Countering anti-intellectualism

Topic: 

Fang-Face writes "There is an article at the First Amendment Center about
a free speech law suit to counter anti-intellectualism. It also contains an examination of the ultra-conservative hysteria over the presence of evolution in high school curricula.

At least one board member dismissed the lawsuit as "frivolous" and "stupid" and said the book, Environmental Science: Creating a Sustainable Future, was rejected because it contained factual errors.

[...]

Chiras argued that board members rejected the book solely because of protests by conservative groups that labeled it anti-Christian, anti-free enterprise and anti-American. Chiras denied the claims. He said that though the book does argue that America is not on a sustainable environmental course, it provides a healthy debate on issues from real estate development to nuclear energy

This is typical of the ultra-conservative hysterics who are unable to see beyond the very narrow confines of their religious prejudices. Since they cannot refute the information presented they attempt to discredit it instead.

Texas will also be under the microscope next week in a fight over teaching evolution in public schools as the State Board of Education votes on adopting biology textbooks that have been at the center of the debate.

For those not aware of it, the state of Texas pretty much sets the standard, or lack thereof, for what goes into high school textbooks for a large proportion of the U.S., which is probably why the anti-intellectual movement is so strong there, and particularly the biblical literalists."

Comments

I have never understood how an educational curriculum could be a free speech issue, nor how "community standards" could possibly be relevant in determining what a curriculum is. Truth is truth, and no amount of legislation or hiding behind misinterpreations of the First Amendment will ever make evolution untrue or any less valid.

What scares me the most about these Biblical ultra-literalists (aside from their terrifying misinterpretations of the Bible) is that they have no understanding of nor concern for the harm that they are doing to their children. Even if they have their way and get evolution wiped out of their school's curriculum, they won't manage it at the University level; and the students who graduate from the injured high schools will have to compete against University students who had the advantage of being taught real science and real knowledge in their high schools.

Not bad. In fact, very good for neophyte researcher.

One of your titles was actually published in the 21st century. (Of course all of my sources were written well after the ink had dried (and in some cases faded with this list)). I think we had this same timeliness issue with that violence and behavior issue a while back too.

My friend a gentle hint. Science is not a "social science". Ever notice that science libraries "ain't got a lot a books but a bunch of those magazine thingies"?

BTW, you may want to refrain on the Dewey numbers next time. As the stickler you are for "scientific" material, only 6 of your titles are classified in the 570's (evolution/natural science)

Here is the rest of your "scientific" bibliography. (Looks like it leans quite a bit on that religious stuff you admire so much)

153 - Psychological tests

220 - Bible

261 - Evolution - religious aspects

265 - Religion and Science (half credit here)

277 - US Religion

280 - Religion and American culture

817 - American Humor

So, aside from an old list with half being "non scientific" I say kudos to you!

Now give it a rest.

Stephen J. Gould:

According to the idealized principles of scientific discourse, the arousal of
dormant issues should reflect fresh data that give renewed life to abandoned
notions. Those outside the current debate may therefore be excused for
suspecting that creationists have come up with something new, or that
evolutionists have generated some serious internal trouble. But nothing has
changed; the creationists have presented not a single new fact or argument.
Darrow and Bryan were at least more entertaining than we lesser antagonists
today. The rise of creationism is politics, pure and simple; it represents one
issue (and by no means the major concern) of the resurgent evangelical right.
Arguments that seemed kooky just a decade ago have reentered the mainstream.
--Stephen J. Gould, Evolution as Fact and Theory, essay from his column and
reprinted in the anthology Hen's Teeth and Horses Toes, pg 253 (see the
essay Evolution as Fact and Theory transcribed in toto)

The basic attack of modern creationists falls apart on two general counts
before we even reach the supposed factual details of their assault against
evolution. First, they play upon a vernacular misunderstanding of the word
"theory" to convey the false impression that we evolutionists are covering up
the rotten core of our edifice. Second, they misuse a popular philosophy of
science to argue that they are behaving scientifically in attacking evolution.
Yet the same philosophy demonstrates that their own belief is not science, and
that "scientific creationism" is a meaningless and self-contradictory phrase, an
example of what Orwell called "newspeak." --Stephen J. Gould, Evolution as
Fact and Theory, essay from his column and reprinted in the anthology Hen's
Teeth and Horses Toes, pg 253 (see the essay Evolution as Fact and Theory
transcribed in
toto)

If today you can take a thing like evolution and it make a crime to teach it
in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the
private schools and next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the
hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the
newspapers. . . . Ignorance and fanaticism are ever busy and need feeding.
Always feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers;
tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and lecturers, the magazines,
the books, the newspapers. After a while, Your Honor, it is the setting of man
against man and creed against creed with flying banners and beating drums we are
marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots
lighted faggots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and
enlightenment and culture to the human mind. --Stephen Jay Gould, A Visit To
Dayton, an essay from his column and reprinted in the anthology Hen's Teeth and
Horses Toes, pg 278 [This viewpoint could be dismissed as a slippery slope
argument, yet, given the trend toward religious extremism that does exist in
christianity I find it an exposé of a very real threat. --MN]

The need to distinguish sturdy facts (pervasive pattern) from shaky factual
claim (single cases with dubious documentation) has never been more evident to
me than in the current debate between evolutionists and so-called "scientific
creationists." The fact of evolution is as sturdy as any claim in science. Its
sturdiness resides in a pervasive pattern detected by several disciplines -- for
examples, the age of the earth and life as affirmed by astronomy and geology,
and the pattern of imperfections in organisms that record a history of physical
descent.

Against this pattern, creationists employ a destructive, shotgun approach.
They present no testable alternative but fire a volley of rhetorical criticism
in the form of unconnected, shaky factual claims -- a pot pourri (literally, a
rotten pot, in this case) of nonsense that beguiles many people because it
masquerades in the guise of fact and trades upon the false prestige of
supposedly pure observation. --Stephen Jay Gould, Quaggas, Coiled Oysters,
And Flimsy Fact, an essay from his column and reprinted in the anthology Hen's
Teeth and Horses Toes, pg 385

The individual claims are easy enough to refute with a bit of research.
Creationist themselves have been forced to retreat from the more embarrassing
items. Noted creationist Henry Morris, for example, has often cited the
supposed footprints of dinosaurs and humans together in rocks of the Paluxy
River of Texas. But creationist Leonard Brand attributes some of the "human"
prints to erosion and others to a three-toed dinosaur. He also adds: "We do
know that there was a fellow during the Depression who carved tracks."
--Stephen Jay Gould, Quaggas, Coiled Oysters, And Flimsy Fact, an essay from
his column and reprinted in the anthology Hen's Teeth and Horses Toes, pg
384/385

False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often
endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for
every one takes delight in proving their falseness. --Charles Darwin,
Descent of Man, and quoted in the anthology Hen's Teeth and Horses Toes by
Stephen Jay Gould, pg 385

Evolution as Fact and Theory [First appeared in
Discover Magazine, May 1981 and reprinted here without permission
--MN]

Kirtley Mather, who died last year at age ninety, was a pillar of both science
and Christian religion in America and one of my dearest friends. The difference
of a half-century in our ages evaporated before our common interests. The most
curious thing we shared was a battle we each fought at the same age. For
Kirtley had gone to Tennessee with Clarence Darrow to testify for evolution at
the Scopes trial of 1925. When I think that we are enmeshed again in the same
struggle for one of the best documented, most compelling and
exciting concepts in
all of sicence, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

According to the idealized principles of scientific discourse, the arousal of
dormant issues should reflect fresh data that give renewed life to abandoned
notions. Those outside the current debate may therefore be excused for
suspecting that creationists have come up with something new, or that
evolutionists have generated some serious internal trouble. But nothing has
changed; the creationists have presented not a single new fact or argument.
Darrow and Bryan were at least more entertaining than we lesser antagonists
today. The rise of creationism is politics, pure and simple; it represents one
issue (and by no means the major concern) of the resurgent evangelical right.
Arguments that seemed kooky just a decade ago have reentered the mainstream.

The basic attack of modern creationists falls apart on two general counts
before we even reach the supposed factual details of their assault against
evolution. First, they play upon a vernacular misunderstanding of the word
"theory" to convey the false impression that we evolutionists are covering up
the rotten core of our edifice. Second, they misuse a popular philosophy of
science to argue that they are behaving scientifically in attacking evolution.
Yet the same philosophy demonstrates that their own belief is not science, and
that "scientific creationism" is a meaningless and self-contradictory phrase, an
example of what Orwell called "newspeak."

In the American vernacular, "theory" often means "imperfect fact" -- part of
a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to theory to hypothesis to
guess. Thus, creationists can (and do) argue: evolution is "only" a theory, and
intense debate now rages about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is less
than a fact, and scientists can't even make up their minds about the theory,
then what confidence can we have in it? Indeed, President Reagan echoed this
argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said (in what I devoutly
hope was campaign rhetoric); "Well, it is a theory. It is a scientific theory
only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science -- that
it is not believed to be as infallible as it once was."

Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and
theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty.
Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and
interpret facts. Facts do not go away while scientists debate rival theories
for explaining them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but
apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome. And human
beings evolved whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some
other, yet to be discovered.

Moreover, "fact" does not mean "absolute certainty." The final proofs of
logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve
certainty only because they are not about the empirical world.
Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do
(and then attack us for a style of argument they themselves favor). In science,
"fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to
withold provisional assent." I suppose the apples might start to rise tomorrow,
but the possiblity does not merit equal time in physics classrooms. [1]

Evolutionists have been clear about this distinction between fact and theory
from the very beginning if only because we have always acknowledged how far we
are from understanding the mechanisms (theory) by which evolution (fact)
occurred. Darwin continually emphasized the difference between his two great
and separate accomplishiments: establishing the fact of evolution, and proposing
a theory--natural selection -- to explain the mechanism of evolution. He wrote,
in Descent of Man: "I had two distinct objects in view; firstly, to show
that species had not been separately created, and secondly, that natural
selection had been the chief agent of change . . . Hence if I have erred in . .
. having exaggerated its [natural selection's] power . . . I have at least, as I
hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations."

Thus Darwin acknowledged the provisional nature of natural selection while
affirming the fact of evolution. The fruitful theoretical debate that Darwin
initiated has never ceased. From the 1940s throught the 1960s, Darwin's own
theory of natural selection did achieve a temporary hegemony that it never
enjoyed in his lifetime. But renewed debate characterizes our decade, and, while
no biologist questions the importance of natural selection, many now doubt its
ubiquity. In particular, many evolutionists argue that substantial amounts of
genetic change may not be subject to natural selection and may spread through
populations at random. Others are challenging Darwin's linking of natural
selection with gradual imperceptible change through all intermediary degrees;
they are arguing that most evolutionary events may occur far more rapidly than
Darwin envisioned.

Scientists regard debate on fundamental issues of theory as a sign of
intellectual health and a source of excitement. Science is -- and how else can
I say it? -- most fun when it plays with interesting ideas, examines their
implications, and recognizes that old information may be explained in
surprisingly new ways. Evolutionary theory is now enjoying this uncommon vigor.
Yet amidst all this turmoil no biologist has been led to doubt the fact the
evolution has occurred; we are debating how it happened. We are all
trying to explain the same thing: the tree of evolutionary descent linking all
organisms by ties of genealogy. Creationists pervert and caricature this debate
by conveniently neglecting the common conviction that underlies it, and by
falsely suggesting that we now doubt the very phenomenon we are struggling to
understand.

Secondly, creationists claim that "the dogma of separate creations," as
Darwin characterized it a century ago, is a scientific theory meriting equal
time with evolution in high school biology curricula. But a popular viewpoint
among philosophers of science belies this creationist argument. Philosopher Karl
Popper has argued for decades that the primary criterion of science is the
falsifiability of its theories. We can never prove absolutely, but we can
falsify. A set of ideas that cannot, in principle, be falsified, is not
science.

The entire creationist program includes little more than a rhetorical attempt
to falsify evolution by presenting supposed contradictions among its supporters.
Their brand of creationism, they claim, is "scientific" because if follows the
Popperian model in trying to demolish evolution. Yet Popper's argument must
apply in both directions. One does not become a scientist by the simple act of
trying to falsify a rival and truly scientific system; one has to present an
alternative system that also meets Popper's criterion -- it too must be
falsifiable in principle.

"Scientific creationism" is a self-contradictory, nonsense phrase precisely
because it cannot be falsified. I can envision observations and experiments
that would disprove any evolutionary theory I know, but I cannot imagine what
potential data could lead creationists to abandon their beliefs. Unbeatable
systems are dogma, not science. Lest I seem harsh or rhetorical, I quote
creatism's leading intellectual, Duane Gish, Ph. D., from his recent [1978]
book, Evolution? The Fossils Say No!  "By creation we mean the
bringing into being by a supernatural Creator of the basic kinds of plants and
animals by the process of sudden, or fiat, creation. We do not know how the
Creator created, what processes He used, for He used processes which are not
now operating anywhere in the natural universe. [Gish's italics]

This is why we refer to creation as special cration. We cannot discover by
scientific investigations anything about the creative processives used by the
Creator." Pray tell, Dr. Gish, in the light of your last sentence, what, then,
is "scientific creationism"?

Our confidence that evolution occurred centers upon three general arguments.
First, we have abundant, direct, observational evidence of evolution in action,
from both field and laboratory. This evidence ranges from countless experiments
on change in nearly everything about fruit flies subjected to artificial
selection in the laboratory to the famous populations of British moths that
became black when industial soot darkened the trees upon which the moths rest.
(Moths gain protection from sharp-sighted bird predators by blending into the
background.) Creationists have tightened their act. They now argue that God
only created "basic kinds," and allowed for limited evolutionary meandering
within them. Thus toy poodles and Great Danes come from the dog kind and moths
can change color, but nature cannot convert a dog to a cat or a monkey to a man.

The second and third arguments for evolution -- the case for major changes --
do not involve direct observation of evolution in action. They rest upon
inference, but are no less secure for that reason. Major evolutionary change
requires too much time for direct observation on the scale of recorded human
history. All historical sciences rest upon inference, and evolution is no
different from geology, cosmology, or human history in this respect. In
principle, we cannot observe processes that operated in the past. We must infer
them from results that still surround us: living and fossil organisms for
evolution, documents and artifacts for human history, strata and topography for
geology.

The second argument -- that the imperfection of nature reveals evolution --
strikes many people as ironic, for they feel that evolution should be most
elegantly displayed in the nearly perfect adaptation expressed by some organisms
-- the camber of a gull's wing, or butterflies that cannot be seen in ground
litter because they mimic leaves so precisely. but perfection could be imposed
by a wise creator or evolutioned by natural selection. Perfection covers the
tracks of past history. And past history -- the evidence of descent -- is the
mark of evolution.

Evolution lies exposed in the imperfections that record a history of
descent. Why should a rat run, a bat fly, a porpoise swim, and I type this
essay with structures built of the same bones unless we all inherited them from
a common ancestor? An engineer, starting from scratch, could design better
limbs in each case. Why should all the large native mammals of Australia be
marsupials, unless they descended from a common ancestor isolated on this island
continent? Marsupials are not "better," or ideally suited for Australia; many
have been wiped out by placental mammals imported by man from other continents.
This principle of imperfection extends to all historical sciences. When we
recognize the etymology of September, October, November, and December (seventh,
eighth, ninth, tenth), we know that the year once stared in March, or that two
additonal months must have been added to an original calendar of ten months.

The third argument is more direct: transitions are often found in the fossil
record. Preserved transitions are not common -- and should not be, according to
our understanding of evolution [ref. deleted --MN] -- but they are not entirely
wanting as creationists often claim. The lower jaw of reptiles contains several
bones, that of mammals only one. The non-mammalian jawbones are reduced, step
by step, in mammalian ancestors until they become tiny nubbins located at the
back of the jaw. The "hammer" and "anvil" bones of the mammalian ear are
descendants of these nubbins. How could such a transtion be accomplished? the
creationists ask. Surely a bone is either entirely in the jaw or in the ear.
Yet paleantologists have discovered two transitional lineages of therapsids (the
so-called mammal-like reptiles) with a double jaw joint -- one composed of the
old quadrate and articular bones (soon to become the hammer and anvil), the
other of the squamosal and dentary bones (as in modern mammals). For that
matter, what better transitional form could we expect to find than the oldest
human, Austropithecus afrensis, with its apelike palate, its human
upright stance, and a cranial capacity larger than any ape's of the same body
size but a full 1,000 cubic centimeters below ours? If God made each of the
half-dozen human species discovered in ancient rocks, why did he create in an
unbroken temporal sequence of progressively more modern features -- increasing
cranial capacity, reduced face and teeth, larger body size? Did he create to
mimic evolution and test our faith thereby?

Faced with these facts of evolution and the philosophical bankruptcy of their
own position, creationists rely upon distortion and innuendo to buttress their
rhetorical claim. If I sound sharp or bitter, indeed I am -- for I have become
a major target of these practices.

I count myself among the evolutionists who argue for a jerky, or episodic,
rather than a smoothly gradual, pace of change. In 1972 my colleague Niles
Eldredge and I developed the theory of punctuated equilibrium. We argued that
two outstanding facts of the fossil record -- geologically "sudden" origin of
new species and failure to change thereafter (stasis) -- reflect the predictions
of evolutionary theory, not the imperfections of the fossil record. In most
theories, small isolated populations are the source of new species, and the
proces of speciation takes thousnad or tens of thousnad of years. This amount of
time, so long when measured against our lives, is a gieological microsecond. It
represents much less than 1 per cent of the average lifespan for a fossil
invertebrate species -- more than ten million years. Large, widespread, and
well established species, on the other hand, are not expected to change very
much. We believe that the inertia of large populations explains the statis of
most fossil species over millions of years.

We proposed the theory of punctuated equilibrium largely to provide a
different explanation for pervasive trends in the fossil record. Trends, we
argued, cannot be attributed to gradual tarnsformation within lineages, but must
arise from the differential success of certain kinds of species. A trend, we
argued, is more like climbing a flight of stairs, (punctuations and stasis) than
rolling up an inclined plane.

Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating
to be quoted again and again by creationists -- whether through design or
stupidity, I do not know -- as admitting that the fossil record includes no
transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species
lievel, but they are abundant between larger groups. Yet a pamphlet entitled
"Harvard Scientist Agree Evolution Is A Hoax" states: "The facts of punctuated
equilibrium which Gould and Eldredge . . . are forcing Darwinists to swallow fit
the picture that Bryan insisted on, and which God has revealed to us in the
Bible."

Continuing the distortion, several creationists have equated the theory of
punctuated equilibrium with a caricature of the beliefs of Richard Goldschmidt,
a great early geneticist. Goldschmidt argued, in a famous book published in
1940, that new groups can arise all at once through major mutations. He
referred to these suddenly transformed creaures as "hopeful monsters." (I am
attracted to some aspects of the non-caricatured version, but Goldschmidt's
theory still has nothing to do with punctuated equilibrium -- see essays in
section 3 [of current volume -MN] and my explicit essay on Goldschmidt in The
Panda's Thumb.) Creationist Luther Sunderland talks of the "punctuated
equilibrium hopeful monster theory" and tells his hopeful readers that "it
amounts to tacit admission that anti-evolutionists are correct in assertng there
is no fossil evidence supporting the theory that all life is connected to a
common ancestor." Duane Gish writes, "According to Goldschmidt, and now
apparently according to Gould, a reptile laid an egg from which the first bird,
feathers and all, was produced." Any evolutionist who believed such nonsense
would rightly be laughed off the intellectual stage; yet the only theory that
could ever envision such a scenario for the origin of birds is creationistism --
with God acting in the egg.

I am both angry and amused by the creationists; but mostly I am deeply sad.
Sad for many reasons. Sad because so many people who respond to creationist
appeals are troubled for the right reason, but venting their anger at the wrong
target. It is true that scientists have often been dogmatic and elitist. It is
true that we have often allowed the white-coated advertising image to represent
us -- "Scientists say that Brand X cures bunions ten times faster . . ." We
have not fought it adequately because we derive benefits from appearing as a new
priesthood. It is also true that faceless and bureaucratic state power intrudes
more and more into our lives and removes choices that should belong to
individuals and communities. I can understand that school curricula, imposed
from above and without local input, might be seen as one more insult on all
these grounds. But the culprit is not, and cannot be, evolution or any other
fact of the natural world. Identify and fight your legitimate enemies by all
means, but we are not among them.

I am sad because the practical result of this brouhaha will not be expanded
coverage to include creationism (that would also make me sad), but the reduction
or excision of evolution from high school curricula. Evolution is one of the
half dozen "great ideas" developed by science. It speaks to the profound issues
of genealogy that fascinate all of us -- the "roots" phenomenon writ large.
Where did we come from? Where did life arise? How did it develop? How are
organisms related? It forces us to think, ponder, and wonder. Shall we deprive
millions of this knowledge and once again teach biology as a set of dull and
unconnected facts, without the thread that weaves divese material into a supple
unity?

But most of all I am saddened by a trend I am just beginning to discern among
my colleagues. I sense that some of them now wish to mute the healthy debate
about theory that has brought new life to evolutionary biology. It provides
grist for creationist's mills, they say, even if only by distortion. Perhaps we
should lie low and rally around the flag of strict Darwinism, at least for the
moment -- a kind of old-time religion on our part.

But we should borrow another metaphor and recognize that we too have to tread
a straight and narrow path, surrounded by roads to perdition. For if we ever
begin to suppress our search to understand nature, to quench our own
intellectual excitement in a misguided effort to present a united front where it
does not and should not exist, then we are truly lost. --Stephen J. Gould,
Evolution as Fact and Theory, essay from his column and reprinted in the
anthology Hen's Teeth and Horses Toes, pp 253-262 [1] Since the writing of
this essay, advances in the field of Theoretical Physics have developed theories
that apples might very well begin to rise tomorrow. These ideas do merit equal
time in the classroom. --MN

My business is to teach my aspirations to conform theselves to fact, not to
try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations. [...] Sit down before fact as
a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly
wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.
--Thomas Henry Huxley, quoted in The Panda's Thumb, pg 236

Great thinkers are never passive before facts. They ask questions of nature;
they do not follow her humbly. They have hopes and hunches, and they try hard
to construct the world in their light. Hence, great thinkers also make great
errors. --Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda's Thumb, pg 236

Give me a fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own
corrections. You an keep your sterile truth for yourself. --Thomas Henry
Huxley, quoted in The Panda's Thumb, pg 244

Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.
--Thomas Henry Huxley, quoted in The Panda's Thumb, pg 244

Nothing is more dangerous than a dogmatic worldview -- nothing more
constraining, more blinding to innovation, more destructive of openness to
novelty. On the other hand, a fruitful worldview is the greatest shortcut to
insight, and the finest prod for making connections -- in short, the best
possible agent for a Peircean Abduction. So much in our material culture is
both alluring and dangerous at the same time -- try fast cars and high stakes
poker for starters. Why shouldn't a fundamental issue in our intellectual lives
possess the same properties? --Stephen J. Gould, Dinosaur In A Haystack, pg
96

I do not know that my view is more correct; I do not even think that "right"
and "wrong" are good categories for assessing complex mental models of external
reality -- for models in science are judged useful or detrimental, not as true
or false. --Stephen J. Gould, Dinosaur In A Haystack, pg 96

I shall not hide my preferences and biases. I helped to devise the theory of
punctuated equilibrium with Niles Eldrege in 1972. I have cheered from the
sidelines [...] as catastrophic theories of mass extinction make their comeback
in the virtual proof now available for extreterrestrial impact as the trigger of
the Cretaceous-Tertiary dying [...].

I am not a foe of gradual change; I believe that this style of alteration
often prevails. But I do think that punctuational change writes nature's
primary signature -- and I am convinced that our difficulty in conceptualizing
this style of alteration arises from social and psychological bias rather than
from any shyness of nature in printing its John Hancock (so conspicuously that
the king might read it without his spectacles -- though we poor ordinary mortals
often seem blind, however prominent the signature.) --Stephen J. Gould,
Dinosaur In A Haystack, pg 135/136

Objectivity is not an unobtainable emptying of mind, but a willingness to
abandon a set of preferences -- for or against some view, as Darwin said
-- when the world seems to work in a contrary way. --Stephen J. Gould,
Dinosaur In A Haystack, pg 136

I shall not, either in this forum or anywhere, resolve the age-old riddle of
epistomology: How can we "know" the "realities" of nature? I will, rather,
simply end by restating a point well recognized by philosophers and
self-critical scientists, but all too often disregarded at our peril. Science
does progress toward more adequate understanding of the empirical world, but no
pristine, objective reality lies "out there" for us to capture as our
technologies improve and our concepts mature. The human mind is both an amazing
instrument and a fierce impediment -- and the mind must be interposed between
observation and understanding. --Stephen J. Gould, Dinosaur In A Haystack,
pg 214

One cannot always be right in our complex world; no dishonor attends an
incorrect choice among plausible outcomes drawn from a properly constructed
argument. --Stephen J. Gould, Dinosaur In A Haystack, pg 299

Our creationist detractors charge that evolution is an unproven and
unprovable charade -- a secular religion masquerading as science. They claim,
above all, that evolution generates no predictions, never exposes itself to
test, and therefore stands as dogma rather than as disprovable science. This
claim is nonsense. We make and test risky predictions all the time; our success
is not dogma, but a highly probable indication of evolution's basic truth. As
in any historical science, mst predictions refer to an unknown past (technically
called "postdictions" in the jargon). For example, every time I collect fossils
in Paleozoic rocks [...], I predict that I will not find fossil mammals -- for
mammals evolved in the subsequent Triassic period (while young-earth
creationists, claiming that God made life in six days of twenty-four hours,
should expect to encounter mammals in all strata). If I find fossil mammals,
particularly such late-evolving creatures as cows, cats, elephants, and humans,
in Paleozoic strata, our evolutionary goose is cooked. --Stephen J. Gould,
Dinosaur In A Haystack, pg 345

Since creationist-bashing is a noble and necessary pursuit these days,
readers may wonder why I am praising such an invocation of God's power to create
immutable entities all at once -- especially since Linnaeus substituted this
idea for earlier notions of looser definition and mutability. But, as I argued
above, the history of science progresses in such a manner -- from theory to
theory along a complex surface with a slant toward greater empirical adequacy,
not along a straight and narrow path pushed by a gathering snowball of factual
accumulation. The conceptual change was surely enormous, but Darwin's
invocation of natural selection in steps as a replacement for God all at once
did not require any major overhaul in practice. Species are real whether
created by God or constructed by natural selection -- and Darwin's conceptual
shift, the second unmasking, required little revision in Linnaean methods.
--Stephen J. Gould, Dinosaur In A Haystack, pg 423

Niles Eldredge:

Thus, the central importance of creationism today is its political nature.
Creationists travel all over the United States, visiting college campuses and
staging "debates" with biologists, geologists, and anthropologists. The
creationists nearly always win. The audience is frequently loaded with the
already converted and the faithful. And scientists, until recently, have been
showing up at the debates ill-prepared for what awaits them. Thinking the
creationists are uneducated, Bible-thumping clods, they are soon routed by a
steady onslaught of direct attacks on a wide variety of scientific topics. No
scientist has an expert's grasp of all the relevant points of astronomy,
physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and anthropology. Creationists today -- at
least the majority of their spokesmen -- are highly educated, intelligent
people. Skilled debaters, they have always done their homework. And they
nearly always seem better informed than their opponents, who are reduced too
often to a bewildering state of incoherence. As will be all too evident when we
examine the creationist position in detail, their arguments are devoid of any
real intellectual content. Creationists win debates because of their canny
stage presence, and not through clarity of logic or force of evidence. The
debates are shows rather than serious considerations of evolution. --Niles
Eldrege, Monkey Business, pg 17/18

It is the nature of things that nothing in science can possibly be the last
word. We are truth seekers, yes, but no one has yet invented a way of
determining what the truth is when we have it. We merely stick to ideas as long
as they seem to work. It is a mild understatement, at the very least, to point
out that creationists don't feel this way about their ideas. Scratch a
creationist and you find someone who knows in his bones he has the truth.
--Niles Eldredge, The Monkey Business, pg 78

. . . creation-science isn't science at all, nor have creationist scientists
managed to come up with even a single intellectually compelling, scientifically
testable statement about the natural world. At least ninety-five percent af all
of their reams of privately published books and pamphlets are devoted to an
attack on conventional science -- the prevailing ideas of astronomy, geology,
biology, and anthropology. creationists acknowledge that their "science"
consists mostly of such attacks; creation-science has precious few ideas of its
own, positive ideas that stand on their own, independent of and opposed
to, counter opinions of normal science. --Niles Eldredge, The Monkey
Business, pg 80

Modern creationists readily accept small-scale evolutionary change and
the origin of new species from old: "Of course, if someone insists on defining
evolution as 'a change in gene frequency,' then the fly example 'proves
evolution.' But it also 'proves creation,' since varying the amounts of already
existing genes is what creation is all about" (Parker, Creation: The Facts of
Life, p. 83) By the "fly example," Parker meant a case posed to him by an
unnamed biologist, where reproductive isolation between populations of a single
ancestral species had resulted in the appearance of several new species -- an
even more radical case of evolution than the shifting frequencies in the
coloration of the British moths.

Biologists are understandably amazed by such statements. Can creationists
actually admit that evolution occurs and still stick to their guns and
deny that evolution has produced the great diversity of life? In a word
-- Yes! This is precisely what they do. --Niles Eldredge, The Monkey
Business, pg 114

Skipping back 1.5 million years or so, we find the Australopithecines, whose
name means (as creationists fondly point out), "southern ape" -- and
automatically in the creationist book, a form of ape, and no member of the human
lineage. Assessing zoological relationships on such etymological grounds is
rather dubious, to say the least--but the creationists' "it looks like an ape so
we call it an ape" judgement greatly insults these remote ancestors and
collateral kin of ours. Their brains were advanced both in size and complexity
relative to apes' brains. They had upright posture, a bipedal gait, and some of
them, at least, fashioned tools in a distinctive style. No apes these -- but
primitive hominids looking and acting just about the way you would expect them
to so soon after our lineage split off from the line that became the modern
great apes.

But it is the fossils of the middle 1.5 million years that I just skipped
over that make creationists writhe. Here we have Homo erectus, first
known to the world as Pithecantropus erectus ("erect ape man" -- based on
specimens from Java). Now known from Africa as well, Homo erectus lived on
virtually unchanged for over 1.5 million years (according to some
anthropologists) and was, by all appearances, a singularly successful species.
They had fire and made elaborate stone tools. And they had a brain size
intermediate between the older African fossils and the later, modern-looking
specimens. Specimens of Homo erectus do n't look like apes, yet they don't
exactly look like us, either. To most of us, Homo erectus looks exactly like an
intermediate between ourselves and our more remote ancestors.

What do creationists do with Homo erectus? No problem -- Homo erectus is a
fake in the creationist lexicon. --Niles Eldredge, The Monkey Business, pg
127

Earlier I said that creationists are poor scholars at best and at worst have
been known to distort the words and works of scientists. Anthropologist Laurie
Godfrey (writing in the June 1980 issue of Natural History) has
documented many examples of creationists' penchant to twist words and evidence
to suit their purpose. I cannot close this discussion of creationist views of
the fossil record without documenting this serious charge a bit further.

The ICR's Gary Parker had been among the more blatant offenders. On page 95
of his Creation: The Facts of Life, we read: "Famous paleontologists at
Harvard, the American Museum, and even the British Museum say we have not a
single example of evolutionary transition at all." This is untrue. A
prominent creationist interviewed a number of paleontologists at those
institutions and elsewhere (actually, he never did get to Harvard.) I was one
of them. Some of us candidly admitted that there are some procedural
difficulties in recognizing ancestors and that, yes, the fossil record is rather
full of gaps. Nothing new there. This creationist then wrote letters to
various newspapers, and even testified at hearings that the paleontologists he
interviewed admitted that there are no intermediates in the fossil record.
Thus, the lie has been perpetuated by Parker. All of the paleontologists
interviewed have told me that they did cite examples of intermediates to the
interviewer. The statement is an outright distortion of the willing admission
by paleontologists concerned with accuracy that, to be sure, there are gaps in
the fossil record. Such is creationist "scholarship." --Niles Eldredge, The
Monkey Business, pg 130/131 [ICR is the Institute for Creation Research.
-MN]

Isaac Asimov:

As species reproduced themselves, there would always be small variations
among the new generations, variations in size, in strength, in shape, in
behaviour, in intelligence, in endurance -- in any of innumerable qualities. So
far all would be random. However, some variations would better suit the species
to the environment, and on the whole those variations would better survive.
They would be "selected" by the influence of their natural environment. Natural
selection would not act through intelligence, but the results that followed
would be the same as though it did act through intelligence.

In the century and a quarter since that book [On the Origin of Species by
Means of Natural Selection] was published, enormous advances have been made in
many fields, advances that have served to refine and strengthen Darwin's thesis.
The result is that biologists today accept biological evolution as a fact --
even as the central fact of biology -- although there is still vigorous argument
over details of its mechanism. --Isaac Asimov, Beginnings: etc, pg 45/56

(Indeed, every once in a while people argue in this way against the evidence
presented in favor of biological evolution. God created the Earth, they say,
with all the fossils already in place and with all the other evidence of a long
age for the Earth as well. This was done either to fool humanity, out of a
malicious sense of humor, or to test people's faith in revelation over
observation and reason, of for other trivial un-Godlike motivations. Some who
are wedded to the literal words of the opening portion of the Bible might accept
this sort of argument, but thinking people, even if sincerely religious, do
not.) --Isaac Asimov, Beginnings: etc, pg 154

Susan Friend Harding:

Most of the thirty-seven anti-evolution laws introduced in state legislatures
during the 1920s had failed to pass, and those that did pass were not actively
enforced. But the issue was moot because evolution was scarecely taught, or not
taught at all, in many school systems. After the Scopes trial, textbook
publishers, acutely sensitive to controversy due to their thin profit margins,
enacted a self-imposed ban on the teaching of evolution. for the next thirty
years, public school science textbooks avoided mention of evolution, referred
vaugely to Darwin if at all, and neglected biology generally, reducing it to
morpohology and taxonomy. In effect, according to the terms of this textbook
truce, Fundamentalists, though they had lost the war of national public opinion,
had won the battle regarding the teaching of evolution in public schools.
--Susan Friend Harding, The Book of Jerry Falwell, pg 211

During the 1920s, the "day-age" position, which held that a day of creation
may have lasted thousands of years, was common sense among Bible-believers. The
other belief common among conservative Protestants to until the 1960s was known
as the "old earth" position or the "gap theory," which supposed that millions of
years may have passed between "In the beginning" and the six days of Edenic
creation. Both positions allowed that many thousands, if not millions, of years
may have passed since the events recorded in Genesis and thus permitted
conservative Protestants. To accccommodate much mainstream geology and even
some evolutionary views in the form of theistic evolution. But Bible-believing
common sense changed after the 1960s, when a veritable creationist revival
dispolaced these pooititions with a new, "strict creationist" position.
According to strict creationism, "God creaed man pretty much in his present form
at one time within the last 10,000 years." The strict position, also called
"young earth" and "day-day" (a Genesis day is a twenty-four-hour day),
"virtually co-opted the creationist label" from the old orthodoxy. By 1991, 47
percent of all American surveyed by Gallup pollsters reported that they believed
in "a recent special creation." --Susan Friend Harding, The Book of Jerry
Falwell, pg 213

The main force behind the promulgation of a recent special creation was Henry
M. Morris and his associates. A PH.D. in hydraulic engineering from the
University of Minnesota and professor of civil engineering at the Virginia
Polytechnic Institute, Morris published, wih co-author John C. Whitcomb, Jr.,
The Genesis Flood in 1961. They argued against the prevailing
"progresive creationist" (old earth) orthodoxy, asserting that Bishop Ussher's
chronology was essentially correct -- the earth was six thousand, at most ten
thousand, years old, and the six days of creation were just that, six literal
days. To account for the fossil record, Whitcomb and Morris relied on the work
of George McCready Price, a Seventh-Day Adventist and self-taught geologist who
argued that the geologic column was laid down, layer by layer, as a result of a
single biblically recorded catastrophe, the worldwide flood at the time of Noah.

Confronting as it did the conservative Protestant establishment in the name
of a more biblically literal truth and simultaneously steeeped in scientific and
scholarly trappings, The Genesis Flood was an instant sensation. "Strict
creationists praised it for making Biblical catastrophism intellctually
respectable again, while progressive creationists and theistic evolutionists
denounced it as a travesty on geology that threatened to return Christian
sceince to the Dark Ages." The threat, as it turned out, was very real. Over
the next twenty-five years, The Genesis Flood went through twenty-nine
printings and sold over 200,000 copies, and its position became the new
conservative Protestant orthodoxy. --Susan Friend Harding, The Book of Jerry
Falwell, pg 213/214

But Whitcomb and Morris hoped to do more than recoup lost ground by
promulgating a strictly literal creationist position. What made their rhetoric
of strict creationism culturally productive and innovative rather than merely
reactive was its assumption of the very apparatus that had defeated them, the
apparatus of science. In effect, the popularizers Whitcomb and Morris and, even
more effectively, their collaborators over the decades following the publication
of The Genesis Flood, created creation science, also known as scientific
creationism. According to historian Ronald Numbers, by the mid-1970s: "Instead
of denying evolution its scientific credentials, as Biblical creationists had
done for a century, the scientific creationists granted creation and evolution
equal scientific standing. Instead of trying to bar evolution from the
classroom, as their predecessors had done in the 1920s, they fought to bring
creation into the schoolhouse and repudiated the epithet "anti-evolutionist."
Instead of appealing to the authority of the Bible, as [even] John C. Whitcomb,
Jr. and Morris had done in launching the creationist revival, they downplayed
the Genesis story in favor of emphasizing the scientific aspects of
creationism." --Susan Friend Harding, The Book of Jerry Falwell, pg 214/215

[The following lists a few books pertaining to the creationism in
place of evolution argument and surrounding issues. Sorry I
can't provide a whole slew of titles from various databases on
the internet, but I can only list those books I have actually read. --MN]

Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes
Stephen Jay Gould -1983
ISBN 0-393-01716-8
Dewey # 575 G698H

Dinosaur In A Haystack
Stephen Jay Gould -1995
ISBN 0-517-70393-9
Dewey # 575 G698D

The Mismeasure of Man
Stephen Jay Gould -1981
ISBN 0-393-01489-4
Dewey # 153.9 G698

The Panda's Thumb
Stephen Jay Gould -1980
ISBN 0-393-01380-4
Dewey # 575.0162 G698

The Monkey Business:
A Scientist Looks at Creationism
Niles Eldredge -1982
ISBN 0-671-44115-9
Dewey # 575.016 E38

Televangelism and American Culture:
The Business of Popular Religion
Quentin J. Schultze -1991
ISBN 0-8010-8319-2
Dewey # 269.26 S387

The Book of Jerry Falwell
Susan Friend Harding -2000
ISBN 0-691-09589-6
Dewey # 280.4 H263

Scripture Twisting
James W. Sire -1980
ISBN 0-87784-611-1
Dewey # 220.6 S619

What Is Life?
Lynn Margulis, Dorion Sagan
ISBN 0-684-81326-2
Dewey # 577 M331

Belief in God in an Age of Science
John Polkinghorne -1998
ISBN 0-300-07294-5
Dewey # 261.55 P765

The Variety of American Evangelism
Ed: Dayton & Johnston -1991
ISBN 0-87049-659-X
Dewey # 277.3 V299

How to Found Your Own Religion
Frances J. Phelan C.S.C. -1963
ISBN N/A
Dewey # 817.5 p51

Slanted Truths: Essays on Gaia,
Symbiosis, and Evolution
Margulis, Sagan
ISBN 0-387-94927-5
Dewey # 570 M331

Conducting Meaningful Experiments:
40 Steps to Becoming a Scientist
R. Barker Bausell -1994
ISBN 0-8039-5530-8 (cloth)

>>Moreover, if any of the samples of questioning evolution you cited above deal with the process of evolution rather than whether or not it happens, you have cited nothing at all to support your assertions.

IF????????

Here's a novel idea. Try reading about which you are criticizing first.

You may not be so quick to use that word "creationism" that you continue to incorrectly attribute to my posts.

Give it a rest until you do your homework.

The issue here is whether there are scientific challenges to Darwin’s theory. The answer is "yes". That’s it!

Bullshit. Once again, finding yourself unable to support your assertions, you duck the issues. The issue is whether creationism constitutes a scientific challenge to evolution. The answer is a very flat: No. Moreover, if any of the samples of questioning evolution you cited above deal with the process of evolution rather than whether or not it happens, you have cited nothing at all to support your assertions. To drag you back on topic: Creationism has no place in schools as an alternative viewpoint to evolution.

No "ducking" here. Just having fun exposing logical "quackery".

As for this ITC business, I have no idea what you are talking about. All of my sources are “legit". Nothing cited from vague and sundry web sites such as angelfire. Only "published" material cited in academic databases which are not free on the web. Hence your unfamiliarity.

Credence is given by challenging the content.

The issue here is whether there are scientific challenges to Darwin’s theory. The answer is “yes�.That’s it!

Darwin's Blind Spot
"For academic and larger public library science collections" (Library Journal, Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Albany)

Darwin’s God
"An award-winning volume argues that the theory of evolution was motivated by theological concerns, contending that Darwinism is a mixture of metaphysical dogma and biased scientific observation" (Baker & Taylor)

"...Still more fascinating is the way Hunter traces similar metaphysical arguments in evolutionary rhetoric from Darwin to the present day, suggesting that theological attitudes from the naive summit of the "modern" era continue to color perceptions of evolution and creation, often to the detriment of both....readers who strongly identify with either side of creation-evolution debates will find grounds for disagreeing with some of Hunter's assertions; but the cogency of his central argument should attract readers of both persuasions" (Publishers Weekly)

Again, your ignorance of publishers such as the Royal Anthropological Institute and the American Association for the Advancement of Science only serves as more fodder for you public dressing down.

Every, and I do mean every, journal I listed is indexed in one or more of the following academic databases

  • BIOSIS
  • Biology Abstracts
  • Chem Abstracts
  • Periodical Abstracts
  • General Science Abstracts
  • Applied Science and Technology Abstracts
  • Academic Universe
  • Periodical Abstracts
  • Proquest
  • Wilson Select
  • Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe
  • ERIC

    I can keep pulling these out of my hat all day.

    “Darwin's naturalization hypothesis challenged�
    Nature v. 417 no6889 (June 6 2002) p. 608-9

    “Perspective: Evolutionary developmental biology and the problem of variation�
    Evolution 54, no. 4 (Aug 2000): p. 1079-1091

    Species as family resemblance concepts: the (dis-)solution of the species problem?
    BioEssays; Jun2003, Vol. 25 Issue 6, p596, 7p

    Fertility or sterility? Darwin, Naudin and the problem of experimental hybridity
    Endeavour; Jun2003, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p57, 6p

  • your comment below perfectly illustrates your familiarity, or lack therof, of scholarly, scientific literature sources.

    You're projecting, Tomeboy. ISC is not a scientific institution, it is a pseudo-scientific institution. Part of a religious school, if I recollect. It does not produce scientific literature. Creationism is not scientific because it is not falsifiable; testable by scientific criteria.

    It's a choice for you, it shouldn't be for the kids.

    Ah, yes. The favorite rationale of the totaltarian. Children should have no rights and no choices because they are only children and we "older and wiser" adults should be making all their choices for them. Another non sequitur, as well. Children should make their own choices about what to believe in: natural selection vs: punctuated equilibrium vs: the Gaia Complex. They can even opt for creationism if that's what they want and if it is a creed in their individual religion. They should not be demanded to be believe in it as the only option, however.

    Nice try copping out, by the way, but I'm not going to let you get away with it. Obviously you have no rational rebuttals to any of my arguments and that's why you tried to duck them.

    No need to continue this thread. You have answered my question and proven my point.

    "Sloppy thinking" or just plain willful ignorance, your comment below perfectly illustrates your familiarity, or lack therof, of scholarly, scientific literature sources.

    >> Published by the Institute for Scientific Creationism, I presume? ....

    It's a choice for you, it shouldn't be for the kids.

    May we "cut out" the Latin business?? Please.

    No. If you insist on posting such samples of sloppy thinking I will insist on properly defining them as the illogic they are. People have a right to that information; and your request amounts to an attempt to impose a chilling affect. Besides, in light of your request to teach alternative viewpoints so people can make up their own minds, your demand that information be withheld from them so they cannot make an informed choice is a double standard morality. Not a fallacy; just a form of hypocrisy.

    My point is simple. Darwin's theory is a theory.

    Darwin's theory of evolution is a theory, on one level, the way Einstein's Theory of Relativity is a theory. In physics, the term theory should correctly be used to denote not a hypothesis, but a series of metalaws. The only thing that should be in question in Darwin's theory of evolution is his hypothesis of natural selection. Not whether or not evolution happens. Anti-intellectuals don't care about that, of course, and don't think rationally enough to give the idea due consideration any way.

    Certainly you are not calling the following folks who believe in God "pseudo nut cases" (ad hominem???)

    You forgot Fred Hoyle, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking. And no, I am not calling honest scientists religious nut cases, I am referring to "those pseudo-scientific nut cases who try to subvert science to their religious prejudices". You can hardly be in a position to complain about logical fallacies if you are going to quote me out of context while doing so.

    It's ironic you mention Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Does the quote, "Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish" ring any scientfic bells?

    Does "Two things are infinite; the universe and human stupidity." ring any bells? How about: Two things are certain: There is a God, and you're not him. Try telling that to the nut cases.

    Don't impose a "self-censorship" with respect to your unfailing devotion to Darwin's theory.

    This is a Non Sequitur. Just because I believe in evolution the way I believe in theoretical physics, it does not necessarily follow that I believe slavishly in Darwinism. And I will further point out that anti-intellectual religious nuts do demand a slavish belief in creationism. Rational people recognize the anti-evolution teaching movement as a means to promote that.

    A Few Suggested Published Scientific Readings:

    Published by the Institute for Scientific Creationism, I presume? An "insitute" founded in part to publish pseudo-scientific clap-trap that is so totally unacceptable to peer review journals that papers on "scientific creationism" are subject to automatic rejection. Along with papers about Perpetual Motion Machines.

    Challenges to Darwinism aren't necessarily the rattlings of "religious nut cases".

    No, not necessarily. They are, however, when "those pseudo-scientific nut cases who try to subvert science to their religious prejudices" make those challenges in an effort to promote the supremacy of the bible and religious fanaticism over physical reality.

    Let the kids hear all scientific challenges.

    Absolutely. The key word being: scientific. Not religious. And if you're going to promote pseudo-scientific misinformation, then let's also demand the teaching of the place of Ptolemaic Geocentrism in astronomy, Aristotlean Laws of Motion along with Newton's, the idea that "If God had meant for man to fly we'd be born with wings" along with Bernoulli's Principle and the rest of Flow Dynamics. Oh, and don't forget that teaching creationism is not restricted to evolution alone. We must also demand that it be taught as a feasable cosmology. Then, in the field of economics, we can teach, as an alternative viewpoint, that Barbara Ehrenreich and others who speak out against global capitalism, are unAmerican and godless communists.

    If you want a balanced teaching of evolution then you have teach that evolution exists, just that scientists don't yet understand the process by which it operates. Again: the system of misinformation by the religious nut cases is a matter of censorship and hence in diametric opposition to free speech, and a belief that it equates with a balanced education is double think.

    May we "cut out" the Latin business?? Please.

    It really means nothing to me other than my contemplation of the moniker "The Adhominator".

    Please, leave it be. (See Sanamens recent post)

    Regarding your response:

    First, I don't recall using the terms "creationism" or "intelligent design" in my post. That was your "logic" trying to assign meaning to my post. ( I believe this is called "ipso facto" and is generally regarded as a philosophical faux pas)

    My point is simple. Darwin's theory is a theory. A theory does not preclude any possibility for scientific refutation. (Surely your quoted Bohr, and his debate with Einstein re quantum mechanics should serve to illustrate the nature of a theory)

    You state >> Creationism and intelligent design are not science in any way, shape, or form. They are religion.

    According to this "logic" we should chuck the "Origins of Species" in the heap with the Vedas, Bible, Torah, etc.. See Church of Scientific Humanism.

    >>Scientists -- honest scientists, not those pseudo-scientific nut cases who try to subvert science to their religious prejudicices.

    Certainly you are not calling the following folks who believe in God "pseudo nut cases" (ad hominem???)

    It's ironic you mention Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Does the quote, "Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish" ring any scientfic bells?

    "Nut case" quotes:

  • We account the Scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy. I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatsoever.'' Isaac Newton
  • The current scenario of the origin of life is about as likely as the assemblage of a 747 by a tornado whirling through a junkyard.'' Sir Fred Hoyle, The Intelligent Universe
  • Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the only alternative is special creation and that is unthinkable.'' Sir Arthur Keith, a famous British evolutionist
  • If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.'' --Charles Darwin The Origin of Species
  • There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error; first, the volume of the Scriptures, which reveal the will of God; then the volume of the Creatures, which express His power.'' Francis Bacon

    Don't impose a "self-censorship" with respect to your unfailing devotion to Darwin's theory. Some may consider this to be "Darwinist Fundamentalism"

    A Few Suggested Published Scientific Readings:

  • Darwin's Blind Spot: Evolution beyond Natural Selection by Frank Ryan, 2003.
  • Darwin's God by Cornelius G. Hunter, 2001.
  • "Evolutionary Biology; Theory challenges Darwin doctrine of common descent" Genomics & Genetics Weekly. Atlanta: Jul 19, 2002. pg. 5"
  • "Creationism, Evolutionism and Anthropology" Ellen, Roy, Anthropology Today; Oct2002, Vol. 18 Issue 5, p3, 6p
  • "The hand of God." New Scientist; 9/28/2002, Vol. 175 Issue 2362, p3, 1p
  • "Darwin's naturalization hypothesis challenged.."Nature; 6/6/2002, Vol. 417 Issue 6889, p608, 2p
  • "The Challenge of Irreducible Complexity." Behe, Michael J. Natural History; Apr2002, Vol. 111 Issue 3, p74, 1p
  • "Science vs. Darwin" D'Agostino, Joseph A. Human Events; 06/02/2000, Vol. 56 Issue 20, p14, 1/2p
  • Do we need species concepts? Kerry L Shaw. Science. Washington: Feb 15, 2002. Vol. 295, Iss. 5558; pg. 1238, 2 pgs
  • Has Darwin Met His Match? Berlinski, David Commentary; Dec2002, Vol. 114 Issue 5, p31, 11p
  • The Whale's Tale Science News; 11/06/99, Vol. 156 Issue 19, p296, 3p

    Challenges to Darwinism aren't necessarily the rattlings of "religious nut cases".

    Let the kids hear all scientific challenges.

  • As another who supports the intellectual pursuit of scientific discovery, I would think that teaching both sides of Darwin's theory would be the "intellectual" thing to do.

    If by "both" sides you mean creationism that is an egregious misapprehension. Creationism and intelligent design are not science in any way, shape, or form. They are religion. And while religion and science are not in diametric opposition, they are mutually exclusive due to being about mutually exclusive fields of study. Science is about the physical, religion is about the metaphysical. There is no overlap.

    Nor is there any evidence against evolution. Scientists -- honest scientists, not those pseudo-scientific nut cases who try to subvert science to their religious prejudices -- do not understand the mechanism by which evolution operates, but they are in agreement that it does operate. Compare this situation to Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Just because the physicists of the day couldn't understand it and didn't like to consider it because it made no sense to them, that did not invalidate the laws of physics.

    Seventy-five percent answered that they agreed with statement B.

    ARGUMENTUM AD NUMERUM:

    This fallacy is closely related to the argumentum ad populum. It consists of
    asserting that the more people who support or believe a proposition, the more
    likely it is that that proposition is correct.

    At one time the popular consensus of reality was that the earth was flat, and also the center of the universe. Ask Galileo what he thinks about those schools of thought. And for more information about this anti-intellectual movement, see the viewpoints and reporting of the facts of the situation by Steven Gould or Niles Eldredge or Isaac Asimov.

    The demands to teaching anti-intellectual misinformation are not based on science, nor are they simply another aspect of intellectualism. Any allusion to presenting misinformation under the guise of an intellectual pursuit is double think.

    As another who supports the intellectual pursuit of scientific discovery, I would think that teaching both sides of Darwin's theory would be the "intellectual" thing to do. (See Hegel)

    Obviously the overwhelming majority of Texans, (comprising many ethnic, socioeconomic, religious and educational backgrounds as shown in this sample) rather than a parochial group of "ultra-conservative hysterics", believe Darwin's theory should be taught as such. A "theory".

    This sounds more like good science than hysteria to me.

    "New Poll Shows Overwhelming Majority of Texans Favor Teaching Both Strengths and Weaknesses of Darwin's Theory of Evolution"

    Copyright 2003 PR Newswire Association, Inc.
    PR Newswire

    September 8, 2003, Monday

    By nearly a five-to-one margin, 75% of Texas residents say the state board of education should approve biology textbooks that teach both Darwin's theory of evolution and the scientific evidence against it, according to a statewide poll released today by Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based public policy think-tank.

    (Zogby International conducted telephone interviews of 601 adults chosen at random in Texas. All calls were made from Monday, August 25 to Wednesday, August 27, 2003. The margin of error is +/- 4.1%. )

    Pollsters presented respondents with the following:

    Which of the following two statements comes closer to your own opinion?

    A: The state board of education should approve biology textbooks that teach only Darwin's theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports it.

    B: The state board of education should approve biology textbooks that teach Darwin's theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.

    Seventy-five percent answered that they agreed with statement B. Strong support was shown in every region of the state and across all ethnic and age groups.

    Well, wait a minute.Yes, it is scary to think of educated people who won't get science because they have no exposure to the dominant theories underlying almost all current scientific thought.BUT, the response that truth is truth gets messy. Creation myths aim for truth (the way that great literature is "true") but not accuracy. Science aims for accuracy not truth. (If the theory accounts for what we see happening, it is a good theory, but everyone knows it will have to change eventually).Certainly when you talk about writings on a topic, and perhaps especially with textbooks, you can't talk about truth. The whole truth never fits, and what gets left out depends on the bias, agenda, perspective, whatever, of the author and publisher.You could have a 'true' and 'factually accurate' history of the US that makes no mention of women and minorities. (Another complaint that comes up is that white men are underrepresented in history texts.) If truth is truth, than that textbook should be just fine.The Texans are right: Textbooks do carry an agenda. It would be impossible for them not to. They just want to make sure the texts match their agenda. And their agenda happens to be scary.

    Geology and Earth Science are often accacked because they do not include the flood and date the age of the Earth different from that computer from the Bible.Astronomy is also attacked on the same grounds, the universe is seen as too old. The big bang is seen as unchristian.Anything dealing with the environmnet is seen as playing into the hands of the tree-huggers and unamerican.Pretty much all science is under attack by the forces of ignorance.These people give religion a bad name. There are some religous people who see in creation something other than an attack on their beliefs. However, they have no voice. Teilhard de Chardin and Madaline L'Engle will not be found at the "christian" bookshop. Make sure they are at least in the library.

    Another problem is how far ranging the issue of evolution can be. It isn't just a subject in basic biology textbooks, but some biochemistry textbooks also cover the topic in dealing with the development of proteins from primordial soup, and the development of early life forms from prokaryote to eukaryote. If a group wanted to strictly enforce a ban on teaching evolution, biochemistry textbooks would be forbidden to explore the development of biochemical processes and only teach how they happen today; not how they came about.

    So, aside from an old list with half being "non scientific"

    Ah, yes. The standard ploy of someone who has no counter arguments. Since you can't rebut your opponent, simply discredit what he says. You want to try explaining exactly how it is that factual information is not valid because it does not fall into the area of what you consider scientific?

    Now give it a rest.

    When you get tired of being wrong all the time, perhaps.

    By the way, the ad hominem attack in the first line was a nice touch. Shall I also challenge you on the difference between looking up titles and actually having read the works?