Custom Search

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Textbooks: Backing away from materialism?

The story regarding flunking students sympathetic to intelligent design theory is here.

Meanwhile, evolutionary biologist Larry Moran (yes, der flunker) advises me that there was a slight error in an earlier quotation/link re a textbook by Douglas Futuyma. It should have read,
Darwin's immeasurably important contribution to science was to show how mechanistic causes could also explain all biological phenomena, despite their apparent evidence of design and purpose. By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous. In the decades that followed, physiology, embryology, biochemistry, and finally molecular biology, would complete this revolution by providing entirely mechanistic explanations, relying on chemistry and physics, for biological phenomena. But it was Darwin's theory of evolution, followed by Marx's materialistic (even if inadequate or wrong) theory of history and society and Freud's attribution of human behavior to influences over which we have little control, that provided a crucial plank to the platform of mechanism and materialism—in short, of much of science—that has since been the stage of most Western thought. [Futuyma's emphasis]

Moran acknowledges that "the sense hasn't been changed much." No, I would not have thought so. My source tells me that the quote was from the second edition (1986), and was attributed to the similar 1998 3rd edition.

Now here is the really interesting part: Apparently, the 2005 edition does not contain the quote, and my source thinks that Futuyma's book has cut way back on the superfluous materialist philosophy.

Well, good for Futuyma. People who want philosophy should sign up for it, and write the exam.

Labels: , ,

Peer-reviewed literature that supports intelligent design?: Here is a list from a friend

Recently, on a Vancouver radio program, I said that I was aware of nine such papers (in response to a claim that there weren't any), but a friend has sent me a list of 12. Earlier, I had written that they were all peer-reviewed, but apparently not all are, so I am asking for clarification. Maybe my original count will turn out to have been correct:
- Stephen Meyer, "The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories" Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117(2004):213-239.

- Lönnig, W.-E. Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis and the origin of irreducible complexity, Dynamical Genetics, Pp. 101-119.

- Jonathan Wells, "Do Centrioles Generate a Polar Ejection Force? Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum 98 (2005): 37-62.

- Scott Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer, "Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits," Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Design & Nature, Rhodes Greece, edited by M.W. Collins and C.A. Brebbia (WIT Press, 2004).

- William A. Dembski, The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

- M.J. Behe and D.W. Snoke, "Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues," Protein Science, 13 (2004): 2651-2664.

- W.-E. Lönnig & H. Saedler, "Chromosome Rearrangements and Transposable Elements," Annual Review of Genetics, 36 (2002): 389-410.

- D.K.Y. Chiu & T.H. Lui, "Integrated Use of Multiple Interdependent Patterns for Biomolecular Sequence Analysis," International Journal of Fuzzy Systems, 4(3) (September 2002): 766-775.

- Ø. A. Voie, "Biological function and the genetic code are interdependent," Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, 2006, Vol 28(4), 1000-1004.

- John A. Davison, "A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis," Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum 98 (2005): 155-166.

- Granville Sewell, "A Mathematician's View of Evolution," The Mathematical Intelligencer, Vol 22 (4) (2000).

So he keeps better records than me. So? I wonder if all these guys can be retroactively flunked.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Labels: ,

Genome mapper Francis Collins vs. evangelical atheist Richard Dawkins: Why is Collins in religion section but Dawkins in science?

A friend tells me that in the wacky world of book classification, genome mapper Francis Collins' book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief is classed in the "Christian inspiration" section, and Richard Dawkins' anti-theistic tract The God Delusion is shelved in the "science" section.

My friend worries that the move was an attempt to denigrate the contents of Collins' book. Well, maybe, but perhaps works that entirely lack rigorous science content may be shelved in science sections if they attack traditional religions, and works that have lots of science content may be shelved in religion sections if the scientist is a Christian. And nonetheless people wonder why there is an intelligent design controversy ...

Of course, one reason that Collins' book ended up where it did is its title and back cover endorsements: (Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Judd, Bill Phillips (a Nobelist who talks a lot about God on the back jacket), and Robert H. Schuller.)

Still, Collins' book should have been in science - autobiography. But maybe his publisher (Free Press) hoped to make more by flogging it on the "inspiration" shelf. Shame.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Intelligent design, Darwinism, and creationism in Canada: Online course riles BC teachers' federation

Here's one from back in early September, but it reveals something interesting. According to CKNW news, in the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC)
Heritage Christian Online School has to 800 public and independent schools around BC promoting their website at

and their biology course discusses beliefs other than Darwinism. (A recnet regulation change permitted online schools in the province. The Federation wants the government to stop them:
"They're being offered courses that are religious in nature, that simply shouldn't happen, it isn't consistent with the purpose of public schools."
and of course they want the government to step in.

The course description for Biology 11 a la Christianese is

Biology 11 will inspire students in the complexities and beauties of God\'s creation.
The aim of the government learning outcomes is to teach evolution starting with an abiotic soup and continuing through to the emergence of man. This course is designed not only for the student to become fully aware of what evolutionist thinking entails but to systematically address each argument by pointing out its weaknesses as it is presented. By contrasting Creationism and Evolution, students will develop a scientifically sound way of looking at our world, that is based Biblical truth.

I'd be concerned too, because I think this is a sell job for creationism, rather than an invitation to students to think critically. But I wonder whether the same teachers' federation would show as much concern for blatant promotions of materialism in a biology text? See the thinkquote below.

Labels: , , ,

Thinkquote of the day: More antireligious dogma in publicly funded biology text

This should disappear from the next revision of the Monroe Strickberger textbook:

"The advent of Darwinism posted even greater threats to religion by suggesting that biological relationship, including the origin of humans and of all species, could be explained by natural selection without the intervention of a god. Many felt that evolutionary randomness and uncertainty had replaced a deity having conscious, purposeful, human characteristics. The Darwinian view that evolution is a historical process and present-type organisms were not created spontaneously but formed in a succession of selective events that occurred in the past, contradicted the common religious view that there could be no design, biological or otherwise, without an intelligent designer. … The variability by which selection depends may be random, but adaptions are not; they arise because selection chooses and perfects only what is adaptive. In this scheme a god of design and purpose is not necessary. Neither religion nor science has irrevocably conquered. Religion has been bolstered by paternalistic social systems in which individuals depend on the beneficiences of those more powerful than they are, as well as the comforting idea that humanity was created in the image of a god to rule over the world and its creatures. Religion provided emotional solace … Nevertheless, faith in religious dogma has been eroded by natural explanations of its mysteries, by a deep understanding of the sources of human emotional needs, and by the recognition that ethics and morality can change among different societies and that acceptance of such values need not depend on religion. ( Evolution by Monroe, W. Strickberger (3rd ed., Jones & Bartlett, 2000), pg. 70-71)

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

My U of Toronto talk on why there is an intelligent design controversy, or my talk on media coverage of the controversy att he University of Minnesota.

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being granted tenure at Baylor after a long struggle - even after helping in a small way to destroy the Baylor Bears' ancient glory - in the opinion of a hyper sportswriter.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
Blog policy note:Comments are permitted on this blog, but they are moderated. Fully anonymous posts and URLs posted without comment are rarely accepted. To Mr. Anonymous: I'm not psychic, so if you won't tell me who you are, I can't guess and don't care. To Mr. Nude World (URL): If you can't be bothered telling site visitors why they should go on to your fave site next, why should I post your comment? They're all busy people, like you. To Mr. Rudeby International and Mr. Pottymouth: I also have a tendency to delete comments that are merely offensive. Go be offensive to someone who can smack you a good one upside the head. That may provide you with a needed incentive to stop and think about what you are trying to accomplish. To Mr. Righteous but Wrong: I don't publish comments that contain known or probable factual errors. There's already enough widely repeated misinformation out there, and if you don't have the time to do your homework, I don't either. To those who write to announce that at death I will either 1) disintegrate into nothingness or 2) go to Hell by a fast post, please pester someone else. I am a Catholic in communion with the Church and haven't the time for either village atheism or aimless Jesus-hollering.

Labels: , , ,

Who links to me?