Thursday, September 08, 2005

Evolution Of A 'Theory', etc

Here are my comments in square brackets on recent news items:

Evolution Of A 'Theory', CBS, Lloyd Garver, September 7, 2005. Last month, President Bush said that it would be a good idea if something called "intelligent design" were taught along with the theory of evolution. That way, children would be exposed to "different schools of thought." I'm all for kids being exposed to "different schools of thought." In fact, I wonder why President Bush limited it to only two explanations of how the earth and humans got here. There are dozens of different beliefs and explanations for how the world as we know it was created. Of course, some of them - such as intelligent design - don't fall into the category of "science." Some people believe in a strict interpretation of Genesis. Some even believe that dinosaurs and humans roamed the earth at the same time. Other cultures believed that a giant turtle created the Earth. One belief is that a woman who fell from the sky was behind the creation of the Earth. Others believe that a jumbled mass of elements at the beginning of time was in the shape of an egg. Similarly, the ancient Greeks believed a golden egg hatched and gave birth to the sky and the Earth. So, why not teach all of these approaches - along with intelligent design - in the same class? And call that class, "comparative religions" or "creation myths." Just don't call that class "science." ... [See also. Another attempt to conflate ID with creationism, so that it can then be labeled as "religion" and kept out of science classes. But the simple fact is that already in science classes students are taught Darwinian `blind watchmaker' evolution, which claims that there is no design in nature. ID is simply the alternative hypothesis that there is design in nature. It is fallacious to claim that the proposition that there is no design in nature is "science" but the counter-proposition that there is design in nature is "religion." Either the claim that there is no design in nature (Darwinian evolution) and the claim that there is design in nature (ID) are both "outside science" (see tagline quote), or both are inside science. Or to put it another way, if the claim that there is design in nature (ID) is theistic "religion", then the claim there is no design in nature (Darwinian evolution) is atheistic "religion" (see tagline)! The editor of the Dallas Morning News hit the nail on the head, when he asked, "If the scientific data are compelling enough to cause an atheist academic of Antony Flew's reputation to recant much of his life's work, why shouldn't Texas schoolchildren be taught the controversy?":

"An intellectual bombshell dropped last week when British professor Antony Flew, for decades one of the world's leading philosophers of atheism, publicly announced that he now affirms the existence of a deity. To be sure, Mr. Flew has not become an adherent of any creed. He simply believes that science points to the existence of some sort of intelligent designer of the universe. He says evidence from DNA research convinces him that the genetic structure of biological life is too complex to have evolved entirely on its own. Though the 81-year-old philosopher believes Darwinian theory explains a lot, he contends that it cannot account for how life initially began. We found this conversion interesting in light of last year's controversy regarding proposed revisions to the state's high school biology textbooks. Our view then was that while religion must be kept out of science classes, intellectual honesty demands that when science produces reliable data challenging the prevailing orthodoxies, students should be taught them. ... If the scientific data are compelling enough to cause an atheist academic of Antony Flew's reputation to recant much of his life's work, why shouldn't Texas schoolchildren be taught the controversy?" (Editorial, "An Atheist's Apostasy," The Dallas Morning News, December 15, 2004).]

Soil may belch out CO2 to warm planet, ABC/Reuters , Peter Graff, 8 September 2005. Soil in temperate climates releases about 300 times the amount of carbon a year than burning fossil fuels does, UK scientists say ... Climate change is causing soil to release huge amounts of carbon, making efforts to fight global warming tougher than once thought .... A study in today's issue of the journal Nature looked at the carbon content of soil in England and Wales from 1978 to 2003. The researchers looked at almost 6000 sites and found that carbon levels had fallen steadily, with some 13 million tonnes of carbon released from UK soil each year. Soil with a higher carbon content lost its carbon faster. The team from the National Soil Resources Institute ... says its results imply a similar process would be under way in other temperate areas across the globe. "Our findings suggest the soil part of the [greenhouse gas] equation is scarier than we had thought," Professor Guy Kirk told the British Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Dublin. "The consequence is that there is more urgency about doing something." Since the carbon appears to be released from soil regardless of how the soil is used, the researchers conclude that the main cause must be climate change itself. Though they could not say where all the missing carbon had gone, much of it may be entering the atmosphere as the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane, which many scientists say is causing global warming. ... [Also in ABC News, BBC & The Guardian. See my comments under next item.]

The Snowball Effect of Global Warming, Livescience, Robert Roy Britt, 6 September 2005. In a twist to the proverbial snowball effect, warmer Arctic temperatures are stimulating plant growth, which darkens the landscape and causes more sunlight to be absorbed rather than reflected. The result: Winter heating could increase by 70 percent, according to a new study. The study examined western Alaska during the winters of 2000 through 2002. Shrubs and other vegetation became more abundant, the researchers found. Because the plants are darker than the tundra that typically covers the region, the surface gets darker. The study "presents the first evidence that shrub growth could alter the winter energy balance of the Arctic and subarctic tundra in a substantial way," the scientists announced today. The study will be detailed Sept. 7 in the first issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, published by the American Geophysical Union. ... [Both this and the above are two more independent synergistic mechanisms for a far more severe, runaway (positive feedback) global warming scenario. See previous posts of 08-Sep-05, 12-Aug-05 on the world now being in the period in Luke 21:24-28 where "Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world" (v.26),before Jesus' "coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (v.27). Also see post of 03-Sep-05 on the coming of a World Environment Organisation out of which I expect 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 emerge.]

Climate food crisis 'to deepen', BBC, Jonathan Amos, 5 September 2005. Climate change threatens to put far more people at risk of hunger over the next 50 years than previously thought, according to new research. Scientists say expected shifts in rain patterns and temperatures over that time could lead to an extra 50 million people struggling to get enough food. And the situation could be even worse if the important cereal crops do not show the improved yields many expect. .... "We expect climate change to aggravate current problems," Professor Martin Parry told the British Association's Festival of Science. "If we accept that broadly 500 million people are at risk today, we expect that to increase by about 10% by the middle part of this century."... [See previous post on the generation immediately before Jesus returns as suffering "famines" (Mat. 24:7. cf. Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11)]

Medical value of stem cells 'over-hyped', Daily Telegraph, 7 September 2005. The ability of stem cells to provide cures for serious diseases has been over-hyped, according to Britain's leading fertility expert. Prof Robert Winston ... is to warn that exaggerated claims made by some scientists about the potential benefits of stem cell therapy could lead to a public backlash. Barely a week goes by without new and dramatic claims being made for potential therapeutic uses of stem cells, the body's master cells that can form different types of cells. They are regularly touted as miracle treatments for everything from Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and diabetes to strokes, spinal cord injury and infertility. In his presidential address at the BA festival of science this evening, Prof Winston will say people are being given unrealistic expectations of new treatments resulting from embryonic stem cell research arriving in the next few years. He will say: "The study of stem cells is one of the most exciting areas in biology but I think it is unlikely that embryonic stem cells are likely to be useful in health care for a long time. ... [Also by BBC & The Independent. The Independent added "Lord Winston called on his colleagues to use more moderate language when describing scientific breakthroughs, singling out in his speech senior scientists and naming two Nobel laureates for making dangerously arrogant remarks, Lord Winston called on his colleagues to use more moderate language when describing scientific breakthroughs, singling out in his speech senior scientists and naming two Nobel laureates for making dangerously arrogant remarks ... James Watson's assertion about the value of tampering with the human germ-line are a pretty good example ... [he] also criticised the Nobel laureate David Baltimore for claiming that the human genome offered the information needed to create a human being ... [and] "Michael Dexter ... said in 2001 that sequencing of the human genome was an invention more important than the wheel." yet "Five years later, genetic medicine based on this work has had little impact on health care and it's unlikely to have much impact for some years. There are so many powerful vested interests (including financial-most leading molecular biologists own biotech companies and are millionaires) in the biotechnology field, that this would have taken a lot of courage, even for a scientist as eminent as Lord Winston. ]

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

"It is no more heretical to say the Universe displays purpose, as Hoyle has done, than to say that it is pointless, as Steven Weinberg has done. Both statements are metaphysical and outside [or both inside-SEJ] science. Yet it seems that scientists are permitted by their own colleagues to say metaphysical things about lack of purpose and not the reverse. This suggests to me that science, in allowing this metaphysical notion, sees itself as religion and presumably as an atheistic religion (if you can have such a thing)." (Shallis M., "In the eye of a storm", New Scientist, January 19, 1984, pp.42-43).

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