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the chaplain

Cute pic with a good message. Is it too subtle for many theists? Would they get it?


You will therefore be amused by:


From the Onion:

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory


in my opinion this is silly, and another example of ammunition in a needless culture war. the origin of life debate needs synergy not division; there are responsible and irresponsible proponents on both sides, and gravity as a theory is not comparable to punctuated equilibrium, nor does any proposed hypothesis of naturalistic macroevolution enjoy the same soundness of theory as gravity. anyone who says otherwise has left the realm of science.

Greta Christina

Thank you for your comment, cl. But I'm sorry -- I'm no longer willing to debate you on this issue. I've previously addressed all of the points you make here, as well as the ones you made in your other comments today: I've done so at length, and I no longer have the patience to keep repeating myself. I don't know where you picked up the idea that creationism is a legitimate science, but your information about both evolution and creationism is flatly mistaken, and I'm not going to debate it with you any longer.

You're welcome to keep commenting here if you like, of course. But I'm not going to keep getting into a debate that goes nowhere. Sorry.


Ouch! I think I came might have come across wrong...

I don't think creationism is a legitimate science, and I'm curious what information of mine about evolution or creationism is flatly mistaken, as you've charged. I love to recant, and I love to learn.

I do despise culture wars and feel the origin of life debate needs synergy between all participants, like any other human issue. I was simply saying I didn't think this poster was a step in that direction, just like a poster that read "Darwin is the devil" would be equally snide and would subtract from the integrity of the debate.

On the other hand, I stick to my latter blurb, and the blurb itself makes no argument for creationism or atheism: "gravity as a theory is not comparable to punctuated equilibrium, nor does any proposed hypothesis of naturalistic macroevolution enjoy the same soundness of theory as gravity. anyone who says otherwise has left the realm of science."

Sorry if I bummed you out, Greta, but there's a chance I'm being misread. And I'm sorry you feel our exchanges are going nowhere because I've learned much from them.

Greta Christina

Okay. I'm going to try.

The main thing I want to say is this: It seems to me that your many comments have been defending, not just theism, but intelligent design theory. And I'm sorry, but if that's what you're doing, then that's where you're flatly mistaken. So I don't have to re-write something I've already written, here's a link to a piece I wrote on that subject:

Quick summary: Intelligent design isn't just bad science. It isn't science at all. It's not a falsifiable theory, and its proponents don't engage in even the most basic activities of science. ID is a cover story for creationism, a sneaky way of getting around the Supreme Court decision that creationism couldn't be taught in public schools. And there are multiple smoking guns, such as internal documents within the ID movement, to prove this.

This is what I think you're not getting about this debate and why the people opposing ID are so passionate about it. This is not just a philosophical debate, or a scientific one. This is a political battle. And it's a political battle with people who are trying to dismantle the Constitution; with people whose stated goal (not publicly stated, but stated in internal documents) is theocracy and the prioritization of religion over scientific evidence -- in all of our lives, not just their own. When you try to make a golden mean argument that "there's right and wrong on both sides, and can't we all just get along":

this is the point you're missing. We are not going to create "synergy" with people who are trying to dismantle the very foundation of both science and religious freedom. (I'm not saying you're doing that: I'm saying that that's what the major ID proponents and organizations are doing.)

You keep bringing up punctuated equilibrium, as if it were a major hole in evolutionary theory that supports an argument for theism. I'm sorry, but it's not. PE is an interesting debate within the evolutionary sciences, but no serious scientist thinks that the answer is going to be "God did it." Among other problems, that's not a testable theory. More to the point, there are several different theories that people are working on as to how and why sudden jumps in the evolutionary process seem to happen -- and none of them involves God. There's no reason for them to involve God. God is not a necessary hypothesis to explain evolution. You might be interested in this article, demonstrating that major evolutionary developments can happen in extremely short periods of time -- in this case, less than 40 years:

And while it is true that punctuated equilibrium is not a theory on the level of gravity, evolution as a whole definitely is. In fact, in many ways evolution is a stronger theory than gravity. There are still major things not understood about gravity... like what the hell it is exactly. That's not true of evolution. The mechanism of evolution is well understood. And while there are certainly debates within the scientific community about the details of evolution, the basic concept is supported by a truly overwhelming body of evidence, from every field of the biological sciences.

This is the point that the "Gravity: It's just a theory" poster was making. One of the main arguments that IDers make about evolution is that "it's just a theory" -- as if that somehow undercuts the whole idea of evolution, as if "theory" were just another word for "opinion." The point of the poster is that gravity is every bit as much a theory as evolution... and that doesn't make it just somebody's opinion. They're not comparing gravity to punctuated equilibrium. They're comparing it to evolution.

Finally, I need to clarify something important: Evolution is not a theory of the origin of life. Evolution concerns itself with the question of how life developed from simpler forms to the incredibly complex ones we see today. The "origin of life" question is the question of abiogenesis. It's an interesting question, and one that's being researched, but it has little or nothing to do with evolution.


Good response. I agree with the krux of your post, but think you have a few facts wrong and a fundamental misunderstanding of where I'm coming from.

Regarding the cute little sheep poster, I'm glad you conceded "it is true that punctuated equilibrium is not a theory on the level of gravity," but then you interestingly posit PE might actually be stronger: "There are still major things not understood about gravity...that's not true of evolution." I'm sorry, but the latter half of this statement is flat-out mistaken, and you were reminded of this by Larry Moran and others when you actually claimed that macroevolution and microevolution were terms creationists made up to sound more scientific. My point is not to be rude, just to demonstrate that you have in fact already conceded at least one major unknown about evolution.

In short, the legitimate debate over whether species sorting occurs and not knowing if macroevolution is lots of microevolution or something much more involved, I think, are two MAJOR things not understood about evolution.

Agree or disagree?


The entire rest of your rebuttal is strawman.

Of course I know about the fascist PNAC'rs and the coming Reconstructionist nightmare. Of course I know ID isn't science. In comment #4 to your "Best Message.." I flatly said, "Creationism is not science." By that token, why would I say "ID Theory" was science? On the other hand, I believe 100% that life and the universe suggest "intelligent design." I also believe "evolution" and "PE" are part of the "intelligent design," I believe evolution IS the design and taking it further I feel there's alot more science in the first chapter of Genesis than the vast majority of atheists and skeptics are willing to admit. Now I'm not going to claim like JonS over on the EvolutionBlog that I have evidence T Rex used to be vegetarian, but you need look no further than the first three words of the Bible to find one of the most important discoveries of science. "In the beginning..." is Hubble's Law, plain and simple. And as for God creating animals by type and kind, at different times, well that sure sounds similar to PE. Why couldn't God who supposedly took a rib from Adam to make Eve copy DNA from a lizard to make a bird? why WOULDN'T God use the same pentadactyl limb in mammals?

You write, "Evolution is not a theory of the origin of life. Evolution concerns itself with the question of how life developed from simpler forms to the incredibly complex ones we see today. The "origin of life" question is the question of abiogenesis. It's an interesting question, and one that's being researched, but it has little or nothing to do with evolution."

Again, that's strawman because I agree with all that, except the last part. Abiogensis has everything to do with evolution because without abiogenesis we have no evolution, at least in a context of atheism. And on this issue I still side with Pasteur.

You also write, "God is not a necessary hypothesis to explain evolution." Of course not! Evolution is the how not the potential why. In attacking "intelligent design" people always say, "Just because we don't know everything about the universe does not prove that God did it." No shit! And just because we don't know everything about the universe does not prove God did NOT do it, either. Neither atheism or theism can prove itself with science. Religious claims cannot be verified empirically or scientifically, and if a claim can be verified empirically or scientifically then we are no longer discussing a religious claim, but some other statement about some other condition that is true, in actuality, and that's because science addresses behavior not governance and can't say shit about God. Strawman, strawman, strawman.

Unprofessional creationists often bend facts and call it science to prove their point. One popular young-Earth creationist argument is that geologic erosion records indicate a young earth. Natural elements, erosion and geologic change slowly grind the seven continents down at a steady rate. By creating a formula using the rate of erosion, the alleged ‘science’ was that by counting backwards, in roughly 15 million years the continents would have eroded down to sea level. It was thus argued that earth could not possibly be much more than 15 million years old on account of this interpretation, but as any good geologist will tell you, the constant shifting of plate tectonics pit large floating land masses against one another, often thrusting the Earth’s crust higher into the atmosphere. The unmentioned variable in this creationist ‘science’ is the possibility of erosion loss being offset by the gains from plate tectonics.

On the other hand, evolutionary reconstruction diagrams in modern exhibits may appear very visually convincing, but they often convey biased and partial interpretations of fossil data. In fact, seldom will a textbook even mention anomalous data that doesn’t fit the standardized scientific consensus. Niles Eldredge commented on one such example, the 1870 Thomas Huxley horse reconstruction noting that the exhibit “…has been presented as the literal truth in textbook after textbook. Now I think that that is lamentable, particularly when the people who propose those kinds of stories may themselves be aware of the speculative nature…” Once dubbed as Darwin’s apostle in Germany, a very prominent biologist and philosopher Ernst Haeckel (1843-1919) popularized an offshoot interpretation of homology that he called the recapitulation theory. Now Haeckel's contributions to science are outstanding and it's because of him we use the words ecology and phyla. Noting the physio-developmental similarities amongst organisms even of different species, Haeckel’s observations prompted him to gather evidence proving the theory of descent from a common ancestor. Haeckel was later charged of compiling fraudulent evidence in university court at Jena and there is legitimate evidence of bad science practice from an otherwise good scientist at best; outright dishonest culpability at worst. I'm not claiming to know, but it doesn't take a genius to imagine the disastrous results.

We can test gravity, measure electromagnetism and formulaically standardize the chemical composition of sulfuric acid, but the beginning of the universe was a one-time event and attempting to define its ultimate cause by simply studying the aftermath is not unlike attempting to define the exact attributes of a rock thrown into a pond by studying the outermost ripples in the water. Obviously, there are inherent disadvantages in the situation, and they're only compounded by the fact it's possible Somebody threw the rock.

I see no inherent conflict between religion and science, there are irresponsible and untrustworthy opponents on both sides and I think many of today's "freethinkers" and especially the New Atheists make similar errors as the "creationists" and "IDiots" they chastise, and it works the other way as well. My general feelings on the origin of life debate are that it's another outpost of the great culture war. It's another tool employed by those with ulterior motives to keep people divided, just like religion. I think far too many people take sides. One can have an opinion on theism or atheism either way, which I most certainly do, and still not take sides in the Great Culture War.

Jesus was against the religious lot. These PNAC'rs, Bushies, etc...this isn't authentic religion. This is the same shit Hitler pulled with Reverend Niemoller. We're in for some tough times Greta, and it's all made easier because of the Great Culture War. Where are the moderates in all of this? Do you ever notice anything from them? That's what I mean by "synergy" - not the appeasement of fools but the unobscurement of truth.

Contrary to what’s typical of those who canonize or demonize his ideas, Darwin’s writing often reflects that of an open-minded researcher. It is worthy of noting Charles was a contemporary of John Stuart Mill’s classical liberalism, and in Origin Darwin himself reminds us that “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”

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