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Sunday, January 09, 2011

WHOSE science implies that God does not exist?

A friend points to an interesting question raised by committed Darwinist Michael Ruse (From a Curriculum Standpoint, Is Science Religion? Chronicle of Higher Education
December 22, 2010):
But now ask yourself. If “God exists” is a religious claim (and it surely is), why then is “God does not exist” not a religious claim?

And if Creationism implies God exists and cannot therefore be taught, why then should science which implies God does not exist be taught?
Now, at first glance, the answer seems pretty obvious: If "science" really implies that, it could only be taught as an optional philosophy area, not as a core curriculum subject. Darwinists know best whether what they mean by science means that and, in most cases, the answer is probably yes.

Science: Balancing curiosity with accountability

Peter Aldhous, chief of New Scientist's San Francisco bureau, highlights the importance, in a time of recession, of scientists explaining the value of their work, as opposed to heaping abuse on the Tea Party:
Speaking the language of fiscal accountability will be crucial, and here many scientists have a good story to tell. Encouragingly, the researcher whose "questionable" work was highlighted in launching the YouCut Citizen Review has shown the way. Luís Amaral of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, was targeted because of a paper analysing the performance of soccer players. However, this project was a spin-off from a NSF-funded study of ways to make scientific research more efficient. Amaral estimates that it consumed no more than a few hundred federal dollars, and he points out that it provided a great hook to get sports-mad teens interested in data analysis.

Most importantly, Amaral has corrected the record with humility, stating on his blog: "I am a strong believer in accountability. I strongly believe that scientists must balance their intellectual curiosity with the costs to society of embarking on a given research direction."
Of course, most people are curious about the world around us. But deciding which projects to fund is a sure way to be somebody’s villain - so most decision-makers and lobbyists just shrug off abuse.


Birds squawk louder to be heard over traffic- evolution in action!

"Hipster bird species evolving to tune out urban sounds", according to Wendy Zuckerman (New Scientist 07 January 2011):
Call them the urban new breed. We know birds raise their voices to make themselves heard in the noisy big city, but for the first time there is evidence that they may even be evolving as a result of city living.

"Urban birds might be becoming genetically distinct, which is the first step towards becoming a new 'urban' species," says Dominique Potvin of the University of Melbourne, Australia.
Apparently, urban birds sing more loudly to attract mates, and are assumed to be evolving as a result: "The city is pushing these birds to evolve."

Is it? Another scientist, Hans Slabbekoorn, suggest that it is possible that the birds "might be just calling louder under noisier conditions."

A friend has suggested moving the urban birds to a rural setting and seeing what happens.

Study of birds adapting to urban life is most interesting, but in most cases calling minor changes "evolution" seems a stretch to me. They are probably better seen as the way a hardy species avoids extinction or extirpation via minor, reversible adjustments.

I’d be interested to see what happens to the Toronto area Canada geese who no longer migrate and spend the winter gobbling lawns. In a century, will they otherwise differ significantly from their virtuous rural cousins?

Canada geese in pond near Ottawa, Wikimedia Cmmons
Journal reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.2296


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