Reverend scientist chopped

In the end, everything is political even science. And as politicians, scientists are often, well, very good scientists. My spirited defence was in vain. Rev Professor Michael Reiss’s remarks in favour of answering questions about creationism if asked about them in science class had been “open to misinterpretation”. This had damaged the Royal Society’s reputation. “As a result, Professor Reiss and the Royal Society have agreed that, in the best interests of the society, he will step down immediately as director of education.” And then having fired him the Royal Society went on to back the position Reiss had expressed in the first place.

“If a young person raises creationism in a science class, teachers should be in a position to explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism is not, in any way, scientific.” It added that the society “greatly appreciated the efforts of Prof Reiss..”

In the small branch of science known as rational thought, this ranks as sheer hypocrisy. If the Royal Society had said that any scientist who has any truck with even rebutting creationism in class should be censured, then they might have been justified. Harsh, an over-reaction maybe, even a restriction of speech, but justified intellectually, even though I believe it’s the wrong approach. All they have done is given status to creationists. It’s my fundamental belief that if you wish to refute a position, you should widen the public space for doing so, not narrow it to the point of confrontation. The case is strong enough on it own, force is not required. In politics, so in science or religion.

When I first picked up on this story I thought it was an interesting curio. Now I think it’s about personal injustice and intellectual panic. It shows that if we didn’t know it before, even Nobel prize winners can be prize fools. I’m glad Robert Winston agrees with me.

  • Pete Baker

    Brian

    I tend to agree. Although I seem to recall Winston’s views go further than the Society’s statement on this particular topic.

    The initial mis-reporting of Reiss’ views, not on Slugger, surely played a significant part in this story too.

    The other side of the problem is that there are teachers, some of whom Dawkins has actually encountered, who won’t argue the science/anti-science case for fear of offending pupils’ beliefs [or more likely their parents].

  • Big Maggie

    It’s my fundamental belief that if you wish to refute a position, you should widen the public space for doing so, not narrow it to the point of confrontation.

    I disagree. The creationists have no scientific position. Dawkins is correct in not engaging with them as this would lend them credence.

  • TAFKABO

    This wouldn’t have been a problem if someone had to resign as head of astronomy for suggesting that astrology be given space within the classroom.
    There’s really no difference.
    Reiss damaged the reputation of the RS, even if unintentionally, and had to resign. To his credit he has done so, it’s a shame but his position was untenable.

  • Pete Baker

    Big Maggie

    Reiss was discussing engagement in terms of ‘this is science, your beliefs are not based on scientific argument.’

    There’s nothing for science to fear from that kind of engagement with pupils in a classroom.

    TAFKABO

    That would be the mis-reporting I mentioned.

    Reiss did not advocate giving creationism “space within the classroom.”

    He was addressing the difficulties involved in teaching science to pupils whose [inherited] belief system is [inherently] anti-science.

    Brian

    I would suspect that there may well be some [organisational] politics going on the background. The Royal Society has experienced such politicking since its foundation.

  • TAFKABO

    Pete.

    How can one answer questions about creationism (or ID as they now call it) failing to meet scientific criteria without giving it space?

    Ultimately, whether he intended it or not, he gave succour to those creationists who want their mythology back in the classroom. By saying what he said he allowed the possibility of a trojan horse, with creationist friendly teachers merely having to steer children into asking one simple question then they could offer their own version of creationism.

  • Pete Baker

    TAFKABO

    Consider the alternative.

    Pupil questions teacher on evolution based on their belief system.

    Teacher responds – ‘we can’t discuss that’.

    Far better to point out the scientific basis for evolutionary theory and the anti-science that is neo-creationism [ID].

    The issue of “creationist friendly teachers” distorting the teaching of evolution is a separate matter – which should involve parents, principals, and school boards.

  • TAFKABO

    The alternative is the teacher telling the pupil to direct his questions to the RE teacher.
    Same as if they ask a maths question in English class.
    Reiss’ comments were ill judged in that they were pandering to the religious, because we’re all supposed to tiptoe around the religious as their offence is easy to provoke and much greater than any offence taken by the non religious, right?

    This shit will never stop unless we all stop going along with the charade. They had a good run, a couple of millenia of having things their way. Time to stop accomodating the unreasonable.

  • Big Maggie

    Pete

    There’s nothing for science to fear from that kind of engagement with pupils in a classroom.

    True but the pupils have plenty to fear and here’s why. The creationists are devious liars and will stop at nothing in their attempts to brainwash children (and adults too of course). Their nonsense is usually disguised as ‘science’ that at first blush seems plausible. It is not. But it’s only through lengthy discussion and refutation by knowledgeable antagonists that the lies are exposed.

    It’s a long time since I had science at school but I dare say the science teachers of today resemble those of my childhood. That being the case, I doubt if they’d have the knowledge necessary to even understand the false arguments put up by creationism let alone slap them down with any degree of authority.

  • Big Maggie

    As a matter of interest who in Norn Iron believes ‘this shit’ as TAFKABO so rightly calls it, besides the DUP and its supporters. Does anybody know?

  • Pete Baker

    TAFKABO

    “The alternative is the teacher telling the pupil to direct his questions to the RE teacher.”

    And that can be part of making the case against the anti-science belief system. But it’s worthwhile making that case in a science class if those questions are raised – which is what Reiss actually suggested.

    Big Maggie

    “I doubt if they’d have the knowledge necessary to even understand the false arguments put up by creationism let alone slap them down with any degree of authority.”

    Well, if you have little confidence in the teaching of science as it is then maybe you’re right to be afraid of teachers challenging anti-science in a science classroom.

    But, seriously, the issue of the standard of science teachers is a separate argument for parents, principals, and school boards.

  • Pete Baker

    Big Maggie

    “As a matter of interest who in Norn Iron believes ‘this shit’ as TAFKABO so rightly calls it, besides the DUP and its supporters.”

    If you mean creationism, rather than the more narrowly defined young-Earther creationism, quite a number of adherent of various religious faiths apparently do.

    They are quite wrong, IMHO, but so it goes.

  • Big Maggie

    Pete

    So some things have changed since my childhood then. I was raised a Catholic and none of my peeps or co-religionists believed in a young earth or believed in the literal truth of the Bible. That was in Co Kerry though where other norms apply :^)

  • TAFKABO

    Pete.

    Just to be clear, I’m not disputing what Reiss said, I also know it was misreported in the press.

    Anyway, if you haven’t already read it, over on PZ Myers wonderful blog Pharyngula there’s a response by Myers and Richard Dawkins, it makes for interesting reading, not least of all for the fact that Dawkins apologises for some of his previous langauge in relation to the issue. Dawkins also gets involved in the comments.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/09/royal_society_statement_regard.php

  • Big Maggie

    Oops, ‘peeps’ should read ‘peers’!

  • Big Maggie

    TAFKABO

    the fact that Dawkins apologises for some of his previous langauge in relation to the issue.

    That’s not how I read it. He actually wrote ‘Perhaps I was a little uncharitable to liken the appointment of a vicar as the Royal Society’s Education Director to a Monty Python sketch.’ I wouldn’t call that an apology.

    He also wrote that creationists ‘include a worryingly high proportion of Christians and almost all Muslims’ and that last may be more relevant to the present row than most of us think.

  • Pete Baker

    TAFKABO

    I actually think it fair enough for Dawkins to argue, as he does in your link,

    “Perhaps, rather than resign his job with the Royal Society, Professor Reiss might consider resigning his Orders?”

    Personally I don’t think it compatible for someone arguing for a scientifically rigorous investigation of the world to also be an ordained minister of any religion.

    But that misses the point made by Reiss about the benefits of confronting anti-science belief systems in a science class – he should consider his own anti-science belief system, but that’s a personal matter for him.

    The ball, not the man, remember.

    Which is where Big Maggie’s point comes in.

    Creationist belief is more than just young-Earth creationism, unless those other religions now don’t advocate the belief that their god created the universe, the Earth, and all life on it.

  • Pete Baker

    Maggie

    “He also wrote that creationists ‘include a worryingly high proportion of Christians and almost all Muslims’ and that last may be more relevant to the present row than most of us think.”

    That’s partly what I was referring to when I said

    The other side of the problem is that there are teachers, some of whom Dawkins has actually encountered, who won’t argue the science/anti-science case for fear of offending pupils’ beliefs [or more likely their parents].

  • TAFKABO, even your point about astrology is mistaken. It is perfectly in order for a teacher to respond to a question about astrology by pointing point out that, for instance, the gravitational effect of Jupiter at the time of ones birth is less than that of a bus passing the window of the maternity unit.

    I think you misunderstand the purpose of education and teaching. It’s about learning to think critically, not learning the correct thoughts.

    And this sacking is a dreadful injustice, and appalling hypocrisy – based as it is on a misrepresentation of a man’s words, and an attribution of motives inferred from his other job.

  • TAFKABO

    Notmyopinion.

    I am not missing any point and am well aware that there is a sound scientific argument against astrology. The point youseem determined to miss is that we confer a degree of ligitimacy upon ridiciulous ideas when we elevate them to the point where we issue guidlines on how they ought to be discussed.
    Just as astrology is a crackpot idea that any scientist ought to be able to laugh out of a science class, so is religion and ID.
    No one would ever dream of arguing that we need to tiptoe around astrology for fear of offending those who believe it, so why make a difference with religion?

  • Sam Graham

    It is always amazing the pathetic levels of intolerance of anyone who sniffs of having any religious convictions. We are constantly reminded here by the atheist fundamentalists that ID and Creationism are not science and no reputable scientist believes in them. We respond by pointing out the evidence of intimidation and illiberal intolerance of Creation/ID scientists by the rationalistic “hitlers” who control tenure and funding bodies. So today we have more primary evidence of this ongoing systematic intimidation of Theists by evolutionist fundamentalists.

    It is somewhat ironic that so many here try to use the argument that the universe is not designed, which begs the obvious question: How do you know? It also implies that the claimant actually can recognise evidence of design and has some scientific “apparatus” for applying to this methodology. So far, none of the ID haters will provide this because they know that when they do so they will find the apparatus applied to the natural world and they have a problematic set of conclusions.

    Instead they cowardly retreat to throwing out cliques such as “God of the gaps.” Dawkins and Hitchens run behind the fallacious argument of regression “then who designed the Designer?” Of course they are never pulled up on this by the compliant media acolytes who fawn over them in interviews as their statement reveals that they do recognise design in the universe and believe they have a methodology for doing so. It also reveals their puerile philosophy as anyone with a modicum of sense knows that the designer does not need designed as of right and it makes perfect logic to argue that the One who created time and space at the beginning of the universe is ergo outside of time and ergo has no beginning and ergo needs no designer or creator!!

    All readers – please engage brain before responding to this thread and stop plagarising the statements of unreliable “experts” who cannot even get the basics right.

  • TAFKABO

    It might be helpful if you got your own terminology right before lecturing others on their failings but otherwise, top marks for Godwin’s Law.

  • Sam Graham

    Of course TAFKABO,

    Lets all stoop to your engaging, reasonable and insightful level of debate:

    “This shit will never stop unless we all stop going along with the charade. They had a good run, a couple of millenia of having things their way. Time to stop accomodating the unreasonable.”

    I take it you never realised that my last comment was directed at plagarising obscurantists exactly like you!

  • TAFKABO

    “plagiarising obscurantists”

    do you even know what that means or are you just spouting off the first words that pop into your head?

    Where and what have I plagiarised and what is it that I have attempted to obcure or hide from the discussion?
    That all you have is ad hominem tells me that you are not very comfortable with difficult things like facts.

  • Bottom line is that religion and science don’t mix. Even the noted cosmologist Fr La Maitre rebuked the Pope for trying to link the two.

    But there is hope…under the Education Order 2003 parents can withdraw their child from RE classes. My daughter wanted to when she entered Yr 8, but we asked her to ‘stick’ with it til Yr 10. When we agreed to request she be withdrawn she put it very simply to her RE teacher. In RE I am asked to belivee. In science I am asked to prove.

    Son has just started Yr8, same deal will apply to him.

    I hope more parents who are atheitst will show the same conviction, and the theists stick to the RE classes and leave the Sky Fairy superstition to the RE class

  • Sam Graham

    Ok, TAFKABO and Belfast Metal,

    Lets see you put your money where your mouth is. Instead or plagarising the ad hominen arguments of Dawkins, Hitchens et al, try answering these simple basic questions:

    (1) Can you prove the Scientific Method?

    (2) What objective, verifiable, scientific apparatus can you provide for us all to test and discern “design” in organic and inorganic matter?

    (3) Where did time, space, and matter come from? Can you give us objective and “scientific” reasons for your answer?

    Please note none of these questions mention theism, God,, creationism. Just give us the SCIENCE from the oracle of knowledge. We are all waiting for the Emperors without clothes to speak…..

  • Bill Law

    To get back to Professor Reiss. I thought that he resigned because he said that ID etc, should be discussed in science classes as an alternative “world view”. Therefore the Royal Society hasn’t gone back to his position at all.
    Secondly, ID does not use scientific method. It is different in that it’s pronouncements are untestable and therefore not the same thing as scientific theory. Whether ID is right (which I very strongly doubt) or wrong (which I believe to be the case), it can’t engage in scientific discussions unless it uses scientific methods.

  • Bill Law

    And now Sam Graham steps in.
    Science works as science. All your desires that this not be so are pointless.

    Sam – science doesn’t have all the answers. But it does provide a method for putting forward theories and, more importantly, a framework for testing them and having this reviewed globally.

  • Sam:
    1) The Scientific Method is continuously being revised and improved. The proof of scientific methodology is continuusly being revised (e.g. through better materials such as optics [remember Galileo and the telescope] and improved computing power [better analysis and ability to interpret large dataset]. Therefore, it is not open to ‘prove’ the scientific method, rather it is subject to continual improvement, unlike theology
    2) I see no reasonable apparatus that can be used to test ‘design’. The proof of design must come from a statement (or sign) from a ‘designer’. He/She/It seems reluctant to make such a statement.
    3) This is a tautalogical argument. It is here, therefore we are here. Remember that less than a century ago the scientific method did not have the equipment to observe the evidence for the Big Bang. The observations of cosmic microwave background radiation were another step towards understanding. The theories (and please note that scientific theories do not mean just what scientists ‘think’ but rather are the theory based on the best evidence to date) that are currently being debated suggest a number of scenarios, including the multiverse and string theory. As we move forward with better instrumentation (e.g. the LHC) we will come closer to explaining where time, space and matter come from. We do not, as yet, have a definitive explanation.

    The so-called ‘oracle of knowledge’ you refer to is an expanding and growing cradle, and we are still very much in the infancy of understanding. However, science is attempting to expand the amount we do understand rather than restricting it

  • TAFKABO

    How does one “prove” a method?

    Why should I have to prove design and not the people who claim that design is present?

    Where did time, space, matter et al come from? I have no idea but I do know that some rather clever scientists have various ideas. At this point they are still ideas.

  • Pete Baker

    Adam Rutherford in the Guardian makes sense.

    So in fact, it is the RS’ position that Roberts has truck with. Reiss has been removed for adhering to the society’s stated policy. Indulge me with a tired journalistic cliche, but this now smacks of witch-hunt. I do hope that this august body is planning to regain at least some consistency by clarifying their position. Reiss now returns to his position of professor of science education at the Institute of Education. Presumably, Roberts will be calling for his resignation there too, as this is surely equally untenable.

    Another Nobel laureate and RS fellow Sir Harry Kroto said in a grumpy statement yesterday:

    “Can ‘Creationism’ or ‘Intelligent Design’ be correctly interpreted by every teacher – science teacher or otherwise? – The answer is NO [sic].”

    Well that may be true. But surely if there are children with creationist views – 1 in 10 according to Reiss – and there are teachers who are not equipped to adequately deal with these views within the framework of teaching good science, then the solution is to train the teachers to do just that, rather than hoping these children will just go away. These tragic kids have been indoctrinated into a cultish mindset. Is it not the moral imperative of teachers to at least attempt to engage with these souls? Those who called for Reiss’ head are unequivocally exceptional scientists. However, the practice of science is not the same as the teaching of science at school level. Non-adherence to the principles of science is not an option when performing experiments. But you can teach the scientific method in many ways, including by pointing out when it is absent.

  • Sam Graham

    I see the “emperors” of Belfast Metal,TAFKABO (and now Bill) have failed to answer the questions or have given the appearance of having answered.

    (1)The Scientific Method is not being continually revised. It is a pre-suppositional faith commitment that cannot be proved. Anyone that thinks it is evolving has just destroyed their whole foundation for arguing against anything here! The Scientific Method also pre-supposes that the world is rational and can be observed objectively which poses the problem for evolutionists how did such a system evolve from an irrational and unguided source? Is there any example of this ever happening? (clue: NO!)

    (2)”Why should I have to prove design and not the people who claim that design is present?” Because my learned friends you are the one categorically rejecting the current evidence for ID which means you evidently know what design is to reject our evidence of what you term “undesign.” It is an either/or problem that you do not want to face up to.

    I repeat my challenge – you can cite Dawkins, Hitchens et al as you are clearly stuck. Please provide objective, testable apparatus from science that we can test for design being or not present. We seem to manage it in fingerprinting, SETI, forensics, crypto- analysis, random number generation, archaelogy etc.

    (3)I note none of our “self confident” friends dare propose a credible answer for the emergence of 1 to the power of 22 planets from nothing by nothing with a fully formed solar system, natural laws etc.

    Readers – please note that these “experts” are the ones who have dismissed God and poured scorn on Theism yet they cannot even muster a single proposal between them!

    A little knowledge boys…eh.

  • TAFKABO

    Uh, I’m not rejecting any evidence, because there is no evidence, at least nothing that meets established criteria for evidence. Then again Sam, I’m more than happy for you to put it forward or at least point me in the right direction.

    What you’re doing here is typical slleight of hand, you demand people accept your proposition or idsprove it when it is your repsonsibility to provide evidence for your claims.
    Your little tirades will probably give you and your likeminded friends a measure of comfort, but don’t suppose for a moment that any rational person could be taken in by your nonsense, and I use the word nonsense in its most literal sense.

  • TAFKABO

    Another thing Sam is trying to do, he has asserted
    that noi one is allowed to quote from Hitchen’s Dawkins et al. Uh, why not? they’ve been formost in promoting athesim and railing against the damge caused by belief in magic sky pixies, I’ve read them and found them very worthwhile, why am I banned from using their arguments to support my own?

    Sorry Sam, you’re not the Pope here, you don’t get to decide, although I understand the temptation for a religious nutter to resort to such tactics.

  • Bill Law

    Sam

    You don’t seem to understand basic logic. Science does not state or accept that everything came from an “irrational source” (whatever that is).
    Scientists have a very healthy theory in explaining where the planets et al came from. The LHC will be testing some of that theory and, if it is wrong, science will come up with a new theory that has, built in to it, a method of testing it to check if it is accurate or not.
    It is not science’s job to provide a method to test your theory – it is your job. Just as it is every theoretician’s job to ensure that what they propose is testable.
    I am new to this highly enjoyable blogging stuff but I must sday I find the use of “” to imply sarcasm or irony (I assume) offensive.

  • Sam – I find your response weird to say the least. Sceience is not about ‘faith’ but rather about testing, revising and then testing again. There are dozens of textbooks and peer-reviewed papers available on scientific method(s) and the validity of same. If you can’t be bothered to look them up that says more about your views than science. As to your point on testing for design, it seems to me that those who argue for a scientific interpretation are not the ones who are arguing for design or should be the ones to prove. Once the propoonents of ID etc come forward with testable via experimentation evidene of ID then it will be subject to examination. I don’t see why scientists should be asked to explain faith-based ideology. Testing for design is therefore an exercise in futility. To be clear, there is no evidence for design, but there is evidence – yes real evidence – for evolution, Big Bang. The weight of that evidence is there. There is more emerging every day. The ID argument has gone nowhere and has barely changed since Genesis was first plagiarised from the Mesoptamian creation stories.

  • Yellowford

    Who created the singularity? How did it come about? This is the reasoning behind my lessening agnostic beliefs.

  • Sam Graham

    I think all objective readers can see that Bill,TAFKABO, and Belfast Metal have encountered the problem that their ill-judged assumptions that they were pinning their hopes too have hit the cold wall of reality.

    Belfast Metal – for the umpteenth time the Scientific Method is a faith-based pre-supposition and cannot be proved. Try an introduction to The Philosophy of Science if you are still struggling with this basic concept.

    Bill – you are arguing that all of matter, time and space does not come from an “irrational source” now. Ok, what is this “rational source” that magically produced from nothing all of time, space and matter (including logic, maths, algebra, natural laws, human brains, rationality that are more powerful than computers etc)in less than one nanosecond from NOTHING?

    I have stated that the complexity of the natural world such as the human brain, DNA coding, irreducible complexity of eye, natural laws are prima facie evidence of implying a designer and creator. Now I have been told here that is “not science” and “rubbish” and “disproven.” Logically that means the three Dawkinite Trolls here have discerned an objective, scientific method of debunking my view in order to dismiss it. So I am entitled under the rules of natural justice to demand proof of their methodology.

    As the readers can see, they cannot and will not so we are entitled to assume they are anti-ID because of the moral implications for their lives ie they don’t want their to be a God! The reality is that none of the ID opponents can. That is why I invited these self-styled experts to produce some papers from their heroes that back their position.Please use Dawkins (who frankly is one of the most laughable idiotic authors I have read) if you want TAKO old boy.

    Now of course, the questions I pose are only the tip of the iceberg as other insurmountable problems for them awaits such as determinism, freewill, morality, consciousness etc.

    Better to run away now boys and throw some snide insults before you really face humiliation!

  • Bill Law

    Sam
    Lets take these one at a time.
    Ok the scentific method is a faith based, unprovable assumption. Much like your faith based assumption of ID. Except not really. The scientific method has led to the modern world: television, computers, air travel, the Web, medicine, almost instant global communication etc. Unlike the inquisition, the Holocaust and faith based wars etc.
    “Irrational source”. Your use of quotation marks confuse me. Do you mean that you don’t really know what irrational source means? It was your term, not mine. I’m with you there. I’ve no idea what it means. But if you wnat to see how SOMETHING could arise out of NOTHING (again your capitals) I’d suggest any A level physics text book. You might rubbish the big bang theory but it’s predicitions about how the universe would look if it was true are accurate to a remarkable degree.
    The natural world is indeed complex. By the way the human eye is anything but irreducibly complex. There are many examples of basic light sensitive cells in simple creatures geting more complex through the animal kingdom until we arrive at the human eye. Again – I’d suggest an A level text book Sam.
    However I’m skating over the main difference between us. Science believes that if it doesn’t understand something, it will explore further, suggest new experiments to test hypotheses and continue until it does find a reasonable explanation for it. You seem to have allocated everything to an Intelligent Designer and then walked away from the need for any further exploration. I must admit though, I’m at a loss to see how referring to me as a Dawkinite Troll advances your agrument.
    As far as producing papers to highlight my point of view I again point you to any number of easily understood books – might I suggest “the Elegant Universe” by Brian Greene. This gives a lucid account for the non-physicist of the universe, how it could have started and the truly beautiful physics behind it.
    For the problems associated with free will, determinism etc any bok by Daniel Dennett would provide a good background to current thinking.
    I know I won’t convert you but you might like to get a better view of the opposition than what you currently have.
    I don’t believe I have thrown any “snide insults” (those quotation marks are catching) and I most certainly will not run away from anywhere my beliefs lead me.

    Good luck Sam

  • Sam – have you only read the one book on science? And no science is not about faith – look up faith in a dictionary. The complexity of the natural world is not prima facie evidence of a designer. The examples you quote such as the eye have been dealt with many, many times in terms of evolution. I know the idea of reading Dawkins may appall you, but try the Selfish Gene. I mean Sam this is really basic stuff…sense of light and dark evolves into basic contrast, evolves into partial eyesight, evolves into clearer sight, into colour vision, into binocular vision etc. How natural laws etc can be seen as evidence of a designer is unclear. Perhaps it requires a leap of faith?

    As to now wanting their to be a god…well that sentence says it all. Why should I want there to be a god. The very sentence implies there is a ‘want’ that needs met.

    As to being a Dawkins Troll, that implies that is the only science author or philosophy author I read. Sorry to disappoint you. As to him being a laughable idiotic authors, well that’s your opinion.

    As to providing references papers etc, there are more than enough and to be frank this is the smokescreen as ID cannot produce any peer-reviewed papers that are accepted by anything other than faith-based organisations.

    I do not know how you can say determinism, freewill, morality, consciousness being insurmountable problems I have to say that they are bigger problems for ID, as, for example, morality is a nonsense when using theology. Such morality as wearing clothes of mixed weave, owning slaves, claiming god is on one side or the other in war, blood sacrifices – did the designer screw up as the rules have to be re-written so often.

    Snide insults? Seems the deliberate misinterpretation and description of anyone who disagrees as, for example, a Dawkins Troll or equating them with Hitler is as snide and offensive. Have fun with your beliefs, but keep them away from real science, subscribe to New Scientist, Focus, read some more and most of all remember that we’re living in a secular society, one which has benefitted from scientific advance not from THE DESIGNER guiding ‘creation’ and our actions.

  • Sam Graham

    “Ok the scentific method is a faith based, unprovable assumption. Much like your faith based assumption of ID. Except not really. The scientific method has led to the modern world: television, computers, air travel, the Web, medicine, almost instant global communication etc. Unlike the inquisition, the Holocaust and faith based wars etc.”

    Thanks Bill for seeing that your whole worldview of scientific rationalism is also ultimately faith-based. Now, your straw man argument in your final sentence is ironic as the same scientific method that was used for computers was used to produce the weaponry to fight these wars! Secondly, the misuse of faith is no justification for attacking a genuine Christian faith any more than a man who rejects pacifism can be accused of the Holocaust. You must learn the ability to construct logical and deductive arguments and not blend your thoughts.

    Belfast Metal/Bill – this is getting rather tedious. You both reject my ID examples such as the human brain which cannot be made by “science” and is more complex than the world’s fastest computer (which even you would acccept is designed and manufactured!). So I challenge you again if the brain is not evidence of ID then demonstrate objectively why and give us the objective scientific methodology for your extravagant claims so we can test them.

    CAN YOU PLEASE STOP AVOIDING THIS QUESTION AND ANSWER IT!!!

    As for the eye example, please do not quote the science fiction stories of the “just so” story that we have an evolutionary advantage by half an eye for 30 million years! That is Alice in Wonderland narrations.

    “I mean Sam this is really basic stuff…sense of light and dark evolves into basic contrast, evolves into partial eyesight, evolves into clearer sight, into colour vision, into binocular vision etc.”

    This is so simple – strange that conscious, intelligent scientists cannot replicate such a process over the last 6,000 years of medicine! Could you please show objective scientific evidence of this including biochemical pathways, evolutionary advantage, and some examples please. After all as you say …this is such basic stuff!!

    Bill – still waiting for that “rational source” that made one to the power of 22 planets from nothing? May be you could look up that A Level textbook for the answer….

    Lets not talk about freewill, determinism, consciousness yet. You are having enough problems with the basics so far.

  • Big Maggie

    Belfast Metal and other sensible posters:

    Sam Graham’s waffle is what I was alluding to earlier when I said that creationists shouldn’t be engaged in argument. They do not have an argument, end of story. They will lie and cheat (like calling scientists ‘fundamentalists’) using words they either don’t know the meaning of or pretend not to. They’re a menace, to our children (and in my case grandchildren) in particular. Creationism should be shunned completely in schools. TAFKABO, you were totally correct when you made the analogy with astrology.

  • TAFKABO

    Sorry Sam, but I mearned a long time ago that you stand up to bullies, not run away from them. What you are doing is pontificating about the terms of this debate, as if you decide what it is about and which questions need to be answered.
    I’ll continue to post as I see fit, on whatever I see fit to post about.

    It would be great if science could explain how we came to be, at the moment it can’t, but given its track record I’m comfortable that we’re getting closer to the truth every day. Science is a process.
    What we need to keep in mind though is that we don’t really need to prove how we came to be in order to accept that we exist, cognito ergo sum and all that.
    So we have the observable natural world and it is science that best explains it, in as far as it can be explained.
    On your side you have tried to explain something which is observable by inventing something else which is unobservable and for which there is not a whit of evidence.
    ID is a nonsense in scientific terms, it fails the most basic criteria for scientific proof.
    You ask me to qualify what would count as proof of design, but I cannot qualify or quantify something which does not exist, either you back up your fairy tales with evidence, or an explanation of what evidence you think might be found.
    Instead, all you have is mad raving religious nutter type rants.

    By the way Sam, if you’re a believer and assured of a place in paradise, why the fuck are you so angry?
    You’re like a lottery winner who spends all his time being a miserable bastard at poor people.

  • TAFKABO: “The point you seem determined to miss is that we confer a degree of ligitimacy upon ridiciulous ideas when we elevate them to the point where we issue guidlines on how they ought to be discussed.”

    For goodness sake man, this is not some political contest where the incumbent will refuse a TV debate with the Monster Raving Loony Party. We are talking about educating the next generation of scientists, politicians, and teachers. It’s about how to deal with doubts and problems that perhaps 10% of UK students have when learning about evolution (according to the figures in the articles quoted).

    You can be all holier than thou about the purity of your scientific dialectic, but it really is not an option for a responsible educator to ignore actual misunderstandings that students may have.

    Education is not about enforcing tidy dividing lines between parts of the curriculum – it’s about getting students to understand the issues.

    Macaulay wrote that it is idle to speak of teaching the truth in ways that make men cling all the more firmly to their falsehoods. It is a good point.

    A teacher saying “I’m right and you are wrong,” without giving the student access to the reasons and cognitive tools to understand why, is doing what the Royal Society condemned, years ago.

    The Society’s motto is “Nullius in verba”. They translate and explain it thus on their website:

    “Take nobody’s word for it”, dates back to 1663, and is an expression of the determination of the Fellows to withstand the domination of authority… and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment.

    You can’t say “ignore ‘authorities’ like scripture, which claim to present truth, but don’t use evidence”, and then operate in precisely the same way!

  • Sam, you seem confused about “scientific method”. TAFKABO’s right on this (Sorry this is longer than I hoped):

    The Scientific Method… is a pre-suppositional faith commitment that cannot be proved… The Scientific Method also pre-supposes that the world is rational and can be observed objectively which poses the problem for evolutionists how did such a system evolve from an irrational and unguided source?

    Two asides: if you distinguish between (1) the broadly stable scientific method which is applied, and (2) the advances in analytical and investigative techniques which are used in accordance with the scientific method, you’ll get rid of one bit of talking at cross purposes.

    Second aside: there is no reason why a system put together by chance should not behave mechanistically or in a way that is susceptible to rational investigation.

    Disclaimer: I’ll assume for now there is an objective reality to be discovered – I suspect we agree on that, anyway.

    But back to the scientific method: A methodology, fundamentally, cannot be proved. It is not a truth claim. It is a set of tools for accessing, investigating, or understanding the workings of the natural world.

    It’s a better methodology than listening to what someone tells you, and simply believing that (which, interestingly, is what some suggest creationist or confused kids should do in science class).

    Methodologies are not true or false; they are more useful or less useful for generating and testing understanding.

    The application of scientific methodology varies a bit depending on the discipline, of course. For chemistry it’s pretty straightforward. Experiment, observe, model, test, refine (and repeat). For quantum physics the investigations are at more of a remove, but there are still models, predictions, repeatable investigations, and observations, and refinement of the models.

    For the Dismal Science (economics), and historical processes (like evolutionary biology, or astrophysics), repeatable investigations are to a degree supplanted by such observations as are available. There are still models which allow predictions. And if the predictions are not borne out by the observations, conclusions will be drawn, and models rejected. Except in economics, perhaps 🙂

    More care is needed to avoid going further than the evidence strictly allows – and the less comprehensive scope of the investigations than can be carried out can make some of the conclusions more provisional. This is more difficult – but still amenable to scientific method (though vulnerable to wishful thinking, as well).

    Some people point to this difference in the application of scientific method and cry “Not science! Evolution is a belief system!” But for the most part, it’s still Science – Piltdown and Peking Man notwithstanding.

    The rejection of Lamark’s ideas of inheritence of acquired characteristics in favour of mutation and Mendelian inheritance was in accordance with the scientific method. As is newer work on heritable transcription states of genes, for instance.

    A valid scientific question is whether mutations offer a sufficiently powerful method to bring about macro-evolution. That may be scientifically addressed by examining the fossil record, breeding programmes, and behaviour in short lived, rapidly breeding populations. But the nature of observations rather than investigations, and the relatively small timeslice that even the fastest populations facilitate make it less easy to draw absolute conclusions. But still inferences and conclusions can and should be drawn, with caution, by scientists investigating the subject.

    Saying “it must have done, since we’re here” is bad science – just as it would have been had Lamark used that argument to bolster his theory. The quality of the science is not judged by the conclusion you are supporting, but by how you get there.

    Evolutionary science is fundamentally not easy. Mistakes have been made. Doubtless they are being made right now, and will be in the future.

    But there are three errors we can commit.

    We can say that because we have found one error, the alternative of creation by person or persons unknown (or even His Noodlyness or Jehovah) must necessarily be true. That’s a fallacious argument.

    We can say that because we know there is no God, that we must have evolved. That’s an argument from an assumption (however plausible, it’s still bad science). Of course there is nothing unscientific about working on a theory that explains the universe without invoking God.

    Or we can say that difficult questions must not be asked, or else the creationsts will get a foot in the door. That is simply bad science. Hard questions need to be asked, or we’ll miss the flaws in our theories.

    Science does not advance when someone says “Eureka! I have it!”

    It advances when someone says “That’s funny….”

  • Sam Graham

    “ID is a nonsense in scientific terms, it fails the most basic criteria for scientific proof.
    You ask me to qualify what would count as proof of design, but I cannot qualify or quantify something which does not exist, either you back up your fairy tales with evidence, or an explanation of what evidence you think might be found.”

    Again, we find our intrepid friends making a cliam of certitude that they know what design is not and then refusing to provide an objective, scientific test for determining whether their claim is correct. Readers can see it is not me that is avoiding the question but the 3 evolutionist fundamentalists!

    TAFKABO – you cannot keep dismissing evidence by simply your opinion. Please engage brain and enter this debate fairly. You reject my ID examples such as the human brain which cannot be made by “science” and is more complex than the world’s fastest computer (which even you would acccept is designed and manufactured!). So I challenge you again if the brain is not evidence of ID then demonstrate objectively why and give us the objective scientific methodology for your extravagant claims so we can test them.

    CAN YOU PLEASE STOP AVOIDING THIS QUESTION AND ANSWER IT!!!

    Maggie – merely sighing in a patronising way shows how poor your arguments are. Incidentally if evolution is true, then there is no point in debating these issues as we are all “determined” to believe what we do based upon the random movement of chemical in our brains!

  • TAFKABO

    Sam.

    I haven’t dismissed any evidence, since no evidence has been offered. Typing in all caps does not evidence make. What you have done is make an assertion. As others have pointed put, you seem confused as to the scientific method and what constitutes evidence.

    Notmyopinion.

    You’re being disingenuous, no one is saying that ID shouldn’t be discussed, simply that the science class is not the place to discuss it.
    The best lesson to teach about ID is that it belongs in the RE classroom. Bringing it into the science classrom would only exacerbate the intial problem.

  • abucs

    I would just point out again that much of what science tells us comes from a religious worldview.

    Whether it be Georges-Henri Lemaitre, saint augustine, Gregor Mendel, Isaac Newton, Nicolous Copernicus, Georges Cuvier and many more.

    I would also put Gallileo and even Charles Darwin in that category, before of course he became an agnostic in later life (though still going to church each week and bringing his family up christian).

    It’s interesting how much of the rock bottom science comes out of a Christian worldview.

    I would even go so far as to view western science as a branch of Christianity.

    Now i know that’s bound to get responses.

    But if you look who founded the sciences, who funded it, who taught it and who spread it, then the Christian worldview is intrinsicly linked to the formation of western science.

    The idea that there are uniformal ordered, measurable laws that are both rational and intelligent as well as universal comes straight out of the christian worldview. that’s why many of the founders of the different sciences were thoroughly Christian.

    Today we are in an age which tries very hard to seperate the two and make them diametrically opposed.

    Any fair reading of the history of western science will show that’s rubbish.

    There is a childish view this day to equate ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ exclusively with religion and use the words as euphemisms with ‘made up’, ‘fiction’, ‘unjustifiable thoughts’ etc.

    Many of us, including the founders of most of the scientific disciplines just don’t agree with seeing faith and belief in that way.

    I am not a Creationist as it is commonly defined, but i acknowledge that much of our science today comes from people who were :

    http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=185

    I am passionately for science. as i said before i believe that western science is basically a branch of Christianity – that is where western science roots lay. I am simply against materialists and their latter day interpretation of science.

    the deeper you go into physics i believe, the more materialism falls down – and atheism with it, IMHO.

    http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/other_papers/the_metaphysics_of_quantum_mechanics.shtml

  • Sam Graham

    “there is no reason why a system put together by chance should not behave mechanistically or in a way that is susceptible to rational investigation.”

    Notmyopinion, thank you for helping out the flailing Dawkinite trolls. You answer is an improvement and at least acknowleges some of the inherent weaknesses in their arguments.

    You assumption that a mechanical system can squirt into existence that can be studied rationally is also fallacious. You cannot posit one example or any evidence that this has happened or could happened.

    Indeed, the irony in all of these exchanges is that the Dawkinites and yourself are arguing for an even more incredible miracle that the Bible states for creation. You are arguing for everything from nothing by nothing, rationality from irrationality, complexity from simplicity, design from undesign etc. Despite all the bluster and sleight of hand tricks to avoid this that is the damning reality!

    TAKO mate – stop running away and answer the question. I have provided the evidence of design. Out of the millions of examples I have selected a human brain the most complex machine and computer on earth which despite all of our scientific advances cannot be replicated. I say that evidences design as its materialistic counterpart by Dell needs design and creation to exist and you say it does not! That means you have discerned a scientific testing methodology that allows you to make your extravagant assertion and overturn the logic of all of our rational intuition. SO PUT UP OR SHUT UP!

    We await you paralysing intellect…..once again…Readers please note that he will not answer this question despite repeated requests. I have not refused to answer any questions – who is the obscurantist??

  • Sorry Sam but you have not provided any evidence of ‘design’. All you have said is that there are really complex things in nature like the human brian, therefore somebody/thing must have designed them. Not exactly proof. Just an assertion. So can you please put up or shut up with some real, testable evidence of the existence of a designer? Just saying there are complex stuff in the natural, observable world so there is a designer is just silly.

    And on that note of silliness I am off to prepare for the International Talk Like a Pirate Day tomorrow! Arr, avast ye all, may the Noodly Appendages touch ye’all. Abide by the 8 I’d Rather You Didn’t that guide us Pastafarians, may the Spagnostics see the light of his Noodliness. Belay the waffle Sam and welcome the piratical guide and cease thy Spagnostic rantings. Carbo Deim! Ramen!

  • Bill Law

    Sam
    There are so many holes in your logic that I don’t really know where to start but..
    1: you assume that if we can’t do or understand something now then we never will.
    2: I see you’ve moved away from the eye as an example of design (a clever move on your part) yet similar examples of a simple collection of nerve cells in simple animals getting more complex as the living creatures become more complex until the brain emerges abound in the natural world. You refered to this type of argument as “… science fiction stories”. So no doubt we’ll get another similarly finely argued response to this point.
    3: The assumption that a DELL computer (which I’m using to type this) isn’t as functionally rich as a brain (true) therefore it never can be is logically inane.
    4: man building a computer in no way resembles how evolution works. You might think it does but you would be wrong.
    5: OK – SOMETHING out of NOTHING? How about the quantum vacuum? Particles obeying natural laws apearing out of “nothingness”.

    You really should read some books you know other than the bible. It would give you arguments a bit more force if you didn’t misrepresent others.

  • Sam Graham

    Again, we fail to answer the question boys. That is a “F” grade for GCSE Science!

    Bill does not want to posit any objective, scientific testing apparatus for design as he wisely knows he will be left with some very awkward conclusions. So, he retreats to rehashing the old argument of “God of the gaps” i.e. that science will one day provide the answers if we just wait.

    Firstly, Bill even if science could “design and create” what even you accept is the most complex computer on the planet ie human brain I win as you have had to use design and creative power to make it. Not only that but you will have used “something” to make “something.” What you are arguing for essentially however is that our brain has emerged from nothing by nothing and given enough time (add a few billion years to make the story sound better) will produce unguided by any personal rational being a more sophisticated computer than we have by IBM today. Not only this but this brain can be used to argue rationally and investigate scientifically despite coming from a non-rational source. Bill – if you can sell this with a straight face you are the greatest conman in history.

    As for your point about quantum mechanics it is not true that they emerge from nothing. Theories that the universe is a quantum fluctuation must presuppose that there was something to fluctuate—their “quantum vacuum” is a lot of matter-antimatter potential—not “nothing.”

    Am afraid Bill you have been reading Isaac Asimov too much. Better dust down that old A Level Physics textbook again.

    Stephen Glover of the Daily Mail (no creationist) says very eloquently what I have been trying to say. I suggest a read:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1054492/STEPHEN-GLOVER-God-taxpayers-money-day-barmy-BBC-went-orbit.html

  • Big Maggie

    My God, is this thread still active? Hate to say I told you so but this is what you get when you try to argue with creationists. They duck, cheat and simply waste your time. I wonder if Sam is a Free Presbyterian and a DUPer. He and Poots would be hilarious on a comedy show.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Bill,

    Since you brought up the quantum argument you may be interested to know that the guy who taught me quantum at Queens (not that I understood too much of it) is an elder at a church I infrequently attend. And there are many others. Just shows you that you can be a scientist and believe in a god. They’re not mutually exclusive.

    Which is why those who think they are (you Maggie!) can be called fundamentalist. They “believe” in evolution.

  • Big Maggie

    Congal

    Me a fundamentalist? Didn’t you have dictionaries at Queens? Or are you simply talking out of your fundament?

  • Bill Law

    Hi Congal
    I too have good friends who are both of a scientific background and are religious. I have no real poblems with that. I wouldn’t begin to use science to argue poeple out of their faith. I believe they are distinct areas in peoples’ lives. They are clever enough to come to terms with areas such as evolution.
    It does strike me as odd though that we have obviously intelligent people who seem to be happy to park their critical faculties in the driveway whenever something apparently contradicts their world view.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Maggie,

    “Strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles”. n. (big) Maggie ;0)

    Bill,

    Which cuts both ways?

  • Big Maggie

    Congal

    Exactly. If scientists had adhered strictly to a ‘set of basic ideas or principles’ we’d be living like the Amish, believing in a flat earth and still dying from mild infections. Thankfully science is a moveable feast, unlike creationism which is doomed by dogma.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Maggie,

    Not allowing the mention of “god” in debates about the start of life/universe seems fundamentalist to me. Especially when you/Dawkins suggest evolution (the life part) explains it all when it does no such thing.

  • Bill Law

    Sorry Congal
    But evolution does explain it all. You might not like the theory and you might want to believe another one but evolution does explain it all. What you might be confusing this with is that there are gaps in the evolutionary record. This doesn’t mean that evolution can’t explain everything, just some of the bits haven’t been found to chart a full timeline for everything.
    Don’t get caught in Sam’s cul-de-sac wgere he thinks that because we don’t have all jigsaw pieces then they don’t exist. We just haven’t found them.
    I’m beginning to agree with Big M that this discussion is going nowhere – while we are using the same words we are speaking fundamentally diffeent languages.
    There are scientific theories which explain everything from soup to nuts. They may be right or they might not. Science is busy conducting experiments to see which is right. Again, you may disagree with this and feel that your own beliefs provide the right answer and you are entitled to that. However, don’t confuse this with a view that science has no answers.

  • Sam Graham

    Has Maggie contributed anything of substance so far apart from ad hominen insults?

    There are many fine female scientists but unfortunately Mad Maggie brings shame to her gender. She is clearly one of the tree hugging, free thinking types that 20 years ago lived in smelly tents at Greenham Common with her beard.

    Maggie, dear – if you cannot construct your own joined up thinking then it would be better for you to stick to the knitting!

    For your information (though goodness know why I bother), the “scientists” who discovered cures for mild infections and that the earth was actually round were creationists! Hey, but dont let the facts get in the way of a good Mad Maggie story…….

    You are living in the privileges of an age with its scientific rationale and logic directly derived from the 6 centuries of the Protestant Reformation heritage. So please do not play the card that scientific naturalism rescued us from the dark days of obscurantist creationism.

  • Big Maggie

    Congal

    Not allowing the mention of “god” in debates about the start of life/universe seems fundamentalist to me.

    Really? It’s science, man. How would you feel if I were to mention Manitou and his contribution to the universal kick-start? Leave religion in the church or RE class.

    Especially when you/Dawkins suggest evolution (the life part) explains it all when it does no such thing.

    We do? When did he and I come to that conclusion? Stop putting words into my mouth.

  • TAFKABO

    Notmyopinion.

    Nowhere does science or the theory of natural selection talk about “chance” in the way you described it. It is a common misconception to think that science argues things arose by chance.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Bill,

    I “believe” in the theory of evolution. However, there aren’t too many examples from the fossil record which you mention. The fossil record tends to show stasis within species with few in-betweens. For me the reason is that evolution happened in big jumps caused by outside factors – climate, magnetic reversal or whatever. Therefore, you don’t find many/any in-betweens as they were relatively small timescales. However, the jump from albeit complex amino acids to self-replicating organisms is not explained. Evolution does not explain it. This is where I have to disagree with Dawkins. To me, evolution happens when life exists. Not how it started. To put it another way, cars are evolving all the time. They get more powerful, more refined, better mpg, etc as we the public select those cars through purchase of successful cars. However, that does not explain the invention of the car.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Maggie,

    “Really? It’s science, man. How would you feel if I were to mention Manitou and his contribution to the universal kick-start? Leave religion in the church or RE class.”

    The start of life/universe is not explained scientifically. So, how could it be? If I was an RE teacher I would not forbid any mention of Darwin or Dawkins.

    “We do? When did he and I come to that conclusion? Stop putting words into my mouth.”

    From a previous thread, when talking about Dawkins, you said…

    “He does no such thing. He looks at the evidence for evolution and deduces that life started according to the theory.”

    Please remember the words that came out of your mouth ;0)

  • Big Maggie

    Congal

    Context is everything. Let’s look at that thread again.

    You: He makes the leap from evolution to the start of life. A leap that requires faith.

    Me: He does no such thing. He looks at the evidence for evolution and deduces that life started according to the theory. It’s no leap of faith. If a better explanation comes along, or if the theory is expanded/improved you can bet your rosary beads that Dawkins will embrace it. This is how science works.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Maggie,

    So you agree you did say it then ;0)

    BTW, you summed up my view quite accurately. We’ll have to disagree on whether it’s a leap of faith or not.

    “If a better explanation comes along, or if the theory is expanded/improved you can bet your rosary beads that Dawkins will embrace it. This is how science works.”

    I’ve actually heard Dawkins come out with the same argument. It’s an idealised view of science though. In reality tho’ many a science goes to the grave clinging longingly to an “old” theory. For example, Fred Hoyle and the steady state universe. Or Global Warming.

  • TAFKABO

    There are many fine female scientists but unfortunately Mad Maggie brings shame to her gender. She is clearly one of the tree hugging, free thinking types that 20 years ago lived in smelly tents at Greenham Common with her beard.

    Maggie, dear – if you cannot construct your own joined up thinking then it would be better for you to stick to the knitting!

    Sam, you’re a sexist Neanderthal tosspot, there’s really no excuse for ever speaking to a woman in those terms. If a woman being able to outwit you in an argument terrifies you so much, I suggest you stay off the internet.

  • Big Maggie

    Congal

    If you insist on nit-picking then all right. The facts are otherwise though. Dawkins proposes that life began from inanimate matter (see The Selfish Gene and passim). How this happened he cannot yet say but imagines that it accords with what we know of evolutionary processes.

    Re Hoyle, sure there are exceptions that test the rule but by and large a scientist who clings to a theory that’s past its sell-by date won’t hold tenure for too long and will be slated in the peer-reviewed journals. And thank Odin for that I say.

  • Big Maggie

    TAFKABO

    Thank you, my gallant champion! Mind you, I always find it best to simply ignore the Neanderthals. They did become extinct after all, wiped out by evolution :^)

  • TAFKABO

    Actually Congal I mostly agree with your post @ 04:43 PM.
    Evolution explains evolution and that’s all it has ever claimed to explain. Having said that, there are various ideas floating around as to how it could have started. I’d even go so far as to suggest that we’re closer to being able to kick-start life ourselves, recreating conditions which could conceivably have occurred spontaneously.
    It’s an exiting field of science.

  • Mags – I guess you could say that Richard Dawkins’ set of basic ideas or principles includes “There is no God” and “Religion is irrational” (not merely non-rational, but actively anti-rational). These are not scientific positions, but they are part of his basic philosophy – and a major preoccupation in his writings.

    I don’t think I’m doing him the slightest injustice by comparing the way he articulates and defends those philosophical assumptions with the way a religious fundamentalist articulates his faith. Or the way a NRA member defends his right to bear assault rifles. Or the attitude of Mac fanboys or some free software zealots towards Windows. Well, maybe not quite as bad as the last lot.

    But the point is there are many issues which can be and are argued in fundamentalist style.

  • TAFKABO: Nowhere does science or the theory of natural selection talk about “chance” in the way you described it. It is a common misconception to think that science argues things arose by chance.

    I was attempting to reply to Sam’s “the Scientific Method also pre-supposes that the world is rational and can be observed objectively which poses the problem… how did such a system evolve from an irrational and unguided source“, by pointing out that how a system arose does not preclude its rational behaviour.

    That said, if the “mechanisms” of evolution include mutation, habitat change, and natural selection, then in a very real sense the new forms of creature are coming about by chance in the first instance – even if there are then quite predictable selective forces that stop most of the modified forms dead in their tracks.

    It’s a reasonable shorthand, in the context.

    Or are you making a different point?

  • congal claen

    Hi Tafkabo,

    “Evolution explains evolution and that’s all it has ever claimed to explain”

    Do you not think Dawkins takes it a step further? Say, one step beyond. Now that’s Madness. Without trying to show my age…

  • 6countyprod

    Melanie Phillips makes an interesting observation concerning current creationism hysteria surrounding Prof. Reiss.

  • Gnome User

    Richard Dawkins was quite willing to speak about creationism on an ITV show he made.

  • Big Maggie

    Gnome User

    Oh he’ll speak about it all right and warn the unwary about it but he won’t engage a creationist ‘scientist’ in debate. He considers that it would be treating them on an equal footing to genuine scientists.