Sunday, January 27, 2008

scott peck on reality and truth

Here are some great quotes from a genius, Scott Peck, Christian psychotherapist and best-selling author of The Road Less Traveled. These quotes speak to some very profound truths that the world would be wise to understand.

"By attempting to avoid the responsibility for our own behavior, we are giving away our power to some other individual or organization. In this way, millions daily attempt to escape from freedom."

"If our lives are to be healthy and our spirits are to grow, we must be dedicated to the truth. For truth is reality. And the more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world."

"Only a relative and fortunate few continue until the moment of death explorng the mystery of reality, revising and refining and redefining their understanding of the world and what is true."

"We must always hold the truth, as best as we can determine it, more vital to our self-interest, than our comfort."


Saturday, January 26, 2008

the deception and lies of ID

Although I wrote in a previous post: "The whole problem with intelligent design as 'science' is that the concept has a predefined result - that the origins of the natural world must literally match the Genesis Creation account," the slippery snakes of the ID movement do not tell you their intention outright. The original (young earth) creationists did/do not hide this intention, but ID creationists do. Instead, ID proponents say they are looking for "signs of a designer" which may be an alien culture, a purple playdough man, or God (OK I added the purple playdough man idea myself). Why don't we add the Flying Spaghetti Monster to the list, too?

So my point is that they've deviously veiled their intent by claiming they are looking for signs of intelligence using probability theory and signs of "irreducible complexity" which fools their followers but not most scientists. And fortunately, not Judge Jones in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case who ruled ID is religious-based "creationism in disguise" and not science. Hence, teaching it in schools AS SCIENCE violates the constitutional separation of church and state. Make no bones about it, the proponents of ID want to break down that wall between church and state. The Kitzmiller vs. Dover court case was a resounding victory for science, but ID proponents certainly won't stop there.

As a Christian myself, I always wonder why the IDers don't think for a moment that maybe God *isn't* on their side when he keeps giving victory after victory to the supposedly "other side"? Although God's ways are mysterious and no one can claim to fully know God's ways, God is certainly on the side of Truth (and I do believe that there is Truth), especially since in the Bible the devil is described as the "father of lies."

The extent of ID proponents' lying, hypocrisy, and deception is truly frightening. Of course, isn't it always the case that those who are most guilty of propaganda and lying will cast this stone out to the other side. Have you ever had a cheating spouse or significant other accuse you of cheating? Or lying? It's a very common psychological tool used by the lying, deceiving person or group to sidetrack attention away from themselves. ID and other creationists frequently accuse evolution advocates of propaganda. Of course discerning the truth is not all that difficult, but it requires critical thinking, deeper research and understanding the issues, motives, and truths to all these situations. Unfortunately, most people do not have time for that, so they just tend to accept whatever the group/crowd thinks that they most closely align themselves with. To our country's peril! And to that individual's detriment as well.

I plan to start working on a course, seminar and workshop series that will help people decipher the real story from propaganda, and to discern lies versus truth. Are you being duped? Find out how to find out for yourself! Details coming soon.

I'd support having the "controversy" taught in schools, BUT it should be done in a social studies, religion, or cultural studies course and absolutely NOT in a science classroom!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

is there evidence for macroevolution?

After I cross-posted my last blog entry to The Daily Kos I got some good comments and discussion. The poll was done just for fun, sort of tongue-in-cheek though it did offend a couple of friends! That doesn't bother me so much, but one friend actually said she FORGAVE ME as if a difference of theological opinion is enough to cause a Christian friend of 20+ years to not forgive me? What about Jesus saying forgive 7 x 7 times?! I just wish we could all have a sense of humor here, people! :)

Anyway I believe that we have to stand up for Truth and that is why I am adamant about evolution. I KNOW evolution is fact. I have Faith in God and Christ. There's a big difference.

So the comment from a random person I don't know on Daily Kos was:

It surprises me to here [sic] so many argue against ID and in support of Evolution on the basis of facts when most of the facts I've heard on these posts are either wrong or the arguments are lacking the facts. First it's important to know what the basis of ID is and what the followers believe. Not what the religious conservatives who tried to use ID in there favor to get religion back in school believe it is. It's a story of "really don't be on my side" because the conservatives are not helping the idea behind ID. Also to those who boldly call evolution a fact and not a theory. The science has the evidence to support the evolution of species due to natural selection. However, Evolution remains a theory that has plenty of gaps in going from one family to another. Apparently I must have had a terrible evolution teacher when I took the course in college because the gaps are amazing when you actually look at the details. Probabilities and mathematics are a science. You can prove how statistically improbable something is due to its complexities. How different is that basic concept than ID.

And my response:

You must certainly have had a very bad biology teacher because the evidence for macroevolution - NOT just microevolution and natural selection - is overwhelming not scant.

The very fact of the universal genetic code in itself overwhelmingly supports common descent of all organisms from bacteria to human( That is just the beginning. Other basic facts (not theory) in support of evolution are:

  • the shared muscle & bone arrangements in all vertebrates, which have been modified to fit the function in various creatures (birds versus whales versus bats versus fish etc)

  • evidence from convergent evolution (unrelated organisms will evolve in very similar ways to rspond to similar evolutionary pressures)

  • evidence from similarities of flora & fauna on Africa and South America and other continents due to plate tectonics (the continents used to be connected, so organisms on continents that used to be connected are more similar genetically than continents that were not connected - or in relation to time apart since at one point everything was one land mass which then moved apart into Gondwanaland and Laurasia, and then further split).

  • The fact that geneticists can actually detect specific changes in genes and how that affects traits in one closely related organism to the next.

This is just the very beginning of evidence!!

I get frustrated that people who have had a single Biology class in college, learning evolution for a max of 3-4 weeks, think that they can debunk the whole thing by saying there'e no evidence. Try taking a bio class again, or reading about evolution from a non-biased source (scientists) or take an Evolution class. Or sit in on one. Whether or not there is a God/ "designer" is not a question that science can answer! Trying to redefine science so that it appeases Christians/IDers/anti-evolutionists is doing a grave injustice to our society, our world, Christianity, and Truth itself!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Expelled: The Intelligent Design movie

Cross-posted with a tongue-in-cheek quiz at the Daily Kos.

The whole problem with intelligent design is that its proponents like to say it is science, and that the status quo of scientists are not allowing this new concept to be introduced into science classrooms, from some sort of discrimination or something. It's a reasonable enough sounding argument, and the premise of the new documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." And the makers of this film want people to see this movie so badly that they're offering to pay schools and churches $5 per student to see it. I first read about this on The Daily Irrelevant and The Bad Idea Blog.

What intelligent design proponents - in the movie and elsewhere - don't tell you is that science and scientists do not have PR campaigns. They don't have to pay money to people to accept scientific theories and facts. They quietly go about their work in the halls of academia, in the laboratory, using computer models, in the field doing experiments, publishing results in scientific peer-reviewed journals. This is how science works. Scientific ideas don't need a PR campaign, films, and money to promote themselves. They MAY use these techniques as teaching tools, but that is generally after a scientific concept is well established.

Intelligent design is not well-established, and despite what the film may tell people, it's not being expelled. It doesn't have enough data or studies behind it to be put into textbooks. In fact, it's not even science. Somehow we as a society seem to have forgotten what science even is. This shall not do! Science revolutionized the way people thought, paving the way for the amazing scientific and technological advances since then - germ theory, vaccines, antibiotics, traveling to the moon. The key here is that science requires scientists to throw out ideas that don't have supporting data. Every scientific hypothesis is always open to falsification - being shown to be false.

The whole problem with intelligent design as "science" is that the concept has a predefined result - that the origins of the natural world must literally match the Genesis Creation account. Science does not work if you have a pre-set conclusion! No, for a process or idea to be science, those testing the premise have to be able to throw out the hypothesis if the data doesn't fit. Intelligent design is not willing to do that. Because that would mean they are saying, nope, we're wrong. God didn't create the world. At least that is what the fear it means.

People that promote intelligent design KNOW that there is a God who created the universe. And I, myself a Christian, believe that they're right. But that doesn't make intelligent design right. Because ID does not even provide a proper mechanism, or method, through which the universe came into existence other than "God did it," (technically, their terminology is that the world has "irreducible complexity" that could not possibly have been created by anything other than an intelligent designer).

However, evolution by means of natural selection has amazing explanatory power in terms of how the world could have gone from single-celled organisms to complex beings, even human beings. There's no scientific controversy over evolution. There is ONLY a social, religious and cultural controversy.

Another problem with intelligent design proponents is this - very few people who follow it have ever taken a college Biology class in which they learned about evolution and its evidence. Instead they learn about evolution from those attacking it, in the churches and by the "professional creationists" who make money by selling books and making movies to promote their views. And now if you will excuse me, I need to go worship my Noodly master. Ramen!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

When science & faith find common ground

Daily Kos contributing editor Steven Andrews wrote a fantastic Op-Ed in Wednesday Jan 16's Austin American-Statesman, "When science and faith find common ground." He starts by saying
"The age-old, simmering conflict between science and religion is threatening to boil over in Texas with the usual battle lines being drawn around evolutionary biology and public education science standards. Here's a thought: Instead of a long and potentially bitter stand-off between science advocates and creationist proponents, why doesn't Texas skip that mess and go straight to a reasonable compromise? Instead of arguing about fossils, radiometric dating methods or constitutional law, I'd ask those skeptical of evolution what better natural evidence for the brilliance of a Creator could there be than myriad complex processes unfolding over billions of years through countless steps in exquisite order spanning the entire cosmos?"
But my favorite line is when he uses the term "professional creationists" in this paragraph:
"It's no coincidence that professional creationists try to frame the issue as a struggle between science and religion. It's a false dichotomy to be sure, but it's also a powerful public relations tactic, one that serves their goals well. But despite what creationists may say, the choice is not between science and religion, or belief vs. atheism."
I've never heard it put like that, but it's such a perfect characterization of the people who devote their lives to pushing creationism in the classrooms and in society. I strongly believe that despite it being led largely by (right-wing conservative) Christians, creationism detracts from Jesus' message and does far more harm to Christianity than good. In fact, I don't see any good coming from it at all. It wastes taxpayers money (over $1 million spent on the recent Dover court case), tries to insert a religious concept into science classrooms, weakening science education, specifically and our school systems, generally, and last but not least, makes Christians look foolish to educated scientists and academics, many of whom are turned away from religion because of such tomfoolery. And as a concept, it's simply wrong, false, untrue, a lie masquerading as "Christian truth" which is really the most insidious of all things. A wolf in sheep's clothing, if ever there was one. Beware of creationism and inteligent design!

Christianity is about loving God and loving your neighbors of all sizes, shapes, creeds, colors, and religions. And forgiveness and grace. Fighting to get everyone to take a literal view of Genesis creation account should not be the central focus of any Christian's life. Nor should fighting to get schools to remove evolution, or introduce its supposed "weaknesses" or to push intelligent design (another form of creationism). What the Creation tale offers us is not a scientific treatise on Creatoin, but a story of how humanity got a soul, a conscience. Adam didn't eat an apple. It didn't have anything to do with sexual sin. What he did was eat of the "fruit of the knowledge of good and evil." If that is not profound, and clear, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Call for Presidential Debate on Science

This is sooooo needed!!! For information about ScienceDebate2008, visit:

From the National Center for Science Education newsletter:

A non-partisan coalition is calling for a presidential debate on science and technology. "Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness," the coalition writes, "we call for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of the environment, health and medicine, and science and technology policy."

In a December 26, 2007, press release, John Rennie, editor-in-chief of Scientific American and a member of the coalition's steering committee, explained, "Matters of science and technology underpin every important issue affecting the future of the United States. It's crucial for the nation's welfare that our next president be someone with an understanding of vital science, a willingness to listen to scientific counsel, and a capacity for solid, critical thinking. A debate would be the ideal opportunity for America and the candidates to explore our national priorities on these issues."

The coalition is chaired by Representatives Vern Ehlers and Rush Holt, scientists themselves, who remarked in a joint statement, "We believe a debate on these issues would be the ideal opportunity for America and the candidates to explore our national priorities for the twenty-first century, and we hope candidates will wish to be involved in such a discussion." Among the others calling for the debate are fourteen Nobel laureates, the editors-in-chief of Nature and Science, and NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott. The coalition is accepting new supporters on its website.

Monday, January 7, 2008

news on the evolution front

There was an interesting article in the Washington Spectator, Is Darwin Losing the Battle With God? It covers the battle to keep creationism out of science classrooms, starting with the Dover courtcase and ending with the firing of Texas Education Agency (TEA) Director Chris Comer. I think the most startling point is in the concluding paragraph:

Now, teachers she knows in small towns across Texas have come to her [Chris Comer] to say they've been forced to teach creationism in science class for years. She asked them why they didn't do anything about it. "Come on," they told her. "What can I do? It's Texas."
Yowza. I've heard of high school teachers avoiding evolution in class for fear of being called "spawn of the devil" or other names by enraged parents (never mind that students have to learn these topics to pass their state skills tests). But I've never heard of teachers being forced to teach creationism! That is a major violation of the separation of Church and State. People, this issue of separation of Church & State is what caused Americans had to fight for our independence against the Crown of England! Have we forgotten so soon what America was founded on, and why?

in other news, the National Academies of Sciences & the Institute of Medicine have published a new book, Science, Evolution, and Creationism.

A description from the NAS website for the book:
How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable.

In the book Science, Evolution, and Creationism, a group of experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine explain the fundamental methods of science, document the overwhelming evidence in support of biological evolution, and evaluate the alternative perspectives offered by advocates of various kinds of creationism, including "intelligent design." The book explores the many fascinating inquiries being pursued that put the science of evolution to work in preventing and treating human disease, developing new agricultural products, and fostering industrial innovations. The book also presents the scientific and legal reasons for not teaching creationist ideas in public school science classes.

Mindful of school board battles and recent court decisions, Science, Evolution, and Creationism shows that science and religion should be viewed as different ways of understanding the world rather than as frameworks that are in conflict with each other and that the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith. For educators, students, teachers, community leaders, legislators, policy makers, and parents who seek to understand the basis of evolutionary science, this publication will be an essential resource.
A gorgeous and educational 8-page brochure is available online as a PDF and a Press Release from NAS is available also.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

the woman TX creationists don't want you to hear...

"Barbara Forrest: The Woman Texas Creationists Really Don't Want You to Hear"

The long-time Director of TEA, Chris Comer, was fired in November 2007 after she simply forwarded an email about this speaker, Barbara Forrest. It received press in the New York Times, among other places.

These are short 2-minute videos that give you a sample of the longer videos I blogged about 2 days ago at These short clips were put on YouTube to link to the current Texas controversy! Apparently funding to create more science ed videos to SQRE, the organization who put the longer ones together, depends on the popularity of these. So go watch!

And the rest:

The videos or mini-lectures are all free to watch and show in science classes and meetings.

Friday, January 4, 2008

free evolution-creationism podcasts

Nothing's free right? OK well maybe Youtube, podcasts, the web (sort of)... But here's a fantastic FREE resource for teachers, students and anyone interested in the evolution-creation issue, produced by Scientific, Qualitative, Research, & Education, Inc. (SQRE).

Each podcast is a mini-lecture on a variety of evolutionary topics primarily addressing the evolution/Creationism controversy. The videos are well-made, substantive, and scientific. They feature such well-known personalities as Genie Scott, Barbara Forrest, Kenneth Miller, and others who can speak authoritatively about these topics.

They are free to anyone and can be used in schools, colleges, etc. (and in Texas if you dare).

Topics include Is Evolution Just a Theory? and Is Hearing Both Sides Fair? and other hot topics.
Go to or to access these free mini-lecture podcasts.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Huckabee on evolution & creationism

As of 9pm, Texas time, it looks like Huckabee will win the Iowa Caucus. True this is just one state's primary, but I took the time to look up a bit more about him online.

The Wikipedia entry says:

Huckabee has voiced his support of creationism. He was quoted in July 2004 on Arkansans Ask, his regular show on the Arkansas Educational Television Network: "I think that students also should be given exposure to the theories not only of evolution but to the basis of those who believe in creationism." Huckabee also stated "I do not necessarily buy into the traditional Darwinian theory, personally."[145][146][147][148] In the Third GOP Debate in June 2007, Huckabee was asked by Tom Fahey whether he believed in evolution, and he responded, in part: "I believe there is a God who was active in the creation process. Now, how did he do it, and when did he do it, and how long did he take? I don’t honestly know, and I don’t think knowing that would make me a better or a worse president."[149] Huckabee's
position is that acceptance of evolution is not relevant to being President.[150][151]"
Now I don't take issue with his statement, "I believe there is a God who was active in the creation process. Now, how did he do it, and when did he do it, and how long did he take? I don’t honestly know..." with the exception that it sounds a bit too politicalese to me, but I do take exception to the end of this statement which was "...and I don’t think knowing that would make me a better or a worse president."

Science is absolutely critical in our nation, and given the current battle over putting intelligent design in the classroom, understanding evolution is essential for any President or leader. Science fuels technology, medicine, and the future of our environment in many ways. Evolution is central in biology, and that touches on medicine, genomics, HIV, vaccinations, green technology, global warming issues, and so much more. To not understand - or accept as fact - evolution will certainly do a disservice to the Office of the President and the United States. We need strong leadership on science and education policy. We can not afford to weaken our education systems and our children's education because interest groups want to bring religion thinly disguised as "science" into the classroom. And we need strong leadership to guide our nation in all of these issues. Did I say that already?! We need strong leadership with regards to science education!

I read that the rallying of social conservatives - ie evangelicals - was responsible for Huckabee's surprise showing in Iowa when he was in single digits just weeks before. But that scares me a bit. I am a Christian, and I have grave concern that vast numbers of Christians are blindly listening to the Christian leaders telling them how to vote, who to suppport, and who will promote their religious agenda, when in fact, people MUST make up their own minds if we are to have a healthy functioning democracy. And for everyone's own spiritual and psychological health. Sapere aude! Dare to be wise!

When asked "What is Enlightenment," Immanuel Kant replied wrote this in an essay:

“Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] ‘Have courage to use your own understanding!’--that is the motto of enlightenment.”