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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Intermune: Right Back Down Again | Main | Perverse Incentives In Clinical Trials »

May 6, 2010

Unintelligent Design

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Posted by Derek

If you're looking for some ammunition in a creationist argument, evolutionary biologist John Avise of UC-Irvine has provided plenty in a new PNAS article entitled "Footprints of Nonsentient Design Inside the Human Genome". He goes over a number of not-too-intelligent-looking kinks in our genes.

This same point has occurred to many other people before, of course (I went on about it a few years ago here), but Avise has done a real service by collecting the arguments in one place in a clear and concise way. Exons and introns, spliceosomes, disorders of gene transcription and regulation, the unreliability of mitochondrial DNA, duplicons, pseudogenes, mobile DNA elements - they're all here, and all (to my eyes) much better explained by random, nonsentient tinkering than by thoughtful design.

Avise tries at the end to propose evolution as a helpful adjunct to religon, but I don't think his argument is going to fly with the people who might be most in need of it:

Evolution by natural causes in effect emancipates religion from the shackles of theodicy. No longer need we agonize about why a Creator God is the world’s leading abortionist and mass murderer. No longer need we query a Creator God’s motives for debilitating countless innocents with horrific genetic conditions. No longer must we anguish about the interventionist motives of a supreme intelligence that permits gross evil and suffering in the world. No longer need we be tempted to blaspheme an omnipotent Deity by charging Him directly responsible for human frailties and physical shortcomings (including those that we now understand to be commonplace at molecular and biochemical levels). No longer need we blame a Creator God’s direct hand for any of these disturbing empirical facts. Instead, we can put the blame squarely on the agency of insentient natural evolutionary causation. From this perspective, the evolutionary sciences can become a welcome partner (rather than the conventionally perceived adversary) of mainstream religion

No, we're not going to get rid of theodicy that easily. The people whose beliefs most draw them to creationist and ID arguments tend, I'd say, to see life (and most especially intelligent human life) as one of the most important parts of Creation. Humans are, according to the Bible, the absolute peak of the entire process, and are thus the deserving subjects of continuous special attention from the Deity. Very few people with these foundations to their beliefs are willing to allow random evolution to share the stage.

Comments (79) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Intelligent Design


COMMENTS

1. road on May 6, 2010 8:06 AM writes...

i can't believe this garbage makes it into a national journal FOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH.

Permalink to Comment

2. sgcox on May 6, 2010 8:45 AM writes...

Hmmm, it is actually a well writen paper with reasonable summary of chaotic nature of human genome. The last part of the discussion is of course unnecessary.

Permalink to Comment

3. Vader on May 6, 2010 9:04 AM writes...

"Very few people with these foundations to their beliefs are willing to allow random evolution to share the stage."

Rather more than a few, but they don't make all the noise and get all the attention. Beware observational bias due to selection effects.

Permalink to Comment

4. God on May 6, 2010 9:14 AM writes...

Stuff like this really irritates me. Maybe I I'll order up a case of pancreatic cancer for this guy...

Permalink to Comment

5. Hap on May 6, 2010 9:34 AM writes...

1) Wow, you've hit the big time when God reads your blog and comments.

2) #1 - you mean like J. Chem. Ed.?

Permalink to Comment

6. God on May 6, 2010 9:53 AM writes...

I've been following Derek pretty closely since the publication of his 2004 paper on inhibitors of hormone-sensitive lipase, which I thought was a nice approach to diabetes therapy.

The whole diabetes issue is a little embarrassing from my point of view, I just never anticipated that people would eat so much.

Permalink to Comment

7. DC on May 6, 2010 10:03 AM writes...

The author's logic fails on his misguided assumption that if God were to exist, we would have a "perfect genome". Would dwarfism be considered a a defect? How about color-blindness, or a tendency to be obese?

Does God promise a perfect world, too? Basically, this is the problem of evil in disguise, an issue on which countless theists and atheists have debated upon for centuries.

Thus, I echo #1: what drivel is this in a SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL?

Permalink to Comment

8. partial agonist on May 6, 2010 10:06 AM writes...

Derek may have a unique opportunity, to take note of the IP address of God!

I wonder where God hangs out. I always guessed it was in EJ Corey's office.

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9. geezer on May 6, 2010 10:06 AM writes...

Without Adam or Eve's DNA as a control, I'm not sure how Avise can assume that the imperfections in our DNA now are evidence of a lack of sentient intervention how many millions years ago? Evidence of a genetic linkage to disease is by no means non-sentient. Perhaps this was the plan all along...and I'm not religious! I think Avise may have got caught up in some cognito ergo sum-type conclusions here. One higher being's trash is another man's treasure...

Permalink to Comment

10. MTK on May 6, 2010 10:17 AM writes...

The quoted paragraph is not the meat of the argument, but the author's opinion on the ramifications of his conclusions. The argument is not phenotypic, but more genotypic and expression centered.

Basically the mechanisms necessary are so haphazard and inefficient that the more logical conclusion is unintelligent design, or no design, rather than intelligent design.

Permalink to Comment

11. alig on May 6, 2010 10:24 AM writes...

I never understand why people think intelligent design and evolution are exclusive. Obviously we can see things evolve, but Monsanto has been very successful at intelligently designing new crops. Or do evolutionist think corn evolved the gene to be immune to round-up and rice evolve to express beta-carotene?

Permalink to Comment

12. CanChem on May 6, 2010 10:31 AM writes...

@8 - if EJC was god they'd be called the Corey-Woodward-Hoffmann rules like he always wanted.

Permalink to Comment

13. God on May 6, 2010 10:39 AM writes...

The apparent randomness of the genome has nothing to do with viruses, transposons, or any of that genetic nonsense. It was just too big a project to do by Myself, and so we ended up with the usual problems inherent in any product that is designed by committee.

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14. processchemist on May 6, 2010 10:48 AM writes...

Well, interesting article, apart from the consideration about theodicy... as european, I'm not so much familiar with the creationists that abound in the land of the free, but I have the strong suspect that some centuries of philosophic and theologic debate are elegantly forgotten in this conclusion...

"However, every year is witness to renewed pressure on textbook
publishers and on state and local education boards to inject
intelligent design (ID) into the science curricula of public schools."

Not in my country, thanks God...

Permalink to Comment

15. Fred on May 6, 2010 10:48 AM writes...

The human body is such a disaster, full of failure points, I am sure no omnipotent Supreme Being would wish to be associated with it. I suppose that is why we are born without bar codes striped across our butts.

Permalink to Comment

16. Chemjobber on May 6, 2010 10:49 AM writes...

Lord God of Hosts,

I have a few questions, but I'll limit them to just one. When will the chemistry job market recover in the US? Thanks!

Your loving disciple,

CJ

Permalink to Comment

17. God on May 6, 2010 10:58 AM writes...

ChemJobber,

The market should start to pick up in 2012, but the recovery will be short-lived, as we have a major meteor strike scheduled for October 13, 2014.

Permalink to Comment

18. David on May 6, 2010 11:05 AM writes...

As one of the world's approximately 1+ billion Catholics (and 50-70M in the USA), I have to take issue with the "very few" comment. Catholic theology has no issues with natural evolution. The particularly Puritan/fundamentalist/Baptist/evangelical Protestant strain of Christianity that dominates "religious" discourse in America is an aberration due to the relatively few adherents' outsized lobbying influence.

Permalink to Comment

19. Larry on May 6, 2010 11:07 AM writes...

Derek, are you channelling the irreducibly complex Rudy Baum?

Permalink to Comment

20. Anonymous on May 6, 2010 11:29 AM writes...

#11 OMG!!! I knew it Monsanto (ie humans) are GOD!!

Permalink to Comment

21. Laura on May 6, 2010 11:29 AM writes...

Kyle Finchsigmate's 2008 post on this topic says it all. Does anyone else still miss his blog?

http://www.thechemblog.com/?p=756

Permalink to Comment

22. Hap on May 6, 2010 11:34 AM writes...

His and ChemBark. Sigh.

Permalink to Comment

23. Katherine on May 6, 2010 11:37 AM writes...

As a Mormon, I agree with David. Mormon theology has no issues with evolution either. They co-existed quite nicely in my class notebooks at Brigham Young University. (If they hadn't, I would have found a different university, and probably a different theology.)

Permalink to Comment

24. john on May 6, 2010 12:09 PM writes...

I haven't gotten to far into the paper yet. Actually trying to get some bench work done today, but the first thing I had to ask was "Is this paper really making it into PNAS on it's own merits?". If it wasn't for the Kansas school board issues, people like Dawkins etc. and the ridiculous circus that has come up around evolution in the United States would this have a shot?
I also realize that there has already been a lot of debate about PNAS as a scientific journal, but we cannot let news media and popular culture drive which scientific papers make it into high impact journals. The quality and potential impact of the science should make that determination. In my opinion this argument belongs in a specialty journal. Putting it in PNAS though is a great way to get publicity though, way to go PNAS.

Permalink to Comment

25. TFox on May 6, 2010 1:44 PM writes...

Am I the only one to read "theodicy" as some kind of portmanteau for "theological idiocy"? It's not, unfortunately, it just refers to any response to the problem of evil. Eg, Avise's paper could be called a theodicy.

Permalink to Comment

26. Sili on May 6, 2010 2:37 PM writes...

God works in mysterious ways (except of course when he agrees with us).

Our's not to reason why (except of course when we tell everyone else what to do).

Yaddah yaddah yaddah.

Katherine, if there's no intelligent design, how did all traces of Jewish ancestry disappear from the aboriginal Americans' genomes? And what is the process for turning dark the skin of people unpleasing to the Lord?

My impression is that the RCC has been growing more circumspect in their support for the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection since the death of the last popester (I wonder why? Could they be losing customers?), but I'll let David have this one for now. Rome has far more direct problems with theodicy at the moment.

Permalink to Comment

27. rhodium on May 6, 2010 4:26 PM writes...

If you want examples of intelligent design, try Spiderman or Wolverine. Shooting spider silk out of my palms, now that is good design, as is the ability to open bank vaults with my fingernails. Whoever designed this body had no imagination whatsoever.

Permalink to Comment

28. Phil on May 6, 2010 5:23 PM writes...

Sili: "if there's no intelligent design, how did all traces of Jewish ancestry disappear from the aboriginal Americans' genomes? And what is the process for turning dark the skin of people unpleasing to the Lord?"

I assume these are ridiculous Mormon dogma. Pretty much every religion has some serious stupid injected into it by the people in charge at the time. It doesn't necessarily mean some of it isn't right.

There are many scientists and science-literate people who do believe that a Creator and evolution are not mutually exclusive. This is just such a charged issue on both sides - look at the condescending rhetoric Derek quotes - that the extremes are the only opinions that seem to be heard.

Permalink to Comment

29. Sili on May 6, 2010 5:36 PM writes...

There are many scientists and science-literate people who do believe that a Creator and evolution are not mutually exclusive.
Indeed.
I assume these are ridiculous Mormon dogma. Pretty much every religion has some serious stupid injected into it by the people in charge at the time.
Yes. It's the Mormon origin story as recorded in the most perfect and inerrant book ever written. You really cannot be a cafeteria Mormon in the style of the Catholics.
It doesn't necessarily mean some of it isn't right.
Stopped clock. Twice a day. Yaddah yaddah yaddah. Permalink to Comment

30. Gumby on May 6, 2010 5:36 PM writes...

Interesting argument. The problem is that you are taking what our genome is now (or from the recent past) as what it always was. The laws of thermodynamics don't allow things to go from worse to better, but rather the other way around and while humans are said to be the "pinnacle of creation", we have come a long way since then; lost genetic diversity and corruption goes a long way towards the problems we see now.

Permalink to Comment

31. Hap on May 6, 2010 6:00 PM writes...

30: You can clean your room, can't you? In doing so, you're creating more order, so why is it possible? It happens because you expend energy to clean the room, and so in using the energy you create disorder in some other way that more than makes up for the loss of disorder.

A system can gain order so long as the universe as a whole becomes less ordered. Life on Earth has the Sun as a very large energy source. We can evolve (and gain order) because the entropic cost of increased order is paid by the Sun. Over time, we accrue energy from the Sun as plants use it to fix CO2 - they act as a savings account for energy, which animals and other life can then withdraw. Because of that, there's no reason to assume that genomes and life in general will get worse over time - the order they gain is paid for elsewhere, but is surely paid for.

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32. Morten G on May 6, 2010 7:10 PM writes...

@ TFox "Am I the only one to read "theodicy" as some kind of portmanteau for "theological idiocy"?"
I read it as a portmanteau for tedious actually. Or tediously maybe.

@Hap Thanks for correcting the idiot's interpretation of the laws of thermodynamics. That always makes me so annoyed when someone pulls that out. And before someone yells at me for saying idiot I direct you to the meaning of the word "A common term for a person of low general intelligence." In fact your response is so good I want to write it down but I would probably lose it somewhere.

The fact of the matter is that science can't disprove the existence of God as he/she/it is defined (it's an article of faith) but a literal interpretation of the bible is only valid if you consider the Creator God to be either extremely fallible and limited (which would be strange since the creator was powerful enough to create the entire universe) or really quite cruel. Or if you want to get really bizarre God created the universe as it would have looked if he had never existed. I all of these cases it shouldn't really matter to you if other people believe in God or not. That goes for atheists too.

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33. Hap on May 6, 2010 7:40 PM writes...

What people believe matters because it should affect what we do (perhaps not in an obvious and straightforward way, but somehow) and thus impinges on what is done to others. People can still do bad things for good reasons, though - it's generally better to attack what people do that's wrong rather than their reasons (because their ostensible reasons may have little to do with their actions, and because controlling thought is neither achievable or desirable).

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34. djd on May 6, 2010 8:59 PM writes...

@ Morten G "[In] all of these cases it shouldn't really matter to you if other people believe in God or not. That goes for atheists too."

I care what they believe because they act on those beliefs.

Many (most?) religions teach their adherents to believe things despite absent or even contrary evidence. (Note: nonreligious authoritarian systems also do this.) If someone attempts to use faulty reasoning to understand the world, they will fail. Actions based on this misunderstanding have adverse consequences for them and for others.

Permalink to Comment

35. Anonymous on May 6, 2010 10:49 PM writes...

is faith used to understand the world, or to understand oneself?

Science does not pretend to offer truth, for truth can only come from induction (within?).

Permalink to Comment

36. Ian Musgrave on May 6, 2010 11:13 PM writes...

John wrote: but the first thing I had to ask was "Is this paper really making it into PNAS on it's own merits?".

Yes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA publishes work in a wide variety of fields, including the sociology of and impact of science. Creationism and Intelligent Design creationism are important influences in America, and there has been substantial pressure to include one or more flavours of creationism in teaching at American schools. This paper addresses important aspects of this issue.

Morten G wrote: The fact of the matter is that science can't disprove the existence of God as he/she/it is defined (it's an article of faith) but a literal interpretation of the bible is only valid if you consider the Creator God to be either extremely fallible and limited (which would be strange since the creator was powerful enough to create the entire universe) or really quite cruel.

And yet that is what creationism and Intelligent Design creationism want to do. For those of us outside the US, it is hard to conceive of these ideas being sufficiently widespread to threaten science teaching, but in the US it remains a persistent threat.

One of the things that Intelligent Design creationists have been harping on about is their alleged ability to detect "Intelligent Design" (read God) in the genome, they have a particular bee in their bonnet about "junk" DNA not being "junk".

This paper addresses the background to the issue (Intelligent Design Creationism in the US), and a key plank of the ID attack on science teaching (we all know that a creator could set up the genome anyway it pleased, but the ID crowd are focussed on seeing human engineering style design in the genome, and the paper specifically refutes that).

This can be very hard to understand unless you have actually had to try and counter creationist anti-science.

sgcox wrote: Hmmm, it is actually a well writen paper with reasonable summary of chaotic nature of human genome. The last part of the discussion is of course unnecessary.

Yes, that last bit is necessary. Remember this paper is written in the specific context of Intelligent Design Creationism and its attacks on science and science-teaching. And its the PNAS of the US, and the US is where ID is a continuing danger to science education.

Permalink to Comment

37. Anonymous on May 6, 2010 11:45 PM writes...

Is there any evidence for the existence of God?
Then why is He even being mentioned in a Science journal? You can't refute the existence of God without circumventing/eviscerating/rescinding the scientific method.
Other than that it was cool.

Beliefs and actions are two very different things.

Permalink to Comment

38. Katherine on May 7, 2010 12:26 AM writes...

Sili, if I interpreted those passages the way you seem to think I should, would I be a regular reader here? You've acquired some unpleasant ideas about religion somewhere. Please don't take them out on me.

Permalink to Comment

39. GreedyCynicalSelfInterested on May 7, 2010 1:33 AM writes...

I have my own theory about "supreme beings."

If there is a "supreme being," (he/she/it/they) (doesn't/doesn't/doesn't/don't) give a d*mn about humans or any other creatures.

Permalink to Comment

40. Sili on May 7, 2010 3:33 AM writes...

Sili, if I interpreted those passages the way you seem to think I should, would I be a regular reader here?
I didn't realise you were a prophet of the Church. Sorry. Or do they let just anyone interpret scripture these days?

Sorry, but I have no trouble believing religion and science coëxist in your books and your brain. We humans are exceptionally good at compartmentalising.

That still doesn't change the fact that the book, you as a Mormon are required to believe to be the truth as infallibly revealed to Joseph Smith, is ripe with claims that fly in the face of the discoveries of science. The only way you can be a scientist and a theist is to ignore one 'magisterium' when dealing with the other.

I merely grabbed the genetic claims at random since they're so close to chemistry. Had this been LanguageLog I woulda mocked the 'reformed Egyptian' and the Book of Abraham instead.

Anyway, go have a look at the Apostle before you think too much. I gather that's frowned upon.

Permalink to Comment

41. Cartesian on May 7, 2010 4:40 AM writes...

If God is understood as the first cause like in philosophy, following a scientific reasoning this should not be a problem, but there are different ways of understanding God.

Permalink to Comment

42. partial agonist on May 7, 2010 7:22 AM writes...

#35: is faith used to understand the world, or to understand oneself?

Organized faith seems to be commonly used to claim that one set of beliefs is above all others, to belittle, demean, or dehumanize those with different viewpoints, and ultimately to silence them, often by killing them.

If there is a God, he/she likely loathes the fact that virtually all religions are a flash point for human hatred, and while many of them strive to do good deeds, on balance they do far more harm than good.

Permalink to Comment

43. MedChem on May 7, 2010 10:23 AM writes...

Let's assume the subject matter being christianity for now.

One common mistake those who attack it make is that they don't try to understand the theology to see if it's consistent with those observations upon which the criticism is based. For example, remember "the Fall"--according to the Bible God changed a lof of things (genetics definitely being one of them) when sin entered the world. In the plant world, thorns apparantly started to appear where they didn't exist before. Men according to the Bible, had since then lived gradually shorter life spans from close to 1000 years to around 100.

Permalink to Comment

44. Katherine on May 7, 2010 11:32 AM writes...

If most scientists' understanding of religion, and what it does and does not "require" of its adherents, is anything like Sili's, no wonder there's so much venom in the comments whenever religion comes up.

Certainly there are religions that expect their adherents to do no thinking, and to accept scripture as infallible. The ones David mentioned upthread seem to me to fall into that category. But to assume that all religions require similar mindlessness - and to persist in asserting that mine in particular does, when its doctrine quite explicitly states the opposite - seems quite unscientific. And it certainly doesn't make for a very interesting conversation.

Permalink to Comment

45. otakucode on May 7, 2010 12:00 PM writes...

For those who have not studied history, most especially the history of scientific investigation and sociology and how things changed with Descartes and his cohorts during the Enlightenment, it might seem possible for religion and science to co-exist. It is not, however, possible. Prior to the Enlightenment, people believed in religion as much as they believed in science. They believe that there was 1 world. Not a metaphysical and a physical one, just 1 world. They believed prayer could cure disease as reliably as gravity would pull an object to the earth. The Enlightenment allowed people to ease into scientific belief. It didn't look like they were completely abandoning their superstitions when they simply said "There is a spiritual world and a physical one, religion rules the spiritual, and science the physical." That gave society breathing room. It gave them the room to finally discover and start to expand science without worrying about stepping on the toes of the priests too much. Over time, and with a bloody battle at every single advance, science took more and more away from what was relegated to the 'spiritual world' and moved it into the 'physical world.' We're getting to the point where there is hardly anything left at all in the 'spiritual world.' Soon, we'll be faced with the final battle, where either we admit there is no 'spiritual world' and religious beliefs are just myths and superstitions... or else society will turn away from science and back to religion. Do not dare think the outcome is certain, it is not. Society has been turning more and more anti-intellectual and irrational over the past few decades. If we do plunge back into a pre-Enlightenment mode of belief, we can expect to welcome back all the disease, suffering, and widespread death that worldview brings.

Permalink to Comment

46. otakucode on May 7, 2010 12:00 PM writes...

For those who have not studied history, most especially the history of scientific investigation and sociology and how things changed with Descartes and his cohorts during the Enlightenment, it might seem possible for religion and science to co-exist. It is not, however, possible. Prior to the Enlightenment, people believed in religion as much as they believed in science. They believe that there was 1 world. Not a metaphysical and a physical one, just 1 world. They believed prayer could cure disease as reliably as gravity would pull an object to the earth. The Enlightenment allowed people to ease into scientific belief. It didn't look like they were completely abandoning their superstitions when they simply said "There is a spiritual world and a physical one, religion rules the spiritual, and science the physical." That gave society breathing room. It gave them the room to finally discover and start to expand science without worrying about stepping on the toes of the priests too much. Over time, and with a bloody battle at every single advance, science took more and more away from what was relegated to the 'spiritual world' and moved it into the 'physical world.' We're getting to the point where there is hardly anything left at all in the 'spiritual world.' Soon, we'll be faced with the final battle, where either we admit there is no 'spiritual world' and religious beliefs are just myths and superstitions... or else society will turn away from science and back to religion. Do not dare think the outcome is certain, it is not. Society has been turning more and more anti-intellectual and irrational over the past few decades. If we do plunge back into a pre-Enlightenment mode of belief, we can expect to welcome back all the disease, suffering, and widespread death that worldview brings.

Permalink to Comment

47. otakucode on May 7, 2010 12:07 PM writes...

For those who have not studied history, most especially the history of scientific investigation and sociology and how things changed with Descartes and his cohorts during the Enlightenment, it might seem possible for religion and science to co-exist. It is not, however, possible. Prior to the Enlightenment, people believed in religion as much as they believed in science. They believe that there was 1 world. Not a metaphysical and a physical one, just 1 world. They believed prayer could cure disease as reliably as gravity would pull an object to the earth. The Enlightenment allowed people to ease into scientific belief. It didn't look like they were completely abandoning their superstitions when they simply said "There is a spiritual world and a physical one, religion rules the spiritual, and science the physical." That gave society breathing room. It gave them the room to finally discover and start to expand science without worrying about stepping on the toes of the priests too much. Over time, and with a bloody battle at every single advance, science took more and more away from what was relegated to the 'spiritual world' and moved it into the 'physical world.' We're getting to the point where there is hardly anything left at all in the 'spiritual world.' Soon, we'll be faced with the final battle, where either we admit there is no 'spiritual world' and religious beliefs are just myths and superstitions... or else society will turn away from science and back to religion. Do not dare think the outcome is certain, it is not. Society has been turning more and more anti-intellectual and irrational over the past few decades. If we do plunge back into a pre-Enlightenment mode of belief, we can expect to welcome back all the disease, suffering, and widespread death that worldview brings.

Permalink to Comment

48. otakucode on May 7, 2010 12:08 PM writes...

For those who have not studied history, most especially the history of scientific investigation and sociology and how things changed with Descartes and his cohorts during the Enlightenment, it might seem possible for religion and science to co-exist. It is not, however, possible. Prior to the Enlightenment, people believed in religion as much as they believed in science. They believe that there was 1 world. Not a metaphysical and a physical one, just 1 world. They believed prayer could cure disease as reliably as gravity would pull an object to the earth. The Enlightenment allowed people to ease into scientific belief. It didn't look like they were completely abandoning their superstitions when they simply said "There is a spiritual world and a physical one, religion rules the spiritual, and science the physical." That gave society breathing room. It gave them the room to finally discover and start to expand science without worrying about stepping on the toes of the priests too much. Over time, and with a bloody battle at every single advance, science took more and more away from what was relegated to the 'spiritual world' and moved it into the 'physical world.' We're getting to the point where there is hardly anything left at all in the 'spiritual world.' Soon, we'll be faced with the final battle, where either we admit there is no 'spiritual world' and religious beliefs are just myths and superstitions... or else society will turn away from science and back to religion. Do not dare think the outcome is certain, it is not. Society has been turning more and more anti-intellectual and irrational over the past few decades. If we do plunge back into a pre-Enlightenment mode of belief, we can expect to welcome back all the disease, suffering, and widespread death that worldview brings.

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49. otakucode on May 7, 2010 12:09 PM writes...

For those who have not studied history, most especially the history of scientific investigation and sociology and how things changed with Descartes and his cohorts during the Enlightenment, it might seem possible for religion and science to co-exist. It is not, however, possible. Prior to the Enlightenment, people believed in religion as much as they believed in science. They believe that there was 1 world. Not a metaphysical and a physical one, just 1 world. They believed prayer could cure disease as reliably as gravity would pull an object to the earth. The Enlightenment allowed people to ease into scientific belief. It didn't look like they were completely abandoning their superstitions when they simply said "There is a spiritual world and a physical one, religion rules the spiritual, and science the physical." That gave society breathing room. It gave them the room to finally discover and start to expand science without worrying about stepping on the toes of the priests too much. Over time, and with a bloody battle at every single advance, science took more and more away from what was relegated to the 'spiritual world' and moved it into the 'physical world.' We're getting to the point where there is hardly anything left at all in the 'spiritual world.' Soon, we'll be faced with the final battle, where either we admit there is no 'spiritual world' and religious beliefs are just myths and superstitions... or else society will turn away from science and back to religion. Do not dare think the outcome is certain, it is not. Society has been turning more and more anti-intellectual and irrational over the past few decades. If we do plunge back into a pre-Enlightenment mode of belief, we can expect to welcome back all the disease, suffering, and widespread death that worldview brings.

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50. otakucode on May 7, 2010 12:09 PM writes...

For those who have not studied history, most especially the history of scientific investigation and sociology and how things changed with Descartes and his cohorts during the Enlightenment, it might seem possible for religion and science to co-exist. It is not, however, possible. Prior to the Enlightenment, people believed in religion as much as they believed in science. They believe that there was 1 world. Not a metaphysical and a physical one, just 1 world. They believed prayer could cure disease as reliably as gravity would pull an object to the earth. The Enlightenment allowed people to ease into scientific belief. It didn't look like they were completely abandoning their superstitions when they simply said "There is a spiritual world and a physical one, religion rules the spiritual, and science the physical." That gave society breathing room. It gave them the room to finally discover and start to expand science without worrying about stepping on the toes of the priests too much. Over time, and with a bloody battle at every single advance, science took more and more away from what was relegated to the 'spiritual world' and moved it into the 'physical world.' We're getting to the point where there is hardly anything left at all in the 'spiritual world.' Soon, we'll be faced with the final battle, where either we admit there is no 'spiritual world' and religious beliefs are just myths and superstitions... or else society will turn away from science and back to religion. Do not dare think the outcome is certain, it is not. Society has been turning more and more anti-intellectual and irrational over the past few decades. If we do plunge back into a pre-Enlightenment mode of belief, we can expect to welcome back all the disease, suffering, and widespread death that worldview brings.

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51. otakucode on May 7, 2010 12:14 PM writes...

For those who have not studied history, most especially the history of scientific investigation and sociology and how things changed with Descartes and his cohorts during the Enlightenment, it might seem possible for religion and science to co-exist. It is not, however, possible. Prior to the Enlightenment, people believed in religion as much as they believed in science. They believe that there was 1 world. Not a metaphysical and a physical one, just 1 world. They believed prayer could cure disease as reliably as gravity would pull an object to the earth. The Enlightenment allowed people to ease into scientific belief. It didn't look like they were completely abandoning their superstitions when they simply said "There is a spiritual world and a physical one, religion rules the spiritual, and science the physical." That gave society breathing room. It gave them the room to finally discover and start to expand science without worrying about stepping on the toes of the priests too much. Over time, and with a bloody battle at every single advance, science took more and more away from what was relegated to the 'spiritual world' and moved it into the 'physical world.' We're getting to the point where there is hardly anything left at all in the 'spiritual world.' Soon, we'll be faced with the final battle, where either we admit there is no 'spiritual world' and religious beliefs are just myths and superstitions... or else society will turn away from science and back to religion. Do not dare think the outcome is certain, it is not. Society has been turning more and more anti-intellectual and irrational over the past few decades. If we do plunge back into a pre-Enlightenment mode of belief, we can expect to welcome back all the disease, suffering, and widespread death that worldview brings.

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52. MedChem on May 7, 2010 12:33 PM writes...

"If we do plunge back into a pre-Enlightenment mode of belief, we can expect to welcome back all the disease, suffering, and widespread death that worldview brings."

You mean athiesm/communism under whose name tens of millions, in China, Russia and everywhere it was preached, were slaughtered?

"There are no supreme saviours
Neither God, nor Caesar, nor tribune"--The Internationale

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53. Gillespie on May 7, 2010 3:31 PM writes...

"Sili- I didn't realize [sic] you were a prophet of the Church. Sorry. Or do they let just anyone interpret scripture these days?"
Umm.. yes, we do. And not just these days...
I'm not going to go in depth here- don't want to hijack this more than it already is... suffice it to say you really aught to understand your subject matter better before jumping in and removing all doubt as to you insufficiency. A condescending overtone will only carry you so far.

True science and true religion are not contradictory. If you just snorted @ that statement, maybe your view of either is not accurate.

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54. Anonymous on May 7, 2010 4:37 PM writes...

when its doctrine quite explicitly states the opposite
[Citation Needed]

If science is so compatible with Mormonism, then why is happily promoting Intelligent Design?

And it certainly doesn't make for a very interesting conversation.
Too true.

And I haven't even asked about the 'scientific reasoning' for banning homosexuals couples from adopting.

You mean athiesm/communism under whose name tens of millions, in China, Russia and everywhere it was preached, were slaughtered?
Srsly? The atheism=communism claim? Sheesh. Do you really think the regimes of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Kim Il Sung represented Enlightenment values?
True science and true religion are not contradictory.
Ah, silly me. I obviously ignored the True Scotsman™. Sorry, my bad.
Umm.. yes, we do. And not just these days...
Really, now? Then what's the purpose of having prophets, seers and a quorum of apostles if not to ensure doctrinal coherence (for generous interpretations of "choherence")? Secondly, if The Book of Mormon is the most perfect text ever written, why does it need interpretation.

And I have yet to get an answer to my two questions: Are American aboriginals descendants of Jews or are they not? Do people who are unrighteous in the eyes of the Lord have their skin turned dark, and can a pious life turn dark skin light?

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55. MedChem on May 7, 2010 5:10 PM writes...

"Srsly? The atheism=communism claim?"

Is every athiest a commi? Of course not. But on the other hand, I guess you don't know how hell bent the commies are on teaching evolution and how much their "theology" depends on it.

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56. MedChem on May 7, 2010 5:14 PM writes...

Is every athiest a commi? Of course not.

And guess what, EVERY communist is an athiest.

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57. Hap on May 7, 2010 5:51 PM writes...

Facts and logic are "theology". Well, I guess I know why we're in Iraq now.

Oh, by the way, "commie" is spelled with an e. "Commi" would be the Red Army's version of Gummi Bears, which are useful as temporary lamps and heaters if you've got a lighter and are caught in a snowdrift, or so I've heard.

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58. Sili on May 7, 2010 6:16 PM writes...

how hell bent the commies are on teaching evolution
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAaaaaaaaa
how much their "theology" depends on it.
Yush. Totalitarianism is indeed pretty much identical to theocracy, and Marxism with it's dialectical materialism is indeed not much different from theology. It's likely no coïncidence that Ol' Whiskers was seminary educated, nor that he made the corpse of Lenin into relic to be venerated until 'science' could reänimate him and bring him back. Permalink to Comment

59. Anonymous on May 7, 2010 6:30 PM writes...

""when its doctrine quite explicitly states the opposite”"
"[Citation Needed]"

Doctrine and Covenants 88:115
“… seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”
There are literally hundreds of statements on this subject by various Church authorities. LDS.org is a good place to start.

“If science is so compatible with Mormonism, then why is happily promoting Intelligent Design?”

I’m sorry, I didn’t know Glenn Beck was a source of official LDS church statements… The LDS Church has no official statements on this. The LDS idea of creation is a bit different from the very perfunctory account in Genesis, and is more in line with evolutionary theory. See the books of Moses and Abraham in The Pearl of Great Price for more in depth explanations.

“”True science and true religion are not contradictory.””
“Ah, silly me. I obviously ignored the True Scotsman™. Sorry, my bad.”

How is this an unreasoned assertion? Maybe you would understand it if I restate- Truth in any form in not contradictory.

“Really, now? Then what's the purpose of having prophets, seers and a quorum of apostles if not to ensure doctrinal coherence (for generous interpretations of "choherence")?”

You don’t understand the concept of personal vs. institutional revelation/inspiration. Until you do, you will continue to miss the point, and I think you’re not that interested in learning.

“Secondly, if The Book of Mormon is the most perfect text ever written, why does it need interpretation.”

Semantics. It’s not the “most perfect text ever written” but the most perfect representation of Christ’s doctrine. It has a lot of errors- it was translated by men, edited by men, and printed by men.

“And I have yet to get an answer to my two questions: Are American aboriginals descendants of Jews or are they not?”

The evidence for those in North America says they are not, and I’m inclined to agree- the genetic evidence is very good. As for the Central American question- I would point out that there are a lot of assumptions on both sides of this issue. We have no idea of the exact geographical location- one is never given in the Book of Mormon (BoM). It is obvious there were lots of other groups in the same area, probably with larger populations that intermixed with the smaller one documented in the BoM. The main groups in the BoM were mostly wiped out through civil war, creating a possible founder effect in later populations. It is a common held theory within the church that some Central Americans are descended from the people in the BoM- however, There is no mention of this in any of the Canon of LDS scripture. As a scientist, I’m sure you appreciate the idea of conflicting theories that coexist and evolve over time. This is one of those. It is not doctrinal, and therefore open to individual interpretation.

“Do people who are unrighteous in the eyes of the Lord have their skin turned dark, and can a pious life turn dark skin light?”

Obviously not, or there would be a lot more dark skinned people! ;-)

Seriously, intermarriage between populations of varying skin colors can cause this. The mechanism for skin color change is simple genetics.

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60. Sili on May 8, 2010 1:14 AM writes...

“… seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”
Well, whaddaya know. I was wrong. 's only 8 o'clock I'm sure it won't be the last time today. Good advice - apart from the faith bit, of course. Hard not to appreciate a quote tweaking the nose of Luther like that.


I’m sorry, I didn’t know Glenn Beck was a source of official LDS church statements

Ah, sorry about forgetting to put in the name there. Very sloppy of me.
Well, he's a convenient exemplar, and he is effectively the public face of Mormonism for the time being. At least until Romney decides to run for something again. Kudos to him, by the way, for not denying evolution in the debates back in '08.

he LDS idea of creation is a bit different from the very perfunctory account in Genesis
Yeah, they forgot to mention that the "sons of the gods" were from Kolob. I'm not entirely sure how the space alien thing squares with evolutionary theory, though. Panspermia, perhaps. The less said about the Book of Abraham the better, I suspect.
Truth in any form in not contradictory.
Well, as long as you're dealing with two different definitions of truth, the one not open to enquiry will usually produce contradiction. But I'm sure BYU archeologists will produce those pre-Columbian iron and steel artefacts any day now.
I think you’re not that interested in learning.
Entirely correct. I'm really not fond of revealed knowledge. Too difficult to tell apart from delusion.
It has a lot of errors- it was translated by men, edited by men, and printed by men.
I see. I honestly had not heard that admission about the revelations of Joseph Smith before. The usual claim is for infallibility.
As for the Central American question- I would point out that there are a lot of assumptions on both sides of this issue.
I was not aware of the Americas being populated prior to the arrival of Lehi, no. But of course founder effects may have served to rid the population of any Middle-eastern Y-chromosome haplotypes, yes. I cannot remember the distribution mtDNA off the top of my head.
Obviously not, or there would be a lot more dark skinned people! ;-)
Ah, so the curse of the seed of Cain is metaphorical?
Seriously, intermarriage between populations of varying skin colors can cause this. The mechanism for skin color change is simple genetics.
Indeed. So "And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites" is also a metaphor? Permalink to Comment

61. Cartesian on May 8, 2010 4:25 AM writes...

For 51 otakucode :
"we'll be faced with the final battle"
I am not sure of that because some religions are enough compatible with sciences in order that both can exist together. Why so much hatred?

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62. Katherine on May 8, 2010 8:45 PM writes...

So "And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites" is also a metaphor?

Yes, it may well be. It's usually taken literally - most things in life are, unless there's some reason not to - but there's no particular evidence that it's meant literally, and it certainly makes more sense as metaphor.

I honestly had not heard that admission about the revelations of Joseph Smith before. The usual claim is for infallibility.

So far from being the "usual claim," that is entirely contrary to Mormon doctrine. Prophets are people, and they make mistakes. You certainly have a reliable source of misinformation somewhere.

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63. Sili on May 9, 2010 2:29 AM writes...

Yes, it may well be. It's usually taken literally - most things in life are, unless there's some reason not to - but there's no particular evidence that it's meant literally, and it certainly makes more sense as metaphor.
In context it does read like a supernaturally impossed heritable trait, yes, but metaphor is always a convenient get-out-of-jail-free card. Given that life is pretty literal, I think taking it literally isn't altogether unreasonable. But, true, I asked for a mechanism not the ethics of the idea.
So far from being the "usual claim," that is entirely contrary to Mormon doctrine. Prophets are people, and they make mistakes. You certainly have a reliable source of misinformation somewhere.
Perhaps. I've always understood prophets to be the mouthpieces of gods. If they're just people why should I pay any more attention to them than other people?

Ah well. I see that Mormonism allows as well for apologetics as do Christianity. I shouldn't be surprised to find scientists of either persuasion. There's plenty of evidence that it takes more than being a scientist to make someone a decent human being after all.

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64. Ian Musgrave on May 9, 2010 6:29 PM writes...

MedCem wrote:

Let's assume the subject matter being christianity for now.

Why? The topic of the paper was how the evidence in the genome falsified the claims of Intelligent Design Creationists, not Christianity per se

One common mistake those who attack it make is that they don't try to understand the theology to see if it's consistent with those observations upon which the criticism is based. For example, remember "the Fall"--according to the Bible God changed a lof of things (genetics definitely being one of them) when sin entered the world. In the plant world, thorns apparantly started to appear where they didn't exist before. Men according to the Bible, had since then lived gradually shorter life spans from close to 1000 years to around 100.

Err, that's not Christianity, or a claim of Christianity. Those are excerpts form the opening Creation story(ies) in the Pentateuch, which is common to Judaism, Christianity and Muslims.

It may be surprising to some in the United States, but the vast majority of Christian denominations (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Uniting Church, Unitarian, Quakers, most non-US based Presbyterian sects, Lutherans etc.) do not see the creations stories in the Pentateuch as being literally true, or capable of objective disproof, but as allegories.

Which is just as well, objective evidence shows that plants with thorns, carnivory and death were present long before humans were ever on the scene.

Humans have never lived much longer than 100 years (in rare circumstances you can reach around 112), and the evidence is that humans lived shorter lives in the past (certainly no 1000 year old Neanderthals have turned up). Unless of course the "fall" is an allegory for event surrounding the rise of metazoans 1.2 billion years ago.

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65. Ian Musgrave on May 9, 2010 6:45 PM writes...

MedChem wrote:


Is every athiest a commi? Of course not. But on the other hand, I guess you don't know how hell bent the commies are on teaching evolution and how much their "theology" depends on it.

Is it too much to ask that people have at least a passing stab at checking up on history before making balantly false statements.

Communism never relied of evolution for any of its basis (brief reality check, for homework look up when "Das Kapital" was published and when "Origin of the Species" was published?). Dependence of Communism on evolution, zero.

In Russia, not only was evolution not a focus of education, evolution and evolutionary biologists were persecuted and executed. The most famous being evolutionary geneticist Nikolai Vavilov who died of malnutrition in prison.

In China, evolution was pretty much ignored, and China had an egalitarian, persecute all intellectuals policy that caught up all sciences including evolutionary biology (number of times evolution mentioned in Little Red Book, Zero).

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66. MedChem on May 10, 2010 9:55 AM writes...

Ian (#65):

Maybe my background lends me a bit more credibility on this subject than some of my well-meaning western colleagues here who've only dealt with communism on paper--I GREW UP in one.

Let me reiterate it--there absolute IS a link between evolution and communism. Think about this logical progression for a second: communism was based on materialism which came from the theory of evolution, leading to complete abandonment of religion to give rise to athiesim.

In the communist country I grew up in (hint:the biggest one), the teaching of materialism is absolutely front and center and is the transcending theme that binds all other subjects together. And that meterialism absolutely necessitates the theory of evolution being its foundation, which also explains why the communists are SO anti-religious, particularly towards a very proactive Savior-based Christian faith.

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67. Kent G. Budge on May 10, 2010 10:57 AM writes...

"Ah well. I see that Mormonism allows as well for apologetics as do Christianity. I shouldn't be surprised to find scientists of either persuasion. There's plenty of evidence that it takes more than being a scientist to make someone a decent human being after all."

I guess you'd better add me to the list, along with Katherine, Gillespie, and Anonymous #59, of those for whom being a scientist has not been sufficient to make us too decent of human beings to be Mormons.

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68. Sili on May 10, 2010 12:22 PM writes...

I guess you'd better add me to the list
My commiserations. Permalink to Comment

69. Ian Musgrave on May 10, 2010 5:53 PM writes...

Med Chem wrote:

Let me reiterate it--there absolute IS a link between evolution and communism. Think about this logical progression for a second: communism was based on materialism which came from the theory of evolution, leading to complete abandonment of religion to give rise to athiesim.

That is almost, but not quite, completely wrong. Evolution is materialist in the same way organic chemistry is ... not at all.

Atheism has been around a long time, way back unto dates BC, well before the existence of the Theory of Evolution. The roots of the 19-20th century atheism come from dual strands, the Free Thought Movement, which became prominent in the 1700's through to the late 1800's, and the anti-clerical movement, which gained momentum in the 19th century. All this happened well before Darwin (and again, Evolution depends on atheism in the same way organic chemistry does...not at all).

The Communist Manifesto, was published in 1848, 11 years before the "Origin of Species", the Communist league was formed in 1847 (which itself was are formulation of an earlier socialist group). It is truly remarkable that Darwins' ideas could influence a movement that started 11 years before the publication of his first evolutionary work. (Das Kapital, published after Origin, was an economic work mostly influenced by classical economists like Adam Smith and socialist theoreticians, evolution doesn't feature).

The 10 points of the Communist Manifesto mention neither religion nor the organised church. Still, Soviet and Chinese Communism heavily persecuted religious belief and religious organisations, just like they persecuted evolutionary biologists. Any form of possible opposition to the Party was heavily persecuted.

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70. Phil on May 10, 2010 9:04 PM writes...

Sili: "I've always understood prophets to be the mouthpieces of gods."

This is one dogma that can not be reconciled for most reasonably intelligent believers. There is no way the Bible or any other religious document to be taken as 100% literal or even 100% correct and still be logical. The contradictions have been borne out by many critics, and anyone who ignores them is blind.

You decided to emphasize the word "believe" in my previous post. Is that supposed to delineate my opinion from yours? Because I'm willing to admit I could be wrong and you're not? Your certainty sounds more like blind faith than the result of a well considered conclusion.

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71. Sili on May 11, 2010 2:58 AM writes...

This is one dogma that can not be reconciled for most reasonably intelligent believers. There is no way the Bible or any other religious document to be taken as 100% literal or even 100% correct and still be logical. The contradictions have been borne out by many critics, and anyone who ignores them is blind.
Indeed. "Noöne is a biblical literalist. Noöne." as much cleverer acquaintance puts it. I'm looking forward to seeing you and Katherine join the rest of the secular movement in stopping the fundamentalisation of the US school system, as exemplified by the Texas State Board of Education for instance.
You decided to emphasize the word "believe" in my previous post. Is that supposed to delineate my opinion from yours?
Noöne denies that plenty of - good, even - scientist (and administrators) are religious. That still does not mean that supernaturalism is compatible with the scientific process.
Because I'm willing to admit I could be wrong and you're not? Your certainty sounds more like blind faith than the result of a well considered conclusion.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

I fail to see how this applies to me. I'll be perfectly willing to accept that Newton was right and Laplace was wrong when someone shows definitively the mistake in the latter's computation (and those of every physicist that came after him) and Herschel returns infrared images of those angels Newton claimed steered the planets in their orbits. Just like every cosmolgist has in the course of a mere twelve years come to accept that the expansion of the universe is not slowing down despite expectations.

What would it take to make you stop believing that the angel Moroni directed Joseph Smith to find the Golden Plates and then collected them again when Smith was done looking into his hat for their translation?

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72. Phil on May 11, 2010 11:00 AM writes...

I don't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, I'm not a Mormon. However, I don't believe, for instance, that everything Paul wrote was actually what God intended. There are a lot of things he wrote, particularly his views on homosexuality, that conflict with Jesus's teachings. I suppose you can call that cafeteria Christianity, but there is a reason there are 4 accounts of the gospel, and honestly, I have never met someone who could honestly say that Christ's teachings were not both logical and moral.

Like you, I may have made some incorrect assumptions about my opponent in this discussion.

What I see in a lot of devoted critics of religion is that they have never really given the argument that God may exist a thought. I can say that I have considered the possibility that God may not exist on many occasions.

I don't think that many biologists have focused the same level of critical thought as to whether evolution can really explain "irreducibly complex" systems. Obviously, this argument has some real morons on its side, but that does not instantly discount it. This concept in no way strikes down evolution as a real natural force, it just asks the question as to whether evolution is a complete explanation of the origin of life.

For the record, the fundamentalist movement in America scares me as much as it scares anyone. Creationism is in no way a scientific explanation for anything. I'm in support of the FSM movement.

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73. Sili on May 11, 2010 1:17 PM writes...

I'm not a Mormon.
My apologies. I jumped to conclusions. What would it take you to accept that Yeshua ben Joseph did not exist? Or just that he could not manipulate the elements and make water into wine? That he did not have the ability to raise the dead? That he did not, himself, rise from the dead? That he was not transfigured nor ascended bodily into Heaven? Or for that matter any of the tenets of Christianity? "How would you know you were wrong?"
but there is a reason there are 4 accounts of the gospel
Yes. Those were the four that were selected by the Synod of Hippo. They were far from the only in circulation at the time. Secondly, the three oldest are far from independent.
I have never met someone who could honestly say that Christ's teachings were not both logical and moral.
You may need to get out more. I find it hard to imagine that all that many people consider it moral to deny all family nor logical to give away all their belongings.
What I see in a lot of devoted critics of religion is that they have never really given the argument that God may exist a thought.
I think you'll find that most of us were raised with some kind of religion. Some of the most 'devoted critics' were more than just occasional believers. Dan Barker is well worth listening to.
I can say that I have considered the possibility that God may not exist on many occasions.
Good.
I don't think that many biologists have focused the same level of critical thought as to whether evolution can really explain "irreducibly complex" systems. Obviously, this argument has some real morons on its side, but that does not instantly discount it. This concept in no way strikes down evolution as a real natural force, it just asks the question as to whether evolution is a complete explanation of the origin of life.
There is no 'Irreducible Complexity'. It's nothing but a tarted up God of the Gaps argument. Every time that someone (usually Behe) has offered a system that supposedly could not have evolved by natural means, proper scientists who actually bother to test claims rather than just throw them out there have demonstrated how the feature evolved naturally. The Creationists in turn either just throw out a new claim - that is they move the goalposts - or ignore the discoveries entirely and keep bleating the same old claims. Hence the eye is still claimed to be irreducibly complex one hundred and fifty-bloody-one years after Darwin, himself, demolished Paley.

Secondly, I think you're being incredibly arrogant to assume that biologists just sweep interesting questions aside. If in fact they came across gene, organ or pathway that could not be understood by evolutionary mechanisms as we currently know them, they'd be as overjoyed as a chemist that discovered a new, neat way of making C-C bonds. They're not stupid, you know. Hence why they don't just throw up their hands and say "durrrrrrr, Goddidit!" when doing their research.

it just asks the question as to whether evolution is a complete explanation of the origin of life.
Bzzzzzt! Evolution deals with the development of life ones it already existed. Abiogenesis is the study of the origin of life. But by all accounts that too is best explained by a mechanism of natural selection working of pre-life chemical replicators.
For the record, the fundamentalist movement in America scares me as much as it scares anyone. Creationism is in no way a scientific explanation for anything. I'm in support of the FSM movement.
Rāmen, brother! Permalink to Comment

74. MedChem on May 11, 2010 1:51 PM writes...

Ian (#69)

You need to look beyond simply timelines. The most important thing is the philosophical support and dependence that the evolution theory lends to the communism ideology in the form of materialim. I know this from personal experience--materialism is THE biggest philosophical concept taught in communist textbooks.

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75. Gillespie on May 11, 2010 2:30 PM writes...

I declare this horse- Dead!

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76. Ian Musgrave on May 11, 2010 5:17 PM writes...

MedChem wrote:

The most important thing is the philosophical support and dependence that the evolution theory lends to the communism ideology in the form of materialim.

As I pointed out before. Evolutionary theory has the same relationship to materialism as organic chemistry does... none at all. Materialism does not, and did not come from evolutionary theory.

It's a theory about the origin of species and the diversity of organisms, there are lots of places on the web where you can educate yourself about evolution. Start at the National; Center for Science Education, also the "Origin of Species" is free to read on the web, and is still quite readable 150 years later.

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77. Sili on May 12, 2010 2:50 AM writes...

declare this horse- Dead!
But a good flogging will make the meat more tender. Permalink to Comment

78. Phil on May 12, 2010 4:10 PM writes...

"I find it hard to imagine that all that many people consider it moral to deny all family nor logical to give away all their belongings."

Again, you are choosing to interpret literally specific passages. Altruism is observed in many animal examples - with the caveat that what appears to be altruism is often discovered to be reciprocated in some way.

"...proper scientists who actually bother to test claims rather than just throw them out there have demonstrated how the feature evolved naturally."

First, it's not necessarily the critic's responsibility to test his supposition. Second, I'd like to see a few of these. I have heard a pretty lame explanation of the eye - updated from Darwin's argument of course. Most outspoken evolutionists (Dawkins) simply brush off Behe and the like.

"Bzzzzzt! Evolution deals with the development of life ones it already existed. Abiogenesis is the study of the origin of life. But by all accounts that too is best explained by a mechanism of natural selection working of pre-life chemical replicators."

I am aware, I was just choosing not to split hairs. Either way, the fact that each new genotype (or equivalent in pre-life) has to produce a phenotype that can actually be selected for seems to me an insurmountable barrier for many of the examples that Behe has put forth.

"I think you're being incredibly arrogant to assume that biologists just sweep interesting questions aside."

I try not to look down my nose at ANYONE, even those who choose to depict organic chemistry in cartoons. (only poking fun - I get my share from P Chemists about how I know next to nothing about how NMR works)

"If in fact they came across gene, organ or pathway that could not be understood by evolutionary mechanisms as we currently know them, they'd be ... overjoyed"

I just don't think this is 100% true. Instead of saying "durrr Goddidit" they say "hmmm, we haven't yet figured out how this evolved, but we WILL." I'm speaking from ignorance of literature on evolutionary biology, and honestly, I don't plan on making a habit of reading it. This is just speculation, and if you can point me to a paper where the authors do ask the question, "could this have evolved at all?" I'd be happy to read it.

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79. Sili on May 13, 2010 8:43 AM writes...

Again, you are choosing to interpret literally specific passages. Altruism is observed in many animal examples - with the caveat that what appears to be altruism is often discovered to be reciprocated in some way.
Of course, it's reciprocated. That's the evolutionary origin of altruism. When living in fairly small groups one could be sure that one's goodness to kin would be reciprocated. If it wasn't the selfish tribe member would likely be excluded from the community thus reducing their fitness and eliminating their genes. It's not rocket science.

Secondly, you were the one to claim "that Christ's teachings were [...] both logical and moral". How then can you object to my looking for his teachings? Does the words of the gospels matter or do they not?

First, it's not necessarily the critic's responsibility to test his supposition. Second, I'd like to see a few of these. I have heard a pretty lame explanation of the eye - updated from Darwin's argument of course. Most outspoken evolutionists (Dawkins) simply brush off Behe and the like.
Why update Darwin's account? He got it right? There's a nice video on YouTube of Dawkins going through his suggested steps.

As for Behe, find the PBS documentary of the Dover trial that reënacts the bit of the trial where he demonstrates that he has no knowledge of all the research into the origin of and mechanism of the bloodclotting mechanism, which he claims could not have evolved. His favourite example is of course the bacterial flagella, which has been very nicely demonstrated to have evolved from an earlier structure used for injecting toxins together with a bogstandard proton pump. And of course, he is very insistent that it's impossible for Plasmodium falciparum to have evolved drug resistance by natural means. The God of Behe deliberately intervened to make malaria more deadly. (Luckily for theologians, Behe is once again wrong.)

First, it's not necessarily the critic's responsibility to test his supposition. Second, I'd like to see a few of these. I have heard a pretty lame explanation of the eye - updated from Darwin's argument of course. Most outspoken evolutionists (Dawkins) simply brush off Behe and the like.
Well, if the critic themself does not even care enough about their hypothesis to test it, why should anyone else? But as it happens, Behe's claims about the flagellum have been tested. Just as Wakefield's claims about vaccines and autism have been tested. To great expense for proper scientists.

We simply brush off Behe because he refuses to learn or listen. You'll find that for a long time the community had at least some respect for Behe compared to say Dembski and Wells. But he showed himself to be just as deluded and arrogant as them. Look into how he treated Abbie Smith of ERV blog (I can't include more links without getting caught in moderation).

I am aware, I was just choosing not to split hairs. Either way, the fact that each new genotype (or equivalent in pre-life) has to produce a phenotype that can actually be selected for seems to me an insurmountable barrier for many of the examples that Behe has put forth.
Behe hasn't exactly put forth many examples, but do enlighten me. In the proposed pre-biotic scenarios the genotype is the phenotype. We're talking about simple autocatalytic replcators most likely.
"hmmm, we haven't yet figured out how this evolved, but we WILL."
And then they look for the answer! They do not simply stop their investigation. Permalink to Comment

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