Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lying for Jesus

I spent my vacation visiting family in Glendive, Montana. Glendive is about 40 miles from North Dakota on Interstate I-94. Glendive, like most Eastern Montana towns has been losing population for a couple of decades. It is the prairie. If you follow the Yellowstone River down to Sidney, MT, things are a little better there. They have oil shale in that area that is now economically advantageous to extract.

But not much oil in Glendive. So, Glendive is not a place where there is a great deal of construction. They even lost their McDonald's.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this new building right on the Interstate.



Glendive is the gateway to Montana from the East.




So everyone on the Interstate passes by Glendive and sees this huge, new building.






As you get closer to the building, you read its sign.



A dinosaur and fossil museum. That's cool. Glendive is in the badlands and many dinosaur bones have been discovered here. Makoshika Park in Glendive has a museum. But I am not sure if it is even open.

Follow the Montana Dinosaur Trail. Over ten different dinosaur species have been found in and near Makoshika Park. But Makoshika Park is not on the Interstate.



So what the heck is this place? Here is a picture of the front of the building.




Nice building. Notice the huge dinosaur head.
I'll bet it is expensive, too.





Let's take a closer look.






Crap. It is closed. A sign on the window says it will open later this summer. I go to my parents' home and check out its website, www.creationtruth.org. Yeah, it sounds suspicious.

I click the link. Yup. It is the website of a religious nut job. But this one has raised some money to put this phony, deceptive "museum" along Interstate 94.

You will want to check out the website and read the newsletter. The founder, Otis Kline, has raised nearly 2 million bucks for this monstrosity, with more needed. Please pray that the Lord will come through.

Where this money comes from, who knows? I hope it doesn't come from local people who can barely keep the public school functioning, provide basic services, or to provide funding for a real museum!


These folks are lying. It isn't just that they are wrong and stupid. They are intentionally deceiving people. Three examples:

1) This museum does not represent Glendive, even though it is called the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum. It has nothing to do with the city government or the people of Glendive or the State of Montana or any educational institution.

2) It has nothing to do with science, even as it advertises itself as such.

3) It does not represent Christianity (except for these Christian deceivers).


This is ignorance and deception. The people I talked to didn't even know that this museum wasn't a normal scientific museum. They are locals and thought it was a dinosaur museum, apparently like at Makoshika.

People of Glendive, you need to know that the world is going to laugh at you. "Boy, aren't Montanans stupid." You need to make sure that your public schools and your city government distances itself from this place. You need to treat it as you would any fundamentalist church.

You need to be writing letters to the editor of your local paper as well as the Billings Gazette clearly stating that this museum does not represent you. The school board needs to state unequivocally that this is not a place where teachers can take students for a field trip.

If teachers do take students to this "museum" for a field trip, raise hell.
It would be like taking a field trip to the local LDS, Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian (if they had one) church for indoctrination lessons.

Teachers at the Dawson County High School and at Dawson County Community College need to state clearly and publicly that this museum is NOT science and point out its deceptions.

If there are any ministers in Glendive with any common sense, you need to denounce this place as an insult to faith.

It is for this reason that we have the Clergy Letter Project. It might be time to check this organization out and sign on.

Here is a news report about these types of museums popping up all over. This is posted on Lying for Jesus:



H/T Debunking

59 comments:

  1. Did you see the article in the JC Press today about the TWO "Christian Theme Parks" slated to open in mid-TN? And the Creationist museum in KY wants to expand. As you say - all the money [and energy] wasted.

    sigh

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  2. That's just it. Imagine what kind of real ministries one could do in Glendive for $2 million.

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  3. The truth is that scientific evidence and the Bible are both inerrant. There can be no discrepancy between the two.

    If there is a discrepancy, such as dinosaurs existing millions of years before man vs. dinosaurs living alongside man, the suspect will be a faulty interpretation of either science or Bible. And in this case, the biblical interpretation that man and dinosaur co-existed collapses under scrutiny; there is no evidence for such a claim. Indeed it's 2 million dollars wasted on a faulty interpretation.

    I liked the Clergy Letter. It is flawless until the last two sentences, when it abruptly jumps off a cliff.

    We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge.

    The theory of evolution is a scientific interpretation with many of it's own problems. Is it a core component of human knowledge that we evolved from pond scum with no guiding force other than the indifferent randomness of the elements? The irony is that you are proposing the institutionalizing of an aging theory that many in the scientific community believes needs a drastic overhaul. Evolution itself needs to evolve.

    The "core of human knowledge" is knowledge, not interpretation. That is what we should be support teaching, knowledge as knowledge and interpretation as interpretation.

    The Clergy Letter makes the same mistake as the dinosaur museum fundamentalists, placing all their bets on an interpretation.

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  4. The irony is that you are proposing the institutionalizing of an aging theory that many in the scientific community believes needs a drastic overhaul. Evolution itself needs to evolve.

    This is utterly meaningless and ignores the continuous development, evolution if you will, of evolutionary biology since Darwin.

    As has been discussed here before, Intelligent Design is both bad science and bad theology. It's a carefully crafted legalism intended to get through the loopholes in U.S. Supreme Court rulings. In the blind pursuit of that goal, the Intelligent Design crowd has so distorted God that God is no longer recognizable. The God of the "ID" movement is not the God of the Christian, Jewish or Muslim movements.

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  5. "The truth is that scientific evidence and the Bible are both inerrant. "

    No, they're not, neither one of them. We orthodox Presbyterians have traditionally believed that the Bible is infallible, not inerrant. And no scientist I know would EVER say that science is inerrant. That's just completely and utterly wrong.

    We scientists discover new evidence all the time that requires us to alter previous theories. If science were truly inerrant, we'd still be believing that the earth was flat, the sun revolved around the Earth, and that acquired traits are passed on to offspring.

    Perhaps, Jim, you mean something other than inerrant, because that statement is so obviously wrong, I can't imaging that you actually meant it the way I'm reading it.

    "The "core of human knowledge" is knowledge, not interpretation. That is what we should be support teaching, knowledge as knowledge and interpretation as interpretation.

    The Clergy Letter makes the same mistake as the dinosaur museum fundamentalists, placing all their bets on an interpretation."

    First of all, there isn't a piece of scientific data out there that doesn't require interpretation. Second of all, some interpretations are clearly better than others. I suppose I could come up with an interpretation of how the Earth revolves around the sun that required a giant, yet invisible, yet immensely strong cable that connects the Earth to the sun, keeping us in orbit. I could come up with all sorts of post-hoc reasons for how this works that fits much of the data. However, it would still be a stupid interpretation, clearly inferior to special relativity. It isn't like we can't judge between two competing interpretations.

    And if we can't, then should we start requiring science teachers to teach other interpretations, like that Satan buried fossils in order to confuse us? That there are actually only 5 elements? That the earth sits on the backs of two elephants, which themselves stand on the back of a turtle? Astrology instead of astronomy? That aliens built the Egyptian pyramids?

    As for this, "The irony is that you are proposing the institutionalizing of an aging theory that many in the scientific community believes needs a drastic overhaul." I'd love to see your evidence for that statement. Many? How many? What percentage? Who are they? What are their credentials? What have they published, and where? And, even if some nebulous and probably fictional group of scientists believe it needs an overhaul, simple belief doesn't cut it. Evidence would be needed. I know it ticks people off that we scientists keep demanding all that pesky evidence, but that's how we roll. Fact is, if evidence were discovered tomorrow that completely debunked the theory of evolution, the result wouldn't be the decimation of the scientific community that fundies predict. Instead, I'd guess there would be uncontainable excitement about how to understand this new evidence and its implications.

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  6. Alan wrote--If science were truly inerrant, we'd still be believing that the earth was flat, the sun revolved around the Earth, and that acquired traits are passed on to offspring.

    I used the words "scientific evidence", that which we can see and test.

    Alan, you make a good case for why interpretations must be tested. Why then are the clergy seeking to make Evolution Theory the core of human knowledge?

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  7. ROFL. Speaking of faulty Interpretations...

    What Jim says that the letter says:

    "Why then are the clergy seeking to make Evolution Theory the core of human knowledge?"

    What the letter actually says:

    "We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge."

    Making? No. They don't have to nor do they seek to "make" evolution into anything. Affirming? Yes. The core? No. A core component? Yes.

    Here we have a case where not only is the interpretation wrong, but you haven't even gotten the wording itself correct.

    Nearly all of molecular biology and biochemistry is premised on the theory of evolution, as are the more obvious fields of botany, zoology, ecology, genetics, cellular biology, etc., etc., etc. (Not to mention a whole boatload of medical research, etc.) So the phrase "a core component" is completely accurate, given the importance of biological research in the world today. Evolution has become such a successful theory precisely because it works so well. Along with special relativity, quantum mechanics, and a short list of other theories, I don't think there's any way to argue that the theory of evolution is not a core component of our knowledge today.

    Will the theory of evolution continue to be modified as new evidence is discovered? Sure. Does that change the fact that it will continue, for the forceable future, to be a core component of human knowledge? No. And if it should ever be completely debunked by a better theory, then that theory would become a core component of human knowledge.

    "I used the words "scientific evidence", that which we can see and test. "

    There is still no way that "scientific evidence" is inerrant; not from a scientific standpoint. I'm sure you don't want to hear my hour long lecture about measurement error, significant figures, upper and lower detection limits, limits of linearity, and accuracy and precision. Every scientific measurement inherently contains error. We have many complex ways of tracking and dealing with these errors, but we do not have any way of getting rid of it in order to make a measurement "inerrant." Again, that notion is so wrong as to make me question whether or not you mean some other word.

    Nor is the statement that "scientific evidence is inerrant" correct from a religious point of view. But then, perhaps I just take the doctrine of total depravity more seriously than you.

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  8. But then, perhaps I just take the doctrine of total depravity more seriously than you

    God gave us senses that don't deceive us. I know we are capable of terrible self-deception, but we can be certain of some scientific facts.

    Will the theory of evolution continue to be modified as new evidence is discovered? Sure.

    Really? The only explanation of DNA's existence is evolutiondidit which sounds an awful lot like goddidit.

    Has the theory of Evolution been tested like our theory of gravity? No. Would you trust evolution with your life? From your own words, it could change suddenly, so, No.

    I am not against teaching evolution theory but the fact that it doesn't prove the origin of species nor the origin of life should not be overlooked. These clergy are showing that their motivation may be their negative reaction to the ham-fisted biblical interpetation of the Ken Ham's of the world.

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  9. "I know we are capable of terrible self-deception, but we can be certain of some scientific facts."

    You just keep digging deeper, Jim. I have to ask where you learned all this misinformation about science, because someone has done you a great disservice by teaching you all sorts of clearly false ideas.

    Certain? No, not really. We can be reasonably sure. For example, if I weigh out 10 grams of material on the balance sitting next to me, I can be reasonably sure that it weighs, 10.0000g as the precision of the balance goes to 4 decimal places, though there is error in that last decimal place. If that's sufficient to be "certain" that I have 10 grams for whatever my purposes are, then fine. But I cannot be 100% certain that I don't actually have 10.00002353g because I can't measure that on this balance. Plus, like all balances, it has to be calibrated, so I can't be certain that, even if that was done correctly, that the calibration weight was exactly the correct weight because it was created using a different balance that also has accuracy and precision problems.

    Perhaps you could help us both out by providing an example of something you think is certain in science? Because so far, you're batting 0 for 3. You aren't a practicing scientist are you, because that would be unnerving.

    Certainty, like inerrant, is another word that we scientists never use.

    "Really? The only explanation of DNA's existence is evolutiondidit which sounds an awful lot like goddidit."

    And your point is? LOL. Are you actually attempting to criticize a scientific theory for coming up with a scientific explanation of how something changed over time? That is a pretty silly criticism. The explanation for the evolution of DNA is much more complicated, by the way, than simply "it happened."

    "Has the theory of Evolution been tested like our theory of gravity? No. Would you trust evolution with your life? From your own words, it could change suddenly, so, No."

    Yes, evolution has been tested every time an animal mates and produces offspring with similar, but slightly different traits. It has been tested every time we alter the environment (ie. DDT) and inadvertently alter the animal diversity in that environment (ie DDT resistant fruit flies). It has been tested and retested. Simply making a statement that it hasn't may convince the ignorant, but you're unlikely to convince someone like me who is a practicing scientist.

    Would I trust it with my life? Sure, people do so all the time, it's called genetic counseling and is used to help screen people with possible genetic diseases. Would I trust it with my life? Sure, I have done so every time I've received a flu shot, or any other immunization.

    Let's not forget that newtonian mechanics is also "just a theory" and astronauts have been trusting that theory with their lives since the '60s. And the "just a theory" of quantum mechanics allows us to use solar calculators, nuclear energy, LEDs, computers, and about a zillion other devices. So these inexact, uncertain theories can still be pretty useful.

    "I am not against teaching evolution theory but the fact that it doesn't prove the origin of species nor the origin of life should not be overlooked."

    Again, you display that you don't really know what you're talking about.

    First, evolution is a theory that describes the changing of species over time. It doesn't attempt to explain where we all came from initially, nor why we're here. Second, nothing in science is ever "proven". This isn't the law, it's science. You want proof, go take philosophy. We can provide a great deal of evidence that evolution is the best explanation we have so far about how species change and adapt over time. But we cannot prove anything. Special relativity, quantum mechanics, none of these theories "prove" anything.

    "These clergy are showing that their motivation may be their negative reaction to the ham-fisted biblical interpetation of the Ken Ham's of the world."

    Or they're standing up for good theology. So called "intelligent design" is not only bad science, it's terrible theology.

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  10. By the way, I hate making statements without providing at least one reference to prove my point, so on the issue of where did DNA come from, and to prove that Jim's explanation that "it just happened" is wrong, here's an interesting article:

    http://tinyurl.com/6logx9

    You have something to dispute in that article, Jim? Perhaps your own work on virus replication sheds some light on this issue? ;)

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  11. BTW, I notice Jim that you've not responded to my suggestion that you were wrong about your interpretation of this phrase of the letter, ""We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge.""

    I only mention that because I've noticed that it is a common MO of some folks in these conversations to simply change the subject when they realize they're wrong about something in order to create a never ending stream of silliness that goes no where. I'm not saying that's what you're doing, but if you believe your interpretation was indeed wrong, it might be good to acknowledge the correction, and if not, discuss why you still think you're right, even though you clearly were wrong about what the statement said.

    Along that same line, you proposed that the theory of evolution is believed by "many" to need overhaul. I wondered if you could provide actual evidence of that statement, but you have not yet done so, but instead just made other undefended statements about science.

    If this is a game rather than a discussion, I'd be happy to know that now before I waste time with it.

    Also, I'd like to know if you seriously can ever admit that you're wrong (as you clearly are about a number of scientific ideas), or if you are unwilling to be corrected about those sorts of misinformation by someone who might actually know more about it than you.

    thanks & peace.

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  12. Jim wrote--I am not against teaching evolution theory but the fact that it doesn't prove the origin of species nor the origin of life should not be overlooked.

    Alan replied--First, evolution is a theory that describes the changing of species over time. It doesn't attempt to explain where we all came from initially, nor why we're here.

    We are in agreement. Funny that you then said I "don't know what I'm talking about."

    The broader theory of evolution was and is indeed taught in schools. I learned in 10th grade that we were descended from a "Franken-cell", pond scum struck by lightning and transformed into a living cell. Abiogenesis, macro-evolution, whatever you want to call it. In that I agree with you that I was misinformed.:-)

    Those points you brought up (offspring/vaccines, etc.) are verifiable tried and tested facts. Teach that, of course. Through trial and error we see what happens and we know what to expect.

    The broader definition of evolution includes theories that do claim how and why we are here. They were taught to me when I was in high school. The Clergy Letter can be improved by specifically excluding the atheistic philosophy of science under evolution from this "core of human knowledge".

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  13. "Has the theory of Evolution been tested like our theory of gravity? "

    Oh, and Jim, gravity isn't a theory, it's a Law. Special relativity, which explains gravity, is a theory however. But I'm sure you knew that. ;)

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  14. "Through trial and error we see what happens and we know what to expect. "

    Science, in general, does not work by trial and error. Again, that would be closer to "invention" which is closer to what Thomas Edison did, try various filaments until he found one that works.

    Fortunately that's not actually how science works. I never use trial and error to set up my experiments, but base each one on previous work (both my own and others) and an understanding of chemical structure and reactivity. It's thought out and planned out, not trail and error.

    "The broader theory of evolution was and is indeed taught in schools. I learned in 10th grade that we were descended from a "Franken-cell", pond scum struck by lightning and transformed into a living cell. Abiogenesis, macro-evolution, whatever you want to call it. In that I agree with you that I was misinformed.:-)"

    Let's not play snotty little games, shall we Jim?

    First, you seem to be deeply confused about what the theory of evolution does and does not explain.

    While some of what you're talking about has been altered in recent years based on new evidence, the fact is, we do have good scientific theories on the origin of things like DNA and cells. That isn't evolution. Those theories are taught in schools, of course, as they should be. They are valid areas of scientific enterprise. And your problem with them being taught in science classes would be what, exactly?

    "The broader definition of evolution includes theories that do claim how and why we are here. They were taught to me when I was in high school. "

    Huh? Then you should sue your high school science teachers for malpractice. Let's not generalize your apparently completely inept science teacher to the entire educational system, shall we? Evolution does NOT claim to tell us why we are here. That's philosophy.

    Again, I notice that you do not actually answer my questions, such as, "Perhaps you could help us both out by providing an example of something you think is certain in science? " And, I notice that you again don't address your obvious misstatements about the Clergy Letter, etc. So, again I ask, is this just going to be an annoying discussion that rabbit trails all over the place, in which you continually change the subject every time you're shown to be wrong? I can't help but notice you didn't answer that question either.

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  15. "atheistic philosophy of science"

    There's no such thing.

    Science is agnostic. Because it is a natural and physical science, it cannot know one way or another about anything supernatural. Atheism is based on the proposition that there is no God. That would require the ability, scientifically, to evaluate that claim, which isn't possible in science.

    Again, you seem unable to interpret even simple statements about science, nor did I see anything in the Clergy letter about an "atheistic philosophy of science". Could you be more specific and quote the exact phrase in the letter to which you are referring?

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  16. Alan, I don't understand your humphing between "the core" and "a core".

    Fortunately that's not actually how science works. I never use trial and error to set up my experiments, but base each one on previous work (both my own and others) and an understanding of chemical structure and reactivity. It's thought out and planned out, not trial and error.

    Good grief, you really think I believe scientists don't build their tests on previous work?

    I objected to the uncritical embracing of evolution as "a core component of human knowledge" in the Clergy Letter. They do not seem to be concerned about the misinformation that has crept in to the teaching of this theory. That's all. And if you say my science teacher was incompetent, what he taught was called macro-evolution. Why embrace that as well? Why not be more specific? That is all.

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  17. "Alan, I don't understand your humphing between "the core" and "a core". "

    It's really quite simple. Here's what you said the document says, "Why then are the clergy seeking to make Evolution Theory the core of human knowledge?" And here's what the letter actually says:

    "We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge."

    It is not THE core of knowledge, it as A (ie. one of many) core COMPONENTS of knowledge. Quite a difference. Again, a simple reading of the difference between your incorrect version of what the statement says and what it actually says is instructive.

    "Good grief, you really think I believe scientists don't build their tests on previous work?"

    Well given your apparent confusion about many other aspects of science and the several statements you made about science that were utterly incorrect, it seemed reasonable to conclude you were mistaken about that as well. After all, it is you who used the words "trial and error", not me. No sense in getting snippy with me over your imprecise use of language.

    "And if you say my science teacher was incompetent, what he taught was called macro-evolution. Why embrace that as well? Why not be more specific? That is all."

    To be clear, there's nothing incompetent about teaching macroevolution (for the record, the distinction between micro and macroevolution is pretty tenuous and is done mostly for convenience. It isn't like there are two separate processes at work here.) What I actually said was that any teacher would be incompetent to suggest that evolution, as a theory, explains anything about why we are here, which is what you claimed your teacher did. Also I noted that theories about early organic chemical synthesis, etc., were not actually evolution, which only explains how species change over time. So either your teacher was incorrect about that, or you misunderstood him/her.

    I don't think anyone really needs to write a whole statement against bad science teaching. If that's your problem with the statement, I'd say that's pretty inconsequential.

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  18. Alan, Here are a few questions that Evolution Theory cannot answer from a post at Uncommon Descent.

    Students can explain how inanimate matter spontaneously self-organized into the first living cell with its complex machinery and information-rich DNA molecule, without the need for design.

    Students can explain how evolutionary theory solves the problem that DNA cannot exist without protein and protein cannot exist without DNA.

    Students can describe how co-option explains the evolution of the bacterial flagellum. They will identify the naturally selectable functions of all the independent parts prior to co-option, show that they were capable of interfacing with each other, and identify the specific mutations or other random genetic changes that produced the assembly machinery and assembly instructions necessary for the co-option process.

    Students can explain how a land-dwelling mammal such as a cow or hippopotamus evolved by random genetic errors and natural selection into a whale. Students will show how the breathing, digestive, vision, hearing, lactation and other critical systems evolved in a step-by-step fashion such that each generation was viable during the transition from a land-dwelling mammal into a mammal that spends its entire life in the open ocean.


    You're the scientist, but are you not turning a blind eye to the fact that Evolution Theory has problems? He doesn't even mention the problem that the Cambrian explosion is the antithesis of "step-by-step changes over time".

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  19. "You're the scientist, but are you not turning a blind eye to the fact that Evolution Theory has problems?"

    No, I'm not. Jim, if you're unwilling to read my clear statements, I don't see the point in continuing. I've already said several times that scientific theories change over time because they are not perfect. Just how many times should I write that before you bother to read it? Or are you going to continue to ask silly questions that I've already answered several times?

    So, I'll say it again, in case you missed it the first several times I've said it, and this time I'll say it as clearly as possible: Every theory evolves and changes over time. Got it yet?

    This is one of the reasons that science is believable, because it doesn't rely on calcified dogma. A theory in science is simply an explanatory tool or model that fits the currently available evidence and allows us to make predictions. Evolution certainly fits that definition easily. Is it perfect? Of course not, nor will it ever be, as long as human beings continue to explore our world we will learn new things about it that will require us to modify the theory or perhaps even one day completely throw it out in favor of a new one.

    A quote regarding the tenuous nature of scientific theories that I like, "Celestial navigation is based on the premise that the Earth is the center of the universe. The premise is wrong, but the navigation works. An incorrect model can be a useful tool." (Kevin Thoop III) Every theory is incorrect in some ways, and as we gain more evidence, we find ways to correct those things. I really don't know how to say this more clearly, but clearly you don't understand that I've been saying this all along about EVERY scientific theory including evolution.

    Strange that you don't have similar problems with quantum mechanics, by the way, or special relativity. I wonder why that is? Perhaps because there isn't an entire industry devoted to making money off persuading people that those are also a problem for us religious folks? Just a thought.

    As for your objections, they've been answered extensively elsewhere. However, I'm not interested in chasing this white rabbit of yours much farther, as it's become apparent that you're not interested in an actual discussion, in which you actually answer my questions (as I have done with yours) and admit your inaccuracies and mistakes. Why bother teaching someone who does not present themselves as teachable in the first place? I do suggest however that even Google can find you answers to those objections.

    Thanks for the discussion, I hope I've been able to educate you about what science actually is, as opposed to pseudoscience and/or science fiction.

    peace.

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  20. "Here are a few questions that Evolution Theory cannot answer ..."

    By the way Jim, as I said, not only is that incorrect, they can be answered if you'd bother looking, the implication is what we in the thinking business like to call a "logical fallacy." In other words, even if the theory of evolution cannot answer your objections now does not mean it never can. And, it certainly does a better job than any pseudoscience you can come up with.

    Or perhaps Satan simply planted fossils in the ground to confuse us. LOL That's at least as plausible as any other of these wacky theories and has the lucky advantage of being completely unprovable by science. ;)

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  21. Alan wrote--"What I actually said was that any teacher would be incompetent to suggest that evolution, as a theory, explains anything about why we are here, which is what you claimed your teacher did."

    We're here by ACCIDENT, that is the reason my teacher gave. That there is no reason is just as much of a reason as a purposeful reason. And that, along with all of Evolution Theory, is atheistic.

    You are the one playing language games here. In this exchange I have the understanding that Evolution is tested and found to be true, and, if an Evolutionist says anything loony, then it is not Evolution Theory because ET is not loony. There's no need for skepticism.

    When it comes to Evolution Theory, you are a true believer, Alan. Have a nice day. Peace.

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  22. By the way Jim, as I said, not only is that incorrect, they can be answered if you'd bother looking, the implication is what we in the thinking business like to call a "logical fallacy." In other words, even if the theory of evolution cannot answer your objections now does not mean it never can.

    Evolutiondidit in bold. Need I say more? I looked, by the way, but I wasn't surprised to find anything because the folks who know those questions are unanswerable by ET have several hundred years between them studying this.

    Note: I am categorically against a Young Earth interpretation. I am also categorically against etching Darwin's dubious theory on my church's cornerstone.

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  23. Good post, John. It does seems a terrible waste of money. I'm amazed that so many people disagree.

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  24. Hey David, welcome!

    As you can see from the previous posts, the public knows so little of the basics of science that charlatans can confuse people with bullshit and then say 'teach the controversy.'

    It is good to have actual scientists like Alan around.

    The following comment from Alan to Jim is right on:

    "Strange that you don't have similar problems with quantum mechanics, by the way, or special relativity. I wonder why that is? Perhaps because there isn't an entire industry devoted to making money off persuading people that those are also a problem for us religious folks? Just a thought."

    That is what this creationism/id B.S. is all about. They are providing misinformation for profit.

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  25. The Jim-Alan interaction is typical of a phenomena that I have labeled "Internet Rage." What strikes me as particularly interesting is how quickly these disagreements turn into name-calling contests and attempts to play "gotcha!"

    Even the pattern of these interactions is virtually identical. Person A posts a message with which Person B finds fault. B invariably responds in a hostile fashion, lacing their reply with insults and combative words.

    Never does B take a moment to think about how a dose of diplomacy might make A more open to their position. I suspect that this is because B does not want to win A over; B wants to make A look foolish.

    A retaliates with their own vitriol, and a skirmish begins in which both A and B try to pin each other down by pointing out inconsistencies in the other's posts. This quickly degenerates into name calling and insults, with the final result being that both parties are more entrenched in their beliefs than before the exchange began.

    One would think that intelligent human beings would realize the fruitless nature of the entire exchange and end it. But that almost never happens. Perhaps the impersonal nature of electronic communications allows us to forgo clear thinking and slip into a blindly combative mindset.

    All of this makes me wonder just how far above the animals we really are. It seems to take little to persuade us to forgo our rationality and indulge the basest of our passions. What real difference is there, then, between a man and an ape?

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  26. Here is an article and picture of the museum guy from an interview in 2004 in the Billings (MT) Gazette:


    "GLENDIVE - Otis Kline is hoping to build what he says will be the second-largest dinosaur and fossil museum in Montana, complete with a theater, laboratory and 13 full-size dinosaur replicas.

    This would be a dinosaur museum with a twist, however.

    Kline wants to use the fossils to teach visitors a strictly biblical account of creation, to "absolutely demolish," as he says on his Web site, "evolutionism's nonsense."

    Mainstream scientists are as certain that the earth is billions of years old as they are that it is round, but Kline says he believes that the earth is 6,500 to 7,000 years old. He believes that the other planets, the moon, our sun and all the stars are as old as the earth, and that dinosaurs were among the animals that trooped, two by two, onto Noah's ark."

    And he has sucked up $2 million (so far) from Glendive residents (I presume) to share his wisdom.

    But you know, Glendive folks had this coming to them. I am from Montana and the West has a history of outsiders coming in to exploit them, from railroads to mining, to now Fundamentalism, Inc.

    Glendive could do something in regards to tourism and capitalize on their Interstate location and their state park.

    This Elmer Gantry is putting them on the map. Maybe he is doing them a favor.

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  27. Freethinker, may I remind you of my first comment - And in this case, the biblical interpretation that man and dinosaur co-existed collapses under scrutiny; there is no evidence for such a claim. Indeed it's 2 million dollars wasted on a faulty interpretation.

    Then I warned against embracing Evolution Theory as it has been shown to have serious flaws, if not being at best a misnomer.

    I am only being reasonable. Why, John, do you say "ID is BS"? Intelligent design is BS? Do you, the Presbyterian pastor among us, not believe that there is an Intelligent Designer? Do you believe in God?

    Seems to me that the supremacy of Evolution is above all else here. We can easier discuss discrepancies in the Bible before we dare discuss discrepancies in Evolution Theory.

    That is such a high ground for you that the fact that we agree 100% on the YEC fallacy holds no value as common ground.

    And regarding misinformation for profit, millions of grant dollars have been issued each year to evolutionists in a concerted effort to try and confirm evolution theory [and to no avail].

    You are making the same mistake the church has done so often in the past: GRASPING ONTO OUTDATED SCIENCE AS IF IT WERE GOSPEL.

    The irony is that I am as much against the Fred Flintstone museums as you all are. They are an embarassment to thinking Christians everywhere. My crime here apparently is not bowing to the throne of Evolution.

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  28. Alan,

    Nice posts. I think there is a very good essay on the nature of science buried in them.

    One of your comments reminded me of something I've been pondering. Fundamentalism seems to be based primarily on the belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. But that belief requires first that one believe in the concept that a book or a person or a process can be inerrant.

    Information theory demonstrates quite nicely that inerrancy is like a perpetual motion machine. It would require an infinite signal to noise ratio to achieve inerrancy. In any field.

    But more than that, from a philosophical position, science starts with the assumption that we are wrong. I don't know if it always has, but for modern science this seems to be the case.

    And good engineering requires the humility to know that "to err is human" in order to root out errors. You cant find your own mistakes if you believe you didn't make any.

    All this says that modern science is really antithetical to Fundamentalism. They have to kill us in order to resolve the cognitive dissonance that comes from the belief in the inerrancy of Scripture.

    Or as Jimmy Carter put it, a Fundamentalist can never admit that he or she is wrong, because to do so would be to admit God is wrong.

    Which is antithetical to science.

    Here is the quote that got me thinking:

    "There is still no way that "scientific evidence" is inerrant; not from a scientific standpoint. I'm sure you don't want to hear my hour long lecture about measurement error, significant figures, upper and lower detection limits, limits of linearity, and accuracy and precision. Every scientific measurement inherently contains error. We have many complex ways of tracking and dealing with these errors, but we do not have any way of getting rid of it in order to make a measurement "inerrant."

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  29. Jim,

    Theology and science are separate realms. ID is an attempt to confuse the two.

    ID is not science. ID is a philosophy. I don't think Hindu philosophy should be taught in science class either nor any of the other creation mythologies or philosophies.

    That is as simple and clear as I can make it.

    As to your other question regarding my views as a minister, I don't find ID to be a compelling philosophy either.

    Intelligent Designer is one metaphor that some people have for God. I find that metaphor limiting at best.

    An equal case could be made that God is a Careless Gambler.

    Perhaps a Sadistic Playwright.

    Or a Curious Experimenter.

    These metaphors are products of our imagination in the human attempt to make sense of the world.

    The problem with the ID movement is that it claims its metaphor is scientific. Not only that, its believers have something to prove.

    Let me ask you a question or two:

    What is at stake for you in this argument?

    If you were to accept Evolutionary Theory would you need to stop believing in God?

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  30. Two excellent books on this subject, well worth reading:

    "Finding Darwin's God" by Kenneth Miller, and "The Language of God" by Francis Collins.

    As to how the opening chapters of Genesis should be interpreted, I recommend the Teaching Company course "The Old Testament." (www.teachco.com)

    The similarities and differences between the biblical book and Babylonian myths are key to understanding what Genesis is really trying to say about creation.

    As far as ID is concerned, the best
    argument for it I have personally seen is in Michael Behe's book "The Edge of Evolution." It's worth reading if you want to understand what evidence there is for the ID position.

    Conversely, "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" by Daniel Dennett is an attempt to apply evolution to social, philosophical and theological matters. Worth reading as well, if you would like to see how militant atheists try to make Darwin's theory say things it doesn't really say.

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  31. I just don't agree with embracing Evolution Theory uncritically. Psalm 19 and 66 et al remind us that we are looking at God's work in nature.

    As far as believing in Evolution and/or God, the primary problem are the many problems with ET. I have no reason to support something that is flawed.

    There is also a problem with "theology and science don't mix". At some point prescription will overlap description. Evolution also prescribes - making theological statements when it claims life came about by a series of accidents and that nothing is guiding it.

    My point was simple, don't jump to Evolution's defense as if it were gospel.

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  32. Jodie, thanks for the compliment. There may be a good essay in there on the nature of science, but as I've been trying to point out, that essay has already been written a thousand times! Nothing I'm saying is new here. In this day and age one must be intentionally trying to remain in the dark about these matters, given all the information out there already. If people want to actually be educated about the nature of science, scientific theories in general, and evolution in particular, all that information is out there. But they'd have to be humble enough and brave enough to be willing to question their beliefs. Some folks just aren't willing to do that.

    Jim writes, "You are the one playing language games here. In this exchange I have the understanding that Evolution is tested and found to be true, and, if an Evolutionist says anything loony, then it is not Evolution Theory because ET is not loony. There's no need for skepticism."

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. Do you actually read anything I write? As a scientist I am a professional skeptic, and as I have stated (but you have ignored) several times, every theory out there has room (in some cases much room) for improvement. Evolution has been tested, and it has been found to be *reliable*. It is the best scientific explanation we have for the change of species. I never said anything about the theory of evolution being "true" because I don't believe it is "true" -- not because there are flaws in the theory (though that is the case, as I have admitted many times) but because no theory, not a single one, can be "true" by definition. I also do not "believe in" evolution. I *think* evolution is the best explanation we have at this point, period. Keep trying unsuccessfully to twist my words, Jim and play your juvenile word games, but anyone reading this can see how miserably you're failing at it. Apparently your expertise in science is not nearly as impressive as your expertise in lame rhetoric.

    "And that, along with all of Evolution Theory, is atheistic."

    No, it is agnostic. Science cannot say how, when, where, or why God played any role in the development of species on Earth. It can only say how those species changed, which is all it attempts to do. Anything supernatural is, by definition, outside the realm of study of the natural sciences.

    If there are scientists out there claiming otherwise, then they are just as misinformed as you, Jim.

    Freethinker, I agree these discussions are usually a waste of time, which is why I haven't wasted much time with this one. As I pointed in my earlier comments, none of these discussions are going to go anywhere unless someone has the ability to admit when they are obviously wrong. Notice how many times I asked for clarification from Jim, asked him to explain his notion of scientific "certainty", for example. Question after question gets ignored by him, while I answer every one of his. Then, when I answer his questions, he twists my words, and intentionally misinterprets them.

    For a discussion like this to actually work, one must have the humility to be teachable by someone who might actually know more about the matter. Jim is clearly not interested in learning anything new about science itself, or evolution in particular. So yes, I agree, any discussion with him would be fruitless, as I pointed out early in the discussion.

    If your comment is meant to chastise me, then I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I honestly don't feel too bad about what I've said here. I don't see much reason to coddle fools, and i I use the term "fool" in the Biblical sense, not as an ad-hominem insult, but as a description of someone who has the ability and resources to educate themselves about something, but chooses ignorance instead. Ignorance is excusable, we're not born with a library of knowledge in our heads. Foolishness however, is not excusable. It isn't like there aren't libraries filled with books on this subject, thousands and thousands of college classes taught on it, and about half the internet devoted to it. However, if one is not interested in challenging their faulty understandings, all of that information is useless.

    Though I may be somewhat (somewhat?) abrasive at times, I believe I have conducted myself well. I have answered questions truthfully, I have not intentionally misinterpreted Jim's responses, I have provided information. Jim has not answered any questions, not admitted his errors, he has intentionally misrepresented my responses, and provides not a single shred of support for his position.

    I have repeatedly admitted that no theory, including this one, is perfect. Jim refuses to admit he's wrong about anything. That's the difference between us, and it's the reason that discussions like these are useless. As my pastor likes to say, another word for humility is teachability.

    You're right, John, ID is terrible science. It is based on a fundamentally untestable premise: an intelligent designer exists. If that is the case, then that Intelligent Designer must exist outside of our natural and physical world and therefore cannot be studied by the natural and physical sciences. Such a proposition is therefore, untestable. A theory can only be scientific if it can be tested through experimentation. Somehow the IDers have never described the experiment they're going to set up to test the existence of God ...er ... the Intelligent Designer. Perhaps they've just been too busy building craptacular museums.

    The fundamental premise of ID is also not falsifiable. Are the IDers actually interested in submitting that premise, There Is A God, er...Intelligent Designer..., to be falsified (if it were testable in the first place)? Or is that a premise which must, absolutely be true for the entire "theory" to work? I'd say that cadre has demonstrated again and again that the latter is the case.

    Now, as a Christian, I believe that in the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth. And I believe that God reveals himself to humankind throughout history and that Scripture is an authoritative and reliable and infallible account of that interaction. However, no where in scripture do I find any reference to God as "The Intelligent Designer". I see Him referred to as the Lord of Hosts, The Almighty, Everlasting Father, and a whole list of other names, but not "The Intelligent Designer." I always find it interesting that the same group of people who bristle at calling God "She" because, they say, He doesn't reveal himself that way in Scripture, are the same ones who pray to "The Intelligent Designer."

    "Our Intelligent Designer, who art in heaven, Intelligent Designer be thy name..." *puke* Tell me, Jim, is that how you lead the Lord's Prayer in your church? Nah, forget it, you don't answer any of my questions, anyway. ;)

    In addition, where is there room in this ID "theory" for the incarnation of Jesus Christ? What tests have been done to confirm that Jesus is of the same substance as the Father ... er... the Intelligent Designer. How does an Intelligent Designer begat something, not make it, as our confessions state? Where is there room in this theory for the work of the Spirit? And how does this so-called "scientific" theory explain the Trinity? What is the chemical and/or biological process that accounts for sin, and when did the Designer design that? Sorry, Jim, but if one is going to start including theological questions in science, then one has a LOT of explaining to do.

    Funny, I've never thought about it before but the Nicene Creed nicely rips the Intelligent Designer a new one with that "begotten not made, of one substance as the Father" statement. Please Jim, explain your way out of that one.

    (Not to mention, as far as I can tell, ID is at best, a unitarian theology.)

    I also can't help but notice that no one other than fundamentalist Christians are proponents of ID. That alone should lead one (if Jim were skeptical like I am) to admit that it is nothing but badly reworked, perhaps even heretical theology and not real science. Scientific theories do not depend on one's religion for acceptance. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddists, etc. all seem to have no problem with special relativity and quantum mechanics. Nor do anyone but Christians have any problem with evolution. Strange that it's only a certain sect of Christianity that has a problem with it, and strange that they only have a problem with evolution and not those other theories which quite frankly have far more wide-ranging implications for religion (ie. effects without causes? quantum entanglement?? creation of slightly more matter than antimatter in some massively high energy explosions????)

    "I am also categorically against etching Darwin's dubious theory on my church's cornerstone."

    Finally, on this I agree completely, Jim. However, that isn't what the Clergy Letter is doing, and to intentionally lie about the project does little to help your case. We are Christians living in the world, but not of it, and we should speak out about important issues of the day, particularly those in which faith is involved. When people attempt to co-opt religion for monetary and political purposes, based on nearly heretical theology in our name, then standing up and saying that we disagree is hardly "etching Darwin's dubious theory on my church's cornerstone."

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  33. Jim writes, "I have no reason to support something that is flawed."

    Two words, Jim: "Total Depravity." Look it up.

    You support the Church, I take it? Flawed. You support human beings? Flawed. Your family? Flawed. Historic Reformed theology? Flawed. Yourself? Flawed. Other scientific theories? All flawed, flawed, and flawed. Scientific experimentation? Flawed. (Yet I bet you still take medication.) Air travel? Flawed. (Yet I bet you still fly.) Automotive manufacture? Flawed. (yet I bet you still rely on seat-belts and airbags to save your life in the event of a crash.)

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  34. "I just don't agree with embracing Evolution Theory uncritically."

    Neither do I. But until something better comes along, this is what we have.

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  35. Hi Alan,

    To add an outlier to that list; Father, Son and Holy Spirit....NOT flawed. :-)

    So where's the humility in being Darwin's latest bulldog? I think the problem is what John's post was about in the first place, a fake museum, a fake Christian museum at that. How about a Clergy Letter that states that the literal interpretation of Genesis is not fundamental to our faith? My Bible study group has that position.

    If we are really worried about the church then we should be concerned that nearly all those de-converts came from the fundamentalist side. They were taught dinosaurs lived with humans and the world was created in 6 24-hour days 6,000 years ago. They go out in the real world and find conclusively that that is not so, and they throw the baby out with the bath water....and become atheists. Call it the Millstone School of Conservative Theology. It really needs to be confronted more than Evolution needs to be embraced.

    In summation: Oppose the literal interpretation we know to be wrong, and retain our reasonable skepticism toward Evolution. That way, when, "something better" comes along, we won't be sitting with the bishops condemning the next Galileo. Is that a deal?

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  36. Btw, I changed pictures in mid-thread because my wife over-ruled the picture of my dog and I at the computer. I have never been able to win an argument against her so now I just do what she says.:-)

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  37. "To add an outlier to that list; Father, Son and Holy Spirit....NOT flawed. :-)"

    No argument there. But not only they just outliers, they are the ONLY outliers.

    Nor do I find much else to disagree with in your latest comment. However, that comment seems rather different than the other things you've written here. So, either you've softened your position (vs. "Has the theory of evolution been tested? No."), stated it more clearly, or I've been misinterpreting what you've been saying. (Or D, all of the above.)

    I obviously don't have a problem with the Clergy Letter because I don't think it does any of the things you think it does.

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  38. Settled then. We agree except on the last two sentences of the clergy letter. I find them unhelpful and unnecessary. You see no harm in them. Life goes on. Regards.

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  39. I always find these discussions interesting from the perspective of a European vantage-point. We just don't tend to have this problem to the extent you folk do.

    I recently did a four-post series on science and religion. It caused barely a ripple.

    Yes, we have a lunatic fringe of evango-fundies, but no-one takes them seriously and they wield no significant influence.

    I teach Religious Studies. It is a core element of our national curriculum and it is non-confessional: I don't teach religion, I teach about religions.

    I teach a form of I.D. because it has a long standing tradition going back to Newton and Paley. I also look at the Big Bang Theory and Evolution together with the traditional creation myth and Aquinas's First Cause Theory.

    My science colleagues would not dream of slipping I.D. into the science curriculum and the government would have industrial action on their hands if they tried to have it introduced.

    What is it about the American and European experiences that the outcomes are so different?

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  40. "What is it about the American and European experiences that the outcomes are so different?"

    That's a great question, and one I don't have any answer for. But I guess the easy answer is, "Because you exported all your fundies to us in the 1600s." :)

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  41. "You're right, John, ID is terrible science. It is based on a fundamentally untestable premise: an intelligent designer exists. If that is the case, then that Intelligent Designer must exist outside of our natural and physical world and therefore cannot be studied by the natural and physical sciences."

    Actually this is a misrepresentation of ID, which does not specify who or what created life other than that it was an intelligent agent. As Michael Behe states clearly in his books, the "designer" may very well have been aliens, and, as SETI demonstrates, there are very good scientific reasons for thinking we may one day contact ETs, perhaps the ones that fashioned life on earth eons ago.

    This misperception of ID is certainly understandable, since popular reports on it tend not to mention this point. Should anyone question what I have written above, I will be happy to find the specific quotes in Behe's books, which rest on my bookshelf even now, living with Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" without rancor or mischief.

    Notice that I was able to write an entire post without referring to anyone as a fool, questioning their intelligence or integrity, or indulging in other caustic dialogue.

    Civility, my good friends, always civility! We all seek the same goal: the kingdom of God. Can we not seek it together?

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  42. John said: "An equal case could be made that God is a Careless Gambler.

    Perhaps a Sadistic Playwright.

    Or a Curious Experimenter."

    What about the concept that our universe is the product of the "Carelss Gambler's" sneeze? Then there's no need for intelligence at all!

    After all, there's all kinds of stuff living in those little particles of effluvia that we toss out during allergy season. I'm just sayin'...

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  43. To add an outlier to that list; Father, Son and Holy Spirit....NOT flawed. :-)

    I realize this is a "joke", but Total Depravity refers to the inherent flawed-ness (to invent a word) of all things human. I hope we're not comparing ourselves to God again (or v.v.).

    God gave us senses that don't deceive us.

    Why Jim keeps bringing this up, I'll never know. It's the old Scottish Common Sense theory that our senses are perfect windows from the outside world into our brains. The problem with it is that the world magically has to match the opinions of seventeenth-century Scotsmen.

    Our senses are limited and they are very prone to error (in fact, intentionally triggering this can be a fun way to waste a couple of hours). The data relayed to our brains by our senses is limited by the inherent limitations in biological systems, including the human nervous system. Some might call this postmodernism; others might call it a form "total depravity" and self-awareness.

    And One. More. Time:

    "Intelligent Design" is a legal convenience designed to work around the limitations of a ruling by the United States Supreme Court. It is bad science and bad theology. Those who are worshiping the "Intelligent Designer" are not worshiping the God revealed to us through Scripture, but bizarrely a legal construct.

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  44. "As Michael Behe states clearly in his books, the "designer" may very well have been aliens, and, as SETI demonstrates, there are very good scientific reasons for thinking we may one day contact ETs, perhaps the ones that fashioned life on earth eons ago."

    Ugh... I hope that, whoever Michael Behe is, that doesn't really believe that. That's even worse than the usual ID theories. However, it did make for a good "Star Trek: The Next Generation episode." (The one where the Romulans, Klingons, Humans, and Cardassians all find out they were all created by a race of aliens.)

    But of course, I was simply talking about the vast, vast majority of ID advocates for whom the Venn Diagram of Intelligent Designer completely overlaps with God. They would, I have no doubt, be as displeased with the "Aliens caused human life" theory as I am. On the other hand, at this time, it is no more testable than their theory so they're about as equally non-scientific.

    "God gave us senses that don't deceive us."

    Yeah, I don't understand that statement. Mine do all the time.

    "Notice that I was able to write an entire post without referring to anyone as a fool, questioning their intelligence or integrity, or indulging in other caustic dialogue."

    With respect, and being as civil as I can be, I honestly don't understand this line of attack, Freethinker. By publicly condemning others for incivility, you don't seem to be displaying it much yourself, quite frankly. Miss Manners would, I'm sure, tell you that it isn't good manners to correct others' manners in public. (I read her column weekly, and she had a letter about that very thing, just a few weeks ago.)

    I do not think it inappropriate to question someone's integrity when there is reason, nor do I have any problem with pointing out someone's apparently intentional efforts to remain uneducated about these issues. And, when someone clearly misrepresents the truth by intentionally misquoting something in order to prove their own point, I hardly think it is better to ignore it, simply to appear to be civil. We're all adults here, and I assume we're not all that fragile. We're big boys here, if Jim wanted an apology for something I wrote, he could ask for it. At the same time, quite frankly, I don't see that he has anything to apologize for.

    While I commend your efforts, I can't help but notice that earlier you did write, "All of this makes me wonder just how far above the animals we really are .... What real difference is there, then, between a man and an ape?" which seems rather uncivil itself.

    Just sayin'.

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  45. FYI

    Ah...oops I didn't recognize his name. Michael Behe is the guy who, according to his own testimony in the Dover case, believes that, according to his definition of a "theory", astrology is a scientific theory as well.

    For anyone who hasn't seen it, "Intelligent Design on Trial", a NOVA special on PBS about the Dover trial is an excellent resource.

    It's available on the web:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/program.html

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  46. Flycandler, my old buddy, what I mean by our senses do not deceive us is that we can settle on certain truths about nature and history. We are human but we can pool together our senses and minds and produce verifiable data about our universe. That is what I am saying.

    If there seems to be a contradiction between the Bible and settled science we need to ask ourselves first whether the contradiction is due to a flawed interpretation of either scientific evidence or Scripture. The disagreement with Alan was over Evolution as settled science. I dissented on that point.

    And since I don't know of any irrefutable contradictions between the science and scripture, I would put my money on the flawed interpretation being the culprit. Not sure if that's Scottish common sense or not, but we are Presbyterians. :-)

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  47. I would put my money on the flawed interpretation [of science or of scripture] being the culprit.

    I wanted to add: Humility is esential when we are looking inside God's toolbox (nature) and when we are looking inside His inspired Word.

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  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  49. Alan is reacting to my posts as I anticipated. He is trying the "you're just a hypocrite" ploy, hoping to invent evidence that would discredit me as a hypocrite.

    This way he can avoid having to admit his own incivility and continue to derive pleasure from this very unnecessary argument. Yes, very much the usual pattern. It's always easier to point a finger than look in the mirror.

    Of course such an ad hominen approach is logically invalid. Whether I practice what I preach or not has no impact on the validity of my sermon. As the chain smoker said "this habit'll kill ya."

    Civility, gentle discourse, tact...these are far more effective at winning others to one's point of view than calling others nasty things.

    Of course, if you never try them, then you will never know this to be true. Why not give them a chance? After all, we are called to win souls, not arguments.

    In any event, I wish Alan, Jim and the others here all the best! In the meantime I will not consider myself superior to them, but will rather bow my head, and say "God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13).

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  50. Jim wrote:

    "If there seems to be a contradiction between the Bible and settled science we need to ask ourselves first whether the contradiction is due to a flawed interpretation of either scientific evidence or Scripture."

    I would say there is no contradiction between science and scripture because scripture is not science.

    Any scientific theory, such as the theory of evolution, has nothing to do with the Bible, the Lotus Sutra, the Qur'an, the Bhagavad Gita, Enuma Elish, Gilgamesh, or any of the thousands of sacred mythologies.

    This is from the clergy letter:

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

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  51. John wrote--I would say there is no contradiction between science and scripture because scripture is not science.

    Exactly! Scripture/theology is not science, which is why we should be on guard against people who use scripture to make scientific claims AND those who try to use science to make theological statements.

    In either case, the problem is in interpretation, not in science or scripture.

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  52. "Exactly! Scripture/theology is not science, which is why we should be on guard against people who use scripture to make scientific claims AND those who try to use science to make theological statements."

    Agreed.

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  53. Phew that was exhausting - interesting and so thought provoking, but exhausting.

    And nothing that I can add that has not been already said by those of like minds and hearts.

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  54. So because the Presbyterian Church comes from Scotland, and Scottish Common Sense philosophy (which is a couple of centuries younger) comes from Scotland, therefore Presbyterians believe all things that come from Scotland?

    Are you now once again claiming to be Presbyterian, even after writing that

    The denomination that I still belong to is the PCUSA, which has become more and more heretical with time. It is teeter-tottering on the fence between old, washed-out denomination and New Age heresy sell-out. If I condemn whole swaths of Christians, I am forgetting that I too am standing on a swath of Christianity, and it has BULK TRASH stamped all over it. Even if I were to leave now, I may still be judged for staying so long.

    BTW, Jim has done the old Move The Ball To Another Court Without Telling The Other Player Then Turn On Comment Moderation ploy again.

    But what else is new?

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  55. "Ah...oops I didn't recognize his name. Michael Behe is the guy who, according to his own testimony in the Dover case, believes that, according to his definition of a "theory", astrology is a scientific theory as well."

    An interesting point. I am assuming that, in the interests of fairness, you read the court transcripts in which this was allegedly said, to ensure that the remark was not taken out of context. Where may I find the transcripts on line, so I may review them as well?

    Also, please cite examples of ID proponents insisting that the designer must be a supernatural God. I would enjoy researching those claims.

    Finally, my friend, if I may beg one more thing of you:

    Other than your own consternation, what exactly makes the theory that aliens seeded life on earth implausible?

    Thank you in advance for clarifying these matters for me. I enjoy learning from others who have sought these matters out in ways that I haven't.

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  56. In the spirit of full disclosure, it should be noted that "Flycandler" is my ex-wife.




    Hahahahaha....

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  57. freethinker,

    You can google the Dover case and find not only the transcripts but the judge's ruling.

    The ruling is devastating. He found the witnesses for ID perjuring themselves repeatedly, which really pissed him off, and found that ID is nothing but an intentionally deceptive re-packaging of creationism and a premeditated ploy to promote religious ideas in the public school system under the guise of science.

    Lots of good stuff on the definition of "science", the meaning of "scientific theory" and why ID cannot be considered either.

    His ruling and the documentation sets up such a strong precedent that it is unlikely the proponents of ID will ever win another case in court.

    But they will try. In some naive school district somewhere, unsuspecting school teachers who themselves are unclear on the definition of science will come up against accredited PhDs who will tell them that evolution is "just an unproven theory" and that kids should be allowed to decide for themselves if they want to "believe" in the theory that evolution is a fact of nature, or "believe as the bible says", that the world was created in six days by the hand of God and man was literally fashioned as a clay statue that God brought to life, and Eve from one of his ribs.

    Personally I think Music theory too is just a theory and music is not really a fact. Same goes for Linguistics. While there is evidence of micro evolution of languages where certain ways of speaking change a little here and there over time, there is no evidence of one language actually morphing into another language. They were all created by God at the tower of Babel. Says so in the Bible.

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  58. "Other than your own consternation, what exactly makes the theory that aliens seeded life on earth implausible?"

    Who made the aliens? ;)

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