Friday, August 20, 2010

Scientists Ban an Intelligent Designer



What are they so afraid of? That perhaps the Bible is true, clergy will become society's leaders and scientists will be seen as merely glorified plumbers and electricians? Is atheism as much a close minded, intolerant orthodoxy as any other religion? You be the judge.

The primary criticism of this documentary seems to be that of course scientists do not reject God because of any atheistic bias. That is simply absurd; scientists are paragons of objectivity. Rather, scientists reject God because He "cannot be tested". Personally, however, I fail to see how evolution has been tested. No one has ever seen a useful new organ or limb develop through natural variation and selection.

Additionally, it's ridiculous to suggest that having a graduate degree and doing some research makes a person immune to emotions. See contrary examples here and here.

Historically, we know that scientists for decades refused to accept the Big Bang theory for fear that it might cause someone to believe in God.

Some reviewers have felt that it is false and misleading to link evolution to Nazism and that the Holocaust had many causes. Of course, this is not something which can be proven in a laboratory one way or the other, however I think that a strong argument can be made that had there never been a Darwin there would never have been an Auschwitz.

42 comments:

Shalmo said...

JP why does God not restore prophecy? If gave us prophets when were at our worst, then why not give us prophets now?

You say orthodox jews are the most moral people in the world. Alright, so that means the followers of the Torah have changed, compared to the horrible character they are depicted with throughout the Tanakh. So why not restore prophecy already?

You say Judaism has all the answers, then by all means answer the question

jewish philosopher said...

Basically, God only speaks to people who are interested in listening to Him. Once we stopped listening, He stopped talking.

Free Lunch said...

Apparently you have not read any of the criticism of the falsehoods spread in this movie or the ignorance of science shown by the producers and writers.

The movie is a shameful piece of propaganda. It misrepresents what scientists are doing and how scientific discoveries can be tested. Even the most fervent believer should feel disappointed that other believers have stooped so low in spreading such falsehoods.

Free Lunch said...

By the way, Darwin wasn't the only one discovering that the mechanism of evolution was variation and natural selection a century and a half ago. Wallace had also discovered it and is given credit along with Darwin.

jewish philosopher said...

Darwin is given the credit for priority of discovery.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publication_of_Darwin's_theory#Wallace

If anyone can point out any specific, provable factual error in this film, I will delete this post.

Free Lunch said...

Have you read the critique that the National Center for Science Education developed? The website www.expelledexposed.com shows a number of errors in the film.

You have already rejected science when it comes to the history of life on earth, so I doubt you will acknowledge either your errors of the errors of Expelled.

jewish philosopher said...

Try me.

Anonymous said...

The producers of expelled addressed all the criticism. I'm currently "The Trouble With Physics" by Lee Smolin. He write that all the important positions in physics are held by proponents of String Theory. Anyone who questions string theory very quickly finds himself without a job. So it seems that, in the science community, anyone who questions the prevailing orthodoxy is punished. for it.

NC said...

That 'people are a problem' is nothing new. People defend their ideas, and that they don't like people who have views different than their own is part of human nature. Just like you.

But without going into the details of the movie, this post is really just a collection of logical fallacies.

The biggest is that of red herring. JP spews out a film about some people being intolerant of other people's views, as a distraction from the central issue: is evolution correct or creationism?

He then makes an argument from ignorance and misrepresents what scientific inquiry is, oversimplifying it to "seeing" an organ grow and dismissing inductive reasoning. He thus falsely equates religious faith with scientific "belief".

The final fallacy is a favorite-- reductio ad Hitlerum. Atheism leads to Hitler. Right. And if nationalism or oil were never discovered, there would have been no Nazis, either. This simply ignores that bad people do bad things. And they use whatever tools they have at their disposal.

It also confuses evolution as a descriptional scientific theory and a political philosophy. If we observe that a female spider kills the male after mating, does that mean we say it is "right"?

So all of you out there, I suggest that you don't get distracted by the film; stick to the central points of disagreement.

NC said...

And you, anon 1:12, are also using cheap rhetoric and red herrings. Without having read the book, I can't comment on it, but your statement:

"So it seems that, in the science community, anyone who questions the prevailing orthodoxy is punished. for it."

is a sweeping overgeneralization. If scientists,as a whole, were really despotic and closed minded, stifling all dissenting ideas, how would it have been possible to make all of the scientific progress in the past 150 years? How have we doubled the human lifespan in just a century? Cracked the DNA code? Developed the intenet? We didn't do it by following dogma and repression of ideas.

By design, the scientific community allows for change and revolution. Unlike religion. Religious dogma can't change, by definition.

So your implied comparison between science and religious dogma is false, and is a pathetic attempt to deflect critical analysis of bible fundamentalism. It's saying "Oh no, don't criticize my claims, look at what the scientists are doing".

JP-- another thing. The Nazis were very much against science, which they saw as too "Jewish". They believed in the pseudoscience of racial theory, etc. So real science was antithetical to Nazism.

jewish philosopher said...

The question is: is evolution a science based on evidence or a religion based on wishful thinking? I think this film makes it clear that it's a religion. Telling a scientist that we are not descended from apes is like telling the Pope that Mary was not a virgin. There is nothing to discuss. Facts are irrelevant.

Furthermore, it's a dangerous religion which has contributed directly to the murder of millions of people. Evolution gave birth to atheism and Fascism.

"The Nazis were very much against science"

The Nazis actually did a lot of good science.

http://www.adl.org/braun/dim_14_1_nazi_med.asp

NC said...

"Telling a scientist that we are not descended from apes is like telling the Pope that Mary was not a virgin."

It would be more like arguing that the plague came from poisoned wells and not a virus. The evidence is so overwhelming that somebody who claims otherwise is treated, appropriately, as a crackpot. That's neither religion nor wishful thinking.

"The Nazis actually did a lot of good science."

And much more bad science.

Anonymous said...

NC:

Maybe the scientific community has become more close minded and insular over the past century. And technology and science are not necessarily the same thing.

Scientists used to be able to do work alone. Now, it is all institutionalized. Now there is a lot of money involved in getting grants and such from the government. Those who know how o work the system get ahead. It is like every other institution.

And the Nazis had a problem with physics, which they called Jewish Science because of people like Einstein. They were okay with biology. "Mein Kampf" and Hitler's second book are full of biology. Not accurate biology, but still biology.

jewish philosopher said...

"That's neither religion nor wishful thinking."

Well sure, that's what the Pope says about Mary. And if you didn't agree, at least up to about 200 years ago, the Dominican friars might have invited you to a barbecue, as the barbecue.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/auto_de_fe.html

The fact that scientists must use financial coercion and boycotts to suppress belief in God demonstrates that evolution is a close minded religious belief.

NC said...

"Maybe the scientific community has become more close minded and insular over the past century."

I don't know of any evidence of that problem

"And technology and science are not necessarily the same thing."

Agreed

"Scientists used to be able to do work alone. Now, it is all institutionalized. Now there is a lot of money involved in getting grants and such from the government."

And that is supposed to be a bad thing? Would a scientist working alone in his basement be able to map the human genome?

"The fact that scientists must use financial coercion and boycotts to suppress belief in God demonstrates that evolution is a close minded religious belief."

OK JP and Anon. Lets imagine that you head the research grant committee at the NIH. You have billions of dollars (mostly taxpayer money) at your disposal to fund research. And for every research project that you fund, there are hundreds of applicants from which you must choose one. On your desk lay two grant proposals. The first is attempting to understand how the tuberculosis bacterium triggers lung disease. The other proposal attempts to study how masturbation causes TB.

Which would you choose?

There aren't infinite resources to be able to support crackpot science, which is a good thing.

jewish philosopher said...

I would say that a grant to study why God designed us the way He did would be far more sensible than one to discover vestigial organs "left over" by evolution.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2007/12/evolution-another-nail-in-coffin.html

NC said...

So using the scientific methods of biology and chemistry, how would you study "why" god did this or that? Even the rabbis can't even answer that question, other than guessing.

I'll start with a simple one. Why did god create the polio virus?

Even assuming god, do you expect science to study that?

jewish philosopher said...

That might not be a bad idea.

Or for example "junk DNA". It will probably be much more productive to try to understand what it does, since God created it, rather than brush it off as purposeless.

http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/junkdna.html

Mahla said...

JP, thanks for the link to that Big Bang article. That was definitely an interesting one.

NC said...

"Or for example "junk DNA". It will probably be much more productive to try to understand what it does, since God created it, rather than brush it off as purposeless."

Its not "brushed off". We can tell which genes are active, which aren't and which are necessary for structure. Biologists try to figure it out. For example, when junk DNA gets activated, it causes disease:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/20/science/20gene.html

Is god's "purpose" in putting it there to cause disease? Believe that if you want, but that is not science, that's guessing.

How do you explain that this junk DNA is actively transcribed in some species, but dormant in others. Its the definition of vestigial.

jewish philosopher said...

This is exactly how evolution distorts science and scientific research. Scientists look at everything as being the result of meaningless chance which sometimes just by good luck appears to be purposeful. The reality is the opposite: everything is purposeful and only occasionally because of our profound ignorance appears to be meaningless.

The number of "vestigial" organs has gone from 180 a century ago

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Wiedersheim

to about zero today

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/09/magazine/09_4_appendix.html?_r=1&ref=magazine

The Creationists of today are like Galileo of yesterday: defying the all powerful orthodoxy to proclaim the truth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair

Anonymous said...

Some of the junk DNA is dormant under certain conditions. But when conditions change, it becomes active. This is epigenetics. And some of the junl DNA is non-coding, but it performs various regulatory functions.

NC said...

You didn't answer the question why god would put junk DNA into our chromosomes, that when activated, causes disease, and how science is supposed to answer that question.

The appendix causes far more disease than any residual benefit from our earlier evolutionary history. Why would god put an organ in that causes disease? Is that purpose, too?

Your inability to answer this question results not from our ignorance. You choose to accept the "mystery" explanation. I choose the "evolution" explanation, meaning that at some point the organ did have a function and then it lost it. Its not "meaningless chance".

So here again are more logical fallacies. Over generalization-- because scientists found a potential function of the appendix, you discount all vestigial organs, in all the various species.

"Scientists look at everything as being the result of meaningless chance which sometimes just by good luck appears to be purposeful."

Thank you. With this statement, you reveal with breathtaking clarity your ignorance of the philosophy and methodology of science.

"Meaningless" is a value judgement for which science has nothing to say.

They don't "look at everything as a result of chance". Everything does, however, result from the laws of physics. You know you are misrepresenting what evolution theory is, being just a special application of the laws of physics.

jewish philosopher said...

Latest research indicates that the appendix is quite useful.

http://www.undispatch.com/node/8808

Of course, primitive Creationists like me always knew that.

Anonymous said...

Scientists don't call it junk DNA anymore. They call it non-coding DNA because it is known to perform a lot of functions. It is very possible that more functions will be discovered.

Saying that since we don't know of a function for an organ or stretch of DNA it could not have been designed, and must have evolved is an evolution of the gaps argument. When a function is discovered, then that organ will no longer be evidence for evolution.

Anonymous said...

So...anything in a living thing that has a "function" was designed and could not have evolved in a population.

Is this your argument?

Anonymous said...

I tend to think the clergyman Luther bears most responsibility for the Holocaust, outside of Hitler and his cohorts who actually did the killing. Funny how you never blame them.

I also understand that Jewish reformers are to blame. You yourself applaud God for the Holocaust.

Which is it? Did good ol' God do it to punish us or bad ol' Darwin to one-up God?

NC said...

"They call it non-coding DNA because it is known to perform a lot of functions. "

True. However the large amount of non-coding DNA, shared with coding DNA of other species, is strong evidence for common descent.

"Saying that since we don't know of a function for an organ or stretch of DNA it could not have been designed, and must have evolved is an evolution of the gaps argument."

That is NOT what I am saying. There are lots of structures in living things for which we don't understand their function. We don't say they're useless. But if we see this same structure in a different species, for which the function is clear, and in another, where the function is no longer relevant, it is highly suspicious (but not absolute proof) of being vestigial. Like the shape of human canine teeth. Or piloerector muscles.

But you and JP still didn't answer my question. If a gene clearly causes disease, why would it be there? Evolution gives a logical answer.

My family has the alpha-thalassemia gene. It usually just causes mild anemia, but in cases of several alleles, causes symptoms. Why is it there? Evolution gives us an answer: long ago the gene evolved because the change in red cell shape in thalassemia gave its carriers resistance to malaria. Thus it is common in groups whose ancestors lived in areas where malaria was endemic. So now it is vestigial, but it had a function sometime in the past. Perfectly logical, no atheism required. No god required, either.

jewish philosopher said...

"I tend to think the clergyman Luther bears most responsibility for the Holocaust"

I don't go into that because this blog is critiquing atheism primarily. I don't write much about the crimes of Hindus or New Guinea cannibals either.

"Did good ol' God do it to punish us or bad ol' Darwin to one-up God?"

Both really. God decides to punish someone, then He allows a wicked person to go out and do it. Then that wicked person is himself punished.

"He [Hillel] further saw a skull floating on the water. He said to it: 'Because you drowned you were drowned, and in the end those who drowned you will be drowned.'"

http://www.torah.org/learning/pirkei-avos/chapter2-7.html

"If a gene clearly causes disease, why would it be there?"

Your question is why are their genetic diseases, such as Tay-Sachs? I suppose the same reason there are any diseases.

NC said...

I think vestigiality bothers you so much because it not only implies imperfection, but implies common ancestry. So you try to negate the "imperfection" aspect, but the common ancestry remains.

"Your question is why are their genetic diseases, such as Tay-Sachs? I suppose the same reason there are any diseases."

And what is that?

From an evolutionary perspective, I can explain it. But you demand that scientists seek a "purpose" at the hand of an intelligent designer to explain it. I don't know how this is possible.

You recall earlier that you and anon criticise scientists for excluding intelligent design advocates. So I ask you, if you say that suffering is for a "purpose", say divine justice, how is a scientist supposed to study that? Can you fault a biology department for rejecting a "scientist" with that agenda?

From a theological perspective, one can always claim that the "flaws" were built in so that god can inflict suffering if he sees fit. But that is outside the realm of science.

My point is that the concept of vestigial organs is no more problematic, from a religious standpoint, than any flaw or vulnerability in our design. Why do we have spinal discs that can herniate? What about eyes that develop cataracts?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8:43

No, my point was that the argument from structures that have no known function is not proof of evolution.

And NC:

If a gene clearly causes disease then why didn't natural selection remove it from the gene pool? That's what natural selection is does, by definition. Unless, the gene does confer some advantage, along with the problem. Then that explains why G-d created it. And if you were to ask why G-d did it that way, and not another way, that would be a theological question, not a scientific one. Maybe the answer is that disease and death are part of G-d's plan as well, ever since Adam and Eve ate from the Eitz Hadass.

jewish philosopher said...

"Can you fault a biology department for rejecting a "scientist" with that agenda?"

If scientists would accept a more accurate understanding of the universe they would do better science. If they believed in God, they would not have believed in silly things like a steady state universe or vestigial organs.

Anonymous said...

This is interesting:


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1306219/Doctors-religious-beliefs-likely-help-patients-die.html


Like we've been saying all along.

Anonymous said...

"No, my point was that the argument from structures that have no known function is not proof of evolution."

Who says that "structures that have no known function" IS PROOF of evolution? Who makes this claim? Please quote the biologist who says this.

jewish philosopher said...

Who doesn't?

http://www.livescience.com/animals/top10_vestigial_organs.html

Anonymous said...

From the LiveScience article:

"These vestigial organs, Darwin argued, are evidence of evolution and represent a function that was once necessary for survival, but over time that function became either diminished or nonexistent."

Notice that taking vestigial organs as evidence of evolution is not the same as saying they prove evolution. There is an important difference you are ignoring.

Notice also that vestigial organs are one part of a much greater pool of evidence that all converges into evolutionary theory.

Your hypothesis, I guess, is that there are no such things as vestigial organs. Everything in all living things represents a pre-planned, fully realized, and perfect condition for that organism.

In your hypothesis, common ancestry must be false. Is the common ancestry merely an illusion, then? Is it coincidental that different organisms appear related and seem to yield an eons-long narrative of life on earth?

jewish philosopher said...

"Is it coincidental that different organisms appear related and seem to yield an eons-long narrative of life on earth?"

Which suspiciously no one can find.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/01/our-family-tree.html

Anonymous said...

By appears related you mean that they are similar? Cars and trucks are similar, yet they didn't evolve from a common ancestor solely by naturalistic means.

Anonymous said...

"Furthermore, it's a dangerous religion which has contributed directly to the murder of millions of people."

Judaism and the faiths born out of it are far more dangerous and responsible for far more deaths that any proponent of the warped concept of Darwinian Evolution found in Orwell and elsewhere: Social Darwinism and the eradication of unfit races. Start with the mass genocides commanded in the Torah, jump ahead to the Crusades, the Spanish and English expulsions of the Jews (and Muslims), the Muslim take-over of Spain and forced conversions (and don't forget the forced conversions on the other side during the Inquisition), the Blood Libel, the Passion Plays and their aftermath, the pogroms, Manifest Destiny and the eradication of many Native American tribes, the Witch Trials, the current Arab-Israeli conflict (beginning in '48) with atrocities on both sides, abortion clinic bombings and attacks on doctors who perform abortions, and Muslim terrorist attacks, most notably 9/11 and 7/7.

A handful of notable atrocities have been committed using a warped notion of Darwinian evolution as justification. Far more atrocities have been committed using Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as justification. If I had to choose which friends would be less likely to murder me based on religious grounds, I'd go with the atheists 100% of the time.

jewish philosopher said...

Well, I'm afraid that you are terribly ignorant. Orthodox Jews in fact are basically pacifists who almost never commit an act of violence.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/02/massacre-of-midianites.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/orthodox-jewish-crime.html

On the other hand, there has never been an atheistic society which reproduces at a replacement level and has a low level of violence. Atheism would bring extinction.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm sorry. Since you were discussing the effects of people reinterpreting and misusing Darwinism, I assumed that that was as opposed to Judaism and those who have reinterpreted it. If we're only discussing Orthodox Judaism, then we should likewise only discuss actual Darwinian thinkers rather than nutjobs and confused social scientists. That removes Orwell and Hitler.

jewish philosopher said...

Origin of Species was published 150 years ago yet it has already significantly contributed to the decline of the indigenous population of Europe through wars, famine, mass executions and failure to reproduce. The concept that man is a soulless bag of chemicals is probably the most destructive lunacy ever published.

In the meantime, Europeans are being replaced by Muslims, who of course believe in God not evolution.