Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Adam Rutherford on Synthetic Biology and Ethics

Adam Rutherford argues that we need to meddle more, not less, with the genes of biological organisms. Writing in the Guardian Comment is Free Synthetic biology: ‘playing God’ is vital if we are to create a better future for all – The present gains and future benefits of synthetic biology are too great for it to be written off with fear-mongering maximshe is critical of environmentalists and religious groups for apparently seeking to restrict scientific discovery. However, he muddies the waters by confusing scientific discovery with technology. He writes for instance

“That accusation has been made in attacks against many of the major scientific advances of the modern era, including Watson and Crick’s description of the structure of DNA in 1953; the birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, in 1978; the creation of Dolly the sheep in 1997; and the sequencing of the human genome in 2001. In all these scenarios, it’s not clear exactly what “playing God” actually means.” Read More ›

Is Dawkins Really an Enemy of Science?

I wonder – aiming a science book at children entitled The Magic of Reality might be seen as encouraging them to think of the practice in the same way they might read a fairy story, or watch Fantasia or the fictional Harry Potter for that matter. I have not read this new book yet, but online accounts suggest it is well illustrated and aimed at giving children an understanding of how scientists ‘know what’s really true.’ A shame it doesn’t teach children to think in terms of formal logic and philosophy and give them the skills to engage science critically by asking questions about prior foundational commitments; or more simply, giving children skills in scientific hermeneutics, or an understanding of the place of paradigms Read More ›

Biologos, Venema and the Scientific Imagination

Denis Venema wants to explain evolution to evangelical Christians because he doesn’t think it is understand sufficiently. But he asks us to use our imagination and avoids a carefully modelled defence of evolution. If that is the best Darwinists can do then is it any wonder that many of us reject it? See: Venema Understanding Evolution: An Introduction to Populations and Speciation Firstly, Venema follows the common evolutionary practice of presenting evidence for evolution by focussing upon the micro changes and then extrapolating without evidence to the macro evolutionary scale by assuming it happens by similar means. But the micro changes, such as that of his exampled stickleback fish, are simply uncontested even by young earth creationists, but what is Read More ›

Fresh Divergence of Opinion at Biologos – Analogy versus Univocal Language

Who speaks for Biologos? Recently a divergence of opinion has arisen between Dennis Venema and others at Biologos over a literal understanding of Adam and Eve. Now a fresh question has arisen between Venema and a post by Mark Noll. Dennis Venema gives reasons over at Biologos why he came to reject intelligent design and accept evolution. From Intelligent Design to BioLogos, Part 4: Reading Behe He writes that ID ‘was an argument from analogy, ignorance and incredulity.’ Instead he was ‘looking for an argument from evidence.’ However, ID need not be seen as an argument from analogy, but is an inference to the best explanation involving univocal thinking. As Mark Noll writes, also over at Biologos, The Bible and Read More ›

Biologos & NPR on Adam and Eve – but is it Science?

Biologos have responded to the NPR program, by suggesting that it is OK to believe in a literal Adam and Eve as theology, even if science is silent on the question. http://biologos.org/blog/nprs-adam-and-eve-story

Darrel Falk and Kathryn Applegate write that “There is no scientific reason to upset that theological apple cart. Indeed as scientists, we must respect the theological diversity of Evangelicalism.” although adding “Science is an amazing tool that gives insight into our world, one which is so effective that it is allows us to become virtually certain about some things.” I would prefer though to maintain a degree of greater scientific scepticism concerning historical questions that are not directly testable, lest we turn our scientific narratives into self delusion. Read More ›

Creationism vs ID – Two Books or One?

Stephen B writes that ‘Creationism is faith-based; Intelligent Design is empirically-based.’ Revealed Theology, Natural Theology, and the Darwinist Concoction of “ID/Creationism.” However, comments are closed [N.B. it is now working and open so you can post your comments at the above link if you wish] so I wanted to respond by posting a new thread if that is OK. There is a difference between creationism and ID, I agree, but I don’t think it is along the lines of evidence vs presuppositions a priori vs a posteriori. Both must start with presuppositions; creationism starts from Scripture and natural evidence and is closer to the two book approach of Francis Bacon, ID tends to be a one book approach, but I would argue Read More ›

Edited post: questioning liberals ever so nicely?

Following concern about the strength of this post I thought I would edit it. James Delingpole, writing in the UK Telegraph blog, asserts that liberals are confused about the basis for their beliefs – warning – this link has strong language. “…why it is that liberal-lefties manage to be so utterly wrong about everything. …they’re not interested in facts. They just want to construct their pretty little narrative about the world, regardless of whether or not it has any bearing on reality. And then they want to dump it on us. And ruin our lives.” Dare we say that this is ever so slightly naughty? Delingpole’s comments are much stronger than I would wish to write. But often those of us Read More ›

Talk Origins are trying to buy Expelled

They want people to send donations in order to buy the rights to the film from the public auction. The reason given is so they can then release unpublished material, but equally they could prevent future sales of the film. No indicated price is available. http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2011/06/help-talkorigin.html

World Magazine – ID Books of the Year.

World Magazine has this year nominated two books for its Book of the Year. Should Christians Embrace Evolution? (ed) Norman Nevin, and Jay Richards (ed) God and Evolution. http://www.worldmag.com/articles/18207

Is Peter Singer Moving Towards Objective Morality?

There is an interesting item about Peter Singer, ethics and the environment in the Guardian ‘Comment is Free’ by Mark Vernon – Without belief in moral truths, how can we care about climate change? – Peter Singer admits his brand of utilitarianism struggles with the challenge of climate change in a way Christian ethics does not. Singer has previously argued that some animals have more rights than some human beings because of a lack of belief in objective morality. But now he comments that he ‘regrets’ he doesn’t believe in God and that his position is in a ‘state of flux’ because of ethical problems related to environental degradation. A Darwinian approach involving ‘survival of the fittest’ thinking doesn’t give us strong reasons Read More ›

BCSE and (New Best Friend Dawkins) Wish to Ban Freedom of Thought

It would seem Dawkins and BCSE have kissed and made up – well a small truce at least. How sweet. Dawkins asks people to sign the BCSEs petition that seeks to ban creationism and ID from being presented with any integrity (i.e. as being real and scientific) in the school classroom in British (English) schools. http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/620663-please-sign-this-anti-creationist-petition This is both regretable and ironic. They have clearly lost the battle to convince a large section of the population of the truth of Darwinism so resort to the law to enforce it. In so doing they seek to restrict freedom to think through the scientific evidence. A bit like a child who can’t win a game of footy, so he picks up the ball and goes home and spoils the Read More ›

Trouble in Paradise? BCSE respond (it ain’t pretty)

BCSE’s Roger Stanyard doesn’t hold back in his anger at Richard Dawkins I haven ‘t heard Roger Stanyard of BCSE speak about ID or Creationism in quite such strong tones as he denounces Richard Dawkins and friends. He calls the ‘Why Evolution is True’ blog a ‘kangeroo court baying for blood’ and  ‘One of the most frightening things I’ve seen in a long time’ because of the letter’s ‘utter viciousness’ and ‘self-righteousness.’ And that isn’t even the worst of it as he denounces Dawkins, but I will refrain from reprinting more here. Check out the link if you wish to read more, especially posts by Stanyard at 25/4/11 6:43 pm and 26/4/11  8:07 am.

Trouble in Paradise? Coyne Attacks NCSE and BCSE

Trouble in Paradise? Coyne Attacks NCSE and BCSE on his Science Blog – Phrayngula Coyne has launched a response to the NCSE and BCSE – it comes after some complaints from the ‘otherside’ about the indifference of Coyne and Dawkins to the efforts of the BCSE and NCSE who feel they do all the work, and Dawkins and co just rake in the dosh. I will refrain from gloating.

The Tyranny of Science – Feyerabend

Paul Feyerabend’s latest book has finally been published in English. The Tyranny of Science, Polity Press (2011) although it was written in 1993. The Tyranny of Science “In this wide–ranging and accessible book Feyerabend challenges some modern myths about science, including the myth that ‘science is successful’. He argues that some very basic assumptions about science are simply false and that substantial parts of scientific ideology were created on the basis of superficial generalizations that led to absurd misconceptions about the nature of human life. Far from solving the pressing problems of our age, such as war and poverty, scientific theorizing glorifies ephemeral generalities, at the cost of confronting the real particulars that make life meaningful. Objectivity and generality are Read More ›