Reader Responses:  Darwin on Offense I: Museums   10/17/2005
  1. A reader in Texas writes:  Natural history museums around the country [READ: "A HANDFUL OF MUSEUMS IN A FEW CITIES"] are mounting new exhibits [ISN'T THAT ILLEGAL???] they hope will succeed where high school biology classes have faltered [SO, IT'S THE TEACHERS FAULT, AND IT COULDN'T BE THE INADEQUACY OF THE MATERIAL -- LIBERALS ARE ALL ABOUT BLAME] : convincing Americans that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a rigorously tested [LOADED WORDS] cornerstone of modern science.

    The majority of scientists [BANDWAGON] deny there is any credible challenge to evolution. [BIG LIE] They emphasize that scientific theory is not a wild guess, but a hypothesis subjected to careful testing and observation over time. [BUT EPISTEMOLOGICALLY LIMITED] They point to a thoroughly documented [LOADED WORDS] geological and radiometric dating of the Earth’s age and to almost daily developments in genetics and molecular and cell biology that affirm [BLUFFING] aspects of Darwin’s 1859 “The Origin of Species.” But the strength of long-standing religious belief [LOADED WORDS] about the divine origins of man, in a country where more than a quarter of the citizens self-identify as evangelical Christians, is considerable. “One of the big misunderstandings, I think, is that a lot of people have stopped realizing that science is a secular activity,” [EITHER-OR FALLACY] said Lance Grande, vice president and head of collections and research at the Field Museum. Field’s $17 million [WHO PAID FOR THAT?] , 20,000-square foot, “Evolving Planet” exhibit is slated to open on March 10, 2006.

    So how does a scientist or teacher [ASSOCIATION] defend evolution against trained attackers [LOADED WORDS] ? “Don’t,” suggests geoscientist Donald Wise from the University of Massachusetts. Instead, go after the deep flaws in ID. Take the human body, for instance, he says in his GSA presentation. It’s a great argument against ID [sic] [BIG LIE] . Anyone who has ever had back pain or clogged sinuses can testify to this [NON-SEQUITUR] . Our evolutionarily recent upright posture [BLUFFING] explains our terrible back problems better than ID [sic], and our squished, very poorly “designed” sinuses don’t function at all well and are easily explained [sic] by the evolutionarily rapid enlargement of our brains [BLUFFING] . Wise’s advice to scientists and educators is to: 1) get off the defensive; [OR COUCH] 2) focus on the ample weak points of Intelligent Design; [BUT NOT EVOLUTION'S] 3) keep it simple; 4) accentuate it with humor; and 5) stick to irrefutable facts [LOADED WORDS] close to evolution and relevant to voters [READ: "LIBERALS"] .

  2. A reader in Japan writes:  Here is a feeble attempt at refuting the logic in the article.
    .... When Darwin's widely accepted scientific explanation of human development collides with widely held religious belief about mankind's divine origins, nothing is simple.
    Here they portray science versus religion as if Darwin's view is true science and any view with a Creator in it is just religious. They are trying to perpetuate and strengthen this false dichotomy.
    .... Even the word "evolution" is charged. Some religions, including Catholicism, consider evolution essentially compatible with religious belief. But many people consider it hostile to faith because it posits that all life on Earth--including humans--shares common ancestry and developed through the mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection over some 4 billion years.
    At least they are honest here about what evolution teaches - that all life on earth developed through natural means. How can the Catholic Church reconcile this with Scripture?
    .... The Oklahoma museum is one of six university-affiliated institutions installing permanent exhibits of "Explore Evolution" under a $2.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation.  Accompanied by a Web site and curriculum material for science teachers, the exhibit focuses on seven current research projects that apply evolutionary theory in ways that affect daily life, from the study of the evolution of HIV/AIDS to genetic ties between humans and chimpanzees.
    The results of these research projects should be interesting. They are trying to make evolution practical which is a daunting challenge because as you often say, science gets along just fine without evolutionary theory. It hasn't proven to be a must, rather it has proven at times to be a hindrance - ie vestigial organs, junk DNA, etc.  I don't know what all 7 projects are, but the two they list don't help their position. The DNA similarity can be attributed to a common designer and I'm sure they won't explain just how different they really are, even though that difference may be only 4% or so.  Virus evolution is not molecules to man evolution, but simply "microevolution" so offers no help to them.  Plus viruses need a host to exist.
    .... "I think everyone is realizing that we need to be doing a great deal more. We just haven't made the effort to communicate evolution to people in terms they can understand. Evolution is exciting," Diamond said.
    Evolution is about as exciting as sitting around and watching the corn grow in Iowa. They have a hard task to make it sound exciting and appealing. Now if there is a loving Creator behind our existence, then it truly is exciting to discover His design, intelligence, glory, and wisdom!
    .... Evolution does get people excited, but not always because of the thrill of scientific discovery.  In Kansas, fistfights have all but broken out over the state school board's imminent decision to expand the definition of science to include the supernatural.  In Dover, Pa., pro-evolution teachers say they've been denounced as "atheists" and worse on the streets of their once tightknit little town.  And in Chicago, when the Field Museum presented an exhibit on human evolution in 2000, a letter arrived "from North Carolina--one page, single spaced, very tightly reasoned--and the last line was `as a result, you will burn in hell,'" said John McCarter Jr., the museum's president and chief executive officer.
    Funny how they only deal with the extremists, letters that support their assertion that it is a religion vs. science thing. My guess is that they also received some credible criticism of their exhibits.
    .... The majority of scientists deny there is any credible challenge to evolution.  They emphasize that scientific theory is not a wild guess, but a hypothesis subjected to careful testing and observation over time.  They point to a thoroughly documented geological and radiometric dating of the Earth's age and to almost daily developments in genetics and molecular and cell biology that affirm aspects of Darwin's 1859 "The Origin of Species."
    Of course, a belief is not necessarily proven simply because the majority of scientists hold to it. It is a hypothesis, but no more than than that. All of the evidence they give to support it is based on naturalistic assumptions and in the end is little more than circular reasoning. The developments in genetics and molecular and cell biology do more to cast doubt on Darwin's theory than to support it. These developments show us just how sophisticated, how well designed, how intricate, and how amazing life really is in contrast to what would be expected if it really did evolve. No proof here of this affirmation, just bold broad claims.
    .... "One of the big misunderstandings, I think, is that a lot of people have stopped realizing that science is a secular activity," said Lance Grande, vice president and head of collections and research at the Field Museum. Field's $17 million, 20,000-square foot, "Evolving Planet" exhibit is slated to open on March 10, 2006.
    He's right that a lot of people have stopped realizing that science is a secular activity.  Actually, thanks to Creation Evolution Headlines and ID/creationist organizations, people are realizing more and more that evolution, not true science, is actually a very religious activity.  The pastors and elders of the First Church of Darwin are those scientists who are bound in their thinking and research by their worldview, whether it be that of humanism, atheism, or naturalism.
    .... Sometimes derided as "creationism lite," intelligent design is on trial in the federal case Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District in Harrisburg, where the defense is expected to open its case this week. Parents of Dover students sued the district and school board over a requirement that 9th-grade biology students be informed of intelligent design as a scientific alternative to evolution. Such a requirement, the parents contend, is religiously motivated, thus violating the constitutional separation of church and state, and breaches the Supreme Court's ban on teaching creationism in public schools.
    Whatever the motivation, why is it unconstitutional to allow students to consider the possibility of a Creator? How can it be constitutional to allow humanists and naturalists to propagate their faith as fact in science class while prohibiting even the possibility of some kind of divine role in the origin of life? Is it really wise to define science in such a way as to preclude the possibility of a divine origin for life when no one knows that this is really true?
    Attorneys for the school insist that intelligent design, or ID, is a scientific theory, but expert witnesses for the plaintiffs agreed with scientists such as Field's Grande, saying that a theory that cannot be observed or tested is not science.
    Somehow I think it was more than just the attorneys for the school who insisted the ID is a scientific theory. Are we to believe there were no scientists who took the stand to support that view? Again, here is an effort to make ID look unscientific, but it is a losing battle.
    .... Urging an annual $10 billion investment in scientific research and education, the report said, "in a world where advanced knowledge is widespread and low-cost labor readily available, U.S. advantages in the marketplace and in science and technology have begun to erode."
    Perhaps the reason students are getting turned off to science is this ridiculous insistence on working within the little box of naturalism. This close-mindedness and refusal to acknowledge the problems with evolution is not appealing to students. Perhaps they realize that if they can't swear allegiance to the dogma of Darwin, they would have a very difficult time in the scientific world.
    Said Robert Gropp, director of public policy at the American Institute of Biological Sciences, "I think every business leader that wants to be competitive in the coming years should be quite concerned about this ID movement."
    They need to be concerned and the best way to show that concern is to deal with the arguments and answer them soundly instead of just skirting the issues with bold claims and unsubstantiated statements of faith sprinkled with warnings about religion and science. If they could come up with real answers, people would listen.
    "In many ways, I blame science itself in that we have done a terrible job of explaining what science is," said Leonard Krishtalka, director of the Kansas Museum and Biodiversity Research Center at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. "I would imagine to non-scientists a lot of science and technology sounds like so much magic," he said. "Is it any surprise that so many people are choosing one kind of magic over another kind of magic?"
    Now we're getting somewhere. At least with Creation science, there is an explanation for miracles, whereas with naturalism, there is no way to account for the miracles outside of waving a magic wand and stubbornly believing that whatever was necessary for evolution proceed, no matter how complex or improbable, just emerged thanks to natural selection, or some other random natural process. I'm a bit insulted that they expect us to be so gullible as to swallow that view hook., line, and sinker, without giving us proof. The fact that most people are not scientists has nothing to do with it.
    .... This time, he said, "we're using the dinosaurs as kind of the marquee to draw them in and saying, this is a very complicated story, which you've got to dig into over a long period of time."
    I think it would be more accurate to say "In an effort to further indoctrinate visitors in evolution teaching, …" At least they are being honest in saying it is complicated. It is not as easy as they want us to believe.
Reader Responses:  Darwin on Offense II: Strategy Sessions   10/17/2005
  1. A reader in Kentucky submitted this response:  Since you asked for us to practice our skills, which we have honed on your web-site, I offer the following comment on the subject article:

    The author was quoted saying “Our evolutionarily recent upright posture explains our terrible back problems better than ID”. Let’s see if we can understand the evolutionary explanation.

    1. Random chemical activity in a hostile environment resulted in complex living cells.
    2. Random mutations and time resulted in complex organs and body systems, such as the eye and brain.
    3. But, “evolving” a back, that doesn’t cause pain, was too hard for evolution? I don’t understand his logic.
    You would think that if mutations and natural selection could result in amazing complex systems, a back would be simple. Maybe the author means evolution hasn’t had enough time to perfect the back. However, it seems if the evolution theory was to “create” new structures, surely it wouldn’t allow painful intermediate steps. Wouldn’t new pain-free systems mutate as magically as the “new” painful upright back?

    Ow, I think I pulled a muscle in my brain. You’d better go back to feeding us.

    Actually, these articles are too easy; can’t you find something more challenging for us to practice on?

  2. An anonymous reader wrote the following:  If "science" is methodologically limited to natural, materialistic cause and effect explanations it should keep its focus on that which can be explained by natural, materialistic cause and effect explanations, or surrender its status as absolute truth. But it seems that those who hold this view of science will neither leave that which cannot be explained by simple materialistic processes alone, nor will they allow any other form of truth; but they will allow you to keep your faith, as long as you comply that it has no part in explaining actual reality, scientificly testable or otherwise. How generous.

    It's also interesting how we can find tentativeness and open-endedness in the "conclusions" of science. From my experience, scientific conclusions have been shown to be quite concrete in the conditions they are observable in. Relativity did not change the conclusions of Newtonian Physics, but rather expanded upon them. Quantum physics did not change the predicted results of chemistry, it explained them. It seems that only the "historical sciences" (cosmic, biological, and geological evolution) have an issue with not being able to hold on to their own historical explanations or evidence on a consistent basis.

    A reader in Brazil with a BA in history wrote:  I´ve never written a feedback e-mail to you, so I decided to send you the "fruit of my mental furrowing" regarding the 10/17/2005 story.

    To start of, we have a lot of equivocation going on there. There is no "attack on public science education", no one like science education more than we do (science, real science, is at our side anyway), our "attack" is directed at materialistic philosophies being sold as scientific dogma - not science. Perhaps that´s what Ann calls "complicated, highly philosophical spurious (sic) attacks". Also, we have the usual "anti-science" vitriol that permeate the entire article, as if materialism and science were one and the same thing. Nonsense, but they don´t seem to get it at all... Or do they? Perhaps that´s what you get when you believe that logic and reason are the result of random mutations. Seems like within the materialistic framework the act of thinking is as good as a bowel movement... But I digress.

    And to add further comic relief, we have Wise embarassing himself with the dysteleological "argument from back pain", that in a myriad of ways resembles Dawkins "argument from bad eye design". It seems like Wise know as much about back pain as Dawkins knows about eye anatomy. Too bad for him that AIG already tackled this "problem" here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v15/i3/back.asp - it´s trully a problem, but have nothing to do with "an imperfect adaptation in man's supposed struggle to progress from four-footed stance to two-footed stance", another harmful just-so story.

    There´s also some damage control, Muhammed Saeed style: "Evolutionary Theory is facing a crisis. (It isn't.)" and "their nonexistent evidence against evolution".

    All in all, there´s nothing new in this article, just the usual darwinist propaganda. Their tactics should evolve into something better and addapt to the new scientific environment, or else natural selection will make sure that only the fittest survive.

    That´s it, thanks for your website, it´s trully one of the best on the creation/evolution debate out there. Keep up the good work.