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Science Minister Equates Evolution and Religion

With a title like “Minister of State for Science and Technology”, it’s no wonder that Gary Goodyear thinks acceptance of evolution should be a matter of religious conviction. When asked about evolution, Gary had this to say:

“I’m not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,”

Mr Goodyear eventually clarified his position, when he realized how many people this upset:

“We are evolving every year, every decade. That’s a fact, whether it is to the intensity of the sun, whether it is to, as a chiropractor, walking on cement versus anything else, whether it is running shoes or high heels, of course we are evolving to our environment. But that’s not relevant and that is why I refused to answer the question. The interview was about our science and tech strategy, which is strong.”

Notice he never acknowledges macroevolution, only microevolution. Clever…a lot of people will miss that. If I were able to ask Mr. Goodyear one question, it would be this: “Is clinical acupuncture based on science or religion?”.

As a chiropractor who specialized in acupuncture, my guess is that he would say “Science”, even though the field is still heavily dependent on traditional Chinese metaphysics. While I’d be the first to accept that traditional methods of finding truth and value are important, I’d be the first challenge a statement that these sorts of things are scientific. By definition, they are not.

acupuncture

It’s not that controversial to label accupuncture a pseudoscience, though it has well demonstrated effects on pain. In its current formulation it’s pretty much based on Qi, (pronounced chee) “flows of energy” that are around and in all living things. While I’m not going to debate whether or not something like this exists (I think it does), these flows are not quantifiable, we haven’t observed them, and we can’t make any predictions based on them.

While acupuncture seems to work, we can’t claim to know HOW it works. Qi is undoubtedly philosophy, and as far as accupuncture relies on Qi it is simply eastern philosophy and pseudoscience.

But is EVOLUTION pseudoscience? There is consensus on this in the scientific community; and that is “No, evolution is NOT pseudoscience. And stop calling it ‘Darwinism’!'” They would know, and they can back it up. It’s science!

gn02_18

Like Gary, I was taught that belief in Darwinism was a matter of religious or philosophical conviction. And I accepted that at first, until I really started researching the matter. What I found stunned me; evolution was undoubtably scientific. It’s observable right now as well as forensically, it’s quantifiable (expressed algorithmically), and it makes predictions about the world that can be verified. And those predictions HAVE been verified, over and over again, to the point where it’s a contender for one of the “superb” scientific theories, right below general relativity and the standard model of quantum mechanics.

“Into the SUPERB category must go all those I have been discussing in the paragraphs preceding this one [that is, relativity – both varieties – and quantum mechanics]. To qualify as SUPERB, I do not deem it necessary that the theory should apply without refutation to the phenomena of the world, but I do require that the range and accuracy with which it applies should, in some appropriate sense, be _phenomenal_. The way that I am using the term `superb’, it is an extraordinary remarkable fact that there are any theories in this category at all! I am not aware of any basic theory in any other science which could properly enter this category. Perhaps the theory of natural selection, as proposed by Darwin and Wallace, comes closest, but it is still some way off.” Penrose in “Emperor’s New Mind” (Highly recommended!)

Even as general relatively and quantum mechanics do, evolution has problems. There are BIG, glaring holes in it, as there is in EVERY SINGLE scientific theory. But that’s not why Mr. Goodyear doubts macroevolution. Mr Goodyear has inadvertently made it plain he doubts evolution because of his religious beliefs. IE; he believes that Genesis is literally true, to one degree or another. He’s probably a creationist. And not the Roman Catholic kind; the Protestant kind.

gn03_01

I can find no reasonable response for this, as creationism is not subject to reason. But as Canada’s minister of science, Mr. Goodyear does not have the right to misrepresent science because of his personal religious views. Biology and genetics are INCREDIBLY important fields of study right now, and he does his country a great disservice to ignore the advances evolutionary theory has brought to these fields. If he must take this on faith, so be it; but his actions are important.

Furthermore, by making scientific claims based on religious values, he weakens his ability to make MORAL claims about science, which is where personal morality, ethics, and spirituality/religion are unquestionably important! To be more clear, one shouldn’t say they don’t believe in atomic fission because of their nonscientific convictions. That’s useless, it’s just burying your head in the sand. Instead, say that you don’t believe in atomic BOMBS because of moral, ethical and/or religious conviction!

Or DO believe in bombs, but you get my point, the decision what to do with technology and the meaning of life are more propoer fields for metaphysics and theology than the existence or nonexistence of specific scientific phenomenon.

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

To apply this to the theory of evolution. One should accept that natural selection is a fact, if the word “fact” is to mean anything. Besides, unless they are an evolutionary biologist, their opinion doesn’t mean squat anyway! We can certainly say religious conviction has NOTHING to do with the factual truth of scientific theories.

Instead, Goodyear could affirm science, while affirming God as the Primary Mover and the ultimate source of meaning. Instead he culd say, “Regardless of scientific facts, I believe God created us and loves us.” Or he could leave the religion part out completely, as he wanted to do in his first intervie!

Your call, Mr. Goodyear, but don’t misrepresent science. There’s enough of that as it is.

gn07_18

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An inordinate fondness for beetles.

herbie2

 

Distinguished British biologist J.B.S. Haldane, on being asked what one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of his creation, Haldane is said to have answered, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.”


Beetles are the group of insects with the largest number of known species. They are placed in the order Coleoptera (from Greek κολεός,koleos, “sheath”; and πτερόνpteron, “wing”, thus “sheathed wing”), which contains more described species than in any other order in the animal kingdom, constituting about 25% of all known life-forms.” link.

“My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” (J.B.S. Haldane).

I would have liked to hung out with this guy.

/b/ luvz Kittehs

dusty-halp

Apparently the internet hate machine is alive and well, and this time they’re going after some douchebag who filmed himself abusing a cat and stuck it on youtube.  Somebody put two and two together, identified the guy, and next thing you know the police are knocking on his door.

Dude did not know an important rule; don’t fuck with the kittehs!  If you do the internet will mess you up. 

dustyavenge

AiG VII – What about Intelligent Design is Religious?

On the message boards, I have been discussing the merits of Intelligent Design with advocates of various stripes.  I am amazed at how many supporters ID has, and how they will debate even the most basic of facts.  Fact numero uno being the religious nature of Intelligent Design theory.  I have yet to find an ID advocate out there that admits to the religious content of Intelligent Design.  Here’s what I say:

1) ID is Exclusively Supported by Religious Institutions. 

Where is the money?  While we cannot judge the scientific merits of Intelligent Design based on the quality of those who support it, it’s a perfectly human thing to do, and it still directly applies to the intelligent design MOVEMENT, if not the theory.

The earliest example of the modern Intelligent Design movement came after the case Edwards v. Aguillard, which rules that Creationism could not be required in public schools because it advances a particular religion.  So the term “Creationism” was out, and they needed a new term.  

The group Foundation for Thought and Ethics had a creationist book all prepped for the public schools.  In between versions of this book, “creationism” and “creationist” were changed to refer to “intelligent design” instead, leading to this amusing cut and paste error:

The basic metabolic pathways (reaction chains) of nearly all organisms are the same. Is this because of descent from a common ancestor, or because only these pathways (and their variations) can sustain life? Evolutionists think the former is correct, cdesign proponentsists accept the latter view.

This proved to be rather damaging in a later court case,  Kitzmiller Vs Dover, whose judge clearly and eloquently categorized intelligent design as creationism.  

The Discovery Institute is the other major think-tank devoted to spreading intelligent design.  Like the FTE, the Discovery Institute likes to keep its religious foundation on the down-low, but their leaked manifesto made it very clear what their agenda is:

“To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies”

“To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God”

If you dig, this is where you end up.  Every ID supporter I have talked to or read feels that it is wrong to disallow non-materialistic (IE: “supernatural”) scientific explanations.   They all believe we were created by God.  They feel this as a direct result of their religious convictions, or might even say this conviction LED them to religion in the first place.   Religion is the very foundation of the Intelligent Design movement, which would not exist without it.

2) ID is the teleological argument.

The actual philosophy of intelligent design can be reduced to the teleological argument for the existence of a Creator.  The philosophy of intelligent design is religious in nature, because the teleological argument is religious in nature; it makes specific claims about God.  The intelligent design form is subtly different than the standard formulation, though:

  1. Complexity implies a designer.
  2. The universe is highly complex.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a designer

“So one elephant having a trunk was odd; but all elephants having trunks looked like a plot.” 

G. K. Chesterton

I’m no philosophy major, but even I can see that this formulation has some serious problems, even more problems than the original argument!  It’s because of this:

  1. Complexity implies a designer.
  2. The designer is highly complex.
  3. Therefore, the designer has a designer.

The fault lies with the implication that complexity requires design, design, of course.  IE: the assumption is; something complex requires something even more complex to create it.  For this reason, “complexity implies a designer”.  Conversely, if it is assumed that complex systems can come from SIMPLER systems, then complexity no longer implies a designer…there would be other possibilities. 

So it’s inescapable; the designer must be more complex than the designed in order for complexity to imply a designer.  But the problem is, this means the existence of a designer implies that the DESIGNER has a DESIGNER, which needs a DESIGNER, which doesn’t actually answer the fundamental question…where did the complexity of life come from?  

PS: evolution doesn’t answer the origin of life issue either, so ID shouldn’t feel to bad.  Stuart Kauffman’s into something, though…and it’s DEEP.  Engravings on the Stone Table deep.  

3) Obfuscation of language.

One of the traits of any movement is the modification of language that happens among it’s followers.  Religious movements are no exception to this rule, and neither is Intelligent Design.  But in order to see the stamp of religion on ID, it’s important to look at how two words are being redefined:

Creationism: 1) the doctrine that matter and all things were created, substantially as they now exist, by an omnipotent Creator, and not gradually evolved or developed. 2) (sometimes initial capital letterthe doctrine that the true story of the creation of the universe is as it is recounted in the Bible, esp. in the first chapter of Genesis.

Go onto any Intelligent Design website and search for the word “Creationism“.  You will find tons of comments about how ID is NOT creationism.  It’s important to realize, though; what they mean is that ID is not Young Earth Creationism.  Nevertheless, ID IS A FORM OF CREATIONISM.  It very specifically states that the creator designed life MUCH AS IT IS NOW, that the present day universe did not come about randomly.  

So while they pedantically argue that they’ve updated their science to avoid such embarassments as talking animals, a literal flood and a viable genetic population of two, it’s important to realize that the general definition of creationism certainly applies to intelligent design. 

Darwinism: “the Darwinian theory that species originate by descent, with variation, from parent forms, through the natural selection of those individuals best adapted for the reproductive success of their kind.”

Your average ID proponent will NEVER use the term “the modern synthesis”.  They will OCCASIONALLY call it “evolutionism” (NOT “evolution”), but will virtually always refer to the modern synthesis as “Darwinism”.  Furthermore, they will vigorously attack fundamentals of darwin’s theory like descent with modification and natural selection.  

However, they will pretty much ignore the advances in evolution since the time of Darwin.  This serves a very important purpose; to make evolution an “ism” instead of a science.  Into a personality cult, if you will.

This completely ignores that evolution is THE foundational cornerstone of modern genetics and biology.  It it is easy to compare Darwin to Newton and Einstein; his theory was revolutionary and helped create entire fields of science.  Make no mistake; evolution IS science, NOT “The cult of Darwinism”.  It is so widely accepted because it explains so much.

Here’s what is being done with the language: Creation theory is scientific, Darwinism is a personality cult that doesn’t deserve the title of science.  But if you look under the hood at both intelligent design and evolution you’ll find the exact opposite of this.  The advocates of intelligent design ARE Creationists.  Evolutionary theory IS science, just as much as physics, geology, and astronomy are science!  

The very nature of the vocabulary points back to the religious aspects of Intelligent Design.  The only explanation for the world is that an intelligent designer made complex life MUCH AS IT NOW IS.  OR…the best explanation is that simpler processes developed into more complex processes through descent with modification and survival of the more optimal genes.   Decide what you wish, but do no buy into the obfuscation, the former option is basically rebranded creationism and the later option is a wonderfully fecund scientific theory.

Oprah pwned by Anonymous

OMG, Anonymous pwned Oprah!  These loosely confederated Internets boys and girl have brought us such wonderful things as rickrolling (via duckroll), LOLCats, and pedobear, and the world is slowly becoming aware of their existence.

After all, they’re more than internet meme machines.  Earlier this week someone broke into Sarah Palin’s email box and posted some of the conent online.  And they busted this pervert, which is quite ironic considering what the prankster posted on Oprah’s message boards:

“It does not forgive, it does not forget, the group has over 9,000 penises, and they’re all r*ping children.”

Shudder.  Incredibly rude and horribly offensive, that’s Anonymous for you.  Who the heck is screening Oprah’s material?  She should have verified what she was repeating, someone with that much power should be especially careful!

We can easily determine this is an Anon posting through some amateur “higher criticism”:

  1. Anonymous’ infamous “Message to Scientology” video, which ended with this:

    Knowledge is free.
    We are Anonymous.
    We are Legion.
    We do not forgive.
    WE DO NOT FORGET.
    Expect us.

  2. The phrase “over 9,000” is an old intenet meme (something to do with DragonBall Z), and this caused at least one “news” organization to report that Anonymous have over 9,000 members in their “Internet Hate Machine” broadcast.
  3. The offensiveness of this statement is pure 4chan style; they always seek to shock even the most jaded.  These guys are direct decendents of those who created shock sites like goatse and tubgirl.

While of course I don’t condone this type of griefing, I can’t help but be amazed at their subversive abilities and their extensive impact on popular culture.  You might not even realize it, but I estimate that more popular internet memes have been spread by Anonymous than anyone else.

And to also be clear to all those news reporters out there: ANONYMOUS IS COMPLETELY DECENTRALIZED.  There is no “leader” of Anonymous.  There is no membership.  There is no formal ideology, and no website or spokesperson.  There is anon culture, but there is no centralized authority AT ALL.

Anyone who contacts you claiming to speak for Anonymous is LYING.  Anyone can claim to be anonymous, and the average Anon griefer can’t identify a single other member (or “hacker” as those woefully misguided “news” organizations keep insisting), except maybe a few friends.

If you truly wish to know about Anon you must “LURK MOAR, newfag!”

.

PS: NO, I am NOT a member of Anonymous, just someone who’s interested.  I don’t post anywhere they do, and I don’t participate in their Invasions in any way.  I like them, but I also find them completely offensive.  Fascinatingly offensive….

And as you can see, I use my real name instead of an alias, despite the very real chance of retaliation from those who I might offend (I’m Soorrry! :)   All I do is lurk sometimes, and write about it in my silly blog.  It’s like how I’m interested in Christian history and theology, so I write about it.  But I’m not a Christian, see?  Who knows, maybe I’ll write a book about Anon some day..

Anon “Hacks” Sarah Palin, and it was easy!

The sorry state of online security is highlighted by this weeks announcement that Sarah Palin’s yahoo email was illegally accessed, and some of the content was pointed on 4chan.  Wired has the skinny:

“As detailed in the postings, the Palin hack didn’t require any real skill. Instead, the hacker simply reset Palin’s password using her birthdate, ZIP code and information about where she met her spouse — the security question on her Yahoo account, which was answered (Wasilla High) by a simple Google search.”

Groan.  So typical.  A third grade script kiddie with half a clue could do that!  All the “secret” information was widely available.  The interesting thing about this security model is, the more highly public the owner of the email is, the LESS secure it is.

BEWARE!

I’ve avoided talking about Sarah Palin for a number of reasons, the main reason being the high noise to signal ratio!  The social networking sites have been all over her, as there is little lost love on the internet for religious conservatives.  So yeah; LOTS of rumors flying around.

One thing is very clear, though; Palin is a died-in-the-wool Charismatic Evangelical, and McCain chose her SPECIFICALLY to get the religious conservative vote.  She talks the talk and walks the walk; there is little doubt that she is faking it.  She is a very “orthodox” example of this group, from her thoughts on abortion to her belief in Creationism.  She considers the Bible to be inerrant and infallible, and it is clear that her religious convictions WILL affect how she governs.

Now is certainly not the time to rehash thebattleground issues in the Culture Wars, but suffice to say that the addition of Palin as V.P. has turned things up a notch.  But the celebrity period is over, and Palin is rapidly loosing here burst of popularity as we speak.

I personally think McCain made a terrible mistake in choosing this women.  She is well respected by evangelicals, but they do NOT respect McCain, and so will be less likely to vote.   The reason it is a mistake is because she is a big turnoff to moderates who would have voted for McCain.  He will not gain enough evangelical votes to offset the moderate votes he will loose.

I hope.  Obama in ’08!

The Internet Is NOT a Big Truck. It’s TUBES!!!

This is why the internet wins: