Advertisement

Archive for Friday, November 17, 2006

Speaker: Science above the fray

November 17, 2006

Advertisement

Science isn't a fighter. Science just is what it is.

"My concern is that science not be hijacked," said Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, which opposes the teaching of religious views in science classes. "It's too important to be associated with an ideological concern."

In the ongoing battle between evolution and intelligent design, Scott told a Kansas University audience Thursday night, science as a discipline shouldn't be part of the battle's landscape.

Rather, Scott said, science's only concern is with the empirical observation, testing and recording of the ways of the natural world.

If there is a fight to be waged, she said, it should be between those who believe some nonmaterial force helps shape the world - including intelligent design proponents - and those who philosophize the purity of the natural, observable world.

Scott has been an activist in the creationism versus evolution controversy for more than 20 years and, from her point of view, science stands above the fray.

As for other, less-tested branches of science, the fact that they are always changing shouldn't become fodder for creationists, she said.

Science is meant to change, to try to always search for better explanations for how the world works.

Intelligent design proponents, she said, "confuse the unexplained with something being unexplainable."

But that, she said, is what science does: tries to explain the things humans cannot yet fully understand.

Science does not - or at least should not - instead become one side in a prolonged ideological battle.

"Science," Scott said, "doesn't have a dog in most of these fights."

Comments

bondmen 8 years, 1 month ago

Eugenie Scott never mentions the key ingredients which make science factual and not merely speculative. For science to be true it must be observable, repeatable, testable and falsifiable. Why does she fail to bring these important factors into the discussion? Maybe it's because this is not the kind of science she is promoting.

It would be refreshing if she'd uncloak her not so hidden agenda and openly admit her worldview that man and woman came from rocks only after passing through the lizard and monkey stages!

She's taking copious amounts of taxpayer money to promote her particular philosophical and metaphysical biases interpreting the material evidence with which all of us must deal.

It's amazing how she gets a free ride on this with the difficult questions never being asked.

fossilhunter 8 years, 1 month ago

bondmen - I didn't hear this lecture, but I've heard her before. I guarantee she has never said that humans "came from rocks after passing through the lizard and monkey stages"

pusscanthropus 8 years, 1 month ago

She doesn't get any taxpayer money. NCSE is a private non-profit org.

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 1 month ago

"For science to be true it must be observable, repeatable, testable and falsifiable."

I assume the straw man you are setting up is that evolution is none of these things. This assertion, Bondmen, is false.

Evolutionary science is all of those factors, observable, repeatable, testable, and falsifiable. Evolution is a theory, not a hypothesis. Millions of experiments (observed, repeated, tested, and not falsified) support evolutionary theory, just as many also support other theories such as gravitation, relativity, electricity, and quantum mechanics.

Bondmen, the electrons coursing through the microchips in your computer are all part of electrical and quantum theory; the Doppler radar reports you use to look at the weather predictions in the morning are part of wave theory.

MyName 8 years, 1 month ago

It's amazing how she gets a free ride on this with the difficult questions never being asked.

Well it's a good thing we have people like you to ask the "tough" questions, since you clearly know everything about this subject. I'm surprised KU didn't ask you to be part of this lecture series!

So tell us all, what sort of rocks did we turn into after the lizard and monkey stages? Oh wait, that's her worldview? This is all very confusing...

Kodiac 8 years, 1 month ago

"Why does she fail to bring these important factors into the discussion? "-- bondmen

"Rather, Scott said, science's only concern is with the empirical observation, testing and recording of the ways of the natural world." from the article.

Can you not read bondmen or is that something that might be tainted with certain philosophical and metaphysical biases so you can't be bothered with it.

"She's taking copious amounts of taxpayer money to promote her particular philosophical and metaphysical biases interpreting the material evidence with which all of us must deal." -- bondmen

Yeah well I'll take that bias over your own religious bias any day of the week. Like I said before bondmen, if you think you can do it better, stop your incessant whining and go actually do the work. Instead of attacking well-established fields of science, take a scientific problem that has stumped scientists and find an answer using your "biases". Otherwise, you might as well not say anything because you will never be taken seriously. Do the work and not the PR campaign.

werekoala 8 years, 1 month ago

"For science to be true it must be observable, repeatable, testable and falsifiable."

Right, and evolution is all those things. Or at least as much as geology and astronomy are. Oh wait, Satan put up stars that appear to be millions of light years away, and rocks that appear to be millions of years old in order to decieve us.

Or was that God testing our faith?

Either way, you don't know what you're talking about. Scientists need evidence, and lots of it, preachers just need some aphorisms and good public-speaking skills.

Which is why the preachers get frustrated when their rhetoric tricks and dog-and-pony-shows are ignored, and their beliefs swept aside as scientists seek evidence and move on when they don't find any.

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 1 month ago

75x55,

You still have not answered my simple questions:

1) Do you believe that human life begins at fertilization?

2) Why do you believe that human life begins at fertilization?

3) Where in the bible does it state that human life begins at fertilization?

Are you afraid of entrapment? Afraid to put your beliefs forward and justify them? Afraid your beliefs aren't justifiable?

Kodiac 8 years, 1 month ago

"What, another speaker pumping up their bio with easy speaking engagements? LJW printing basically the same story, over and over and over..."---75x55

What another comment by 75x55 bashing LJW and science, basically the same story, over and over and over...

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 1 month ago

75x55,

Why do you participate in a discussion forum when you refuse to discuss what you believe and think? Is it just to hurl insults and slander and lies?

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 1 month ago

"LOL! Best laugh I've had all day" - 75x55

Apparently I was correct.

They are simple questions. Why can't you answer them?

Kodiac 8 years, 1 month ago

"I don't feed trolls" -- 75x55

Mirror

jonas 8 years, 1 month ago

"Posted by 75x55 (anonymous) on November 17, 2006 at 3:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Nope - just tossing a post-it note"

You do other things on here? When does that happen?

LarryFarma 8 years, 1 month ago

The truth is that no organization has done more to mix science and ideology than Eugenie Scott's own NCSE. The NCSE has a full-time position called "Faith Project Director" and a news release said,

"Lawsuit Alleges that Federally-Funded Evolution Website Violates Separation of Church and State by Using Religion to Promote Evolution

San Francisco, CA- A California parent, Jeanne Caldwell, is filing a federal lawsuit today against officials of the National Science Foundation and the University of California at Berkeley for spending more than $500,000 of federal money on a website that encourages teachers to use religion to promote evolution in violation of the First Amendment.

"'In this stunning example of hypocrisy, the same people who so loudly proclaim that they oppose discussion of religion in science classes are clamoring for public school teachers to expressly use theology in order to convince students to support evolution,' said Larry Caldwell, President of Quality Science Education for All, who is co-counsel in the suit with the Pacific Justice Institute ......

"The lawsuit also alleges that the website is being used to further the religious agenda of a private organization, the National Center for Science Education (NSCE), which has a "long history of religious advocacy" on the evolution issue. According to the suit, the NCSE, which helped design the website, provides religious "outreach" programs and "preaching" on evolution to churches, all aimed at convincing people of faith that there is no conflict between their religious beliefs and evolution." -- from http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/07/hypocritical-darwinists-shamelessly.html

sci4all 8 years, 1 month ago

Larry, why didn't you note that the lawsuit was DISMISSED?

"In granting the motion to dismiss in Caldwell v. Caldwell et al. -- the first defendant is Roy Caldwell, the director of UCMP -- Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton held that the plaintiff failed to allege that she had federal taxpayer standing, failed to sufficiently allege state taxpayer standing, and failed to establish that she suffered a concrete "injury in fact." Since those considerations sufficed for dismissal, Hamilton did not consider the merits of the Establishment Clause claim."

http://www2.ncseweb.org/caldwell/2006-03-14_Order_Granting_Dismissal.pdf

(Why is it that creationists RARELY tell the WHOLE truth?)

LarryFarma 8 years, 1 month ago

Larry, why didn't you note that the lawsuit was DISMISSED? <<<<<

Because the dismissal is not relevant to the question of whether the allegations were true or not.

Why is it that creationists RARELY tell the WHOLE truth? <<<<<

Why should I tell something that is not relevant?

Also, I am not a "creationist."

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 1 month ago

How come deists never use the "I'm from Missouri - show me" argument when it comes to their own religious beliefs?

Why do they believe the bible is the word of god?

Why do they believe in the afterlife and in heaven and hell?

Why do they believe in prayer?

Why do they believe their dogma over that of islam, judaism, hinduism, zoroastrianism etc.

How is it that deists will believe, hook, line, and sinker, without objective evidence, in a god and an afterlife and angels and miracles but expect (and often deny) the objective scientific proof of evolution?

I'm not from Missouri, but SHOW ME why you believe religious dogma.

gr 8 years, 1 month ago

yourworstnightmare: "How is it that deists will believe, hook, line, and sinker, without objective evidence, in a god and an afterlife and angels and miracles but expect (and often deny) the objective scientific proof of evolution?"

One admits itself as a belief system. The other pretends to be science. That's why there should be scientific proof that man came from (insert your choice of rocks, polywogs, slime,...).

By the way, when do YOU believe human life begins?

Why do you believe that?

What logic do you have to justify that belief?

Nullifidian 8 years, 1 month ago

LarryFarma,

Would you kindly explain to us all how a private non-profit can breach the establishment clause by having people who go speak at churches?

Or how a website can breach the establishment clause simply by noting the entirely innocuous fact that there are numerous religious figures and organizations which have said there's no necessary antagonism between evolutionary biology and their respective faiths?

Nullifidian 8 years, 1 month ago

"That's why there should be scientific proof that man came from (insert your choice of rocks, polywogs, slime,...)."

None of the above.

Why is it that creationists are always so astonishingly ignorant of what it is that evolutionary biologists have and haven't concluded about the relationships of life?

The proper answer would be that humans came from earlier hominins, all of whom (including humans) group in a monophyletic clade (sharing a common ancestor) with modern-day chimps and bonobos.

The evidence for this consists of numerous hominin fossil specimens (and before arguing that these fossils don't prove anything, you should read a book on comparative anatomy like Aiello's and Dean's An Introduction to Human Evolutionary Anatomy), genetic phylogenies, chromosomal evidence, comparative anatomy, and biogeography. I'd be happy to go into each of those subjects in more detail, but Talk Origins is always available to you as a resource as well.

And while I don't want to answer for "yourworstnightmare", I'll give my opinions about your questions:

"By the way, when do YOU believe human life begins?"

I think it occurs when the foetus is independent of its mother's alimentary system, circulatory system, and respiratory system--the traditional birthday.

"Why do you believe that?"

As a developmental biologist, I don't think it's possible to draw any firm distinctions in an ongoing process of embryonic development. Either we define human life metabolically, in which case even the sperm and ovum are alive (cue "Every Sperm Is Sacred") or at the traditional birthday in order to be intellectually consistent.

If we choose to define a zygote as a person, then we must conclude, given the large number of zygotes that fail to implant or are miscarried, that pregnancy is the largest and by far most lethal pandemic in the world.

Furthermore, such a choice would make our legal system a laughingstock. Consider a woman who undergoes IVF, and and has some of the zygotes frozen. She, sadly, dies intestate during childbirth, and so too does the foetus. So who gets the residue of her estate? The husband or the frozen zygotes? Or if there is no husband (it's possible), then does the entirety of her estate go to the frozen zygotes as the next of kin?

Or if the zygote is a legal person with all the rights pertaining thereto, then the zygote has the right not to be imprisoned without charge. So all the woman would have to do is file a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of the zygote (even a possible one) and be freed from jail.

"What logic do you have to justify that belief?"

I don't know what sort of reasoning you would accept, but my basic problems justifying it are above. I also believe strongly in the principle of bodily autonomy, and that if the issue of when human life arises remains unresolved, then the rights due to the woman trump whatever kinda-sorta-maybe rights may or may not belong to the foetus.

gr 8 years, 1 month ago

"The proper answer would be that humans came from earlier hominins,"

And where did they come from?

"I think it occurs when the foetus is independent of its mother's alimentary system, circulatory system, and respiratory system--the traditional birthday."

What about C-section? Not very traditional. What about a delayed birth - drugged, ...etc.? What about laws concerning causing harm to a fetus?

"that pregnancy is the largest and by far most lethal pandemic in the world." Who caused the death of them? Intentional?

You need to expand your thoughts. Some have presented other options of when life begins that you haven't. Each have pros and cons, but just not an arbitrary timing issue.

craigers 8 years, 1 month ago

Posted by yourworstnightmare (anonymous) on November 19, 2006 at 4:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How come deists never use the "I'm from Missouri - show me" argument when it comes to their own religious beliefs?

Why do they believe the bible is the word of god?

Why do they believe in the afterlife and in heaven and hell?

Why do they believe in prayer?

Why do they believe their dogma over that of islam, judaism, hinduism, zoroastrianism etc.

How is it that deists will believe, hook, line, and sinker, without objective evidence, in a god and an afterlife and angels and miracles but expect (and often deny) the objective scientific proof of evolution?

I'm not from Missouri, but SHOW ME why you believe religious dogma.


1) I'm not from Missouri! :) jk. Why would I ask you to show me something that I am living? I know the Christ is with me every single day, proving himself to me, so I don't need you to show me he is there. 2)Since Christ is the Son of God, I choose to believe that the word of God is the bible. When His word is confirmed by signs and wonders, and personal experiences, then it has it's proof to be factual. 3)I believe in the afterlife and a heaven and hell because the spiritual world is all to real. I have seen people that are possessed by a demonic spirit. People that are close to me, so they had to reason to put on a show. And when I used what the Bible (word of God) said to do, "Cast out demons", the person ceased to have a problem right then and there. The demon left them. For me, that is tangible proof of the spirit world, also prophetic words from prophets that don't even know you, but God speaks words of comfort through them describing what I have been through are proof too. Also, when at church there have been multiple occasions where the pastor received a word from the Lord concerning a condition that a person in the congregation had and told them that God wanted to heal them and God did.
4)I have seen prayer bring about healing, protection, blessings, deliverance, among many other things. If it works, why wouldn't you believe in it.

craigers 8 years, 1 month ago

continued... 5) After all the evidence I have seen from the above experiences, why would I go to any other religious group? 6)I don't deny that micro-evolution is real. It is observable, testable, and repeatable. I don't agree with macro-evolution, which doesn't adequately explain how all of our complex life forms came to be.

In addition to the other comments from above, another miracle that I have witnessed with my own eyes is a man that was having horrible back pain, had one leg shorter than the other for quite a length of time. Enough time that all of his shoes had a lift of about 2 1/2 inches on the left foot. At church we prayed for that man and while he was sitting there I watched his left leg extend out those 2 1/2 inches during our prayer. Proof once again that God is real and will show himself to those that desire His presence.

Nullifidian 8 years, 1 month ago

"And where did they come from?"

From the common ancestor that hominins share with modern chimpanzees and bonobos, as I said above.

"What about C-section? Not very traditional."

Actually, it's extremely traditional: it's called Caesarian section for a reason.

Furthermore, it results in the complete independence of the baby's alimentary, circulatory, and respiratory system anyway.

"What about a delayed birth - drugged, ...etc.?"

What about it?

"What about laws concerning causing harm to a fetus?"

Politically-motivated folderol.

"Who caused the death of them? Intentional?"

"Who" is not a question one generally asks of pandemics. "Who" caused the Black Death? And no, they're not intentional, it's just that roughly half of all zygotes fail to implant. If you regard the zygote as a person, that means that pregnancy must be the most lethal pandemic in the history of the world.

"You need to expand your thoughts. Some have presented other options of when life begins that you haven't."

Some have, but I've already given my reasons for rejecting them. And you didn't ask for everybody's opinion on when life begins, just an individual's. But if you'd like to read more about all the ones (not just the one that says it begins at conception), I recommend this site: http://zygote.swarthmore.edu/intro5.html

"Each have pros and cons, but just not an arbitrary timing issue."

Actually, it is very arbitrary to favor a single step in an ongoing process of foetal development and say "That's when human life begins!" The above website lists several criteria, but why not define human life as being the time when the foetus develops a liver? After all, that was considered the seat of the soul in ancient Greece. The very act of choosing which specific point in this ongoing process is the final moment when a human being is formed out of a foetus, with all the rights of other persons, is arbitrary and bound up in our cultural preconceptions--if we were living in ancient Greece, and had the science of developmental biology, maybe we would be arguing that abortion is OK up until the formation of the liver)--even when it's defined as the moment of conception. I can denature and anneal human DNA all day long using PCR, but that doesn't mean that what I pull out of the machine is legally a person with all the rights implied by that, and conception does little more than bring two strands of DNA together in the presence of some maternal affect proteins.

gr 8 years, 1 month ago

"From the common ancestor that hominins share with modern chimpanzees and bonobos, as I said above."

And where did IT come from?

""Who" is not a question one generally asks of pandemics. "Who" caused the Black Death?"

What? We were talking about murder, not pandemics. Is this a further attempt to disctract?

"but why not define human life as being the time when the foetus develops a liver?" I agree that is similar to your definition.

"I can denature and anneal human DNA all day long using PCR," And if you could ever develop an organism out of that, I'd be impressed.

"and conception does little more than bring two strands of DNA together in the presence of some maternal affect proteins."

A human contains two strands of DNA versus a sperm or egg, so that shoots your previous attempt.

From before: "I think it occurs when the foetus is independent of its mother's alimentary system, circulatory system, and respiratory system--the traditional birthday."

Independent? Is that at a normal time, artificial time? Take C-section. The fetus is removed - therefore independent and is a human. So, abortion, if a hand is still inside, it's not "removed"? Or, as long as the umbilical cord is still attached, you can kill the baby. Don't you see the silly arbitrariness here? It comes down to passing a wand over the baby and pronouncing it human.

What if the ability to live independently has been researched and determined to occur not before a specific time. Then, through a rare instance, a baby was able to be maintained in artificial support. At a later date, the parents (or mother, if you will) decides it is a burden and would harm her "health". Since it was never human, she could kill it?

LarryFarma 8 years, 1 month ago

Nullifidian said ( November 21, 2006 at 9:42 a.m. ) --

LarryFarma,

Would you kindly explain to us all how a private non-profit can breach the establishment clause by having people who go speak at churches?

Or how a website can breach the establishment clause simply by noting the entirely innocuous fact that there are numerous religious figures and organizations which have said there's no necessary antagonism between evolutionary biology and their respective faiths?<<<<<<

What breached the establishment clause was that the website used government funds to promote a religious viewpoint, that viewpoint being that there is no antagonism between evolution and religion. Also, the website may have even promoted the idea that mainstream religion actually supports evolution.

gr 8 years, 1 month ago

Nullifidian,

Maybe you could help Wisconsin out with their little bit of dilemma. They are having a very similar problem on the other end of the spectrum. I think the defense presented the problem better than I could. Check out specifically the bottom paragraph of http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/1116061deer3.html

Nullifidian 8 years, 1 month ago

"And where did IT come from?"

Let me guess: this is going to be one of those situations in which I have to trace a lineage back step by step until the origin of life, and if I fail to meet your arbitrary criteria concerning any one step, you'll jump in and say "Goddidit!" No thank you. I've played that game often enough before.

Go here instead: http://www.tolweb.org/tree/

"What? We were talking about murder, not pandemics. Is this a further attempt to disctract?"

No, we were NOT talking about murder, and the evidence of that is the fact that the word "murder" never occurs in this thread until this quoted use of it and my response.

"I agree that is similar to your definition."

Are you intrinsically unable to get the point, or do you just skip over it if it doesn't support your claim? And no, it isn't similar to my definition, since a foetus doesn't develop a liver just before popping out of the birth canal.

"And if you could ever develop an organism out of that, I'd be impressed."

You're not going to develop a human out of an isolated zygote either. Instead, zygotes that stay isolated and fail to implant in the uterine wall are flushed out during the woman's next period. So what's the point of saying that a zygote is when human life begins when that 'life' is not possibly self-sustaining?

"A human contains two strands of DNA versus a sperm or egg, so that shoots your previous attempt."

It's clear you've failed to understand anything I've said. Just because something has the full diploid complement of chromosomes does NOT make it a human life. All my cells have the full diploid complement of chromosomes, so should I take a bereavement day every time one of them dies and flakes off? Of course not. Being a human being is the sum total of physiological events and psychological events which really only have a chance to get started at birth.

"Independent? Is that at a normal time, artificial time?"

It doesn't matter. It's the moment of independence from the mother's body that matters, not the way in which it occurs. If there's a premature birth and that foetus survives outside the mother's womb, great, but that's not a basis for drawing an earlier line in general simply because something could survive outside the mother's womb any more than it's proper to put you in prison right now because you could be a felon.

Nullifidian 8 years, 1 month ago

"Don't you see the silly arbitrariness here? It comes down to passing a wand over the baby and pronouncing it human."

And that's NOT the case when one says that a human life begins at the moment of conception, despite the fact that there's nothing about the zygote at that time which would remotely suggest that it's a "human life"?

At least my definition has the benefit of taking into account the fact that development is an ongoing process and so doesn't tie one's humanity down to some arbitrary event in an ongoing process, but rather to the sum total of the product of that process. Furthermore, anything else other than my definition being the operational one would cause legal headaches galore, a point which you still refuse to address.

"What if the ability to live independently has been researched and determined to occur not before a specific time."

Your scenario is nonsensical and reveals that you still do not understand my proposal. If the matter has been researched and something does pop out earlier than that and survives, then clearly the initial research was wrong or incomplete and is irrelevant. I'm not basing my position on an arbitrary timeline, I'm saying that whenever the newborn's cord is cut and it establishes itself as a fully independent entity, that is what it is.

Nullifidian 8 years, 1 month ago

"Maybe you could help Wisconsin out with their little bit of dilemma. They are having a very similar problem on the other end of the spectrum."

Certainly, and my opinion is this: if Wisconsin doesn't have a necrophilia statute that covers non-human carcasses, then the defendant should be allowed to skate on this charge.

Nullifidian 8 years, 1 month ago

"What breached the establishment clause was that the website used government funds to promote a religious viewpoint, that viewpoint being that there is no antagonism between evolution and religion."

Sorry, you and Larry Caldwell both fail this test on Constitutional law. The Lemon test (Lemon v Kurtzman. 403 U.S. 602 (1971)) gives a three-pronged test for Establishment Clause violations.

The purpose of the thing in dispute must be secular. Teaching about evolution is clearly a secular purpose.

It must have primary effects which neither advance nor inhibit religion. Saying that some religious traditions have reconciled themselves with evolution neither inhibits religion, nor does it advance it. It's not likely that people are hanging back from going to their local Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, etc. church on the mistaken belief that all Christian churches are creationist. If they were truly that interested, they'd likely already be familiar with the basic positions of the mainstream sects, and so the passage Caldwell found objectionable is moot.

The clear audience for that small, small part of the website is theists whose acceptance of evolution is shaky based on their belief that it conflicts with their faith. If they're reassured otherwise, it does nothing to advance religion, since these people already considered themselves adherents.

Lastly, it must not foster an "excessive government entanglement with religion". I don't think even people like you or Caldwell would assert that religion has glommed onto government and become hopelessly entangled in its affairs because of a few words on a website.

"Also, the website may have even promoted the idea that mainstream religion actually supports evolution."

It may to someone who cannot read for comprehension, but then that can hardly be the basis for a legal decision, since people who cannot read for comprehension can pull any conclusion out of any text. Just as you did, for example, when you claimed that Dr. Paul Myers was hailing the reported "dog birthed by cat" story as evidence for evolution.

What the paragraph in a small article in an isolated part of the website shows is that members of many religious traditions have asserted that evolution is consonant with their views. They haven't made acceptance of evolution an article of faith, however.

LarryFarma 8 years, 1 month ago

Nullifidian said ( November 23, 2006 at 10:35 a.m.) --

"What breached the establishment clause was that the website used government funds to promote a religious viewpoint, that viewpoint being that there is no antagonism between evolution and religion."

Sorry, you and Larry Caldwell both fail this test on Constitutional law. <<<<<

You are changing the subject. The issue here was whether Caldwell had an arguable constitutional claim. He clearly did. Judges are required to initially accept all of the plaintiff's allegations as true. There was no judgment on the merits of the claim because the case was dismissed on grounds of lack of standing to sue.

Saying that some religious traditions have reconciled themselves with evolution neither inhibits religion, nor does it advance it. <<<<<

Wrong. Saying that some religious "traditions" have reconciled themselves with evolution tends to promote those religious traditions over religious traditions that have not reconciled themselves with evolution.

The clear audience for that small, small part of the website is theists whose acceptance of evolution is shaky based on their belief that it conflicts with their faith. <<<<<

A small, small violation of the establishment clause is still a violation of the establishment clause.

"Also, the website may have even promoted the idea that mainstream religion actually supports evolution."

It may to someone who cannot read for comprehension, but then that can hardly be the basis for a legal decision, since people who cannot read for comprehension can pull any conclusion out of any text. <<<<<

How can you say that I misinterpreted the text without presenting what the text actually said? I just seem to remember that the text promoted the idea that some mainstream religions actually support evolution.

Nullifidian 8 years, 1 month ago

"You are changing the subject. The issue here was whether Caldwell had an arguable constitutional claim."

No, actually the subject was how what was posted to the Exploring Evolution site amounted to a establishment clause violation. I'm only interested in my conversation with you, not other peoples' conversations with you.

"Wrong. Saying that some religious "traditions" have reconciled themselves with evolution tends to promote those religious traditions over religious traditions that have not reconciled themselves with evolution."

Only if one values acceptance of evolution above all other considerations. You don't, so what do you have to complain about?

"A small, small violation of the establishment clause is still a violation of the establishment clause."

You snipped my observation about how, since the passage was geared for people who were already adherents, there was no net furthering of a religious interest. How dishonest. That's no way to convince me of the validity of your position.

Furthermore, even if one accepts your claim that it's a small violation of the establishment clause, that doesn't necessarily mean that UCB's Exploring Evolution site is in the wrong. Things that could be seen as "small violations" have been ruled acceptable for decades, going back to the Cochran case (Cochran v. Louisiana State Board of Education 281 U.S. 370 (1930)), where it was ruled that public institutions could loan school textbooks to parochial schools, or parents could be refunded the cost of busing their children to parochial schools, despite the fact that religious education was a part of these schools (Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)). If I were you I'd give Hugo Black's majority opinion on that a read, considering that he outlined in very strong terms the limits of governmental intrusion in religious matters, and yet ruled that this passed muster.

Nullifidian 8 years, 1 month ago

Well, here's what the 'offensive' website says:

"As teachers and scientists, we need to leave an opportunity for the religious individual to work out the accommodation according to his or her beliefs, and not slam the door by inserting extra-scientific philosophical statements about purpose and meaning into our discussions of evolution. I will discuss this in greater detail below."

Sounds pretty tame to me.

"Most Catholic and mainline Protestant denominations have accepted evolution as the way God brought the world about, and this is also true of the theology of all but the most conservative Jews. Although it would be inappropriate for a teacherto encourage students towards or against any religious view, it is appropriate to inform them, in a comparative sense, of the existence of more than one religious perspective on creation and evolution."

All of the above are facts. Creationism is a position only held as an article of faith by the most extreme conservative sects, and it does point out that one cannot get in trouble for simply discussing plain facts in a classroom. One doesn't even get in trouble for discussing theology in a classroom as long as it is appropriate to the curriculum--granted, that would be inappropriate in a science class--and balanced with input from the major world's religions. That's how I ended up having a major world religions segment in 10th grade lit class, even encompassing (though it didn't have to) Mark Twain's satirical and atheistic take on the creation story in Letters from the Earth.

Interested readers can view the article in question here: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/fosrec/Scott1.html

LarryFarma 8 years, 1 month ago

Nullifidian said ( November 26, 2006 at 1:34 p.m.) ---

"You are changing the subject. The issue here was whether Caldwell had an arguable constitutional claim."

No, actually the subject was how what was posted to the Exploring Evolution site amounted to a establishment clause violation. <<<<<<

That's the next subject. That was not the first subject. The first subject was the question. The next subject is the answer.

"A small, small violation of the establishment clause is still a violation of the establishment clause."

You snipped my observation about how, since the passage was geared for people who were already adherents, there was no net furthering of a religious interest. How dishonest. <<<<<

No, it was not dishonest at all. Your claim that the passage was geared for people who were already adherents has nothing to do with your implied claim that the passage was more excusable because it was just a "small, small part of the website."

Things that could be seen as "small violations" have been ruled acceptable for decades, going back to the Cochran case (Cochran v. Louisiana State Board of Education 281 U.S. 370 (1930)), where it was ruled that public institutions could loan school textbooks to parochial schools, or parents could be refunded the cost of busing their children to parochial schools, despite the fact that religious education was a part of these schools (Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)). <<<<<<

It appears that Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), overturned Cochran and Everson. Anyway, it is often not possible to use past court rulings to predict future court rulings.

Nullifidian 8 years ago

"Actually, your link shows it comes down to (such as acrasid slime moulds) what I said before:

"That's why there should be scientific proof that man came from (insert your choice of rocks, polywogs, slime,...).""

No, actually it doesn't show that, because the entities, if any, at the nodes of the tree are not identified. You, like most creationists, are confusing related to with descended from.

"And neither are you going to develop a human out of an isolated baby either."

So an infant of the species Homo sapiens is not human? Remarkable standard you have. Zygotes yes, babies no.

"Well, now you are getting to a definition others have presented. One arguable occurrence is when you have a zygote. Another arguable occurrence is at implanting. Both have a distinct event rather than arbitrarily say, 'I think it's human at this time period'."

One can pick out any number of events out of an ongoing process. To return to my analogy, there's no more reason to state that the act of implantation or the formation of the zygote confers humanity on a being anymore than the development of the liver.

"Actually, you failed to follow your conversation. You suggested a sperm or egg could be counted as human. I showed that was a flawed attempt."

No, actually you didn't. All you demonstrate by this response is that you fail to understand the metabolic definition of life. That's the only one that is also reasonable, because it finds that human life began roughly four billion years ago and never stopped.

"Killing a few cells of an human does not kill the human. However, killing the whole human baby, does. Hope that's not too profound to you."

I thought babies weren't human, as per your claim above.

"Which do you think is more arbitrary - "an ongoing process" or an "event"?"

I see, so we should just pick out any event, no matter how unfounded, because it strikes you as less arbitrary than reality. Sorry, I am not sympathetic.

"Where at in this continuum of "an ongoing process" does one make up the idea the baby is human?"

At the end of the developmental process, as I said, when the infant has acquired full physiological independence and differentiation. The one trying to place a point on the continuum is you, by singling out certain arbitrary moments within the developmental process.

"Do you suggest that life is defined so as to eliminate "legal headaches"?"

I think it is be something which should be considered. It might be more interesting than discussing your mutilated embryology.

gr 8 years ago

"Let me guess: this is going to be one of those situations in which I have to trace a lineage back step by step until the origin of life, and if I fail to meet your arbitrary criteria concerning any one step, you'll jump in and say "Goddidit!" No thank you. I've played that game often enough before.

Go here instead: http://www.tolweb.org/tree/"

Actually, your link shows it comes down to (such as acrasid slime moulds) what I said before:

"That's why there should be scientific proof that man came from (insert your choice of rocks, polywogs, slime,...)."

"You're not going to develop a human out of an isolated zygote either."

And neither are you going to develop a human out of an isolated baby either.

"Instead, zygotes that stay isolated and fail to implant in the uterine wall are flushed out during the woman's next period. So what's the point of saying that a zygote is when human life begins when that 'life' is not possibly self-sustaining?"

Well, now you are getting to a definition others have presented. One arguable occurrence is when you have a zygote. Another arguable occurrence is at implanting. Both have a distinct event rather than arbitrarily say, 'I think it's human at this time period'.

"It's clear you've failed to understand anything I've said. Just because something has the full diploid complement of chromosomes does NOT make it a human life."

Actually, you failed to follow your conversation. You suggested a sperm or egg could be counted as human. I showed that was a flawed attempt. Killing a few cells of an human does not kill the human. However, killing the whole human baby, does. Hope that's not too profound to you.

"At least my definition has the benefit of taking into account the fact that development is an ongoing process and so doesn't tie one's humanity down to some arbitrary event in an ongoing process, but rather to the sum total of the product of that process."

Which do you think is more arbitrary - "an ongoing process" or an "event"? Where at in this continuum of "an ongoing process" does one make up the idea the baby is human?

"Furthermore, anything else other than my definition being the operational one would cause legal headaches galore, a point which you still refuse to address."

Do you suggest that life is defined so as to eliminate "legal headaches"?

"I'm saying that whenever the newborn's cord is cut and it establishes itself as a fully independent entity, that is what it is."

So the "dance queen", if it was shown she killed the baby while the cord was still attached at both ends, that'd be ok?
And, "establishes itself"! - that's quite an unexpected qualification.

gr 8 years ago

"Certainly, and my opinion is this: if Wisconsin doesn't have a necrophilia statute that covers non-human carcasses, then the defendant should be allowed to skate on this charge."

As you would say, this shows you clearly missed my point. The point was not about statutes but about at what point of decomposition. Same as your "ongoing development process". Until you have an "event", and cutting the cord could very well be (that way you could see if it had blonde hair and blue eyes), it's one person's opinion over another.

Nullifidian 8 years ago

"So the "dance queen", if it was shown she killed the baby while the cord was still attached at both ends, that'd be ok?"

So you want to dialogue on legal matters when it suits you, but not when it can be used to impeach your argument. Cute.

Or have I misunderstood? Are you going to tell me that you were simply asking my opinion? Well, if you want my opinion, which has no legal relevance whatsoever, then you should just come out and ask if my philosophy can encompass infanticide without dancing around it, and the answer is yes it can in certain restricted cases, like those of anencephalic infants. I think it would be far less cruel to everyone involved, including the parents who invested so much emotionally and physically in this dying infant, to authorize physicians to be able to euthanize them with the parents' or parent's authorization.

Nullifidian 8 years ago

Since this is the only part worth responding to:

"It appears that Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), overturned Cochran and Everson. Anyway, it is often not possible to use past court rulings to predict future court rulings."

No, it didn't overturn them. Again, you're failing at Constitutional law. As recently as six years ago (Mitchell v. Helms, (98-1648) 530 U.S. 793 (2000)), the court was asked to rule on the legality of a school busing program that included parochial schools, as well as the legality of subsidizing computers and internet access for parochial schools, and the Supreme Court reversed the federal ruling that struck it down on the principle derived from Agostini 521 U. S., at 226 that issue wasn't whether indoctrination was going to occur at all, but whether any indoctrination that occurs could reasonably be laid at the feet of the government.

The current legal thinking is that things that are even vastly more egregious than what you and Caldwell call a "violation of the establishment" clause are permissible under the Lemon test.

gr 8 years ago

"So you want to dialogue on legal matters when it suits you, but not when it can be used to impeach your argument. Cute."

Do you suggest legal life and "real" life.

"Or have I misunderstood? Are you going to tell me that you were simply asking my opinion? "

Perhaps so. You probably answered it better than I asked it. I didn't expect that answer. Kind of changes things.

LarryFarma 8 years ago

Posted by Nullifidian on November 28, 2006 at 6:05 a.m.

The current legal thinking is that things that are even vastly more egregious than what you and Caldwell call a "violation of the establishment" clause are permissible under the Lemon test. <<<<<<

I am really fed up to here with you know-it-alls who think that you have crystal balls that can predict how the courts are going to rule in any particular case. The fact is that Caldwell had an arguable claim and was justified in suing the government.

Nullifidian 8 years ago

Posted by Nullifidian on November 28, 2006 at 6:05 a.m.

The current legal thinking is that things that are even vastly more egregious than what you and Caldwell call a "violation of the establishment" clause are permissible under the Lemon test. <<<<<<

LarryFarma: I am really fed up to here with you know-it-alls who think that you have crystal balls that can predict how the courts are going to rule in any particular case. The fact is that Caldwell had an arguable claim and was justified in suing the government.

Larry, dear Larry, there was no crystal ball involved. I posted about the current legal precedents for cases brought under the first amendment establishment clause. The reason I refer to these as precedents is because we live in a legal system based on the English common law, and because of the doctrine of stare decisis, we can conclude that this is the current thinking on establishment cases and will be ones which will have to be grappled with by anyone trying the case on its legal merits. (In this case, it was dismissed before its legal merits would even have to be considered.)

And as for having an arguable claim, I'm not stopping him from arguing that legal theory in court, but he shouldn't be surprised when he's landed with the costs for advancing a frivolous legal argument.

LarryFarma 8 years ago

Larry, dear Larry, there was no crystal ball involved. <<<<<

Nullifidian, dear Nullifadian, all I can say is that the courts are very unpredictable.

And as for having an arguable claim, I'm not stopping him from arguing that legal theory in court, but he shouldn't be surprised when he's landed with the costs for advancing a frivolous legal argument. <<<<<

If a lawsuit has any arguable basis at all, usually the courts will not hold that lawsuit to be frivolous.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.