Saturday, September 17, 2005

Nobel Laureates Frown on [Kansas] Science Standards, etc

Here are science news excerpts with my comments in square brackets:

Nobel Laureates Frown on Science Standards,Washington Post/AP, September 16, 2005. LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Thirty-eight Nobel Prize laureates asked state educators to reject proposed science standards that treat evolution as a seriously questionable theory, calling it instead the "indispensable" foundation of biology. The group, led by the writer Elie Wiesel, said it wanted to defend science and combat "efforts by the proponents of so-called intelligent design to politicize scientific inquiry." The proposed standards, which could come up for final Board of Education approval later this year, are designed to expose students to more criticism of evolution but state in an introduction that they do not endorse intelligent design. That increasingly popular theory argues that some features of the natural world are best explained as having an intelligent cause because they are well-ordered and complex. Its followers attack Darwin's evolutionary theory, which says natural chemical processes could have created the basic building blocks of life on Earth, that all life had a common ancestor and that man and apes shared a common ancestor. Education Board Chairman Steve Abrams, a conservative Republican who has supported the proposed standards, said he was unmoved by the scientists' plea, which became public Thursday. "I don't think anything should be taught as dogma," Abrams told the Lawrence Journal-World. The standards, used in developing tests for students, came up for update under state law. Besides Wiesel, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, the letter writers include chemists, physicists and medical experts from Wiesel's New York-based Foundation for Humanity. In their letter, they lauded evolution, saying "its indispensable role has been further strengthened by the capacity to study DNA." The group said intelligent design can't be tested scientifically "because its central conclusion is based on belief in the intervention of a supernatural agent." ... [That these are Nobel prize-winners may seem impressive to the public, but as Johnson observed, "Practicing scientists are of necessity highly specialized, and a scientist outside his field of expertise is just another layman":

"Before undertaking this task I should say something about my qualifications and purpose. I am not a scientist but an academic lawyer by profession, with a specialty in analyzing the logic of arguments and identifying the assumptions that lie behind those arguments. This background is more appropriate than one might think, because what people believe about evolution and Darwinism depends very heavily on the kind of logic they employ and the kind of assumptions they make. Being a scientist is not necessarily an advantage when dealing with a very broad topic like evolution, which cuts across many scientific disciplines and also involves issues of philosophy. Practicing scientists are of necessity highly specialized, and a scientist outside his field of expertise is just another layman." (Johnson P.E., "Darwin on Trial," [1991], InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, Second Edition, 1993, p.13).
The funny thing is that some ID's critics claim that "intelligent design can't be tested scientifically" then other (or even the same) ID critics claim that ID has been tested and found to be false! The bottom line is that even if it was true that ID's "central conclusion is based on belief in the intervention of a supernatural agent"; it does not follow that it "can't be tested scientifically". Darwinism claims that its `blind watchmaker' mechanism of the natural selection of ransom (unguided) mutations refuted Paley's argument from design (Dawkins claimed this in my biology textbook), so evidence against the `blind watchmaker' is evidence for design. Also, we have seen in my previous post that the fine-tunedness of the constants of physics has led some scientists to conclude that, as Hoyle put it, "A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology ..." And in the area of the origin of life, leading atheist Antony Flew (author of a book,"Darwinian Evolution") concluded that the first living organism had to have been created by God, because of the scientific evidence, i.e. "biologists' investigation of DNA ... has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved." Finally, even if this "argument from scientific methodology" be granted (for the sake of argument), as Johnson points out it "does not really address the question whether Darwinism is true. We may concede that scientists have professional reasons for seeking naturalistic explanations for phenomena, but it does not follow that the best naturalistic explanations they can imagine are necessarily true. Even if we may not talk about God, we can still talk about the possibility that the blind watchmaker thesis is unsubstantiated":
"Hull's review [of Darwin on Trial] did not present any scientific evidence on the crucial point at issue, which is whether the blind watchmaker really has the power to do all the necessary creating. Such evidence is unnecessary, according to Hull's implicit logic, because an explanation of the blind watchmaker type is the only possibility acceptable to science. Even if the Darwinian theory of today is imperfect, as Hull concedes it to be, it is nonetheless the best naturalistic theory currently available and therefore, by definition, the closest approximation to truth which is available to us. Criticism of the kind provided in Darwin on Trial is thus inherently beside the point, and need not be taken seriously. Hull's line of reasoning can be labeled for convenience as `the argument from scientific methodology.' It is thoroughly dissected in my book -especially in Chapter Nine, which is titled `The Rules of Science.' I won't go over the same ground again here, except to point out that the argument from scientific methodology does not really address the question whether Darwinism is true. We may concede that scientists have professional reasons for seeking naturalistic explanations for phenomena, but it does not follow that the best naturalistic explanations they can imagine are necessarily true. Even if we may not talk about God, we can still talk about the possibility that the blind watchmaker thesis is unsubstantiated. Perhaps the blind watchmaker cannot create complex wonders of biology, and therefore the true answer to the mystery of creation is unknown to the science of our day. Why exclude that possibility from consideration? Of course, evolutionary biologists do not in fact omit references to God from their professional writings. On the contrary, Richard Dawkins, Douglas Futuyma, George Gaylord Simpson, and David Hull himself are absolutely typical in that they address the subject of God explicitly and repeatedly, for the purpose of justifying their assumption that a Creator does not exist. They could hardly do otherwise. If God exists, and is able and willing to do the job of creating, then it would be foolish to assume that He remained inactive in deference to the wishes of naturalistic philosophers of science. Because there is no positive evidence that the blind watchmaker can create complex biological systems, the defenders of Darwinism must establish that no other possibility needs to be considered. And so David Hull like all the others dives straight into theology, and comes up with some well known arguments against the existence of God." (Johnson P.E., "Disestablishing Naturalism," 1992 Founder's Lectures, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Revised, February 17, 1992)

But it is clear that the real motivation of these Nobel laureates is to protect their sacred cow evolution from even being questioned (i.e. "proposed science standards that treat evolution as a seriously questionable theory")! Again, if they were confident that evolution was true they would welcome it being questioned. ]

Number of monster hurricanes doubled in past 34 years: Total of all types has fallen, report finds, San Francisco Chronicle, Keay Davidson, September 16, 2005 Worldwide, the number of the most severe hurricanes has almost doubled during the past third of a century, scientists say in a new report. But while storms such as the murderous, city-busting Katrina are coming more frequently, it is unclear whether that increase is linked to atmospheric or sea-surface warming. One reason for the uncertainty: Despite repeated record-breaking temperatures in the atmosphere, the total number of all types of hurricanes over the past decade has fallen. The "rather astonishing" increase in the number of the worst hurricanes -- Category 4 and 5 storms -- between 1970 and 2004 is cited in an article by Professor Peter Webster ... in today's issue of the journal Science. ... Because warm ocean water is a primary fuel for hurricanes, the findings are "consistent with the concept that there is a relationship between increasing sea surface temperature and hurricane intensity," Webster said. ... [Read this and articles in New York Times & ABC for the pros and cons this being the result of global warming. I believe it is on the basis of our now being in the period predicted by Jesus in Luke 21:24-28, between "Jerusalem [no longer] ... trampled on by the Gentiles" (v.24) which happened in 1967 and "the Son of Man [Jesus] coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (v.27), when "nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea" (v.25) and "Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world" (v.26). See previous posts of 08-Sep-05, 07-Sep-05 & 12-Aug-05.]

Global warming 'past the point of no return', The Independent, 17 September 2005, Steve Connor, 16 September 2005. A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years. They believe global warming is melting Arctic ice so rapidly that the region is beginning to absorb more heat from the sun, causing the ice to melt still further and so reinforcing a vicious cycle of melting and heating. The greatest fear is that the Arctic has reached a "tipping point" beyond which nothing can reverse the continual loss of sea ice and with it the massive land glaciers of Greenland, which will raise sea levels dramatically. Satellites monitoring the Arctic have found that the extent of the sea ice this August has reached its lowest monthly point on record, dipping an unprecedented 18.2 per cent below the long-term average. Experts believe that such a loss of Arctic sea ice in summer has not occurred in hundreds and possibly thousands of years. It is the fourth year in a row that the sea ice in August has fallen below the monthly downward trend - a clear sign that melting has accelerated. .... "The changes we've seen in the Arctic over the past few decades are nothing short of remarkable," said Mark Serreze ... Scientists at the data centre are bracing themselves for the 2005 annual minimum, which is expected to be reached in mid-September, when another record loss is forecast. A major announcement is scheduled for 20 September. ... The feeling is we are reaching a tipping point or threshold beyond which sea ice will not recover ... This year's record melt means that more of the long-term ice formed over many winters - so called multi-year ice - has disappeared than at any time in recorded history. Sea ice ... normally covers an area of some 7 million square kilometres (2.4 million square miles) during September .... However, in September 2002, this dwindled to about 2 million square miles ... As more and more sea ice is lost during the summer, greater expanses of open ocean are exposed to the sun which increases the rate at which heat is absorbed in the Arctic region, Dr Serreze said. Sea ice reflects up to 80 per cent of sunlight hitting it but this "albedo effect" is mostly lost when the sea is uncovered. "We've exposed all this dark ocean to the sun's heat so that the overall heat content increases," he explained. Current computer models suggest that the Arctic will be entirely ice-free during summer by the year 2070 but some scientists now believe that even this dire prediction may be over-optimistic, said Professor Peter Wadhams .... "If anything we may be underestimating the dangers. The computer models may not take into account collaborative positive feedback," he said. ... [Also at: ABC News, BBC, CNN, The Guardian & The New York Times. See my comments above. More evidence of an accelerating positive-feedback, worst-case scenario, global warming catastrophe. I assume this is part of the Great Tribulation (see tagline quotes below) which will occur (and in fact will be occurring), when Jesus returns. See my previous posts 11-Sep-05 & 07-Sep-05. See also posts to my terminated list CED: #14009, #13350, #13288, #13003, #12982, #12944, #10051, #9990, etc.]

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

"When we ask what the New Testament teaches about the sign of tribulation, we must, look first of all at the so-called "Olivet Discourse"-Jesus' eschatological discourse found in Matthew 24:3-51, Mark 13:3-37, and Luke 21:5-36. This is, however, a very difficult passage to interpret. What makes it so difficult is that some parts of the discourse obviously refer to the destruction of Jerusalem which lies in the near future, whereas other parts of it refer to the events which will accompany the Parousia at the end of the age. The setting for the discourse is as follows: when the disciples pointed out to Jesus the buildings of the temple, Jesus replied, "I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down" (Matt. 24:2). When Jesus had seated himself on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him and said, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" (v. 3). Note that ... the question of the disciples concerns two topics: (1) when will this be? (literally, these things; Greek, tauta)-an obvious reference to the destruction of the temple Jesus had just predicted; and (2) what will be the sign of your coming (Greek, parousia) and of the close of the age?-a reference to Christ's Second Coming. We may properly conclude, therefore, that the discourse will deal with both of these topics. As we read the discourse, however, we find that aspects of these two topics are intermingled; matters concerning the destruction of Jerusalem (epitomized by the destruction of the temple) are mingled together with matters which concern the end of the world-so much so that it is sometimes hard to determine whether Jesus is referring to the one or the other or perhaps to both. Obviously the method of teaching used here by Jesus is that of prophetic foreshortening, in which events far removed in time and events in the near future are spoken of as if they were very close together. The phenomenon has been compared to what happens when one looks at distant mountains; peaks which are many miles apart may be seen as if they are close together. ... In the Olivet Discourse, therefore, Jesus is proclaiming events in the distant future in close connection with events in the near future'. The destruction of Jerusalem which lies in the near future is a type. of the end of the world; hence the intermingling. The passage, therefore, 'deals neither exclusively with the destruction of Jerusalem nor exclusively with the end of the world; it deals with both-sometimes with the latter in terms of the former. ... Though the, tribulation, persecution, suffering, and trials here predicted are described in terms which concern Palestine and the Jews, they must not be interpreted as having to do only with the Jews. Jesus was describing future events in terms which would be understandable to his hearers, in terms which had local ethnic and geographic color. We are not warranted, however, in applying these predictions only to the Jews, or in restricting their occurrence only to Palestine." (Hoekema A.A., "The Bible and the Future," [1978], Paternoster Press: Exeter, Devon UK, 1979, pp.153-154. Emphasis in original)

"In the Olivet Discourse Jesus speaks of tribulation as a sign of the times which is to be expected by his people throughout the period between his first and second coming. So, for example, he says in Matthew 24:9-10, "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another." 'Since in the immediate context (v. 14) Jesus predicts that-the gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world-a preaching which continues until the end- it is obvious that the tribulation spoken of earlier is not limited to the period just before the Parousia. Other statements by Jesus indicate that he foresaw suffering and tribulation in store for his people in the future. ... But we also find Jesus in the Olivet Discourse speaking of a final tribulation which is in store for his people-a tribulation of which the sufferings which would accompany the destruction of Jerusalem would be only an anticipation. Note the intensity of the following description: "For then there will be great tribulation (thlipsis megale), such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened" (Matt. 24:21-22). Though the setting of these words has a distinctly Jewish and Judean flavor ("Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath," v. 20), the words "no, and never will be" and the reference to the shortening of the days for the elect's sake indicate that Jesus is predicting a tribulation so great that it will surpass any similar tribulation which may have preceded it. In other words, Jesus is here looking beyond the tribulation in store for the Jews at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem to a final tribulation which will occur at the end of this age. For according to verses 29 and 30 Jesus goes on to indicate that this "great tribulation" will immediately precede his Second Coming: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth, will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." ... On the basis of Jesus' words in Matthew 24:21-30, however, it would appear that there will also be a final, climactic tribulation just before Christ returns. This tribulation will not be basically different from earlier tribulations which God's people have had to suffer, but will be an intensified form of those . earlier tribulations." (Hoekema A.A., "The Bible and the Future," [1978], Paternoster Press: Exeter, Devon UK, 1979, pp.149-151. Emphasis in original)

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