Is Canada's Science Minister a creationist?

By Phil Plait | March 17, 2009 9:17 am

The Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail is reporting that Gary Goodyear, the federal Minister of State for Science and Technology in Canada, may not believe in evolution.

The situation is somewhat confusing. The article starts off with this:

Canada’s science minister, the man at the centre of the controversy over federal funding cuts to researchers, won’t say if he believes in evolution.

“I’m not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,” Gary Goodyear, the federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

Wait, what? Religion? The reporter says he was asked about evolution! This makes the issue a little muddy.

If Goodyear was asked specifically about evolution, then it’s not directly a question about religion, and the quotation doesn’t make sense. Either the reporter got it wrong, or the Canadian Minister of Science thinks evolution is religion. Or that being asked about evolution is akin to being asked about religion.

Egads.

Let me get this clear: science is not faith-based. Evolution is science, and science is not religion. Therefore, being asked about evolution is not the same as being asked about religion.

However, if he was asked about his religion, and the context was whether his religious beliefs are in conflict with evolution, then the question is very appropriate. In fact, the situation would demand it. He’s the Minister of Science! If he thinks evolution is not true because he’s a creationist, then every scientist in Canada should be demanding Goodyear be fired.

Goodyear, apparently, disagrees.

When asked about those rumours [about him being a creationist], Mr. Goodyear said such conversations are not worth having.

“Obviously, I have a background that supports the fact I have read the science on muscle physiology and neural chemistry,” said the minister, who took chemistry and physics courses as an undergraduate at the University of Waterloo.

“I do believe that just because you can’t see it under a microscope doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It could mean we don’t have a powerful enough microscope yet. So I’m not fussy on this business that we already know everything. … I think we need to recognize that we don’t know.”

Asked to clarify if he was talking about the role of a creator, Mr. Goodyear said that the interview was getting off topic.

Off-topic? I don’t think so. And in fact that followup question is exactly the right one to ask. Given the context, it certainly sounds like Goodyear was invoking religion in his answer.

Until recently, I thought that asking a politician about religion was not appropriate, unless that religion had a significant chance of interfering with that person’s ability to execute the nature of their position — for example, if a creationist is your nation’s highest science official. In America, sadly, religion has become a political substitute for "trustworthy"; politicians wear their religion on their sleeves, and it’s a standard topic for either defense or attack by the media or other politicians (how many people still think Obama is a Muslim due to the ridiculous attacks on him during the campaign, despite the Reverend Wright controversy?).

Because of that, knowing a politician’s religion may actually be a very strong clue on how they will react when science-based legislation comes up for a vote. I’m not saying a politician’s religion will definitely affect them, but I absolutely want to know if my governor or senator or school board member is a creationist, just as surely as I would want to know if they were a flat-Earther, a Holocaust denier, or 9/11 conspiracy theorist.

In Canada, this situation is exacerbated due to recent deep cuts in the science research budget by the Canadian government. That, coupled with doubts over Goodyear’s science credentials, is sparking what might be called a crisis of faith in the government among scientists.

I don’t blame them. After seeing what happened here in the U.S. when religious zealots made ideologically based decisions, I’m a tad sensitive to this myself. I certainly hope the folks up north get this straightened out as soon as possible.

Comments (185)

  1. I wonder if Dr. Goodyear also feels that global warming is a personal religious issue.

  2. That, coupled with doubts over Goodyear’s science credentials, is sparking what might be called a crisis of faith in the government among scientists.

    Ooh! Good one.

  3. Matt

    Ohh no….
    Way to ruin my day Phil…

  4. I believe that US Constitution here needs an amendment. In article VI it states that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. In the light on events of the past decade, maybe there should be a religious test of some sort – meaning that if superstitious belief shall ever interfere with the work of an elected official, or if he/she shall ever try to impose such beliefs onto others through any means entrusted to him/her by the electorate, such person should be INELIGIBLE for any office in the US. Alternatively, such a statement should be explicitly part of the oath of support to the Constitution (which clearly states in the Establishment Clauses that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion)

  5. Oh well, what’s next? NASA Administrator thinks the Apollo missions are fake?

  6. Winter Solstice Man

    EVOLUTION IS *NOT* A *BELIEF* SYSTEM!

    So it isn’t just the USA that has idiots and religious fundamentalists in its government systems.

  7. Todd W.

    I would also be interested in his views on chiropractic. Does he think that it can be used for more than just musculoskeletal issues? Does he buy into the ideas that chiropractic can treat or cure non-musculoskeletal diseases?

  8. Jeff

    I recommend Jim Fetzer’s book “Render Unto Darwin” where a professional philosopher discusses these issues in depth.

    The main idea in the book: “Render unto God what is God’s ; Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s ; AND Render unto Darwin what is Darwin’s . In otherwords, if you are going to discuss evolution, you must at least take a course on evolution to understand the science behind it in detail. After all, Darwin was a careful scientist and spent a lifetime of examples to come up with his theory.

  9. Nick Rudzicz
  10. furrot

    Growing up I remener being told that there were three things you should never talk about with strangers; Religion, Sex, and Politics. I think this concept is why there is so much wrong with the world. While I respect the ministers choice to not discuss his beliefs publicly, it’s like you said Phil, science is not faith based.

    The reporter should have phrased the question differently and asked if the minister was aware of the theory of evolution, not if he believed in it. His belief is not nesscesary for evolution to continue any more then his belief of gravity keeps his feet on the ground. I wonder if the Minister is aware that wolves in BC were recently reclassified as marine animals because a new species had evolved which feeds on fish and have changed their fur to red because of a new environent and food source availability.

  11. Pac

    “Gary Goodyear, the federal Minister of State for Science and Technology in Canada, may not believe in evolution.”

    Not to be totally sarcastic but if evolution is science and science is not religion, then why does it matter if he “believes” in it or not? Evolution is. The science is there, it is not a matter of belief. So long as he backs policy, note here I am admittedly speaking from ignorance!, that supports rational scientific thinking why does his religion matter??

    People believe lots of silly things, I believe people are inherently good and decent. Yet inspite of this, I still applied to legally be able to carry a handgun with me daily due to the reality of violent crime.

  12. Spiv

    “So I’m not fussy on this business that we already know everything. … I think we need to recognize that we don’t know.”

    That’s the bit that gets me. The guy is clearly removed from science altogether if he thinks anyone in the sciences at all think “we know everything.”

    The “science has all be figured out” thing is the kind of crap I expect people to get over before they even get to college. Never mind become a high ranking science policy official.

  13. TAC

    Oh, my. This “evolution is science” stuff does get old. It’s like you have half YOUR brain tied behind your back in order to avoid facing the fact that THOUSANDS of real scientists and HUNDREDS of reputable publications do not accept this conclusion for SCIENTIFIC reasons.

  14. cameron

    There has been a bunch of news lately about Ray Comfort (of The Banana Is Proof Of God fame) trying to get a chance to debate Richard Dawkins. Dawkins says he will only debate Comfort if Comfort donates $100,000 to the Richard Dawkins Educational foundation. I would suggest that he ALSO require Comfort to take (and pass) a college-level course on evolutionary biology, and sign an undertaking stating that he promises not to misrepresent the claims of modern evolutionary science. If he agrees, but does it anyway, Dr. Dawkins can walk off the stage and take the money. I’m honestly curious if Comfort would have anything at all left to say if he had to leave the lies and strawmen at home.

  15. BMurray

    Canadians, please take up the challenge here with me and write your representatives about this issue. Demand that Goodyear be removed and replaced with someone who has credentials in the scientific community. Astrologers are not astronomers, crystal worshippers are not geologists, and chiropractors are not doctors of medicine. We need to ensure that our government is more accountable for this nonsense and that we will not tolerate magical thinking in this important human endeavour.

  16. Cait

    Wasn’t Darwin a staunch Christian?

  17. Phrasing the question “do you believe in evolution?” is pretty loaded. Is there anyone who really doubts that the person who asked it was trying to pin the guy on religious grounds?

    Pac has it right. Evolution is a fact. Whether Goodyear’s religious views get in the way of his supporting science is wholly another issue – an imporatant one, but a different one.

  18. BG

    Wow, people are insane. Are you trying to say that belief in a higher power makes someone akin to a Nazi? Just because someone believes in creation rather than evolution (which is not a proven scientific fact, just a theory) does not mean that they can’t also hold scientific beliefs or have impartial opinions about scientific matters.

    I have little hope for the world if everyone is this prejudiced and closed minded.

  19. pumpkinpie

    This post did not make his credentials clear, so I had to look them up. According to wikipedia: “..he attended the University of Waterloo, studiyng in Biomechanics and Psychology, but left without taking a degree. He afterwards attended [and graduated from] the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College…”

    And this qualifies him as the minister of science and tech?? He took “courses in” physics and chemistry. Heck, I MAJORED in physics and took grad courses in astrophysics, yet I would never think I’m qualified.

    They need to find someone better suited for the job just based on that. The possible “disbelief” in evolution is just the icing on the cake.

  20. Paul Schellin

    Interesting that this is found in Canada as well. For some reason I’ve always held them to be a bit more logically-minded, but looks like that was a dumb prejudice.

    As I was reading the first paragraph, I found I didn’t like the phrase, “…believe in evolution.” I realize that the article itself had worded it the same way, but as you say later, “…science is not faith-based.” I personally have a mental connection between the words “belief/believe” and faith (in religion). When “belief in evolution” is said, I feel it ruins the strength of our point that science (evolution) does not have anything to do with religion or faith (believing).

    First time commenting on you blog, long time reader (Also saw you at TAM6!).

    Keep it up!
    Paul

  21. BG: Well, it didn’t take long for someone to Godwin this article. Where did anyone implicate that religious people are akin Nazis? I said belief in creationism is akin to other non-evidence-based beliefs, especially ones (9/11, flat Earth., Holocaust denial) that have copious evidence against them.

  22. Sili

    It’s a pity, really.

    Reading his biography he really has put in a lot of hard work.

    But how can one study chemistry, physics and kinesiology and then go on to think that chiropractic is a good idea (North American, not Scandinavian version)?

    Sad.

    To be fair – I didn’t bother learning about evolution (I’m a chemist – sorta). Bio- and proteinchem. held absolutlely no interest for me. All I now know about evo I’ve learned from PeeZed and Neil Shubin.

  23. Todd W.

    @BG

    Perhaps you could explain your understanding of what a “theory” is? Hint, it is not just a guess.

  24. BC Johnston

    Canada’s current ruling party runs on ideology, propaganda, petty personal politics and vendetta. They never admit mistakes and they often do the opposite of their stated intentions.

  25. PJE

    @BG

    According to your logic, gravity is also “just a theory”

    Perhaps you should look up what a “theory” means in science. It’s not the same as what you saw some actor portraying a lawyer on Law and Order makes it out to be.

    Pete

  26. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    BG

    Re: “evolution is just a theory”. You’ve made the classic mistake of taking the vernacular meaning of “theory’ (being a hunch orwild guess) with the scientific sense of “theory” (being a robust, overarching structure which explains a wide range of data and observations). Gravitation is a theory; so is relativity. I wouldn’t use the term “just” for them any more than I would for evolution. In a discussion like this you shouldn’t either.

  27. PJE

    Speaking of dodgy credentials, I believe that Ontario’s former Education Minister (John Snobelin) didn’t even have a high school degree. (I don’t have citations)

    This is also from the same provincial government who was caught on tape saying that they need to “create a crisis in education” so they could “fix” it and look like saviours.

    /rant

    Pete

  28. Sigh.
    Then again, this is nothing new for members this government: our current International Trade Minister, Stockwell “Doris” Day, is also a Young-Earth Creationist, and once proclaimed that humans walked among dinosaurs (more like ran like hell).
    Just sigh.

  29. PJE

    I didn’t know that about Stockwell Day….don’t really know much about him at all, I try to ignore him :)

    Pete

  30. Mena

    This and the idea that they are probably going to let a suspected war criminal stroll across the border when those of us who have the audacity to actually be married to Canadians have such a hassle every time…
    What’s going on up there you guys?

  31. Todd W.

    @TAC

    Oh, my. This “evolution is science” stuff does get old. It’s like you have half YOUR brain tied behind your back in order to avoid facing the fact that THOUSANDS of real scientists and HUNDREDS of reputable publications do not accept this conclusion for SCIENTIFIC reasons.

    Can you provide a representative sampling of the thousands of real scientists and hundreds of reputable publications that do not accept that evolution is science? Also, a link to the complete list of the thousands and hundreds would be appreciated. Thank you.

  32. Darth Robo

    So, TAC. Lovely appeal to authority there. Perhaps you could tell us what these “scientific reasons” for rejecting evolution are?

  33. Darth Robo

    >>>”Also, a link to the complete list of the thousands and hundreds would be appreciated. Thank you.”

    Oh, I can think of about 700. Many of them are engineers.
    ;)

  34. Utakata

    PJE Says:

    “Speaking of dodgy credentials, I believe that Ontario’s former Education Minister (John Snobelin) didn’t even have a high school degree.”

    …that was part of the Common Sense Revolution.

  35. According to your logic, gravity is also “just a theory”

    Worse, the Theory of Gravity has some gaping holes – much moreso than the ToE.

    Among the biggest: No method of transmission for gravity has been observed experimentally. Methods have been predicted by theory, but so far, neither gravity waves nor gravitons have been observed. Gravity can’t be melded into quantum theory at this time. Gravity is effectively “magic”, although it’s magic with rules that work very, very well at macroscopic levels. Well enough that we can put vehicles onto other planets, satellites into orbit, navigate the solar system, and use the effects of gravity to measure so much about the universe.

    Without a thorough understanding of how gravity is transmitted from place to place or even how it originates, we can’t calculate the speed of gravity accurately (if the sun could be magically poofed right now, how long would it be before we knew, orbitally speaking?). There is some evidence that gravity propagates at the speed of light, and some that it propagates much, much faster. A better understanding of gravity would open doors to understanding dark matter and dark energy. Perhaps a better understanding of gravity will lead to better propulsion systems and in turn to more effective stellar exploration. A better understanding of gravity may lead to new sources of energy.

  36. TAC

    Oh come on. Who is appealing to authority? What I have read is “evolution is science.” Debate over. We scientists have already decided the issue and you can either accept it as true or continue to be the ignorant non-scientists you are. We have the truth and nothing but the truth. AND, of course, anyone who disagrees with us is not a real scientist. Having set the rules in such a way, how can you lose?

    If you are unaware that there is an on-going debate over this issue in science and among scientists & if you are unaware of who is involved, then where in the world have you been and why are you contributing to this discussion? Frankly, you are not qualified.

    Once again I recall the proverb that goes something like this: if you have not understood your opponents arguments, then you have really not understood your own.

  37. rob

    sigh.

    you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

  38. # TAC Says:
    March 17th, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Oh, my. This “evolution is science” stuff does get old. It’s like you have half YOUR brain tied behind your back in order to avoid facing the fact that THOUSANDS of real scientists and HUNDREDS of reputable publications do not accept this conclusion for SCIENTIFIC reasons.

    BZZZ!!!! Wrong. Contestant is relying on an irrelevant appeal to false (and more likely a made-up) authority. As Todd suggests, you need to supply a list of those scientists and publications you cite for your comment to be taken seriously.

    Thanks for playing, though. Don’t let the palm fronds hit you on the hiney on the way off the island.

  39. If you are unaware that there is an on-going debate over this issue in science and among scientists

    No, there isn’t. No debate whatsoever. There is some incoherent babbling by religious fundamentalists, some of whom managed, by acts of supreme hypocrisy, to get advanced science degrees. But having a degree does not make you a scientist, it makes you educated.

    The opponents have no argument. They provide only baseless assertion with no evidence whatsoever to back up their claim. All scientists eagerly await damning evidence that would trash the ToE… there’s a Nobel Prize in there for the guy that can do that, I’m sure. Any scientist would love to get the $1 million and the fame and acclaim that would come with conclusively disproving the ToE.

    And the bar for doing that is so low… just document some evidence that’s testable and unequivocal.

  40. Todd W.

    @TAC

    Here’s a big rule of science: cite your sources. So I ask again, please provide a representative sampling, as well as a link to the complete list so that others may evaluate your claims.

  41. Todd W.

    Y’know, I’m half wondering if we aren’t just talking to a Poe.

  42. John

    Evolution with in one species has been found. Evolution from species to species has not.
    Darwin took a clue and ran it into a grand design that still has no support today. No sub species have been found and none will. The strata shows simple life on one layer and complex on the next. This whole we have to be right Darwin crowd that draws nice pictures and stacks up the monkey bones to push the THEORY are the same people who push the Global Warming scam… Left wing liberals. Science is a tool for them to push agendas. My mind is open. Please explain how evolution (with no sub species) has shaped life on earth? How many times must a dog visit the river before he evolves into a fish?
    How many times must a fish out of water die in the sun before it grows lungs? Has gene mapping shed any light on the subject? When Darwins book was released secular forces made it a instant hit (not content) and to this day for lack of a better idea its still held up as fact. That picture of the evolution of man that shows little monkeys all the way to modern man is rubbish with no missing links ever found. “Fine” early humans were rare… Where is the animal missing links? none of them either!!! You dont have to have a bible in your hand and be a god person to see that Darwin and his mob of left wing liberals belong in the FICTION area of the library. This secular key stone can be proven wrong (yet it is in our schools) Why is that? Is it there to teach or to stop the church? So stack up your Monkey bones and draw us another picture and keep digging but remember 200 years and millions of bones later… your still on square one.

  43. john west

    So… if religion isn’t a qualifier, what happens when a Jehovah’s Witness takes on the position and disallows blood transfusions? In a country that is supposed to be non-specific to one religion “multicultural” there is no place for any religion in a ruling party.

  44. PJE

    @ Evolving Squid

    “Worse, the Theory of Gravity has some gaping holes – much moreso than the ToE”
    (etc)

    I’m not sure what your point is in your post on this…what did I miss?

    Pete

  45. TAC

    No, there isn’t. No debate whatsoever.

    What? Are you saying that there is no debate? This is truly amazing.

    Again, if you are unaware of the debate, you are not qualified to analyze this news article.

    No, there isn’t. No debate whatsoever. . . . The opponents have no argument.

    Keep telling yourself that over and over. Keep using that response and see how far it gets you in argumentation.

  46. cameron

    TAC, you don’t just fail to understand evolution, you clearly don’t understand science as a whole. Do you realize how competitive science is? The scientific community isn’t a bunch of people sitting in a board room somewhere deciding what passes and what fails. The evidence speaks for itself. If someone had a compelling, testable, predictive theory to explain the diversity of life we see, with evidence to back it up, and tests we could conduct to show why that theory must be correct while the theory of evolution can not be correct, they would get a free trip to Sweden and a nice dinner there.

    Of course I’m sure you know all this and I’m just speaking to myself at this point. Arguing with creation/conspiracy loons is like that.

  47. Peptron

    That’s odd, but to me evolution by natural selection is so simple and fundamental that I really cannot imagine it not existing. To me it seems completely non-sensical to believe it’s not happening, akin to not believing in gravity and that we are all levitating without realising it.

    Artificial selection as been known and even exploited for thousands of years, and then Darwin comes along and say that the principes of artifical selection are at work “naturally” in nature. IE: instead of having changes in species caused by a person choosing who to mate with whom, the natural environment will lead to similar pair matchings with eventually the same effects of differenciations, just over a longer time period. To me it’s just non-sensical to “not believe” it’s happening.

  48. TAC

    Excellent, nothing like the ad hominem to make one’s point.

  49. Todd W.

    @TAC

    Nothing like ignoring requests for citations to make one’s point.

  50. Big Al

    @Todd W.

    Ok admittedly I must be feeling dense today, what the heck is a Poe?

  51. Huron

    Ministers aren’t that important, as “Yes, Minister” has shown us. Also, he is only a Minister of State, which is even less important.

  52. cameron

    @TAC

    Maybe learn what an ad hominem is before throwing the term around.

  53. CM

    Human evolution is a fact, there is evidence to prove it. Why should we not believe it?

  54. TAC

    Uh, yah.

    ad hominem

    ad ho⋅mi⋅nem
       /æd ˈhɒmənəm ‑ˌnɛm, ɑd-/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ad hom-uh-nuhm ‑nem, ahd-] Show IPA
    –adjective
    1. appealing to one’s prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one’s intellect or reason.
    2. attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument.

  55. I don’t “believe” in evolution either. I have examined the evidence and so accept the theory of evolution as the best explanation for the diversity of life on Earth.

    Don’t play into the creationist’s hands by using the language of faith.

  56. Todd W.

    @Big Al

    Poe’s Law states that a parody may be so convincing that it is indistinguishable from the genuine thing without the use of a smiley or some other indicator that the commenter is not sincere.

    That’s a paraphrased definition. Look it up on Wikipedia for a more complete answer.

  57. TAC

    I don’t “believe” in creationism either. I have examined the evidence and so accept the theory of creation as the best explanation for the diversity of life on Earth.

    Don’t play into the evolutionist’s hands by using the language of faith.

  58. cameron

    If I say that your argument is invalid *because* you’re a doorknob, that’s an ad hominem. If I say that your argument is invalid *and* you’re a doorknob, it’s not a logical fallacy. Note that it’s only an ad hominem if the premise of my argument is that you’re an idiot, and I don’t address the substance of your argument. There’s no reason I can’t make both claims.

    Right now, you are leaving everyone’s arguments unanswered and using the fact that we think you are dumb as a shield to deflect the substance of our points. This is similar to ‘attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument’.

    Short version: answer the arguments or take your toys and go home. You’re halfway there already.

  59. Todd W.

    @TAC

    I figure you are just playing a Poe, but…

    Can you provide citations to sound, scientific evidence that supports creation as an explanation of the diversity of life on Earth?

    And my previous request for citations of the thousands of scientists and hundreds of reputable publications still stands.

    Thank you.

  60. cameron

    The basic version of Poe’s Law is that creationists are so silly that it’s impossible to parody one. No matter how silly an argument you make, you can’t make it silly *enough* that people will know it’s a parody, rather than an earnest creationist idea.

  61. TAC

    I am not a fan of Edgar Allen Poe & it is time for lunch but just for fun:

    creationinfo.com/list.htm
    answersingenesis.org/home/area/bios/
    christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-scientists.html
    christiananswers.net/creation/people/home.html

    Discovery Institute is also a great source of information:
    discovery.org/

  62. @ Big Al,

    Poe’s Law states:

    Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.

    Click on my name for more information.

  63. zach

    Yes, there is an ongoing debate of the validity of evolution. However, it is not a debate that is taking place in the scientific community. It is debated by those who are ignorant, in the literal sense, of the science supporting evolution. Also TAC, it is fair for scientists to dismiss the uneducated and their personal beliefs. Similar to how, as I am not a pilot, I would not dane to contradict one on how to fly.

  64. @ TAC,

    From my late 1970s school chemistry book (which I had ‘forgotten’ to return)…

    The Definition of Theory:

    The word “theory” does not often mean very much to a layperson, so let us be quite clear about it: A scientific theory is a scientific idea which was thought of by somebody, suggested by him in a scientific book or journal, and accepted by other scientists after due consideration. “So-and-so’s theory” means “So-and-so’s accepted idea”. The process of getting an idea accepted may be a long one; there will be arguments, objections, testing by experiments, improvement of an idea, but, if it finally wins acceptance by scientists generally, it will only then be called a theory. When the idea is first postulated, and is still in the ‘argument-and-objection’ stage, it is called a hypothesis; later, if generally accepted, a theory.

    Click on my name for more information. :cool:

  65. ding

    Faith. If you don’t have it, you just don’t have it. Look, I like this blog ’cause it explores the Big Out There. However, I do find it surprising that so many who comment on this site are so sure of the nature of mankind and the universe. The exploration continues after all, and at a pace that boggles the mind. My God! Hubble alone! But to ridicule belief systems that have been around for thousands of years based on what we are only just beginning to see? I mean really!

    Evolution of thought, government and species happens but do we really know who or what has control of the lever?
    We are limited in our search for knowledge by the definitions we use to explain things. When we assign broad definitions to people the intent is to reduce them to easy marks.

    Lumping people of faith as ignorant zelots or creationists is this sites example of groupthink and just plain unscientific. Don’t make things so easy for yourselves!

    Funny. Phil cast bread upon the waters and the minnows jump. I wonder? Is he speaking his mind? Investigation or indoctrination?

  66. Ed

    @3v1l5w1n
    “In article VI it states that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    The Constitution? Hate to break it to you friend, but you’re way behind our modern times – that petty piece of paper’s got nothing on state legislation:

    Article 19 Miscellaneous provisions Arkansas’s State Constitution
    “No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court.”

    Article 6 Section 8 of North Carolina’s State Constitution
    “Disqualifications of office. The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

    Article 1 Section 4 of Pennsylvania’s State Constitution
    “No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth.”

    Article 4 Section 2 of South Carolina’s State Constitution
    “No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor who denies the existence of the Supreme Being; …”
    Note: If you continue reading you will find that (in Section 8) the Lieutenant Governor must also meet the same qualifications as the Governor.

    Article 9 Section 2 of Tennessee’s State Constitution
    “No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.”

    Article 1 Section 4 of Texas’ State Constitution
    “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

  67. Common Sense

    Why does it always come down to either:

    1) You accept the theory of evolution.
    or
    2) You believe in God?

    Only morons would believe that their religion is somehow threatened by the facts of evolution. The logical compromise here is to say that evolution is HOW God did it. If you’re talking religion, HOW is not covered.

    If your religion is so inflexible that it’s somehow a sin or an outrage to suggest that God created other creatures first, then Man evolved from those creatures, then I’d suggest you find a religion that isn’t so directly in conflict with reality.

    Dogma is often wrong – if you don’t realize that, you weren’t paying attention when the Church declared that Earth must be the center of the universe, because God wouldn’t have it any other way.

    People who suggest they know what God wants/does should be slapped.

  68. Daniel J. Andrews

    I was hoping Obama would inspire Harper to lead in the sciences, but Harper is more interested in fixing potholes and giving money away to renovate your home, and those who don’t own a home because the past budget cuts dictated they travel around the country picking up contracts wherever they could find them once again fall through the cracks. Suppose I should throw in a few commas or something in that sentence, but I’m too disillusioned and depressed ‘cos its unemployment time when usually I’m turning down jobs at this time of year. If Canada doesn’t smarten up we’ll be seeing a brain drain to the south.

  69. It is an embarrassing day to be Canadian. The comments section (which, at least for me, is no longer accessible) is even more embarrassing. I noticed that the G and M hurried to get this story off the main column of the main page.

  70. Davidlpf

    I actually vetoed for the local conserative in the area and he won. Does this mean I support all they say no. But I did not like another term of the liberals either. The main problem for the conseratives is the western conseratives they are the ones that are the religious right wingers well the eastern conseratives are more the finicial conseratives. The western conseratives are the ones that make think twice about my political leanings. Hopefully someday we will have a better party that is not either a religious right winged party or bribing everyone.

  71. Gary Ansorge

    Evolving Squid:
    About gravity,,,

    I built this gravity wave generator doo-hickey in my garage last year but it doesn’t work right,,,instead of sucking,,,it blows,,,oh well, back to the drawing board,,,and another quart of Tequila,,,

    ,,,oh yeah and for some reason I seem to have this extra lung/gill structure but I have no idea what it’s for,,,

    GAry 7
    Environmental change, anyone??? John???

  72. Darfrie

    After reading the reponses to Tac, I can only say: Ben Stein is right!!!!

  73. What a non-issue

    This is such a stupid issue. Stop stirring up a tempest in a teapot.

    Instead of worrying about his thoughts on evolution and forcing him on the spot, why not judge him on what he does as his position instead of what his beliefs are. You forget that most famous scientists were extremely religious throughout time. Even Einstein didn’t believe in quantum physics, he said “God does not play dice.” And he meant it.

    Just because you are a Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, or Buddhist doesn’t make any difference to whether or not you will make a good scientist. To say that the minister of science and technology shouldn’t have his own personal religion is just plain ignorant.

    Seriously, who the f*ck cares if he believes in evolution or not, as long as our kids are taught that Darwin’s theory of evolution is the most proper scientific theory, and creationism isn’t appropriate for a science classroom. Seeing as though he’s not in charge of that, WHO CARES.

    What a completely ridiculous article. You’re basically saying anyone who is religious has a large possibility of being anti-science. You’re an idiot.

  74. The following links are counter-arguments to TAC above:

    * Arguments against Creationism

    * 29+ Evidences for Macro-evolution

    * Five Major Misconceptions About Evolution

    * Creationism and Intelligent Design!

    * No Answers in Genesis

    P.S. Click on my name and check out the cool cartoon.
    :cool:

  75. Wayne Whig

    *However, if he was asked about his religion, and the context was whether his religious beliefs are in conflict with evolution, then the question is very appropriate. In fact, the situation would demand it. He’s the Minister of Science! If he thinks evolution is not true because he’s a creationist, then every scientist in Canada should be demanding Goodyear be fired.*

    this is such complete garbage, I don’t know where to start.

    Do YOU want to start instituting religious tests for those who wish to hold public office? Is it ALL public offices, or just public offices relating to science?

    First of all, if we reject the verity of Adam and Eve -as we must – as unscientific, why not just posit that ANY religious person whatsoever, should be barred from holding public office.

    After all, all religions offer points of view that are completely at variance with established science, like:

    -rising from the dead
    -infinite baskets full of fish
    -centuries-long lifespans of early Ot figures
    -miracle cures
    -the earth being `drummed’ into exstence by a cosmic god (this one from Hinduism)

    obviously, all of these beliefs are absurd: should thus anyone who holds them be barred from public office?

  76. “I’m not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,”

    As they say sometimes on the internets: LOLWUT?

    This confirms (at least in my mind) that he doesn’t accept evolution as science. If you talk to a religious person who understands and accepts evolutionary theory, and ask them the same question, they’ll give you a straight yes. If you ask them whether it interferes with their religion- they’ll tell you that science and religion are, to quote Australia’s own Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki, “orthogonal to each other.” If you feel that talking about evolution and religion are one and the same, then you’re a creationist or an ID proponent (and really, ID is just creationism in a rubber mask.)

  77. Darth Robo

    So when asked (multiple times) for the “scientific objections” to evolution, what do our friends TAC and Ishmael link to? Three guesses? Nope, we only need one:

    CREATIONIST WEBSITES.

    First we’re assured that there are “scientific reasons” for not accepting evolution and they expect us to accept a non-scientific, non-observable, non-testable, non-falsifiable and distinctly religious concept as a valid alternative.

    And they wonder why they’re never taken seriously…

  78. Corey P

    @TAC

    Go ahead, re-read your lists you posted. You’ll find that the majority of people mentioned there have little to no business commenting on the likelihood of evolution.

    While I admire the kind of dedication and intelligence required to become a physicist, I wouldn’t consider that a great position to be commenting on topics of biology.

    By the same token, that’d be like a gardener without a hint of what he’s talking about telling getting in to a discussion with an architect. Might even be amusingly fun, but not productive.

    Your links are full of people who have no expertise on the matter or are known to have sold out their academic credibility.

  79. TAC

    >>>”I don’t “believe” in creationism either. I have examined the evidence and so accept the theory of creation as the best explanation for the diversity of life on Earth.”

    If that is the case, then can you tell us what the “scientific theory” of creationism actually IS? How is it falsified, how is it tested, what mechanisms does it propose, how these are observed and what useful scientific predictions it makes?

    Also, it creation “theory” is a conclusion “based on the evidence”, how does this square up with AIG’s Statement of Faith (click my name for linky) which clearly spells out it has already made it’s assumption before they’ve even looked at scientific evidence?

    You claim that posters here are unaware of the debate over evolution and say they aren’t even qualified to comment. I find that ironic. Yes, there is a debate over evolution, and I submit that most here will know more about it than you. The “debate” though, is nothing to do with science, and never has been. Creationists don’t understand the science involved. They don’t care about science either. It’s a political debate, pure and simple. But people like yourself buy the propaganda put forward by creationist organisations and eat it up, hook, line and sinker.

  80. IAmMarauder

    @John (March 17th, 2009 at 10:57 am ):

    I am not sure about your use of the term sub-species in your comment. If it is meaning that Feline is a species – then there are several sub-species. Lions, tigers, the various breeds of “domesticated” cates would all count. For the species Canine there are foxes, dingoes, “domesticated dogs”… For Primates there are Apes and Humans. These would all be sub-species.

    If you are meaning transitional forms, then I am sorry but there are plenty of those. In fact one of the best ones they have found are the fossils demonstrating the transition between a land based mammal and whales.

    However this is the tricky bit – transitional forms are NOT part one creature and part another. The “Crocoduck argument” put up by Ray Comfort is not a transitional form. These transitional forms were distinct animals in their own right. They slowly adapted features that allowed the move from land-based to water-based creatures.

    As for time – well a million years is a very long time. However this alone is not enough to say – you need to measure in generations of the organism. Organisms with very short lifespans can evolve a lot quicker as the mutations that drive evolution can occur and pass on much more quickly. So various bacteria and insects are great to use to observe changes.

    As for obseving evolution – that has been done and it was a case of watching one form evolve into a new sub-species. I cannot remember the details, but it was a researcher who was experimenting with bacteria. The basic premise was to see what would happen if he put it in an environment where its food source was scarce (I think it usually fed on sucrose and he had it in an environment high in nitrates instead). Imagine the surprise when they found it had adapted to fed on the nitrates instead.

  81. Robert

    Pope John Paul II, in his 1996 message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences:
    “Today, almost half a century after publication of the encyclical, new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.”

    So, even the last Pope saw noting wrong with Evolution (with the caveat the science leave the distribution of Souls to God).

    Complete text at: http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP961022.HTM

  82. Matt

    @PJE (Pete): “I’m not sure what your point is in your post on this…what did I miss?”

    Not wanting to put words in E_Squid’s mouth (tentacle, whatever), but: the ToE is (arguably) on more solid scientific ground than the ToG, but you won’t find many of those who decry the ToE’s “lack of scientific validity” claiming that gravity is a lie perpetrated by a shadowy cartel of secular scientists who demand mindless adherence to the official status quo. Nor do they demand that we teach the controversy, claiming that there are “thousands of SCIENTISTS who REJECT the LIE of gravity” (etc etc). So why the double standard? Well, we all know the answer to that: those who oppose the ToE, even those who claim “scientific” reasons, are religiously motivated — the ToE threatens their worldview; gravity does not.

    @John (aka Poe):

    Thanks for the laugh. I actually thought you were legit for a moment. But I think you actually have too many strawmen in there to be genuine. (It’s hard to tell, though — Poe FTW!)

  83. mike

    There is no such thing as gravity. The Earth sucks.

    ( :D for the humor impaired)

  84. There is no such thing as gravity. The Earth sucks.

    Now really Mike, don’t be ridiculous. Everyone know that the earth is simply expanding so that the ground is always pushing against our feet.

    DUH!

  85. erissian

    I honestly can’t say I interpreted his responses in a way that would indicate he’s a creationist. If somebody asked me if I believed in evolution, then they are giving me two options to response with “Evolution is science, it doesn’t need ‘belief’” or “Evolution is bullshit, a creator did it.” His answer to the question seemed to be along the line of “Yeah, I’m a Christian, but I’m also the fucking science minister, so lay off.”

  86. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    Zach;

    I’m not sure I would call that a debate. They’ve already decided that evolution is wrong because it conflicts with a literal reading of Genesis. Of course astronomy, geology, atomic physics (used in dating techniques [Hey baby, wanna see my quark collection?]) all violate a literal reading of Genesis too, but it’s biology that takes the heat. If creationists and IDers were consistent (HAH!) they would interfere with the teaching of these other subjects as well. Biblical astrophysics, anyone?

  87. Creationism/ID fails BECAUSE of the predictions it makes.

    For one simple example, the act of human Creation is described as follows:

    Genesis 2 – 7: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, . . .”

    This states clearly that man is made of “dust of the ground” rather than the hydrocarbons and water which comprises the vast majority of the human body. Dust of the ground is made up mostly of silicon & aluminum compounds quite different from the composition of any living creature. Dust is by definition is dry, lacking water.

  88. TIK

    I am afraid that the Roman Catholic position on evolution is a bit more
    complicated than the earlier post suggests.

    Evolution can’t be proven: Pope Benedict

    Updated Wed. Apr. 11 2007 6:25 PM ET
    Associated Press
    BERLIN — Benedict XVI, in his first extended reflections on evolution
    published as pope, says that Darwin’s theory cannot be finally proven and
    that science has unnecessarily narrowed humanity’s view of creation.

    LINK

    Pope sacks astronomer over evolution debate
    By SIMON CALDWELL, Daily Mail
    Pope Benedict XVI has sacked his chief astronomer after a series of public
    clashes over the theory of evolution.

    LINK

    Pope Benedict ‘believes in evolution’
    Last updated at 15:31 12 April 2007
    Pope Benedict has aired his views on evolution for the first time – and says
    he partially believes Darwin’s theories.
    The Pontiff said science had narrowed the way life’s origins are understood
    and said Christians should take a broader approach to the question.
    However, he did not adopt a strictly scientific view of the origins if life,
    believing instead that God created life through evolution.

    LINK

  89. Mark Hansen

    @Darfie,
    Stein is right about what? TAC was asked, repeatedly, for sources. After much dodging and insults, all s/he came up with was a list of thoroughly discredited creationist websites.

  90. TAC

    "@Darfie,
    Stein is right about what? TAC was asked, repeatedly, for sources. After
    much dodging and insults, all s/he came up with was a list of thoroughly
    discredited creationist websites."

    What insults?

    I suggest you go back through the dialogue and review this. What did I say
    that was insulting? Are your feelings that easily hurt? On the other hand,
    notice that while I did not sling mud, many of the responses to my posts did
    exactly that.

  91. Darth Robo

    “DIScredited” creo websites? Doesn’t that imply they were once credible to begin with?

    :p

    They also contradict each other, like ‘christiananswers’ using the SLoT “argument” while AIG disagree.

  92. TAC

    Like evolutionists never contradict one another?

  93. Luke T.

    How is, “Do you believe in evolution?” not a religious question?

    It obviously is. It’s a question designed specifically to trap a religious person. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

  94. TAC

    Not all scientists agree on evolution

    See: mansfieldnewsjournal.com/article/20090301/OPINION03/903010302

    In Sunday’s, Feb. 15, newspaper article entitled “Controversy? What Controversy?” Steve Goble writes with the presupposition that evolution is a scientifically established fact. It is not, and his article is extremely misleading. For example, more than 760 courageous scientists (Christian and non-Christian alike) have already signed the petition “A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.” They would take exception to Mr. Goble’s claim that evolution “has withstood every test, and ceased to be a bone of contention among scientists decades ago.”

    dissentfromdarwin.org/

  95. Davidlpf

    It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.

    St Augustine of Hippo

  96. TAC

    >>>”Not all scientists agree on evolution”

    Yes, I already mentioned those 700. I can give you 1000 who accept evolution, and they’re just called STEVE. (click name for linky)

    So while you’re here ignoring the content of everyone’s posts (again) can you tell us what the “scientific theory” of creationism actually IS? How is it falsified, how is it tested, what mechanisms does it propose, how these are observed and what useful scientific predictions it makes? Thanks very much.

  97. zach

    Not_Bruce,

    I meant that the “debate” is more a shouting match between those who have no idea what they are talking about, and based not on science but religious fervor. As Corey P said, a gardner is simply out of his element when challenging an architect. The arguments they trot out, Haldane’s dilemma, irreducible complexity, lack of “sub-species” or transitional forms, they are all the palest imitation of well-reasoned arguments. Some even claim that unless an example of every single ancestor for an animal is discovered, the fossil history will be completely and utterly lacking. The absurdity of the arguments only grows as Evolution becomes more and more obvious.

    As for baring people from office owing to their faith, yes, we should for specific offices. Would you hire a Jehovah’s witness in a surgical ward? How about a Christian Scientist as the head of cancer research? If they refuse to turn a blind eye to their professed faith then their beliefs fundamentally make then unable to perform the tasks required. Thus, someone in charge of setting the educational scientific agenda of a Provence who denies one of the most robust theories of all time is equally unsuited to perform his or her duty.

  98. Where's the Beef

    TAC Everything you quote is from the Discovery Institute whose stated purpose is discredit evolution and make way for creationism.

    I’ll skiip the reference to the letter to the editor and deal with the “Dissent from Darwinism” petition. This, another instrument of the DI has been quite reasonably dealt with on Wikipedia of all places.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Scientific_Dissent_From_Darwinism

  99. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    Darfrie

    Ben Stein was right about what? The intoleerance of scientific “orthodoxy”? How tolerant are scientists and interested laypeople supposed to be when creationists (and IDers, which amounts to the same thing) come along with the same old, evidence-free arguments, demanding a degree of respect and attention for them that they have not earned? Creationism has as much to offer science as geocentrism, phlogiston, alchemy, astrology and the “humoral” theory of medicine. Science lionizes new ideas that offer a better matched with the observed real world. Look at plate tectonics. Creationism is only interested shoehorning things into bronze age mythology.As for ID, despite the pretense to science, its answer is “Don’t even bother to see how this works or how it originated. God did it.” Not much of a research program. And it’s not supposed to be a research program; it’s a publicity campaign. The so-called “debate” is an attempt by creationists and IDers to reach out to those who don’t know any better. If “teach the controversy” was only about science, there would be nothing to teach, because the only controversy is the one that they have manufactured. In science, it’s put up or shut up. What does ID have to offer? What can it bring to the table but a whiny insistence to promulgate its counsel of despair “Don’t bother, God did it.” Until it can show actual, honest to goodness results, it’s a waste of time.

  100. @PJE

    I’m not sure what your point is in your post on this…what did I miss?

    It is a response to the notion that Evolution is “just a theory” that was brought up somewhere above.. So is gravity, and ToG is arguably weaker than ToE – but you never hear people arguing for intelligent falling, the Earth sucks, Divine velcro etc.

    @Matt

    Not wanting to put words in E_Squid’s mouth (tentacle, whatever), but: the ToE is (arguably) on more solid scientific ground than the ToG, but you won’t find many of those who decry the ToE’s “lack of scientific validity” claiming that gravity is a lie perpetrated by a shadowy cartel of secular scientists who demand mindless adherence to the official status quo. Nor do they demand that we teach the controversy, claiming that there are “thousands of SCIENTISTS who REJECT the LIE of gravity” (etc etc). So why the double standard? Well, we all know the answer to that: those who oppose the ToE, even those who claim “scientific” reasons, are religiously motivated — the ToE threatens their worldview; gravity does not.

    Exactly. Thanks for that :) saved me the typing.

    Oh, “beak” was the sort of orifice you were looking for :)

  101. TheBlackCat

    @ TAC: I would suggest you actually read the statement that the supposed “dissenters from darwinism” actually says. It says two things:

    1. Evolution should be critically examined. This is obvious, in science everything should be critically examined.

    2. Mutation and natural selection are not sufficient to explain the diversity of life on Earth. This has been well-known in biology since the first half of the 20th century. Everyone in biology knows it is true.

    There is nowhere in the statement where it says that evolution is wrong, or even that it is a subject of debate within the scientific community. As is common with this sort of poll, the people who made the poll carefully crafted a statement that no one who knows anything about evolution would disagree with, and when people unwittingly signed it the makers turned around and lied and said that they somehow reject evolution. Numerous people have come forward and said they were tricked into signing the statement.

  102. TAC

    Okay Darth, give me 700,000 scientists by the name of Steve who accept evolution.

    Would you say that Michael Behe is a scientist? What about Michael Denton? Or are they not scientists just because they question evolutionary theory–even though neither is a creationist?

    Are you in the circle of those evolutionists who argue in a circle that all scientists accept evolution as a fact because anyone who does not accept evolution as a fact is not a scientist?

    Or are you in the majority camp of those who believe that truth is determined by the majority (i.e., evolution is true because it is believed by most scientists)? So evolution was not true in the years when it was a minority position, but is now?

  103. TheBlackCat

    Or are you in the majority camp of those who believe that truth is determined by the majority (i.e., evolution is true because it is believed by most scientists)?

    No, evolution is true because of the evidence. You have not provided any evidence. You have provided a handful of websites containing lies, intentional misdirection, and long-discredited arguments. You’ll have to do better than that.

    Evolution has been directly observed, both in the lab and in nature. This includes one species changing into another species, despite the lies you were told be creationists. This has been directly observed both in the wild and can be fairly easily induced in the laboratory by applying different selective pressures to different groups of the same fast-breeding species.

  104. TAC

    Now, TheBlackCat. I would note that the fuller explanation on the site is as follows:

    A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism

    During recent decades, new scientific evidence from many scientific disciplines such as cosmology, physics, biology, “artificial intelligence” research, and others have caused scientists to begin questioning Darwinism’s central tenet of natural selection and studying the evidence supporting it in greater detail.

    Yet public TV programs, educational policy statements, and science textbooks have asserted that Darwin’s theory of evolution fully explains the complexity of living things. The public has been assured that all known evidence supports Darwinism and that virtually every scientist in the world believes the theory to be true.

    The scientists on this list dispute the first claim and stand as living testimony in contradiction to the second. Since Discovery Institute launched this list in 2001, hundreds of scientists have courageously stepped forward to sign their names.

    The list is growing and includes scientists from the US National Academy of Sciences, Russian, Hungarian and Czech National Academies, as well as from universities such as Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and others.

    A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism
    “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

    “There is scientific dissent from Darwinism. It deserves to be heard.”

    As I understand this then, Darwinian evolution is said to be wrong and Darwinian evolution is a subject of debate in the scientific community. Do you disagree with this understanding?

    I am honestly very interested to know who has since signing the document said that they were tricked into it. It seems like a very straight forward statement. Did these scientists misunderstand something? Again, I would honestly and sincerely like to know more about this if you have additional information.

    But even if that turns out to be accurate, there are a lot of other legitimate scientists on the list who have not recanted or objected. Do you agree with that?

    Thanks

  105. TheBlackCat

    Oh, and TAC, I don’t think you quite get the Steve list. Steves (and people with similar names) make up about 1% of the U.S. population. So you have to multiple that number by 1000. So that would be 100,000 people in the U.S. that say there is no scientific doubt about evolution and that intelligent design and creationism are unscientific and do not belong in science classrooms. By comparison, the Discovery Institute was only able to get 700 people to sign their document, and their document does not in any way cast doubt on evolution nor does it even mention intelligent design, creationism, God, religion, or anything else remotely related to any of these subjects.

  106. Where's the Beef

    The thing most of you readers here may not know about Canada’s current government is that the Conservative Party of Canada is really an alliance of the former Progressive Conservative Party and the Reform Party. The Conservatives were main voice of the right wing and were blasted from office in the 1980s. They almost ceased to exist as a party after eight highly unpopular years as Government.

    The new right wing alternative, the Reform Party were infiltrated by religious fundamentalists (like former leader and current Trade Minister Stockwell “Doris” Day). When the Conservative Reform Alliance Party (love the acronym) finally united the right and offered real opposition to the woefully corrupt governing Liberals, they managed to oust them. A relief for Canada, since no real opposition to the Liberals was a terrible situation for the country.

    Now that the Conservatives (Reformers) are in power it is interesting to note that they have yet to secure a majority government from the people, mostly because of fears of the hidden fundamentalist anti science, anti women, anti abortion agenda.

    It seems very unlikely that they will ever get that majority and their days in office are currently numbered. In fact, the only reason they still form the government is by parlimentary trickery whereby when it looked like there were headed for a non confidence vote, they just sent everyone home for an extended holiday.

    Don’t be fooled about Canada though. We may not have the issues with anti science that are as public as down south, but the fundies have gained power here too.

  107. Where's the Beef

    Look up the Wikipedia entry on A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism. Very informative.

  108. Yojimbo

    @TAC

    “For example, more than 760 courageous scientists (Christian and non-Christian alike) have already signed the petition “A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.”

    760 dissenters? Wow! I won’t question their credentials (as much as I may suspect them), but so what? More than 22,000 scientists named Steve support the ToE. To think that number of dissenters was significant is like thinking that $150 is a significant part of the latest federal budget.

    In any case, as has already been pointed out, if there is real evidence supporting creation, it will be the beginning of a new, real, scientific theory. Science goes where the facts go, sometimes pulling scientific orthodoxy along kicking and screaming, but it goes where the facts go because that’s what science is – a systematic search for facts. So far, creationism doesn’t have any, while evolution has a vast number of them to support it. That’s why Evolution is a Theory.

  109. Where's the Beef

    …another tool of he DI.

  110. TAC

    To TheBlackCat,

    It seems to me that for evolution to occur in any sort of demonstrable fashion (“observable”), then there needs to be an increase in the DNA information carried by the kind of creature which has evolved.

    Most evolutionists do not consider _any_ change at all to be evolutionary change.

    For evolution to have occurred, additional information had to be added to the creature’s DNA. So mere genetic variation does not suffice. I know that all living things have the ability to adapt over time to environmental changes, but only within the limitations allowed by their DNA. So what I need is an unambiguous example of one creature progressing beyond the limits already inherent in its DNA. Do you have such an example?

    Thanks

  111. Where's the Beef

    Where is the Scientific Support of Darwinism list? I would sign this. If it doesn’t exist yet, who will start it? JREf seems like a good place.

  112. TheBlackCat

    We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.

    This is the statement that people actually signed. That is the statement they actually agree with. As I said, there is nothing in that statement that is even remotely controversial within the scientific community, and there is nothing in that statement that indicates in any way the person who signed it has any doubts about evolution.

    But even if that turns out to be accurate, there are a lot of other legitimate scientists on the list who have not recanted or objected. Do you agree with that?

    Actually, there aren’t that many legitimate scientists on the list. Many are actually doctors or engineers, neither of which are actually scientists. Further, many of those that are scientists are not in any field even remotely related to biology, not to mention evolutionary biology. So the number of people on the list who are actually in a position to understand what they are talking about is much smaller.

  113. TheBlackCat

    I am honestly very interested to know who has since signing the document said that they were tricked into it.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002450329_danny24.html

  114. Where's the Beef

    Um, TAC, the DNA record is actually the most compelling evidence in support of evolution yet. Didn’t the DI guys tell you about this. Oh yeah, they wouldn’t want that to get out.

  115. Yojimbo

    Oops! I misread the Steve-o-meter. About 1050 Steves is correct, not 22K. Still not bad :)

  116. Where's the Beef

    Oops, spoke too soon. The lists in various forms already exist. Like it was ever necessary.

  117. TAC

    So 700 scientists who reject Darwinian evolution is inconsequential? Why? Because there are so many more evolutionists? So it does amount to a numbers game & the majority determine what is true.

    Look at the earlier posts and you will see the charge that all real scientists accept evolution. My original intent was to suggest — contrary to what has been posted here — that there are real scientists who reject evolution as an explanation for the biological diversity of life. NOT all scientists are evolutionists. Now when I establish that fact by a list of some 700, I am told that it does not matter because there are so many more evolutionists.

    There was a time when the proportions were more than reversed. I suspect that Charles Darwin considered it bad reasoning when people told him that creationism was true because it was accepted by most of the scientists of his day and before.

  118. TheBlackCat

    It seems to me that for evolution to occur in any sort of demonstrable fashion (”observable”), then there needs to be an increase in the DNA information carried by the kind of creature which has evolved.

    This is wrong. Evolution can occur by changes in regulatory parts of the DNA (genes that control other genes) with no increase in information. That being, increasing the amount of information in an organism’s genome is trivially easy.

    Most evolutionists do not consider _any_ change at all to be evolutionary change.

    I don’t understand what you are saying here.

    For evolution to have occurred, additional information had to be added to the creature’s DNA.

    This is easy to do. Gene duplication is a well-known and common phenomenon. Once the two genes are there, they will mutate independently and become two different genes. Unless one of the genes is later inactivated, it is impossible for this process to NOT produce additional information.

    So mere genetic variation does not suffice.

    In most cases it does suffice. The evolution of new genes is not normally needed, only changing regulatory genes. For instance chickens are sometimes born with teeth due to a mutation in the regulatory sequence that controls the formation of the teeth. Similarly, dolphins and wales are sometimes born with rear flippers.

    I know that all living things have the ability to adapt over time to environmental changes, but only within the limitations allowed by their DNA. So what I need is an unambiguous example of one creature progressing beyond the limits already inherent in its DNA. Do you have such an example?

    Google “nylonase”. It involves the evolution, from scratch, of an entirely new metabolic pathway for digesting a chemical that does not exist in nature. We know the step-by-step mutations that went into the evolution of the enzymes involved.

  119. Darth Robo

    TAC, you’re still attempting to appeal to the fact that some disagree. Big whoop. What we’re trying to get from you is, where is the evidence that they are correct? And what evidence do you have of an ALTERNATIVE theory that explains the evidence better? Many of the scientists on your beloved list are not even qualified. Something I pointed out in my second post when I mentioned the list before you did. And the other point we’re making here is that the only reason that people object to evolution is because their objections are based in religion, not science. Something you pointed out when you linked to those ridiculous creationist sites who can’t even get their own stories straight.

    SO. While you’re here ignoring the content of everyone’s posts (AGAIN) I shall ask you AGAIN: can you tell us what the “scientific theory” of creationism actually is? How is it falsified, how is it tested, what mechanisms does it propose, how these are observed and what useful scientific predictions it makes? Thank you very much.

  120. TAC

    TheBlackCat said,

    Actually, there aren’t that many legitimate scientists on the list. Many
    are actually doctors or engineers, neither of which are actually scientists.
    Further, many of those that are scientists are not in any field even
    remotely related to biology, not to mention evolutionary biology. So the
    number of people on the list who are actually in a position to understand
    what they are talking about is much smaller.

    Wow, I really have been misled. I guess what I need from you is a list of the
    criteria by which you decide who is a scientist. Doctors & engineers are not.

    Then, I need to know how you decide which scientists are "actually in a
    position to understand what they are talking about."

    If you can tell me these things, it will make it easier to discuss the topic.

  121. Darth Robo

    >>>”I know that all living things have the ability to adapt over time to environmental changes, but only within the limitations allowed by their DNA. So what I need is an unambiguous example of one creature progressing beyond the limits already inherent in its DNA.”

    Uh, what ARE the “limits inherent in DNA”? What IS this “magic barrier”? What prevents many many many “micro”-evolutionary changes from having a cumulative effect?

  122. TheBlackCat

    So 700 scientists who reject Darwinian evolution is inconsequential? Why? Because there are so many more evolutionists? So it does amount to a numbers game & the majority determine what is true.

    It is inconsequential, because you can find a handful of scientists to reject anything (especially if there is a lot of money involved, which is the case with the Discovery Institute). I am sure you can find a handful of scientists who think the Earth is flat, does that mean there is serious scientific debate on the subject?

    What matters is not the number of people arguing, or whether there is an argument at all. What matters is the amount of evidence each side provides and how logical and well-supported their arguments are. Both the so-called evidence and all of the arguments of creationists, including the intelligent design community, have been totally demolished for decades now. No matter how many times they are explained exactly why they are wrong, they still make the claims.

    You arguments in the post I just replied to are perfect examples. These are simple concepts, known to biologists for decades. Yet you are still making arguments based on this gross misunderstanding of evolution.

  123. Darth Robo

    >>>”If you can tell me these things, it will make it easier to discuss the topic.”

    Discussion? Sorry, I thought you were just doing this:

    http://images.icanhascheezburger.com/completestore/2008/4/17/lalalalalaica128529515546562500.jpg

  124. TheBlackCat

    Wow, I really have been misled. I guess what I need from you is a list of the
    criteria by which you decide who is a scientist. Doctors & engineers are not.

    A scientist is someone who studies some aspect of the universe using the scientific method. Doctors and engineers use knowledge gained by scientists, but are not, as a rule, scientists themselves. They might be, but it cannot be assumed just by their degree.

    Then, I need to know how you decide which scientists are “actually in a
    position to understand what they are talking about.”

    Someone in a field related to biology would be pretty qualified to speak. Someone in evolutionary biology, evolutionary development, or paleontology would be particularly well-qualified. Someone in physics, chemistry, meteorology, materials science, or some other non-biological field cannot be counted on to understand biology, so the burden of proof would be on them to show an understanding of evolution.

    However, even someone in biology can lose their qualifications to speak on evolution if they demonstrate a gross lack of understanding of both evolution and biology, especially if they are documented liars who have shown an imperviousness to evidence, a refusal to back up claims, and a lack of ability to understand the subjects they talk about. Behe falls in this category.

  125. PN

    TAC,

    Please explain to me which one of the following has more information:
    1) 500 letter a’s
    2) 500 random characters
    3) the first 500 characters of the original blog post?

    Tks,

  126. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    Michael Behe certainly counts as a scientist. He likes science so much that he wants to redefine it in such a way that even more people can be called scientists. Including astrologers. This is something that came out in the Dover trial. Maybe some of these people on the “Dissent from Darwin” list will become scientists if Behe and the “Discovery” (what exactly have they ever discovered?) Institute get their wish.

  127. Please don’t feed the troll (TAC), at least until he refutes my evidence (cited above & repeated below) that Creationism fails as science because it requires humans to be made up of dust rather than the organic compounds & water we are actually composed of.

    This is a logical testable scientific prediction of Creationism, made based upon the quoted statement in their inerrant source directly describing the process of how humans were Created by god.

    -

    “Creationism/ID fails BECAUSE of the predictions it makes.

    For one simple example, the act of human Creation is described as follows:

    Genesis 2 – 7: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, . . .”

    This states clearly that man is made of “dust of the ground” rather than the hydrocarbons and water which comprises the vast majority of the human body. Dust of the ground is made up mostly of silicon & aluminum compounds quite different from the composition of any living creature. Dust by definition is dry, lacking water.”

  128. TheBlackCat

    Actually, most dust is dead skin cells.

  129. @TAC

    Would you say that Michael Behe is a scientist? What about Michael Denton? Or are they not scientists just because they question evolutionary theory–even though neither is a creationist?

    They are not scientists because they reject the scientific method. It has nothing to do with their particular stance on evolution. If their explanations leave room for “magic” then they are not scientists, period.

    Or are you in the majority camp of those who believe that truth is determined by the majority (i.e., evolution is true because it is believed by most scientists)? So evolution was not true in the years when it was a minority position, but is now?

    No scientist believes that truth is determined by the majority. They accept that truth is validated by a preponderance of evidence. Superficially this may appear to be a “majority rules” sort of thing, but it isn’t. 5 billion people could believe that pi=3, but it would still be wrong, and demonstrably so.

    Since Discovery Institute launched this list in 2001…

    … they have not provided a single shred of evidence to counter anything in the ToE that can stand up to scientific inquiry.

    So 700 scientists who reject Darwinian evolution is inconsequential? Why? Because there are so many more evolutionists? So it does amount to a numbers game & the majority determine what is true.

    No. It is inconsequential because they offer no verifiable evidence to support their claim that evolution is incorrect. All they offer is baseless rhetoric.

    Wow, I really have been misled. I guess what I need from you is a list of the
    criteria by which you decide who is a scientist. Doctors & engineers are not.

    It’s not so much that they aren’t scientists as that they aren’t qualified to speak outside their field. An engineer saying “I reject evolution because I think life is irreduceably complex, nyah” is not an especially powerful opponent. A biologist saying that same thing carries much more weight because he’s been educated in that field and is expected to have much deeper knowledge. From a biologist, the scientific method demands that he back up such a claim with independently verifiable evidence. From an engineer, it’s easier to dismiss with “yeah, but you build buildings and have studied little about the building of life”. Still, an engineer could reveal independently verifiable evidence to back his claim.

    The fact that they are scientists is of little merit. 1000 doctors talking about the theory of gravity is worth less to me than 1 physicist unless the doctors can demonstrate why their opinions should be considered valid in the field of physics.

  130. Daniel J. Andrews

    Maybe someone posted this already (sorry, no time to read thru comments), but Goodyear has ‘clarified things’ a bit.

    “But when asked again on Power Play if he believed in the theory of evolution he responded, “Of course, I do.”

    “We are evolving every year, every decade. That’s a fact, whether it’s to the intensity of the sun . . . or to the effects of walking on the sun. Of course, we are evolving to our environment. But that’s not relevant.”

    Goodyear said on Power Play that religion has no part in federal science policy. ”

    I’m assuming that should be in “walking IN the sun” (a heck of an evolutionary leap for humans if it isn’t a typo…that’s where all our science dollars have gone…sending people out to walk on the sun). Still it is pretty obvious he doesn’t know a whole lot about evolution, but I would agree with his last statement (i.e. religion has no part…etc) and from that perspective, what he believes is irrelevant as long as he acts on his last statement.

  131. amphiox

    He’s a chiropracter, AND he’s a conservative, for christ’s sake, AND he was chosen by Stephen Harper for his cabinet post.

    So this new development just takes him from “raving lunatic” to “stark raving lunatic” in my book.

    Nothing to see here, folks, move along, move along. . . . (or not)

  132. José

    @Daniel J. Andrews
    “We are evolving every year, every decade. That’s a fact, whether it’s to the intensity of the sun . . . or to the effects of walking on the sun. Of course, we are evolving to our environment. But that’s not relevant.”

    That sounds like a fancy creationist way of saying “I believe in microevolution” and thereby avoiding the actual question. If he doesn’t accept the science of macroevolution (aka: evolution) his warped scientific beliefs may still have an effect on federal science policy.

  133. TAC

    TheBlackCat says of his criteria for determining who is a scientist:

    “Someone in a field related to biology would be pretty qualified to speak. Someone in evolutionary biology, evolutionary development, or paleontology would be particularly well-qualified. Someone in physics, chemistry, meteorology, materials science, or some other non-biological field cannot be counted on to understand biology, so the burden of proof would be on them to show an understanding of evolution.

    However, even someone in biology can lose their qualifications to speak on evolution if they demonstrate a gross lack of understanding of both evolution and biology, especially if they are documented liars who have shown an imperviousness to evidence, a refusal to back up claims, and a lack of ability to understand the subjects they talk about. Behe falls in this category.”

    Thus, by definition you have ruled out the possibility that anyone can be a scientist except those you approve as such. This gets back to the original point: if you decide in advance that one must accept evolution in order to be a scientist, then it is not real startling when you are unable to find any scientist who does not accept evolution. This is circular reasoning that is not helped by the appeal to use of the scientific method since in the end you will be the one who decides whether a “scientist” is using the SM, thus whether he is really a scientist.

    TheBlackCat says,

    “A scientist is someone who studies some aspect of the universe using the scientific method.”

    Again, I am sincerely interested here. So would you be willing to conceive of a non-evolutionist who is capable of studying via the SM? Can such a person exist whose study is not related to evolution? What if it is related? What if in using the SM he concludes that the evidence for evolution is not compelling?

    Also, which version of the SM do you embrace?

    Thanks

  134. Fil

    @TAC

    Since you say that you’ve seen the evidence and claim the existence of a cornucopia of skeptical scientists , I want you to cite me one paper. Just one, scientific paper dissenting against evolution as a whole. No secondary sources unless they have explicit citation to a paper themselves. That means no dictionary battles, clippings from Fox news or Wikipedia stub.

    The paper must make argument against the foundation of evolution itself, an argument simply against an established mechanism of evolution proves nothing, because new mechanisms will be discovered and science will change to accommodate. An example, Huygens and Newton had a famous disagreement on the corpuscular theory of light. Neither of them needed to invoke supernatural phenomena, neither of them needed to dispute the laws of thermodynamics and science has since given rise to wave-particle theories.

    Make no mistake, the onus of proof lies with you, the claimant. This is standard procedure in science and law alike. But since I’m so generous, I will offer you a paper on the origins of life anyways:

    Sole, R.V. (2008). Evolution and self-assembly of protocells. Int. .J Biochem. Cell. B. 41(2)

    If you cannot succeed, then you are suggesting that we teach our children less than the very best science has to offer. When the alternative to that is, ‘I guess we just don’t know anything’, then what you propose is ignorance at best and harmful at worst.

    Your move, TAC.

  135. amphiox

    Evolution, a change in the characteristics of lifeforms over time, is an observed fact.

    Natural selection, the differential replication of variable individuals due to environmental impacts resulting in changes in average gene allele frequencies within a population from one generation to the next, is an observed fact.

    Speciation, the separation of a single population with a shared gene pool into two or more population that no longer share genes with each other, is an observed fact.

    Common descent, the origination of multiple modern populations from a single ancestral population, is an observed fact.

    The theory of evolution is a description of how these observed facts came about and an explanation of why they are observed to be the way they are.

    Is intelligent design a possible mechanism for evolutionary change? The laws of nature do not disallow it, but they do preclude the spontaneous appearance of a designer ex nihilo.

    What is the extant evidence pertaining to the existence or activity of an intelligent designer? Absolutely zero.

    Are there any observations of biological phenomenon at present for which the theory of evolution is unable to provide a satisfactory explanation, or produces contradictory predictions when applied? Absolutely none. (In this regard the theory of evolution outperforms both Relativity and Quantum Mechanics)

    Are there any observations of biological phenomenon at present for which postulation of an intelligent designer provides a more satisfactory explanation than those already furnished by the theory of evolution? Absolutely none.

    Are there any observations of biological phenomenon at present for which postulation of an intelligent designer produces paradoxical, non-sensical, or self-contradictory results? Almost all of them.

    If design as a mechanism were discovered and proven RIGHT NOW, what implications would that have on our current understanding of the theory of evolution? Almost none. The discovery of design would simply add one more mechanism to the list of mechanisms already known and accounted for by evolutionary theory. It would probably rank somewhere below genetic drift in importance. All the features of biology which are OBVIOUSLY not designed will still be obviously not designed. All the features of biology which are clearly the result of undirected evolutionary mechanisms will still be clearly the result of undirected evolutionary mechanisms. The theory of evolution stands on its own enormous mountain of evidence.

    It is, in fact, very likely that we will be adding design to the list of known mechanisms of evolutionary change in the very near future, if for no other reason than that humans will very soon develop the capability to design novel organisms of our own. The moment we do, of course, these organisms will immediately become subject to mutation, natural selection, genetic drift, etc, and will start evolving, beyond our direct control, on their own.

  136. TheBlackCat

    Thus, by definition you have ruled out the possibility that anyone can be a scientist except those you approve as such. This gets back to the original point: if you decide in advance that one must accept evolution in order to be a scientist, then it is not real startling when you are unable to find any scientist who does not accept evolution. This is circular reasoning that is not helped by the appeal to use of the scientific method since in the end you will be the one who decides whether a “scientist” is using the SM, thus whether he is really a scientist.

    Where did I say someone has to accept evolution? I said that for someone to be considered an authority on evolution, they should show that they understand it. You can generally assume that someone who studies evolution understands it. Other people have to demonstrate that they understand it.

    If you wanted to get your car fixed, and some random person offered to do it, would you just let them? Of course not, you would demand that the person either show that they have had proper training in the field of automotive repair, or demonstrate that they know enough about the subject to be qualified to fix a car. If someone shows credentials that they know how to repair a car, but don’t understand how a spark plug works, you would be fully justified in not letting them near your car because they have shown a lack of understanding in the subject they claim to be trained in.

    It is the same thing with science. For someone’s pronouncements on a scientific subject to be trusted, they should either be able to cite education on the subject, or be able to prove they are knowledgeable about. If they can cite education on the subject but prove through their statement that they are no knowledgeable about it, then you are justified in disregarding any statements they make on their own authority.

    Of course if they can provide reliable evidence backing up their claims, then it doesn’t matter if they can’t even read. But the Dissent from Darwinism list is not backed by evidence, it is backed solely by the signatories supposed expertise in evolution. If they cannot demonstrate understanding of the subject, then they have no authority on the subject and it doesn’t matter how many lists they sign.

    So would you be willing to conceive of a non-evolutionist who is capable of studying via the SM? Can such a person exist whose study is not related to evolution? What if it is related?

    Of course.

    What if in using the SM he concludes that the evidence for evolution is not compelling?

    Unless that person backs up the claim with extremely strong and far-reaching evidence, which is what it would take to back up such a claim at this point, I would think the person is full of &%$#. If you are going to overturn the consensus of essentially the entire scientific community, then “I’m not convinced” isn’t going to cut it, you need actual evidence. Evidence that has not been thoroughly and repeatedly demolished over the last few decades as is the case with all creationist arguments, or over the last few centuries as is the cases with many creationist arguments.

    Also, which version of the SM do you embrace?

    Look at a phenomenon. Develop a hypothesis that can explain that phenomenon. Figure out what new implications that hypothesis has that are different than known competing hypotheses and theories, and use those implications to predict data that has not been collected yet. These predictions must be of the sort that can conceivably be wrong. Test those predictions. If the test fails, abandon or revise the idea. If it passes, test the predictions in a new way and test different predictions. Repeat a few thousand times. If your hypothesis successfully predicts data that other hypotheses cannot explain, you can call it a theory.

  137. Fil

    Alternatively, I am tired of science being the one that needs to defend itself from people clearly with no understanding of its workings.

    Let’s put it this way, even if evolution is disproved utterly, it does nothing to prove intelligent design. What does intelligent design offer over evolution? It has no predictive power; evolution allows us to fight diseases and grow better crops, whereas intelligent design offers an answer that’s not really an answer.

    Newtonian physics have all sorts of flaws. We have known that Newtonian physics are flawed for a long time. Nonetheless, we still use his model because they remain useful in many situations. Until a model has potential that equals or supersedes that of our current evolutionary model arises, there is no peer competitor.

    If it so happened tomorrow that all of evolution was empirically disproven, intelligent design would not be the one that takes its place. It can only forever remain a novelty.

    With respect to Goodyear, I am ashamed as a Canadian that such a thing should happen. Although one can’t be too surprised at this turn of events, with Harper’s cabinet in power and whatnot.

  138. Mark Hansen

    @TAC
    Quote:
    “Oh, my. This “evolution is science” stuff does get old. It’s like you have half YOUR brain tied behind your back in order to avoid facing the fact that THOUSANDS of real scientists and HUNDREDS of reputable publications do not accept this conclusion for SCIENTIFIC reasons.”
    There’s the insult.

    You can lead a person to facts but you can’t make them think.

  139. Todd W.

    @Mark Hansen

    No kidding. I’m still waiting for answers to my initial questions to TAC.

  140. Darth Robo

    Me too. Instead, he’s started to argue over dictionary definitions in order to avoid posting something with substance.

    SO. TAC. While you’re here ignoring the content of everyone’s posts (AGAIN) I shall ask you AGAIN: can you tell us what the “scientific theory” of creationism actually is? How is it falsified, how is it tested, what mechanisms does it propose, how these are observed and what useful scientific predictions it makes? Thank you very much.

    And just to point out, do you realise that by doing what you’re doing you are only making your side look bad? Do you know that this happens EVERY TIME? Fundies show up, bringing a rubber-ducky to a knife fight and the inevitable verbal slaughter ensues, fundies then start crying about how “mean” the “Darwinists” are. Or they start preaching. Is it sinking in yet why Intelligent Design/Creationism is the anti-thesis to science?

    No? Oh well then, carry on. I’m sure your God is proud of you making Him look stupid. (shrug)

  141. Robert

    @TAC

    As I said, the PREVIOUS Pope, Pope John Paul II, had no problem with evolution.
    Pope Benedict XVI is determined to undo all the work he did in modernizing the church.

  142. mapnut

    I’m an engineer. I consider myself a scientific sort of person because I studied biology in high school, chemistry and physics in college, and keep up an interest in these things. I study and use the science of hydrology and hydraulics, a branch of physics, in my work. I don’t do research in these areas, but many engineers do. However I would never dream of using my P.E. license and my Master of Science degree as justification to sign any kind of statement about evolution. That would be unethical.

  143. Matt

    @Evolving_Squid:

    Thanks for that :) saved me the typing.

    Most welcome. I’m glad I got your point!

    Oh, “beak” was the sort of orifice you were looking for :)

    Oh duh! I cannot brain today, I have the dumb.

  144. Todd W.

    @Robert

    I just read a blurb today that Pope Benedict XVI was quoted as saying something along the lines that condoms are contributing to the AIDS epidemic in parts of Africa.

  145. Todd W.

    @TheBlackCat

    Tread carefully. TAC keeps baiting you with strawmen, rather than discussing matters that are more pertinent to the topic, and you keep biting. Your last comment was a good riposte, but I suggest keeping it closer to the questions of evidence than the education or backgrounds of any supporters of creationism/ID.

  146. Matt

    @BlackCat:

    Actually, most dust is dead skin cells.

    Impossible! There was no death before The Fall(TM). Also, impossibly self-referential, since there wouldn’t be any skin cells (alive or dead) before the creation of Man.

    Wow, for an omnipotent & omniscient deity, YHWH gets a lot of things wrong in his book. Maybe he needs a better editor.

  147. TheBlackCat

    @ mapnut: Quite true, all of those engineers who signed the list are in direct violation of a number of articles the National Society of Professional Engineers Code of Ethics for Engineers. The NSPE is the official society representing all engineers in the U.S.:
    http://www.nspe.org/Ethics/CodeofEthics/index.html

    I.2.a. Engineers shall undertake assignments only when qualified by education or experience in the specific technical fields involved.

    I.2.b. Engineers shall not affix their signatures to any plans or documents dealing with subject matter in which they lack competence, nor to any plan or document not prepared under their direction and control.

    I3.b. Engineers may express publicly technical opinions that are founded upon knowledge of the facts and competence in the subject matter.

    I.5.a. Engineers shall not falsify their qualifications or permit misrepresentation of their or their associates’ qualifications. They shall not misrepresent or exaggerate their responsibility in or for the subject matter of prior assignments. Brochures or other presentations incident to the solicitation of employment shall not misrepresent pertinent facts concerning employers, employees, associates, joint venturers, or past accomplishments.

    II.1.a. Engineers shall acknowledge their errors and shall not distort or alter the facts.

    III.3. Engineers shall avoid all conduct or practice that deceives the public.

    III.3.a. Engineers shall avoid the use of statements containing a material misrepresentation of fact or omitting a material fact.

  148. Todd W.

    @Matt

    Actually, there was skin…animal skin. So, if we ignore the fact that there was no death, Man would have been made from already-existing animals. So, evolution is right!

  149. TheBlackCat

    @ Todd: If TAC was going to answer actual meaningful questions, he would have done so already. Ignoring other peoples’ points has never been a problem for creationists. But if all of TAC’s questions are not answered fully and completely, TAC will likely start complaining, claiming that we don’t have answers, or will at least think that we have been beaten. Therefore, I think it is important to thoroughly demolish all arguments, not just the ones we would like to have. It is clear that if we demand TAC actually deal with the evidence and science then this conversation will go nowhere and TAC will claim victory.

  150. Todd W.

    @TheBlackCat

    I understand. Just, be very careful in your wording so that he will not be as easily able to set up another strawman.

  151. Gary Ansorge

    TAC: “Which version of the scientific method,,,”

    the one that says:
    1)observe and collect data
    2)formulate a hypothesis to explain how that data is connected
    3) make predictions as to what happens when you change variables
    4)TEST THE PREDICTIONS( aka experimental verification/falsification)

    In every version of the Judeo/Christian/Muslim religion, there is a
    warning to beware of false prophets and the test of false prophets is in the accuracy of their predictions. By THAT criteria, the scientific method selects theories that stand head and shoulders above any prior system of thought/belief that attempts to explain reality.

    Religions prophets fail almost universally,,,and those few who DO make an accurate prediction do so on the basis of random accident,ie, make enough predictions and one or two may come close to the mark,,,

    I predict that this argument will have absolutely no impact on your belief system,,,

    GAry 7

  152. TheBlackCat

    @ Gary: I think your explanation of the scientific method is flawed in part 3 and 4. You can’t always control variables, nor can you always do experiments. That importance is that you make testable predictions, not the method you use to test those predictions. For instance in astronomy you cannot control any variables, but you can still make predictions based off a hypothesis and then test them. You just have to know what observations are compatible with your hypothesis, and which aren’t. This is common science. Geology, climatology, meteorology, astrophysics, and oceanography are also sciences that depend on this approach.

  153. Matt

    @Todd W:

    Hah! Brilliant! Today’s intart00bs are yours, sir, and their associated c00kies.

    So what do we have so far? Dust is made from dead skin cells, which is impossible b/c there was no death pre-Fall. Possible creationist ad hoc workarounds: (1) pre-Fall dust was different to post-Fall dust in that it obviously didn’t include cells; or (2) “no death” refers to whole organism, not just cells. If (1) then pre-Fall dust is just silicates and such like, even though humans are organic; conclusion: humans can’t have been made from dust; or IOW: fail. If (2) then Man was made from dust containing animal cells; conclusion: Genesis supports evolution! (Or at least leaves us in the same position: we came from munkees!!one! ZOMG!zeropointnine!!!)

    I like that.

    The scary thing is I can remember my religious brainwashing (from way back) well enough that I can still get in their heads enough to think up possible “counters”. Pre-fall dust was organic and only became silicate b/c of Teh Fallz. We were made from silicate dust but became organic upon receiving the breath of life. And on it goes. Still, it’s fun to watch the logical contortions of creationists. It’s a kind of street theater.

  154. Fifi Lamour

    Not only is Canada’s Science Minister confused about evolution being a religious question, he’s a former chiropractor!!! Seriously. So, he doesn’t believe in germ theory even if he’s now pretending to “believe” in evolution to try to quiet the storm! It should also be noted that PM Harper is an evangelical fundamentalist who belongs to a church that believes in the apocalypse (and the Bush/Cheney/Rove agenda).

  155. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Oh, a troll infested thread. Let me see what we can save from the mess:

    First, on the subject: Goodyear seems indeed entrenched in the Behe position, admitting evolution (at least within sexual species) while being a potential hardcore creationist.

    As for the explicit religious test that 3v1l5w1n proposes, it is probably consistent with the US constitution as shown, but I believe there would be massive opposition in practice.

    One putative method would then be to tie it to the office of science especially, in the same way that you can’t get a PhD in evolution science without actually supporting the science you are expected to be doing then and after. But in the very different context that is instead equivalent to the special pleading that is the main failure of religion, so I’m rather stumped.

    Second, the remaining non-troll actual questions:

    evolution (which is not a proven scientific fact, just a theory)

    The bald-faced lie peddled by all creationists without exception, thereby proving that their’s is no scientific based position. Evolutionary biologists commonly describe evolution as “fact, theory, and path”. See for example Ryan Gregory’s blog post on Genomicron with that title.

    The observable facts is the evolution process itself, definable as inherited population changes over time (say, artificial selection on dogs, acquired antibiotic resistance, bacteria speciation to other ecological niches such as the recent nylon eater, or the nested traits of extant or extinct species), and its observable mechanisms (mutation, selection, et cetera).

    The validated scientific theory is evolution theory itself, by necessity predicting observations (say, nesting of inherited traits, or adaption to antibiotics) and tested (say, by the findings of the predicted population of Tiktaalik>/i>), again by necessity based on the observable mechanisms and no others.

    The path is the contingent and observable evolutionary instantiation of the current biosphere and its species, predicted by observable pathways that evolving populations will track out in the “evolutionary space” of possibilities (and recorded by, say, the nested hierarchies of traits) which by necessity any historical, physical, system will follow over time.

    Evolution with in one species has been found. Evolution from species to species has not.
    Darwin took a clue and ran it into a grand design that still has no support today.

    More bald-faced lie peddling, as is the remainder of that commentary. I have debunked the above earlier in this commentary, both in general terms and with specific, easy to google, examples. Google Talk Origins for scientists debunking the rest of the usual creationist crap (that is repeated despite the experts laying out the actual facts for all to see).

  156. Gary Ansorge

    TheBlackCat:
    Ibn al-Haytham in the 11th century proposed:

    1)Explicit statement of a problem, tied to observation and to proof by experiment
    2)Testing and/or criticism of a hypothesis using experimentation
    3)Interpretation of data and formulation of a conclusion using mathematics
    The publication of the findings

    I just tried to re-word it in a simpler form,,,

    Evolution of the method has invoked rationalism, inductive reasoning, etc. We’re still developing that methodology.

    But the 4 rules I list accomplishes what we need in order to know if our ideas/theories have any correlation with reality.

    GAry 7

  157. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Actually, since I prepared a fitting comment on the sort of stupidity that confronting religious claims with reality is on another thread, I will edit out some mistakes and parse it for easier digestion here:

    Creationists love to peddle the claim that scientists doesn’t understand religious ideas, and therefore rule out those as “not possible”.

    But anything is a priori (way priori) possible, and moreover empirical methods acknowledges and uses uncertainty. It is simply that after thousands of years the social construct that is religion has failed in its empirical predictions.

    Take the usual creationist hypotheses that a ready-made “superior” intelligence created the universe. We can then make two testable hypotheses: 1. Intelligences starts out fully formed. 2. Processes in the universe relies on intelligence.

    But it is trivial to test this en masse on the multitude of intelligences and processes we observe, and they both fail: 1. Intelligences (or really any adaptive system) starts out simple, and build complexity by learning when interacting with a substrate environment. (For example, from child to adult knowledge.) 2. Natural processes consists of mindless mechanisms, and build complexity on emergence of simple rules when interacting with a substrate environment. (For example, when chemistry emerges out of cooling big bang elementary particles.)

    So while it is still remotely possible (please show us the evidence, we want dearly to know!) it is a failed hypotheses that thousands of year old fairy tales got intelligence and processes correctly. And if it wasn’t, it is still merely begging the question – which supreme intelligence created the supreme intelligence who created the universe – and so trivially unusable in understanding anything anyway.

    Now, scientists are putting this in their own terms, as debunking superstition is (or should be) a passed state in building human knowledge and there is little concerted effort at this time. You can for example see much the same argument in Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, but he is bending over backwards to be readable by religious people, which is perhaps why he is merely claiming that it is an improbable explanation. I believe for example Victor Stenger in God – the failed hypotheses is taking the religious ideas to their unavoidable destiny when confronted with observable facts. A confrontation most religions seems eager to make, from the catholic church leader to individuals commenting on science blogs.

    An all too common failure of creationists is to peddle the claim that “here is no conflict between creation theory and evolution theory”.

    But wishing it doesn’t make it so. Again, it is a trivial fact that creation ideas (there is apparently no unfalsified theory, but feel free to state it here, eager minds wants to learn new things!) and a natural process like evolution is incompatible. Simple testing shows that observations are predicted by evolution theory based on observed mechanisms, while no creation events (however they are defined – without a theory there is no telling, actually) are ever seen.

    For an especially stupid and pernicious example, take the pseudoscience apologist idea that is “theistic evolution”, which is peddled by major religions and even supported by scientists that should know better.

    Either you draw some predictions from it that are different from the scientific theory, and you can test it. Or you don’t, in which case it is isomorphic to the same, i.e. for scientific purposes it is the same theory. The game here is called bait-and-switch, in that apologists tries to have it both ways to avoid either testing or abandonment, but they really can’t.

    In fact, evolution theory in its basic form is utterly devoid of creators and use only natural mechanisms. Adding creators while keeping predictive isomorphism is then a claim that “creators” are simply natural processes.

    (For example, when studying artificial selection evolution theory remains the same – it is the same selective mechanisms acting, whether extraneous adaptive systems are involved in the larger adaptive system that is evolution acting on populations or not. With an ironic twist in this context, as the adaptive beings doing artificial selection to create a desired trait are themselves products of evolution.)

  158. To answer some of the comments regarding dust being dead skin cells:

    According to Genesis 2:19, animals were also Created from “the ground” and were Created after man was Created, therefore there were no dead skin cells prior to mans Creation. (And only in human or animal dwellings are dead skin cells a significant component of “dust”.)

    Now if you look at Genesis 1:20-27 you’ll find a clear & definite contradiction to Genesis 2, in that animals are Created one or two days prior to the Creation of man. Still doesn’t leave much time for dead skin cells to fall off & make a significant contribution to the composition of the “dust of the ground”, especially since there was no death at that time.

  159. Todd W.

    @Jaycubed

    Dust is entirely organic. What you are thinking of is probably regolith.

  160. IVAN3MAN

    @ TheBlackCat,

    I also understand what you’re saying, but…

    “Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon; it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory.” — Scott D. Weitzenhoffer.

    P.S. Thanks for that “Code of Ethics for Engineers” link; it will be useful when “Electric Universe/Plasma Cosmology” proponents — another bunch of bloody cranks — cite ‘engineers’ amongst their signatories.

  161. Todd W. you are completely wrong:

    Dust 1. Earth or other solid matter so comminuted as to be easily raised and carried in a cloud by the wind; any substance pulverized; powder. (OED)

    Dust 1: fine particles of matter (as of earth) (M-W)

    “Dust is a general name for minute solid particles with diameters less than 20 thou (500 micrometers). Particles in the atmosphere arise from various sources such as soil dust lifted up by wind, volcanic eruptions, and pollution. Dust in homes, offices, and other human environments consists of human skin cells, plant pollen, human and animal hairs, textile fibers, paper fibers, minerals from outdoor soil, and many other materials which may be found in the local environment.” (Wiki)

    There were no such human environments at the alleged time of Creation.

  162. Todd W.

    @Jaycubed

    Ah, right. I was thinking of dirt. Dirt is organic, being worm poop and such.

  163. IVAN3MAN

    @ Todd W.,

    Yeah, and there’s an awful lot of creationist troll poop on this thread!

  164. Todd W.,

    I hate to seem like I’m picking on you, but neither dirt nor soil need be made up only of organic materials, unless you use dirt only to mean ordure/feces.

    In the more common usage of dirt/soil there are various amounts of organic material to be found within such material. Some soils, like those found in bogs or peatlands, are almost exclusively organic in composition. Other soils are almost completely lacking in organic matter (sands or clays).

    re. Regolith:

    On Earth, regolith often contains organic matter. Regolith is the loose layer covering solid rock, literally the “blanket” (rhegos) over “rock” (lithos).

    On the Moon & Mercury, all regolith is inorganic. Mars remains an open question in this regard.

    Regardless, the term regolith was coined only a century+ ago & is irrelevant to interpreting a several thousand year old document.

  165. Todd W.

    @Jaycubed

    No worries. My use of dirt was based on previous statements on this blog (posts on the moon, etc.), where in response to comments of dirt on the moon, people used the technical “dirt = worm poop/decomposed organic matter” definition. I do realize, though, that the common use of the term includes such things as sand and clay.

    Your corrections of my usage point to the need to have clear, unambiguous technical terms for the different substances.

  166. Wendy

    Goodyear has admitted that he DOES accept evolution. Seems he just didn’t want to answer the question.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20090318.GOODYEAR18/TPStory/National

    Isn’t it interesting that after he refused to answer the question, all the blogs blew up with assumptions that Goodyear is a creationist? I thought we were supposed to skeptical, people? (I’d like to point out that I’m no fan of Goodyear.)

  167. TheBlackCat

    Wendy, check the BA blog home page. Phil already discussed this.

  168. whb03

    “As I said, the PREVIOUS Pope, Pope John Paul II, had no problem with evolution.
    Pope Benedict XVI is determined to undo all the work he did in modernizing the church.”

    Once a Nazi, always a Nazi. Did I say that? Oh yes I did.

  169. Embarassed Canadian

    As a Canadian, having a Chiropractor and Creationist as our science minister is embarrassing. First he interprets a question about evolution as a question about faith, then when pressured, gives a completely incorrect description of evolution.
    No word yet as to whether he believes in gravity or electromagnetism and all those other things that are “just theories”.
    Sorry world. We’ll vote better next time.

  170. Tay

    Here is the scientific method in all it’s glory.

    The steps of the scientific method are to:

    * Ask a Question
    * Do Background Research
    * Construct a Hypothesis
    * Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
    * Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
    * Communicate Your Results

    Now, talk to an archeologist (really a fancy name for a state-sponsored grave robber) and have him tell you what experiments he has performed before he spouted off his ‘theory’ or ‘determination’ of ‘fact.’

    NONE!!!!!!

    They don’t do them!

    They don’t do science. But they call it that.

    Second point – with the complexity and cost of experiments these days, the whiz-bang kids have become the priesthood and everyone else has to take their findings on faith! Oh what a horrible word!

    No one can run an experiment that can reproduce the Big Bang. If they did, we wouldn’t be here. So that is taken on faith. Oh My!

    No one can create in a vat all of the chain of events that took place to create life from the beginning. The odds of all of those things happening in the correct order are impossible.

    It goes on and on.

    And to state that science is the great GOD that it has been elevated to by citing other scientists is like saying that Islam is the truth by asking other Muslims. Illogical!

    Man will NEVER know the truth. He can’t, and still remain human. The truth doesn’t permit wars, politics and inflation.

    Throw down your god ‘MONEY’ and it’s henchman’ SCIENCE’, tear down your cathedrals ‘the BANKS’ and live properly.

    Tay

  171. Darth Robo

    * Ask a Question

    Did the universe have a beginning or has it always existed?

    * Do Background Research

    Most galaxies are receding away from us due to observed redshifting.

    * Construct a Hypothesis

    If they are all travelling away from us now, perhaps they were closer in the past? If we imagine time running backwards for a moment, perhaps at one point they would eventually end up at a single point called a singularity. As time goes forwards, this would be an expansion of space we call the Big Bang.

    * Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment

    The heat leftover from the Big Bang should leave some detectable background radiation.

    * Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion

    Cosmic background radiation is found (as predicted). Combine this with evidence of already observed redshift.

    * Communicate Your Results

    Based on observable evidence, we construct a theory around it called the Big Bang theory.

    As with ALL scientific theories, like evolution and gravity, they are always open to possible changes when new evidence is discovered.

    The Big Bang theory (which has nothing to do with evolution by the way) is the currently accepted theory held by the scientific community for the formation of our universe. Of course, it’s possible we might find evidence in the future that falsifies the theory. Until then, the theory remains. So Tay, do you have an alternative theory which can do a better job of explaining currently observable facts? Based on the ‘scientific method’ of course.

    But if you’re not a fan of science, perhaps you’d like to throw away all your medical treatments, throw away the computer you’re using right now, throw away many of you modern home comforts and go back to being a hunter-gatherer living in a cave? By all means, by my guest.

  172. Tay, you are a moron. Not knowing you personally means that I can’t comment on *why* you are a moron, but nonetheless the description is accurate.

    Science is a fancy name for playing fair and accepting the evidence as it comes your way. Science means looking at the world around you and calling things as they are, instead of as you want them to be. Science means measuring some experimental data point at 2.5668 units, instead of the 3.0000 units you wanted it to read. Science means working for months on a research project, then making enough measurements to finally realize you were wrong to begin with, and you have to deal with that, throw away your wrong, cherished idea, and move on to the next idea. Science means spending weeks to write the perfect grant proposal, only to have it turned down because you left out a decimal place or didn’t know about some key article in the Croatian literature disproving your whole concept.

    Basically, science means learning to suck it up, put your diva attitude aside and working with reality on its own terms. Science isn’t about faith, or blindly and angrily defending the ridiculous mythologies of ignorant people long dead. Science isn’t about calling those who disagree with you heretics, and demanding they be silenced or murdered. Science isn’t about assuming you have all the bloody answers to every difficult and complicated question about every bloody topic in the entire world, just because you go into a building once a week where people just like you tell each other how wonderful their mental masturbation sessions are.

    Tay, you apparently have no earthly clue what science is about, even though you’re clearly comfortable with using the fruits of said science (i.e. the Internet) at your convenience. Man knows more truths about the universe every day, and makes use of them to make life better. No, we don’t know everything, but we know more today than we did yesterday, and less than we will tomorrow. All you know is what a pack of homicidal goat-herders knew, many, many yesterdays ago.

    Shut up, or grow up. And that goes for all the other Tays out there.

  173. TheBlackCat

    @ Gary: Do you see now why I didn’t want you to use the word “experiment”? Besides the fact that it is incorrect, creationists love to mis-use it and claim that anything that does not depend on a direct experiment in a lab is not science.

  174. Tay

    Hi guys! My admittedly frenzied comments there produced some interesting results, which was the goal.

    Darth Robo, you have some good points and a decency with differing opinions than yours. Well done.

    I’m not a scientist (they scare me, especially when they pick up tools. I’ve worked with some), so I don’t have answers to all of the scientific steps. But I do have a question – when the speed of light was measured, which color was measured? What if each color or frequency represented a different speed of the same thing? What if light gets slower the farther it goes? Then the farther away a galaxy was the slower the light would be and the redder. No big bang or expansion to explain. The thermal background is simply even slower light from even farther away.

    Just an idea I read somewhere.

    I have no intention of putting on a labcoat and proving it and giving zealots like Planetologist (post below my first) another toy with which to kill everyone who doesn’t salute them and say ‘yes sir!’

    And believe me, if I had the chance I would return to the hunter-gatherer ways. I don’t take any medicines, even aspirin (can you stand two broken ribs with no medicine like I did?), and the computer means no more to me than a toy and a tool I use in this culture. The comforts are never allowed to become necessary.

    But america is jealous. It won’t tolerate the existence of any other way than its own. If I set up a tipi in the forest, then some ranger will come around with a gun and arrest me. If I resist I will be killed. Look at history and the American Indian. And that genocide continues to this day.

    But Rome passed. Ancient Greece is no more. The Soviet Union fell. Great Britain has faded from its heyday. America’s turn is fast approaching. I won’t miss it.

    Tay

  175. Darth Robo

    >>>”But I do have a question – when the speed of light was measured, which color was measured? What if each color or frequency represented a different speed of the same thing? What if light gets slower the farther it goes? Then the farther away a galaxy was the slower the light would be and the redder. No big bang or expansion to explain. The thermal background is simply even slower light from even farther away.

    Just an idea I read somewhere.”

    Was it a YEC site by any chance? Sounds like nonsense to me. What you’re proposing seems similar to Steady State theory. Among other things, it would leave you with no apparent source for the cosmic microwave background radiation.

    Colours don’t travel at different speeds as far as I’m aware. Blueshift and redshift is measured by looking at the frequency of light. Light travelling “towards” us comes at a higher frequency and so appear blueish on the EM spectrum. Light travelling “away” comes in at a lower frequency and appears red. This is the Doppler effect, the same as what you hear when a siren whizzes by. Higher pitch and frequency as the ambulance comes towards you, lower pitch and frequency when it’s gone past. If you want to know about the speed of light, you could start here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_light

    The rest of your post has little to do with scientific research. I’m sorry that scientists frighten you, but it doesn’t seem to be the only thing.

  176. Lianne Lavoie

    What’s with all the comments mocking chiropractors? Just wondering… Someone commented way up near the top, comparing chiropractors to crystal-readers and astrologers, which makes no sense… just saying. I’m not saying I’m supporting Goodyear, I just don’t think you should make fun of a whole career (and a valid one) because he happens to be one.

  177. Alistair

    Do any of you seriously believe that a politician believes in God? Even criminals bury their dead at church and attend it on Sundays.

    The real question is, why does this guy think there is an advantage in avoiding the question?

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