Pat Boone Supports Intelligent Design

And I am not even remotely surprised:

During the program, Boone, a well-known Christian, took a strong stand against evolution, mocking the notion the U.S. would become some kind of repressive society if the theory of evolution were not taught in schools, and he supported the teaching of “intelligent design.”

“The idea that all of this could have happened mindlessly with no blueprint is sheer stupidity and very unscientific.”

He cited America’s founding documents, quoting the Declaration of Independence as he stressed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator … .”

“That’s how opposed to God Thomas Jefferson, who wrote that, was. Yet he is credited with trying to keep all mention of God out of public life. I wish Jefferson could be back here today just for 30 minutes to set things straight.”

There you have it- the scientific evidence for intelligent design can be found in the wording of the Declaration of Independence! Now why didn’t some other better quality wingnut think of that!

Speaking of better quality wingnuts, you will enjoy this piece by Charles Colson:

Well, the usual critics jumped all over the president, but he’s absolutely right. Considering all competing theories was once the very definition of academic freedom. But today, the illiberal forces of secularism want to stifle any challenges to Darwin—even though Darwin is proving to be eminently challengeable.

Take biochemist Michael Behe’s argument. He says that the cell is irreducibly complex. All the parts have to work at once, so it could not have evolved. No one has been able to successfully challenge Behe’s argument.

In fact, the scientific case for intelligent design is so strong that, as BreakPoint readers have heard me say, even Antony Flew, once the world’s leading philosopher of atheism, has renounced his life-long beliefs and has become, as he puts it, a deist. He now believes an intelligent designer designed the universe, though he says he cannot know God yet.

Any more, it seems the supporters of Intelligent Design aren’t even pretending that ID is something other than creationism.

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91 replies
  1. 1
    aaron says:

    I’m a registered independant. I usually vote Dem. though. This is why. I’m truly worried about scientific ignorance coming from religious and political leaders….nothing good can come from refusing to even READ the science and try to understand it. When Larry King can ask “Why are their still monkeys?” I shiver…..I can get behind some conservative arguments for smaller gov.(which we haven’t seen) or federalism (which we haven’t seen) and fiscal responsibility (which…oh nevermind) But the people who wish to rule our country based on religious belief truly scare me….So..I vote for Dems…..but I’m not too happy about it. At least they don’t scare me.

  2. 2
    John Cole says:

    If you get upset by anything Larry King says, that is your own fault for listening to the senile old fool.

  3. 3
    Bill says:

    Who cares what Anthony Flew thinks! He’s a philosopher, not a biologist. And he’s a doddering, aged philosopher who admits he doesn’t have the energy any longer to really dig into a controversy to learn the truth. This paragraph tells me Colson’s a dishonest hack.

  4. 4
    Shygetz says:

    OK, when I hear the President of the United States say that ID is science and should be taught as such, it upsets me.

  5. 5
    Pug says:

    …the cell is irreducibly complex. All the parts have to work at once, so it could not have evolved. No one has been able to successfully challenge Behe’s argument.

    I guess science hasn’t yet been able to prove a negative. Probably never will. I think the answer to folks like Mr. Behe is very simple: Prove it. Prove it could not evolve.

    Bush, Frist and, now, McCain all support teaching creat…, er intelligent design. It will be in text books within a couple years.

  6. 6
    Pug says:

    I turn Larry King off just after he comes on to announce: “Tonight, for the full hour, Kim Novak tells all!”.

  7. 7
    Walker says:

    I guess science hasn’t yet been able to prove a negative. Probably never will. I think the answer to folks like Mr. Behe is very simple: Prove it. Prove it could not evolve.

    Logic can prove a negative. That’s what Goedel’s Theorem is all about. And Behe’s stuff uses some information theory, which is also well known for negative results.

    However, I am a professional mathematician, and I have read Behe’s work. He makes one serious cardinal sin. He introduces new axioms into the the scientific model and then produces a contradiction to invalidate evolution. You can only prove a negative by working within the system itself. As it is, I cannot tell which is the source of inconsistency: evolution or his new assumptions.

    Though having read his stuff, I have a pretty good idea which. For a statistician I am suprised to see that he has a very bad choice of sample space for his new axioms.

  8. 8
    DougJ says:

    He introduces new axioms into the the scientific model

    Isn’t that what evolution does, too? It introduces the axiom of randomess, the axion of “survival of the fittest”. How is that different from what Behe is doing?

    The whole librul apparatus that forces our children to learn the theory of evolution is crashing down like a house of cards. You took over the school boards and the courts. Now, we’re taking them back. And we’re seeing more and more intellectual challenges to evolution: on historical grounds, on scientific grounds, and now on purely logical grounds. Don’t you guys know a sinking ship when you’re on one?

  9. 9
    Mr.Ortiz says:

    Walker, I have no idea what you just said, is it ok if I just repeat it verbatim to shut up ID proponents? I’m assuming you just came out against ID. I really can’t tell.

  10. 10
    Mr.Ortiz says:

    DougJ, I am suprised to see that you have a very bad choice of sample space for your new axioms. Please try harder next time.

    Buurn!

  11. 11
    tBone says:

    Isn’t that what evolution does, too? It introduces the axiom of randomess, the axion of “survival of the fittest”.

    Question: will Balloon Juice readers evolve thicker skulls as a result of exposure to DougJ?

    *bangs head against brick wall*

  12. 12
    goonie bird says:

    Intellegent design happened and no ateistic pinko meathead is going to convence me otherwise including babin and his putrid tastless cartoon that he ran in the usial birdcage linners

  13. 13
    Walker says:

    Isn’t that what evolution does, too? It introduces the axiom of randomess, the axion of “survival of the fittest”. How is that different from what Behe is doing?

    I really don’t want to join the DougJ bashing club, so I will try to be as nice about this as possible.

    Despite what the laymen believe, there is a big difference between mathematics and science. Mathematics takes first principals as given, and proves results from it. It does not question those first principals. That is the epistimological responsibility of the application of mathematics.

    Science has to justify its axioms. That is what it does through empirical experiment. When people talk about a scientific theory, they are referring to these axioms and the means by which we test them. Unlike a mathematical proof, experiment cannot 100% verify anything. As Hume pointed out, the only reason I believe the sun will rise tomorrow is because it always has. But it may not rise tomorrow.

    However, to go from this small level of uncertainty to outright relativism is deceitful. That is the slippery slope falacy that creationists use when they say “evolution is just a theory”. It is a theory, but the empirical justification at this point leaves it a very small margin of doubt.

    With that said, yes DougJ, you are correct. Evolution has its own axioms, just like ID. However, there is a big difference. Evolution uses those axioms to prove new, falsifiable claims, thus allowing us to lower our level of doubt. ID does not use those axioms to make new claims (other than the existence of God). It only uses them to refute evolution. And that is what is logically impermissable.

    Essentially, Behe has created the most logically rigorous straw man ever.

  14. 14
    Tony says:

    “The idea that all of this could have happened mindlessly with no blueprint is sheer stupidity and very unscientific.”

    He cited America’s founding documents, quoting the Declaration of Independence…

    The theory of evolution is unscientific but the Declaration of Independence is scientific? It seems Mr. Boone has his understanding of science and philosophy backwards.

  15. 15
    luddite says:

    I want to know how Evolution can explain these Pirate Penguins and Robot Penguins! It can’t! Doug J wins again!

    http://eclectech.co.uk/penguinsong.php

  16. 16
    BumperStickerist says:

    Hi Doug,

    Conservative repubican here – Sunday School teacher, sing in the Church choir, two elementary school aged kids, et cetera, et cetera.

    Intelligent Design is a lousy scientific model used primarily as a crutch by people who need proof to justify their belief in God. Faith does not suffice – Doubting Thomases, the lot of you.

    If you believe in the God of the Bible, His Son Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and the rest of that, then fine – welcome, join the club, can I get a witness! But, enough with the ‘this is science’ stuff. Intelligent Design science-like, even ‘science-ish’ but it’s not actual, you know, science – even if it’s done by scientists.

    This reminds me of a time in Bible Study many years ago. The topic of Sodom and Gommorah came up and much was made of the geology of the area and how the Biblical accounts are supported by the physical evidence. I was asked my thoughts and replied “Well, I think God has these amazing God-like powers so I don’t need to see the fissure maps’ . Many prayers were said for me after that.

    My ears burned for weeks.

  17. 17

    Take biochemist Michael Behe’s argument. He says that the cell is irreducibly complex. All the parts have to work at once, so it could not have evolved. No one has been able to successfully challenge Behe’s argument.

    I have a new theory: that there are some biological structures that only a truly befuddled designer would come up with, so I now launch my campaign to have Drunken Design be taught alongside evolution in schools.

    I mean, seriously: male nipples? The appendix? Why should I need bifocals, ever? What’s the design objective of arthritis? Down’s Syndrome? Schizophrenia? Dwarfism? I’d go on, but I only have so much time.

  18. 18
    Matt says:

    Who wants to volunteer to send Pat a copy of The Jefferson Bible?

    What a douche.

  19. 19
    nyrev says:

    Behe is such a trip.

    Darwin’s Black Box is one of the most poorly argued books about the origins of life ever written. The other is The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins. Both books are written by scientists about topics that fall far outside their field of study, and it shows. Both distort the facts, and frankly, make shit up, and think that they’ve “proven” the unproveable. On the one hand, you’ve got Dawkins’ blatant condescension and insistance on such amusing “facts” as bats not being able to see and dolphins having radars. On the other hand, according to Michael Behe’s complete distortion of the laws of thermodynamics, there’s no such thing as snowflake formation. (Snow will heretoforth be referred to as “angel feathers.”)

    Scientists who claim to have proven philosophical truths are shoddy scientists and poor philosophers.

  20. 20
    Horshu says:

    I always considered the nature of cellular mitochondria, which have their own DNA and appear almost like symbiotic entities separate from a cell, and blood cells, which are un-cell-like in a lot of ways, to be evidence or at least a strong suggestion of the very evolution that he claims is disproven. But it’s really hard to say on a claim like that because I have never heard it applied to an individual cell; I have heard the claim related to an eyeball and thus have heard some arguments. At the cellular level, I think it would be appropriate to compare human cells to eukaryotes and other primitive single-celled organisms for commonalities (and explanations for deviations from the common structures).

  21. 21
    Nate says:

    The whole librul apparatus that forces our children to learn the theory of evolution is crashing down like a house of cards. You took over the school boards and the courts. Now, we’re taking them back. And we’re seeing more and more intellectual challenges to evolution: on historical grounds, on scientific grounds, and now on purely logical grounds. Don’t you guys know a sinking ship when you’re on one?

    Face it, Doug: you’re a monkey and always will be.

    I just can’t believe how DougJ and goonie think this will help education and make us any more competative in the world arena, where we are already suffering education-wise.

    There is a segment of the American population that seems to relish running lemming-like over the edge. What *is* that?

  22. 22
    Matt says:

    And did McCain seriously endorse the teaching of ID in schools? Sigh…if so, there goes another Republican I’d have considered voting for in ’08.

  23. 23
    over it says:

    ” And we’re seeing more and more intellectual challenges to evolution”

    I have yet to see an ‘intellectual’ challenge to evolution.

    I too am a Christian…and like BumperStickerist I believe that my God has many ‘God-like’ powers. Why is so hard to believe that he is incapable of creating evolution? The way I look at it(note the ‘I’…I do not expect anyone else to agree with me)…Adam was the first man. That is, the first man that God gave the spark of a soul to. The first man made in His image. It is not our bodies that are Godly…it is our souls. Our body is merely the temple…the shell that protects the soul.

    So, yeah, I am a Christian and I believe in evolution. It embarrasses me to think that our country is contemplating making an intellectual fool of itself to the world. We will be a laughing stock and all of our future great scientific minds will either go to other countries to learn…or come from other countries in the first place.

    PS—John…I like the cartoon. Made me laugh. ;)

  24. 24
    over it says:

    Er…make that “so hard to believe that he is capable of creating evolution” ;)

  25. 25
    Darrell says:

    Intelligent Design is a lousy scientific model used primarily as a crutch by people who need proof to justify their belief in God.

    Well said

  26. 26
    Mike S says:

    During the program, Boone, a well-known Christian, took a strong stand against evolution, mocking the notion the U.S. would become some kind of repressive society if the theory of evolution were not taught in schools, and he supported the teaching of “intelligent design.”

    And there we see the next step after ID is put in science classes. Thinking the fundies will stop at only adding ID is a mistake. Their goal is to eradicate Darwin alltogether. Just as their goal in outlawing abortion is the eradication of birth control as well.

  27. 27
    DougJ says:

    Thank you Walker and Bumperstickerist. I will read what you wrote carefully, though I do not expect to change my mind on this issue. At least, though, I expect to better understand the gist of the “other side” of the argument as a result of your thoughtful explanations.

  28. 28
    Vladi G says:

    What kind of stupid-ass creator would design us to run on stuff we can only get from other people, like hearts and lungs and stuff? Why wouldn’t he design us to run on stuff like oranges and bananas, which are plentiful? If your blood stopped pumping, you could walk into your backward, grab a transplant orange, zip open your intelligently designed ziplock chest cavity, and shove a new one in there. Problem solved! I submit that whoever “designed” us with all the many things we have that can and invevitably will go wrong, was not very intelligent.

    He cited America’s founding documents, quoting the Declaration of Independence as he stressed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator … .”

    Unfortuntely, people like Pat Boone and the other wingnuts who make this argument fail to read the most important two letters in that quote, i and r. Jefferson talked about “their” creator, not “THE” creator. Sounds like ‘ol TJ wasn’t too sure about this God thing either.

  29. 29
    Tim F says:

    To take Vladi’s post one step farther, the existence of Pat Boone an fellow travelers has led me to a theory of unintelligent design. These people are too blockheaded to have evolved by chance. I cite these folks as a plain evidence for a spastic Creator with nine thumbs and strabismus.

  30. 30
    tBone says:

    There is a segment of the American population that seems to relish running lemming-like over the edge. What is that?

    Survival of the fittest.

  31. 31
    aaron says:

    I once had a friend ask me why people have been forcing evolution down our children’s throats for the last 50 years. I looked at him like he was crazy(he’s not..just ill-informed) and I said….what do you think was being taught before eveolution? We have had a fairytale about Adam and Eve in the Garden forced down OUR throats for…what…4000 years!!!!! Finally an explanation that actually makes sense comes along and it is being forced down people’s throats!?! How awful.

  32. 32
    aaron says:

    P.S. John…I only watch Larry King once in a while to remind myself that I’m at-least smarter than SOMEBODY…lol. I guess it’s my ego.

  33. 33
    Darrell says:

    What kind of stupid-ass creator would design us to run on stuff we can only get from other people, like hearts and lungs and stuff?

    Leftist equivalent to ID advocates

  34. 34
    ET says:

    Who’s Pat Boone?

    Just kidding – or maybe not.

  35. 35
    aaron says:

    ET…he’s the guy with the ‘coon skin hat at the Alamo….right?

  36. 36
    Vladi G says:

    Leftist equivalent to ID advocates

    Pretty telling that you couldn’t think of any. But then again, you’re a serial liar.

  37. 37
    ppGaz says:

    Pat Boone is related by blood or marriage to a number of well known people. He is a direct descendant of pioneer Daniel Boone.

    According to …..

    Boone page

  38. 38
    capelza says:

    Does this mean I’ll have throw out my copy of Pat Boone’s “In A Metal Mood”?

    Really, this whole ID and Creationsim stuff is very embarrassing to me as an American. Science as philosophy is not a great way to continue any dominance we have in the science fields in this world. What the hell is wrong with us?

  39. 39
    AWJ says:

    Creationists, or Intelligent Designers, or whatever they want to call themselves now, may be responsible more than any other entity for making me liberal.

    Whenever I weigh opposing sources on an issue outside my first-hand knowledge, such as how the Iraq war is going, or whether or not Israel’s Gaza pullout is a Good Thing, or whether Hugo Chavez is a popular democratic leader or an election-stealing proto-Castro, I remind myself that the conservative version of the story is coming from people who believe that the Earth is only 6000 years old. Or alternatively, they don’t believe that themselves, but they find it politically useful to present it to their uninformed audience as a respectable theory.

    In other words, either they are delusional, or they are people with no moral qualms about publishing absolute black-is-white inversions of reality in order to advance their agenda. In either case, their point of view on any other issue you can name gets a whole lot less credible in my book.

  40. 40
    jg says:

    IMO, the butterfly effect is an indication that we will never be able to work it back to the origins of man. It wasn’t a linear process. This means there will always be a hole for the wingbuts to try to exploit to disprove evolution. To me thats what makes evolution so cool. It evolves.

  41. 41
    The Queue says:

    […] From a commenter at Balloon Juice: “Intelligent Design is a lousy scientific model used primarily as a crutch by people who need proof to justify their belief in God. Faith does not suffice—Doubting Thomases, the lot of you.” […]

  42. 42
    goonie bird says:

    Have your ever noticed that all societys have their stories of a creator all sorts i mean from us to those natives living way out in the south american jungles so there is such thing as intellegent design even to liberal demacrats who never use their intellegence

  43. 43
    scs says:

    I read an article on ID in the NYT recently. And after reading it, I have no problem with some aspects of ID being taught in class, if some schoolboards insist on it, as it challenges certain more fuzzy aspects of evolution. I think it forces kids to think and to come up with a way to answer the challenges ID poses. However, it should only be taught as an opposing theory by some and mostly as a way to debate evolution, not as dogma.

    Still, I don’t get what all the fuss is about. I had biology in highschool. We were too busy learning about phosynthesis and disecting frogs to ever get to evolution. Which highschool even discusses that anyway?

  44. 44
    OldLion says:

    There is a very common flaw that needs to be highlighted.
    “Scientific” and “True” are two different things.
    That’s why this stuff escapes pure logic

    In epistemiology (study of science principle), an affirmation is scientific if you can imagine an experiment proving the opposite.
    Ex :
    “All frogs are green” is scientific. It may be false.
    you just have to find a frog of another color, you know it is walse, and you adjust your scientific hypothesis.
    (ex : “all frogs are either green or yellow” can be the next stage of this scintific theory)
    That’s a sound scientific process.

    “There are pink frogs with blue strips ” is not scientific. It may be true, anyway. But you cannot unprove that. Finding pink frogs with blue strips just confirms it.

    There are green frogs is a proven fact. There is no arguing about that since there are proofs.

    In the same way :
    “There was an intelligent designer creating life” is utterly unscientific. I can’t imagine a way to prove it’s false.
    On the other hand, “Man was created through natural selection” can be disproved. You just have to find a good (and proveable) reason why the process can’t work. But since this scientific affirmation has already been adjusted and detailled through many experiment, I wish you good luck.

    That’s the way it works.
    Scientific theory tend to get more and more true as the time goes, since they have to take into account all contradictions by fact and experiment.

    Unproved and uncontradictable affirmations are either true or false, but not scientific.

    That’s why Intelligent Design teaching is bullshit.
    (That’s not a scientific theory, my logical reasoning proves it)

  45. 45
    Shygetz says:

    goonie bird Says:

    Have your ever noticed that all societys have their stories of a creator all sorts i mean from us to those natives living way out in the south american jungles so there is such thing as intellegent design even to liberal demacrats who never use their intellegence

    What? The fact that different cultures all at one point in their histories believe in different stories about a man/men/men and women/stuff in the sky making everything is proof of creationism? Thank you, goonie bird, for showing me the scientific rigor of the intelligent design argument. Maybe–just maybe–mankind has the tendency to assume supernatural reasons for unexplained phenomena. Wouldn’t that lead to various myths among different cultures, each of which explains how they got here, almost all of which presumes the primacy of that particular people, and each of which differs from all of the others in many important ways (who is the creator, how did creation occur, etc.)

    Behe is a terrible scientist and a pop culture hack. The fact that about 40% of biologists believe in a higher being, but less than 1% agree with Behe’s stupid hypotheses about irreducible complexity suggest that it’s not just an anti-God bias that is leading scientists away from this crap. He uses poor logic being used to discredit evolution (a theory that is not only intellectually sound, but also can be used to make useful predictions), and then in the supposed vaccuum that is left, he tries to insert an untestable, unfalsifiable “hypothesis” of the worst sort–using God to fill in the gaps. It is so reprehensible that he feels he must have a disclaimer stating that Lehigh University (where he got tenure earlier) is not affiliated in any way with his crackpot theories. He is a poor scientist doing the most biased science I have ever seen–he knows what conclusions he will reach before he even begins to look at the data. That is not science, it’s propoganda.

  46. 46

    Funny that none of those other religions spontaneously came up with this idiotic “intelligent design” idea. Must mean it’s wrong, or something. Maybe even the work of Satan.

  47. 47
    dano347 says:

    So what’s next? Offering astrology courses to “teach the contraversy” about astononomy? Or how about alchemy to counteract all of the unproven cant that liberals collectively refer to as “chemistry”?

  48. 48
    Squinchy says:

    Elephants ‘ditch tusks’ to survive

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/180301.stm

    If elephants are the miraculous product of intelligent design, perfect in their irreduceable complexity, then why is it that we are now seeing them evolve to survive the challenge of poaching?
    In this story we see elephants who, due to genetic mutation, have no tusks survive and pass on their tuskless genes, so they wont get shot by poachers.

    This is evolution right up close and in our face.

    Get used to it.

    So even if you want to go way back and say their was some intelligent designer at some point in biologoical history, where do you start?

    Dose ID start at the primodial ooze or did it start right before the elephants were getting shot by poachers?

    Ask someone who belives in ID just who or what that intelligence was.
    Does it have to be a Christian god? Isn’t it possible that the intelligence was maybe space aliens iin the year 4000 BC?

    That gets right to the heart of it. If ID is so “scientific” then they must admit that it could have been aliens, right?

    Well they’ll say there is no proof of aliens, well, is their proof of God?

    If they cliam it must be God then they expose their religious bias.

    It’s not online, I don’t think, but in a recent issue of The New Yorker, there are a few letters to the editor about ID from scientists who basically tear it apart,
    anyone read them and have a link to those?

  49. 49
    oaf says:

    Is “goonie bird” for real?

    Have your(sic) ever noticed that all societys(sic) have their stories of a creator all sorts i(sic) mean from us to those natives living way out in the south american jungles so there is such thing as intellegent(sic) design even to liberal demacrats(sic) who never use their intellegence(sic)

    I didn’t even get started on grammar, logic, or punctuation… very telling for “goonie bird” to end it’s argument by misspelling “intellegence” if you ask me.
    Go back to school, fool, or at least finish the fourth grade.

  50. 50
    ray pence says:

    I used to like McCain but now I realize I was doing so only because he caused trouble for Bush. The man is a flake. And he’s as much of an opportunistic politician as anyone, despite his straight-shooting image.

    Hagel seems to have potential without all of McCain’s showboating.

    If he does run in 2008, he has no chance of getting the GOP nomination. He has too many enemies in his party, and he’s also been a senator too long. Recent history shows Senators fare poorly in Presidential politics.

  51. 51
    gitslinger says:

    Any debate about creationism, evolution, Silly Intelligent Design (SID) is fruitless and stupid without acknowleging the influence and obvious truth of the Flying Spagetti Monster. “We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.”
    http://www.venganza.org

  52. 52
    Garrett says:

    Don’t forget — not that long ago people thought a camera was so complex that it must be made of magic and that it stole your soul when it took a picture. I guess science is just too complex for people to understand that we are still learning how things work. (If we don’t understand it by now – in our infinite 21st century wisdom – then it must be god!)

  53. 53
    Big E says:

    well…
    to the pro-ID folks,if you
    want to teach it in a classroom
    just find a way to demonstrate
    ID in a clssroom. You can’t, but reality
    wise it’s the only way to have any credibility.
    Just saying evolution can’t be proved which of course it can] does’nt prove ID.

    Alter the intelligent design premise a little bit,
    and you get:
    ‘Since every slice of pizza comes from a pie,
    there must be some pie from which every slice has come’.

    Elvis has left the building………..

  54. 54
    Bill says:

    Did anyone ever consider that evolution might be a part of intelligent design? I’d like to design a computer that adapted to changes in its environment. I’d think any entity with the means to create a universe (or a whole mess of them) would think to work evolution into the design. Otherwise, he or she is gonna get a lot of service calls…

  55. 55
    Nelson Muntz says:

    Ha Ha!

  56. 56
    Spocko says:

    The classroom of our children is not the place for this debate.

    What is considered scientific fact is debated and proved in the adult world of “the professional scientific community”. There is a process in place to determine what is science and what is fantasy. This process requires observation, experimentation, prediction, falsifiability, reproducibilty, publication in scientific journals, peer review by thousands of scientists of the appropriate field. What should be taught to our kids in a science class should ONLY be what has passed the reality filter of this process, not any ‘ol “theory” (man that word is useless now – kinda like liberal, eh?).

    Behe & flock are attempting to bypass this process by the use of politics to pump their brand of mind control directly into the classrooms of the young and impressionable. Says alot about the weakness of their religion; to brainwash and indoctrinate children in order to have a steady supply of believers/voters in the future!

    ID is Creationism – plain and simple. We’ve been here before, four decades ago the Supreme Court said that Creationism cannot be taught in school. ID/Creationism is not an theory worthy of equal consideration – it failed the scientific process of validation long, long, ago. There is NO controversy about the fact of evolution. Evolution is something we observed in nature – the Theory of Evolution is how we explain it. After 150 some years of observation and experimentation we are quite confident that the Theory has been adjusted to explain the Fact of evolution that we see in nature.

    PS. All of Behe’s examples of Irreducible Complexity have been explained; the evolution of the eye, for example. It’s not hard to explore the web and find refutations of all of Behe’s tripe.

  57. 57
    melior says:

    Creationism would only be half as hilarious if it weren’t for one thing… fossils.

    Go ahead, we’ll wait while you explain that one.

  58. 58
    Husker says:

    All of you ID people need to bow down to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If you don’t he will touch you with his noodly appendage.

  59. 59
    Elvirus says:

    Why is it that the science that allows us to produce faster computers, space shuttles and any number is amazing technological advances is ok with the Creatiionists.

    The scientific method used to create these technological wonders does not deny the existence of God, but it does provide a way to verify whether a theory is true or not.

    Until the Soviets put Sputnik in orbit, it was only a theory that we could launch a vehicle into earth orbit. OTOH, I don’t think a single Soviet scientist was surprised that Sputnik stayed in orbit. The theories that it would were so thoroughly tested that they could be relied on as if they were facts.

    Then, when the same scientific method that created space shuttles, teflon and nuclear weapons is used to validate the “theory” of evolution, it is bogus science, according to the Creationists.

    I’m reminded of the newspapers who would not print news of the Wright brothers first airplane flight in 1903. Some people believed that flying like that was impossible, so they wouldn’t or couldn’t believe it.

    God or lack thereof isn’t the issue.

  60. 60
    Big E says:

    from an article by Barbra Forrest:

    key phrase:
    The Wedge aims to “renew” American culture by grounding society’s major institutions, especially education, in evangelical religion. In 1996, Johnson declared: “This isn’t really, and never has been, a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.”
    ———————————————————–

    “Phillip E. Johnson’s book Darwin on Trial (1991), the intelligent-design movement crystallized in 1996 as the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC), sponsored by the Discovery Institute, a conservative Seattle think tank. Johnson, a law professor whose religious conversion catalyzed his antievolution efforts, assembled a group of supporters who promote design theory through their writings, financed by CRSC fellowships. According to an early mission statement, the CRSC seeks “nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its damning cultural legacies.”

    Johnson refers to the CRSC members and their strategy as the Wedge, analogous to a wedge that splits a log — meaning that intelligent design will liberate science from the grip of “atheistic naturalism.” Ten years of Wedge history reveal its most salient features: Wedge scientists have no empirical research program and, consequently, have published no data in peer-reviewed journals (or elsewhere) to support their intelligent-design claims. But they do have an aggressive public relations program, which includes conferences that they or their supporters organize, popular books and articles, recruitment of students through university lectures sponsored by campus ministries, and cultivation of alliances with conservative Christians and influential political figures.

    The Wedge aims to “renew” American culture by grounding society’s major institutions, especially education, in evangelical religion. In 1996, Johnson declared: “This isn’t really, and never has been, a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.” According to Dembski, intelligent design “is just the Logos of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.” Wedge strategists seek to unify Christians through a shared belief in “mere” creation, aiming — in Dembski’s words — “at defeating naturalism and its consequences.” This enables intelligent-design proponents to coexist in a big tent with other creationists who explicitly base their beliefs on a literal interpretation of Genesis.”

    Elvis has left the building…… again!

  61. 61
    Ben says:

    How about the virus that evolves into a antibiotic resident strain? proof of evolution? I think so.

  62. 62
    Ben says:

    oops! resistant

  63. 63
    beachgirl says:

    There obviously is no “higher power”. If there were some intelligent design we wouldn’t have shrubya and his cast of clowns.

  64. 64
    Spocko says:

    Ha – belief in ID disproves ID!

  65. 65
    Paul says:

    quote: “Still, I don’t get what all the fuss is about. I had biology in highschool. We were too busy learning about phosynthesis and disecting frogs to ever get to evolution. Which highschool even discusses that anyway?”

    I teach high school (not science), and a few years ago students were given the right to “opt out” of the one week unit on Darwin’s theories of evolution and natural selection. I’ve had kids come and hang out in my classroom for a week because “my parents don’t want me learning about that evolution stuff.”

    Oh what a world, what a world…

  66. 66
    Steven Bandyk says:

    I’m REALLY sorry I can’t quickly find a link to the research I’m about the discuss, but Google is flooded with links to ID proponents screaming about the Human Eye and Irreducable Complexity. There’s too much white noise.

    I clearly recall reading an article a where researchers, German I believe, released a peer reviewed paper that explained a rational and feasible evolutionary path for the human eye, something that is constantly claimed to be Irreducably Complex.
    I believe that they tracked the evolutionary path from primitive light sensing organs to complex eye structures, and I Believe that there was genetic evidence to support this but it was a while ago since I’ve seen it discussed.

    Has anyone else run across a writeup of this research? I’m curious as to why it isn’t brought out more to answer ID proponents?

    For the ID’ers here…
    Remember, ‘It’s too complex to understand’ isn’t a valid scientific argument. That’s pretty much the definition of ignorance. Do you want to figure out the puzzle or just be content with ignorance?

  67. 67
    Brian says:

    Intelligent Design

    Well, thank God someone of major importance in science has come to straighten out all us dumb, naive, heretical evolutionists:

    Pat Boone.

    (http://ownedbycats.blogspot.co.....esign.html)

  68. 68
    Innocent Bystander says:

    In the absence of critical thinking skills, ID flourishes. Appropos for these times…

  69. 69
    laurelei23 says:

    A long time ago, I began to suspect that a lot of the objections to evolution had very little to do with religion and more to do with pride, arrogance, and the “ick” factor.

    There are a lot of people who just can’t stomach being “related” to apes, cats, dogs, slugs and protozoa. It’s too embarassing, too humiliating. A separate, divine creation of humans proves our “superiority,” and by the way, gives us the right to run over and trash everything on the planet — after all, we’re the lords of creation, aren’t we?

    Personally, I have a more Franciscan attitude: understanding that everthing on the planet is a brother, sister, and sixth-cousin once-removed, is very comforting. I live within a matrix, a net, a web of life. My continued existence, and that of my species, depends on caring for that web. Maybe that’s why I’m a “‘librul,’ progressive, democrat,” I know that I’m not the end-all, be-all of creation.

  70. 70
    Spocko says:

    Here’s a quick one about the eyeball…
    http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/da.....pers.shtml

    There are many more out there!

  71. 71

    Sometimes, it’s fun to watch a good beating

    Sometimes, when you’re watching someone slash a person to bits, you can’t help but enjoy yourself. It’s not so much the pleasure of watching someone being destroyed (though at times, there is a bit of joy in that), but in the skill of the destroyer….

  72. 72
    Dr. D says:

    So, the wingnuts want to start the Dark Ages all over again? Great, let’s toss out the one thing that actually puts us above our quadripedal brethren: intellignece.

  73. 73
    Dutchvigilante says:

    Evolution is being posed as a direct attack on religion. although there are no true attackers, its easy to make this a God versus Science battle, which is ofcourse being done.

    The true attacker is the ID-people, who want to make people believe that the evolution-people are attacking Religion in general, that those who seek proof for evolution are seeking proof against god. (This is ofcourse not true for average people who simply believe the principals of creationism, but rather those who force schools to teach “both side of the discussion)

    People who feel they or their ideals are being attacked are easily influenced. Thats what this is all about, although the people who are influenced do not know about it.

  74. 74
    Fade says:

    mmm maybe God created us with evolution?

  75. 75
    peter says:

    Jebus, this is the only country on earth where there’s a debate about this nonsense.

    You all might enjoy this http://www.startupjunkies.org/.....92kbps.mp3

  76. 76
    owlbear says:

    Do the creationists really want to make it into a Science?

    The First method of Science is to TEST the hypothesis with prediction and observation.

    How long can a ‘theory’ survive when EVERY SINGLE predicition it makes can NEVER be observed?

  77. 77
    metal321 says:

    To all you leftwingers that want to try and censor ID from the public discourse. Scientists have never been able to create life in a lab and never will. The only thing they can do is come out with whacked-out theories like ‘it came here on a comet.’ The problem with you people is that you simply reject God’s word outright. Not that I agree with everything creationist’s believe. It is hard to know exactly how God did what he did, but there are alot of clues scientists do not and will never want to deal with. The Bible is very explicit in saying that God has hidden these things from the people of this world to show to mankind how futile and sinful our own works are.

  78. 78
    fusionkitty says:

    Just to throw another monkey into the works —

    Has it occurred to no one the ultimate purpose of teaching creationism? Teaching creationism devolves our educational system into one of belief over logic, memorization over thinking. As does No Child Left Behind (all that testing).

    So eventually, we will be a population of non-thinkers. Which describes Red-Staters pretty well.

  79. 79

    Refuting Bebe’s arguments.

    Found this through Crooks & Liars, over at John Cole’s Balloon Juice. I want to post, then comment on a discussion that happened in the comments section of this entry. I guess science hasn’t yet been able to prove a…

  80. 80
    scs says:

    Honestly I think everyone is overreating to this ID stuff. Of course it all depends on how it is taught, but I don’t think mentioning it is that big a deal. Obviously, there are a lot of religious people in the country today and I think it would be good to answer their questions in an honest and open way. Evolution does have some rough spots, such as the questions about how just the parts evolved, not the whole (I think, anyway, read the NYT for a good explanation on evolutions weaknesses), and answering people who have questions about it, is just part of free and fair discussions. Isn’t that what we want in class? If science can answer those questions, what’s wrong with asking them?

  81. 81
    mb says:

    What Colson say is untrue-there has been scientific experimentation that refutes the irreduciblity of the cell. And it should be noted that Mike Behe offers no experimental support for his claim in “Darwin’s Black Box”-no experimental data=no science.
    Since Pat felt the need to refer to Thomas Jefferson, I will respond with another TJ quote here:
    “A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt…If the game runs sometime against us at home, we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.”
    — Thomas Jefferson

  82. 82
    yeranalyst says:

    Innocent bystander, I think you are on to something. critical thinking, or informal logic or sometimes called negative thinking or analysis has been diminished in our society. Partly I believe because of “dumbing down” of the public by the media. The media uses partisan hacks presenting them as authorities which they are not to spin events and arguments not in search of the truth or to clarify issues but as a means to inflame peoples predjudice and emotions to direct them toward their partisan cause. Sound bites and snippets are useful only for propaganda and sloganeering They are the enemy of reason and critical thinking. False premises, mixed metaphors, destruction of words, omission, revisionism, false analogies, and a monopoly on the filters of information are but a few weapons in the medias arsenal that are used to dumb down the public.

    Critical thinking requires work and application of oneself to discern or move toward the truth. It also requires intellectual tools and a disposition to use them. We live in a culture that prizes immediate gratification and comfort.

    I am including here a couple of excerpts one on critical thinking and the other on why people believe wierd things.

    Fundamentally, Critical Thinking or Informal Logic deals with the use of reason in the pursuit of truth. While there is serious doubt about the power of reason to discover any “new” truth, the “rules” of logic concern the ways truth can be preserved as we make inferences — one or more statements to support or justify another statement. Taken this way, there is no great “mystery” to the concepts of Logic. At the very core of logic is the idea that certain “patterns of inference” – i.e. models for combining statements that support with those which are supposedly supported ­ will, if the supporting statements are true, guarantee the truth of the statement supported by them. In studying logic, we identify, study, and apply these patterns or principles of logical reasoning and express them in some general way – a way which is independent of the subject being reasoned about.

    So, if we are interested in knowing the truth, then the answer is obvious: logical reasoning extends our grasp of the truth, from the information we have to what can be inferred from that information.

    But why should we be interested in the truth? On the one hand, much of who we are, of the people we have become (and are yet to become) is due to our ideas and beliefs. And what we do and how we react to any situation is also determined by the background of beliefs and ideas we bring to it. Without getting too philosophical here, what sort of life would you consider more worthwhile– one based on truth, or one based on lies and groundless illusions?

    If we believed only what popped into our heads, perhaps we could count on its being true. [Could we? And what should we do when then the opposite idea pops into our head– give up the earlier one, or keep ’em both?]. But often the source of our beliefs is other people – parents, pals, preachers, pundits, politicians, and others. Who we are, and how we spend our life’s energies, is based to a large extent on the what we picked up from others. But (in case you never noticed) they don’t all give us the same message– so who are we to believe? Could a liar ever blunder onto the truth? Could a decent person ever make a mistake? Which statement is it more rational to accept– one unsupported by any reasons, one supported by bad reasons, or one supported by good reasons?

    If we are to be in control of our own beliefs, and to somehow gain an understanding of the truth, then we must know what good reasoning is, and be aware of the ways in which our reasoning (and that of others) can go astray.

    So, why do people believe weird things? “More than any other, the reason people believe weird things,” says Shermer, “is because they want to. . . .It feels good. It is comforting. It is consoling.” Secondly, weird beliefs offer “immediate gratification.” People like weird beliefs because they are simple. Weird beliefs also satisfy the quest for significance: they satisfy our moral needs and our desire that life be meaningful. Finally, he says, people believe weird things because weird things give them hope.

    You would think Shermer would know, for he has walked through the valley of weirdness as a believer and a challenger. He’s been abducted by aliens and had colonic irrigation. He’s been to the chiropractor to get aligned and balanced. He’s been to many alternative health practitioners to get “purified” and “detoxified”. He’s been Rolfed and wrongly diagnosed by an iridologist.

    He’s also been on a number of talk shows where he has faced not only psychics but those who deny that the Holocaust ever happened. He’s confronted creationists and spiritualists on national television. He started Skeptic magazine and the Skeptic’s Society. He has written many articles on various weird beliefs. In short, Michael Shermer has entered the lion’s den, walked through the valley of death and known firsthand the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    Even so, Shermer seems to have overlooked or underemphasized some fundamental reasons why people believe weird things. Ignorance, for example, seems to be the main reason many people believe weird things. They simply do not know any better. If they had some knowledge about physics, chemistry, biology, memory, the brain, the body, etc., they would not even consider many of the crackpot ideas put forth for their consideration. Only a person ignorant of physics and neurology could consider it reasonable that wearing a takionic headband will improve thinking or that alpha waves are a sign one is entering a transcendent state of consciousness. A great deal of New Age quackery about “energy” medicine depends upon people being ignorant of quantum physics. It is unlikely that Shermer would have tried the detoxification regimes he did had he been more knowledgeable.

    Ignorance might explain why 90% of Deepak Chopra’s followers believe him when he tells them that happy thoughts make happy molecules, but it doesn’t explain why Chopra himself believes the mind can have a causal effect on the molecular level. He is a trained physician and knowledgeable of biology. It does not seem to be a very satisfactory explanation to say that he and other New Age gurus believe that disease can be controlled by thought because they want to believe so. The will to believe explanation seems too facile. Even William James, who has given us this expression from the title of an essay, did not try to explain most weird beliefs by claiming they were acts of will. James reserved using will alone to determine belief for those cases where (a) a decision must be made and (b) the evidence is equal on either side of the issue. Furthermore, he recognized that only some beliefs are living options for each individual. A devout Christian could no more accept the possibility that Mohammed is the Prophet of God than a devout Muslim could accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Not every claim is a living option for every person. Sheer willfulness should only be used to explain choosing one living option over another when the evidence for each is equal. Such a situation is definitely not the case for believing in the power of thought to control disease. The evidence is overwhelmingly against such a belief. What is of interest is why certain incredible and improbable claims are living options for some people and not for others.

    It is obvious that the difference cannot be explained in terms of differing intelligences. Duane Gish and the creationists, Willis Carto and the Holocaust deniers, and physicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler–to name just a few of those Shermer takes on–are at least as intelligent as their opponents. When an intelligent person believes something for which there is little more than faith to support the belief, what else can you say except that the person believes simply because he or she wants to?

    For example, Barrow and Tipler think they have a new and improved argument from design which uses only physics to prove God exists. And Tipler thinks he has proved the immortality and the resurrection by physics alone. Yet despite his enormous intellectual endeavors to prove Christianity by physics, Tipler comes off a bit disingenuous when he admits that the only thing really going for his theory at this point is its “theoretical beauty.” Since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that is not saying much. In short, for all his brilliance, Tipler’s theory is an elaborate construction which can only be accepted on faith. Since there are probably only a handful of people who could even understand his argument, refuting it seems unlikely to be very rewarding, but Shermer gives it a go. The argument is very complicated and likely to produce more yawns than hurrahs.

    Likewise for his essay on Ayn Rand and her cult of followers. Other than being an example of colossal self-deception and egoism, the debunking of a second-rate metaphysician and the cult of adoration which grew up around her is of little more than historical interest. He might as well have done an essay on the Beatles and their adoring fans. Rand did not claim Objectivism is a science, but a philosophy. It’s not a very interesting philosophy, nor was it innovative, despite what she and her followers believed.

    The argument against Carto and his anti-Semitic band is much easier to swallow and to follow, and the rewards are much more gratifying. For all those sucked in by the tempting arguments of the pseudohistorians of Nazism, chapter 14 of Shermer’s book is a must read. He not only explains the methodology of the the Cartophiles, he responds with specific evidence to their arguments. For example, one of the favorite appeals of the Holocaust deniers is to demand some proof that Hitler gave the order for the extermination of the Jews (or the mentally retarded, mentally ill, and physically handicapped). Holocaust deniers point to Himmler’s telephone notes of November 30, 1941, as proof that there was to be no liquidation of the Jews. The actual note says: “Jewish transport from Berllin. No liquidation.” Whatever the note meant, it did not mean that Hitler did not want the Jews liquidated. The transport in question, by the way, was liquidated that evening. In any case, if Hitler ordered no liquidation of the Berlin transport, then liquidation was going on and he knew about it. Hitler’s intentions were made public in his earliest speeches. Even as his regime was being destroyed, Hitler proclaimed: “Against the Jews I fought open-eyed and in view of the whole world….I made it plain that they, this parasitic vermin in Europe, will be finally exterminated.” Hitler at one time compared the Jews to tuberculosis bacilli which had infected Europe. It was not cruel to shoot them if they would not work or if they could not work. He said: “This is not cruel if one remembers that even innocent creatures of nature, such as hares and deer when infected, have to be killed so that they cannot damage others. Why should the beasts who wanted to bring Bolshevism be spared more than these innocents?”

    In my view, however, the racist community doesn’t believe its false notions about the holocaust for any of the reasons for weird beliefs listed by Shermer. They believe them because such beliefs are empowering. They make the believer feel superior and they allow evil to be rationalized as good. Ultimately, many weird beliefs are the beliefs of groups, not isolated individuals. Understanding the dynamics of social belief is no small undertaking and certainly goes beyond wishful thinking and laziness. The Holocaust deniers feed off of each other’s anti-Semitism. But what gave birth to their hatred of the Jews? Resentment and projection of their own inadequacies onto another race? Perhaps. That was Sartre’s argument, following Nietzsche’s lead, in anti-Semite and Jew. We might say, though, that at least some weird beliefs are based upon wanting to believe them because they fit in with one’s prejudices.

    Shermer does an admirable job of presenting Duane Gish’s case for “scientific creationism” and then dismantling it. Here, too, I think the creationists want to believe Gish because his claims fit in with their own prejudices. One of my correspondent’s, Claud Roux of France, wrote me about an all-night debate he had with a creationist.

    I started a dispute with this person which lasted until dawn…I was absolutely baffled by how much this person was insensitive to any arguments which would contradict his strong beliefs about a world made in 7 days… I couldn’t find any flaw in his armor so that I could introduce a hint of questioning in his mind…If I gave him a scientific argument, this would be considered as a lie nourished by an army of scientists. In fact, there was a strong belief in all that he said that science was another religion opposed to the traditional religions. The discussion with this person was not a debate over the pertinence of a theory, but rather a fight between two different religions, science being a religion invented by the devil to “disbalance [desequilibrer]” the world. His personal fight was not to prove that science was wrong but to prove that science was evil…

    Science is evil because it is perceived to be very threatening to the creationist’s religious beliefs. That intelligent people might adhere to weird beliefs mainly because they offer solace and refuge from other, terrifying beliefs, implies that the mind is often used to construct delusions as a kind of safety net. Let me give another example for another correspondent. Carol Lazetsky of Austria via England wrote me about a friend of hers who had received a Ph.D. in biology. The biologist’s parents are also biologists and were pioneers in the legalization of euthanasia movement in Holland. Lazetsky writes that the daughter biologist with the Ph.D. was having a problem with her parent’s stand on euthanasia.

    . . . and she started to have some sort of therapy. I then moved to Ireland and we lost touch, however, I had a few letters in which she touched upon the fact that she had become involved with the church and seemed to be getting some relief from her problems. We lost touch even more and then I had a letter from her after moving to Austria. Her letters had become more and more frantic and her thoughts seemed to have become disjointed, until 2 years ago at Christmas I had a letter which was totally incomprehensible and muddled up. I was worried when I got the letter but didn’t react much since I felt I could do little from so far away. However, the alarm bells really started to ring when I received a brochure from her a year later when she told me that she had started working from home and had set up a therapy studio for reflexology. There was a whole load of glossy brochures with maps of feet and a résumé of her stating her qualifications as a biologist (which seemed to make her business sound believable). She then told me she was “studying” a lot to open up a “Spinal Correction” practice and was into all sorts of “New Age” theories including crystals, auras and chanting. Her marriage had nearly fallen apart because of her new ventures, but her husband was getting used to it, she said.

    I find this all very alarming and dangerous since it seems to me that these practices have robbed her of her identity and her reason. They nearly robbed her of her family and they are most definitely robbing her purse. I felt that as we had once been good friends that it was only decent of me to be honest with her and I wrote and told her how I felt about what she was doing. I knew that I may not hear from her again, but I thought it would be insincere of me not to write and tell her what I thought. I never heard from her again.

    One facile explanation is that the young biologist has gone mad. This may be true and it may explain her conversion from scientist to pseudoscientist, her new interest in religion and New Age mysticism, and her disjointed thinking. The chemicals in her brain may have become redistributed, causing her to have a serious thought disorder. This is possible and we should not dismiss this possibility out of hand just because there is a stereotype of the mad as out of control, completely irrational, babbling idiots. The mad are often quite intelligent and restrained, even polite or reclusive, even if their thoughts are illogical and their judgment unsound. However, there is another possibility here. Perhaps she is not mad, but deeply troubled. She had followed in her famous parent’s footsteps and become a scientist. But her parents are leaders of the euthanasia movement and euthanasia is something which repulses her. Rather than risk becoming “evil” like her parents, she leaves science and goes into something much safer. She enters a world of deluded but very happy, hopeful and caring people. The reasons for choosing reflexology rather than iridology or some other form of quackery are probably unimportant. It is probably by sheer accident that she fell into one bit of nonsense rather than another. The point is that we search in vain for why she believes in reflexology if we search for a logical explanation. To say she believes because she wants to believe is trivial. She believes because she does not want to follow in the footsteps of her scientific parents, because she does not want to bring evil into her life, because she wants hope and wants to do good. Perhaps.

    There is probably a long list of reasons why people want to believe certain things, but in the end they all amount to the same thing when looked at from the other side: it is generally pointless to produce counterarguments to their beliefs except to persuade some third party who might listen to both sides and realize which side has the stronger evidence.

    Another significant factor in weird beliefs, not mentioned by Shermer, is communal reinforcement. If others believe the same non-sense, it is often very difficult or dangerous to challenge the beliefs. For example, I have my philosophy of law students read a racist essay by an intelligent, educated lawyer and leader of the Confederacy during the Civil War. The essay makes one false claim after another regarding the physical, intellectual and moral nature of black people. Each of the claims is put forth with comments indicating that everybody knows this and it is scientific fact. My students invariably ask: How could anyone believe this stuff? The answer is simple: if your parents, teachers, ministers, and everyone else in your circle believes it, and contrary opinions are banned, why wouldn’t you believe it, too?

    Other beliefs seem to be adhered to simply because they are possible. Even though the evidence is overwhelmingly against them, why do people believe in such things as dowsing? Many, of course, believe because they do not understand how easy it is to deceive ourselves. They do not understand the need for controlled studies to eliminate self-deception from influencing our beliefs. Yet, others seem to believe such things simply because they are possibly true. They are unaware of the fallacy of the argument to ignorance. However, simply because a claim is possibly true–in the absolutely loosest sense of the term ‘possibly’–does not mean it is reasonable to use an act of will alone to accept the claim. In fact, for reasonable people, such claims are not living options because they contradict what has been established beyond a reasonable doubt. However, even though the evidence seems to be preponderantly on one side, there will always be those who claim that they do not believe that the evidence against a belief is overwhelming. That was James’ view of the evidence regarding belief in God; the evidence for was proportionate to the evidence against, he thought. But he never proved that the evidence was equal for atheism and theism. He assumed this to be the case. It seems to me, however, that it is only politeness which grants him this point. The evidence is overwhelmingly against anything like the God of the western religions existing. How a Bernie Segal or a Deepak Chopra or a John Mack can steadfastly maintain their weird beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence against them seems explicable only if one assumes they are acting on faith alone.

    Even so, why do some people have faith? Why do they choose to believe preposterous, incredible, improbable claims? Shermer’s explanation in terms of hope, simplicity, immediate gratification, and providing meaning to one’s life seems to cover most of the reasons for faith. But the desire for power should also be included in this list of fideistic motivators. Such beliefs give the illusion of control over things which are either out of one’s control or which require diligent effort and intellect to effect reasonable control.

    However, what is most valuable about Shermer’s book is not his attempt at the psychology of belief, but his criticisms of specific weird beliefs. He has especially detailed criticisms of creationism and Holocaust denial. There are fairly straightforward chapters on Edgar Cayce, near-death experiences and alien abduction. There is a chapter on the repressed memory witch hunts, among other things.

    He even has a section on altered states of consciousness (ASC) which he prefaces with a remark that most skeptics will question his account of ASC. Shermer considers the hypnotic state to be an ASC, for example. He doesn’t do much to bolster his case by quoting a straw man argument from Kenneth Bowers who trivializes Nicholas Spanos’ cognitive-behavioral explanation in terms of role playing by calling it “the faking hypothesis.” Playing a social role is not the same as “faking.” Next, he considers sleep to be a state of consciousness, rather than unconsciousness, because we dream while sleeping. Finally, he produces a set of EEG readings to designate what he calls six different states of consciousness, one of which is the coma. He says: “If a coma is not an altered state, I do not know what is.” Let me fill in the enthymeme using modus ponens. “A coma is not an altered state. Therefore, you do not know what an altered state is.” On Shermer’s criteria, sneezing would be an altered state. So would coughing. Each is likely to produce a distinct EEG reading. I find his argument puzzling, since he defends the view that sleep, deep sleep, drowsiness and coma are altered states of consciousness by appealing to the fact that they produce different squiggles on an EEG. But he defines an altered state subjectively, in terms of self-consciousness and self-control. “When there is a significant interference with our monitoring and control of our environment,” he says, “an altered state of consciousness exists.” People who are interested in altered states of consciousness, such as Charles Tart, think they are gateways to transcendent truths. I would agree that ASCs are brain states, but not every brain state is an ASC. I certainly would not include sleep or coma as ASCs because they are not states of consciousness at all. I understand the term ASC to refer to an altered state of consciousness. Unconscious states, such as sleeping, coma, concussion, fainting, etc. are not ASCs because the person is unconscious by definition. I take it for granted that to have an altered state of consciousness one must be conscious. On Shermer’s analysis, I suppose death would be the ultimate altered state of consciousness: the flatline EEG.

    Overall, Shermer’s collection of essays is a welcome addition to the growing body of skeptical literature that has for so long been wanting but is beginning to shed a little light in the darkness.

  83. 83
    Stephen says:

    …the cell is irreducibly complex. All the parts have to work at once, so it could not have evolved. No one has been able to successfully challenge Behe’s argument.

    Which came first? The chicken or the egg?

    I don’t know too much about all of the complexities of some sciences, but based on that statement I should be able to crack open a brand new egg and it’s cells should work all at once and be the chicken long before cells divide and slowly developes (perhaps even “evolves”, chuckle) into the usual chick that hatches later on…

    I get the feeling we would all be making a lot of omeletes and wouldn’t get any fried chicken if we tried to test it out.

    What I am saying may seem like an ignorant statement to the well versed in sciences. If it does, well, that is because it is… lol

  84. 84
    Stephen says:

    Ask someone who belives in ID just who or what that intelligence was.
    Does it have to be a Christian god? Isn’t it possible that the intelligence was maybe space aliens iin the year 4000 BC?

    You can find all of the answers to all of your questions about ID here:

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster

    And here:
    Mention in New Scientist Magazine

    I believe that the online scientific magazine’s mention of “The Flying Spaghetti Monster”, and the Wikkipedia, allows just as much proof of this scientific theory as any other religions explaination.

  85. 85
    sheena says:

    He cited America’s founding documents, quoting the Declaration of Independence as he stressed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator … .”

    when was that written?/? 250-300 yrs.! ago!
    hypocritical right off the hop~!

    yes, it seems, like this contition, so sacared? why is it it get’s ‘quoted’ time and time again, and yet it also get’s changed with every President; and ‘is men!’

    a true work of genious, and some of the hyped, probaganda bull shit, Hitler would be ‘prood’ !! of!!!

  86. 86
    sheena says:

    oops sry for the typo,

    i meant constitution!

  87. 87
    BioSteel says:

    Steven Bandyk Says:
    Remember, ‘It’s too complex to understand’ isn’t a valid scientific argument. That’s pretty much the definition of ignorance. Do you want to figure out the puzzle or just be content with ignorance?

    You know if the right wing truly gets it’s way and stalls scientific thought with philosophical rhetoric… I am scared to see us spiral towards a new dark age.

    “Having found the atomic bomb, we have used it. It is an awful responsibility which has come to us. We thank God that it has come to us instead of to our enemies and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His way and for His purposes.” – former President Harry Truman

    “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” – Socrates

  88. 88
    Big E says:

    re: metal321 Says:
    To all you leftwingers that want to try and censor ID from the public discourse

    —————————————————
    You still don’t get it do you….

    This is not about ‘public discourse’. If it were just about ‘public discourse’, then it would be enough to have the ‘discourse’ in comparative religion or philosophy courses.

    ID is about teaching religion as a valid ‘alternative science’ in the science courses in public schools.
    No matter how you and your fraud ID backers try to disguise it, ID is not, and never will be science.

  89. 89
    m.asadi says:

    Creationism is pseudo science but so are all attempts to put a block on new research or to question existing research. If a theory is not falsifiable then by definition it is not scientific, according to Karl Popper’s critical rationalism. Therefore all attempts to block further attempts at question Darwinism and raising it to a point of ideological dogma, actually reduce what might well be a valid theory in many of its assertions, into ideological nonsense.

    Check this site http://www.rationalreality.com

  90. 90
    Randy Vaughn says:

    Attention: Finnsagain…Can you post my thoughts below? Is this a story? Or What? This was sent out to my friends originally….Randy Vaughn

    Hello,

    October 3rd, 2005

    As you all know I’m a Republican and will always be so; BUT…August 26th, 20005 the critical day in question, regarding what President Bush was doing that day just before the hurricane.

    Democrats said “What was Bush doing that day, he was in Arizona, with some famous musician, and was strumming a guitar, while the Gulf Coast was about to go down the drain” (paraphrased greatly). And I thought, no big deal, he was just ending his vacation (A little early, and was heading for San Diego as well; so what, to me this still means nothing to me, NO BIG DEAL.

    But I wanted to know what President Bush WAS doing that day, and who’s guitar he was playing. So I went to WhiteHouse.Gov, and clicked on President Bush’s Itinerary, and it lists what he did each day for the entire month of August 2005 (copied below) in MUCH detail…BUT ONE DATE IS MISSING, August 26th, 2005 (The Date In Question), that EVERYONE Democratic made so much hay about. THAT DATE is the only date missing.

    Look for yourself, it’s not there. Was this date purposely ommitted, if so, this freaks me out a little as a Republican. I personally don’t care what he doing that day, he cut his vacation short for the Hurricane Katrina, and swooped through the southwest on his way back to The White House.

    But for them to leave this particular date out, historically is suspicious, and a little troubling EVEN TO ME. This would be great ammo for the Democrats, and the pundents; but I don’t think I’ll be calling Michael Moore or Ted Kennedy just yet. But to just leave this date out is troubling, or just smart. Whatever.

    But DO check it out at WhiteHouse.Gov but I’ve copied it below for you.

    Your Thoughts,

    Randy Vaughn
    -Conservative Republican-
    RanVaughn@AOL.Com
    Lakeside, California

    P.S…I could’t copy the info below because of space limitations here, but please DO go to WhiteHouse.Gov and check it out for yourself.

  91. 91
    Randy Vaughn says:

    Hello,

    I WAS WRONG ON THIS PRESIDENT BUSH INFORMATION….THEY DON’T POST EVERY DAY OF HIS ITINERARY; ONLY WHEN HE IS DOING OFFICIAL PRESIDENTIAL STUFF.

    IT’S ALL FOGGY NOW…IT’S BEEN A WHILE SINCE THE POST; BUT LET ME SAY THAT WHAT I SAID IN MY POST WAS WRONG; AND I APOLOGISE.

    SINCERELY,

    RANDY VAUGHN
    CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN
    LAKESIDE, CALIFORNIA
    RANVAUGHN@AOL.COM

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