Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Cardinal Ratzinger on `the Gnostic model' vs `the Christian model'

Here is a quote by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), in his excellent little book, "In the Beginning ...", on "the Gnostic model" vs "the Christian model", i.e. "the common core of Gnosticism, in all its different forms and versions , [is] ... the repudiation of creation ... The Gnostic option aims at ... power through knowledge ... Gnosticism will not entrust itself to a world already created, but only to a world still to be created:

"As I survey all the perplexing shifts in the spiritual landscape of today, only these two basic models seem to me to be up for discussion. The first I should like to call the Gnostic model, the other the Christian model. I see the common core of Gnosticism, in all its different forms and versions, as the repudiation of creation. This common core has a common effect on the doctrine of humankind to be found in the various models of Gnosticism: the mystery of suffering, of love, of substitutionary redemption, is rejected in favor of a control of the world and of life through knowledge. Love appears too insecure a foundation for life and world. It means one has to depend on something unpredictable and unenforceable, something we cannot certainly make for ourselves, but can only await and receive. What is awaited may fail to appear. It makes me permanently dependent. It seems like a permanent risk factor, a source of insecurity over which I have no control. I can be cheated, and I am completely powerless to prevent it. Thus, instead of being a beautiful promise, love becomes an unbearable feeling of dependence, of subjection. This risk factor must be eliminated. We cannot stake everything on it in advance. All we can rely on is what we can control, knowledge, which gives us power over the world and, as an all-inclusive system, is free from unpredictability. In the Gnostic view of the world, whether ancient or modern, creation appears as dependence, and God as the reason for dependence. This is the very essence of God, his definition, and the reason why Gnosticism can never be neutral in matters concerning God, but rather aggressively antitheistic. The Gnostic option aims at knowledge and at power through knowledge, the only reliable redemption of humankind. Gnosticism will not entrust itself to a world already created, but only to a world still to be created. There is no need for trust, only skill. The Christian option is the exact opposite. Human beings are dependent, and only by denying their very being can they dispute the fact." (Ratzinger J., "`In the Beginning ...': A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall," Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 1995, pp.96-97. Emphasis original).

In view of Pope Benedict XVI's previous statement (as Cardinal Ratzinger) that "he wanted a smaller, but purer, church" ("Pope Benedict XVI a wedge or a unifier?," MSNBC, April 19, 2005), it is going to be interesting to see what actions (if any) he will take against those who claim to be Roman Catholics, but who seem to fit the "Gnostic model" rather than "the Christian model" (Ken Miller and John Haught come to my mind).

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pacific Atlantis: first climate change refugees, etc

The second part of my brief excerpts of articles from my backlog, all on global warming, in reverse chronological order (more recent uppermost). My comments are bold and in square brackets. Links to older articles may no longer work. As I said in part 1 of this two-part post, I believe we are living in the period prophesied by Jesus in Luke 21:24b-32, between "Jerusalem" no longer "trampled on by the Gentiles" (which happened in 1967) and "the Son of Man [Jesus] "coming in a cloud with power and great glory." That period, would be (and is) characterized by "signs in the sun, moon and stars. ... nations ... in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken." (Luke 21:25-26). nations ... in anguish and perplexity" and "Men [in] ... terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world". I interpret the "signs in the sun, moon and stars", "roaring and tossing of the sea" and "the heavenly bodies will be shaken" to mean major disturbances to the natural order, which global warming will be. Indeed, I regard the unprecedented catastrophe that global warming will bring, as an important part of the Great Tribulation, predicted by Jesus in the parallel passages of the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24:1-44; Mark 13:1-37 & Luke 21:5-36.

Pacific Atlantis: first climate change refugees, The Guardian, John Vidal, November 25, 2005 ... For more than 30 years the 980 people living on the six minute horseshoe-shaped Carteret atolls have battled the Pacific to stop salt water destroying their coconut palms and waves crashing over their houses. They failed. Yesterday a decision was made that will make their group of low-lying islands literally go down in history. In the week before 150 countries meet in Montreal to discuss how to combat global warming and rising sea levels, the Carterets' people became the first to be officially evacuated because of climate change. Starting as soon as money is available to the Papuan New Guinean regional government, 10 families at a time will be moved by the authorities to Bougainville, a larger island 62 miles away. Within two years the six Carterets, roughly the size of 80 football pitches and just 1.5 metres high, will be uninhabited and undefended. By 2015 they are likely to be completely submerged. .. [The first of many. Hard evidence of global warming-water expands as its temperature rises, but it takes a lot to raise the average temperature and therefore level of the ocean.]

Remnants of Delta Now Threaten Africa, Washington Post/AP, November 28, 2005 ... MIAMI -- The still-powerful remnants of Tropical Storm Delta could bring strong wind to the northwestern coast of Africa and the Canary and Madeira Islands, forecasters said. The 25th named storm in the record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season had top sustained winds near 65 mph, up from 40 mph Sunday. ... The six-month Atlantic hurricane season officially ends Wednesday, but forecasters warn that tropical storms and hurricanes can develop in December ...
Hurricane Gamma kills 14, The Age, Tegucigalpa, Honduras November 21, 2005 ... US military helicopters flew in aid to survivors in central America as Gamma, the 24th major storm in a record-breaking hurricane season, weakened after killing 14 people. Gamma slowed to a tropical depression today and meandered off the Honduran coast with maximum sustained winds of 55kph. It was expected to dissipate by tomorrow, the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami said. ...
Hurricane Beta Sets Record for Most in a Season, Livescience/AP, 29 October 2005 ... SAN ANDRES ISLAND, Colombia (AP) -- Hurricane Beta battered the mountainous Caribbean island of Providencia on Saturday, ripping roofs off wooden homes and forcing people to seek shelter in brick shelters on high ground. Beta was the 13th hurricane this year, more than any Atlantic season on record. This season has also seen 23 named storms, more than at any point since record-keeping began in 1851. The previous record of 21 was set in 1933. Last week Tropical Storm Alpha formed, the first time a letter from the Greek alphabet has been used because the list of storm names was exhausted ...
Tropical Storm Alpha Sets Record for Busiest Hurricane Season, Livescience/AP, 23 October 2005 ... Hurricane Wilma has been joined by Tropical Storm Alpha, which formed Saturday south of the Dominican Republic as the record 22nd named storm for the Atlantic season. It was the first time forecasters exhausted the regular list of names and had to turn to the Greek alphabet for labels in almost 60 years of naming storms. The previous record of 21 tropical storms and hurricanes had stood since 1933. Alpha was expected to weaken as it turned north from the Dominican Republic. ... [That Atlantic hurricane names for the first time exceeded the number of English names and is currently into the fourth Greek letter names, is more evidence that global warming is real and increasing. See also below on the possible need to add a new category 6 hurricane.]

Debate over, it's time to save the planet, The Australian, Matt Price, October 27, 2005 ... THE debate on climate change is over. As far as the Howard Government is concerned, Australians must accept that humans contribute to global warming and adapt their behaviour to save the planet. Emerging from a bushwalk through the Tarkine forest in northwest Tasmania, Environment Minister Ian Campbell told The Australian that argument about the causes and impact of global warming had effectively ended..... [This represents a shift by the conservative Australian government of Prime Minister John Howard, that global warming is real and a threat.]

No Escape: Thaw Gains Momentum, The New York Times, Andrew C. Revkin, October 25, 2005 ... LOSING GROUND Sea ice near the North Pole. Bright Arctic Ocean ice reflects sunlight, but open dark water absorbs it, warming in the process. As more ice melts, more open water could amplify the warming trend.... [This is an example of positive feedback which could (and I expect will) spiral upward into a runaway greenhouse gas effect which will be catastrophic, and will fit Jesus' prediction of the Great Tribulation, which will occur immediately before His return: "For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again." (Mat 24:21 NIV. My emphasis.]

Climate change 'could ruin drive to eradicate poverty', The Independent, Steve Connor, 24 October 2005 ... Britain's most senior independent scientist has warned that global warming threatens to ruin the international initiative to lift Africa out of poverty. Lord May of Oxford, the president of the Royal Society, said the cost of dealing with the adverse effects of climate change could soak up all the aid to African countries. In an open letter to G8 environment ministers who are to meet in London on 1 November, Lord May warns that the Gleneagles agreement on aid and debt relief to Africa could amount to nothing. "As long as greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise, there is the very real prospect that the increase in aid agreed at Gleneagles will be entirely consumed by the mounting cost of dealing with the added burden of adverse effects of climate change in Africa," Lord May said. ... [I expect that the cost of global warming (both to poor and wealthy nations alike) will at some point exceed the ability of the wealthy nations to give aid to poor nations. At that point, hundreds of millions (if not billions) of humans in those poor countries will sink into failed states of unrelievable poverty, disease, starvation and death. This then will be greatly exacerbated by refugees fleeing those countries and crushing the economies of neighbouring countries (see below), in a domino effect. It is these circumstances that I expect that a World Environment Organization (WEO) will be established (if it has not already) which Antichrist (1 Jn 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 Jn 1:7; 2 Th 2:1-4; Rev 11:1-8; 13:2-18) will then arise and take over. See my previous post, with links to other posts. See also further calls for a WEO by Charnovitz, Whalley & Zissimos, Goffman (to mention only some) and even a book on it! It is moving even faster than I thought.]

Satellite images reveal Amazon forest shrinking faster: New methods detect twice as much logging as previously estimated, Christian Science Monitor, October 21, 2005, Peter N. Spotts, Brazil's Amazon rain forest - one of the most biologically productive regions on the planet - is disappearing twice as fast as scientists previously estimated. That is the stark conclusion ecologist Gregory Asner and his colleagues reached after developing a new way to analyze satellite images to track logging there. ... [I did an assignment in an ecology unit in 2004 on the relative effects of land clearing and greenhouse gas production on global warming, and after reading a large number of scientific journals on these topics, I came to the conclusion that land clearing (which removes vegetation that absorbs both CO2 and heat) may even have the greater effect. But whichever is the greater, the literature made the point that each was synergistic (working together) of the other.]

Wilma's Rage Suggests New Hurricane Categories Needed, Livescience, Ker Than, 20 October 2005 ... In a season that has included three Category 5 hurricanes for the first time on record in the Atlantic Basin, scientists are beginning to wonder if their rating system is adequate, LiveScience has learned. On the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, there is no Category 6. But Hurricane Wilma this week brushed up against where a 6 would be if the scale were logically extrapolated to include another category. And hurricanes are getting stronger, apparently fueled by global warming. ...An extrapolation suggests that if a Category 6 were there, it would be in the range of 176-196 mph. Hurricane Wilma, which had maximum recorded wind speeds of 175 mph, would have been on the verge of breaking into this hypothetical new category. ... [I expect that hurricane of wind speeds greater that 176 (and even 196) mph (283 and 315 kph) will require new categories 6 and 7 and maybe even higher!]

Antarctic species feel the warmth, BBC 19 October 2005 ... An alarming rise in temperature in the Southern Ocean threatens seals, whales and penguins as well as krill, which play a crucial role in the food chain. The ocean west of the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by more than a degree since the 1960s - contradicting the results of computer models. Sea animals in the region are highly sensitive to changes in temperature. ... [It will be devastating to Southern Hemisphere marine life and fishing, if small crustaceans like krill, at the bottom of the food chain, decline in numbers due to increased Southern Ocean temperatures.]

Scientists: Natural Disasters Becoming More Common, Livescience, Ker Than, 17 October 2005 ... Earth might seem like a more active and dangerous place than ever, given the constant media reports of multiple natural disasters recently. But a broader view reveals that it's not Mother Nature who's changed, but we humans. Drawn by undeveloped land and fertile soil, people are flocking to disaster-prone regions. This creates a situation in which ordinary events like earthquakes and hurricanes become increasingly elevated to the level of natural disasters that reap heavy losses in human life and property. ... [It is irrelevant to the Bible's teachings on the Great Tribulation prior to Jesus' return, whether it is primarily caused by increases in the physical factors like earthquakes, hurricanes, etc, or on increased human population. The emphasis in the Bible is on the effect on humans (e.g. "anguish and perplexity ... terror ... apprehensive" - Luke 21:25-26) not the physical causes.]

Planet endures hottest month since 1880, The Australian, October 15, 2005 ... SEPTEMBER was the hottest month recorded on the planet Earth since 1880, US weather trackers said overnight. The global temperature was 0.63 degree C above the mean going back to 1880, when the first reliable instrument recordings were available, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ...
Planet Sees Warmest September on Record, ABC News/AP ... WASHINGTON Oct 14, 2005 - Worldwide, it was the warmest September on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday. Averaging 1.13 degrees Fahrenheit (0.63 degree Celsius) above normal for the month, it was the warmest September since the beginning of reliable records in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center .... [This literally is global warming!]

The 100-Year Forecast: Stronger Storms Ahead, Livescience, Ker Than, 13 October 2005 ... As Earth gets warmer, large regions will experience heavier rain and snowfall as weather becomes generally more intense, according to a new study. "The models show most areas around the world will experience more intense precipitation for a given storm during this century," said lead researcher Gerald Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). ... [See above on the need for higher hurricane categories and below on overwhelmed storm drains.]

Millions 'will flee degradation', BBC, 11 October 2005 ... , ... There will be as many as 50 million environmental refugees in the world in five years' time. That is the conclusion of experts at the United Nations University, who say that a new definition of "environmental refugee" is urgently needed. ... [That is 50 million environmental refugees ... in five years' time! And that is just the beginning. See above on the domino effect of this.]

Global Warming Could Overwhelm Storm Drains, Livescience, 11 October 2005 ... Scientists at a modest university in a small town in New Hampshire offered today a big tip to city planners around the world: Prepare your culverts for global warming. Nearly a foot of rain this weekend in Keene, NH, overwhelming the storm drains. Latham Stack [and] Michael Simpson at Antioch New England Graduate School were not surprised. They had just finished studying culverts in Keene and looking at climate models that forecast more frequent downpours like this in the future. ... [Of course one local flooding proves nothing. But if these local floodings become the widespread norm, then that is another cost of global warming.]

End of the World? Not Likely, Scientists Say, LiveScience, Ker Than, 10 October 2005 ... The recent spate of natural disasters affecting the globe "might be" signs that the Biblical apocalypse is near, says Christian televangelist Pat Robertson. On an Oct. 9 episode of CNN's "Late Edition" ... Seth Stein, a seismologists at Northwestern University's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, thinks everything is as it should be, at least as far as earthquakes go. "I don't think there's any reason to believe the frequency of large earthquakes has changed over the past million years," ... Concerning hurricanes, Robertson may be correct in observing that they're occurring more frequently than in the past. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research ... Kevin Trenberth .... "By several measures, this will end up being the most active storm season on record, it's not just number but also how intense they are," ... Global warming is believed to contribute to hurricanes in the same way, by warming up the ocean surface and putting more moisture into the atmosphere. ... [Of course, "Scientists" have expertise to tell us whether natural phenomena like earthquakes and hurricanes are increasing or decreasing, but they have no expertise when it comes to telling us that Biblical predictions of the "End of the World" are "Not Likely". The Bible in fact says that Jesus' second coming will be unexpected to non- Christians:

1 Thess 5:1- 4: "Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, `Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief."
See also Mat 24:43-44; Lk 12:39-40; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15]

Polar bears face extinction on melting planet, Independent Online, October 09 2005, Anchorage Carrell and Severin Carrell ... The polar bear is one of the natural world's most famous predators - the king of the Arctic wastelands. But, like its vast Arctic home, the polar bear is under unprecedented threat. Both are disappearing with alarming speed. Thinning ice and longer summers are destroying the bears' habitat, and as the ice floes shrink, the desperate animals are driven by starvation into human settlements - to be shot. Stranded polar bears are drowning in large numbers as they try to swim hundreds of kilometres to find increasingly scarce ice floes. Local hunters find their corpses floating on seas once coated in a thick skin of ice. ... [Presumably there will remain some Arctic habitats for the Polar Bear to survive? But in general its is the animals and plants that have specialized (especially to a tundra or montane ecosystem) that are most at the risk of extinction, as their habitat shrinks or even disappears.]

Amazon 'at lowest level in 36 years', The Australian, October 07, 2005 ... THE Amazon River, South America's largest, has hit its lowest level in the 36 years since records have been kept near its source in Peru, experts said. Peru's National Port Company (ENAPU) has recorded the river's level at the river port of Iquitos, in northeastern Peru, since 1969. The level at Iquitos was reported to be 106.5m above sea level, below the previous, 1995 record of 106.6m. ... [Another indicator of declining rainfall (due to deforestation?) and snow melt.]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

Study: More CO2 Now Than Past 650K Years, etc

Here, from my backlog, are brief excerpts of articles all on global warming, in reverse chronological order (more recent uppermost), with my brief comments, bold and in square brackets. Links to older articles may no longer work. I have split this into two posts because of its length.

Starting from a position of skepticism, my position on global warming now is that it is real and what's more, nearer to the worse-case, than the best-case, scenarios. I also believe we are living in the period between "Jerusalem" no longer "trampled on by the Gentiles" (which happened in 1967) and "the Son of Man [Jesus] "coming in a cloud with power and great glory":

Luke 21:24b-32 (NIV) "24bJerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 25`There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.' 29He told them this parable: `Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened..'"
which will be a period characterized by "nations ... in anguish and perplexity" and "Men [in] ... terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world". I interpret the "signs in the sun, moon and stars", "roaring and tossing of the sea" and "the heavenly bodies will be shaken" to include major disturbances to the natural order.

Study: More CO2 Now Than Past 650K Years, ABC News/AP, Lauran Neergaard ... WASHINGTON Nov 25, 2005 - Scientists are looking back to a time when "greenhouse gases" were not the problem they are today, and it is giving them a clearer picture of how people are making it worse. A team of European researchers analyzed tiny air bubbles preserved in Antarctic ice for millennia and determined there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than at any point during the last 650,000 years. The study by the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica, published Friday in the journal Science, promises to spur "dramatically improved understanding" of climate change, said geosciences specialist Edward Brook of Oregon State University. ...

Greenhouse Effect At All-Time High, CBS, WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2005(AP) .... A team of European researchers analyzed tiny air bubbles preserved in Antarctic ice for millennia and determined there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than at any point during the last 650,000 years. .... Those measurements are disturbing: Levels of carbon dioxide have climbed from 280 parts per million (ppm) two centuries ago to 380 ppm today. Earth's average temperature, meanwhile, increased about 1 degree Fahrenheit in recent decades, a relatively rapid rise. Many climate specialists warn that continued warming could have severe impacts, such as rising sea levels and changing rainfall patterns. ... [This is bad and it is going to get worse, because all the factors that contribute to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and hence global warming are synergistic (work together) and positively reinforcing, e.g. higher ocean temperature -> less Arctic ice -> even higher ocean temperature -> even less Arctic ice -> ...]

Sea Level Rising Faster Than Predicted, Discovery News, Larry O'Hanlon, Nov. 21, 2005 - The latest surveys of large glaciers in Greenland have exposed an alarming step-up in melting that threatens to raise global sea levels far faster than the best climate models have predicted. The latest data comes from a satellite study of the Helheim glacier, one of Greenland's largest ice outlets to the North Atlantic Ocean. Helheim glacier is both flowing faster than ever and rapidly retreating from the sea. ... If all of Greenland's ice sheet were to melt, it would raise global sea levels from between 15 to 20 feet. ... [More evidence that global warming is closer to the worst-case, rather than best-case, scenarios.]

Millions face glacier catastrophe: Global warming hits Himalayas, The Guardian/Observer , Robin McKie, November 20, 2005 ...Nawa Jigtar was working in the village of Ghat, in Nepal, when the sound of crashing sent him rushing out of his home. He emerged to see his herd of cattle being swept away by a wall of water. Jigtar and his fellow villagers were able to scramble to safety. They were lucky: 'If it had come at night, none of us would have survived.' Ghat was destroyed when a lake, high in the Himalayas, burst its banks. Swollen with glacier meltwaters, its walls of rock and ice had suddenly disintegrated. Several million cubic metres of water crashed down the mountain. When Ghat was destroyed, in 1985, such incidents were rare - but not any more. Last week, scientists revealed that there has been a tenfold jump in such catastrophes in the past two decades, the result of global warming. Himalayan glacier lakes are filling up with more and more melted ice and 24 of them are now poised to burst their banks in Bhutan, with a similar number at risk in Nepal. But that is just the beginning, a report in Nature said last week. Future disasters around the Himalayas will include 'floods, droughts, land erosion, biodiversity loss and changes in rainfall and the monsoon' ... [The loss of glacier melt- water will be catastrophic in two ways: 1) the water will be lost in devastating floods; and 2) the world's most populous nations (China, India, South-East Asia) depend on the Himalayan glacier meltwater for their drinking water and agriculture.]

Climate needs 'decisive action', BBC/AFP, 18 November 2005, Roger Harrabin ... Business needs time to plan its investments A top UN advisor on climate science says world politicians are not acting fast enough to tackle global warming. Halldor Thorgeirsson is the science co-ordinator for the upcoming UN climate conference in Montreal. He ... said the prognosis was extremely worrying and the best we could do was to minimise damage by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases and learning to adapt. Developing countries which had not contributed to the climate problem would suffer from it most, he warned. "It is quite clear this problem has very significant ethical dimensions and one of those dimensions is that [the people] who have least contributed to the problem are first to see the consequences," he said. Mr Thorgeirsson hoped the Montreal conference would agree new funds for poor countries to adapt to more droughts or rising sea levels, though he admitted that the cash was unlikely to be sufficient. ... [I agree that "learning to adapt" is the only realistic option, at least in the short-term. I also agree that "the cash was unlikely to be sufficient" for those "poor countries" "who have least contributed to the problem" but "are first to see" or rather experience first-hand "the consequences", which in scale of suffering and death will fit Jesus' description of the Great Tribulation that will occur before His return, "For then shall be great tribulation [Gk. thilipsis = "pressure", "affiction", "distress"], such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." (Mat 24:21 (KJV).]

A cautionary picture of water supplies as Earth warms, Christian Science Monitor, November 17, 2005, Peter N. Spotts .... Mountain snows and alpine glaciers represent key reservoirs of fresh water for some 1.6 billion people worldwide. In 50 years, however, a warming planet is likely to disrupt many of these sources, leaving millions of people scrambling for additional supplies. While conservation, additional reservoirs, and repairs to leaky water mains can help blunt the effects of these changes, efforts to adapt to shrinking snowpacks and vanishing glaciers are expected to require other changes in farming techniques, industrial practices, and lifestyles. That's the warning a team of US scientists is issuing after reviewing field measurements and modeling studies that deal with the impact of global warming on alpine environments. Combined with a second, independent look at stream flows in key parts of the world, the studies are helping scientists fill in a picture of future freshwater supplies as the planet warms.... [Nothing can replace the loss of these "Mountain snows and alpine glaciers" that "represent key reservoirs of fresh water for some 1.6 billion people" and will largely disappear within "50 years" (if not sooner).]

When Cleaner Air Is a Biblical Obligation, The New York Times, Michael Janofsky, November 7, 2005 WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 - In their long and frustrated efforts pushing Congress to pass legislation on global warming, environmentalists are gaining a new ally. With increasing vigor, evangelical groups that are part of the base of conservative support for leading Republicans are campaigning for laws that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which scientists have linked with global warming. In the latest effort, the National Association of Evangelicals, a nonprofit organization that includes 45,000 churches serving 30 million people across the country, is circulating among its leaders the draft of a policy statement that would encourage lawmakers to pass legislation creating mandatory controls for carbon emissions. ... [It is good to see evangelical Christians starting to recognise that global warming is a real problem and putting pressure on lawmakers "to pass legislation creating mandatory controls for carbon emissions." However, the problem is that "CO2 remains in the atmosphere for about 100 years", so even if new greenhouse gas emissions could be drastically reduced, the existing CO2 in the atmosphere will still cause the loss of glacier meltwater and inundation of low-lying coastal land (on which most of the world's cities stand) by rising sea levels. ]

Huge Iceberg Breaks Apart in Antarctica, Livescience, 4 November 2005 ... Capping a 5-year-long saga of destruction, an iceberg about the size of the Hawaiian island of Maui has split into three pieces in the frigid Antarctic, scientists said Friday. The larger iceberg, named B-15A, calved into three smaller icebergs - B-15M, B-15N and B-15P. Two of the larger icebergs (B-15M and B- 15N) are about the size of Grand Cayman and St. Croix, respectively. The fresh splits mark the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth times that a portion of B-15 has broken off, or calved, since the first calving event on May 30, 2000. ... [See also images in the article. Such a large iceberg breaking up is not necessarily evidence of global warming, but if more start to calve and then break up it will be.]

Climate response risks to nature, BBC, 3 November 2005, Richard Black ... Some animals are responding to climate change in ways which could threaten their survival, a new study finds. Scientists showed that migration and breeding of the great tit, puffin, red admiral and other creatures are moving out of step with food supplies. The researchers say the rapid pace of climate change, together with pressures on habitat, make it difficult for species to adapt. ..."The point has often been made that temperatures have increased before in the Earth's past; but the rate now is 100 times greater. "And whereas in those times there were large areas of natural habitat, now it's much more difficult for animals to change or migrate; plus there's loss of genetic diversity, habitat fragmentation - it's just much more difficult for species than 1,000 years ago." ... [This last inability of plant and animal populations to migrate in response to climate change because human farms and cities stand in their way is a major reason why global warming will cause more extinctions than in the past.]

Insurance Company Warns of Global Warming's Costs, Livescience, Robert Roy Britt, 1 November 2005 ... One of the world's largest insurers warned today of the economic costs of global warming. "Climate change will significantly affect the health of humans and ecosystems and these impacts will have economic consequences," concludes a new study cosponsored by Swiss Re, a global re-insurance company. The research was done by the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School and also sponsored by the United Nations Development Program.... [Personally, I would not be surprised if the world economy collapsed under the weight of global warming. If that happens, or is about to happen, I expect that a World Environment Organization will be established, which Antichrist (1 Jn 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 Jn 1:7; 2 Th 2:1-4; Rev 11:1-8; 13:2-18) will then emerge and take over. See my previous posts of 01-Oct- 05, 08-Sep-05 and 03-Sep-05.]

[To be continued in part 2]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"SUPPOSE, in the next place, that the person, who found the watch, should, after some time, discover, that, in addition to all the properties which he had hitherto observed in it, it possessed the unexpected property of producing, in the course of its movement, another watch like itself (the thing is conceivable;) that it contained within it a mechanism, a system of parts, a mould for instance, or a complex adjustment of laths, files, and other tools, evidently and separately calculated for this purpose; let us inquire, what effect ought such a discovery to have upon his former conclusion? ... The first effect would be to increase his admiration of the contrivance, and his conviction of the consummate skill of the contriver. Whether he regarded the object of the contrivance, the distinct apparatus, the intricate, yet in many parts intelligible, mechanism by which it was carried on, he would perceive, in this new observation, nothing but an additional reason for doing what he had already done; for referring the construction of the watch to design, and to supreme art. If that construction without this property, or, which is the same thing, before this property had been noticed, proved intention and art to have been employed about it; still more strong would the proof appear, when he came to the knowledge of this further property, the crown and perfection of all the rest." (Paley W., "Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature," [1802], St. Thomas Press: Houston, TX, 1972, reprint, p.7. Emphasis original)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

'Design' Vs. Darwin #3

Part 3 (of 3) of an older article which appeared during the Dover trial. My comments are bolded and in square brackets.

[Continued from part 2]

'Design' Vs. Darwin, CBS, Oct. 23, 2005 ... A small but growing number of scientists now challenge some of the fundamental tenets of Darwinism, Braver reports. They point, for example, to a tiny bacterium, with moving tails, known as flagella, and insist that its intricate workings could not be the result of a genetic accident. [Nor the result of a series of genetic accidents.] "Well, maybe that's what they believe, but for biologists, we know differently," remarks biochemist Maxine Singer, who says there are clear evolutionary explanations for this and other issues raised by the intelligent design theory. [I note that Singer does not state what these "clear evolutionary explanations for this" the bacterial flagellar rotary motor, "A self-assembling nanomachine with fine switching capability":

"Nature created a rotary motor with a diameter of 30 nm. Motility of bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli with a body size of 1 ~ 2 micron, is driven by rapid rotation of a helical propeller by such a tiny little motor at its base. This organelle is called the flagellum, made of a rotary motor and a thin helical filament that grows up to about 15 micron. It rotates at around 20,000 rpm, at energy consumption of only around 10-16 W and with energy conversion efficiency close to 100%. Prof. Namba's research group is going to reveal the mechanism of this highly efficient flagellar motor that is far beyond the capabilities of artificial motors. The flagellum is made by self-assembly of about 25 different proteins. The rotor ring made of protein FliF is the first to assemble in the cytoplasmic membrane. Then, other protein molecules attach to the ring one after another from the base to the tip to construct the motor structure. After the motor has been formed, the flagellar filament, which functions as a helical propeller, is assembled. Precise recognition of the template structure by component proteins allows this highly ordered self-assembly process to proceed without error. .... Bacterial cells swim actively by rotating a bundle of flagella. The motor switches its direction every few seconds to change the swimming direction of the cells for bacteria to seek better environments. .... Prof. Namba first saw an electron micrograph of the bacterial flagellum and its motor when he was a graduate student. He was surprised to see such complex and sophisticated structure exist in living organisms. It impressed him deep enough to switch his research from muscle to flagella after a while. `Looking at the shape of the flagellar basal body, it is obviously designed to rotate. Looking at a picture of the flagellar motor on the wall every day, I feel up towards revealing the mystery by any means.' .... So far, for the flagellar motor, the deeper our insights get into the mechanism, the deeper the mystery becomes. ... It is the motor mechanism that is even more difficult to understand." (Ishiguro K., "Revealing the mystery of the bacterial flagellum: A self-assembling nanomachine with fine switching capability," Interview of Keiichi Namba, Japan Nanonet Bulletin, No. 11, February 5, 2004)
let alone "other issues raised by the intelligent design theory"!] A member of the National Academy of Science, and former head of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, she says intelligent design is not science, it's a leap of faith: [Actually the boot is on the other foot! It really takes "a leap of faith" to believe that a complex machine could be put together by a `blind watchmaker'!] "The whole concept of science is, you're always asking new questions. [Well, in this case it is ID which is "asking new questions" and Darwinism which is trying desperately to suppress them!] But, intelligent design says, 'This is the end of questions, because here's the explanation: [Isn't that what science is supposed to be about? To "end ... questions" with the correct "explanation"?] Some intelligent designer said this is the way it's gonna be.' And so, for kids in schools, it closes their minds, not opens them." [ID makes no claim like, "Some intelligent designer said this is the way it's gonna be." All ID proposed is that some things in nature are the result of intelligent (rather than unintelligent) causation. And it is Darwinism which "closes their [students'] minds, not opens them" by refusing even to consider that those things in nature that look designed, were designed.] What about the argument that students should at least be taught that there's a controversy over Darwin's theory? "There are controversies," Singer replies, "over the mechanisms of evolution, and we should be teaching those. But there is no controversy in science about whether evolution occurs or not." [This is the usual Darwinist `doublespeak'. What exactly is this "evolution" that "there is no controversy in science about whether [it] occurs or not"? And why if "The whole concept of science is, you're always asking new questions" is there "no controversy in science about whether evolution occurs or not."?] Nevertheless, Braver says, evolution, the idea that we are all descended from apes, has never been popular in this country. [The point is that if "evolution" is defined as "the idea that we are all descended from apes" then polls show that more (37% + 12% = 49%) of the USA public believe that than the alternative, separate creation (45%):
"... perhaps we should not be surprised at the results of a 2001 Gallup poll confirming that 45 percent of Americans believe `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so'; 37 percent prefer a blended belief that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process'; and a paltry 12 percent accept the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.'" (Shermer M.B., "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind," Scientific American, February 2002. My emphasis).
It is "evolution" that is defined as "God had no part in this process" that the overwhelming majority (45% + 37% = 82% compared to 12%) that "has never been popular in this" or any "country"!] A new CBS News news poll found that 51 percent of Americans believe God created human beings in their present form. [The results were:
CBS Poll: Majority Reject Evolution, NEW YORK, Oct. 23, 2005(CBS) Most Americans do not accept the theory of evolution. Instead, 51 percent of Americans say God created humans in their present form, and another three in 10 say that while humans evolved, God guided the process. Just 15 percent say humans evolved, and that God was not involved. ...
God created humans in present form51%
Humans evolved, God guided the process 30%
Humans evolved, God did not guide process 15%
So again the overwhelming majority (51% + 30%=81%) reject the view that "God did not guide [the] process." That is the "evolution", i.e. fully naturalistic evolution which denies design (not "the idea that we are all descended from apes" which IDists like Mike Behe (and me) accept), which ID is necessarily opposed to, and which the Darwinists (aided by their media acolytes and dupes) are so desperate to conceal.] Three states have now adopted policies that would allow teachers to introduce scientific criticisms of the Darwinian theory of evolution. [Presumably "have now" should be "had already" since the Discovery Institute lists three states before Kansas (Ohio, New Mexico and Minnesota) which had "adopted policies that would allow ... scientific criticisms ... evolution".] So it's no surprise that the question of intelligent design is capturing people's attention. President Bush made headlines when he said intelligent design should be taught and, just a week ago, on the program "West Wing," a fictional presidential candidate was asked: "Do you believe the theory of intelligent design and the theory of evolution should be taught alongside each other in public schools?" The character in the show responded, "Absolutely not. One is based on science, the other based in faith." [That is also "fictional"!] That fictional character isn't the only one who thinks so. John Haught, a research professor of theology at Georgetown University and author of several books on religion and evolution, argues that science is just not equipped to deal with spiritual, or philosophical questions. [The short answer to Haught is that ID is not addressing "spiritual, or philosophical questions". That is why ID sticks to the question of the empirical evidence of design in nature and refuses to get into the question of the identity of the designer, leaving that with philosophy and theology:
"The scientific community contains many excellent scientists who think that there is something beyond nature, and many excellent scientists who do not. How then will science `officially' treat the question of the identity of the designer? Will biochemistry textbooks have to be written with explicit statements that `God did it'? No. The question of the identity of the designer will simply be ignored by science. The history of science is replete with examples of basic- but-difficult questions being put on the back burner. For example, Newton declined to explain what caused gravity, Darwin offered no explanation for the origin of vision or life, Maxwell refused to specify a medium for light waves once the ether was debunked, and cosmologists in general have ignored the question of what caused the Big Bang. Although the fact of design is easily seen in the biochemistry of the cell, identifying the designer by scientific methods might be extremely difficult. In the same way, Newton could easily observe gravity, but specifying its cause lay centuries in the future. When a question is too difficult for science to deal with immediately, it is happily forgotten while other, more accessible questions are investigated. If philosophy and theology want to take a crack at the question in the meantime, we scientists should wish them well, but reserve the right to jump back into the conversation when science has something more to add." (Behe M.J., "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution," Free Press: New York NY, 1996, p.251).
But it is interesting how those like Haught who claim that "science is just not equipped to deal with spiritual, or philosophical questions", then turn around and in the name of science, discuss "spiritual, or philosophical questions"!] "There's a point in our quest for understanding, it seems to me, where the question of what the ultimate explanation of things is, is quite legitimate and needs to be asked," he says. "But science does not ask ultimate questions. It asks questions about proximate, physical causes." [Note how Haught smuggles in "physical" in between "proximate ... causes", thus begging the question in favour of materialism (or physicalism), when in fact sciences like archaeology, forensic science and SETI "ask... questions about proximate," non-physical causes." After removing the false question-begging, the answer to "science does not ask ultimate questions. It asks questions about proximate ... causes" ID is also only asking "questions about proximate ... causes", i.e. the proximate cause(s) of instances of design in nature.] "So, by definition, science is just not wired to pick up any signals of some ultimate intelligence or ultimate wisdom," Haught adds. [See previous.] But at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, Ham says the theory of intelligent design is going to reopen debate in this country about religion in the science classroom. "At least they're starting to get people to think about the issue," Ham says. "They're battling it in public. And I believe you're gonna see a lot more. You're seeing that culture war in America, and you're gonna see that culture war heat up." [I must say I am surprised and pleased that Ken Ham now seems to be supportive of ID. ] That means, concludes Braver, that the answers to age-old questions - like who we are and why we're here - may remain as elusive as ever. ... [Well, if ID demonstrates (in fact it already has-despite all the hype, in over a decade, no one has even come close to refuting Behe's evidence and arguments for irreducibly complex molecular biological systems, made in his 1996 book, Darwin's Black Box) that there is intelligent design in nature, then that is the start of "answers to age-old questions - like who we are and why we're here." Those who reject that evidence, show that they really don't want to know the answers to those "age-old questions." As C.S. Lewis observed, "There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (`Man's search for God'!) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that!":
"Men are reluctant to pass over from the notion of an abstract and negative deity to the living God. I do not wonder. Here lies the deepest tap-root of Pantheism and of the objection to traditional imagery. It was hated not, at bottom, because it pictured Him as man but because it pictured Him as king, or even as warrior. The Pantheist's God does nothing, demands nothing. He is there if you wish for Him, like a book on a shelf. He will not pursue you. There is no danger that at any time heaven and earth should flee away at His glance. If He were the truth, then we could really say that all the Christian images of kingship were a historical accident of which our religion ought to be cleansed. It is with a shock that we discover them to be indispensable. You have had a shock like that before, in connection with smaller matters-when the line pulls at your hand, when something breathes beside you in the darkness. So here; the shock comes at the precise moment when the thrill of life, is communicated to us along the clue we have been following. It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. `Look out!' we cry, `it's alive.' And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back-I would have done so myself if I could-and proceed no further with Christianity. An ` impersonal God `-well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads-better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap- best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband-that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (`Man's search for God'!) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?" (Lewis C.S., "Miracles: A Preliminary Study," [1947], Fontana: London, 1960, Revised edition, 1963, reprint, pp.97-98. Emphasis original).]

PS: See tagline quote being my next installment of Paley's design argument.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"Neither, lastly, would our observer be driven out of his conclusion, or from his confidence in its truth, by being told that he knew nothing at all about the matter. He knows enough for his argument. He knows the utility of the end: he knows the subserviency and adaptation of the means to the end. These points being known, his ignorance of other points, his doubts concerning other points, affect not the certainty of his reasoning. The consciousness of knowing little, need not beget a distrust of that which he does know." (Paley W., "Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature," [1802], St. Thomas Press: Houston TX, 1972, reprint, pp.5-6)

'Design' Vs. Darwin #2

Part 2 of an older article which appeared during the Dover trial. My comments are bolded and in square brackets.

[Continued from part 1]

'Design' Vs. Darwin, CBS, Oct. 23, 2005 ... Darwin theorized that all living things evolved from the same simple organisms. Over countless generations, random mutations, or changes have occurred, [That is the begging of the question fallacy which is the unproved (and unprovable) fundamental assumption of Darwin's theory, that all mutations in the history of life have been "random" (in the sense of undirected):

"There is a fifth respect in which mutation might have been nonrandom. We can imagine (just) a form of mutation that was systematically biased in the direction of improving the animal's adaptedness to its life. But although we can imagine it, nobody has ever come close to suggesting any means by which this bias could come about. It is only in this fifth respect, the 'mutationist' respect, that the true, real-life Darwinian insists that mutation is random. Mutation is not systematically biased in the direction of adaptive improvement, and no mechanism is known (to put the point mildly) that could guide mutation in directions that are non-random in this fifth sense. Mutation is random with respect to adaptive advantage, although it is non- random in all sorts of other respects. It is selection, and only selection, that directs evolution in directions that are nonrandom with respect to advantage." (Dawkins R., "The Blind Watchmaker," [1986], Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p.312. Emphasis original)
But as Denton pointed out, "this is the fundamental assumption upon which the whole Darwinian model of nature is based ... that all mutations in all organisms throughout the entire course of 4 billion years of evolution have all been entirely spontaneous" but this is just an "unquestioned article of faith":
"One of the major obstacles within the biological community in the way of any widespread acceptance of the idea of directed mutation is the very deeply held belief in the so-called spontaneity of mutation. According to the authorities Dobzhansky, Ayala, Stebbins, and Valentine, writing in a standard text on evolution, `Mutations are accidental, undirected, random or chance events in still another sense very important for evolution; namely if that they are unorientated with respect to adaptation.' [Dobzhansky T.G., et al., `Evolution,' W.H. Freeman: San Francisco CA, 1977, p.65]. The idea of the spontaneity of mutation is taken as a proven fact by a great many biologists today. And this is the fundamental assumption upon which the whole Darwinian model of nature is based. If it could be shown that some mutations, even a small proportion, are occurring by direction or are adaptive in some sense, then quite literally the whole contingent biology collapses at once. What is very remarkable about this whole issue is that, as is typical of any `unquestioned article of faith,' evidence for the doctrine of the spontaneity of mutation is hardly ever presented. Its truth is nearly always assumed. In nearly all the texts on genetics and evolution published over the past four decades, whenever the author attempts to justify the doctrine of the spontaneity of mutation, he refers back to a series of crucial experiments carried out in the late forties and early fifties on the bacterium E. coli that were associated with the names of Salvador Luria, Max Delbruck, and Joshua Lederberg. [Dobzhansky, et al., 1977, p.65]. These experiments were based on the very simple observation that when bacterial cells are suddenly subjected to a particular selection pressure (for example, the addition to a culture of cells of an antibiotic which is lethal to wild-type cells) invariably a small proportion of cells survive because they contain a mutation that confers resistance to the antibiotic. Ingenious tests were carried out which proved conclusively that the mutations were present in the surviving cells before the antibiotic was added to the culture. It was concluded that the mutations were spontaneous events. But the fact that some mutations in bacteria are spontaneous does not necessarily mean that all mutations in all organisms throughout the entire course of 4 billion years of evolution have all been entirely spontaneous. ... During the course of the past 4 billion years of evolution, countless trillions of changes have occurred in the DNA sequences of living organisms. There is simply no experimental means of demonstrating that they were all spontaneous." (Denton M.J., "Nature's Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe," Free Press: New York NY, 1998, pp.285-286. Emphasis in original)
with the strongest specimens surviving and reproducing, a process known as "natural selection." [This is false about "the strongest specimens surviving." Long ago the Darwinists realized that "the strongest specimens" did not always survive. Here is a recent example of "the most fearsome predator in the sea" in "the late Jurassic to the early Cretaceous", yet today "The entire family is extinct":
Underwater Godzilla the terror of the seas, The Australian, Leigh Dayton, November 12, 2005 ... GODZILLA was a big sea-going crocodile with a flesh-ripping bite to rival that of T-rex. The newly found 140 million-year-old creature, Dakosaurus andiniensis, has earned its cinematic nickname from its short snout, massive bullet-shaped skull and large interlocking serrated teeth. Living from the late Jurassic to the early Cretaceous periods, it would have been the most fearsome predator in the sea ... Asked if Godzilla had living descendants, Dr Salisbury said: "The entire family is extinct. Maybe that's a good thing."
So "fitness ... was redefined to mean `having the most offspring'" which however "has nothing to do with the common understanding of the term":
"It has never been possible to break out of the circle by finding a better word than fittest. But, since something had to be done to restore logical respectability, a new meaning was foisted on the old word. Fitness was redefined to mean `having the most offspring.' Mayr says: `...those individuals that have the most offspring are by definition...the fittest ones.' [Mayr E., `Animal Species and Evolution,' Harvard University Press, 1963, p.183] ... Simpson, the dean of the evolutionists, nails the point down even more firmly, stating that among geneticists fitness has nothing to do with the common understanding of the term: `If genetically red-haired parents have, on an average, a larger proportion of children than blondes or brunettes, then evolution will be in the direction of red hair. If genetically left-handed parents have more children, evolution will be toward left-handedness. The characteristics themselves do not directly matter at all. All that matters is who leaves more descendants over the generations. Natural Selection favors fitness only if you define fitness as leaving more descendants. In fact geneticists do define it that way, which may be confusing to others. To a geneticist fitness has nothing to do with health, strength, good looks, or anything but effectiveness in breeding." [Simpson G.G., "This View of Life," Harcourt, Brace & World, 1964, p.273]" (Macbeth N., "Darwin Retried: An Appeal to Reason," Gambit: Boston MA, 1971, pp.63-64. Emphasis and ellipses original).]
That process eventually led to the formation of new species and higher forms of life, including humans. [That's the Darwinist claim, but as the late leading Darwinist Ernst Mayr admitted, there is "no clear evidence for any [Darwinian] change of a species into a different genus or for the gradual origin of an evolutionary novelty":
"Paleontologists had long been aware of a seeming contradiction between Darwin's postulate of gradualism, confirmed by the work of population genetics, and the actual findings of paleontology. Following phyletic lines through time seemed to reveal only minimal gradual changes but no clear evidence for any change of a species into a different genus or for the gradual origin of an evolutionary novelty. Anything truly novel always seemed to appear quite abruptly in the fossil record." (Mayr E., "Toward a New Philosophy of Biology: Observations of an Evolutionist," Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1988, pp.529-530).]
But in this country, Darwin's theory met resistance from the outset. [This is not surprising, considering the gap between the grandiose claims of "Darwin's theory" and the evidence for it. The Swedish biologist Lovtrup maintains that "Darwin's theory" had (and has) so many difficulties that it should not have been published:
"Even in the first edition Darwin had a chapter dealing with the difficulties of his theory. It begins like this: `Long before the reader has arrived at this part of my work, a crowd of difficulties will have occurred to him. Some of them are so serious that to this day I can hardly reflect on them without being in some degree staggered; but, to the best of my judgement, the greater number are only apparent, and those that are real are not, I think, fatal to the theory.' (My italics) Darwin's admirer's, then and now, have praised him for the honesty and candour he thus displayed. I am not so sure that this attitude is justified. If a theory has too many `difficulties' it should not be published, but rejected; indeed, I believe this is the procedure adopted by most scientists." (Lovtrup S., "Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth," Croom Helm: London, 1987, p.126)]
Back in 1925, Tennessee high school science teacher John Scopes was put on trial, and banned from teaching evolution. [This is misleading. The fact is that Scopes was the "High School's football coach [and] ... never taught evolution":
"John Thomas Scopes (August 3, 1900 - October 21, 1970), a teacher in Dayton, Tennessee at the age of 24, was charged on May 25, 1925 with violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools. ... In Dayton he took a job as the Rhea County High School's football coach, and occasionally filled in as substitute teacher when regular members of staff were off work. .... When asked about the test case Scopes was initially reluctant to get involved, but after some discussion he told the group gathered in Robinson's Drugstore, `If you can prove that I've taught evolution and that I can qualify as a defendant, then I'll be willing to stand trial.' .... The case ended with a guilty verdict, and Scopes was given a $100 fine, which Bryan and the ACLU offered to pay. .... Ironically, in reality Scopes never taught evolution and was therefore innocent of the crime to which his name is inexorably linked. After the trial Scopes admitted to reporter William K. Hutchinson `I didn't violate the law,' explaining he had skipped the evolution lesson and his lawyers had coached his students to go on the stand: the Dayton businessmen had assumed he had violated the law. Hutchinson did not file his story until after the Scopes appeal was decided in 1927. Scopes also admitted the truth to the wife of the Modernist minister Charles Francis Potter. Scopes was not allowed to take the stand at his trial for fear he would reveal his ignorance and turned down a $50,000 offer to lecture on evolution on the vaudeville stage because he did not know enough about the subject." ("John T. Scopes," Wikipedia, 15 November 2005).]
Today, of course, religion has been banished from the science class. But now, notes Braver, there's a court case going on over teaching intelligent design, in Dover, Pa., where the school board says it should be allowed. [This is misleading too. All that the Dover did was have "read a one-minute statement at the beginning of biology classes explaining evolution is a theory that continues to be tested and informing students of alternatives" and "the school district is not teaching intelligent design, creationism or religious doctrine in its biology class":
"A Pennsylvania school district sued by the ACLU for a controversial change to its biology curriculum sought judgment in its favor in federal court. The Dover Area School District, represented by the Thomas More Law Center, became the first in the nation officially to inform biology students of the theory of intelligent design as an alternative to Darwin's theory of Evolution. The new policy requires teachers to ... Teachers said they would not read the required statement, but the assistant superintendent carried out the reading Jan. 26 to two biology classes at Dover High School. . The school provided an opt-out, allowing students to join teachers in the hall outside the classroom when the statement was being read, but only 15 out of 170 made that choice. The Thomas More Law Center, which filed papers in federal court Thursday, said that contrary to many press accounts, the school district is not teaching intelligent design, creationism or religious doctrine in its biology class, as its policy expressly forbids that. The school district is teaching the Darwinian theory of evolution pursuant to state standards, insists Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for the Law Center. ... Thompson said the America's founders `would be astonished at the thought that this simple curriculum change 'established religion' in violation of the Constitution that they drafted.' ... `It is ironic that the ACLU after having worked so hard to prevent the suppression of Darwin's theory in the Scopes trial, is now doing everything it can to suppress any effort to challenge it,' said Thompson." ("ACLU fights 1-minute statement: District wants students informed that alternatives exist," WorldNetDaily, July 16, 2005).]
Just to show how complicated this issue is, the folks at the Discovery Institute, the major proponents of intelligent design, don't support the school board, because of reports, says Meyer, that, "They justify the policy using an explicit statement of religious purpose, which is not only unconstitutional, it's incongruous with what we're trying to do, which is make a scientific case for the idea of intelligent design." In fact, although Meyer and his colleagues say that the theory of intelligent design is purely scientific, they also say it's too new to be a requirement in public school science classes. But they're demanding something else. "We think," says Meyer, "that students should be informed about the growing criticism of Darwinian evolution." [That is, the controversy should be taught. That is, in the words of the Santorum amendment to the No Child Left Behind Act, a "good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science" and "Where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and prepare them to be informed participants in public discussions."]

[To be continued in part 3]

PS: See tagline quote being my next installment of Paley's design argument.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"And not- less surprised to be informed, that the watch in his hand was nothing more than the result of the laws of metallic nature. It is a perversion of language to assign any law, as the efficient, operative, cause of any thing. A law presupposes an agent; for it is only the mode, according to which an agent proceeds: it implies a power; for it is the order, according to which that power acts. Without this agent, without this power, which are both distinct from itself, the law does nothing; is nothing. The expression, `the law of metallic nature,' may sound strange and harsh to a philosophic ear, but it seems quite as justifiable as some others which are more familiar to him, such as `the law of vegetable nature'-' the law of animal nature,' or indeed as `the law of nature' in general, when assigned as the cause of phænomena, in exclusion of agency and power, or when it is substituted into the place of these." (Paley W., "Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature," [1802], St. Thomas Press: Houston TX, 1972, reprint, p.5. Emphasis original).

'Design' Vs. Darwin #1

My comments, bolded and in square brackets, on an older article which appeared during the Dover trial. Because of its length, I have split it into three parts.

'Design' Vs. Darwin, CBS, Oct. 23, 2005 ... By random mutation - or by design? Those two different explanations for the diversity of life are in conflict in a court case now under way in Pennsylvania. [Now concluded and awaiting the judge's ruling late December/early January.] And they are in conflict outside the courtroom, too, in many places. Rita Braver examines the controversy over "intelligent design," on CBS News Sunday Morning. There are questions, Braver observes, we cannot stop asking: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? There have never been any easy answers, or universal agreement. [The Darwinist answer to those "question ... we cannot stop asking" was given by Neo-Darwinism co-founder George Gaylord Simpson, "Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned':

'Although many details remain to be worked out, it is already evident that all the objective phenomena of the history of life can be explained by purely materialistic factors. They are readily explicable on the basis of differential reproduction in populations (the main factor in the modern conception of natural selection) and of the mainly random interplay of the known processes of heredity. ... Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned." (Simpson G.G., "The Meaning of Evolution: A Study of the History of Life and of its Significance for Man," [1949], Yale University Press: New Haven CT, 1960, reprint, pp.343-344. My emphasis).
While ID does not answer those questions directly, it does contradict the Darwinist claim that "all the objective phenomena of the history of life can be explained by purely materialistic factors":
"1. What is the theory of intelligent design? The scientific theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Note: Intelligent design theory does NOT claim that science can determine the identity of the intelligent cause. Nor does it claim that the intelligent cause must be a `divine being' or a `higher power' or an `all-powerful force.' All it proposes is that science can identify whether certain features of the natural world are the products of intelligence." (Crowther R., "Discovery Institute gives overview of intelligent design," Baptist Press, December 17, 2004) .]
But on a 40-acre spread in northern Kentucky, a new, privately funded, $25 million project is under construction. Called "The Creation Museum," it's dedicated to one premise about how the whole world came to be. "The real purpose is to say the Bible's true, and it's history. Genesis is true," explains Ken Ham, founder of the Answers in Genesis ministry. [By "Genesis is true" Ham, as a Young-Earth Creationist (YEC) means that it is literally true, i.e. the days of Genesis 1 are literal, 24-hours and the Earth's age of about 10,000 years can be obtained by adding up the genealogies in the Bible. But even Whitcomb and Morris in the book that launched the modern YEC movement, The Genesis Flood found they could not just add up the Bible's genealogies because (amongst other things), "all the postdiluvian patriarchs, including Noah, would still have been living when Abram was fifty years old" and so "the strict-chronology view must be set aside":
"If the strict-chronology interpretation of Genesis 11 is correct, all the postdiluvian patriarchs, including Noah, would still have been living when Abram was fifty years old; three of those who were born before the earth was divided (Shem, Shelah, and Eber) would have actually outlived Abram; and Eber, the father of Peleg, not only would have outlived Abram, but would have lived for two years after Jacob arrived in Mesopotamia to work for Laban! On the face of it, such a situation would seem astonishing, if not almost incredible. And the case is further strengthened by the clear and twice-repeated statement of Joshua that Abram's `fathers,' including Terah, were idolaters when they dwelt `of old time beyond the River' (Joshua 24:2,14,15). If all the postdiluvian patriarchs including Noah and Shem, were still living in Abram's day, this statement implies that they had all fallen into idolatry by then. This conclusion is surely wrong, and therefore the premise on which it is based must be wrong. Consequently, it seems that the strict-chronology view must be set aside in order to allow for the death of these patriarchs long before the time of Abram." (Whitcomb J.C. & Morris H.M., "The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and its Scientific Implications," [1961], Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1993, Thirty-sixth Printing, pp.477-478)
which however then invalidates a fundamental premise of YEC - that the age of the Earth can be determined by simply adding up the Bible's genealogies!] It rejects years of findings by mainstream scientists that different species of creatures came into being over the course of hundreds of millions of years, through the process of evolution. [Braver here commits the usual fallacy of false (or faulty) dilemma:
"Faulty Dilemma. ... Here the opponent forces one into an either/or answer when the question has a third alternative. He says, `Accept this or that, both of which are contrary to your position,' but doesn't mention a third alternative. The key to avoiding the dilemma is simply to find the third alternative." (Geisler N.L.& Brooks R.M "Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking," Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, MI, 1990, p.110)
that there are only two alternatives, that "different species of creatures came into being over the course of hundreds of millions of years" is "the process of evolution" and the only alternative is creation in the sense of "God made land animals" in one "day" and so "dinosaurs and human beings existed at the same time" (see below). But clearly there is a third alternative, God created "different species of creatures ... over the course of hundreds of millions of years", which is what Old-Earth/Progressive Creation (OEC/PC) maintains:
"What Is Intelligent Design? The dominant view in science today is naturalistic evolution, which claims that the universe is the result of an unguided, undirected process, explainable strictly in terms of chance and natural law. Design theory proposes a third cause--intelligent design--and claims that evidence for design in the universe can be detected empirically. Here’s a summary of the major positions that fall under this category: THEISTIC EVOLUTION: Many versions of theistic evolution reject design, and are identical scientifically to naturalistic evolution. But some versions propose that design was "frontloaded" into the initial conditions of the universe and its laws, so that creation would unfold over time in the way God intended. OLD-AGE or PROGRESSIVE CREATION: God guided the process of development, injecting information at key stages in the development of the universe and life to design new forms of organization. YOUNG-AGE CREATION: God created the universe and the major life forms within a short period of time (some say six literal days), about 10,000 (rather than billions of) years ago. (Pearcey N.R., "We're Not in Kansas Anymore," Christianity Today, May 22, 2000, Vol. 44, No. 6, p.42) .]
"You basically say in this museum that dinosaurs and human beings existed at the same time?" Braver asks. "Oh, absolutely," Ham answers, "because, you know, the Bible teaches that God made land animals on day six, alongside of Adam and Eve." [That depend on what "day" means in Genesis 1. But there is plenty of evidence in the text itself that it does not necessarily mean a literal 24-hour day:
"A vast literature has grown up around the word yom (Hebrew for day). The flood geologists and the gap theorists vigorously defend the literal-day view and strongly attack the metaphorical interpretation. ... In view of the fact that such a great array of geologists and theologians accept the metaphorical interpretation of the word day, the case for the literal day cannot be conclusive nor the objections to the metaphorical interpretation too serious. In the first two chapters of Genesis the word day is used as follows: (i) in verse 5 it means daylight and (ii) a day marked out by an evening and morning; (iii) in verse 14 it means daylight in contrast to night, and (iv) in the expression `and for days' it means a twenty-four hour day; (v) in Gen. 2:4 it refers to the entire period of creation." (Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," [1955] Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint, p.145. Emphasis original).]
Ham understands that Supreme Court decisions mandating separation between church and state mean his point of view cannot be taught in public schools. [Yes, because Ham's "point of view", unlike ID, is based on the Bible.] Still, says Braver, he sees a glimmer on the horizon: a new theory called "intelligent design" is bringing hope to Christians like himself, who don't believe in evolution. "They see it as a way of, maybe this is how we can try to get the school students to at least hear of another view," Hamm says. [I doubt if Ham actually said "`intelligent design" is bringing hope to Christians like himself." In the past he has been critical of ID for its strategy of "put[ing] aside ... Bible issues and ... ask[ing] the question: `What is actually known from scientific evidence as opposed to materialist philosophy about the claims of evolution?'":
"The Firing Line program (hosted by William F. Buckley, Jr) featured eight debaters on the creation/evolution issue. At one stage in this debate, Barry Lynn (Executive Director for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and a lawyer and minister in the United Church of Christ) held up my book D is for Dinosaur. He turned to Phillip Johnson (Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, and a well-known speaker and writer on philosophical issues relating to origins) and said: `This book is widely distributed in creationist circles and used in schools, home schools, and religious schools... Here's a little picture. `Man and dinosaur. Adam wasn't scared to watch dinosaurs eat because all the creatures ate plants and not meat.' `Now do you think that's good biology? ... I want you to tell us if you think that this is not so silly and dangerous kind of idea to plant in the hands of high-school students that in fact the Flintstones are some kind of documentary.' 'Well,' Johnson replied, 'The kind of thing you're encouraging certainly is silly, just almost as silly as the work of [evolutionist] Richard Dawkins.' It was also sad to hear 'creationist' Johnson remark in the midst of this discussion: `And in fact I have said on many occasions and have urged persons of the conservative Christian community to put aside the whole Bible issues and let us ask the question: What is actually known from scientific evidence as opposed to materialist philosophy about the claims of evolution?' Now, where in the Bible does it ever say that Christians should put aside 'Bible issues'? In fact, Christianity is a whole way of thinking based on the foundation of God's revealed Word! Answers in Genesis stands on the foundation that we should not put aside the Bible in what we say and write ... [When you hear someone say this `I would encourage Christians to put aside the Bible issues and argue against evolution using only the known scientific facts' This is what they are REALLY saying! `Christians should put aside God's infallible Word and instead, use man's fallible wisdom to fight man's fallible wisdom.' ]" (Ham K., "Creation books are 'dangerous'!," Answers in Genesis Prayer News," Creation Science Foundation: Brisbane QLD, August 1998, p.1. Words in square brackets are not in webbed version)
However, at least Ham now realizes that "intelligent design is not the same as creationism. ... is not a Christian movement ... [is] not ... about the Bible [and is] not against evolution" (if the version of "evolution" does not deny design):
"Ken Ham is president of Answers in Genesis, a Kentucky-based ministry that equips Christians to defend the biblical account of creation. Ham says Christians must realize that intelligent design is not the same as creationism. `The intelligent design movement is not a Christian movement,' he says. `They're not all about the Bible; they don't tell you who this is "intelligence" is.' And because of that, he is concerned that students who start to believe in an unidentified `intelligence' could easily be `directed to a Muslim god or a Hindu god or a New Age god or whatever.' Ham also urges Christians to understand that the intelligent design movement is not against evolution. `They're not against evolutionary geology, they're not against evolutionary biology or evolutionary astronomy or evolutionary anthropology,' he says. Still, the Answers in Genesis leader says he is encouraged that many school districts are considering teaching intelligent design or creationism alongside the theory of evolution when students are taught about the origin of life. As a result, he says, `more and more people are becoming informed." (Martin A. & Brown J., "Ken Ham: Intelligent Design Not 'Christian' - but Not a Bad Thing Either," Agape Press, October 18, 2005).]
The underlying premise of intelligent design, Braver points out, is that recent advances in molecular biology have enabled scientists for the first time to peer into the inner workings of a single cell, revealing mechanisms so complex that they couldn't possibly have evolved by chance, and must have been deliberately designed, especially when it comes to DNA, the building block of life. [ID does not claim that some "cell ... mechanisms [are] so complex that they couldn't possibly have evolved by chance" (my emphasis), since that would place the burden of proof on ID to prove a universal negative, which cannot be done. Rather ID makes the more modest claim that some cellular mechanisms, such as the bacterial flagellum rotary motor and the vertebrate blood-clotting cascade, cannot plausibly be explained by unintelligent cause(s) and that intelligent cause(s) is the best explanation.] The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, cradle of the intelligent design theory, produced a video saying, "There is, in fact, no entity in the known universe that stores and processes information more efficiently than the DNA molecule. Every DNA has 3 billion individual characteristics." "In other words," asserts Stephen Meyer, who holds a doctorate in the history of science, and is director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, "we're seeing something that, in any other realm of experience, would trigger an awareness of design. And therefore, we think the best inference is that things were actually designed." [Agreed. As Behe points out, "The strong appearance of design allows a disarmingly simple argument: if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it's a duck:
"The fourth claim in the design argument is also controversial: in the absence of any convincing non-design explanation, we are justified in thinking that real intelligent design was involved in life. To evaluate this claim, it's important to keep in mind that it is the profound appearance of design in life that everyone is laboring to explain, not the appearance of natural selection or the appearance of self-organization. The strong appearance of design allows a disarmingly simple argument: if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it's a duck. Design should not be overlooked simply because it's so obvious." (Behe M.J., "Design for Living," The New York Times, February 7, 2005).]
He says that intelligent design is based entirely on observable scientific evidence, and that it's not creationist theory. But, he acknowledges, "It's consistent with a view that many people in our culture hold, that there is some larger purpose, derived from a creator." And would that be Christian creator, Braver wondered. "Well," responded Meyer, "many people have different interpretations of that." [ID is certainly "consistent" with the "Christian creator" and IDists who are Christians naturally assume that the Intelligent Designer is the "Christian creator" but the point is that it is impossible to derive the specifically "Christian creator" solely from the evidence of nature] Says Miles Eldridge [Niles Eldredge!], a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, "Nobody buys for a moment that they have in mind the creature from the black lagoon, or any other possible intelligent designer. They're clearly referring to God." [Eldredge misses the point. No IDist who is a Christian denies that they believe that the Designer is "God". But they cannot prove it from the evidence of nature alone.] Eldridge [sic] is curator of an upcoming exhibit on biologist Charles Darwin, whose studies in the Galapagos Islands led to his landmark publications on the origins of the species 1859 which inspired, as Eldridge puts it, "monumental sea changes in our thinking about who we are and how we came to be." [That's strange for the author of a book titled "Reinventing Darwin" and who stated in another book (with a subtitle that included, "The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution" (my emphasis) that:
"Darwin's early scientific experience was primarily as a geologist, and much of what he had to say about the nature of the fossil record ... was an accurate and insightful early contribution to our understanding of the vagaries of deposition and the preservation of fossils. But his [Origin of Species] Chapter 9 (first edition) on the imperfections of the geological record is one long ad hoc, special-pleading argument designed to rationalize, to flat-out explain away, the differences between what he saw as logical predictions derived from his theory and the facts of the fossil record." (Eldredge N., "Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria", Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1985, pp.27-28. My emphasis)!]

[To be continued in part 2]

PS: See tagline quote which is my next installment of Paley's design argument.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"Sixthly, he would be surprised to hear, that the mechanism of the watch was no proof of contrivance, only a motive to induce the mind to think so:" (Paley W., "Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature," [1802], St. Thomas Press: Houston TX, 1972, reprint, p.5)