Ware Farms

Speaking truth to prejudice

Monday, January 31, 2005


Intelligence? by design, WATE TV Post - Part I

The Knoxville TV station WATE ran a story on the Blount County School Board's decision to include Intelligent Design along with the theory of evolution in its science curriculum. The station has a web site which includes a discussion board which allows comments about their stories. On the one titled "Intelligent? by design" found here, a comment was posted by Mr. Hughes which listed six areas that he felt evolution did not address. His points in italics, with my responses which appeared in a follow up post are listed below.

Well, first their is the record of man. No record anywhere of man being "partly evolved." One might expect, given the idea that all don't evolve at exactly the same pace, it would be logical to expect some to have fully evolved and others still lagging behind in a less than human state. But, no human record of evolution, or of a partly evolved human. In fact just the opposite is true. Records from each and every ancient people include some sort of a creation event.

1. There is nothing in evolution that deals with "partly evolved" humans or any other species. All organisms are fully evolved at the time of their existence. Evolution deals with the history of how biodiversity occurred over time. It does not project how any organism might change from any point in time into the future.

Neanderthals existed up to at least 30,000 years ago. The meter tall fellows on the Flores Island were around till at least 18,000 years ago. These are examples of near human species. There are three major lines of humans, Mongoloid, Negroid and Caucasian, each with different characteristics which demonstrate how humans continued to evolved due to the pressures of their differing environments.

Aboriginal peoples exist at various locations with a variety of evolutionary differences as well.

Many cultures have creation myths, while others do not, your blanket statement not withstanding. I like the one about a raven bringing people to the earth in the shell of a turtle myself. Creation myths have nothing to do with science.

Second is the fact that species tend toward stasis, not change. Species survive because they become the best at what they do. Not because they are continually changing. Sure they adapt, but that doesn't change who they are. The peppered moth is now white again (due to the cleaner air). The whole reason this natural selection argument worked way back when, is because it was based on ignorance and hope (if we just wait, we'll see it change...). No reason to expect the moth to become a bird or anything other than a moth. Stasis is even what is observed in Fruit flies, whose generational cycle is so fast, that one can imply that we are able to observe hundreds of thousands of years in just ten. Yet, we still find that fruit flies are still just fruit flies. Sure, we able to select traits, and make it adapt, but the more it's pushed. The less likely it is to survive. Which brings me to point number three.

2. Species tend toward stasis in an unchanging environment. Environment includes climate, food supply and predation among many lesser conditions. The cycles of ice ages and the drifting of the continents due to plate tectonics have produced dramatic changes in climate over time. The diversity that occurred during the 50 million year Cambrian period is a dramatic example of predator prey interaction with each surviving by staying one adaptive variation ahead of the other. Many new body types emerged at this time. If it doesn't "look like" prey, then the predator wont eat it. Organisms that do not change with the changing environment do not survive to pass their genes on to the next generation.

Genetics have limits. Evolution is based on the idea that organisms contain the ability to change over time. The longer the time the larger the change that is possible. However, this isn't what we observe with genetics. What is observed, is that there are limits beyond which, an organism will not adapt, but die. If an organism doesn't have the right amount of oxygen, it dies. If it doesn't have the right food, it does. We can artificially put pressure on an organism (simulating evolutionary pressure), and we find that we can only push it so far, before the organism dies. The idea that bacteria can adapt and grow resistant to a new strain of antibiotics. Doesn't indicate that evolution is creating an organism that will continually resist forever. Only that the recessive traits are present already and this natural selection has brought them to the front. And that the organism in question, hasn't been pushed beyond it's limit yet. In fact, the evolutionist relies on the idea of time, but what isn't answered is what exactly does additional time add to genetics that allow it do continually change beyond what we see are actual observational limits?

3. The theory of evolution is not based on the idea that organisms contain the ability to change over time. Evolution records the fact the changes have occurred over geological time as evidenced by the fossil record. Based on this past history, the theory of evolution predicts that changes will continue to occur in the future. Random changes which increase the organisms chances to live and reproduce will be passed on to future generations. No "ability to change" is implied by the theory.

Evolution requires more genetic variation than just bringing recessive traits to the fore as in your moth example. The variation required comes from mutation, insertion, combination and duplication. Insertion and duplication add to the size of the genome which provides more genetic material from which adaptive features can originate. Since there is no limit to the number of times that any of these producers of variation can occur, there is no limit on the potential evolutionary changes that can result.

The resistance of bacteria to antibodies is a result of mutations. In fact, bacteria under stress mutate at a higher rate than otherwise. These mutations have been observed through genetic mapping.

Fourth, the fossil record doesn't support the idea of evolution. All the organisms found there are fully grown, something that even Darwin himself said would invalidate his theory, if none were found. Things appear in the fossil record all the sudden, not gradually. The Cambrian explosion is a great example of this. The example of the Chimpanzee, called a precursor to the humanoid race, based on three small fossils fragments indicates the level of faith that evolutionists have, not the level or quality of the evidence. Fact is, there's no way the biology of these organisms can be analyzed at all, since they don't exist. It's more likely that the chimpanzee is simply a unique, previously undiscovered form of chimpanzee, than a precursor to humans.

4. Fossils are found which form clustered hierarchies, the evolutionary tree, if you will. Branches on the tree can be followed back in time to a common ancestor. Recent genetic mapping of present day species correlate to a high degree with the clustered hierarchies previously determined by morphological comparisons.

Gaps in the fossil record say nothing about the validity or invalidity of evolution. As long as evolution accounts for all the data we now have, it's the best way to explain the observations we have made. Darwin's point was that if we found fossil remains that fell off the tree, so to speak, they had no link to any know ancestor, then that would be an exception that his theory could not handle. So far, no such fossil has been found.

Hominids that walk upright have a different toe structure than chimpanzees who spend more of their time in trees. So even though the number of fossil fragments was small, since toes bones were included, the inference that this was a hominid can be made.

Fifth is the unsupported idea that intelligence can arise from an non-intelligent source. Fact is we observe everyday the exact opposite, that intelligence always has an intelligent source.

5. This is the anthropomorphic fallacy, that is, ascribing uniquely human qualities to non-human entities. In psychiatry, this is known as projection, finding non-existent qualities in others that are actually one's own. Saying that there is human-like intelligence in the universe, biology or the family cat, just doesn't make it so.

Sixth, the fact that the genetic code contains a language that uses symbols and information the same way as any language does along with a complex communication process. And this fact alone indicates an intelligent origin of this information not a naturalistic or materialistic one.

6. Your analogy between genetic code and language breaks down since language involves a sender and a receiver, while genetic code does not. DNA simply interacts with its physical and chemical environment. How the information content of the DNA can develop through natural processes was covered in item 3, paragraph 2, above.

So for me, based on these six examples there is quite a strong indication that we didn't get here by evolutionary means. Scientists often say that evolution is based on empirical data. Which is usually referring to what they observe today. What they don't say is that evolution, as it relates to origins is based on quite a large set of unsubstantiated conjecture, or belief or faith or dogma. And that's the part I disagree with.

The fact that evolution occurred as evidenced by the fossil record, and the theory of evolution which describes how it occurred, through genetic variation followed by natural selection, are well established in the scientific community. While there are lots of opportunities for further research is this area, the value that the knowledge of evolution provides in enabling this research is undisputed.

Friday, January 28, 2005


The Devil made us do it

A letter published in the Dayton, TN Herald-News written May 18, 1994

To the Editor:

God created an ideal place when He created the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were created as two reflections of God’s multifaceted image. He saw what He had created and it was good. Then the devil convinced them to eat from the tree of knowledge. This knowledge was the devilish idea that if two people were different, then one must be better, the other worse, the one must be “good,” the other ”evil.”

Suddenly they were ashamed of their differences. They hid from God and sewed fig leaves together to cover the places where their differences were most obvious. The devil knows that if he can divide us over our differences, he can separate us from God as well, since we are each a part of God’s marvelous creation. That’s exactly what happened.

We see this again with Cain and Able. Cain raised crops, Able raised animals, so their two offerings to the Lord were different. Cain got the idea that since these were different, then one must be better, the other worse. He assumed that his was the worse and in his anger, he rose up and killed his brother.

So it goes through human history. The idea that two people or groups or races or religions are different, then one must be good, the other bad, has led to more death, destruction and human misery than any other evil scheme the devil could have devised. The devil has neither the power to create nor destroy, but by convincing us to hate those who are different, he can sit back and gleefully watch as we destroy one another.

Jesus came to change all this. He extended His love to all without reservation.

When people came for help to the house He was visiting, He didn’t stick His head out the door and say, “OK, now, all you women get to the end of the line.” Instead, He treated both men and women in turn with equal compassion.

When He had His disciples pass out the loaves of bread and the fish He had blessed, He didn’t say, “except for those Ethiopians back there in the corner.” Instead, He had them give what little they had to everyone, and what was small became great as a result of His kindness.

When the lepers seeking help met Him on the road, He didn’t tell the five heterosexuals, “Boys, have I got good news for you,” and tell the two homosexuals, “Go jump off that cliff over there.” Instead, He sent all seven on the road to recovery.

He didn’t ignore the man from the pool of trebling waters because he was too old, or allow His disciples to turn the children away because they were too young. Even now, His promise of redemption reaches down through the ages.

He turned no one away because they were too sick, their bodies too broken. Instead, He extended the healing power of His love even beyond death, beyond the grave.

By His words and His actions, Jesus left us with one simple message: That we should love God and love one another. But that’s just two ways of saying the same thing! We cannot pretend to love God and not love every one of His children.

Only when we follow Christ’s teaching and treat every person with understanding and respect, despite our differences, can we thwart the devil’s attempt to divide us and become one again with each other and with God our creator.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Is Intelligent Design a Theory Yet?

We should be aware of what proponents of Intelligent Design say about their own scientific progress.

From Paul Nelson, Discovery Institute Fellow, in the July/August 2004 issue of Touchstone magazine:

"Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don't have such a theory right now, and that's a problem. Without a theory, it's very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we've got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as 'irreducible complexity' and 'specified complexity'-but, as yet, no general theory of biological design."

In addition to there being no scientific theory, no testable hypotheses and no ongoing research, there are no courses on ID being taught in any of our colleges or universities.

Why would we introduce something which has no scientific basis into a high school science class?

Tennessee allows religion to be taught as an elective in courses of comparative religion, and the Bible as literature or history. Teaching ID creationism is fine in this context.

The idea that "God did it" is not useful in our study of the real world. Since the answer to every question is the same, it provides no useful guidance for further scientific research.

ID "theory" which doesn't exist yet, can't be tested and is not of any use has no place in the science classroom.

Monday, January 17, 2005


Irony, thy name is (wo)men

Near the end of this article, comes this odd bit of news which they rightly label...


We were also captivated by the unusual in 2004. In Britain a man sued a hospital and a surgeon claiming he had gone in for a heart operation and came out 'gay'.

The patient, whose name was not released, entered Leeds General Infirmary for a heart-by-pass operation. During the surgery doctors had to take out part of a large vein in his leg to replace a section of blocked artery in his chest.

To get to the vein, the surgeons made an incision in his leg, but failed to notice the tattoo the man had on his leg that declared "I love women".

As he came out of the anesthesia, the heart operation a success, he noticed the scar on his leg.

When doctors had sewn it up, the inadvertently left out two letters on the tattoo. It now says "I love men".

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Pastors Promote the Teaching of Evolution

Here is a letter send to the Grantsburg, WI School Board by 187 Wisconson Pastors in responce to the attempt of the school board to include the teaching of "intellient design" creationism in their school's science classes. This reflects my view on the subject.

"Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible — the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark — convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey information but to transform hearts.

"We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rest. To reject this truth or to treat it as 'one theory among others' is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God's good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God's loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth."

For more on this issue, see the NCSE article.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Criteria for Scientific Theories

Any theory to be considered as science must meet these minimum requirements. It must be:

1. Internally consistent
2. Experimentally verifiable
3. Predictively useful

ID advocates have failed to produce such a theory on all counts.
1. IDers are all over the place when it comes to agreeing how much evolutionary theory (if any) they are willing to accept before ID "kicks in." The irreducible complexity (IC) formulation, which is to provide an "objective" measure supporting their propositions, contains an "R" factor, or "rejection region" which allows for the dismissal of signs of complexity which are "obviously" a result of natural causes, not ID. And who determines what falls into this rejection region? Why it's the ID investigator himself! As more natural causes fill in these "gaps," and enter the rejection region, ID "theory" eventually evaporates into thin air.
2. With no cogent theory, there are no hypotheses available to test. No research can be done. No results can obtain. Colloquially speaking, there is no "there" there.
3. Saying "God did it" whenever we find a gap in our knowledge provides us with no useful way to proceed. Information theory tells us that the information content of a message is related to its unpredictability. If "God did it" is the answer every time, then the information value is zero.
Since ID does not meet these three criteria, it is not science and cannot be presented in a public school science class.