Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

VJ Torley Asked Me to Post This: “Mathgrrl is Innocent”

In a previous post, I misidentified Mathgrrl with another anonymous contributor to Uncommon Descent, and accused Mathgrrl of making uncivil and ungentlemanly remarks on a certain evolution forum. It now turns out that this identification was incorrect. I would like to apologize to Mathgrrl.

Richard Dawkins Interview

Dawkins book The Greatest Show on Earth has now been published in German, and as such is being interviewed by a German publication. The conversation centers mostly on why Dawkins thinks that believing the world and universe to be designed is unhelpful:

It is an attempt to disabuse people, especially in America, but also in other parts of the world, who have become influenced by fundamentalist religion into thinking that life can be and should be explained as all designed. I regard that as a lazy and unhelpful explanation as well as an untrue one.

As if people who think it’s designed just stop there with regards to describing the world and the universe with the philosophy called science. Ignore that fact that the history of the world has had folks investigating nature that believed and still believe it’s designed. This is one of Dawkins’ favorite arguments, and no one ever says it’s akin to saying that since we know that songs are composed by intelligence no one else will ever try to figure them out and learn to play them. Or since books are written no one will employ textual criticism and determine something along the lines of why it was written the way it was. As if anything thought to be designed is immediately uninteresting. I suppose that rules out an effort at understanding his book by the same logic. A designed book, that says that don’t look at things as designed if they are to have any merit, is an odd thing.

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With Christians Like These, Who Needs Atheists?

Michael Dowd, the guiding light behind evolutionarychristianity.com, praises the new atheists:  “Religion is about right relationship with reality, not the supernatural.” “The wisdom of antiquity—in all its forms and drawn from all regions of the world—could not possibly be up to the task of serving us now.  Ancient, unchanged scriptural stories and doctrinal declarations are inadequate for meeting modern challenges.” “In a way, the New Atheists have come to our rescue. They are shouting at us to collectively awaken to the dangers of revering texts and doctrines on no sounder basis than tradition an authority.  Because the New Atheists put their confidence (not faith) in an evidentially formed and continuously tested view of the world, these critics of religion are well Read More ›

Templeton Report: Classrooms are Under Seige

The Templeton Foundation has granted money for a study determining how the teaching and believing of evolution fares by comparison to creationism and intelligent design in America’s classrooms by high school biology teachers.

In the courtroom, the science of evolutionary biology has won every battle with creationism and Intelligent Design. In the classroom, however, scientific orthodoxy remains besieged and defensive to a startling degree.

That’s the striking conclusion of Penn State political scientists Eric Plutzer and Michael B. Berkman, authors of Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control American Classrooms, a book based on their survey of 926 public high school biology teachers.

“We find that about 13 percent of public high school biology teachers are active advocates for creationism or Intelligent Design,” Plutzer tells TR. “They emphasize to their students that these are ‘valid scientific alternatives’ to mainstream evolutionary biology, and devote at least some formal class instruction to the topic. An additional five percent of teachers take the same position, though typically in brief responses to student questions.”

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Theistic Evolution in Music

Theistic evolution seems to have permeated the arts. Listen to this song by recording artists and Nashville native Steve Earle. Steve Earle, Ashes to Ashes, from the album Jerusalem, on New West Records.

The Advent of “Evolutionary Christianity”

Just received an email from the Templeton-funded Metanexus group. The big announcement is the unveiling of a new website: www.evolutionarychristianity.com You knew it was going to happen, and now it’s here. “Evolutionary Christianity” — a phrase that rolls off the tongue and inspires theological confidence. The gallery of people on the homepage features quite an assortment of thinkers making common cause — theological differences aside, the science of Darwinian evolution must be kept sacrosanct! It will be interesting to see whether this strategy to mainstream evolution among evangelicals succeeds. Granted, the Christian Colleges have by and large embraced “Evolutionary Christianity.” But “evolution” remains a dirty word among many evangelicals. Will the Templeton-inspired PR campaign that’s evident on this website succeed? Read More ›

Rev. Michael Dowd Does Not Allow The Discussion Of Evolution To Evolve.

This past Christmas, there was nothing new under the sun. The folks below, who make evolution their singular mantra, have not evolved the discussion of evolution to include and invite Intelligent Design advocates to the table to discuss science, evolution, or Christianity. I would’ve thought that, since the argument is always made by ID opponents (who are normally apologists for evolution) that ID is creation in a cheap lab coat, in other words, a thin cover for Christianity, ID advocates would’ve at least been invited to discuss Christianity. This co-option of evolution into Christianity reminds me of the co-option of Eugenics into Christianity in the early part of last century, a bad idea that will pass.

This Christmas, Christianity evolves

• Rev. Michael Dowd convenes diverse Christian leaders who see science as sacred
• EvolutionaryChristianity.com to host free podcasts and seminars

DECEMBER 22, 2010 – This Christmas season, bestselling author and evolutionary evangelist Rev. Michael Dowd is having an online revival of sorts, and pitching what may be the biggest tent yet for fellow Christians who embrace evolution and honor science: EvolutionaryChristianity.com.

As a sequel to his breakthrough book Thank God for Evolution (Viking/Plume), Rev. Dowd is hosting and producing a living library of free podcasts and live panels with preeminent Christians on the leading edge of science and religion, where mythic beliefs and measurable reality collide.

» View schedule and bios
» View live panel schedule
» View speakers grouped by affiliation

“The New Atheists and scriptural literalists are not the only games in town,” says Dowd. “In contrast to Richard Dawkins’ God-less universe, tens of millions of us in the middle celebrate both Jesus and Darwin. For us, religious faith is strengthened by what God is revealing through science.”

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New Atheists and Neuroatheists

UD blogger Denyse O’Leary just coined a term on her cognitive science blog (The Mindfulhack): “neuroatheists.” It’s a good term and precisely describes a significant segment of the new atheists. Here’s where she introduces the term: http://mindfulhack.blogspot.com/2011/01/influential-neuro-atheists-leading-race.html The list of “influential atheists” that inspired the term “neuroatheism” has some interesting non-neuroatheists. Have a look (see any familiar faces?): http://www.superscholar.org/features/influential-atheists

James Bradley disses Dembski’s The Design Inference — 12 years after its publication!

It looks as though the folks at BioLogos are targeting all the main works of design theorists, and the flavor of the month this time is William Dembski’s The Design Inference. Retired Calvin College mathematics professor James Bradley has been called in to do the demolition. His “scholarly” take-down of Dembski’s book is here: http://biologos.org/uploads/projects/bradley_scholarly_essay.pdf The first of two blog posts by him against Dembski’s book is here: http://biologos.org/blog/why-dembskis-design-inference-doesnt-work All of this seems quite hamfisted. Why review a book 12 years AFTER its publication? Why focus only on the book and ignore all that Dembski has subsequently written on design inferences (e.g., in his books NO FREE LUNCH, THE DESIGN REVOLUTION, and THE DESIGN OF LIFE, all of which extend and clarify his Read More ›

No More Snow in England Say Global Warmists

Please enjoy an article from The Independent titled “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.” Written in the year 2000, global warmists are claiming that snowfall is history in Britain:

Britain’s winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain’s culture, as warmer winters – which scientists are attributing to global climate change – produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries…

[T]he warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”…

Professor Jarich Oosten, an anthropologist at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, says that even if we no longer see snow, it will remain culturally important.

“We don’t really have wolves in Europe any more, but they are still an important part of our culture and everyone knows what they look like,” he said.

From an article at the BBC in 2009:

Heavy snow has fallen across large parts of the UK, disrupting travel and closing thousands of schools.

South-east England has the worst snow it has seen for 18 years, causing all London buses to be pulled from service and the closure of Heathrow’s runways.

The Met Office has issued an extreme weather warning for England, Wales and parts of eastern Scotland.

By late Monday, the South East could be under a foot (30cm) of snow and the North East under 20 inches (50cm).

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Martin Gaskell, The Latest Victim

Astronomer Martin Gaskell, the latest victim of the gluttonous, one-minded, two-headed dragon known as “Evolution Promotion” and “Religious Persecution,” depending on which head one is referring to on the modern beast, has apparently been Expelled due to his critical remarks on evolution and for being “potentially evangelical.” Indeed, Mr. Gaskell was provoking both heads of this modern monster. How? By talking. You see, the beast hates words in plain language with real meaning that describe the eternal enemy called truth. The short, abrupt words with all the sense of sunlight sting its sensitive ears, which need the dark and gray smooth sounds of ambiguities and soft soap of appeasements.  This monstrosity has been spotted at several universities.  The latest sighting was in Kentucky:

No one denies that astronomer Martin Gaskell was the leading candidate for the founding director of a new observatory at the University of Kentucky in 2007 — until his writings on evolution came to light.

Gaskell had given lectures to campus religious groups around the country in which he said that while he has no problem reconciling the Bible with the theory of evolution, he believes the theory has major flaws. And he recommended students read theory critics in the intelligent-design movement.

That stance alarmed UK science professors and, the university acknowledges, played a role in the job going to another candidate.

Now a federal judge says Gaskell has a right to a jury trial over his allegation that he lost the job because he is a Christian and “potentially evangelical.”

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Secular Humanists Despise Each Other and Humanity

A friend of mine referred me to this article at superscholar.org about the recent 30th anniversary conference that The Center For Inquiry held in Los Angeles this past October. There seems to be a lot of disagreement among the influential in the movement advocating secular humanism.

Despite calls for unity at the conference, a significant amount of disagreement about where secular humanism needs to go was evident. During the last session, a sharp exchange occurred between the founder of The Center for Inquiry and The Counsel for Secular Humanism, Paul Kurtz, and Ron Lindsay, the current CEO and President of these organizations.

Kurtz, using the microphone set up for the audience, cited at length a recent LA Times article exposing a “rift within the Center for Inquiry.” “That rift” Kurtz said, quoting the article, “cracked open recently when Paul Kurtz, a founder of the secular humanist movement in America, was ousted as chairman of the Center for Inquiry, an organization of the Counsel for Secular Humanism.  One factor leading to this ouster, was the perception that Kurtz was on the — and this is quoting Thomas Flynn — was on the mellowing side of the movement.” Unlike some secular humanists who envision the destruction of religion, Kurtz advocates for accommodation with religion.

Kurtz stated that he had been censored for the first time in his life, and that this was through the CFI, an organization he founded, in that they refused to publish his letter of resignation as well as his neo-humanist statement of secular principles and values. He said that his ouster resulted in the “worst two years of my life.” Toni Van Pelt, who had opened the Office of Public Policy for the CFI, defended Kurtz and lamented his censorship and forced resignation by Lindsay. This was followed with simultaneous booing and applause from the audience. Several panelists, including Jennifer Michael Hecht and Sean Faircloth, left the stage during this exchange.

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“Evolution Readiness” and Other Tools for Teaching Evolution in Our Schools

Education Week has this article expounding on the fruitfulness of campaigns designed to educate our youth in the theory of evolution.

When a federal court in 2005 rejected an attempt by the Dover, Pa., school board to introduce intelligent design as an alternative to evolution to explain the development of life on Earth, it sparked a renaissance in involvement among scientists in K-12 science instruction.

Now, some of those teaching programs, studies, and research centers are starting to bear fruit.

The National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and other groups have increased research investment on identifying essential concepts for teaching evolution, including creating the Evolution Education Research Centre, a partnership of Harvard, McGill, and Chapman universities, and launching the first peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the subject, Journal of Evolution: Education and Outreach.

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William Dembski Debates Cristopher Hitchens Nov. 18th

Dr. William Dembski will be debating Christopher Hitchens at the Prestonwood Baptist Church Nov. 18th, 2010. “Does a Good God Exist?” will be the topic debated. The debate will be held from 8:40 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. There will be a live webcast of the debate. Dr. William Dembski, Research Professor in Philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is a leader in the Intelligent Design community and is a Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. His most comprehensive treatment of intelligent design to date, coauthored with Jonathan Wells, is titled The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence in Biological Systems. In November of 2009, he published a book on theodicy titled The End of Christianity: Read More ›

William Dembski Debates Christopher Hitchens

William Dembski will be debating Christopher Hitchens at the Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX, Nov. 18th, on the question of God’s goodness.

“Does a Good God Exist?”

Debate between Dr. William Dembski and Christopher Hitchens

Two intellectual heavy weights will square off toe-to-toe on the existence and goodness of God.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where Dr. Dembski is a research professor, has an article on the debate.

Dembski and Hitchens will debate the existence of a good God during a conference for the Biblical Worldview Institute at Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas. The debate will be hosted in the worship center at Prestonwood Baptist Church from 8:40 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. It will also be webcast on www.pcawebcast.com.