richard, I'm surprised you didn't even touch on the corollary of the "one-mother" theory/myth...
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JLMyers
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DonaldD,

Excellent post (one before last). I'm still waiting to be reminded where you called me on my anti-religious posting. Not being argumentative, I would really like to know what you were referring to and perhaps discuss it. Thanks.

KE

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Paladine
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quote:
In a thread about Evolution and Intelligent Design, and in response to Joshua’s post alluding to ID, you crafted a sentence that referenced ID, then Evolution, and then the creation of life (“production” actually). It’s unclear whether your teacher taught this as part of the Evolution curriculum, whether you lumped the two together, or whether it was just an unclear turn of phrase.
None of the above. Look again at:
quote:
I liked the guy, but my AP Biology teacher made no bones about his opinion that ID was absolutely false, evolution was fact rather than theory, and life was produced randomly
This in no way establishes that I think evolution addresses the origins of life. Maybe it establishes that I think my biology teacher is of that opinion, but how you can read that and conclude that I think evolution addresses this point is frankly beyond me.

In response to the notion about there being no positive evidence for Intelligent Design, and for it being unscientific on account of an inability to "test" for a creator, I'll cite what I consider to be an instructive work by William Dembski of Baylor University. All added emphasis is mine.

quote:
Intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause? To see what’s at stake, consider Mount Rushmore. The evidence for Mount Rushmore’s design is direct—eyewitnesses saw the sculptor Gutzon Borglum spend the better part of his life designing and building this structure. But what if there were no direct evidence for Mount Rushmore’s design? What if humans went extinct and aliens, visiting the earth, discovered Mount Rushmore in substantially the same condition as it is now?

In that case, what about this rock formation would provide convincing circumstantial evidence that it was due to a designing intelligence and not merely to wind and erosion? Designed objects like Mount Rushmore exhibit characteristic features or patterns that point to an intelligence. Such features or patterns constitute signs of intelligence. Proponents of intelligent design, known as design theorists, purport to study such signs formally, rigorously, and scientifically. Intelligent design may therefore be defined as the science that studies signs of intelligence. ............

As a theory of biological origins and development, intelligent design’s central claim is that only intelligent causes adequately explain the complex, information-rich structures of biology and that these causes are empirically detectable. To say intelligent causes are empirically detectable is to say there exist well-defined methods that, based on observable features of the world, can reliably distinguish intelligent causes from undirected natural causes. Many special sciences have already developed such methods for drawing this distinction—notably forensic science, cryptography, archeology, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Essential to all these methods is the ability to eliminate chance and necessity...............

Intelligence leaves behind a characteristic trademark or signature—what within the intelligent design community is now called specified complexity. An event exhibits specified complexity if it is contingent and therefore not necessary; if it is complex and therefore not readily repeatable by chance; and if it is specified in the sense of exhibiting an independently given pattern. Note that a merely improbable event is not sufficient to eliminate chance—by flipping a coin long enough, one will witness a highly complex or improbable event. Even so, one will have no reason to attribute it to anything other than chance.

The important thing about specifications is that they be objectively given and not arbitrarily imposed on events after the fact.
For instance, if an archer fires arrows at a wall and then paints bull’s-eyes around them, the archer imposes a pattern after the fact. On the other hand, if the targets are set up in advance (“specified”), and then the archer hits them accurately, one legitimately concludes that it was by design.......

In determining whether biological organisms exhibit specified complexity, design theorists focus on identifiable systems (e.g., individual enzymes, metabolic pathways, and molecular machines). These systems are not only specified by their independent functional requirements but also exhibit a high degree of complexity.

In Darwin’s Black Box, biochemist Michael Behe connects specified complexity to biological design through his concept of irreducible complexity. Behe defines a system as irreducibly complex if it consists of several interrelated parts for which removing even one part renders the system’s basic function unrecoverable. For Behe, irreducible complexity is a sure indicator of design. One irreducibly complex biochemical system that Behe considers is the bacterial flagellum. The flagellum is an acid-powered rotary motor with a whip-like tail that spins at twenty-thousand revolutions per minute and whose rotating motion enables a bacterium to navigate through its watery environment.

Behe shows that the intricate machinery in this molecular motor—including a rotor, a stator, O-rings, bushings, and a drive shaft—requires the coordinated interaction of approximately forty complex proteins and that the absence of any one of these proteins would result in the complete loss of motor function. Behe argues that the Darwinian mechanism faces grave obstacles in trying to account for such irreducibly complex systems. In No Free Lunch, William Dembski shows how Behe’s notion of irreducible complexity constitutes a particular instance of specified complexity.

Once an essential constituent of an organism exhibits specified complexity, any design attributable to that constituent carries over to the organism as a whole. To attribute design to an organism one need not demonstrate that every aspect of the organism was designed. Organisms, like all material objects, are products of history and thus subject to the buffeting of purely material factors. Automobiles, for instance, get old and exhibit the effects of corrosion, hail, and frictional forces. But that doesn’t make them any less designed. Likewise design theorists argue that organisms, though exhibiting the effects of history (and that includes Darwinian factors such as genetic mutations and natural selection), also include an ineliminable core that is designed.

The rest of the essay is very interesting as well, and makes a good read. It contains an extensive bibliography for anyone interested in further reading on the subject.
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aupton15
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"Science doesn't need religion to create its questions or determine its conclusions. It can and does exist independently."

But religion DID raise many of the questions that science has been concerned with. Our origins for one thing. You can argue that questions of our origin would have been addressed by science without the help of religion, but you can't scientifically prove that either. Science doesn't exist independently any more than you or I exist independently. It exists within a larger realm of information that can and does intertwine constantly. Try to separate all you know about scientific discovery from everything else you know. It can't be done. Now, I'm not saying science and religion should be taught together in schools, but I think it is very short-sighted to behave as though science is somehow separate from the rest of human experience. It involves specific principles and values that may not exist in other parts of our knowledge, but it is not separate. Furthermore, science and religion are often addressing the same questions...and if that's not relatedness then I'm clearly working with a different definition of the term. Again, I don't think it's necessary to put the two together in classes in our schools, but in a larger picture I think it's important to see how the two have been historically linked, and how they are still linked today.

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Paladine
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I do think everyone interested in ID and/or evolutionary theory should look at the links from DonaldD's posts, particularly the pages dealing with anti-evolutionists. It's a fascinating debate with very bright people arguing on a scientific basis. This is *precisely* why it presents an excellent learning opportunity for children. I would've found such a debate very stimulating, and regardless of which side the kids come down on, it would create some real interest in learning and thinking.
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JLMyers
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Paladine,

Did you delete and repost your post responding to DonaldD? Or am I suffering from severe deja vu?

KE

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JoshuaD
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Paladine: That article is just a dressed up "It's very complex, so it didn't come about randomly." argument.

quote:
As a theory of biological origins and development, intelligent design’s central claim is that only intelligent causes adequately explain the complex, information-rich structures of biology and that these causes are empirically detectable. To say intelligent causes are empirically detectable is to say there exist well-defined methods that, based on observable features of the world, can reliably distinguish intelligent causes from undirected natural causes.
The bolded part is highly suspect:

We've found that things humans make have certain characteristics that allow us to conclude these objects are man-made.

One of those characteristics is complexity.

The Universe is highly complex, and we don't see how it could have come about randomly (even though we barely understand the universe).

Therefore, we conclude the universe is created by intellegent design.


Unless I misunderstand the article, that's a breakdown of what the theory claims. All of those conclusions simply aren't science.

quote:
From here
# 1. Observe some aspect of the universe.
# 2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.
# 3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.
# 4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.
# 5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.

ID is skipping steps 3-5. It has got 1 and 2 down, but there is no prediction being made, and there is no rigorous testing of that prediction. To call it science and teach it in the scientific classroom is simply irresponsible.

It's very similar to Theoretical Physic's String Theory. The theory is very elegant in unifying General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics (and generally explaining our universe), but it doesn't make any predictions. Most theoretical physicists believe String Theory (or something very similar) is how things work, but because it does not make any verifiable predictions, they are unwilling to remove it from the realm of philosophy.

To put that more simply, Physicists believe String Theory is a very nice way to "solve" our universe, but they're not sure if it's actually how our particular universe works. It could very well just be a really clever, but completely wrong theory.

Just as I don't want string theory to be taught in the High School science classroom (because it is essentially Philosophy), I don't want ID there either.

I have yet to say that I think ID is an invalid philosophy, just that it simply doesn't belong in the science classroom. The science classroom has two two necessary components: To teach the scientific method, and to introduce the students to the foremost scientific theories of our times. I don't see how ID falls into that curriculum.

[ January 03, 2005, 05:38 PM: Message edited by: JoshuaD ]

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Paladine
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quote:
We've found that things humans make have certain characteristics that allow us to conclude these objects are man-made.

One of those characteristics is complexity.

The Universe is highly complex, and we don't see how it could have come about randomly (even though we barely understand the universe).

Therefore, we conclude the universe is created by intellegent design.


Unless I misunderstand the article, that's a breakdown of what the theory claims. All of those conclusions simply aren't science.

Well, you misunderstand the article. He says that it is insufficient to postulate that merely because the universe is complex that it must be the product of ID. Instead, he suggests that design can be inferred by *specified complexity*, an offshoot of Behe's theory. The article I quoted was "Intelligent Design". Here's a link http://www.designinference.com/documents/2003.08.Encyc_of_Relig.htm . For further reference you can look on talkdesign.org (anti-Design site given by DonaldD) under the anti-Evolutionists. Dembski's section contains an instructive exchange with Wein and thoughts from the anti-ID crowd with responses by Dembski. Give that a read and then attack the theory on its merits.

Dembski does, rightly or wrongly, assert the existence of positive evidence which can be rigorously and formally examined, and not merely the "negative proofs" derided by ID critics.

quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From here
# 1. Observe some aspect of the universe.
# 2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.
# 3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.
# 4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.
# 5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ID is skipping steps 3-5. It has got 1 and 2 down, but there is no prediction being made, and there is no rigorous testing of that prediction. To call it science and teach it in the scientific classroom is simply irresponsible.

Well, ID aims to explain a past event that is not readily able to be reconstructed. I would also suggest that alternative theories that basically suggest your "Royal Flush" notion are far more unscientific, and if applied to any other field of science would be laughed out of the room. For example, let us suppose that we were to examine why a particular person was afflicted with a disease....

::shrugs:: "There are billions of people on Earth, someone had to get it." But anyway, the main point with which I differ is your definition of what is and is not scientific in this particular case.

Theories that attempt to explain natural laws or a continuing phenomenon, such as String Theory or the Theory of Gravity, can easily be tested and verified. Testing and reproducing a phenomenon that by definition only can have happened once (the beginning of the universe, the origin of life) is basically impossible. They are, by definition, not things that lend themselves to being reproduced.

Accordingly, scientists must look for peripheral evidence, as in forensic science, cryptography, archeology, et al (unless you're also willing to write these off as being inherently "unscientific").

Your comparison to String Theory is an interesting one, and I think that it's a theory that should be taught in science classes. The theory is formulated and examined by leading scientists. The methods they're trying to use in order to prove it are scientific, they just haven't quite gotten there yet. That there's currently no formal proof of it shouldn't exclude it from study.

Regardless of whether it fits into your definition, teaching something like String Theory would get a lot more kids reading and thinking about science on their own. Restricting science classes to teaching the anatomy of the brain, basic applied physics, dull chemistry, and things of that sort are a large part of the reason that there isn't the interest in science that there should be.

If the word "science" is bothering you so much, then fine. Change the name of the course. Entitle it: "Theories on the Development and Origins of Life". I don't think teaching ID or String Theory in a science class is at all irresponsible so long as you explain the problems with the theory to the kids. I know it would interest people a hell of a lot more than learning about localization of function in the human brain. I think that it is irresponsible not to teach a well-researched and promising theory that will stimulate interest merely because it hasn't been formally proven yet. Present the theory, the evidence behind it, and the evidence against it. Challene the kids to think about it and decide whether they think it's true or not. Make them explain why.

I think kids can understand the distinction between something that's been proven to be true and something that's still in the works. Maybe you don't give them that much credit?

The links at the bottom of the page are also interesting, incidentally.

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JoshuaD
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Paladine: I read the article you linked to, and I'm no more convinced that ID is science.

One of the authors most compelling arguments is when he compares ID to cryptology, forensic science, and archeology. In all 4 cases, ID included, the "scientists" determine some set of standards, or rules, and use those standards to make a determination.

In forensic science, they know how far decayed they can expect a body to be after 5 days, they know which chemicals should not be found in the human body, and they know what a heart looks like after it's had a heart attack.

In cryptology, they have the entire set of existing numbers, and sets of interesting series in those numbers, to differentiate between signal and noise.

In archeology, they have modern skeletons to compare to, carbon dating to assure the skeleton pieces are from the same time period, and a multitiude of other techniques of the trade.

In all of these cases, the determinations that are now used as rules in their science are based on observable events, or controlled cases.

Said more clearly, a forensic scientist has seen multiple bodies at all levels of decay, and can compare an unknown body to them. Similarly, an archeologist can campare the bones and fossils found to modern creatures to make an educated guess about the structure and lifestyles of those animals.

However, in the case of ID, those ID "Scientists" have no such control.

They look at modern creatures, and attempt to logically deduce how they could have evolved naturally. When they cannot find a way, they then conclude that there is no way for it to have evolved naturally, and then cite these examples to "prove" other cases.

An example of this reasoning:

quote:
In Darwin’s Black Box, biochemist Michael Behe connects specified complexity to biological design through his concept of irreducible complexity. Behe defines a system as irreducibly complex if it consists of several interrelated parts for which removing even one part renders the system’s basic function unrecoverable. For Behe, irreducible complexity is a sure indicator of design. One irreducibly complex biochemical system that Behe considers is the bacterial flagellum. The flagellum is an acid-powered rotary motor with a whip-like tail that spins at twenty-thousand revolutions per minute and whose rotating motion enables a bacterium to navigate through its watery environment.

Behe shows that the intricate machinery in this molecular motor—including a rotor, a stator, O-rings, bushings, and a drive shaft—requires the coordinated interaction of approximately forty complex proteins and that the absence of any one of these proteins would result in the complete loss of motor function. Behe argues that the Darwinian mechanism faces grave obstacles in trying to account for such irreducibly complex systems. In No Free Lunch, William Dembski shows how Behe’s notion of irreducible complexity constitutes a particular instance of specified complexity.

It is similar to Einstein saying, "Well I'm not sure how these two watches got out of sync while moving at different speeds, and no modern physics can explain it. Since there's no way for this to have happened, it had to be caused by some intellegent being manipulating the mechanisms."

The real problem here is these ID "Scientists" have no base of "control" evolutions to compare to. If we had documented the evolution of some sets of creatures and bacteria over tens of thousands of years, then we would have some sort of standard to compare other conjectured evolutions to. As it stands now, we don't know much about what happens in the steps of evolution (IIRC it's currently being debated by top scientists), so there's no way an ID scientist could definitively say "This sort of evolution is impossible".

Because of this, the analogy to those other fields of science does not hold.

quote:
Originally posted by Paladine:
ID aims to explain a past event that is not readily able to be reconstructed. I would also suggest that alternative theories that basically suggest your "Royal Flush" notion are far more unscientific, and if applied to any other field of science would be laughed out of the room.

My "royal flush notion" wasn't scientific at all, it was an analogy. It was an easy way to demonstrate how something very unlikely can occur if you repeat the event enough times.

quote:
Originally posted by Paladine:

Theories that attempt to explain natural laws or a continuing phenomenon, such as String Theory or the Theory of Gravity, can easily be tested and verified.

String theory cannot be easily tested, which is the problem with it. It talks about objects that are extremely tiny. If an atom was the size of our solar sytem, a string would be the size of an atom.

Furthermore, string theory doesn't make many predictions, and the ones it does make are very hard to test. (I don't know too much about this, but I know they're currently trying to find some gravitrions, which is why they're building that new super collider thingy)


quote:
I think kids can understand the distinction between something that's been proven to be true and something that's still in the works. Maybe you don't give them that much credit?
I don't think most highschool students would benefit the most from this sort of discourse. This has nothing to do with "giving them credit", It's just that they're better off having a vauge idea about the top scientific theories at the time, than about theories that are likely to be proven wrong or evolve into far different theories in 10 years.

[ January 04, 2005, 10:09 PM: Message edited by: JoshuaD ]

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