Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Sarah Palin Unlikely to Push Evolution Issue was ‘Creation Science Enters the Race’

No sooner was Sarah Palin’s candidacy announced, than the Anchorage Daily republished an October 2006 article giving highlights of the then gubernatorial race between three candidates, Palin being one.

Almost immediately, the paper has been deluged with request for comments, interviews, and transcripts to feed the frenzy, keeping their editors and writers quite busy.
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Open Inquiry: the New Science Standard

In Kitzmiller et al vs Dover, the issue over whether or not Darwinian Evolution could be allowed critical evaluation by students, rather than be presented as established fact, was settled once and for all. Furthermore, any consideration of an alternate theory was off the table. All across the land, scientists cheered, since at least for now, science had been saved from an ‘assault by religion’. Just after the decision was handed down, Ohio’s State Board of Education in a 9 to 8 vote kept with their lesson plan, saying in effect, “go ahead and sue us” [Toledo Blade Op Ed 1/14/06]. Although many school districts had been considering broadening their standards to allow a more open discourse, many shelved their Read More ›

What does it mean to be scientifically literate in the 21st century?

How do we measure the scientific literacy of a society? How do we boost it? What is the value of this literacy? Who is responsible for fostering it?

These were questions posed by Seed Magazine to its readers in its second annual Science Writing Contest. Among the judges were Adam Bly, editor-in-chief and founder of Seed, Chris Mooney, Seed’s Washington correspondent, PZ Myers, Seed columnist and author of Pharyngula, as well as the editors of Seed.

The question of free inquiry within the realms of science, even that which may challenge ‘well established theories’, such as neoDarwinian evolution, has become a hot bed issue. But should it be? I and others say not, since many of the so called ‘minor’ points waiting to be resolved with NDE are actually major foundational principles of its purported evolutionary process, and are therefore subject to modification.

In Thomas Martin’s winning essay, he tends to equate ‘scientific literacy’ with free inquiry, and going a step further, paints a disturbing picture of apparent “evidence blindness”, albeit one that has been advanced by others, both in and out of the science community. Read More ›

Flock of Dodos to be aired on Showtime

Has Charles Darwin got a new bulldog? In an interview with Alison St. John, who is hosting the Tom Fudge talk show on KPBS in San Diego, Randy Olson once again gives his classic spiel touting ‘Flock of Dodos’, which Alison depicts as a “delightful odyssey”, and which Randy heartily agrees. Go here for the interview. In comparing his quest to humorously, but factually chronicling the Intelligent Design vs. Evolution controversy, Randy cites both science and his work as ‘story telling’ (no argument there, with regards Darwinian theory), but inserts the caveat that the works of scientists, “are constrained by this ugly little thing called the truth”. ‘Flock of Dodos’ circumvents this constraint, in my opinion. As he’s done in Read More ›

MU Professor Taking the ‘Heat’

Columbia Medical Professor John Marshall made the case for scientific acceptance of Intelligent Design last night before 100 or so guests, and found himself taking fire from his peers for his view. Marshall, a signer of the ‘Dissent From Darwinism’ document and vocal supporter of ID as science is once again under attack for his views, perhaps the most prominent opposer being MU Biology Professor Frank Schmidt, who says he counted “21 distortions, 15 half-truths, and 10 untruths” in Marshall’s presentation. He further asserted that what Marshall was really doing was “cloaking a narrow definition of Christianity, which (he) found personally offensive”, and that it “really hacks (him) off”. “It’s as much science as Darwinian evolution is science,” Marshall said. Read More ›

Pope defends Theistic Evolution

“Paris – Pope Benedict, elaborating his views on evolution for the first time as Pontiff, says science has narrowed the way life’s origins are understood and Christians should take a broader approach to the question. The Pope also says the Darwinist theory of evolution is not completely provable because mutations over hundreds of thousands of years cannot be reproduced in a laboratory… ” (go to article) You may recall that shortly after Pope Benedict’s inauguration, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna touched off a fire storm (July 2005) with an op-ed piece in the New York Times questioning Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and appearing to endorse the concept of intelligent design. This brought a quick response from Prof. Kenneth Miller, Read More ›

Terry Gross interviews Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins

Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins are at it again, however not face to face this time, but as guests on alternate days on NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ with Terry Gross. She asks pertinent questions but as always, remains objective, taking no position on either side. In Wednesday’s interview, Dawkins takes a moment reading from page 15 of his book, to clear up any question of Einstein having theistic views, but rather, as he himself embraces, having merely a breathtaking admiration and respect for the Cosmos, but from purely naturalistic origins. Dawkins paints a picture of mankind’s progress, with science and culture at the forefront, providing a humanistic view of what we have achieved, and stating that it is “demeaning, to retreat Read More ›

Debate between Alister McGrath and Peter Atkins

A special debate between Alister McGrath, Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University, author of “Dawkins’ God” and “The Dawkins Delusion” and Peter Atkins, Professor of Chemistry at Oxford University, well-known atheist and supporter of Richard Dawkins. As seen on Channel 4’s “The trouble with atheism”. This event was organised jointly by The University of Edinburgh Philosophy Society and The Christian Union. It was held in George Square Lecture Theatre which seats 500, however was overwhelmed by the number of people wanting to attend, over 300 people had to be turned away. The audio echos a little at first, but improves. These two start out with cordial presentations, but it heats up about mid way through. Some humor comes into Read More ›

PZ Steals My Thunder, (actually AA’s)

This from Ooblick.com, Andrew Arensburger’s Blog. He’s planning a re-enactment podcast of the Dover trial, and is looking for voice talent to participate. PZ Myers advertised it on his website, so was jokingly named as Casting Director, and I guess that I have to shoulder the blame for that, since I’m the one who lied about PZ Myers’ casting directorship, and now I’m having to take the heat.

Andrew said he had asked PZ to advertise the project, since he has a large audience. Well OK Andrew, now you have your thunder back. You’re the casting director, and anyone interested can reach you at Ooblick.com/pandas/ (record corrected), and please Andrew, don’t get on DonaldM so hard. You know, chutzpah is not such a bad quality to have (actually ḥuá¹£pâ). By Wikipedia’s definition, “Chutzpah can be used to express admiration for non-conformist but gutsy audacity.” Does that not fit PZ or what!?

I thought it would be nice to help Andrew with the podcast, so I offered a few suggestions, not just for a podcast, but for a four act play that would definitely bring in some bucks. So I commented on his blog, an put forth some ideas:

Don’t believe everything you read Andy, but thanx anyway for taking me literally! And good luck with you podcast. I really think a four act play would be better, tho. Here’s a compendium:
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‘The ID Files’, Interviews with Salvador Cordova, Michael Behe and more …

SciPhi guy Jason Renie has put up a free online Audiobook, actually a set of four interviews with proponents and detractors of ID. The other two Interviews are with Michael Shermer and Nick Matzke. Go here.

Comments I just posted at the site:

“First let me applaud Jason Rennie for some interesting dialogues. In his opening remarks, his pro ID perspective shows, but in the interviews he remained largely neutral. That kind of interview approach works well in this type of controversy, where emotions run high. Personally, if it were I interviewing Michael Shermer, I fear I would have become unrestrained, and challenged him on many of the points he made. But for this kind of objective comparison, Rennie’s approach is best. Read More ›

Why “You Evolved, Darnit!” Is Bad Ed. Policy

Do you believe in ‘individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace’? These are some of the CATO Institute’s principles, and if you agree, then you may well agree with Andrew J. Coulson’s latest pronouncement regarding mandated school policies, not the least of which is prohibiting the mere mention of alternate scientific theories of origins, and not allowing the theory of Darwinian evolution to be questioned in the least.

CATO is a libertarian think tank that promotes individual freedoms, and favors limited government. At least to the degree that federal judges have been allowed to dictate curriculum, I agree with his critique. In a philosophical policy statement, CATO cites the Tenth Amendment, which says that the ‘people’ (or individual states) have that authority, and not the government. Coupled with a proper interpretation of the First Amendment, there just may be a basis for a legal challenge (Dover, et al) Read More ›

The Mystery of Consciousness

The 1/29/07 issue of Time Magazine is captioned “Mind & Body Special Issue”, and starts out with a discussion of the brain’s geography, an endeavor well studied and categorized by now, but which is far overshadowed by the mystery of ‘consciousness’, often tagged as the ‘ghost within the neural machine’. Steven Pinker writes the centerpiece article, “The mystery of consciousness”, and indeed, consciousness is the centerpiece of the mystery regarding life itself.

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Clearly it’s Time to Revisit ID’s ‘Explanatory Filter’, even if Barbara Forrest Doesn’t Think So …

Casey Luskin has posted an interesting response (part II) to Barbara Forrest’s Kitzmiller Account, Here he addresses Dr. Forrest’s usage of quotations from ID proponents: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/09/response_to_barbara_forrests_k_1.html As is typical in the Evo camp, Dr. Forrest attempts to make the usual conflation of ID and religion by quoting Phillip Johnson and William Dembski. Many cite Johnson as the founder of the current ID movement. Popularizer perhaps, but founder he was NOT, nor can he authoritatively be credited with setting its parameters. Luskin notes (as does Dembski in ‘Cosmic Pursuit’, 1998) that Charles Thaxton and Dean Kenyon first wrote on the subject during the ’80s. But is concept even that new? “Throughout the centuries theologians have argued that nature exhibits features which Read More ›