“Good heavens! You’re the culture minister..”

On Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence this morning, Will Crawley hosted a discussion [Realplayer file] between Al Hays, an American professor of politics currently working at Queen’s University, Ruth Yeo, the recently appointed Humanist Chaplain at Queen’s University, Times columnist Matthew Parris and the Northern Ireland Culture Minister, the DUP’s Edwin Poots, on the religious views of politicians. Will has blogged a section of the transcript of that discussion where Edwin Poots is, admirably, honest about his religious views – he believes in ArchBishop Ussher’s 17th Century chronology.. as do Lisburn Council.. and Matthew Parris resists, just, the temptation to call NI’s Culture Minister a “nutter”.. Which may help explain the Environment Minister’s official written answer on the age of the Giants’ Causeway.. although it also highlights the concern about what scientific literature will be provided in any Causeway interpretative centre.That transcript

Edwin Poots: He [Dawkins] wants to indoctrinate everyone with evolution. And whenever people suggest that you can teach something other than evolution, and that there might be others theories about how this earth actually came to be, such as intelligent design, Richard doesn’t want children to have the option of actually hearing those things and making their own minds up. So it’s very interesting that evolutionists are very dictatorial in what they suggest.

William Crawley: Matthew Parris … you’ve just heard the culture minister in Northern Ireland speak, Matthew. Would a politician in Britain ever use words like that? A minister ingovernment?

Matthew Parris: Absolutely not. No. And I would use the word “nutter” — not of Edwin, obviously. But I do use the word ‘nutter’ of people who think that what informs them religiously entitles them to say that evolution is a form of indoctrination. I mean, there’s absolutely no question where science points, and it can only be some feeling that you’ve got a direct line with revelation with the Almighty that could lead you to stop wanting children to be taught that evolution is the best available explanation of where we are now.

Edwin Poots: Matthew, you’re telling me that cosmic balls of dust gathered and there was an explosion. We’ve had lots of explosions in Northern Ireland and I’ve never seen anything come out of that that was good. And you look at this earth and you tell me that there was a big bang and all of a sudden all tat is good about this earth came out of it?

Matthew Parris: Good heavens! You’re the culture minister and you don’t believe in evolution?

Edwin Poots: Yes, absolutely. And you’re telling me that all of this evolution took place over billions of years, and yet it’s only in the last few thousand years that Man could actually learn to write?

William Crawley: How old is the earth?

Edwin Poots: My view on the earth is that it’s a young earth. My view is 4000 BC.

Somehow I doubt that the Culture Minister is familiar with Francis Bacon’s ‘New Instrument for Rational Thinking’..

One more time then..

“The use of the word ‘theory’ can mislead those not familiar with science..”

Btw.. Where are those Department of Education guidelines?

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  • http://www.unionistlite.blogspot.com oneill

    Does anyone know Poots’ religion?

    I assume he’s a Free P?

    Willowfield,
    He’s a Free P deacon.

  • Shawn

    eyes obviously started out as simple light sensitive cells that were acted upon autonomically say as in single cell ocean creatures who float to the surface or sink down depending upon the sun. As the “eyes” grew more complex and they could process more data then obviously the need to process this data and form a myriad of responses was needed and as one increased and proved an advantage then the other advanced apace.

    All biological entities are little more than data collation systems that aquire data and process it as needed and as aquired. Simple creatures need simple responses and require far less data so they have simple collection systems.

    Why do we have 2 eyes thats easy its the same reason we have 2 hands, symetry. nature loves symetry and externally atleast thats why we have pairs of everything.

    And there is no such thing as optimum placement of eyes thats why differen species have them plaved in different places. Predators generally have them face forward so they can judge distance and speed, prey generally have them on the sides of their heads so they have a greater field of vision to look for predators and amphibians on the tops because that is generally where there prey and predators come from.

    Why do eyes generally point in some way forward? Because whether prey or predator its more important to see where you are going then where you are coming from?

    Its all logical really

  • The Dubliner

    It’s all missing the point, actually. And you might want to count your nose and mouth there, Shawn. You have two eyes because they’re needed for that important factor called ‘depth perception.: ;)

  • Shawn

    what about the nose and mouth?
    the nose has two nostrils which is symetry and the mouth is also similarily equal from one side to the other

    And its you that misses the point child

  • nuttal

    Oh … my … God!!

    I honestly, swear to god, can’t believe what i’m reading.

    Dubliner,

    Do you honestly believe that a single peer respected evolutionary biologist in the world believes that the whole eye appeared as a random variation!?

    Do youself a favour. Spend 5 minutes to browse a couple of theories of eye evolution.

    A quick starter, check Nilssons model.

    Are you denying the existence of photo-sensitive skin-cells. Are you denying the existence of animals with rudimentary optical sensory organs? Really? Who told you that the first “eyes” had to fully realized as the organ that you know?

    If no animal had ever been discovered without rudimentary optic sensors, or ‘primitive’ photo-sensitive organs, then you would maybe have some semblance of a valid point.

    Momkeys at typewriters!! Sure shakespeare like the rest of us, was nothing more than a differently evolved monkey. And apparently it only took one of him to write the complete works of shakespeare!!

  • Shawn

    depth perception is only important to predators thats why cows dont have forward facing eyes.

  • Joe

    “Which leads to the other question: which came first, the ability to process depth perception or the ability to acquire the data, i.e. the discovery that two eyes were better than one?

    You’re making a couple of very basic errors here, in that you appear to be falsely assuming that “having two eyes” and “having depth perception” are the same thing, and that two eyes are required in order to perceive depth. Neither of these is the case. Plenty of two-eyed animals – most notably those with eyes at the sides of their heads – have very poor depth perception, and are more sensitive to movement; and it’s entirely possible to perceive depth with one eye. Even if I close one eye, I can still tell that my keyboard is closer to me than my monitor.

  • scientist at home

    I agree with nuttal – some of you people here need to spend less time time typing and more time reading.

    I know he can be irritaing but some of you go read Dawkins…blind watchmaker…for starers there is a lovely passage about disbelief by personal incredulity…as you might imagine it is not too robust an approach.

    this discussion just sums up NI’s crazy society perfectly – dozens of people happy to be stuck in the intellectual ages.

  • The Dubliner

    Oh dear… I seem to have become the new Sam Hanna.

    It’s a shame folks don’t read what is written before replying to it, but I put that down to inheriting a gene that rearranges the words into a randomly mutated order. ;)

  • Harry Flashman

    *eyes obviously started out as simple light sensitive cells that were acted upon autonomically say as in single cell ocean creatures who float to the surface or sink down depending upon the sun.*

    I mean s’obvious innit?

    Pray tell then how the flying fuck did those single cell ocean creatures who do this phenomenal trick of responding to the the sun’s light come about? What did they evolve from, given that they don’t mate? At what point do you accept that this random coupling theory ain’t working?

    Furthermore why do they happen to still exist today? Surely they would have evolved into something more sophisticated by now like we did?

    In fact these single cell sea creatures are the new born babies that never grow old of my earlier analogy, they have never evolved since time began, if evolution explained everything there would no longer be any creature less primitive than humans because they would all have evolved just like us.

    Anyway, I’ve heard nothing to convince me that my original assertion that there are massive holes in the Evolutionary argument and the more the evolutionists shriek hysterically about how the sceptics are nothing more than god botherers the more convinced I will remain that my scepticism is justified.

    I’ll let the Dub go on about thwacking the evos’ arguments out of the park.

  • Sock Puppet of the Great Satan

    “What did they evolve from, given that they don’t mate?”

    Horizontal gene transfer, friend (e.g. plasmids or via viruses): the way most evolution on the planet has happened (as most of the biomass on the planet is single-cell). Also, you can still get mutations and evolution in the absence of sexual reproduction: the error rate in DNA replication is 10E-9/base pair/reproduction cycle. [For RNA viruses, its more like 10E-4 to 10E-5/nucleotide/replication: on average, each progeny flu virus will have one mutation from its parent virus]

  • http://belfastmetalheadsreunited.blogspot.com Jonny

    Oh dear Harry – you seem to misunderstand the premise, that these single celled creatures are successful means that they are evolutionary proven; and as to holes in evolutionary theory this means the theory will be refined and, if necessary discounted for something with better analysis and observational data. The ‘belief’ that geologists are wrong (rock strata and dating), biologists are wrong (evolutinary biology, genetics, memes etc) astronomers are wrong (the inconvenient truth that 6,000 year creation ‘dating’ is blown away by speed of light observations which calculate how long light takes to arrive at earth from distant stars) and philosophical arguments (of which there are many as related in Hitchens’ collection ‘The Portable Atheist’) Obviously if you read a sacred text they’re all wrong…errrrr or they’re attempting to find what is ‘right’

  • Shawn

    Harry Flashman
    Furthermore why do they happen to still exist today? Surely they would have evolved into something more sophisticated by now like we did?

    Since others covered the first bit let me answer this one. Just because an organism has evolved to fill a higher niche does not preclude that the lower niche is irrelevant and therefore unneeded.

    In other words, just because we have fresh water fish does not mean that salt water fish are no longer a viable species

  • The Dubliner

    Why don’t we stay on the eye for now? Here’s what Charles Darwin had to say about it, acknowledging that his theory was deficient in explaining it:

    [i]“To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.”[/i]

    It isn’t good enough to say ‘this is how the eye evolved because if it isn’t then my theory is fucked’ and leave it at that. If your claim is that minor variations in the design of the eye (so minor that evolutionists agree that the process could not have taken less than half a million years) gave one species an advantage over another such that the fitter species survived leading to the ‘improved’ design being adapted by natural selection, then you need to show that such a minor variation such as a few extra photosensitive cells could have conferred that dramatic advantage leading to the generation either gaining more food or more sex, causing those minus a few light-sensitive cells to be wiped out, and so on over a few hundred thousand years. How exactly could that occur? Is a species that has very extra light-sensitive cells but doesn’t have the pupil, lens, the retina, the part of the brain that processes visual information, the part that associates blurs with danger, food, and so forth, really all that fitter in any environment? In reality that is such an absurd claim to make that it is tantamount to a faith that is accepted without any proof, whatsoever. I fully accept that evolution exists, but I don’t accept that it is the initial designer. There is something else at work there, an outworking of some information in the system by some process not yet understood – and as I said before, there are many new sciences working on what exactly it is.

  • The Dubliner

    Typo: “Is a species that has [b]a few[/b] extra light-sensitive cells…”

  • Harry Flashman

    *Horizontal gene transfer, friend (e.g. plasmids or via viruses): the way most evolution on the planet has happened (as most of the biomass on the planet is single-cell). Also, you can still get mutations and evolution in the absence of sexual reproduction: the error rate in DNA replication is 10E-9/base pair/reproduction cycle. [For RNA viruses, its more like 10E-4 to 10E-5/nucleotide/replication: on average, each progeny flu virus will have one mutation from its parent virus]*

    Or to put it another way;

    “Frankly we haven’t got a clue, so we’ll just make some stuff up to keep the God botherers off our backs”.

    As I suspected.

  • The Serpent

    My apologies if this link has already been referred to as i haven’t had time to wade through each and every comment. Somebody thinks Mr Poots is a bit of a traitor to other Free P’s given that he is a deacon within the “church” :

    http://www.ivanfoster.org/article.asp?date=7/29/2007&seq=1019

    burning bush……

  • Harry Flashman

    Shawn, the theory of evolution says nothing about whether a species is “needed” or not, it simply says that through the progress of time and natural selection species will automatically evolve, not “necessary” species (whatever they may be) but all species will evolve over time.

    Simply restating the obvious fact that some creatures have evolved and some have not, does not explain why those that did not, er, did not.

    What prevented the single celled sea creatures from evolving? It’s not like they haven’t had the time or anything.

  • The Dubliner

    Well, I’m still waiting for them to show how a randomly mutated light-sensitive pigment on skin could have given the holder of that gene a survival advantage so great that all non-holders of the gene became extinct and that all modifications to it were equally great to ensure the same fate for all non-modified gene holders, and so on despite modifications being so far from great that the process would take half a million years to fully ‘evolve’ as an eye, and given that said initial mutated light-sensitive pigment (evolutionists attempt to explain the origin of the eye) wouldn’t be any use without a processor to attach meaning to the data – a raft of other ‘mutations’ that it is dependent on yet initially independent of. If the selector is natural selection (a form of design by non-design), then that pigment would have been discarded by that process as being about as advantageous as a pimple. They are left arguing that it must be the process because it is theoretically possible and they can’t admit any other theory or fundamental doubt into their thinking – with no regard to probability or practicality.

  • The Spectator

    Harry

    Are you suggesting that for evolution to make sense to you, ALL examples of an organism must mutate simultaneously and identically?

    Because otherwise, why would you expect ALL examples of an organism to mutate? Surely by its nature, mutation occurs as the exception rather than the rule?

    Extinction arises when two organisms compete in the same niche, and one is better fit than the other to the point of the exclusion of the other.

    But a mutated advantage might place the ‘new’ organism in a completely new niche, thus not competing with the original and allowing both to flourish in peace – the success of the new does not necessarily mean the obliteration of the old.

    Dub

    “Well, I’m still waiting for them to show how a randomly mutated light-sensitive pigment on skin could have given the holder of that gene a survival advantage so great that all non-holders of the gene became extinct.”

    Sorry, Dub, who said the original organism would become extinct? The advantage, surely, merely needs to be an advantage enough to ensure the continuance of the mutation, not so large as to swamp the original?

    Are you not confusing evolution with “survival of the fittest”?

    The other thing that occurs is that “eyes” are a fairly universal vertibrate phenomenum – in which case why do animals with little or no use for eyes still have them – moles, bats – etc?

  • willowfield

    Oneill

    He’s a Free P deacon.

    Thanks oneill for answering my question.

    Why are there so many fundoes in the DUP? They have a completely disproportionate influence on public life here.

    Of the other DUP ministers, we have the two Paisleys who are Free Ps, and Robinson who is some in some sort of fundamentalist church (although, in fairness, he rarely, if ever, talks about his religious views publicly). What about Dodds and Foster – are they fundoes?

  • nuttal

    Dubliner, and harry

    Err.. the species with the light sensitive pigmentation will maybe have a slight advantage over it’s competitors. Allowing it to be slightly more successful reproductively, and therefore increasing the likelihood of the genes that cause the light sensitive cells to develop to be carried on. It’s very very basic statistics.

    Simple case, look at the jellyfish. No eyes, no brain, no sensory organs as we would consider them. Just some photo-sensitive cells and a rudimentary nervous system. You might label jellyfish as “primitive”, but you can’t say they’re not evolutionarily successful.

    Now imagine some jellyfish reproduced and by a genetic mutation their offspring had no (or even less effective) photo-sensitive cells. Do you think they are going to be as successful as their siblings. They might even live long enough to produce, but their offspring are going to be less likely to have photo-sensitive cells, and therefore less likely to survive long enough to be reproductively successful. Again, it’s very very basic statistics.

    The mutation doesn’t have to be one that will allow a total domination of the individuals within a species. For the mutation to be long-term successful, it only has to have a higher (even slightly) chance of replication than that of its competitors.

    Do you think that all the animals that you see around you are the pinnacle of evoultion? Are we the pinnacle of evolution?! We may have plateaued in a evolutionary sense, but we are all works in progress. All it would take is a bit of competitive pressure, and humans could start evolving physically again.

  • nuttal

    Dubliner,

    if you supposed that by superiority, the individuals would totally dominate the species, and cause all others to become extinct within the species, then life would only ever have evolved along one line.

  • nuttal

    Dubliner,

    It’s not that hard to find this stuff out, just go to wikipedia. Or, if you don’t trust it, check out Hegemann given in the references.

    “The eyespot apparatus (or stigma) is a photoreceptive organelle found in the flagellate (motile) cells of green algae and other unicellular photosynthetic organisms such as euglenids. It allows the cells to sense light direction and intensity and respond to it by swimming either towards the light (phototaxis) or away from the light (“photoshock” or photophobic response). This helps the cells in finding an environment with optimal light conditions for photosynthesis. Eyespots are the simplest and most common “eyes” found in nature, composed of photoreceptors and a signal transduction system generating a phototactic response.”

    Apparently even a single cell algae can benefit from light sensitivity without a “processor”.

    Do you even understand that not all eyes are the same? Some are complex, some are rudimentary. Some are complex but ineffective. An “eye” doesnt have to have a lens, a processor, a retina etc etc. to be effective.

  • TAFKABO

    However to extrapolate from this intra-species development the claim that the magnificently developed, superbly adapted, multifarious life forms that exist on the planet today simply emerged by random chance over the eons is utter twaddle.

    Harry, this statement shows your total ignorance of evolutionary theory, besides which, the idea of things suddenly emerging whole, is exactly what creationists argue, their magic man just appeared,started to exist, or always existed, no explanation ,we’re just supposed to accept it.

    It simply defeats logic to say that the perfectly developed cockroach, the beautifully designed elephant or the amazingly versatile chameleon came by their attributes over a period of time utterly by chance and random experimentation among breeders.

    Again it wasn’t by chance, it was by natural selection, if you can’t even grasp this simplest of concepts, how can we expect you to believe or understand the more complicated parts of the process.
    Dear knows how you’d react to the Burges Shale.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    This stuff is better left to the pro’s, like Dawkins and Darwin etc…who have spent a lifetime studying it. Kinda getting a bit like a pub conversation now with everyone giving their 2 cents worth about evolution.
    Still better off discussing this than nonsense like transubstantiation, infallibility of a certain bloke, divine rights of others and the omnipotence of something that is just unknown and contrived to all.

    Poots is entitled to believe in what he wants, but let him keep his religious views to himself and not impose them via his ministerial role on the general community. Not that he does BTW!
    As we know Bush would have to be the prime example of such a born again religious zealot in the west, and maybe Blair too.

  • Harry Flashman

    Boys, boys, I know there’s nothing more aggravating than having the – and I quote my original post – “Grand Canyon sized holes” in your precious theory pointed out to you but you will have to try a lot harder if you want to convince us that you have it all sewn up, 100%, cast iron guaranteed.

    I’ve no problem accepting how life forms can develop over time but not one single Dawkinista has been able to give me an adequate explanation for the origin of life itself that isn’t as far fetched as the creationist loonies or the Young Earthers.

    You really can’t have it both ways you know, if you insist that your theory and your theory alone is the only one that can be taught in our schools well you’ll have to try a lot harder than you’re doing so far, because a twelve year old could shoot holes in your thesis and if you believe that you hold the one true, sacred knowledge, you better have something more coherent than your “well ifs, maybes, it could have beens, and perhaps’s” that you’ve come up with so far.

    Your choice lads, you claim to know it all, well you haven’t made much of a fist of it so far and we’re already into nearly a hundred and fifty responses.

  • kensei

    “Boys, boys, I know there’s nothing more aggravating than having the – and I quote my original post – “Grand Canyon sized holes” in your precious theory pointed out to you but you will have to try a lot harder if you want to convince us that you have it all sewn up, 100%, cast iron guaranteed.”

    No scientist will ever claim it’s 100% guaranteed. A better theory may come along and be adopted because it has better proof. Newtonian physics held sway for a long time, but it was eventually proven to be an incomplete understanding, and wrong in some ways.

    Evolutionary theory is testable and allows predictions to made. It has applications in a number of areas, not least medical science.

    Creationism / Intelligent design is inherently untestable. There is no way to disprove it. It has no applications. Ergo, it isn’t science. And it has no place in a science class.

    Also, as you demonstrably don’t understand even the basics of evolutionary theory, natural selection or the scientific method, you are hardly in a position to complain about “holes”.

  • nuttal

    Gréagóir O’ Frainclín,

    Of course Poots is entitled to his views. As are we entitled to ridicule him for holding them.

    If i were in public office, or anywhere, and I were to believe in something that flies in the face of rational thought, I would expect to be ridiculed.

    Take a look at the Glenn Hoddle affair. He was expressing his beliefs, yet he was hounded out of his job with the likes of Blair and Banks using their influence. So apparently these people, and others, feel it is fine to be publicly criticized for holding “crazy” beliefs.

    Those who cling to rational thought should mock the flat earthers, young earthers, creationists, I.D.’ers and all their ilk.

    If i believed that there were a troop of pixies living down the bottom of my bottom I would expect to be mocked. And even if lots of other people believed the pixies were real too, it wouldn’t make it any less ridiculous.

    Is it ad hominem to mock them? Maybe, but when someone who can so cling so fiercely onto ridiculous beliefs in one facet of their lives, it shows that they have a certain weakness of mind; which for me at least, makes taking them seriously very, very difficult.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    True, I agree….and if the good lord wants us to worship and honour him and show how awe inspired we all are about how great he is for making us all and everything around us, then it’s about time he turned up showed his fucking face. Which I somehow think will never happen.

    Until then, he’s classfied with Santa as ‘no such thing.’

  • nuttal

    Harry,

    come on then. Tell us what your pet theory is?

    It’s not creationism?
    It’s not evoultion?

    Is it aliens?
    Is it intelligent design?

    If it is ID, where in the chain does the input come in?

    Were there organisms between those with no-eyes and those with “normal” eyes that had non-functional eye organs? Was there a chain of life going back to the first seeds where organs were added in along the way to be of use further down the line?

    Or did the “creator” just plonk enough squirrels on the planet to create a fully sustainable population of squirrels?

    Please don’t leave us in mystery any more!!
    Tell us what the real answer is.

    I’m fed up with you blowing “GRAND CANYON SIZED HOLES” into other theories.

    Oh, and by the way, where were the holes? You can’t really get away with asking a question, having it answered, and then ignoring the answer. IE

    “Or to put it another way;

    “Frankly we haven’t got a clue, so we’ll just make some stuff up to keep the God botherers off our backs”.

    As I suspected.”

  • nuttal

    On the teaching of “alternative” theories. I firmly believe that if the teachers were properly trained this could be a good thing. The teachers could explain how

    a) life developed on earth through a continuous process of mutation and survival.

    or

    b) the whole world started 6000 years ago, geologists have it wrong. So do biologists. And astronomers.

    or

    c) some mysterious (and highly improbable) force designed all of creation. Dropping animals and plants onto the planet at specific times in the development of the planet.

    or

    d) some mysterious (and highly improbable) force designed all of creation, guiding evolution through stages where the animals had organs that weren’t fully functional. Safe in the knowledge that the retina, the brain, the nervous system would all one day hook up.

    and lets not forget the

    e) the navaho creation myth

    and maybe even a bit of theology from

    f) the pastafarians

    The children could then be allowed to partake in a classroom discussion, discussing the pro’s/con’s and likelihoods of each of the theories.

    The children could then be asked which of these they think is true. Ample time should then be set aside for the mocking and public ridicule of the “slow learners”.

    Children aren’t as thick as you think. I think I was about 7 when I realised that my sunday-school teacher and the bible were full of shit when they told me that the world was created in 6 days. (I was told to be quiet when asking about when the dinosaurs fitted into the whole story.)

  • Harry Flashman

    Nuttal, kensei et al.

    I don’t have to come up with a theory because I am not the one insisting that my beliefs are the one true faith.

    Unlike the evolutionists it is not I who arrogantly insists that no other truth but my truth be taught in our schools, it is not I who insists that no one else other than me and my fellow believers can be allowed to teach our theory. I am not the one who asserts the infallibility claimed by the Grand Church of Evolutionary Theory.

    I am merely a humble sceptic who from my lowly position of unworthy dolt asks the Grand High Inquisitors of the One True Unquestionable Theory whether they’re absolutely certain they’ve got everything worked out 100% in their heads.

    Judging by the outraged response to my shameless heresy from the Evolutionist true believers in this thread I’m guessing that I’ve hit a raw nerve and that my scepticism might have some basis in fact.

  • nuttal

    Harry,

    close, but too late. Please read my 11:37 posting.

  • nuttal

    Harry,

    I commend you for your scepticism. I actually think it is one of the most important things that children can be taught.

    They should be taught to be especially sceptical of theories with no evidence but for an ancient text and heresay.

  • kensei

    “I don’t have to come up with a theory because I am not the one insisting that my beliefs are the one true faith.”

    I am not asking for a theory. I am asking you have basic understanding fo some of the things you are discussing.

    “Unlike the evolutionists it is not I who arrogantly insists that no other truth but my truth be taught in our schools, it is not I who insists that no one else other than me and my fellow believers can be allowed to teach our theory. I am not the one who asserts the infallibility claimed by the Grand Church of Evolutionary Theory.”

    I am happy for any alternative scientific theory to be taught at school, as long as it is made clear where the weight of theory comes down and why. ID, however, is not science. It does not follow the Scientific Method. It can predict nothing, and cannot be disproved. It has no applications. SO that ne is not actually an alternative theory in any scientific sense.

    “I am merely a humble sceptic who from my lowly position of unworthy dolt asks the Grand High Inquisitors of the One True Unquestionable Theory whether they’re absolutely certain they’ve got everything worked out 100% in their heads.”

    First mistake. No scientist will ever claim 100%. They go with the weight of evidence.

    “Judging by the outraged response to my shameless heresy from the Evolutionist true believers in this thread I’m guessing that I’ve hit a raw nerve and that my scepticism might have some basis in fact. ”

    No, what has hit a raw nerve is that you repeat, mindlessly, crappy psuedo science you’ve heard elsewhere. It’s wrong. Ignoring explanations and the like is also bloody annoying.

    When you actually understand (i) the scientific method (ii) natural selection (iii) basic evolutionary theory, maybe we can have a debate. Until then you are just noise.

  • nmc

    The point is not having everything worked out 100% in our heads – a theory is between a hypothesis and a fact. The point is that one theory is a scientific theory, and as such has a place in the science class. The other theory that so many of us are rabidly opposed to, involves taking a book written by men, and building a theory backwards to fit the book.

    Kind of like myself creating a software test, only doing the test first, then creating the plan to fit the result. Not very effective because I can never find any errors this way.

    There are millions of theorum out there, some scientific, plenty completely crazy. If we start treating theorum with equality (that is the suggestions by the IDers – your theory gets taught in science class then so should ours) then the kids are goping to have to learn a lot of useless, plain wrong, unscientific theorum in a science class.

  • barneyben

    How long must we wait for the evoultion of feathered people? Surely the ability to fly would be in all our interests? If the Designer was so clever he’d have thought of that.

  • willis

    “Judging by the outraged response to my shameless heresy from the Evolutionist true believers in this thread I’m guessing that I’ve hit a raw nerve and that my scepticism might have some basis in fact.”

    I’m sure there is a name for this rhetorical trick.

    Perhaps the problem lies with the Rev Dawkins. Being particularly belligerent towards doubters can sell a lot of books and raise your profile to the heavens.

    I’m sure the Doc could give him some tips on rejoining the mainstream.

  • Harry Flashman

    I enjoy these evolution threads they almost always run true to form.

    First of all some troglodyte of a Free P minister is quoted in a news story, then we have a page and a half of smug self congratulation at how enlightened we all are compared to those mouth breathing disbelievers of evolution, then a little voice perks up:- “er, are you lot sure you’ve got your theory exactly right?”

    There then follows another page and a half of howling condemnation of the idea that anyone could possibly question one single iota of the Theory of Evolution. Abuse and straw men arguments are hurled (I’m not a creationist nor an ID believer) at the heretic, then by about page 5 or 6 people like kensei and nmc above come on and admit that well, actually the original questioner was in fact correct and that despite the howls of outrage the Theory of Evolution does have an awful lot of freaking big gaps in the middle of it.

    It never changes.

    Nuttal

    Re your point to me @ 11.13, I did not ignore the answer, because I did not receive an answer I got a half baked theory. “Horizontal gene transfer, friend (e.g. plasmids or via viruses)” is not an answer it’s a suggestion, the clue is in the word “or”, a small word with a huge meaning in this context, it means the person doesn’t actually know, it could be one thing OR it could be a very different thing, or indeed as he goes on in his following sentence it could be something (mutation), entirely different indeed. Like I said;

    “Frankly we haven’t got a clue”.

    (I’ll pass over the thumping big question of where the plasmids and viruses are supposed to have evolved from).

    Kensei

    *When you actually understand (i) the scientific method (ii) natural selection (iii) basic evolutionary theory, maybe we can have a debate. Until then you are just noise.*

    Must you know the entire history of the Tory party and their manifesto before you can question their theories, can only those who have studied the Koran comment on Islam, are only people who have read Marx and Engels in the original fit to sit in judgement on Communism, is an Irish Republican who has not studied Bagehot and Burke precluded from discussing the failings of the British Constitutional system?

    Once more your insulting dismissal tells me all I need to know about the deep insecurity of the Evolutionist mindset.

  • nuttal

    Harry,

    Quick question. If you only answer one of my questions please answer this one. Are you comfortable with the teaching of the Navaho creation Myth and the Pastafarian creation story as possible creation theories here in our schools?

  • delta omega

    I am amazed every time this type of thread comes up on slugger. Both sides get entrenched in their opposing views and hurl insults across the battlelines. Personally I am both a scientist and a christian and do not have any issues being both. Creationism and evolution are not mutually exclusive principles. The theeory of evolution falls down right at the start – science is currently investiating what happened in the initial fento and pico seconds after the big bang, but they still not been able to come up with a realistic explanation of the origin of infinitely dense ball of matter which exploded out to create all around us. As to geologists, biologists and astronomers “getting it wrong” all arguments can be explained from a christian perspective. For example in relation to astronomy, a christian who believes in a God that can creat the universe will also believe that the same God could create the light emanating from the star already on route to a point where we can see it. From the other side there is evidence that species change continually depending on their environment and the fitest most often survive. Prehaps God designed it to be that way?

  • delta omega

    Ooops forgot to say that the creationist side can’t be proven either – that’s down to belief. Personally I believe that everything was created as a functional system already in motion and so called natural selection has occurred ever since.

  • Harry Flashman

    Nuttal, I have no idea what those things are to which you refer and they are probably entirely irrelevant to my original simple assertion which is that the Theory of Evolution is not the absolute, be all and end all of any discussion of the origin of life on this planet and in fact despite the hysterical assertions of evolutionists to the contrary their theory, which they assert is infallible, is in fact riddled with more holes than a Swiss cheese on a machine gun firing range.

    The shrill, angry denunciations of my simple point make me more and more convinced that I am on to something.

  • nuttal

    Personally I am both a scientist and a Pastafarian and do not have any issues being both. Pastafarianism and evolution are not mutually exclusive principles.

    etc etc etc

    It’s when people propose that we teach the theory and one belief side by side that gets me.

    Why should your religion get precedence over mine in the classrooms?

  • Shawn

    Nuttal
    May his noodly apendage spread his benevolance to you

    Ramen

  • kensei

    “Must you know the entire history of the Tory party and their manifesto before you can question their theories, can only those who have studied the Koran comment on Islam, are only people who have read Marx and Engels in the original fit to sit in judgement on Communism, is an Irish Republican who has not studied Bagehot and Burke precluded from discussing the failings of the British Constitutional system?

    Once more your insulting dismissal tells me all I need to know about the deep insecurity of the Evolutionist mindset. ”

    I would say if you want to criticise the British Constitutional system, you would need at least a basic understanding of what that system is. I am not asking for a staggering level of detail, merely a basic understanding. Because otherwise the debate is pointless because you’ll come off with things that are flat out wrong, you’ll argue for “theories” that have nothing to do with science, and you’ll be unable to accept answers because you don’t understand them. Like you have done.

    Science requires some technical understanding. Sorry.

  • nuttal

    Harry,

    Do you even have a point here? What is it do you think should be taught in schools?

    At present evolution is THE best theory available.

    As such, this is the theory that should be taught as the dominant theory in the field. As I said before pupils should be taught to be sceptical.

    All decent scientists are open to the possibility that the theories that they believe are wrong, but so far I have neither seen nor heard of any theory trumping evolutionary development.

    Whereas one of your “Swiss Holes” is that you just can’t understand where squirrels come from. Or the eye.

    I suggest if you really cared about how the squirrel “hole” or eye “hole” really blow apart the theory of evolution, you would take the time and consideration to read up some theories as to how evolutionary theory addresses these “problems” instead of posing here with your shrill (apparently one of your favourite words) denunciations of a so-far well backed up theory.

    My guess is that you’ve been reading too many of the charlatan McGraths books. He too is very fond of using the adjective shrill when discussing his objects of fixation.

  • nuttal

    Typo: object of fixation

  • willis

    Delta Omega

    Like your approach however I’m not sure about the scientist bit. I presume you believe in pre-aged rocks and fossils.

    You do accept or indeed believe in natural selection as it has happened in recorded time and under lab conditions. Is it not reasonable for scientists to construct a theory which reads this Natural Selection back into time?

  • Harry Flashman

    Ho hum nuttal once again you quote something with which I’ve not the slightest acquaintance, who is this McGrath and what relevance does he have to your admitting that Evolution is not in fact the cast iron theory that its proponents claim it to be?

    You are belatedly coming around to accepting my original assertion that for all your anger and righteous indignation Evolution is very far from the perfect solution claimed for it by its die hard adherents, I salute you on your move away from such fundamentalism. You claim that

    *All decent scientists are open to the possibility that the theories that they believe are wrong,*

    Really? Nuttal let me introduce to you Professor Richard Dawkins, he’s a fine chap but for heaven’s sake don’t mention that there’s any room for doubt that his theory might be wrong.

    Anyway I’m glad we eventually came to agreement that the Theory of Evolution is not the perfect answer it’s usually cracked up to be, I find when you talk to Evolutionary fundamentalists quietly and rationally they can usually be relied upon to admit their secret doubts.

    It’s a brave first step, you have my best wishes.

  • nuttal

    Harry,

    i suppose I’ll say it again, and try and spell it out a bit more simply.

    I’m all for teaching any alternative scientific theories that can explain life on earth.

    But, if we are to explain a belief based theory, why on earth should Christianities theories get precedence. They are no more nor no less valid than those put forward by the Pastafarians or Navaho indians.

    And how on earth can you get involved in a creationism – evolutionist debate without being aware of the Pastafarian movement, their origins and their beliefs???!!!! You are showing yourself to be willfully ignorant.

  • delta omega

    Willis

    Even the great Douglas Adams had Slartibartfast burying pre aged fossils as part of the computer to determine the question of life, universe and everything to which the answer is 42.

  • nuttal

    Harry,

    if you dont know who he is; don’t be so fucking lazy, go and look him up. (here’s he hint,;he’s a christian apologist who has piggy-backed himself on Dawkins’ success, and styles himself as Christianities answer to Dawkins). Likewise, go and look up some evolution theory.

    From my recollections, Dawkins has always been candid about the possibility that evolution may be wrong, and that if someone could put a better model up in front of him, then he would be a believer.

    And again, on religion, as far as I remember, he has stated that if some proof could be found, some sort of evidence. Maybe even an appearance by the big man, or some sort of intervention, then he would have no problem believing.

  • Harry Flashman

    *…evolutionist debate without being aware of the Pastafarian movement, their origins and their beliefs???!!!!*

    Oh dear, multiple use of exclamation and question marks, I see you’re suffering a relapse, ease the blood pressure old son, try calm rational debate, I know it’s hard when you’ve been subjected to cult like brainwashing by the Evolutionists, but I’m here to help, let me explain gently for the umpteenth time, I’m not a creationist, honestly I really am not, I’m here to help, I’m your friend, all I ask is that you accept the possibility of doubt, that’s all, just accept doubt, your theory might not be Holy Writ after all, it might not be sacrosanct, there could even be some flaws in the belief system you hold so dear.

    Try scepticism, try free thinking Nuttal, it will help, you’ll be able to see the world from a whole new perspective without the dreadful bogeymen of Pastafarians or Navaho indians always lurking over your shoulder waiting to thrust you into the deepest pits of damnation to be prodded with big hot spikes by the dreadful charlatan McGrath.

    Repeat after me, I am Nuttal, I have my own brain, I can think for myself, I will not be indoctrinated.

    See, it’s working already.

  • nmc

    A point I’d like to repeat; dictionary definition of Theory:

    a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.

    that Evolution is not in fact the cast iron theory that its proponents claim it to be?

    The term “cast Iron theory” is an oxymoron. It is the accepted scientific theory for explaining how we came to be here. As such it should be taught in a science class. ID is the religious nutcases version of how we came to be here and as such should be taught in RE.

    For an idea of how the worlds scientists view ID check out project Steve:

    http://www.natcenscied.org/resources/articles/3541_project_steve_2_16_2003.asp

    This illustrates the low regard the world’s scientific community hold ID in.

  • delta omega

    Willis

    Re the science part about extrapolating theories back in time. It only works based on assumptions that the same conditions on which the theory is based are comparable throughout the extrapolation, or that changes in conditions are known. That is why I have issues with radiocarbon dating – just because C14 is decaying at a specific rate today does not indicate that this was always the case. Could a significant change in atmospheric conditions lead to a change in decay rates? If the rate changed at some point the the calculations are all off. Such an atmospheric altering change could have occurred at the time of the biblical flood, before which the earth was surrounded by a protective layer of water vapour, which was significantly reduced after the event. Just a theory. Just like evolution.

    The difference is that I am open to evaluating other options, but can keep my beliefs and scientific explanations compatible ubtil proven otherwise. At the end of the day if christians are wrong and there is no afterlife then what have they lost? If however the christian viewpoint is right then the non chrisians will experience a supernatural selection which will lead to the extinction of the “species”.

  • delta omega

    Nuttal – evidence …. such as the appearance of the big man.

    Didn’t that happen 2000 years ago.

    They didn’t believe him then – why do you think the “big man” coming again will make him believe.

    If the Christian viewpoint is correct when the big man comes again then everyone will believe.

  • nuttal

    Harry,

    was there a need to descend into rapid condescension?

    My major problem with your arguments is that someone who has repeatedly shown themselves to be devoid of any knowledge (apparently whatsoever) of the theory of evolution can claim to have blown such big holes into an elegant and robust scientific theory.

    It’s like a chimpanzee claiming to have blown holes in string theory.

  • nuttal

    Delta Omega,

    according to a very old book it did.

    My problem with that is that Christians are relying on the words, honesty, memory and translation of a small number of people 1900 years ago to direct their lives and beliefs

  • http://sammymorse.blogspot.com Sammy Morse

    he hint,;he’s a christian apologist who has piggy-backed himself on Dawkins’ success, and styles himself as Christianities answer to Dawkins

    Alister McGrath is the classic example of the Christian scientist (a type of person who a lot of people here doesn’t seem to think exists); his attraction to certainty and precision, he finds in science, or at least the bits he has been involved with, and also in a particular form of precise, formulated, religion. To be fair, his more recent work is better than his early sub-CU twaddle. He’s also from Belfast.

    Both he and Dawkins are flip sides of the same coin; they seek certainty in a universe that provides little of it. When one gets back to the really big questions, like, “how did the universe begin, and why?”, neither religion nor science are actually much use. If we accept the Big Bang is by far the best evidenced current scientific theory on the beginning of the unvierse (which I do), there remains the problem not only of our sketchy and purely theoretical understanding of the first fraction of a second of the universe’s existence, but what happened at zero seconds itself and what came before (if the question is meaningful at all). How did that initial element of matter get there in the first place and why did the Big Bang happen?

    When it comes to that, my belief in God (or imaginary friend in the sky, if you prefer to sneer), is as credible as believing that it all just sort of happened or that the Flying Spaghetti Monster did it.

    Of course this doesn’t affect how biology is taught in schools (just teach the science) but the universe isn’t as cut and dried and well understood as the Dawkinsites make out it is; and I haven’t even started talking about quantum theory yet. (Read Quantum Theology by Diarmuid O Murchu, great book, along with anything by John Polkinghorne.

  • Harry Flashman

    *was there a need to descend into rapid condescension?*

    I always dislike the sight of smug, self-righteous group thinkers clapping themselves on the back as they join in a lynch mob against people who happen not to share their currently received wisdom.

    The initial sneering responses to Edwin Poots’ presumably genuinely held beliefs is at the root of my initial desire to prick the pompous bubble of all those who just happen to “know” for certain the facts regarding the origin of life on this earth.

    I wanted to challenge the absolutism of a theory which, whilst superficially plausible, at root was no more proveable than Poots’ belief that God did it all in six days. I don’t believe Poots has got the answer but I think it only fair to point out that the militant Dawkinistas haven’t exactly come up with anything remotely approaching the certainty that they routinely espouse.

    When I point out that the Emperor may not be naked but he sure as hell ain’t dressed in a Brooks Brothers’ three piece suit I am insulted, condescended to, abused and sneered at, you’ll forgive me if I didn’t resist the temptation to hand a little bit of it back to you.

    You like the Theory of Evolution, good for you, as it goes it’s not bad but it’s a little bit too trite and simplistic for my tastes. All I ask is a little humility from you and an acceptance that your pet theory is far from perfect and the fact that I have gone through my life blissfully unaware of the Pastifarians, the Navajo creation theory or the charlatan McGrath does not preclude me from having an opinion on how I see the world around me.

    You want civil debate, so do I, but it wasn’t me who started the insults on this thread.

  • http://sammymorse.blogspot.com Sammy Morse

    Such an atmospheric altering change could have occurred at the time of the biblical flood, before which the earth was surrounded by a protective layer of water vapour, which was significantly reduced after the event. Just a theory.

    What is your evidence for this protective layer of water vapour.

    There is evidence for evolution.

    I know of no evidence for your assertion that a protective layer of water vapour disappeared about the time of Noah’s flood according to a conventional creationist timeline – say about 4000 years ago.

    Big difference, dude.

  • Ulster’s my homeland

    http://www.bible.ca/tracks/tracks-petrified-tree-th.jpg

    Why can’t scientists give a credible thoery for the fossilised trees [like in the picture above] which are standing upright and passing through “millions of years” worth of strata?

  • nuttal

    Harry,

    If you can blow even one small hole in evolution theory I would be seriously impressed.

    According to the Harry Theory, the human eye can’t possibly have evolved. Apparently this blows the evolutionary model out of the water. Sure, why don’t you write an email or even a letter to Nilssen and tell him his theory and model for optic evolution is poppycock.

    You have not explained in any instance how the evolutionary model falls apart. You have only maintained that, in your opinion, bat’s radar and the eye are too complex to evolve. You haven’t even attempted to back your opinion with 1 single fact.

  • Shawn

    UMH
    they have, the trees were burrien in an upright position and were burried and fossilized in that state

  • TAFKABO

    The scale of ignorance on display here is frightening. It’s not as if it’s difficult to read up the very basic of evolutionary theory, and yet time and time again we get comments about things appearing randomly and demands as to why some things haven’t disappeared.

    Shit, even the terminology is alien to the; then don’t even understand what a theory is, in scientific terms.

    Let me reiterate.

    A theory ought to be supported by the existing evidence.

    It ought to be able to stand up to new evidence produced.

    It ought to be able to accurately predict what other evidence one is likely to find.

    These is the commonly accepted tests for a theory in science.

    And that’s why, after having examined the available evidence I am convinced that humans evolved.
    It also after examining the complete absence of evidence that I’m convinced their is no case for intelligent design.
    Though having said that, one must keep an open mind, I’d be willing to look at any evidence anyone wanted to put forward. However, until that happens, there is no more reason to believe in intelligent design than to believe in Astrology.

    But harken to this.

    I’ll throw you biblical creationists a bone.

    Were you to demonstrate to me that any holy text clearly and unambiguously showed evidence of, or talked about the Fibonacci sequence, or the Golden Ratio, found throughout nature, or something along those lines, I’d have to say you might be onto something.

  • Sam Hanna

    “It’s not as if it’s difficult to read up the very basic of evolutionary theory, and yet time and time again we get comments about things appearing randomly and demands as to why some things haven’t disappeared.”

    I thought that was what the Big Bang was – are you claiming that there was a purpose behind it and the evolutionary process that you believe in had a purpose.

    It is also interesting in all of this that the speakers like Matthew Parris, who has his sodomite agenda to protect, calls any Creationist a “nutter.” As someone who has been educated in the USA and the UK, why is it that America is a much more scientifically and economically advanced country than UK yet is much more Pro-Creation?

  • kensei

    “I thought that was what the Big Bang was – are you claiming that there was a purpose behind it and the evolutionary process that you believe in had a purpose.”

    We’re talking about evolution, which is an entirely different kettle of fish. Evolution does not require the Big Bang to be a valid theory. It merely requires the universe to be old enough for evolution to have occurred.

    “It is also interesting in all of this that the speakers like Matthew Parris, who has his sodomite agenda to protect, calls any Creationist a “nutter.””

    Damn those crazy sodomites! They just jump at you, and have sex in the ass. Another life ruined, those crazy bastards.

    “As someone who has been educated in the USA and the UK, why is it that America is a much more scientifically and economically advanced country than UK yet is much more Pro-Creation?”

    That’d be one of those them there “non sequiturs”.

  • TAFKABO

    I thought that was what the Big Bang was – are you claiming that there was a purpose behind it and the evolutionary process that you believe in had a purpose.

    A common mistake, amongst many common mistakes made by you and others is in trying to apply evolutionary theory to theories about the very origins of the Universe. they’re not the same field of science, I was talking about Evolution and the misconception that things randomly appear.

    Evolution has a clear purpose, if you want to use that term, that purpose is the propagation of life.
    As for the rest of that bigoted homophobic shite, save it for other blinkered idiots such as yourself.

  • TAFKABO

    Kensei beat me to it.

  • Turgon

    Sam Hanna,
    I think you comment of the Big Bang being random is actually extremely perseptive. Science his fairly good at answering the question How? Evolution is an attempt to answer the question How did x y and z happen.

    What science is less good at is answering the question Why? In this case Why did the big bang happen.

    Delta Omega,
    I am no philosopher but I have a similar analysis of religion to your post ” At the end of the day if christians are wrong and there is no afterlife then what have they lost? If however the christian viewpoint is right then the non chrisians will experience a supernatural selection which will lead to the extinction of the “species”.”

    It is I am told an example of Pascal’s Wager

  • Siphonophore

    “Professor Shaun Collin, from UQ’s School of Biomedical Sciences, together with colleagues from the Australian National University and the University of Pennsylvania, have identified animals that have eyes that bridge the evolutionary link between those designed to simply differentiate light from dark to those that possess a camera-like eye.” Citation.

  • The Spectator

    Turgon

    The difficulty of Pascal’s wager is it doesn’t describe reality.

    Pascal basically suggested if you wager your life on the existance of God, and lose, you lose nothing, because if there is no God, there’s no afterlife anyway. So reason dictates that we strive for faith as the only hope of a profitable outcome.

    in short –
    I believe, and i’m right – Paradise
    I believe, and i’m wrong – Nada
    I don’t believe and I’m right – Nada
    I don’t beleive and I’m wrong – Damnation

    So since the best result of the non-faith option is only equal to the worst result of the faith option, reason dictates faith, with at best paradise and at worst, nothing, is the way to go.

    But you clearly do lose something. if you wager your life on God, you lose the freedom to partake of a range of activites that might lead to profit, or pleasure, or both, in this life, because we are told that such a curtailment is the price of the wager – frankly that’s a pretty high price to pay.

    in short –
    I believe, and i’m right – Curtailed life, followed by Paradise
    I believe, and i’m wrong – curtailed life, followed by Nada
    I don’t believe and I’m right – ‘full’ life, followed by Nada
    I don’t believe and I’m wrong – ‘full’ life, followed by Damnation

    A rather more even-handed wager

    and that doesn’t even include wagering you’re life on God, being right, but having picked the wrong God, or picked Him the ‘wrong’ way – then faith leads to the risk of a ‘curtailed’ life AND Damnation!

    Pascal was a fine mathematician, and a fine divine, but i always found this particular soundbite a little too trite.

  • TAFKABO

    I find it instructive that anyone would so willingly forgo believing what is true for some jiggery pokery insurance claim.
    Herman Melville’s wonderful short story the Lightning Rod Salesman deals with this notion of hedging one’s bets.

    Science is, at it’s very core, the pursuit of the truth for truth’s sake, no more, no less.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Two nations:

    The decline in red squirrel pop. is to do with natural selection and NOT macroevolution. Macroevolution is a more far-reaching concept.

    Try and keep up.

    Try and keep up yourself. I was responding specifically to a point made by Harry about natural selection. If you’re going to be a smarmy git correcting people, at least try to do some rudimentary research on the thread.

    Harry, replying a little late here, but better late than never :

    CS, who is my designer of whom you speak? I don’t recall mentioning such an entity, indeed I specifically said that I hold no brief for intelligent design.

    I was responding to something you said about things being designed, but I see you have responded to that point already. I’d go on to say there’s loads of evidence that things are not well designed. The talk origins FAQ lists several deficiencies in human design, the best known one being the presence of the appendix.

    I merely pointed out in my original post that the Theory of Evolution is not the cast iron, 100% proven explanation of the origin of life that its proponents often proclaim. Thank you for conceding that my initial point is indeed correct and that the shrill denunciations of evolutionists against anyone who points out the flaws in their argument masks a profound insecurity about the soundness of their precious theory.

    I think you may be labouring under a small misapprehension. I will happily stand corrected, but during the several threads on creation/evolution/etc on Slugger over the past few weeks, I have never seen any of those defending evolution resort to shrill denunciations of those who point out that evolution has flaws. All science has flaws, the whole thing is one big wheel of continuous improvement.

    What I do find understandable on the other hand is the frustration that people will feel when trying to argue science with people who clearly do not understand it and who are parroting – not very well – what they’ve read in books given to them by their church or some other religious figure. I find nothing more frustrating than someone who has dismissed an idea completely out of hand that they haven’t even taken the time to try to comprehend. I don’t think you should confuse denunciations of flat-earth idiots with a rejection of criticism of current scientific theories of origin.

    I think it is entirely appropriate, indeed very necessary, that science class should teach that science is a work in progress, and that existing theories have holes which do not explain everything. Science is a constant process of working to close the holes. Scepticism is a force for good in society, I’d love to see it being taught in schools. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be allowed, as if people were taught to question everything, religion would be immediately thrown out.

    Nuttal, both you and CS explain how species die off, a point that I referred to in changing environments however that doesn’t explain how we came by the red squirrels or dodos in the first place.

    I’m not qualified to do that, but I’d argue that it is reasonable to believe that if natural selection and evolution of species can be observed today, then it must have happened in the past. That, of course, does not constitute proof that it did.

    The fact that I don’t know the answer to your question doesn’t invalidate evolutionary theory or natural selection. The only way you can do that is provide a better, alternative explanation. “God did it”, of course, doesn’t fit the bill.

    Regarding the points made by several people, “how does an eye just evolve out of nowhere, it must be designed”. Don’t forget that we do not consist of parts that are manufactured and then assembled at the end. We all started out life one day as a single cell. The process of how a cell becomes a baby, and then an adult, within a short period of time is nothing short of incredible. But it’s all nature at work. The human brain is an even more incredible thing than the eye is. The operation of the eye is at least basically understood.

    I don’t have to come up with a theory because I am not the one insisting that my beliefs are the one true faith.

    Nobody is insisting this. But yes, if you criticise a theory then yes, the onus is on you to come up with a better one. Of course, you can exercise your right not to, but that means that your criticisms are baseless.

    Dubliner:

    The odds of this process occurring by chance – outside the process of natural selection (since the amazing feat of discovery and engineering had not been designed and ergo not testable by the environment) is akin to the proverbial monkeys at a row typewriters randomly typing the complete works of Shakespeare.

    Evolution is not a lottery and it does not occur through completely random phenomena.

  • Comrade Stalin

    [hmm, a diversion]

    nmc:

    Kind of like myself creating a software test, only doing the test first, then creating the plan to fit the result. Not very effective because I can never find any errors this way.

    But best practice software engineering does require that the test cases are written first, before the code is written. That’s because tests are supposed to be based on the requirements, not the interpretation of the requirements embodied in the code. :)

  • Turgon

    The Spectator,
    If you have seen any of my previous posts you will know that I am a poor political analyst, a poorer politician and those are my two best attributes. As such I will not try to debate philosophy with someone who seems to know a bit about it.

    The only point I would disagree with is this:

    “if you wager your life on God, you lose the freedom to partake of a range of activites that might lead to profit, or pleasure, or both, in this life, because we are told that such a curtailment is the price of the wager – frankly that’s a pretty high price to pay.”

    I will leave it to the bible to answer that one
    “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.

    In honest whatever I have lost or not had because of my religious views I count as nought as compared to what I feel I have gained in this life leaving aside the life to come.

  • The Spectator

    Turgon

    Thank you for your (very much unmerited) praise. I can say with some certainty that you have been the most engaging and honest ‘god-botherer’ I’ve had the privilege to commune with in many a long while;-) And in respecting the believer, I find it much easier to respect the belief. A win-win.

    AS for your experience of ‘the wager’, All I can say is I’m happy for you, I hope for your sake the wager is successful, and that if not, I’m comforted that your gamble itself proved so fulfilling.

    For myself, I’m a theist-leaning agnostic. I acknowledge that I cannot know, but that’s as far as I can go.

    I always rather liked the Neitschian inspired idea that God was fundamantally unity, the infinate as one, and the one as infinate, that we are all, in some way, God, and that the Big Bang, if it occured, was The Fall, when disunity came about, and we ceased to be God as we became both finite and plural. Thus the Big Crunch is the afterlife, the reunion with God, as God.

    I don’t believe it, mind, but I like it as a bit of psuedoscience.

    For myself, I am always inspired by the close link between much of what is held to be ‘good’ and what tends to advance the species over the individual. As if nature itself encourages altruism.

  • kensei

    “But best practice software engineering does require that the test cases are written first, before the code is written. That’s because tests are supposed to be based on the requirements, not the interpretation of the requirements embodied in the code. :)”

    What he said was if he found out the result and worked backwards it wouldn’t be a good test and it would never find any errors. Entirely true.

  • Harry Flashman

    *I think it is entirely appropriate, indeed very necessary, that science class should teach that science is a work in progress, and that existing theories have holes which do not explain everything.*

    *Scepticism is a force for good in society*

    Thank you CS, an acknowledgement of that, and a little bit of civility, was all I asked for.

  • TAFKABO

    Harry.

    If you want civility, it might be best not to tell people they’ve been saying something they haven’t, or that they hold to opinions they’ve never expressed.
    Furthermore, when you make claims about something having a gaping hole the size of the grand canyon, it would be instructive if you elaborated upon that and allowed others to see if your claim had any actual merit.

  • The Dubliner

    [i]“Sorry, Dub, who said the original organism would become extinct? The advantage, surely, merely needs to be an advantage enough to ensure the continuance of the mutation, not so large as to swamp the original?” – The Spectator [/i]

    Again, you haven’t shown how the mutation conveys any advantage. At the risk of repetition:

    “Well, I’m still waiting for them to show how a randomly mutated light-sensitive pigment on skin could have given the holder of that gene a survival advantage so great that all non-holders of the gene became extinct and that all modifications to it were equally great to ensure the same fate for all non-modified gene holders, and so on despite modifications being so far from great that the process would take half a million years to fully ‘evolve’ as an eye, and given that said initial mutated light-sensitive pigment (evolutionists attempt to explain the origin of the eye) wouldn’t be any use without a processor to attach meaning to the data – a raft of other ‘mutations’ that it is dependent on yet initially independent of. If the selector is natural selection (a form of design by non-design), then that pigment would have been discarded by that process as being about as advantageous as a pimple. They are left arguing that it must be the process because it is theoretically possible and they can’t admit any other theory or fundamental doubt into their thinking – with no regard to probability or practicality.”

    It is very easy to argue that vision conveys an advantage. But it is an absurdity to argue that there is any advantage in the initial stages of a process that evolutionists admit would take half a million years to evolve as an eye. In short: there is an obvious advantage after half a million years, but none before. Unless you can address what the advantage of a light-sensitive pigment on skin is, then that is one of the holes in the theory. After all, natural selection holds that if the mutation is beneficial then it is probable that the offspring will do better than offspring sans the gene and thereby reproduce more. Ergo, you must show how a randomly mutated pigment could be beneficial, not merely take a wild guess at it as is you unscientific method thus far.

    [i]“Err.. the species with the light sensitive pigmentation will maybe have a slight advantage over it’s competitors. Allowing it to be slightly more successful reproductively, and therefore increasing the likelihood of the genes that cause the light sensitive cells to develop to be carried on. It’s very very basic statistics.” – nuttal[/i]

    How so? The mutation is only a light-sensitive pigment on skin. That is all it is in its initial stage, yet natural selection holds that must have been enough for the gene-holder to prosper over others. You are confusing the mutation with the gene to build and eye. We are not talking about another half a million years worth of mutations added by evolution. It has as much ability as a pimple to process the data and attach meaning to it, since those other mutations have not occurred yet. Hence:

    “Is a species that has very extra light-sensitive cells but doesn’t have the pupil, lens, the retina, the part of the brain that processes visual information, the part that associates blurs with danger, food, and so forth, really all that fitter in any environment? In reality that is such an absurd claim to make that it is tantamount to a faith that is accepted without any proof, whatsoever.”

    [i]“It’s not that hard to find this stuff out, just go to wikipedia.” – nuttal[/i]

    “I’m fed up with you blowing “GRAND CANYON SIZED HOLES” into other theories.

    Oh, and by the way, where were the holes? You can’t really get away with asking a question, having it answered, and then ignoring the answer.” – nuttal

    Oh dear. Then perhaps you should acquaint yourself with evolutionary theory. Most evolutionists agree that the theory is incomplete. The common questions being: how information is added to a genome to build progressively more complex organisms, how the first living cell could arise spontaneously, how evolution produces dramatic chances so rapidly. And, of course, the ‘hole’ about how a useless blemish on the skin could be so useful that it causes the blemished one’s genes to be passed on giving us all the power of vision. ;)

  • The Dubliner

    And just to address the text you pulled from Wiki, nuttal, are you arguing that eyespots formed by a single mutation? If you are, I suggest you properly acquaint yourself with them. If you aren’t, then you have duplicitously avoided the question for what use the initial mutation (in a long sequence) was to the organism. If it was no use, then natural selection does not explain its propogation – which, of course, is why you avoided it. ;)

  • Siphonophore

    The Dubliner,

    your questions about the evolution of the eye have been covered: Casting a genetic light on the evolution of eyes. Science. 2006 Sep 29;313(5795):1914-8 link.

    There appears to be a misconception that humans are more evolved than bacteria or viruses. This is not the case, all species are just as evolved as other species. Evolution is the rate of change of DNA over time and has nothing to do with biological complexity, the development of culture or level of adaptation to environment (ie fitness).

    Darwin made two basic observations: 1. Parents have more offspring than are required to maintain the population, 2. The population numbers of a species tend to remain static over time. If you watch nature programs you will see his survival of the fitness deduction proven by the competition for mates. Deleterious mutations are ruthlessly weeded out and the rare advantageous mutation has a selective advantage that increases its chances of being passed on to the individuals children. Add billions of years, an error rate in DNA Polymerase that generates these deleterious and advantageous mutations and you have the world you see around you.

  • The Dubliner

    “your questions about the evolution of the eye have been covered” – Siphonophore

    On the contrary. The group you link to merely postulate how an eye might evolve, but don’t address the actual challenges I mentioned above. A future historian might attempt to explain how Ireland became rich by claiming that a wealthy American donated his considerable wealth to each and every individual. That is theoretically possible, but theoretical possibility isn’t the same thing as actuality, is it? Natural selection cannot explain how the eye involved, merely spin the theory into absurdity trying to do so, because the initial mutations are useless and evolutionary theory needs them to be useful. Although the scientists you link to do sound an appropriate caveat to their own endeavour: “A major challenge now is understanding how newly discovered pathways for processing light evolved and how they collaborate with eyes to harvest information from light.” Personally, I suspect that Murray Gell-Man was on the right track at the Santa Fe Institute with Complexity Theory in moving beyond the safe world of evolutionary theory that is too rooted in classical Newtonian physics where everything behaves lawfully according to linear causality, and into the new world of non-linear dynamics, complex adaptive systems, emergent phenomena, ect. There is something else at work here in addition to natural selection and random mutation that isn’t quite so random and it a lot more selective. But as Dylan said, “Something is happening here and you don’t know what it is, do you Mr Jones?” As for the devout evolutionists on this thread… well, that’s what this is about.

  • Siphonophore

    The Dubliner,

    The question you quote is rhetorical, not a caveat, and had you read beyond the first paragraph you would have discovered the answers to your questions and your criticisms addressed. Here’s a link to the article on the Science website. If you live in Dublin I believe the ILAC centre library carries Science or you may have to contact your local University’s Science library to request an inter-library copy.

    Evolutionary theory is no stranger to non-linear dynamics, complex adaptive systems and emergent properties and if you’re comfortable in those fields you are certainly ready for the Jukes-Cantor model of DNA substitution (some good stuff on wiki) from there you can get a great understanding of the molecular mechanisms of evolution which I think will give you the knowledge to address the criticisms of evolution you have.

  • Good Grief

    Creationism undermines our ‘knowledge-based economy’
    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    The activities of the Causeway Creation Committee (CCC) are intended to undermine public confidence in science and, hence, are a serious threat in a world that requires science to address its increasing problems with respect to health, environment and quality of life.

    Evolutionary biology is a product of repeated testing and refinement. As a theory it has not been found wanting and has led to insights and benefits throughout biology. To enter serious scientific debate, creationists must demonstrate that their opinions can be phrased in terms of a refutable theory, that they are objective in proposing this theory, they can collect data to test the predictions of the theory, and that such data once collected do not confound the theory. If creationists cannot do this, creationism has no place in the science curriculum.

    CCC is extreme in its views, denying not only evolutionary biology but the entirety of the physical sciences after Gallileo. It reflects poorly on our politicians to entertain such ignorance in any area of education. Affording CCC and their like any credibility, undermines our ‘knowledge-based economy’ and makes a fool of those who boast about its excellent education system.

    Ian Montgomery, Professor of Animal Ecology, Queen’s University, Belfast

  • Donna

    At the American Catholic schools I attended in the ’70’s, evolution was taught as a matter of course. I don’t remember anybody raising a fuss about it. I was wondering if the same is true in Irish Catholic schools. Nowadays, here in the States, I find that some Catholics are jumping on the ID bandwagon. A big mistake. Characters like this Poots simply play right into the hands of fervent atheists like Dawkins. Dawkins says Darwin cancels out God.Fundamentalists accept that premise and say “In that case, I’m going with God.” And then they make fools of themselves by saying things like the earth is 4000 years old. The whole premise is false. Science cannot prove either the existence or nonexistence of God. I have a relative who is both a geology professor and a believer. He says he marvels all the time at the beauty and complexity of the world God created. At the same time, as a scientist he has to deal with empirical evidence, not what he would like to be true. As he says, a scientist can stand in a classroom and say ‘The reason X happened is unknown at this time.’ He can’t stand there and say, “And then a miracle happened.”

  • http://www.dailypundit.com David Gillies

    One bit of question-begging I haven’t seen discussed here (admittedly I’ve skimmed the lengthy comments that any mention of evolution inevitably produces) is: why on earth is there such an animal as a minister of ‘culture’? This would seem to exceed the competency of government. I will believe in Cameron’s liberal (old meaning) chops when I see a manifesto commitment to doing away with this most egregious example of governmental over-reach. When I ascend to the position of benevolent dictator of the UK, one of my first acts will be the demolition of the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sport, and the sowing of the site with salt.