Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Creationism in Schools 

I don't think that there is an issue I am more against than teaching Creationism alongside Evolution in science classes. Religion has absolutely no place in Science class. It has a place in Philosophy, in English, in History, and it even gets to have its own category of classes, Theology. I'm not sure exactly how people can think that it's under-represented in the modern classroom.

However, if people really want Creationism to be taught in public middle schools, then why don't we make it an entire subject? That way, it would get equal time to science without the two undermining each other. Now, we might think that the first 10 or 15 chapters of Genesis can't really be stretched out at a middle school level for an entire year. So why don't we teach the creation myths of ancient civilizations as well? It would be enormously beneficial to kids at that level to learn about what ancient Greece or Egypt or Scandinavia believed in at the same time that they learn about it in History class, and it would teach them to think symbolically and critically, preparing them for high school. They would learn about all of the narrative and symbolic parallels between Moses, Jesus and Horus. Everyone knows, however, that Creationists would never go for this for several reasons.

Firstly, it puts their religion on the same level as dead ones, and since the Church spent the better part of a thousand years denouncing everyone else's beliefs, it undermines all of their hard work. They don't want their kids to learn about "Paganism" at all, much less have it be compared to what they believe in. Secondly, they don't want to teach Creationism for the sake of Intellectual Diversity. They're pushing it so they can get around the Establishment Clause so they can indoctrinate convert children. Thirdly, I'm pretty certain that even teaching the other Abrahamic religions would offend creationists, especially when the kids have to learn about Islam.

In conclusion, until anyone is intellectually honest, the chance that we'll have intellectual diversity in education is pretty slim.


By Blogger Rick, at Tue Aug 23, 12:39:00 PM:

Do you think that much is taught in schools? I know of no one who can afford it, who hasn't bailed on the public school system. If the people teaching creation science actually believed it and actually taught it, at least the students would come out knowing something which cannot be said for public education currently. On the other hand, it would still be taught by members of the teacher's union, so they wouldn't learn anything anyway.  

By Blogger W.LindsayWheeler, at Tue Aug 23, 01:13:00 PM:

So when did Atheism rule supreme?

Atheism a religion?

Western Culture is defined by Christianity since the edict of St. Constantine.

Last time I checked Evolution is still a theory which evolutionists kept on creating bogus claims to prove its authenticity. As Atheists deny God because they haven't "seen" him. Why don't Atheists give us the same leeway when Christians deny evolution because we haven't "seen" one species evolve into another species!

I thought spontaneous generation was disproved 200 years ago. Why do you keep bringing it up under the guise of evolution for?  

By Blogger Jay Russell, at Tue Aug 23, 01:39:00 PM:

What Evolution are you talking about? The one that states that organisms have small adaptations or the one which espouses punctuated equilibrium over a period of time which differs by a billion years or so?

Take the theory of Evolution out of the schools and you will lose nothing in the learning of actual science. You can study fossils whether you know their age or not! You can examine the biology of animals without trying to figure out if a lizard gave birth to a cat.  

By Blogger darovas, at Tue Aug 23, 01:40:00 PM:

Quantum mechanics and gravitation are also theories. What they have in common with evolution is that they are confirmed by multiple, independent, intersecting observations.

I think it would be highly educational for students to learn the rudiments of modern biblical criticism, so they could understand the multiple source hypothesis for the pentateuch, how archaeology is inconsistent with or falsifies biblical stories such as the exodus and the conquest of Canaan, what we've learned from Qumran about the transmission history of the Hebrew Bible, the conflict among early Christian movements and the eventual ascendancy of the Orthodox position, etc.  

By Blogger dmoelling, at Tue Aug 23, 01:51:00 PM:

The big problem with Evolution as presented by your average Union teacher it is always taught wrong. Darwin's work is astounding in that he did it before genes were even known. It did require a huge amount of legwork and knowledge about the organization and details of the species. It also required a deep understanding about small changes over astounding amounts of time.

Teaching evolution to elementary and middle school students in a crime. They need to have a sound basis in basic biology and science before they can be asked to understand Darwin's work. It is best left to High School. Remember that the Scopes trial was about a teacher who used the text
"Civic Biology" from 1914 which had chapters on Eugenics which endorsed forced sterilization etc.

Today most evolution teaching is done in the same mode, not to promote eugenics but to attack religion. Done in a scientific way, teaching natural selection is a great way to show the larger interplay of environment, living organisms and probability. It is almost never taught this way in the public schools.  

By Blogger swiftone, at Tue Aug 23, 03:23:00 PM:

Thanks for the parting shot about intellectual honesty. That is the bit that goes missing as soon as these discussions begin. What is your position, and your level of conviction? That might be a good starting place for any comment, though it can be inferred with some accuracy.

Creationism in schools? I'm 98% convinced that if you want to teach creationism and call it science you'd better open your own academy/magnet school/or church supported school.

Evolution in schools? I'm at least 50% convinced that what is taught pre-college level public education is pure indoctrination, and not thoughtful science either.

Does anyone think the folks who want creationism taught as science have a ghost of a chance of seeing that happen?  

By Blogger Aegon01, at Tue Aug 23, 03:32:00 PM:

I agree with dmoelling the most out of the rest of the comments. If kids understand the basics of biology, like cell theory and anatomy, then they will have a deeper appreciation for evolution.

Secondly, the only statements I'm going to give about the validity or invalidity of Evolution will be in this comment. If you challenge me about that idea from this point forward, I'm going to ignore you.

You actually CAN watch evolution happen over the course of a day, you just need a bacteria lab. Take any disease, and put some antibiotics into a petri dish with the disease in it. Chances are, it won't completely kill the disease. Anything that has survived the antibiotics has traits that are resistant to it, and when those bacteria reproduce, their offspring will have it too. You can very literally see this in action if several million years is too slow for you.

The fact that there are different species of any subset of animal should be proof enough. Why does a German Shepard look different than an English Springer Spaniel? Why does breeding *anything* work if its not a valid theory? Apples would taste incredibly bitter if we hadn't bred them to taste sweet. Why? Nobody wants to eat bitter apples. In a state of nature, that tree would be much more common.

It's Common Sense.

Furthermore, if you think that evolution isn't valid because it hasn't established enough proof, then you can't possibly hold up religion as The Truth because you can't prove that either.

Religion has validity because people say "It's not about proof, it's about faith." Then, why are we criticizing Evolution for not having enough of it?

And thirdly, I think that Evolution is probably third on the List of Miracles (first is the universe, the second is life). If you think for 10 minutes about how complicated, intricate, and chaotic the idea of natural selection is, its a miracle that anything as wonderful as the human race came from it. Why can't we say that God created Evolution? Isn't that a beautiful idea?

Anyway, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't give equal time to religion as we do science. The one thing I will agree with WLW on is that religion IS the foundation of culture, and understanding it is important. All I'm saying is that we should keep them separate.

You won't see me trying to bring Science into a Bible class. With that in mind, please keep your Bible out of my Science class.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Tue Aug 23, 03:40:00 PM:

There is actually an interesting argument that human evolution has accelerated substantially in the last few thousand years. Some geneticists think that mutations, favorable and otherwise, are occurring at many multiples of the rate of the previous 5 million years (roughly the date of homo sapiens common ancestor with chimps). Selective pressure has gotten more varied and intense, not less.

And, in any case, the modern human "races" have evolved in only the last 50,000 or so years (probably less), that being the approximate date of the migration of homo sapiens out of Africa.  

By Blogger Elise, at Tue Aug 23, 04:12:00 PM:

I am absolutely opposed to teaching Creationism as science. That said, my problem with the original post is that the author (1) assumes he knows what goes on in the minds of those who support teaching Creationism and (2) assumes bad faith (no pun intended) on their part. I have usually found that if I am trying to persuade those who disagree with me, it is more effective to not make statements about their thinking or their "real" motives, especially derogatory statements.  

By Blogger Aegon01, at Tue Aug 23, 04:33:00 PM:

Well, yeah. I'm extremely biased because I'm agnostic. The first bite I made was probably a true statement that was painted in a negative way. The second point was an all-out attack, I'll agree. I don't think that anyone who fights for this has malicious intent. Even if they're actively thinking that it'll help convert children, they think they're helping the children instead of hurting, so they aren't bad people, obviously. But it's completely true they're going to the school boards so they can deal with it on a local level instead of asking the Board of Education to make a Law, which would violate the Establishment Clause.

Anyway, I wrote it there as a preemptive strike, if you will. I know some people might get angry that I made offensive generalizations, but I think it would have gone there anyway. Furthermore, it prompts and sort of forces people to be more clear with their arguments for their motives, lest the truth bear any resemblance to what I wrote. I hope they prove me wrong about those statements.  

By Blogger Stephen, at Tue Aug 23, 05:44:00 PM:

Aegon01, I think the Catholic Church's position is that faith and evolution are compatible. They agree with you that God created evolution. They have the same position regarding the Big Bang.

TH, when you say "the Church" you are including Catholics. Because "catholic" means "universal", the phrase "The Church" is often taken to mean the Catholic Church. I think some non-Catholic groups are opposed to teaching evolution. Islam too.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Aug 23, 06:08:00 PM:

"But it's completely true they're going to the school boards so they can deal with it on a local level instead of asking the Board of Education to make a Law, which would violate the Establishment Clause."

No, it isn't. The Establishment Clause applies to all levels of government. It's been incorporated for, oh, three generations or so. Several important Establishment Clause cases at the Supreme Court were against local institutions.

For another thing, Muslims are, as a demographic, huge fans of creationism. Why wouldn't they be?

Thirdly, creationism as a cosmological idea (as opposed to a pet cause adopted by religious fundamentalists, which comes in so many flavors as to be almost beyond categorization) is not mutually exclusive with evolution. The universe came from somewhere, and God is as good an explanation as 'a heretofore unexplainable cosmic event we call the Big Bang which violated the laws of physics in ways we don't understand.'

"Everyone knows, however, that Creationists would never go for this for several reasons."

I don't know that. Therefore, your statement is untrue. Or I'm not a person. Whichever.

"since the Church spent the better part of a thousand years denouncing everyone else's beliefs, it undermines all of their hard work."

Your religious bias is made clear, here. Pretty much all religions believe that other beliefs are wrong; else, why would anyone choose their own? The same thinking goes into other matters of identity. One is a Democrat because he believes that Democrats are right about important issues and Republicans are wrong, or whatever. Why are you picking on "the Church?"

You also, as already pointed out, make a lot of assumptions about what other people think, I imagine because you find it convenient for your argument. Castles built on sand, my friend.

This all makes the final slam about intellectual honesty ironic.

There are rational bases for including alternative explanations into classrooms, not least of which is to teach students how to handle conflicting ideas. Too many grow up fully indoctrinated already; into scientific 'cults' (i.e. fads) that they accept as dogmatic truths as much as any religious believer, like social darwinism, the rightness of forced sterilizations (eugenics), the dangers of being 'musclebound,' and that the global ice caps were going to melt by the year 2000.

Without a competition of ideas, you simply get fanatics of a different kind.

BTW, who are you? My guess is the entity formerly known as Tigerhawk Teen.  

By Blogger Aegon01, at Tue Aug 23, 07:30:00 PM:

That's me. I wrote a whole post on it, actually. I'm not a teenager anymore, so it didn't make sense.

Let me cherry-pick your points as you did mine.

1) Your first point helps mine. I don't know enough about Constitutional Law, but if it affects things at a local level, then it just reinforces the idea that Religion shouldn't have a place in a Science classroom.

2) I'm not saying Muslims wouldn't be fans of teaching creationism. It wouldn't surprise me though, if we we did the comparative religion/mythology idea that we'd see a lot of bickering, especially within the Abrahamic religions.

3) The idea that maybe God created The Singularity is one that can be expressed in less than the length of this sentence. If that's really what most Creationists are advocating for then that's fine by me. I get the feeling, however, that what they really mean is "teach the first 5-10 chapters of Genesis as fact." If there's anyone in the comments wants to disagree with that idea, I'm willing to be proven wrong.

Frankly, I think I'm promoting their cause by suggesting that it gets taught in its own class along with creation myths from all over the world. That would be constructive and valuable, and the idea would have its own space to move around in.

4) Come on, take the first 4 words out of the beginning of that sentence and your criticism doesn't make sense.

5) Yes, I'm biased against religion in a big way, but not as much as I might have led you to believe. I have enormous respect for the people that read religious texts and apply the lessons to THEIR OWN LIFE so they can be a better person. Remember, I went to a religious school, and the Religion Department head is one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know.

What gets my goat is trying to impose that idea on someone else through force, which is something religious institutions have done for thousands of years, and are still doing in some parts of the world. Believers in science may be fanatical, but at least they won't try to behead you for spouting blasphemies. It's okay to think the other person is wrong. It's even okay to try to convince them that you're right. It's not okay to harass, persecute, and even oppress people for the sake of having your opinions validated by a complete stranger. Doesn't that demonstrate how little faith you have in the idea yourself?

6) Read the comment I wrote in response to Elise. If you tl;dnr that, I voiced those assumptions to force people to correct me so their argument would be clearer and better thought-out, lest anything I say approaches the truth. But that sounds really arrogant when I say that, so I'll also reassure you that I really *do* think many of them would have those reservations. (It compares their religion to dead ones, it doesn't convert kids like they might want, and they would bicker about which religion should receive the most attention).  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 23, 07:47:00 PM:

A common misconception in the "creationism vs. science" argument is the notion that science is inherently atheistic. Science cannot rule out the existence of a deity (or deities), and this is part of what distinguishes faith from science. Science doesn't, and shouldn't, say "God doesn't exist." The rules of the game of science say you can't invoke God with an "ad hoc" special-pleading explanation, like "suddenly God stopped the sun in the sky," the walls of Jericho came tumbling down, and everything went back to the way it was before. Science is not saying this miracle didn't happen - maybe it did. It can't be ruled out.

There's nothing wrong with invoking divine manipulation, but it isn't science. And trying to use labels like "Creation Science" is like saying we're going to play "hand soccer," a game in which players pick up the ball in their hands and throw it into the goal. Maybe a good idea for a game, but it isn't soccer. Maybe some of the creation-based modes of inquiry, such as "intelligent design" will turn out to have validity. But they're not science.

But in a way, maybe introducing creationism into science curricula wouldn't be such a bad idea. Investigating the claims of creationism would provide an excellent object lesson of non-science in action.

Science's search for "rule-based" theories is not a statement of atheism, though there are scientists who are atheists. However atheism is as much an article of faith as a belief in a deity.

There are valid objections to the *application* of some concepts of evolution to social policy, or to theological concepts such as the existence and nature of the human soul. For example nature may indeed be "red in tooth and claw" - but does that mean humans must be that way in our relations with each other? No.

Biology may say humans are hominids, part of a family which diverged from other primates some time in the Miocene, etc. But is that *all* we are? Parts of this question are not amenable to scientific inquiry -such as the belief that we are imbued with an immortal soul. Are we imbued with a soul? I don't know and there's no scientific test of the idea.  

By Blogger Stephen, at Tue Aug 23, 09:47:00 PM:

Anonymous, I am not sure about the idea of investigating the claims of creationism in a science class. That seems like asking for trouble. Altruism is a hot area of research in evolutionary theory probably for the reason you mention--survival of the fittest is not compatible with social policy.  

By Blogger Aegon01, at Wed Aug 24, 12:07:00 AM:

Anon, you are completely right, but I agree with Stephen that "investigating" religious claims in a middle school or high school science class is a bad idea. In college it'd be okay though.  

By Anonymous JT, at Wed Aug 24, 08:05:00 AM:

So just my usual violent inflammatory off the cuff response, but ...

I'm with the first poster ... I'd settle for teaching, period. I live in a nice college town, and all our funds go to trying to get the very bottom anywhere near grade level, with nothing for those at grade level, and nothing for those above.

We spend the entire month of February teaching the vast contributions of "African Americans" and gloss over actual history of slavery, and in my opinion, some very very interesting stuff. They spend months 'preparing for tests' to gauge what they 'learned', so the school can get funds, and teachers bonuses. It is pathetic. And that's supposedly a 'good' public school.

I'm not religious, but feel that creationism is at least a Theory that merits teaching, just as is Evolution. If we can make room to teach fantasy and religion (Obama is the second coming, etc.) then why not that 'many people ...' believe in religion, and in a Creator, and it forms a central part of their culture, mores, etc.?  

By Blogger W.LindsayWheeler, at Wed Aug 24, 09:11:00 AM:

Aegon1 is a little upset.

I don't know why. The Bible was taught in almost all the public schools until 1950! The Atheist and progressive elements in society arose and had the Bible quashed and now he acts like that has always has been and is upset because people are returning to it!

The effrontery of Aegon1 is normal for most atheists. They think they own the place and demand that THEIR values take precedence! Aegon1's whole argument is based on an ahistorical approach in taking that the Christians are "trespassing" on his turf! Amazing.

Aegon1 hopefully will take responsibility for modern American society and the mass of barbarians it produces!  

By Blogger Aegon01, at Wed Aug 24, 10:05:00 AM:

WLW, that was an admirable straw man effort you did there.

Did you even read the thing? Let's have an entire class dedicated to studying creation stories of the world. As you've said, it's the foundation of our society, and most of the creation stories tell the stories that are fundamental to human nature. Like "murder is bad" (Cain and Able) and "cannibalism is bad" (Chronos eating his children). The Bible and Hesiod together would be interesting.

Why wouldn't you want that? It gives equal time to "your side" as it does to Science, just like you want.

You wouldn't be happy with me if I brought a biology textbook into Sunday school. In that instance I'd be "trespassing on your turf." It's not the place of Science to talk about Religion. Science has nothing to say on the matter, much as it would like to. It can give us many facts that might imply something about the meaning of our existence, like how infinitely tiny we are in the universe. But Science can't provide us with the morals that society needs, Religion is actually responsible for giving Scientists their moral compass.

But teaching morals isn't the point of Science class, its the point of Philosophy, and English, and oh, I don't know, Church! It's about how the universe works. And that is something the Bible is extremely bad at explaining.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Aug 24, 10:34:00 AM:

Anon Attorney here. Just a few quick comments.

If I recall correctly, you are about 20 years old. It is good that you have an intellectual curiosity, but you've got the rest of your life to contemplate these issues. At this stage of your life you should be worried more about beer and women. Lighten up a bit.

And sorry, but if you can't find an issue that you are "more against" than teaching creationism in science classes then you're not looking too hard. Hunger, famine, disease, despotic regimes, suffering--these are big issues. Teaching creationism is a speed bump in the road of life. Besides, schools teach all kinds of crap as thought it is true. Just look at the syllabus of any political science, sociology, or economics department.

Finally, technically what you witnessed in the bacteria lab is Adaptation, not Evolution. The bacteria in your hypothetical have adapted to a changed environment, but they are still bacteria of the same strain.  

By Blogger W.LindsayWheeler, at Wed Aug 24, 03:28:00 PM:

Yes, you did in your post explain that it is alright in philosophy and in a Church. But then Christian children go to Secular Public Schools and are taught evolution which then contradicts what they are told at their Church's Sunday School. See, evolution is the basis of Ideology.

That is why it is necessary to teach it as "science" in school to break the connection that we are connected to God.

Philosophy is a Science. Aristotle called it the science of sciences. The Roman Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain calls Philosophy the Queen of Sciences and it is the duty of Philosophy to correct the material physical sciences when they wander. (q.v. Introduction to Philosophy)

Philosophy teaches that "Like produces like". Dead matter can not produce living matter. All Truth Harmonizes.

Evolution as taught counterdicts Creationism. Children notice this counterdiction. So who rules.

Evolution is the basis of socialism, materialism. Evolution denies any aspect of divine intervention. Creationism, on the other hand, can adopt evolution in a partial way; i.e. God created the Archetypes, and evolution diversified these types. This is reasonable. But evolution taught today does not broker an ounce of creationism.

Philosophy is a science. And it's job is to correct bad science when it impinges upon Philosophical Truth. Evolution does not have metaphysical truth.

In a republic, which our FFofA started, there should be harmony between the citizens. Teaching evolution without creationism, creates division. Evolution is the program of secularizing people and divorcing them, thru pseudo-science, to reject a God.

You can't have a civil society without God.  

By Blogger darovas, at Wed Aug 24, 04:23:00 PM:

Creationism is not science, so let's keep it out of the science classroom. It can be taught as religion, as mythology, even as recycled mediaeval philosophy, but not science.

Philosophy has had little impact on science during the past 75 years. Indeed, if all academic philosophy were to end this evening, the inexorable advance of science would continue with hardly so much as a notice. (There is good work being done in philosophy of science today, but by people like Jeremy Butterfield, Jos Uffink, Craig Callander, John Earman, et al.) For an interesting perspective, see Steven Weinberg (Nobel Laureate, Physics), "Against Philosophy", from "Dreams of a Final Theory". Read Weinberg.

Evolution is abundantly verified by multiple, intersecting observations from diverse areas of science. An excellent account for novices: "Why Evolution is True" by J. Coyne.

The Bible, on the other hand, has been effectively deconstructed by scholars. The notion of Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is an ancient legend now only held by those who are fettered by confessional stance (mainly evangelical Protestants and Orthodox Jews). Real scholars don't even talk about an historical Moses anymore, let alone an historical Abraham. Jesus almost certainly did believe in an historical Moses, but this is understandable because his contemporaries were ignorant and superstitious as well, by modern standards. Medieval and early Renaissance exegetes like Calvin and Rashi were among the leading intellects of their day, but their approach to their scriptures was precritical and in many ways an embarrassment to read today. (They also did not understand the litetary-socio-historical context, particularly of the Hebrew Bible, which has since been illuminated by discoveries at Mari, Nineveh, Ugarit, Babylon, Karnak, Bogazhkoy, Israel, etc.) For a popular account containing a nuanced perspective on the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, I'd recommend James Kugel's "How to Read the Bible" and Bart Ehrman's "Jesus, Interrupted", respectively. I'd be in favor of assigning either of these texts as required reading in a high school class about Western religion.  

By Blogger W.LindsayWheeler, at Wed Aug 24, 05:01:00 PM:

Atheists reject God because they don't see him.

Pardon me, while I borrow that argument.

I reject evolution because I have NEVER witnessed it! No person ever, including Charles Darwin has ever witnessed evolution!

As Anon Attorney said, "Adaption is not Evolution". We are all supposed to "believe" in evolution.

No Ape gave birth to a Human Being! We are NOT monkey's uncles!

Explain how something without reason, gave birth to something with reason? Like produces like. That simple phrase destroys the whole platform of evolution.  

By Anonymous SnarkHunter, at Wed Aug 24, 05:16:00 PM:

RE: Anonymous Aug 23, 07:47 PM

Moreover, Science is a man-made construct. Scientific concepts must be testable, verifiable, and falsifiable. Including God in science requires God to subscribe to these rules. This subordinates God to man.

Science does not allow for contradictions. A thing must be itself; A is A; 1 = 1. But, God is not constrained by this requirement. Miracles must be contradictions, and therefore, they can never be explained by science.

Science is never "settled". "Settled Science" is a contradiction, and therefore, it is a religious concept pretending to be science. The Catholic Church learned this several centuries ago, and today's "Settled Science" is turning out to be neither "settled" nor "science".

Interestingly, Genesis is fairly close to our present scientific explanations. Quite a feat for the time.  

By Blogger darovas, at Wed Aug 24, 08:32:00 PM:

Atheism is a rejection of theism. I identify as an atheist because I can find no compelling rational cause to believe in God or gods. It is a question of evidence. No person alive has ever witnessed Abraham Lincoln but other than pathological cases everyone accepts Lincoln was an historical figure because we have his writings, contemporary historical accounts, photographs, etc. Noone alive has seen an electron or even an atom, but we have abundant evidence for their existence and we can detect them - even one by one - using specially designed devices. All the experts familiar with the evidence for electrons and atoms agree that they exist. They have particular measurable properties, such as mass, charge and angular momentum.

Alas, we have no such compelling evidence for the existence of God or gods, and the notional properties of such divine beings are often ill-defined. Typically and tellingly we think of them in human terms: they are loving or angry or compassionate or jealous etc. Also believers generally subscribe to the conceit that the divine being(s) is/are crucially interested in our human affairs, and less so with the lives of other creatures. This all smacks of mythology and folklore, and it is utterly devoid of Popperian falsifiability.

Apes are our evolutionary cousins, not our ancestors. For a fairly complete summary of the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of macroevolution, click here.

There is a good deal of science which is indeed settled. Newtonian mechanics, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics (aside from certain aspects of its interpretation), etc. are all quite settled matters. That is, no credentialed scientist (pathological cases excepted) seriously entertains the possibility that the known laws governing these subjects, over their established ranges of validity, are in any way incomplete. We also have rather complete understandings of various phenomena in chemistry and biology (e.g. the Krebs cycle). There may be new science lurking in extreme parameter regimes. Einstein's special relativity reduces to a well-defined Newtonian limit when v/c << 1. If it didn't, Einstein would have been wrong. Similarly, at least up to energy scales of hundreds of GeV, we know that electrons should be described by a quantum field theory such as quantum electrodynamics (or the Standard Model if one wishes to include the strong and weak interactions). But as far as atomic physics goes, all we need is quantum mechanics (sometimes with relativistic corrections, in the case of high Z atoms). That is settled. It is difficult to work out some of the consequences of the quantum theory of atoms because many-particle systems are computationally intractable, but no serious physicist disputes that all the details are contained within a model I can write in a single line. Well, maybe two lines.

Finally, Genesis is in no way "fairly close to our present scientific observations". It is no closer than, say, the Atrahasis epic. It is ludicrous to maintain otherwise. Typically theists seize on the creation ex nihilo aspect and insist that this reflects the Big Bang, but (i) Big Bang cosmology is itself just a classical theory which we now understand is incomplete without a proper quantum theory of gravity, (ii) at the quantum level our scientific understanding of the very early universe is woefully incomplete and all proposals are highly speculative (and sometimes wild - see "multiverse"), and (iii) all the details that classical BB cosmology (plus inflation) gets right are completely absent from Genesis. Genesis has talking snakes, for heaven's sake (pardon the linguistic fossil) - it is not science. My ancient Israelite ancestors thought the earth was flat. Besides, many biblical scholars now reject the notion that Genesis 1 implies a creation ex nihilo, but say it rather describes the ordering of preexisting matter.  

By Anonymous astonerii, at Thu Aug 25, 12:41:00 AM:

200 some odd years of looking for one single example of evolution, and nothing, yet you think that should be taught in science class, but intelligent design should not be.

I am much more willing to accept that a powerful being created the universe, the solar system, all the plants and animals than I am to believe that an infinitesimally tiny chance of a special coming together of infinitesimally likely chemicals to become life, and then, random tiny change after tiny change evolve into me, particularly with all the destruction and massive changes in the Earth's habitable zone that have happened since the first life forms formed. I am even more convinced when I look at the actual evolutionary steps that they put up as examples.  

By Blogger darovas, at Thu Aug 25, 04:14:00 AM:

100 years since Wegener's theory of continental drift, and still noone has seen a continent move. The very thought is absurd! Doesn't the Bible say the earth is fixed? And to think they teach this stuff in science classes! How will we ever compete with the rapid rise of Chinese science unless we acknowledge the Lord God Almighty is at the root of all Nature?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Aug 25, 06:17:00 AM:

SnarkHunter, at Wed Aug 24, 05:16:00 PM:

Science is indeed a human construct, and furthermore has, in its own way, axiomatic precepts which can be seen as science's "articles of faith." Namely, we presume there are non-supernatural rule-based explanations for what we observe in the world and the wider universe. It's possible it's all a gigantic cosmic joke and there is a god pulling all the strings. This god has elaborately set up the universe and the earth in such a way as to be consistent with current scientific understanding of cosmology, and precisely mixed isotopes in the earth's crust so as to make it appear ~ 4.5 billion years old, etc. And right now is having herself quite a chuckle.

You make a good point: what self-respecting god would subject himself to the rules of human science?


You were probably being facetious about no one having seen a continent move. But actually, with GPS (the system itself an application of relativity) and Very Long Baseline Interferometry, tectonic movement can be observed.  

By Blogger Elise, at Thu Aug 25, 10:43:00 AM:

Even if they're actively thinking that it'll help convert children, they think they're helping the children instead of hurting, so they aren't bad people, obviously.

I think this still contains the assumption that you know why people support teaching Creationsim as science: because they want to convert other people to their religion. I can, without much effort, come up with six different reasons why people might support such teaching and only one of them has to do with converting others. For example, I'm pretty sure that some supporters honestly believe Creationism is as valid a scientific theory as Evolution and they thus see themselves as fighting for honest and open intellectual inquiry. They are Galileo declaring: Eppur si muove.

Being a considered agnostic is a challenging stance, requiring as it does the continual acceptance of uncertainty. In exchange, I believe what it offers is precisely the opportunity to be less biased, to see more clearly. In that regard:

Your condemnation of the behavior of organized religion is, of course, based on valid historical examples. I would point out, however, that there is nothing unique about organized religion in this regard. All human organizations try to enforce their rules and norms by whatever methods they can get away with. The classic examples are the anti-religious Communist regimes, of course, but other examples abound. I would further argue that religion has been used (admittedly often willingly) as the instrument of government bad behavior at least as often as it has caused such behavior.

Even science does not have clean hands, as cases ranging from the deadly serious Tuskegee syphilis experiment to the more minor pillorying of Barry J Marshall show. People die just as dead when science behaves this way as they do when religion behaves this way.

The shortcomings and crimes of religion are common to all human enterprises and, as with all human enterprises, should not be considered apart from their positive contributions.  

By Blogger W.LindsayWheeler, at Thu Aug 25, 10:47:00 AM:

God bless the Greeks. Why?


The Ancient Greeks noticed something odd about living things--they are made up of dead matter---so where is the seat of life?

The posited Soul. Anything that moves itself has soul. We are made up of what 75% water! Is Water alive? We are made up of carbon. Is Carbon alive? How about Nitrogen?

Are molecules alive? What differentiates the living from inanimate matter is soul. Living things have soul, and rocks and sand and water do not.

Where did Soul come from? Did inanimate stuff produce Soul? Nah.

Atheists are materialists. They seek all things in the concrete. They reject Metaphysics. What is Love? Justice? Loyalty? Has anybody anywhere seen "Love"? We see acts of love, but we have never visualized Love. Love is Metaphysics. The inanity of atheists is that they deny metaphysics, they deny love, Justice and every other non-visual thing. (They must or else they are hypocrites.)  

By Anonymous SnarkHunter, at Thu Aug 25, 11:12:00 AM:

God has no place in science. God is neither provable nor disprovable. For God there are no contradictions. Therefore, God is outside of science. Only faith can prove his existence, and faith has no place in science.

Newtonian Physics was superseded by Einstein's Relativity. Period. Newtonian Mechanics work for Engineering, but the Physics breaks down at the extremes. Quantum Mechanics is in flux at best, but it is struggling to keep up. Relativity is also having problems fully explaining the universe. String theory is heading in the right direction, but it is going to upset quite a few people. Epicycles are useful for a while, but eventually, they overwhelm the system.

The Hubble Space Telescope and the various space probes are providing so much data it is hard for the Physicists and Astronomers to keep up. The Textbooks are out of date by the time they are published.

"over their established range of validity"
(para. 4, 2nd sentence)

Translation: "except where prohibited by law", "tax, title, and license not included", "plus shipping and handling". This is the fine print. The "Settled Science" is not quite as settled as it should be. It would be better termed "Settled Engineering". Engineering requires an "established range of validity".

"... just a classical theory which we now understand is incomplete ..."
(para. 5, 4th sentence (i) section)

Translation: The "Settled Science" is not quite as settled as we thought it was. Originally we thought that after the Singularity (exact instant of the Big Band) all energy/matter was formed instantly, and it was subject to our Physics. This Science was "Settled". Unfortunately, we learned more, and it had to be "Unsettled". The adjust was from instantaneous to a nanosecond or less. Seemingly insignificant, but ...

"... our scientific understanding of the very early universe is woefully incomplete ..."
(para. 5, 4th sentence (ii) section)

Translation: During the first few nanoseconds after the singularity, we think that the present known Physics did not exist. We know that energy was being created from nothing, but we have no idea of how. During the next few seconds, our present Physics began to take shape, but it was not fully formed. After a few minutes, all energy/matter was formed, and the Physics we know today was established. From this, everything was formed over a long time. This is still not well understood, but this is the working idea. NOTE: This is "Unsettling Science".

Another aspect of the Big Bang Theory is that we do not know what there was before the Singularity, but more importantly, we CANNOT know what there was before. Except for Stephen Hawking who decided that he knows there was nothing before this instant.

(Professor Hawking also has assured us that "M Theory" is "Settled Science". "M Theory" is an extension of String Theory. String Theory is far from accepted science, and I am not sure if this counts as "wild". I do admire him. He is beyond brilliant.)

(continued in next post)  

By Anonymous SnarkHunter, at Thu Aug 25, 11:14:00 AM:


Genesis v. Big Bang / Evolution
(Douay-Rheims Version published 1582)

+ Both start from the unknown.
+ This unknown cannot be known.
+ Both start with a Singularity.
+ Both beginnings are not instantaneous.
- The duration of time is substantially different.
- Gen 1.1 - 1.6 sequence does not match Big Bang
- Gen 1.1 - 1.6 events similar to Big Bang (would be a stretch)
+ Gen 1.7 Atmosphere is created
Gen 1.8 Names outer space Heaven
+ Gen 1.9 Earth covered by water, and land rises out of it. (close enough)
Gen 1.10 Names bodies of water Seas
+ Gen 1.11 - 1.12 Simple plant life created first
- Gen 1.13 - 1.19 Sun, Moon, Stars, Night, Day created (substantial difference)
+ Gen 1.20 "... Let the waters bring forth the creeping creatures having life, ..." (similar to Evolution)
Gen 1.20 birds created (could go either way)
- Gen 1.21 - 1.24 Whales created (too early) and other aquatic life (too late)
+ Gen 1.25 - mammals created
+ Gen 1.26 Man created

The first four items have caused angst for some in the scientific community. "Ex Nihilo" ("out of nothing") is an attempt to get past this little problem. The first two items are much more than "nothing". No, they are something, and that something is the "Unknown before". But, it gets worse. We can NEVER know what came before. It will ALWAYS be "Unknown". It is a hole, and a hole is something.

This causes two problems. First, God can exist before the "Unknown before". Second, it cannot be refuted scientifically. Scientifically, God may have existed prior to the Singularity, but it can be neither proved nor disproved. Kinda sucks to have your Theory used against you, and you cannot do anything about it. The scientific refutation is that God may not have existed prior to the Big Bang. "May" does not sound very scientific.

This is the reason the Big Bang is no longer "Settled Science". This keeps these first four items from being used this way. This is why Stephen Hawking has to declare there is no "Unknown before". There is now a "Known before", and it is "nothing". The hole has been erased.

The remaining "+" items are interesting, but the "-" items are major problems. Gen 1.20 is eerily close to Evolution. The amount that a Bronze age people got right is amazing. This could be a coincidence, or it could have been an explanation from God. Another explanation is that the Genesis story is ingrained into Western Thought, and it has influenced the direction of science. I suspect that the "experts" (credentialed or not) would dismiss this without thought.

Galileo was confronted by the "experts" of his time. Just because a group of people agree upon something does not make it so.

None of this proves the existence of God, and none of this disproves our present scientific understanding. It does not weaken our present scientific understanding. The Scientific Method assumes that the system will need to be changed, and those changes do not cause the entire system to collapse. The Big Bang Theory or Evolution may not be perfect, but they do not need to be. They will be adjusted as needed, or thrown onto the trash heap if necessary.

(again continued)  

By Anonymous SnarkHunter, at Thu Aug 25, 11:16:00 AM:

(final continuation)
The rational response to the Creation v. Evolution is that while Science is fallible it is also amendable. This is an integral part of the scientific realm. If God is thrust into this realm, he must abide by its rules. Hence God is fallible, and Creationism is subject to modification as needed. As a bonus, Creationism can be thrust upon the trash heap if necessary.

I realize that the above science is woefully inadequate, but the general thrust is correct. Incidentally, the problem with our present scientific theories is Time. Our present understanding will prove to be way off. String Theory will incorporate this first, and this will cause much of the present "Settled Science" to become "Unsettled" or to be introduced to the trash heap. A multiverse is not a wild theory, but it needs work. Changing to an analogue model would make it more coherent, but the Math needs to be developed for it.

I apologize for the length of this, but I am tired of smug a$$hol#s lecturing people.

"For the Snark was a Boojum, you see."  

By Blogger darovas, at Thu Aug 25, 11:18:00 AM:

You were probably being facetious about no one having seen a continent move. But actually, with GPS (the system itself an application of relativity) and Very Long Baseline Interferometry, tectonic movement can be observed.

That's what my GIS friends tell me, but what does this have to do with continents drifting over the surface of the earth? Who has ever seen Brazil next to the Cameroon? I mean, they don't even speak the same language! If you are going to believe that these pitiful millimeter scale variations accrue to global ones, why then you might as well believe that small evolutionary genome changes, as are observed in bacteria, can accrue to yield speciation in reptiles and mammals!

Besides, this is all contrary to the Holy Bible! It says plainly, "Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved" (1 Chr 16:30). What part of "...stable, that it be not moved" don't you understand? (Actually, it says חילו מלפניו כל הארץ ויאמרו בגוים יהוה מלך, but I prefer the original King James English that Jesus spoke.)

It may interest you to know that bacterial speciation has definitively been observed. See e.g. Richard Lenski's work on E. coli. One of my favorite examples of bacterial evolution: nylon-eating flavobacterium. For other observations of speciation including salamanders, fish, and birds, see here. Finally, the fact that humans, who have 23 pairs of chromosomes, and great apes, who have 24 pairs, had a common 24-pair descendant is quite clear from the work of Yunis and Prakash on human chromosome #2. The story is a fascinating one: click me!  

By Blogger darovas, at Thu Aug 25, 11:21:00 AM:

Correction: "...common 24-pair ancestor..."  

By Blogger darovas, at Thu Aug 25, 11:47:00 AM:


Newtonian Physics was superseded by Einstein's Relativity. Period. Newtonian Mechanics work for Engineering, but the Physics breaks down at the extremes. Quantum Mechanics is in flux at best, but it is struggling to keep up. Relativity is also having problems fully explaining the universe. String theory is heading in the right direction, but it is going to upset quite a few people.

As I said, Newtonian physics is settled science. It is a unique well-defined limit of relativistic mechanics. Ditto for quantum mechanics vis-a-vis quantum field theory. Many cosmologists would say that certain features of inflationary cosmology are also pretty much settled, our profound ignorance of the very early Universe notwithstanding. I'm curious as to what basis you have for judging the future of string theory (I happen to be a Physics professor, although not a string theorist). From where I sit, string theory is in crisis.

Regarding your comparison of Gen 1 and science, could you point out where exactly in the biblical text it says that the Universe began with a singularity? I did like the "unknown that cannot be known" concept for its Rumsfeldian qualities, but I must say that strikes me as vague. And didn't the fact that Genesis 1 describes a 6-day creation ever strike you as a tad unscientific?

I appreciated all the little pluses and minuses, too. Self-criticism is essential to science! You know what we call a scientific theory which has a lot of incorrect predictions (i.e. minuses)? We call it wrong.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Aug 25, 12:11:00 PM:

"when those bacteria reproduce, their offspring will have it too"

I don't want to jump into the squabble about which theory is taught in schools, but I notice a couple of issues in your response:

1. Even the fundamentalists I know don't contest natural selection. What they contest is speciation. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are not a different species, nor are different breeds of dog.

2. A problem for those who don't want evolution taught in schools is that it doesn't necessarily conflict with the Bible. Creatures could evolve even if the earth was created 6000 years ago (in my opinion the Bible doesn't say any such thing, but that's another post).

I could live with creationism being taught in schools if students were also taught math, other sciences, economics and other life skills that help them understand how the world works. The fact is that in a human time frame it doesn't really matter whether the theory of evolution is right or wrong, and there are far more important things students should be learning.  

By Blogger Aegon01, at Thu Aug 25, 12:17:00 PM:

WLW, I'm willing to accept that God created the Big Bang with all scientific laws and whatnot in it. The way I see the world, the fact that Evolution works the way it does is a Miracle, and I've said so already.

I will agree that the way Evolution is taught now, it does contradict the Bible. It does not contradict my theory above.

On the point about kids being impressionable though, it's important to hear people who disagree with what you know to be true, that's how we grow and mature as people. If Sunday School wants kids to espouse their beliefs, then maybe they should argue them better. When kids go to school, they learn the basics, and eventually they learn the complex theories behind natural selection, evolution, and meiosis. When they go to Sunday School, they ask how the animals got here, and they are answered with "Magic." And that's that.

Astonerii, the infinitesimally tiny chance you're referring to is the likelihood that a species ends up only slightly differently, not the chance that it doesn't exist at all.

Darovas, "How will we ever compete with the rapid rise of Chinese science unless we acknowledge the Lord God Almighty is at the root of all Nature?"

I'm not sure that their belief or lack thereof in God is what makes them good at science. Science is about asking "How?" and God gives the answer to you. It's like saying "I don't care how my computer works, as long as it does. If it breaks, I know that someone will fix it for me if I ask them." Meanwhile, it's Religion's job to ask "Why?", and Science can't give us that answer, even though some think it can.


Everyone's done bad things in the name of one thing or another. You could have taken that argument to the ridiculous extreme by saying that since every invention ever is the product of "Science" then Science has killed more people. One of the main ways that I tend to like Science better though is that most of the time they do their best to have their theories challenged.  

By Anonymous SnarkHunter, at Thu Aug 25, 12:40:00 PM:

The Scientific Method is the framework in which scientific theory operates. Faith is not allowed. Everything within the Scientific realm is subject to examination, and it will be affirmed, amended, or discarded.

The problem for science is the a priori. What came first? Who created the world? How did something come from nothing?

Descartes formulated "I think, therefore I am." (Cogito ergo sum) The problem is that thinking presupposes something that thinks. Thought preceding being is an Epistemological problem.

Ayn Rand cut the Gordian Knot by reversing the order. "I am, therefore I'll think." Or, more simply - "I am." As long as one accepts one's senses as valid, one can know matter exists. The problem of what comes before is negated because it cannot be known Epistemologically, but what "is" can be known through one's senses. From this point, things fall into place. (The meaning of "is" is important.) Philosophy and science are now aligned.

For the Atheist, there is no further explanation needed. Metaphysically, there is matter/being. Epistemologically, this is known through our senses. Logic has a "before". No faith is needed. No "belief" is required. Refuting this would require the distrust of the senses. This quickly devolves into nonsense. It could be done, but it would require epicycles.

For the Theist, there is no further explanation needed. God is known through Faith.

Atheism is not a religion. Yes it it "materialistic", but that is its Philosophical basis. Whether it is Good or Evil is best left for another discussion.

Theists can also be a pain.

"For the Snark was a Boojum, you see."  

By Blogger darovas, at Thu Aug 25, 02:13:00 PM:

Ayn Rand? Egads.  

By Anonymous SnarkHunter, at Thu Aug 25, 03:42:00 PM:

I do not consider Genesis Creation to be scientific. For it to be scientific, it must be subjected to the Scientific Method. Since this does not allow Faith, one must resort to a "Prime Mover". Most of those advocating including Creationism in the scientific realm would not agree to this.

The minuses should be much greater by several orders of magnitude. These need to be resolved scientifically.

"In the beginning God created heaven, and earth." Gen. 1.1.

I consider this the Biblical Singularity. Genesis takes six days, but there is a progression of events similar to the Big Bang/Evolution. There is no mention of what if anything preceded "the beginning". Also, God cannot be known/understood by us.

When I first heard Rumsfeld "known knowns, ...", I was struck by its elegance. In regards to the "Unknown that cannot be known", we know nothing about the universe prior to the Big Bang - "Unknown", but in addition, we can never know what occurred prior to the Big Bang. I do not know what is in your refrigerator ("Unknown"), and if you threw it into a Black hole, I could never know what was in it. If you told me, I would need to trust you (faith). For all I would know, the inside could be larger than the outside.

"For the Snark was a Boojum, you see."  

By Blogger darovas, at Thu Aug 25, 04:33:00 PM:

...we can never know what occurred prior to the Big Bang.

Within classical BB cosmology, the BB marked the beginning of time. Within this context, then, the collocation "before the BB" is meaningless. It is a bit like asking what lies north of the North Pole. [Technical caveat: it is not quite the same because the NP is an example of a coordinate singularity. A better example would be the topology of the real half-line, i.e. the set of nonnegative real numbers. The point x=0 is then special in that nothing lies to the left of it.]

Now of course many cosmologists do speak of "what happened before the BB" but in so doing they are (i) engaging in speculation, and (ii) implicitly assuming a theory of the very early universe which goes beyond the classical theory. This generally involves some sort of quantum effects which would smooth out the initial singularity. That is, it would eliminate the BB singularity.

"In the beginning God created heaven, and earth." Gen 1:1

I don't see any mention of a "singularity" here. Again, many biblical scholars today take Gen 1 as describing an ordering of preexisting materials, creating out of them the heavens and the earth. This would be more consistent with other ancient Near East creation myths.

Also the Masoretic Hebrew text does not refer to "the beginning" but rather "a beginning". There is a sheva under the ב in בְּרֵאשִׁית and not a qamatz. And in biblical Hebrew, when the prefix בְּ precedes an abstract noun, it turns it into an adverb. I once read a nice analysis which translated Gen 1:1 as something like, Originally, God created the heavens and the earth. When you read into this a singularity, I think you are engaging in eisegesis not exegesis.  

By Anonymous SnarkHunter, at Thu Aug 25, 05:20:00 PM:

"Ayn Rand? Egads"

Rational thought requires reason. Reason is Philosophical NOT Scientific. Reason presupposes a Philosophically sound basis. Without Philosophy, there is no science or math. Period.

Apparently, the rot has made its way into the hard sciences. Rational thought requires more than parroting what the "experts" say. Intellectual curiosity demands one attempt to falsify one's premises, but one is not allowed to question the "experts".

Let us call these "experts" what they really are. These are the High Priests, and all wisdom is received through them. Any deviation from these received dogma is heresy. The adherents must not use reason. "Rational thought" is really blind faith.

You are a disgrace to true Atheists. You assume I am a Theist, and that I am defending Creation. My arguments do not fit within the standard "Rational Thought", and therefore, I am branded a heretic. What I am is of no importance. I have put forth a rational argument, and the "rational thinker" cannot put forth a single coherent argument.

Frankly, I can support the Atheist position or the Theist with equal ease, and both are Philosophically sound. Professor Rational Thinker puts forth photos of Lincoln, "experts" with credentials, special devices, tectonic plates, blah, blah, blah.

The reason Atheism seems like a religion is because like Professor Atheist they appeal to science to support their arguments, but they have no understanding of what they are talking about. It is a sad spectacle.

By the way, I am a proud Christian, but as an actual rational thinker, I rely upon reason. Please feel free to use my arguments for your benefit. My belief in God is based solely upon faith. I believe Genesis Creation word for word. Period. It is not science. God is not subordinate to science. I also have no problem with honest science. From what I observe, the science makes a lot of sense. How Creationism, Big Bang, and Evolution can all be correct, I do not know. Only God can explain it, but until then my faith allows me to know that it is possible.

God's explanation of himself is "I am". Interesting parallel.

"For the Snark was a Boojum, you see."  

By Blogger darovas, at Thu Aug 25, 05:55:00 PM:

I agree with the statement "rational thought requires reason" and all such tautologies. Scientists do use reason, as do chefs and football coaches. What all three endeavors have in common is that they progress completely independently of philosophy. Ayn Rand's work did not result in a single significant contribution to science so far as I can tell. (I don't think it resulted in any significant contributions to philosophy either, mind you. Read this.)

Atheism is not a philosophy nor a religion any more than "not collecting stamps" is a hobby. Atheism simply means a rejection of theism. Other than this, there is no "atheist position". For example, some atheists are moral cognitivists, and others (myself included) are moral noncognitivists.

The rest of your last missive was a bit rambling, incoherent, and bitter. Frankly I find it bizarre that someone should today confess to a "word for word" belief in the Genesis creation account. Especially after all the minuses you yourself acknowledged which distinguish it from our modern scientific understanding. ("The duration of time is substantially different" was my favorite. Ya think??)  

By Anonymous SnarkHunter, at Fri Aug 26, 02:04:00 AM:

This has become tedious, and I am tiring of it. You were pwned a long time ago.

I expect a rational argument from a rational person, but I get silly nonsense. Hence, I am engaging a irrational person.

You keep spouting that Creationism is not science. I never made this claim. I waited for a rational argument supporting your assertion, but I was left hanging. I provided the rational argument to support your position. You have again repeated the claim with no rational argument provided. Repeating something over and over is not a rational argument.

I have provided a response to the charge that Atheism is or should be considered a religion, and again, it was a rational argument. You now inform me that "Atheism is not a philosophy nor a religion", and the rational argument is that "'not collecting stamps' is a hobby". I thought you were trying to slip in a little logic, and I got excited. If a then b; if -a then b. Of course, it was more claptrap.

You were gently informed that you were mistaken about continental drift being observable, but after checking with your "GIS friends" (really?), you then have no clue how this relates to continental drift. It is Plate Tectonic theory, and it is pretty damn important. You then put forth something about Brazil and Cameroon speaking different languages. This was followed by connecting Plate Tectonic movement and genome changes in bacteria, and there is some relation to reptiles and mammals.

Momentarily, I thought you were going to bring up bacteria in the Hydrothermal Vents. I admit that I got excited, but instead of a coherent thought, we are again thrust back into the Bible. We then learn your preference for the King James Version English "that Jesus spoke." I once again thought that you were capable of rational thought. I figured you were going to bring Philology into the discussion. Go back to the original, and show that the translations are wrong because the original meanings were altered. I have a feeling that you do think Jesus spoke the King's English.

Followed by more and more nonsense. You are trifling, and you are a clown. My dog has a better understanding of Physics than you, but you do use Wikipedia much better than he can. It's a paws thing.

Newtonian Physics was superseded by Einstein's Relativity. Period. Did you think I missed your statement regarding the limits? "Einstein's special relativity reduces to a well-defined Newtonian limit when v/c << 1."

Translation: When matter is moving at a velocity substantially less than the speed of light, Newtonian Physics is a close enough approximation to Einstein's Special Relativity that we can consider them the same. When matter exceeds this speed, Newtonian Physics falls apart.

"When a bus is moving at a velocity substantially less than a jet's minimum takeoff speed, the bus is a close enough approximation to the jet that we can consider them the same." A bus exceeding this speed falls apart.

Newtonian Physics was superseded by Einstein's Relativity. Period. "... I have said it thrice: What i tell you three times is true."

"For the Snark was a Boojum, you see."  

By Blogger darovas, at Fri Aug 26, 03:33:00 AM:

Snark I am left wondering whether you can really be as obtuse as you present. Or perhaps the batteries in your sarcasm meter have died.

I'm afraid you will, in your entire life, never understand my point about Newtonian physics, and what it means for it to be a unique limiting theory of relativistic mechanics. The point is that for v/c << 1 there are systematic corrections to the Newtonian theory. So the kinetic energy, for example, can be expanded as p^2/2m + p^4/8m^3c^2 + ... , the first term being the familiar Newtonian form (p is momentum) and the second behaving parametrically as 1/c^2. The Newtonian limit is therefore fixed -- settled. If you compute the period of a relativistic harmonic oscillator (as my mechanics students do), one finds T(s) = T(0) * [ 1 + 3s/4 - 15s^2/64 + ... ], where s = kb^2/4mc^2 with k the spring content, b the turning point (a proxy for the total energy), and m the mass. In the s --> 0 limit one recovers the Newtonian result, T(0) = 2*pi*SQRT(m/k), which has a fixed (i.e. settled) parametric dependence on mass and spring constant. There is no new science that will ever correct this limiting behavior. So while relativistic mechanics does supersede Newton's theory, in a particular limit one recovers Newton's theory in its complete unadulterated form.

[Snark]: Translation: When matter is moving at a velocity substantially less than the speed of light, Newtonian Physics is a close enough approximation to Einstein's Special Relativity that we can consider them the same. When matter exceeds this speed, Newtonian Physics falls apart.

A woeful misapprehension on your part. Matter does not exceed the speed of light.

[Snark]: "When a bus is moving at a velocity substantially less than a jet's minimum takeoff speed, the bus is a close enough approximation to the jet that we can consider them the same." A bus exceeding this speed falls apart.

I think I saw this once in a movie. Oh wait - did you actually think this bizarre comparison was meaningful?  

By Blogger darovas, at Fri Aug 26, 03:51:00 AM:

To fix a typo: relativistic KE is p^2/2m - p^4/8m^3c^2 + ... , but I'm sure you immediately noticed the error, Snark!  

By Blogger Elise, at Fri Aug 26, 10:44:00 AM:

Everyone's done bad things in the name of one thing or another.

Well, yes. That was my point. Religion is not unusual in that regard except that for most of recorded history people have used that particular institution to justify what they are doing because it was the only source of legitimacy they could get pretty much everyone to agree on. When religion fades from the scene people find other ideologies to justify what they want to do. Or are driven to do, depending on where you stand on the inevitability of our hard-wiring.

You could have taken that argument to the ridiculous extreme by saying that since every invention ever is the product of "Science" then Science has killed more people.

This confuses the instruments of death with the rationale for doing the killing. And even on the instrumental basis, I couldn't agree with this without a lot of research; an agreement on what constitutes an invention (hitting someone over the head with a rock? spears? arrows?); and an agreement on whether we're talking raw numbers or percent of current population.

One of the main ways that I tend to like Science better though is that most of the time they do their best to have their theories challenged.

Hmm. I think this would turn into a long discussion about then versus now for both religion and science, and about the danger of lumping all religions and all sciences together. The American Episcopal Church, for example, bears little relation to the ancient Mayan religion. The history of medicine and preventable infections would bear closer scrutiny. Engineering is a different type of science than, say, string theory.

You've probably already read this, but I found The Structure of Scientific Revolutions quite interesting. If nothing else, it points up the difference between scientists and the scientific community.  

By Blogger nun, at Sun Aug 28, 07:32:00 PM:

Religion is what. Science is how. Other than strictly statist considerations where in there can be no gods save them, ( horrors! people making their own decisions!...AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
There are no conflicts.  

Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?