Monday, November 14, 2005

The Perimeter of Ignorance: A New Case Against Intelligent Design

My wife has a boyfriend.

Every time she goes off on one of her space-related business trips, she ends up at the hotel bar until late in the night, nursing a warmed Grand Marnier as she falls into deep conversation with a man who was once described by People magazine as “the Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive.”

Neal Degrasse Tyson

With a BA in Physics from Harvard and a PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia, Neal Degrasse Tyson is one of the world's most recognized and popular lecturers on astronomy. The author of six books, a columnist for Natural History magazine, the host of NOVA's "Origins" miniseries, and the youngest-ever director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, you would think Tyson would be insufferable. Not at all. He’s a warm, personable and outgoing man, blessed with the ability to translate complex cosmic phenomena into something everyday people can grasp…and fall in love with.

As long as they keep their conversations to star formation, dwarf galaxies and the structure of our Milky Way, I guess I'm ok with it.

In this month’s issue of Natural History, Tyson has offered what he considers to be one of the most important things he’s ever written. The article, titled The Perimeter of Ignorance, is about Intelligent Design and is subtitled: A boundary where scientists face a choice: invoke a deity or continue the quest for knowledge.

But this isn’t your typical Intelligent Design article. Dr. Tyson is far more interested in the ramifications of the implementation of Intelligent Design than he is in the religious validity of its argument. Though his own opinion on the subject can be inferred, his article generally ignores the pros and cons of this latest shot in America's culture wars and focuses instead on the consequences—unintended or otherwise—of elevating Intelligent Design to a fully-functioning scientific model.

Tyson begins, “Writing in centuries past, many scientists felt compelled to wax poetic about cosmic mysteries and God’s handiwork…[invoking] divinity only when they reach the boundaries of their understanding. They appeal to a higher power only when staring into the ocean of their own ignorance. They call on God only from the lonely and precarious edge of incomprehension. Where they feel certain about their explanations, however, God gets hardly a mention.”

In the absence of verifiable data, Tyson argues, at that border between what scientists of old could explain and what they could not—they invoked God. As an example, he contrasts Sir Isaac Newton, the discoverer of gravity and a pious Christian and the French astronomer and mathematician Pierre-Simon de Laplace. Despite all that he had explored and revealed, there were still things that eluded Newton’s reason, particularly how the solar system remained cohesive and didn’t fly apart. The answer, he surmised, was that God held it all together supernaturally. Unsatisfied with his colleague’s hypothesis, de Laplace confronted Newton’s dilemma of unstable orbits head-on...and came up with the mathematical model that we still use today to explain the gravimetric forces that bind our planets. Refusing to relinquish the challenge of the unsolved to quasi-magical powers, de Laplace advanced science by a gargantuan degree. All because he refused to settle with the idea that a thing may be inherently unknowable.

“Today secular philosophers call that kind of divine invocation ‘the God of the Gaps’—which comes in handy, because there has never been a shortage of gaps in people’s knowledge,” Tyson writes. “As reverent as the great scientists of earlier centuries may have been, they were also empiricists. They did not retreat from the conclusions their evidence forced them to draw, and when their discoveries conflicted with prevailing articles of faith, they upheld the discoveries. That doesn’t mean it was easy: sometimes they met fierce opposition as did Galileo, who [once said that] the Bible ‘tells you how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.’”

“The unknown,” Tyson says, should be seen as “a place to explore rather than an eternal mystery controlled by the hand of God. As long as the celestial sphere was generally regarded as the domain of the divine, the fact that mere mortals could not explain its workings could safely be cited as proof of the higher wisdom and power of God. But beginning in the sixteenth century, the work of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton—not to mention Maxwell, Heisenberg, Einstein, and everybody else who discovered fundamental laws of physics—provided rational explanations for an increasing range of phenomena. Little by little, the universe was subjected to the methods and tools of science, and became a demonstrably knowable place.”

Countless questions hover at the front lines of science. The answers to many of these questions have eluded this planet’s best minds for centuries. And they may elude them for many more to come. Interestingly enough, in this age of technological marvels and scientific breakthroughs coming at a rate and size the world has never before seen, the idea, at least in contemporary America, of a higher intelligence as the single answer to all remaining enigmas has been enjoying a resurgence. What used to be called ‘the God of the gaps’ now goes by Intelligent Design.

Dr. Tyson sees this as little more than embracing ignorance.

Personally, I am a Creationist, which is to say that I think the world came into being as the result of an active, creative mind, not random chance. I believe in Intelligent Design which is to say that I believe a supreme being was behind that mind. Beyond that, however, I cease to really care how it was done. Six literal days and “poof” — instant world? I think the geological record pretty soundly refutes a young earth, but ok. The slow change of organisms, evolving over time into a higher ordered species. Yeah, sure, sounds about right. It really doesn’t matter to me. I tend to be an old-earth Creationist who could probably be persuaded into an Theistic Evolutionary model without much difficulty. Frankly, I care very little either way. It’s a silly thing to argue about and I rarely care to.

But I’m with Dr. Tyson on this one.

I don’t know what this is. I don’t know how it works. It’s too complicated for me to figure out. It’s too complicated for any human being to figure out. So it must be the product of a higher intelligence. What do you do with that line of reasoning? Do you just cede the solving of problems to someone smarter than you, someone who’s not even human? Do you tell students to pursue only questions with easy answers?

“There may be a limit to what the human mind can figure out about our universe. But how presumptuous it would be for me to claim that if I can’t solve a problem, neither can any other person who has ever lived or who will ever be born. Science is a philosophy of discovery. Intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance. You cannot build a program of discovery on the assumption that nobody is smart enough to figure out the answer to a problem.

“I don’t want students who could make the next major breakthrough in renewable energy sources or space travel to have been taught that anything they don’t understand, and that nobody yet understands, is divinely constructed and therefore beyond their intellectual capacity.”


Blogger Jon said...

Oh boy. Where to start? OK, with me I guess. I am a young earth creationist. I know that for many, if not most, that automatically excludes me from any serious debate or consideration. Most think this is proof that I refuse to look at the evidence before me and factor that into my way of thinking. This is just not true. I believe what I believe because I stopped listening to what was being taught and blindly accepting it, and chose instead to start asking questions. There can be no learning if one does not ask questions and seek honest answers to those questions. Without the ability to question one does not learn, one is indoctrinated.

First off, let’s call this debate what it really is, a debate about origins. Creation vs. Evolution. To suggest that intelligent design (ID) goes beyond origins and affects our ability to scientifically ascertain the operations of our universe is silly and simply wrong. No ID believer that I know suggests that the pursuit of scientific knowledge is unnecessary and fruitless. Quite the opposite, I have learned that believers of ID are some of the most curious scientist and lay people about the universe and how it originated and operates. I have yet to hear anybody who supports ID say, “I don’t know what this is. I don’t know how it works. It’s too complicated for me to figure out. It’s too complicated for any human being to figure out. So it must be the product of a higher intelligence.” I have never held to such a ridiculous maxim, and I think that ID is one of the most refreshing progresses to come out of the scientific community in ages.

I think that there exists an abysmal lack of understanding in the scientific community as well as common society as to what ID means and what it propones. Many well meaning individuals and organizations (on both side of the creation evolution debate) responded to ID with a sort of knee jerk reaction when if came on scene. Hard core believers in evolution lambasted it as an attempt to subvert evolution and introduce religion on the sly. Religious groups said that the introduction of ID was an attempt to downplay (if not outright remove) God from the sphere of scientific debate. It in fact is neither of these things. I feel that people who debate the utility or validity of IT should first study up on both sides of the issue. Find out what proponents of ID really say, instead of just looking at what opponents of ID say about ID. One can hardly craft a reasonable argument for or against any issue unless and until one has a sound understanding of both sides of the issue.

Science is (or at least should be) a search for truth about our world and universe. It is folly to prejudge what may or may not be true before letting the facts seen and heard. This is true whether you are a Creationist or an Evolutionist. The facts must be allowed to speak for themselves. When personal beliefs are allowed to alter or discount data that doesn’t quite fit the scientific search for truth is over; it is replaced by religious dogma. That is true again for both sides of the debate. When one automatically excludes certain evidence or possibilities on the basis of their own personal beliefs one has left the realm of science. Scientist should be free to examine every possible explanation for a puzzle before them. ID is one such possibility. The search for answers doesn’t end with ID, it simply takes a different path.

There are really only two different choices on the table when it comes to the study or origins. The universe was created by random chance and this random chance created all we see around us though one of many possible explanations. Or, there was an intelligence involved in the creation of our universe on some level or another. This does not mean that God is the only possible explanation; it could be another life form of superior intelligence, or yes, it could even be theistic evolution. Nor does such a belief then dictate that the mysteries of the universe are unattainable and we should therefore not even try. It simply (and correctly) implies that intelligent control is a possibility for how we humans came to be. It is a possibility. Whether you agree with the validity of such a possibility is mute, it is a possibility none the less. As such it is a possibility that can and should be explored through traditional time honored scientific methods.

A belief in ID does not mean all scientific procedures are immediately thrown out, that they somehow don’t apply anymore. ID is just as subject to rational scientific debate as is any other possibility. Man is a creature of belief and as such is always prone to error in their observations and interpretations. For this reason an open and honest discourse is necessary in order that everyone as individuals and society as a whole can come closer to a true understanding of the world around us and the universe that we inhabit.

Such a debate is not occurring today. The “Christian” community is just as much at fault for this as are traditional evolutionists. There are many religious types that adamantly refuse to look at the evidence presented by the scientific community because they don’t want to risk subverting the Bible. This is outright foolishness. If the Bible is true, than it will prevail no matter the ferocity of the debate surrounding any scientific debate. To abandon science and cling blindly to ones beliefs is childish and dangerous. Truth will remain intact wherever there is an honest and open search for it. Debate is not to be feared, but encouraged.

The evolutionary community is responsible for stifling this debate as well. In response to the admittedly stupid and irrational tactics of the “Christian” community, the so called “scientific” community dropped themselves to the same level and began fighting in a likewise manner. However, if the “religious” community invented it, the “scientific” community perfected it. Using the exact same philosophical arguments as the so called “church”, the scientific community now strives to abolish all possible debate on matters pertaining to scientific research. Arguments are regularly crafted sighting the dangers of such irrational beliefs as a creator, a higher power, or dare I say it, God. The acceptance of such beliefs, we are told, would set scientific progress back by hundreds of years. They would make us the laughing stock of the scientific community they say. We would be corrupting the minds of impressionable youths we are warned. I’m sorry; such arguments are naive and should be reserved for politicians and other such fools.

A genuine and open debate should always be encouraged in any society on any subject under contention. “We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” –Thomas Jefferson. How sad that the search for truth is more often sidelined by both sides and all that remains now is the combat. What’s wrong with believing in X or Y or even Z? Nothing. Where disagreements arise, let us not fear to join in an open and fair discourse on the subjects at hand. Likewise, let us not be afraid to put aside incorrect thinking or views when such thinking and views can be demonstrated to be false. If one is unable to cast aside error when it is exposed, then they’re not interested in the truth, just comfort.

For all these reasons and more I say let intelligent design into the national debate. Allow those who espouse it to give their reasons and their proofs for such a viewpoint. Let them make their arguments and explain their logic. Let us as a people and a nation act in such a way that encourages an open dialog, and in such a way that none of us could ever be accused of stifling the views of others because we disagreed with the premise behind it. It was wrong when the “church” engaged in such tactics, and it is equally wrong today for the scientific community to pick up their dishonest methods. The only way truth stands a chance at being known is if error is given free reign to roam where it will.

To those who would say, “I don’t know what this is. I don’t know how it works. It’s too complicated for me to figure out. It’s too complicated for any human being to figure out. So it must be the product of a higher intelligence.” I say let them fade from existence into the ash heap of history. Science has no room for you. You are not welcome here on any side of the debate. It is this belief that should be guarded against, not those who propose a belief that is different from yours, or yours, or yours.

7:16 AM  
Blogger c_neil said...

"I am a young earth creationist... that automatically excludes me from any debate or consideration."

I have said things like this before, and I understand your feelings. However, what will make you excluded is not the fact that you hold a position about young earth creationism, but the fact that most young earth creationists have already decided what types of evidence will be accepted and, more importantly, the conclusion of the debate.

If compelling evidence was found, an evolutionary scientist would probably accept it and alter the theory. (Recently, new evidence has made many scientists decide that neaderthals aren't related to humans.)

However, if a young earth creationist found a new piece of scientific evidence, their theory is not going to change one iota. The evidence will only be incorporated into an existing conclusion.

I would like to believe in young earth creationism. I believe that if you took B.C. Jewish scholars and plopped them in the twenty first century that they might agree with young earth creationist ideas. I believe that God might have created the earth in a mature state and altered in through catastrophic events, causing the fossil record to be unreliable.

However, none of these beliefs can be proven through the scientific method, which is heavily skewed toward naturalism and math.

The secular critics are right. Since Intelligent Design folks mostly do apologetics, a total, universal acceptance of Intelligent Design would probably lead to less science.

What should be done to get past this culture conflict? I don't really have a clue.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous BP said...

Great blog!

And I just noticed you changed your picture on it - I'm a little slow....

I loved the first line. Instead of being startled I laughed. I know how much your dear, beautiful wife loves you. She's a catch that's for sure.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

“what will make you excluded is not the fact that you hold a position about young earth creationism, but the fact that most young earth creationists have already decided what types of evidence will be accepted and, more importantly, the conclusion of the debate.”

I fully understand that Neil, but is that any less true of evolutionists? That is what I was trying to get across in my previous reply. Both sides are guilty of this. This is the nature of man I’m afraid. We all carry our beliefs into our search for answers. This is unavoidable to some degree or another. This is why I say that we must be willing to have and open, fair, and honest debate among peoples of different beliefs. This is not done by either side right now though; both are guilty of attempting to minimize, denigrate, or otherwise insult the opposition instead of carrying on a serious discourse them. No one can predetermine the conclusion of the debate for anybody except themselves. If they aren’t willing to be honest, then they have little business in the field of science.

Brandon, I would also like to say that there are few topics more worthy of debate and interest that the question of origins. It goes to the very root of the nature of man, his governance (both supernatural and natural), and his reason for living (i.e. if he has one). I’m not sure you really don’t care or else why post this article in the first place? Maybe you just don’t understand the profound implications of this debate and that it goes far beyond the mere realm of science.

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Craig Rusbult said...

The most common type of non-open science is closed by methodological naturalism (MN), a proposal to restrict the freedom of scientists by requiring that they include only natural causes in their scientific theories. The difference between science that is open and closed is the difference in responding to a question: Has the history of the universe included both natural and non-natural causes? In an open science (liberated from MN) this question can be evaluated based on scientific evidence; a scientist begins with MN, but is flexible and is willing to be persuaded by evidence and logic. In a closed science (restricted by MN), evidence and logic are not the determining factors because the inevitable conclusion — no matter what is being studied, or what is the evidence — must be that "it happened by natural process."

Is it science?

Let's compare the process of MN and the process of science. With methodological naturalism, circular logic converts a naturalistic assumption (that everything which does occur in nature is natural) into a naturalistic conclusion (that everything which has occurred in nature has been natural). But circular logic is bad logic; it is trivial and misleading. The circular MN-process, which converts an assumption into a conclusion, is automatic; it cannot be changed by a logical evaluation of observable evidence. But evidence and logic are the foundations of science-process. Since the circular MN-process does not depend on evidence and logic, it does not depend on science-process, but the naturalistic conclusion demanded by MN is considered to be scientific. Do you think this is rational? It does seem strange, but the overall result is that MN provides a way to bypass the process of science and then claim the authority of science as support.

Is it useful?

In science — in a logical search for truth about nature — is methodological naturalism a useful approach? Although we can't be certain, probably MN will be useful if its assumptions are true, if there is a match between "what MN assumes about the world" and "how the world really is." IF the history of the universe really has included only natural process, then MN is correctly assuming an all-natural history, and MN will be useful because it helps scientists avoid being distracted by false theories about non-natural events. But IF non-natural events really did occur during history, the premise of MN is false, and MN will be harmful when it inevitably forces scientists to reach some false conclusions.

Imagine that we're beginning our search for truth with an appropriately humble attitude by refusing to assume that we already know — with certainty, beyond any doubt — what kind of world we live in. If we don't know whether naturalism "matches the reality," what is our best scientific strategy for finding truth? The best strategy is an open science, with scientists humbly asking a question instead of arrogantly assuming an answer. While we're in a questioning state of mind, exploring various aspects of nature, an open science (not constrained by MN, not demanding an all-natural history) will let scientists use evidence-and-logic to reach a conclusion. In open science, a scientist begins with MN by assuming that (consistent with MN) there is a natural explanation, thereby adopting a heuristic-MN. But an open-thinking scientist rejects rigid-MN by choosing the freedom to use both MN and non-MN modes of thinking while logically evaluating the evidence, to consider a wider range of possibilities that include both non-design (which is consistent with MN) and design (which may or may not be consistent with MN). In open science, a scientist begins with an MN-assumption, but does not insist that — no matter what the evidence indicates — it is necessary to end with an MN-conclusion.

Perhaps the search by Closed Science is occasionally futile, like trying to explain how the faces on Mt. Rushmore were produced by undirected natural process (erosion,...) even though, when scientists are restricted in this way, the finest creativity and logic will fail to find the true origin. Perhaps MN is putting scientists in the position of a man who is diligently searching for missing keys in the kitchen when the keys are sitting on a table on the front porch. No matter how hard he searches the kitchen, he won't find the keys because they aren't there! On the other hand, if the keys really are in the kitchen, they will probably be found by someone who believes "the keys are in the kitchen" and is diligently searching there, not by a skeptic. Proponents of Open Science are not saying "don't search in the kitchen"; instead, they are saying "search everywhere, including the front porch," and this flexibility should make Open Science more effective.

In scientific thinking, in science research and science education, is MN always wise? When we ask this question, we're actually asking, "Should science be a search for natural explanations or logical explanations?" What do you think? While we're investigating the history of the universe, if we find a conflict between naturalism and logic, should we give a higher priority to naturalism or logic?

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sending me your updated blogs, they make me ask some questions...

11:01 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...


"[On the premise that a superior intelligence created our universe]: As such it is a possibility that can and should be explored through traditional time honored scientific methods."

I am a little curious how you propose to do this. That is the very thing that so many in the scientific community take issue with--taking something that must, by its very nature be accepted by faith instead of reason and rigorous testing because it is impossible to prove that the higher being, in fact, exists. You propose to build a massive concrete structure over top the sea.

"I would also like to say that there are few topics more worthy of debate and interest that the question of origins. It goes to the very root of the nature of man, his governance (both supernatural and natural), and his reason for living (i.e. if he has one). Maybe you just don’t understand the profound implications of this debate and that it goes far beyond the mere realm of science."

Sure I do. It's called theology and it is vigorous and rightly debated in thousands of churches and seminaries every day. The appropriateness of that debate in Biology class on the other hand...

Thanks for your insightful comments, Craig and your obvious love of using your mind for God. I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Anselm of Canterbury: "For I seek not to understand in order that I may believe; but I believe in order that I may understand, for I believe for this reason: that unless I believe, I cannot understand."

Good luck in your scientific pursuits (yeah, I read up on your resume online!).

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I won't invest as much time on response-crafting as Jon and Craig because I'm with Brandon on the issue of whether this is the topic to invest all our argumentative energy.

I am also like Brandon and CNeil in that I am conflicted about what I think about creation. I'm inclined toward a theistic evolution stance, but it doesn't occupy most of my mental energy.

Having spent most of my academic career on the study of epistemology, I can say that the "debate" is not...a debate. For a debate to occur there must be some agreement about what counts as evidence. Of course naturalistic scientists frame the discussion in the science classroom, Craig; they are scientists. They have defined what counts as science for a couple hundred years or so. If the IDers want to win the "debate," bring better evidence to the table. If they want to change the definition of science, admit that the efforts are rhetorical and political. You can't say, "I do better science" by simply changing the rules of science. IDers do better among the public, because they can appeal to fairness and "openness," with little regard for how such criteria would affect the discipline of science (i.e. teaching ancient Navajo creation stories alongside evolution as well). By the way, everyone in this discussion (including the new board members in Dover) believe ID should be taught as an alternate viewpoint, just not yet in the science classroom. If supernatural appeals and political pressure are allowed to shape science policy and practice, then we are in fact on a downward spiral.

I take this topic personally for a couple of reasons. I successfully completed graduated school as a sincere Christian believer who never complained about my minority status, or bitched and whined about not being treated fairly. I wrote many times about the so-called "creation-evolution debate." I worked harder than others and made my arguments in such a way that they could not be ignored. They weren't always appreciated, but they were taken seriously. IDers still have a way to go to convince the scientific community that they are genuinely interested in science, and not pushing a religious perspective. All the conservative evangelicals lining up behind them doesn't help.

The second reason I take this personally is that I am currently watching a dear friend of mine lose his job over this. I will write about it in detail once I get permission from my friend. He has taught biology at a Christian university for 40 years. Dedicated scholar, good friend and faculty member, and a sincere Christian. He refuses to teach ID. The school is "firing" him. They apparently didn't have a problem with Christians believing or teaching evolution decades ago, but now that the mind-controllers have taken over the evangelical universe, there is no room left for those who disagree.

Argue the "science" of ID and evolution all you want. I look at the betrayal and nasty treatment of my friend and see a faith community that has completely lost its way. I think that's what Brandon is talking about. When we care more about winning and controlling the origins debate than we do loving people like Jesus, we have missed the point.

I guess I did write a long response after all. Well, I guess some ideas just have to evolve over time.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

"By the way, everyone in this discussion (including the new board members in Dover) believe ID should be taught as an alternate viewpoint, just not yet in the science classroom."

Yes, and I should have mentioned that fact in the blog. Even Dr. Tyson, in his article, wants to see this debate occur and continue in an educational setting, but again, just not in the science classroom.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

“You propose to build a massive concrete structure over top the sea.” This is absurd in the extreme. First let me say, since it appears to have escaped your observation, that you are adherent of intelligent design. That is that the production of the universe and all we see was directed by the intelligence of a higher being to create what we now see today, or theistic evolution. Has this belief hampered your ability to scientifically examine the universe around you or remove any curiosity you might have for such a search? Of course not. If ID is beyond the scope of scientific research, than it is so in direct proportion to the extent that evolution (and any variation thereof) is beyond the scope of scientific research. Both theories require an in depth look at the evidence acquired so far followed by a rational look at what that evidence points to. If I am building concrete structures over the sea dear brother, then evolutionary science is no more or less so.

It is true that no study is able of producing an absolute answer on this issue. We will never know for certain whether evolution or creation is correct no matter how long we study this matter (not as long as we live in this universe anyway). Both are subject to the faith of the adherent. As such we must make our choices based on the observed facts at hand. The study of ID is no different that the study of evolution.

Does the information we have gathered lend itself to better to the theory of ID or evolution? For my part I think the evidence in overwhelmingly supportive of ID. I could and would be happy to go into detail on this matter but I am trying to stick to the topic at hand which is the validity of the ID theory and the scientific research of it.

We as humans make design inferences everyday. As mentioned by Craig, if we see a the faces carved out on Mount Rushmore we rightly assume those faces were created by an intelligent agent. Even if we had never seen those faces before; didn’t know whose faces they were or the history behind their creation, we would still make such an inference. The reason for such an assumption is clear, and making that assumption can be made within the scientific model.

In order to make such a design inference we must first understand what enables us to make such assumptions. Put simply, design inference is the elimination of chance on the basis its small probability. In other words, a design inference is made based on two important considerations: small probability and specification (or a pattern). When ever we see something with a small probability that conforms to a known pattern we infer its creation involved intelligence. The reason for this is clear: such inferences acknowledge the presence of information within the observed article. Nature has created millions of hillsides throughout history, yet all of them are random and display no information whatsoever to be discerned by the observer. In fact, natural processes has never produced anything that could be called information, let alone information as complex as DNA. Only in South (or is it north?) Dakota will you find a hillside that contains information in its features, thus we can correctly assume intelligent agents were behind its creation. Design inference then is based on solid scientific principles.

Take this one step further though. Look at a mouse trap. While its information content might not be readily seen, its intelligent design becomes evident when we examine what it does and how it is able to do it. The mouse trap consists of five basic pieces: a catch to hold the bait, a strong spring, a thin bent rod called the hammer, a holding bar to secure the hammer in place, and a platform on which the entire system is mounted. If any one of these five pieces is removed or defective then the mechanism will not work. All the pieces must be present simultaneously in order for the mouse trap to work. This concept is referred to as irreducible complexity, and it is a very basic scientific construct. That is except in the field of evolution.

Irreducible complexity applies to all life on this planet. As humans we are made up of 11 major organ systems. If a child were to be born without just one of these organ systems it would not survive. All the components that make us up had to come into existence simultaneously in order for us to live. But the irreducible complexity goes far beyond that. Humans are made up of countless mechanisms that are in themselves irreducibly complex. We are a collection of irreducible complex machines built upon further irreducible complex machines ad infinitum. The same is true for all life on earth, down to the simplest of bacteria. A single bacterium is composed of no less then 40 different irreducible complex machines. Every cell in your body is similarly irreducibly complex. Small incremental improvements, as suggested by the Darwinian evolutionary model, are incapable of producing bacteria, let alone a fully developed human as demonstrated by the principle of irreducible complexity. This then enables us to make a design inference. All life on this planet had to be created generally as is or it could not exist at all. That is but a part of the basis of intelligent design and its scientific validity. It is science, and there is no concrete involved.

This does not rule out micro-evolution however which is what Darwin observed so long ago on the Galapagos Islands. Survival of the fittest (and the subsequent passing on of the survivors genes) is a solid scientific theory that acts as a sort of quality control on organisms within the world. It adequately explains the variations of various species alive today, but what it fails to do; what it cannot do is account for the creation of an entirely new and different species made up of entirely different irreducibly complex designs.

By honestly examining the complexity of all life around us and going to where the evidence leads we gain further insight into our universe and its origins. If such evidence points to a designer, so be it. If the presence of such a designer has religious implications one cannot simply shelve the evidence and its conclusions because one doesn’t like the thought of being beholden to that designer. Mr. Neil, you said that if any substantial evidence could be presented to an evolutionist that they would likely alter or abandon their theory. This is but one of literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of examples that evolutionary scientist have ignored in their pursuit of evolutionary “science”. I would go into more, but for now as I said, I want to keep this conversation on topic.

A belief in ID is not the abandonment of science and its principles as you suggest, rather it is the application of those principles to information we have already gathered. As we gather further information and subject it to sound scientific processes more advancements can and will be made. Science and the continued exploration of our universe will not fade away and die if one believes that the universe was the product of intelligent design.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

Brandon. Wow. Is that Orson Welles in your new picture? Whoever it is, he’s a hell of a lot better looking than that Tyson dude. I’ve seen him on Nova (and I think on the special about Einstein’s Big Idea, which was GREAT), but those turtlenecks gotta go.

It’s funny how fundamentalists find science antagonistic until they need it (medicine) or hell, everyday use (Pat Robertson broadcasting his missives through the medium of television. The mega-engineering of mega-churches.)
These things were, at one time, Beyond Understanding.

But I realize that is not the essential debate. Jon has suggested he is open to science, and he has put forth an articulate, impassioned argument. Even though he is a young earth creationist.
I promise, Jon, in your spirit of real debate, and a real attempt to incorporate controverting evidence wherever you find it, I did not roll my eyes.

I agree with you entirely though, in this debate and every other one, it is more about winning and scoring the most points than in absorbing the other side’s information.

Reacher, as always, put things down better, quicker, and with more impact than I could hope, so I’m not sure why I even try. It’s like he’s channeling my id.

On the other hand, I take serious issue with Craig’s naturalism vs. logic dichotomy. As I understand it, naturalism IS logic. A causes B causes C. In this scenario, we know the nature and makeup of A, B, and C. If, on the other hand, God is A, we do not know his makeup or nature. We can’t. For God’s sake, man, he is God. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? We creatures being his creation and all that. God can end the world tomorrow with a snap of his fingers, should he choose to create for himself these “fingers.” He can part oceans, talk out of burning bushes, and turn women into pillars of salt (after making them out of a man’s rib, of course). I’m willing to believe that stuff. I’m not completely against it. But none of it’s logical, is it? The very idea of God is illogical. This does not mean illogical equals bad. It just means that God does not have to follow rules. Logic, on the other hand, does. Sucks for logic. Logic that allows an element that does not have to follow any known rules is simply not logic as it is taught in mathematics departments everywhere. Logic would cease to exist in a giant poof of rhetorical gamesmanship, which is exactly what Craig has engaged in, and why I am now so very tired.

Sure we can discuss ID. But it’s not science. It’s not chemistry, or biology, or physics. It’s metaphysics.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

And a more accurate analogy for losing your keys in the kitchen would not be that they may be found on the front porch, which would be completely logical and incumbent upon any scientist to look there. What you propose, by your definition of non-natural, is that maybe the keys disappeared into thin air, or turned into a frog and hopped away. Those are explanations that are outside the realm of natural methodology. In which case, the key finding scientist has no busy looking in the first place, and we need to call a psychic or a priest.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

Has no business looking. Not no busy looking, though I'm sure that happens too.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Andy Foster said...

Brandon emailed me saying that he was surprised that I hadn't responded. Boy, am I glad he sent me that email, and Boy again, do I want to respond...

Ok, first of all, I have no doubt that Dr. Tyson is an intelligent, probably more so than I, and engaging scientist. But his ignorance of Intelligent Design (ID) is appalling. This article seems to be suffereing from a BASIC misconception, that is that if I believe God created something that is incomprehensible to me, that stifles my desire to rationally and scientifically study that area. Rubbish.

Now, I am a math/philosophy/
logicician type of person as opposed to a hands on build it kind of engineer. But, typically, engineering types can be spotted at an early age doing what? Tearing some complex machine apart to see how it works, and putting it back together again. The kid doing this is not thinking "Well, somebody built this watch, and it works I know not how, and so therefore, I might as well just leave it alone." No, the kid is curious, inquisitive, and almost driven to figure out exactly HOW this watch works. This is what is behind the idea of ID.

It is not, or should not be, stifling, on the contrary, it inspires one to probe, dig, and test exactly what is going on. Point number 2, NOT having an ID approach can easily lead science astray. It is my belief that bad philosophy eventually leads to bad results, in politics and in science. By ASSuming APRIORI an atheistic and purely naturalistic view of the universe, scientists can miss theories that lead to scientific facts because those theories fit a theistic approach better than an atheistic approach.

One example is a young software engineer who suggested to me to write a program that would have random mutations in it and some mechanism to guide these. To which I replied, sure, then you will have random bugs occurring in the software. Easily more than 90% of those mutations would be harmful to the software, not beneficial. Would you fly in a plane running that software? His thinking is the kind of thinking that is a natural extrapolation of what he has been taught all of his life, atheistic, naturalistic evolution.

But software is DESIGNED (i.e. created), not randomly generated precisely in order to reduce the possibility of errors. Similarly, if scientists apriori exclude the possibility of creation in their thinking, they could miss important paths of thinking that could lead them to scientific discoveries. ID makes me WANT to learn, test, and probe MORE not less. I believe that Dr. Tyson cannot comprehend this, because he does not understand how a soul full of faith could be a rational, scientific thinker. But I can assure you there have been in the past, and there are now, many of us.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

That's an interesting essay you just put up, and I agree with much of it. But I disagree with you on this important point:

You write, "Intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance. You cannot build a program of discovery on the assumption that nobody is smart enough to figure out the answer to a problem."

I think that's a mischaracterization of the notion of intelligent design. What the notion of intelligent design suggests is that, whatever the workings of the universe, it may (or did) not have come about as a result of random chance but rather as a result of the workings of a higher hand, a supreme being, a deity. In the spirit of your quote from Galileo, science can explain the workings of the universe, but not its source. (Science can never explain how something could come from nothing.) For whatever reason, many students seem to conclude, and many teachers probably teach students to conclude, that science provides all the answers about our creation, that there is no place for God in that, and that science, in effect, has disproved the notion of our having been created by God. The notion of intelligent design suggests otherwise, and this may be an important thing to emphasize with students.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So is this about GOD or No GOD?

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You look kind of demonic in that picture. It's a bit freaky.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Anonymous! Wake up man (or woman) and join the converstion! Did you even read the posting or the replies?

7:20 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Some random thoughts not linked cohesively in any manner…

Oh my dear Jonathan,

You have GOT TO STOP WRITING SO MUCH brother! Obviously I have a problem with brevity, but you put me to shame. What use are your finely crafted words if no one reads them because they long since passed out from exhaustion?

No, I have not forgotten I believe in Intelligent Design. But I understand its limitations. You cannot prove God exists. Therefore, you cannot use the foundation that “God exists” to scientifically bolster your ID argument. It’s called faith and it’s not blasphemous to admit that God is not a provable entity. You claim that ID is all about our origins, but all you argue for is the Originator.

“mere theology”—as if there is more to life than the quest to comprehend God!?

Evolution and Natural Selection drove the 20th century to madness? Shew! Glad we got that covered. And here all this time I was blaming it on humankind’s sin nature.

Say what you want about the religious undertones of ID, but while your 30 founding members may have purely altruistic and scientific intentions when they invented ID (I thought God did that) there are thousands more who see this as an “evangelistic crusade.” You know I’m right. The same ones that despise the schools for forcing evolution down their childrens’ throats are the same one who think ID, prayer, you name it is ok because they’re right and the others are wrong. Besides, they are only trying to save their poor, lost souls. Oh get over yourselves modern evangelicals. I know no more hypocritical bunch.

The idea of God as illogical, or, as I think a friend and I agreed on the other day when we discussed this very idea, alogical, is so very true and so very ignored in modern theology. Modern Christianity (especially the creationism crowds) love to say that God is all logical, all practical, all reasonable. Are you kidding me!? Are we reading the same Bible!? He is neither logical or illogical, but operates on a plane above them both.

Interesting that you equate Theistic Evolution as the lazy Christian’s way out of what he or she doesn’t understand while Dr. Tyson sees Intelligent Design as the lazy Christian’s way out of what he or she doesn’t understand. Oh what a vicious circle in which we run!

It shows very little humility to say that one creation story is “ludicrous” but your story about a six day creation, a secret garden, a magic tree, a poisonous apple and a talking snake is utterly believable. You see my point…?

If we’d just understand how absurd evolution is and embrace Creationism then we’d really be able to make progress in the world at large? What? Here’s where Reacher and I are in total agreement, why I said what I did about not really caring about this issue, and why I hesitated to even make a comment response at all: IT DOESN’T MATTER! IT DOES NOT AFFECT YOUR SALVATION NOR IS IT A CONDITION FOR IT. CHRIST NEVER MENTIONED A WORD ABOUT IT. IT IS A DISTRACTION FROM YOUR PRIMARY CALLING.

And that’s what Reacher and I mean when he talks about a faith community that has lost its way. We care more about trumping evolution, ramming the Ten Commandments down people’s throats, enacting legislation to ensure morality, and making sure those nasty homos can’t marry than we do about actually reading and obeying the words of Christ—love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING else boils down to JUST that.

It may be a fun debate and it may be phenomenally important to the scientific understanding of our universe, but embracing Creationism or Intelligent Design or whatever you want to call it will not alter this world one iota. The sacrifice of Christ alone takes that credit. Maybe the reason all of us “intellectually dishonest” readers haven’t responded to your thrown gauntlet yet is because we realize the extraordinarily minor role this debate plays in our lives and our futures.

Nice “Abyss” reference.

All these comments have been great, ladies and gentlemen—well-argued and articulate. And I am glad that all the ID fans out there refuse to let the unknown remain that way.

“Let’s see what’s out there.” Jean-Luc Picard

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Could it be that science is not merely the study of natural phenomena, but the study of the natural phenomena that was created? The second part of that sentence gives away my position that I am a creationist, but I do understand science and its ramifications. Therefore I incorporate the scientific discoveries (or revelations) that have been made into my worldview. I think Jeff has captured the bottom line of the argument, the beginning of everything, when he said, “Science can never explain how something could come from nothing.” That has always been my problem with the purely scientific end of the debate, whether it was big bang—where did the bang come from—or another line of “logic.”

It was alluded to, by Nate, that God and the goings on of creation are beyond logic and therefore illogical. I was in a discussion a couple of months ago, which Brandon alluded to in his last posted comment, where the point was made that God is not illogical, but alogical. He transcends logic as we know or understand it. A pure scientist like Dr. Tyson may not accept this notion because it hints at something that is illogical to himself as a “scientist”; it smacks of merely saying we can’t know it so we won’t know it. I am not suggesting that we can’t know God’s nature and all that He has created. If He decides to reveal it to us, I believe He can do so, but would that be wise grant our egotistical, selfish, power-hungry race? Some would use it for good, but others… What harm would such knowledge grant us? We can only imagine.

Does this mean we can’t understand God and what He has done in the universe? We have been given a curious and creative mind and we study God’s creation and call this science. Does science have an end, an answer to all of the questions that are asked? It seems that it won’t if God is beyond our understanding. This study of his creation can bring us closer to God or it can take us away from Him as we get too lost in the means (science) and therefore think we are here independent of God or an intelligent designer?

Is the concept of ID merely creationism in a white lab coat or a politically correct way of saying creationism?

And I have to agree, this conversation is moot, although it is mute too since it is in writing, not spoken. It is purely an intellectual exercise for us who enjoy working out the muscle between our ears.

Brandon, thank you for the admonishment you gave Jonathan in his long-winded responses. Jonathan, I love hearing your perspective, but I can never finish because of the redundancy and length. You have a unique view and I wish I had the time and energy to fully appreciate it.

Thanks for the thoughtful blog, Brandon, and the thoughtful posts made by all.


1:07 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

I just realized over my left-over spaghetti that I misspoke (miswrote) in my last post. This is an important argument. It can be foundational to whether or not one believes in God. I realize that one of the main reasons I cannot side with the purely scientific view of the universe is that it all has to come from somewhere. Nothing is more logical to me than from a divine being which we call God.

Brandon wrote of intellectual integrity in his last comment. Is there anyway a pure scientist can intellectually honestly assert that the universe came from nothing, or that it always was since matter cannot be created nor destroyed? Where did it all come from?

It is true that faith is a way to cover gaps in the unexplainable. We musn't use it that way exclusively but isn't that one of the definitions of Faith?


1:30 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

“Science can never explain how something could come from nothing.”
That too jumped out at me, because that nails the crux of it. For me, that is an argument to keep ID out of the science classroom, not the other way around. Science only deals with the natural world, whether it was created intelligently or not. It is the limitations of science that is central to the issue of keeping ID out of biology class, not some utter conclusiveness that ID believers seem to perceive that Science is presenting. It does no such thing. It simply does not deal with God, with the nothing before the something, because it recognizes it is beyond its grasp. This seems obvious to me.

Science is merely a system. It has no agenda. If evidence shows that the Earth is 4 billion years old, then so be it. You religious types work that out for yourself. Incorporate that how you like. Find other, physical, naturalistic evidence that the Earth is younger. But when it comes to higher powers and Creators, believe what you want. Science makes no claim, at least not on any program I’ve ever seen or journal or textbook I’ve ever read.

And yes, an “alogical” God is precisely what I meant. Only my limited vocabulary caused me to use “illogical.” If you read the actual point I was making, you should see that I am in complete agreement: God transcends logic. He is not subject to its rules. Thus science cannot incorporate Him into its discussions. Science is beneath Him, and deals only with the world that we touch, see, taste and breathe. The nothing from which the world was birthed, that science can never touch. Again, this is metaphysics, and again, this seems fairly obvious to me.

And yes, we are talking about a God, not just “any kind of intelligent design.” If it was design by an intelligence that is of this universe (i.e., aliens) then we are still talking about science, albeit science that is currently far beyond our grasp - but science that theoretically we could understand someday. Anything outside of that, outside of the universe, is, again, God, and is outside of the rules of the universe, which is all science is concerned with and therefore means that kind of intelligent designer is beyond science.

Scientists are not being “intellectually dishonest” by not addressing the “Before There Was Anything There Was…” question. They are being quite honest. It is simply outside of their expertise. That is for the priests and rabbis and pastors and shamans. Scientists merely recognize the circumscribed perimeter of their field. They can keep pushing the limits out and out and out, but the Ultimate Question will always remain. ID believers want to force the Ultimate Question onto science.

This is unnecessary because you are correct to assert that Faith fills in these gaps. Say it again, “Faith fills in these gaps.” Your words, not mine.

Sure God can reveal his nature to you, should he choose, but wouldn’t he do it through your prayer and faith? If you want to engage in that kind of talk, (“If He decides to reveal it to us, I believe He can do so,”) fine, but that tells me nothing about science. It tells me nothing about the mitochondria I’m trying to learn about in cellular biology, whether God created them or not.
I don’t need to hear Shakespeare while graphing quadratic equations either, not because Shakespeare couldn’t write them and graph them himself (who knows, maybe he could?) but because quadratic equations tell me nothing about Shakespeare.
It’s the very limits of science that makes this obvious. With its limited reach, it cannot touch this God that you love so much, who transcends everything, it can only touch His Creation. Is your God really so earthbound and pedestrian that He can be explained by math and its equations, physics and its symbology, the very language of science? I sure hope not.

I would think you would be making this argument before me.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...


Science may not have an agenda, but many scientist do--be they evolutionists or creationists.

"Scientists are not being “intellectually dishonest” by not addressing the “Before There Was Anything There Was…” question. They are being quite honest. It is simply outside of their expertise. That is for the priests and rabbis and pastors and shamans. Scientists merely recognize the circumscribed perimeter of their field. They can keep pushing the limits out and out and out, but the Ultimate Question will always remain. ID believers want to force the Ultimate Question onto science."


"Is your God really so earthbound and pedestrian that He can be explained by math and its equations, physics and its symbology, the very language of science? I sure hope not."

Very, very nicely said.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

Oh, and I have no right to complain about the length of Jon's posts. I shouldn't be spending as much time on this as I already do while at work, but as long as someone is making intelligent remarks, challenging me to think, and not repeating himself too much (though, again, I shouldn't talk) then by all means, speak yo' peace!

Back to work. The entire legal profession teeters on the brink.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

And yes, yes: Scientists have agendas. I can't pack every caveat into every post. You'uns are bright kids and can figger some things out for yourselves.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Nobody has suggested that science could bring anyone any closer to God or an understanding of Him. This conversation is about His creation or evolution’s product and the way in which we learn about it. I simply posit that ID is a viable method of looking at the end result. Again, many of you ascribe to ID properties and motives that simply aren’t there. I’m not against science, not even as it is today, I am against bad science. I am against lies being taught in the classroom as if they were fact. Most of what you were taught and what continues to be taught in schools today have been proven false and accepted as such by evolutionist no less, and yet it’s still taught. Why? I don’t give a rip if they teach evolution, creation, or ID-just as long as they make sure what they do teach is factual and true. They don’t. And it is a big deal, and Christians should take note, because the science class room and its lies (nobody even calls evolution a theory anymore) are responsible for the destruction of many peoples faith.

How’s that for short.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

"One cannot be exposed to the law and order of the universe without concluding that there must be design and purpose behind it all...To be forced to believe only one conclusion-that everthing in the universe happened by chance-whould violate the very objectivity of science itself...They challecge science to prove the existence of God. But must we light a candle to see the sun? It is in scientific honesty that I endorse the presentation of alternative theories for the origin of the universe, life and man in the science classroom. It would be an error to overlook the possibility that the universe was planned rather than happening by chance." -Dr. Wernher von Braun (Father of American rocket and space program)

I should think this quote should put to shame Dr Tyson's quote:
“I don’t want students who could make the next major breakthrough in renewable energy sources or space travel to have been taught that anything they don’t understand, and that nobody yet understands, is divinely constructed and therefore beyond their intellectual capacity.”

I believe you were saying something about breakthroughs and spcae travel docter?

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Jim Banke said...

Brandon, I am becoming increasingly moved to preach a sermon on ID, church and state, the media and science. It all so easily flows together.

Some thoughts: God created the universe. Science has figured out a lot of it, and should keep trying. And the more science figures stuff out, the more evidence there is for God because it's just so incredible.

The Bible is the Word of God. The Bible was written by people who believed the Earth was flat and that heaven was above in the sky and hell was below underground. Clearly, the Bible is not a science book.

Science trys to tell us how the world was created. The Bible tells us why.

And by the way, in Genesis the language we use as "day" is translated from a word that is more accurately translated as "period." So God in six undefined periods of time created the universe, which could very easily give us a 12-13 billion year old universe and 4.5 billion year old planet.

And one more: God created humans in His image from a spiritual standpoint, not a physical. The physical is the result of what works in this planet's gravity field, atmosphere, climate, etc. And as Tyson points out, it's kind of screwy when you put the toys with the sewer system. Perhaps the monkey seemed close to what God wanted so He just helped that line evolve a long a bit.

Everyone should read "The Case for Creation."

11:53 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Thanks for your comments Jim.

The great "how vs. why" debate. Now there's an example of the right question to be asking.

I have always found it odd when people feel that science and religion are irreconcilable. Sure, they tackle different issues, but both try to explain the same thing. Science is merely limited human minds trying to comprehend the vastness of God's creation.

I love the film, "Contact." Many people see that as an anti-religion in science movie. Not me. It inspired me the first time I saw it and every time after that I pop it into my DVD player.

"...the more science figures stuff out, the more evidence there is for God because it's just so incredible." Exactly.

In regards to Jim's comment about toys and sewer systems, he is referring to the line from Tyson's article that reads, "And what comedian designer configured the region between our legs—-an entertainment complex built around a sewage system?" Funny stuff.

12:11 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

I don't mean to dominate the conversation here, but evolution is just incompatible with the Bile. Why? A couple reasons, first: if Adam and Eve didn't realy exist as told about in Genesis, then why all the specificity about them: ages, childrens names, childrens activities, and so forth? Was God simply refering to the first sentient man? If so, what about all the other non sentient poeple that must have existed along side them, they get no mention at all. Are they capable of salvation? If they were still animals (albeit highly developed animals) then they are beyond the concepts of sin and therefor outside judgement, no? Why should all of them face consequences because of two ignoramouses? And then what happened to them? I mean if the story is true (and there is a clearly defind liniage that can be traced in the Bible down to present day) then there isn't enough time for them to die off completely in 6 thousand years, not without leaving behind some traces of there existence. And where are there fossles?

A more pressing issue though is death. The Bible says that death entered the world through one man: Adam. This would not be possible if evolution was the prodution system. Death is what makes evolution work. So either evolution is true and death created man, or the Bible is correct and man brought death into the world. You can't have it both ways guys. Is death a positive thing. Did God use the curse (clearly calls death the curse) to make us? Seems to be a rather crule God, not one I want to worship anyway. My God is powerfull enough to make the world in six litteral days. And yes Jim, they had to be six literal days. Plants cant survive millions or billions of years without light. Light was created after plants. Theres the theology part of it Brandon. If the Bible lied on one part, then lets just all pick and choose what parts we want to belive ok. It hold no value anymore and I don't care to read it anymore then.

12:51 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

"...reseachers suggest that virtually all modern men-99.9% of them, says one scientiest-are closely related genetically and share genes with one male ancestor, dubbed 'Y-chromosome Adam' "We are finding that humans have very, very shallow genetic roots which go back very recently to one ancestor, ...that indicates that there was an origin in a specific location on the globe, and then it spread out from there." -US News & World Report, December 4, 1995

Ha, I could have told them that! I can even tell them what this first persons wife was named!

1:02 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Compelling as these arguments are, keep your focus people! This is a debate over how we each approach mystery, not over how the world (or we) began--as if these thing don't...evolve naturally, all by themselves. Stay on topic or I'll write another controversial blog to distract you!

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...

LOST was so good last night, a hooted like a monkey.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...

I hooted like a monkey.

Curse you non-editable comments section! Curse you!

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did somebody say monkey?

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

Oh did you make my Friday.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

Thus ends the discusion. Lets all go back to whatever distractions please us most. Ha ha! I sure do love that funny show! Aaaaaah. TV good. Thinking bad.

2:16 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

"For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God..." 1st Corinthians 1:19-21

"Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?" Isaiah 29:16

2:35 AM  
Blogger gabster said...

I have never laughed so hard as i just did when viewing the "monkey" link! Thank you for that.

And damn the republicans and senators responsible for putting words in Murtha's mouth and now claimning victory! Shaddy and pathetic.


12:41 PM  
Blogger gabster said...



1:04 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

"Lets all go back to whatever distractions please us most. Ha ha! I sure do love that funny show! Aaaaaah. TV good. Thinking bad."

Yep. That's me: Mindless consumer.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

"Apparently, the new stategy for people of faith is to love everyone (who agrees with you); and, if anyone stands in the way of your cultural agenda, recognize that the principles and the agenda are far more important than any stinkin' relationship. I have a good friend, soon-to-be Dr. S, who argues that the marker for fundamentalist communication is a form of 'chaos rhetoric.' She says the implied message is always, 'Accept my argument, or our society will be catapulted into ruin.'"

If you would like to read more of Reacher's blog about his friend who is being forced out of his Christian university for refusing to teach Intelligent Design, you can find it here:

3:24 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Oh and Jonathan, just because we all don't live, eat, breath and make love to our conspiracy theories and young earth Creationism models (something for which OUR wives are very greatful) and have lives that occationally revolve around (gasp) fun, fellowship, entertainment, and yes, the occational episode of television, does not make us any less informed or thinking. Pot shots are beneath you brother--as are un-contextualized Bible verses used as hammers with which to wack your opponents.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

Yesterday, for my mother's birthday, I took her to a play and didn't think about any of this. My back still has the welts from the self-flagellation I indulged in, but doing it made me feel better and smarter.

And today? I went for a run. One foot in front of the other. Just for me. How intellectually numbing.

Aren't you like a double-super fan of Star Wars?

4:09 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Hey Nate,

I owe you an apology. I really wasn’t trying to suggest that you are mind numbed or anything. I was just bemoaning the weekend’s inevitable conversation killing effect. As you can tell I get pretty emotional about these things and I get frustrated that the discussion always dies just when it’s getting to be its best. I’m sorry though. My remark was rude (especially since your second corrective post made me laugh quite a bit), and uncalled for. Please forgive me. And for the record, I’m not that big a Star Wars fan (although I did like the parallels in the last movie to what is going on today in America).

Brandon, point taken. But please, stop it man! Yes, I am a “conspiracy theorist”, but that does not sum me up, nor do I discuss my “theories” on your blog page. I try to stimulate conversation as best I can (and am perfectly willing to admit that I often need to tone it down) while making the points I feel need to be brought up. I enjoy your blog page, but I sometimes wonder if you don’t sometimes wish you never told me about it?


10:35 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...

Oh, apology accepted, of course, though there's only so much offense one takes from these blogs.
No blood, no foul as we used to say in pick-up basketball, and text-based blood ain't cutting it.

I will say that what you consider a conversation that is “getting to its best” I consider to have “run its course,” an entirely subjective point that I concede. We each feel these things out for ourselves. You may have had worlds left to say, on things we hadn't even touched on, whereas I felt the main thrust of all of our arguments had been generally outlined and we had now, at best, fallen into an endless series of clarifying and tweaking our arguments in response to each other's rebuttals, with a curve of diminishing returns, or at worst just knocking the damn ball back and forth like Chinese ping pongers.

It's at these times that I usually feel the strongest itch to take the air out of all of it by using words like "hooted" and "monkey." Preferably together.

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...

And Happy Thanksgiving!

Does anyone else think that in that picture it looks like God is reaching out to pick Darwin’s nose? What's the symbolism there?

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Each Christmas for the past few years, my grandparents give books as gifts, instead of trying to figure out in a grandparenty way what kids these days would like to have.

One of this year's selections is a book of 50 scientists writing papers on why creation and a young Earth is more plausible than a 4.5 billion year-old Earth and live evolving to the point we now see and experience through out own unique points of view.

The first entry was by a mechanical engineer who used the first two laws of thermodynamics to back his points. I didn't understand all of that part, other than the matter neither being created nor destroyed since it was first created. But I did understand what he said about evolution being more a process of extinction, rather than creation of new species.

Although this argument seems to ignore the long time it takes for a species to evolve into another, evolution seems to not take into account the fact that species become extinct at a higher rate than they evolve.

I don't necessarily want to renew this debate, although I'm willing to if people so want. I just didn't have another venue to display my new information.

Personally, I am a creationist, although not an "In-the-beginning" literalist. This book focuses on the plausibiliy of the 6 days (seems to be 24 hr. days as we know them) of creating. I never thought it was a literal 6 days and always talk my way out of these arguments by saying, "Anything is possible with God."

It's not foundational to my faith, I don't think, but I hope to gain a more information based theory of how I understand how the Earth and we came to be.

Hope everyone had a nice Christmas.


11:31 AM  

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