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December 23, 2005

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Kimball Corson

Deborah,

Deborah wrote:

"My coffe cup could be 1 molecule to the left. Or two. Or three. Or one to the right. Or two or three. Or one to the left and two to the north. Or three to left and two to the south. Or one to the right and one to the north. Or three to the left and four to the south.

"Gosh, given all the "alternate possible states", it's incredibly improbable that my coffee cup is sitting EXACTLY where it happens to be sitting now."

This analogy fails and fails miserably. Under each alternative the coffe cup exists and serves its purpose for you. The alternatives I posit under the models preclude that, e.g., the earth does not exist, or its mean temperative is 600 degrees or it has no usuable atmosphere, etc.

Deborah Spaeth

Kimball

"I suggest you become a Wahabbi Muslim and move to Jedda, Saudi Arabia. You would be among like minded people at least."

No thanks, Kimball. Why would I do that when I can just elect my fellow religious fanatic freaks to school boards and have them teach whatever the hell I want to teach them in my kid's science classroom?

All you need to do is write a script for teachers to recite that pays lip service to MY religious views in SCIENCE classes.

Suddenly you have a problem with that Kimball? It seems you do. But instead of simply ADMITTING that you suggest that I leave the country.

Real nice, Kimball. Is that how behave when I don't treat you like a fool, Kimball? Is that the "best" you can do, Kimball?

You still haven't told me what's the matter with my proposal, Kimball.

Cat got your tongue?

Deborah Spaeth

Kimball

"The alternatives I posit under the models preclude that, e.g., the earth does not exist, or its mean temperative is 600 degrees or it has no usuable atmosphere, etc."

Uh, Kimball, step away from the crack pipe. You've demonstrated precisely NOTHING. All you've done is state some self-serving conclusions and you haven't cited a single scientific study which proves your purty little conclusion: that there is only ONE possible universe where life can exist and we are "lucky" enough to be in it.

Got that, Kimball? You haven't shown a single damn thing. You're just blowing hot air.

"This analogy fails and fails miserably. Under each alternative the coffe cup exists and serves its purpose for you."

What does purpose have to do with anything? So now the universe has a "purpose" Kimball?

Is this also part of your "science-based" lecture?

Sheesh, it's morons from all sides.

I really feel sorry for what Judge Jones had to endure.

Kimball Corson

Deborah,

I wrote:

"Your view is not too kindly. If we shot all fools, no one would be left standing because we are all very ignorant and confused in too many regards."

You responded:

Huh? I and my fellow believers would be left standing, Kimball, and my deities would be pleased. That's all that matters.

I reply:

No Deborah, you too would be shot for your " . . . religion [that}says that Christians and Negroes aren't really "here and now together". Those folks are just demons who exist to spend my tax dollars. They aren't "humans." So my deities have informed me and so it is written in the Holy Writings of My Deities."

Such views make fundys seem sane.

Kimball Corson

Law Fairy,

For those to whom "evolution is simply incompatible with their beliefs," I can only suggest that they need to adjust their beliefs to conform with the known facts or evidence,if you will. Believing something contrary to verifiable "fact" is unreasonable and we can not accomodate unreasonablnes of that type in this context. The same is true in regard to Deborah's ". . . religion [which] says that Christians and Negroes aren't really "here and now together". Those folks are just demons who exist to spend my tax dollars. They aren't "humans." So my deities have informed me and so it is written in the Holy Writings of My Deities."

[more to you later, Law Fairy. I must run.}

Kimball Corson

Deborah,

Based on your beliefs quoted above, I wrote:

"I suggest you become a Wahabbi Muslim and move to Jedda, Saudi Arabia. You would be among like minded people at least."

You responded:

No thanks, Kimball. Why would I do that when I can just elect my fellow religious fanatic freaks to school boards and have them teach whatever the hell I want to teach them in my kid's science classroom?

I reply:

You don't know what "fanatic freak[s]" realy are until you understand the Wahabbis. Your blood will flow and that of your family if you say anything impuning or questioning their religious views or practices.

The Law Fairy

Even if I grant that evolution is a "fact," why is the impetus on people to believe this fact? That, to me, souds like religious dogma -- we must convert those who disagree with us! We must help them see the light!

This example is also distinct from Deborah's claimed religion that calls black people demons. Morality isn't a verifiable external fact. I absolutely believe it exists, but it can't be proven in a laboratory. So if the argument is that evolution is true because it can be factually "proven" or "demonstrated," then Deborah's racist religion actually might have the upper hand. I can't prove except through reason that her religion is backwards and immoral.

Deborah Spaeth

Kimball

"Such views make fundys seem sane."

That's neither here nor there, KImball.

Remember, according to Law Fairy's "argument," it's not about whether religious beliefs are "reasonable" or not, Kimball. After all, if the beliefs were justifiable based on evidence and scientific study, then they wouldn't be merely religious beliefs, would they?

Nope. It's about parents alleged "right" to use the government to assist them in brainwashing their kids into believing that NOBODY can seriously question ANY of their HOLY TRUTHS about the universe.

It does not -- or should not -- matter whether the HOLY TRUTH is "the universe was created by God" or "all life on earth was created by God in one day" or "God made white people superior to black people" or "Blasorgorp pooped all life forms on earth including Jesus and Mohammed so they could be used as chewtoys for Blasogorp's dog."

It's all the same: HOLY TRUTH. You want to pay lip service to one religious "belief" in science class, then you damn well better be ready to pay lip service to them all.

After all: this is all about my right to brainwash my children however I see fit without any interference from those meddling "scientists" and their "theories" in public school science classes.

Correct, Law Fairy?

Deborah Spaeth

Law Fairy

"Even if I grant that evolution is a "fact," why is the impetus on people to believe this fact? That, to me, souds like religious dogma -- we must convert those who disagree with us! We must help them see the light!"

In fact, Law Fairy, public schools are free to do the following (and they do): don't teach evolution at all. Just ignore it out of fear of offending the fundies.

But here's the rub: I have a right not to hire your ignorant ass or admit you into my higher education if you lack a minimal science education.

And understanding that life on earth evolved constitutes a pretty fxcking minimal understanding of biology, in case you haven't figured that our already.

Deborah Spaeth

Law Fairy

"This example is also distinct from Deborah's claimed religion that calls black people demons. Morality isn't a verifiable external fact."

Huh? My religion doesn't say that black people are immoral. It says that they are demons. You know, non-humans with magic powers that engage in mischief. Sort of like gremlins but with somewhat shorter tails.

My deities aren't so hung on morals like yours, Fairy. That's why my deities use your deity's head as a soccer ball and Jesus's bones as a whistle. Sometimes when my deites score a goal with your deity's head, it makes a loud sound.

We call that "thunder."

And yeah, I do want this "theory" mentioned when my kid gets taught about the weather in science class.

I'm sure you'll understand why, Fairy.

The Law Fairy

The morality reference was directed at the immorality of racism, which your religion perpetuates. I make no opinion as to the morality of the demons in your religion.

Deborah Spaeth

Law Fairy

"The morality reference was directed at the immorality of racism, which your religion perpetuates."

How dare you slander my religion!

So much for that "tolerance" you were preaching above, Law Fairy.

Empty words. From a self-identifying Christian, no less.

Why am I not surprised?

Oh yeah -- because I read Judge Jones' opinion where he showed that religious people sometimes tell lies in order to peddle their religious views to others.

Nataly

Oh my freeking Jeebus I missed this one

"ID predicts that that no matter how much time dirt and water sit around under the sun that complex living biological nano technology of the type observed in our biosphere and in the fossil record will never come into existence."

Really? Is that what ID predicts?

So what happened? Did you deity lose his mojo or what?

God's life-giving wand doesn't have any more juice?

And you know this how exactly?

See, folks: the creationist can't keep his mouth shut. It happens EVERY TIME.

Pay attention, Perfesser.

Kimball Corson

Sorry, I got distracted by a woman. It happens.

Deborah and Law Fairy,

I go away for a bit and you two are back to pulling each other's hair out. Here, I try to address several of both of your points.

I believe there is a social imperative (good will maintenance and war prevention) to be reasonable in the sense that if we are to proceed by something in the nature of a consensus or at least collectively, that there be verifiable fact or evidence, if you will, to support our positions and collective practices in those regards. Otherwise, we are in a Deborah-like unstructured free-for-all where anything goes or can be asserted and might is left to make right, Wahabbi style if you please.

Evolution should be taught in science or biology classes because it is important, scientifically and substantially demonstrable and verifiable. We cannot leave it out as Law Fairy suggests. If people gather different views from the ether and cannot so support them in our collective midst, they must loose out to the collective us in our collective dealings. Otherwise we have no basis on which to proceed collectively or as a group and proceed we must. This is the broader policy argument, a part of which underlies the Establishment Clause in that context. I think both Deborah and Law Fairy overlook these points because Law Fairy at her most candid wants to preclude instruction on evolution and natural selection to preserve consistency with what too readily can be home unreasonableness or foolishness and Deborah's approach uses reducto ad absurdum inanities to hammer her views with not only no consideration for others, but ad hominum attacks upon them too boot -- not a felicitous approach to peaceful co-existence. Being absolutely correct is not everything it is made out to be in this life when dealing with people.

At the same time Deborah is dead on with her observation that " After all, if the beliefs were justifiable based on evidence and scientific study, then they wouldn't be merely religious beliefs, would they?" So in fact we are and should substantially be so theathered.

My proposal, which Deborah has not squarely addressed yet successfully at its crux, uses the incredible prospective improbability of our existence to hypothesize either highly unlikely coincidence or a front-loading (at the big bang) non-interventionist supreme creator and stops dead right there, to accommodate non-inane home religious beliefs and induce home discussion, while at the same time explaining why and how this keeps religion out of the classroom in deference to the Establishment Clause. A truly instructional adventure if you will, that can be understood by upper high school students.

Centrism in this fashion cannot accommodate the extremes represented by Law Fairy at her most candid and Deborah always, but because I believe it is workable, honest and accommodating, I stand by my proposal.

Kimball Corson

Nataly,

Are you related to Deborah or just using her script?

The Law Fairy

Kimball,

I have to say, your post confused me. I've never suggested we simply NOT teach evolution -- I don't think that's a solution. My opinion all along has been that we should be more open-minded and honest when we teach it. I think it implicates beliefs that are much like a religion, and while I have no problem with teaching science classes based on something that isn't *just* science, I think we need to be honest about how we do it. I really don't think it's fair or correct to call this view "extreme."

And, in case you hadn't noticed, I've taken the tack most commenters seem to have adopted a while ago -- largely ignoring Deborah. If you're going to criticize my responses to her, by all means, do so. But please cite specific logical errors or even call my responses unfair or immature, if you think that fits the bill -- please don't resort to sexist stereotypes to make your criticisms. It's demeaning and offensive.

Tom Castle

The errors in this blog post are many:

Alschuler writes:

The proponents of ID look to the evidence of their senses and respond on empirical grounds to a view of the world sharply different from their own, one that the public schools are already teaching.

This is false. Ample evidence presented in Dover demonstrates that ID proponents started with a conclusion in mind and characterized existing evidence (of evolution!) in a way they felt best advocated ID. ID proposes virtually no experiments, has never published findings from ANY experiment. What it does is identify incomplete parts of evolution, which anybody can do. There are incomplete aspects to germ theory, too. That doesn't mean that God gives people intestinal diseases. In certain areas ID advocacy does hinge on specific evidence, but the conclusions are flawed and have been rejected by the scientific community. If we allow ID "theories" that have been almost universally rejected by the scientific community, we must allow all other "theories" that meet that very low standard, and then the value of science education disappears. The point here is that in a time- and budget-limited environment like a public school classroom, standards must dictate what is taught and what is not. ID "theory" meets no such standard.

Human knowledge – all of it except the intuitive – consists of perceived patterns in experience. Pattern seekers in science and every other field use all the mental techniques that God or natural selection gave them. The claim of a distinctive “scientific method” is as conceited as my own profession’s claim of a distinctive method of “legal” reasoning.

What an ugly example of nihilism. This statement is profoundly flawed. Alschuler's conceit in belittling the scientific method, his tawdry use of scare quotes, is shameful and should embarrass him. Here we are discussing the intellectual tools that made the computer chip, kidney dialysis, lung transplants, evolutionary theory, and atomic theory possible, and Alschuler pipes up to lecture us that there's actually nothing much to it. This is nothing less than an attack on the enlightenment. Shame. Likewise his statement no scientific proposition is ever falsifiable.

In other words, heads I win, tails you lose. Show a Darwinist an anomaly, and he will devise a story that fits it to his theory. As long as he can do that, the theory of natural selection cannot be falsified. New bits of evidence can merely shift the plausibility of this theory in one direction or the other.

There are no "Darwinists." There are, instead, evolutionary biologists. Any modern biologist will happily explain the countless errors made by Darwin in his writings.

Here Alschuler confuses why and how. Yes, there is a lot of unfounded reverse-engineering that goes on in attempting to explain why certain traits convey evolutionary advantage - usually done by laypeople, not biologists. But there's no evidence that the science of how evolution happens has been tainted by such things. This comment really reflects a profound confusion on the subject by Alschuler.

“Evolution” is not at issue.

Really?

Setting aside the strange world of microbes, the evolution of one species into another does not appear to have happened in the laboratory, and the Cambrian explosion brought the sudden appearance of life forms without obvious precursors in the fossil record.

Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Why "set aside the strange world of microbes"? What a bizarre statement. 99% of lifeforms on earth are microbes! That's like trying to analyze a building by saying, "Set aside the foundation, walls, and ceiling." Two, the argument that speciation hasn't occurred in the laboratory is just silly. I have no physical proof my great great grandfather lived, but I can deduce with certainty that he did. We can understand where gamma rays come from without reproducing quasars "in the laboratory." If having something happen within the 4 walls of a lab is what defines science then you'd have to through out vast chunks of knowledge about the world. This, really, is just further nihilism. Finally, given that only a miniscule fraction of living things are later discovered as fossils, it would be truly amazing (indeed, evidence of a designer) if we somehow found all the linkages within the first couple hundred years of looking.

Is a mindless process driven by random mutation adequate to explain all life forms, or might the process of creation have a purpose?

Now, this really settles the question of whether Alschuler understands what he's talking about, the words he's typing. He plainly does not. This sentence proves that he doesn't understand literally the first thing about evolution. Literally. Evolution is guided by natural selection, which is not random. We did not evolve through random mutation alone, and no biologist claims we did. One really must question how seriously to take Alschuler's comments when he hasn't bothered to learn a one-sentence definition of the theory he's attempting to call into question.

No biologist denies that, on first inspection, complex life forms appear to be designed.

Not only does Alschuler not understand evolutionary theory, even it its most basic formulation, he hasn't spoken to many biologists. First, science isn't contingent on how things "appear" in Alschuler's use of the word. Further, most biologists would not agree that life forms "appear" to be designed, other than on the most superficial level, which doesn't matter.

In determining whether natural selection offers a more convincing explanation of biological complexity than ordinary inference, however, anomalies and gaps in the theory of natural selection obviously matter.

That's why, Prof Alschuler, Darwin's original theories of evolution have undergone such radical revision over the past 150 years.

The fact that ID has ordinary inference on its side may justify its focus on the anomalies of natural selection and may explain why ID scientists do less laboratory research and publish less in peer reviewed journals than some Darwinist biologists.

This is like saying Carrottop has won fewer Academy Awards than Jack Nicholson. Further, there is no apparent connection between having "inference" on one's side and failing to produce a scientific literature. One does not preclude (or excuse) the other.

The academic role of the ID biologist is essentially negative – to challenge Darwinist explanations and look for phenomena that the Darwinists cannot explain or, more realistically, can explain only by stretching. This critical role (“look at all those epicycles”) cannot fairly be excluded from science.

No, the role of ALL biologists is to challenge explanations and look for phenomena that scientists cannot explain. That, again, is how modern evolutionary theory came to differ in so many ways from Darwin's original theories. But if that's ALL you're doing, you can't hold up ID as a default fallback position, and if your plain motivation, stated at the outset, is to discredit a theory rather than strengthen it, then you have no credibility as an objective participant in the process.

If the court’s point were simply that science excludes faith, mysticism, revelation, and appeals to unchallengeable authority, the proponents of ID would agree.

Here we see a perfection inversion of reality, where a discipline that welcomes, no, demands critical inquiry and challenge to be accepted, is held up as unchallengeaby authority by a discipline that relies on the unchallengeable word of God. Breathtaking.

Tom Castle

This blog evidently strips HTML tags, so readers will have to differentiate the Alschuler quotes from my replies.

Deborah Spaeth

Kimball

"incredible prospective improbability of our existence"

This is worthless metaphysical claptrap, as I pointed out already.

Fyi, Kimball, I'm not "the extreme." I agree with Judge Jones' decision. And I am quite certain that if you tried to get your ten point plan taught in school, and I took the board to court for violating the Constitution, I'd win for the same reasons the parents in Dover won.

You think our existence is "evidence" for a deity? And you want to teach that in science class?

Sorry my friend. Not in America. Not in my school district.

Kimball Corson

Law Fairy,

Sorry. You are right.

Kimball Corson

Deborah,

I will have to address you in a series of posts.

Timing analomies aside, I would start my search for my expert witnesses from among the following gentlemen (This list is selectively taken from that of Kaiser Soze which also addresses broader issues):


Albert Einstein
"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior Spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. The deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning Power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God."

"Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

Werner von Braun
"The vast mysteries of the universe should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator. I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science."

Physicist Paul Davies, "God and the New Physics"
"It is hard to resist the impression that the present structure of the universe, apparently so sensitive to minor alterations in numbers, has been rather carefully thought out...The seemingly miraculous concurrence of these numerical values must remain the most compelling evidence for cosmic design.

Nobel laureate Arno Penzias, "Cosmos, Bios, and Theos":
"Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say "supernatural") plan."

Astronomer George Greenstein
"As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency--or, rather, Agency--must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?"

Stephen Hawking:
"The universe and the Laws of Physics seem to have been specifically designed for us. If any one of about 40 physical qualities had more than slightly different values, life as we know it could not exist: Either atoms would not be stable, or they wouldn't combine into molecules, or the stars wouldn't form heavier elements, or the universe would collapse before life could develop, and so on..."

Hubert P. Yockey Ph. D., Physics, University of California, Berkeley.:
"One must conclude that, contrary to the established and current wisdom, a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not been written."

George Sim Johnson "Did Darwin Get it Right?" The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 1999:
"Human DNA contains more organized information than the Encyclopedia Britannica. If the full text of the encyclopedia were to arrive in computer code from outer space, most people would regard this as proof of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. But when seen in nature, it is explained as the workings of random forces."

Sir Fred Hoyle, British physicist and astronomer:
"The likelihood of the formation of life from inanimate matter is one to a number with 40,000 nought's after it...It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of Evolution. There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor on any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence."
"The chance that higher life forms might have emerged through evolutionary processes is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the material therein."

Deborah should conclude this is a pretty weighty crowd and all I need them for is to testify that it is not scientifically unreasonable to postulate -- mind you, nothing more than postulate -- that ID is as or more reasonable (though unproveable) a hypothesis as conincidence to account for us.

Kimball Corson

Like many of my prospective expert witnesees above, I referred to the

"incredible prospective improbability of our existence"

But Deborah responds:

This is worthless metaphysical claptrap, as I pointed out already.

But why Deborah do you think it so and thereby put yourself in disagreement with these distinguished scientists?

Kimball Corson

Deborah writes,

"I agree with Judge Jones' decision. And I am quite certain that if you tried to get your ten point plan taught in school, and I took the board to court for violating the Constitution, I'd win for the same reasons the parents in Dover won."

I respond,

I am an experienced trial lawyer of complex cases and I strongly disagree with you on this point expecially in light of Judge Jones' observation that evolution and natural selection are not inconsistent with a supreme being and because my proposal does not teach ID, but simply posites it as an unprovable alternative to coincidence and stops there because of and while explaining the Establishment Clause.

What is your real beef here and look at the reputations of the people with whom you are having it.

Kimball Corson

Law Fairy,

I continue to address Deborah, unlike you and others, because I genuinely believe her arguments are defeatable, as I am being to show here.

Kimball Corson

That should read, ". . . as I am beginning to show here."

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