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Scientists Figure Out How Bees Fly 1237

Posted by Zonk
from the hoverbots-to-follow dept.
corbettw writes "Researchers at CalTech have discovered how bees fly, putting one more nail in the coffin of Intelligent Design. From the article: 'People in the ID community have said that we don't even know how bees fly ... We were finally able to put this one to rest. We do have the tools to understand bee flight and we can use science to understand the world around us.'"
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Scientists Figure Out How Bees Fly

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  • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:37PM (#14440124) Homepage Journal

    At first glance, this sounds kind of trivial, but from TFA:

    The scientists said the findings could lead to a model for designing aircraft that could hover in place and carry loads for many purposes such as diaster surveillance after earthquakes and tsunamis.

    Now, if the ID advocates had their way, we would have just said, "Hey, God makes bees fly. Since I already know the real reason, there's no real reason to keep studying it." In fact, some of them will probably even go so far as to dismiss the findings as false because it conflicts with their notion that God must be responsible. If we listened to them, we wouldn't have possible future scientific and engineering discoveries, discoveries that could possibly lead to even more important work on truly world-changing devices.

    If they have their way and we stop studying other things that are presumably more important like evolution, stem cells, the origin of the universe, and so on, what else may we be missing out on?

    I never cease to be amazed at how science has consistently managed to explain everything ID advocates have thrown at it. Is it always right? No. Is it complete? No. But when it comes to explaining how things work, it has a record that beats non-science every time. As far as I'm concerned, you can keep your "It must be God" explanations to yourself and in your churches. Maybe you want your kids to grow up dumb, but I'd rather my kids study stuff that is real and that can actually contribute to our progress.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:39PM (#14440156) Journal
    Researchers at CalTech have discovered how bees fly, putting one more nail in the coffin of Intelligent Design.
    Unfortunately, this coffin is infinitely long. I've tried to argue with ID-ists and there's no hope. Why is it infinitely long? Because there is an infinite wealth of knowledge out there and we can never know all of it. As long as there is something we do not know, there will be room for a god or a designer.

    To quote someone I admire:
    "I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
    ~Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
    In Brewster, Memoirs of Newton (1855), vol II, Ch. 27
  • Modding options (Score:1, Insightful)

    by bobcat7677 (561727) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:39PM (#14440157) Homepage
    Every once in a while I see an article that needs modding on the top level. Obviously there are all the dups that could be modded "redundant". This particular article should have a "flamebait" option.
  • saw this on TV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Douglas Simmons (628988) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:41PM (#14440169) Homepage
    This will be good news for the scientists who are trying to make robot insects but just cannot nail it. But is there anything to suggest that this may be a more efficent form of flight than what methods we already have?

    And by the way, is it one of /.'s top priorities to attack religion every chance it gets? Can't we stick to republicans and Microsoft, or whatever Netcraft has confirmed to be dying?

  • by bel_slashdot (659185) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:43PM (#14440208)
    As a Christian Pastor, I believe the world, and everything in it, was indeed created by God. But I also believe that he is a God of order, and thus there is an order to all things that can be observed and recorded. As science progresses, I would expect that many things that are a mystery to us today would be explained and understood. The fact that there is a scientific explanation for these things does not disprove the existence of God. Sure, for many in the creationist camp, science and God have no business mixing. But there are also those who believe as I do. Why do God and Science have to be mutually exclusive?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:43PM (#14440209)
    Researchers at CalTech have discovered how bees fly, putting one more nail in the coffin of Intelligent Design.

    So seriously...were these CalTech researchers purposed with finding one more way to discredit ID, or is that just the agenda of our story's submitter (and the original article's author)?
  • by Fished (574624) <amphigoryNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:43PM (#14440210)
    Now, if the ID advocates had their way, we would have just said, "Hey, God makes bees fly. Since I already know the real reason, there's no real reason to keep studying it." In fact, some of them will probably even go so far as to dismiss the findings as false because it conflicts with their notion that God must be responsible. If we listened to them, we wouldn't have possible future scientific and engineering discoveries, discoveries that could possibly lead to even more important work on truly world-changing devices.
    Nonsense. This is a caricature of ID perpetuated by those who know nothing about it, haven't bothered to read the central works, etc. An ID advocate would (and no doubt will say), "Cool! We discovered the novel, innovative way that the Designer chose to make Bees fly!" The more religiously minded intelligent design sorts would say, "Ain't God grand?"

    The bogus, idiotic, pseudo-scientific types opposing ID would say, "ooh! Here's an interesting finding that I can somehow stretch to attack ID," on the basis of a few off-hand remarks made by a few non-central ID advocates.

    The claim that we don't know how bees fly is by no means central to ID. This is just propaganda.

  • by Planesdragon (210349) <`slashdot' `at' `castlesteelstone.us'> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:44PM (#14440214) Homepage Journal
    Now, if the ID advocates had their way, we would have just said, "Hey, God makes bees fly. Since I already know the real reason, there's no real reason to keep studying it."

    Horse-pucky. You're making the same false argument that various religious advocates make when they say "since some Scientists are Atheists, supporting Science is supporting Atheism."

    There are some I.D. advocates who don't know the first thing about science. And there are some who, on every other topic except evolution, are indisinguishable from other speakers or scientists.

    By and large, "how Bees fly" says nothing about whether it was an evolved behavior or a constructed behavior. It's wrong for a moronic I.D. advocate to argue so, and it's wrong for a /. nutjob to argue that knowing how bees fly refutes I.D.
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:46PM (#14440239) Homepage
    News Bulletin: Scientists have now accurately determined the mass of Pluto, further proving that Pluto is not actually a God, but a planet. This adds one more nail into the coffin of Greek and Roman mythology.

    WTF??? Why did the article even see a need to comment about the impact on this psuedoscience theory. The researchers looking into bee flight weren't doing it to disprove ID. It sounds like some pissed-off researcher, or perhaps a news reporter with an agenda, decided to throw in an off-hand comment about ID. It cheapens the research.

  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:47PM (#14440253) Homepage Journal
    And actually, all it really proves is *why* we should teach intelligent design to schoolchildren: So that they can grow up to shoot down the stupider parts of the theory, thus leading to wonderful new aircraft and other inventions.
  • by vortigern00 (443602) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:48PM (#14440262) Journal
    OK, I'll bite.

    I, myself, as a scientist and an atheist (although I believe the two have nothing to do with each other) have never read the important works of ID.

    As an ID supporter, I am led to believe that you are liely an authority on what those important works are, and I ask you to kindly list those which you feel are most important.

    I give you my word that I will read them all with a totally open mind.
  • by Prophet of Nixon (842081) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:48PM (#14440264)
    No reason at all.

    Its just that people are silly and like to argue.
  • by writerjosh (862522) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:50PM (#14440285) Homepage
    I've always found it perplexing that the ID crowd and the Evolutionist crowd can never seem to get along. It seems to me that there is no real conflict of interest: is it not possible that God created evolution? That is to say, yes, there could have been an initial creator being, but he was smart enough to create a self-automating system of creation. He/she got the ball rolling, then just let it go. That seems to satisfy both camps if they just let it.

    The ID crowd shouldn't be so naïve as to say that God is up there controlling the every movements of a bee's wings, but the Evolutionist crowd should be more open to the possibility that all things in the known world had a start initiated by intelligence rather than "it just magically happened." That's just as ingenuous as saying God just magically controls everything.
  • Seriously (Score:1, Insightful)

    by INester (944882) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:52PM (#14440305)
    "People in the ID community have said that we don't even know how bees fly," Altshuler said. They have? I always thought ID folks were more concerned with the development of the wing (which evolution really cannot explain) then with "how something flies" But you tech heads run amuck and bash the "rational thinking is not possibly capable of a 100% explanation in this Sensory driven and corruptable world" folks like me
  • Double stupidity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LordOfYourPants (145342) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:52PM (#14440306)
    1) The article is stupid for mentioning anti-intelligent design stuff over and over. Tell us about the discovery in the article and save the anti-religious commentary for people that get off on arguing this shit over and over elsewhere.

    2) Intelligent design people are stupid for ever making the argument that since scientists can't understand natural/common phenomenon X that God designed the world. Are there really people out there saying this about the bees? I haven't gone out looking for it myself and consider myself lucky I don't have friends that would make this argument in front of me.

    I don't think there's much more to say. Just lots of stupidity to go around on *both* sides.
  • by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:53PM (#14440328) Homepage Journal
    As someone who believes in creationism and hard science, I think both sides of the argument are taking the issue as black and white instead of realizing if a higher being really did create everything, then there's far more gray area involved.

    The people on the science side should continue researching as they have in the past. They're doing great research that can teach us about a number of things, and that research can be used in future technology. Those that don't believe there's a God can continue not believing it.

    The people on the ID side should realize that if God did create everything, he's probably smart enough to design things in such a way that it can be explained through science as well. My personal belief is that everything, with the exclusion of miracles, can be explained through science, and that God did this so that people really can have a choice between believing and not believing. In any case, it shouldn't be an issue since the Bible doesn't teach us to argue stuff like this, it teaches us moral lessons like loving one another. People like Pat Robertson give Christianity a bad name. The same is true for terrorists and extremists (the Iranian leader) with Islam.

    As for teaching it in school, I don't believe it's right to do so. ID should be taught in Sunday School as it always has been. Christians should try using science to explain their faith, not try to argue that they're opposites. There have been many great scientists in history that have also been religious. They don't have to be mutually exclusive.

    In the end it's up to each person to decide what they want to believe, but trying to force faith-based arguments into the classroom is the same as trying to force evolution into church.
  • by ndansmith (582590) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:54PM (#14440340)
    Yes this is a common straw man argument used against ID. Perhaps we should look at this way: ID != Supernaturalism. The point of design is that God is so great that he could cause a bee to fly (or any other astounding example from nature) within the natural order, without relying on his supernatural powers. ID proponents are not looking outside of science to explain how the natural world works. What they are doing is questioning how the natural order came to be.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@nOSpam.tpno-co.org> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:54PM (#14440344) Homepage
    Why do God and Science have to be mutually exclusive?

    Personally, I'm more impressed by a "God" that can design the rules to the universe and start the big bang more than one who just created everything "as is", in motion.

    They don't have to be mutually exclusive. It's the nature of, forgive me for sounding cruel, low intelligence people to turn things in to a black and white equation. They also happen to be a vocal bunch in this country, which is unfortunate. I also believe they are the minority, but a very vocal minority.
  • No Bearing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsotha (720379) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:56PM (#14440369)
    I'm not a supporter of ID, but this article doesn't bear on the argument. The point was "it's so complicated we can't understand it, so how could it possibly have evolved?" This discovery only changes the question to "it was so complicated we didn't understand it until 2006, so how could it possible have evolved?"

    It would have had much more to say for evolution if they'd shown how bees evolved flight, but there's no indication of that in the article.

    What I don't understand is why so many people who believe in "intelligent design" think any process not simple enough for us to understand readily can't be the product of evolution. I don't see any logical connection.

  • Birds do it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Uncle Op (541486) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:58PM (#14440393)
    ... bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. Let's do it.

    Let's learn to fly!

    But what I really want is to fill in the "gaps" that most "intelligent" ID folk also point out as a flaw to evolution and a boon to ID. While I don't have any bone to pick with some one who wants to believe in an ultimate engineer - and sometimes I waver that way myself - it's just not science. Martin Gardiner's essays - I'm thinking of those in The Night is Large, but there are other examples - show that an intelligent individual can think both scientifically and still believe in something more than "just" evolution.

    It's the difference between science and philosophy.

  • by venicebeach (702856) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:59PM (#14440410) Homepage Journal
    No particular concept (e.g. 'God') is necessarily incompatible with science.

    But certain systems of uncovering truth are. For example, if you decide what to believe is true based on what is written in a particular book, and trust this above any other evidence, you will likely put yourself at odds with science sooner or later.

    Dogmatic belief is contrary to science. Religion is not the only place where dogmatic beliefs come from, nor does it necessarily require dogmatic belief, but they often go together.
  • Re:saw this on TV (Score:2, Insightful)

    by professionalfurryele (877225) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:00PM (#14440420)
    "And by the way, is it one of /.'s top priorities to attack religion every chance it gets?"

    Pretty simple really. The crowd on slashdot are pretty interested in science from what I gather, mostly more technical stuff, but they find it interesting, and they like scientific progress. Many religious groups have elements that spend a significant portion of thier time trying to slow scientific progress down. Religious institutions don't spend much time promoting science, and when they do it often comes with caveats or is just an olive branch from a minority sect. As such since religions don't contribute much to the advancement of society from a technical or scientific aspect they are rarely going to appear on slashdot in a positive light.

    On the other hand their are plent of religious individuals who if they had always had thier way would have kept man in the stone age. Heck it wouldn't suprise me if the fist few guys to make metal tools were burned for deviant or unnatural behaviour (incidentally, thats a joke).

    End result if religion appears on slashdot it is in a negative light. Something to be stopped so that science can advance.

    The solution is really very simple, if you want religion to appear in a positive light, then get it to take all that cash it gets from donations and fund stem cell research, or fundamental physics or something, maybe use some of those buildings they waste every Friday/Saturday/Sunday in as labs.
  • by blueg3 (192743) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:01PM (#14440427)
    Intelligent Design is not so much believing that God made the world. That's an essential part of many religions and something that religious scientists would not dispute. They tend to believe as you seem to, that God is more evident in the system than in the results. (The results -- such as people -- being a product of the system -- say, evolution. Of course, God, being omniscient, would have no trouble designing a system such that any desired result would occur.)

    ID really refers specifically to evolution. In short: "Intelligent Design (or ID) is a highly controversial claim holding that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent designer, rather than an undirected process such as natural selection." It is not so much the presence of an intelligent designer that is the problem, but rather the denouncement of an undirected process. One of their frequent claims is that some systems are so complex that a seemingly random process such as evolution could not have produced them.

    Delightfully complex systems arising out of simple rules should not be a surprise to scientists or mathematicians. Whether or not this property is a base property of nature or the work of God is up to you, there's not any way to differentiate.
  • by beforewisdom (729725) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:02PM (#14440452)
    "Researchers at CalTech have discovered how bees fly, putting one more nail in the coffin of Intelligent Design. From the article: 'People in the ID community have said that we don't even know how bees fly ... We were finally able to put this one to rest. We do have the tools to understand bee flight and we can use science to understand the world around us.'"
    It may be one more nail in the coffin of "Intelligent Design" ( the spin term for "creationism" ), but that coffin will never be nailed shut until science finds a cheap cure for cognitive dissonance that can be administered involuntarily and on a mass scale
  • Re:So....? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drachemorder (549870) <brandon&christiangaming,org> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:04PM (#14440470) Homepage
    Why does it even have anything to do with ID in the first place? ID merely says that the universe was designed, as opposed to having formed by random chance. That has no bearing at all on how any particular thing works, only on how it got there. Either way, the physical laws that allow the bee to fly are exactly the same and can be known.

    The science in the article is good; it's a pity they had to throw in the gratutious creationist-bashing.

  • by burnin1965 (535071) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:05PM (#14440474) Homepage
    Pastor,

    Its not that Science and God must be mutually exclusive, it is that the principles which Science and Faith are based on are mutually exclusive. Its the faithful who want to force God into Science in place of scientific principles which are contradictory to their faith.

    burnin
  • by altoz (653655) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:05PM (#14440475)
    Agree with parent. Exactly how does figuring something out eliminate design from the equation? I can figure out how a remote works, but that doesn't mean it wasn't designed. The two concepts (explaining how something works and whether it was designed to work that way) aren't mutually exclusive.
  • by Threni (635302) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:06PM (#14440489)
    > Why do God and Science have to be mutually exclusive?

    Occam's razor. You might just as well ask "why do science and belief in pink nasal monsters have to be mutually exclusive?".

  • by beforewisdom (729725) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:09PM (#14440522)
    Why do God and Science have to be mutually exclusive?


    Because science is based on observable and reproducible evidence with the simplest explanation to describe it all ( Occam's razor ).

    Belief in a deity is based on faith. Faith is accepting something as true without having sufficient evidence to prove it as true.

    No offense. You asked a straight forward question and I gave you my opinion which I hope was a straight forward, non-personally offensive answer.
  • by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:11PM (#14440543) Homepage
    "Proponents of intelligent design, or ID, have tried in recent years to promote the idea of a supreme being by discounting science because it can't explain everything in nature."

    Very few proponents of intelligent design point to such things. And in truth, I've never heard that argument made myself. Not saying there aren't a few who do.

    But you know. We took a perfectly good article about how we've furthered our understanding of how bee's fly. And basically turned that knowledge into trash.

    So yes, now, we know how bee's fly. (Actually, I remember reading an article on it a few years back that seemed to give a fairly detailed review.) But let me say something about the poster and the author of the article. They're both lame.

    Why....because if you are devoted solely to turning any discovery as an argument of one issue than you have lost the purpose of science. You are not a scientist you have become a dogmatic believer. In the case of the bee argument, those arguments are usually made to point out that scientists do not know all the answers. And they don't. So they gained understanding of one answer. Congratulations...

    But I fear for science when it becomes so dogmatic that it must act in the most poor manner imitating all that it derides about religion...these individual become the very thing thing they mock.

  • by MrTester (860336) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:11PM (#14440544)
    Actually no.
    If you said that there was no conflist of interest between Creationists and Evolutionists I would agree. This is actually the Catholic Churches official stance. God created evolution. But ID specifically assumes that these systems are to complicated to have evolved on their own.

    Thus ID and Evolution cannot both be correct.
  • by bill_kress (99356) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:13PM (#14440571)
    Yeah, I agree.

    It's pretty much like saying "Another picture of the earth was taken from space today, putting another nail in the coffin of the flat-earth society".
  • by susano_otter (123650) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:15PM (#14440594) Homepage
    So Altshuler claims, without any supporting evidence, that unnamed "people" in the undefined "ID community" make a big deal out of the unknowability of bee flight mechanics, and that having disproved this unkowability, he's successfully countered their alleged arugment?

    Wow.

    Also, is it just me, or does the article not actually explain how bees fly?

    As far as I can tell, this article tells us three things:

    1. That bee flight is exotic. (Which is pretty much a tautology; if bee flight were mundane, we would have figured it out a long time ago.)

    2. That we learn more about bee flight by using robots with force sensors than we do using fixed-wing aerodynamic theory.

    3. That however bees fly, they have to work harder at it in thinner atmosphere, and that it involves amplitude increases rather than frequency increases.

    Which all means what, exactly?

    You'd think that an article about how we've finally discovered the secret of bee flight would spend rather more time explaining it, and rather less time on such non-newsworthy aspects of the story such as what the researcher believes the current state of play in the ID debate is.

    I mean, bees flying! A mystery that has eluded smarty men for a hundred years or more! Finally solved! And nothing in the article actually approaches a description of the solution.
  • Perhaps because... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by C10H14N2 (640033) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:18PM (#14440633)
    The first sentence begins with "Proponents of intelligent design..."

    It is the proponents of ID that have used the inability to explain things as the foundation of their theory, saying "science is incapable of explaining X." So, when science explains "X" they then say "well, okay, so you CAN explain X... uhm, er, we bet you can't explain Y! You can't can you?! SEE!!!!" (flash forward a few years) "Uh, yeah, we can explain that to." "But, but, what about Z?!?! That's REALLY hard!"

    Ad nauseam. Yawn.

    So, yes, both the article and summary are "flamebait," but damned amusing, since I remember this exact example being given during my parochial school days. Just because something is flamebait doesn't mean it isn't noteworthy.
  • by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:18PM (#14440637)
    Agree with parent. Exactly how does figuring something out eliminate design from the equation? I can figure out how a remote works, but that doesn't mean it wasn't designed. The two concepts (explaining how something works and whether it was designed to work that way) aren't mutually exclusive.

    I think intelligent design arguments were stating that since we can't figure out how things work or comprehend them, that they must have been created by something superior intelligence above our own.

    This isn't exactly the same as the eye argument in which they say the eye is too complicated to evolved on its own, but rather we are just too stupid to understand and therefore something of higher intelligence must have made it.

    What this article is trying to say is that their original argument that "science could not figure out how bees fly meant that science in general was invalid and to be discared" is invalid.

    However, I'm sure a higher intelligence could have made bees with the ability to create worm holes and use their collective hive mind to hunt down intergalactic pollen throughout the universe rather than the mundane little beings that they are.

    But maybe the FSM had different designs for them...
  • by brit74 (831798) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:20PM (#14440664)
    >I've always found it perplexing that the ID crowd and the Evolutionist crowd can never seem to get along. It seems to me that there is no real conflict of interest: is it not possible that God created evolution?

    And a great number of people do take that position. (See Ken Miller's "Finding Darwins God".) There are some (like Dawkins) who want to say evolution disproves God's existence. And lots of ID advocates that use ID as a lever to *prove* God's existence. That's the problem here: ID advocates and creationists need their God to be necessary. Evolution means that God might exist and might not - which is clearly not good enough for many religious people.

    > That seems to satisfy both camps if they just let it.

    No, that satisfies a lot of evolutionists. (Most scientists identify themselves as "theistic evolutionists" which means that they believe God got things rolling using evolution.) That idea is hated by the ID and creationist crowd.
  • Nonsense. This is a caricature of ID perpetuated by those who know nothing about it, haven't bothered to read the central works, etc. An ID advocate would (and no doubt will say), "Cool! We discovered the novel, innovative way that the Designer chose to make Bees fly!" The more religiously minded intelligent design sorts would say, "Ain't God grand?"

    Except if that novel, innovative way is evolution itself :) (Gotcha!)
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:22PM (#14440691) Homepage
    You know, I remember hearing about the mystery of the flying bumble bee and how it went against what we knew of aerodynamics... and then I remember hearing how we figured it out. Years ago. From memory, does it have to do with vortices created off the tips of the wings? Okay, now I've looked at the article. No mention of vortices, just that they flap their wings 15% faster than a smaller fruit fly. Huh, okay.
  • by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:25PM (#14440728)
    "First of all, i'd like to make it clear that believing in Intelligent Design or in Creationism does NOT in any way prohibit ideas such as evolution, understanding how bees fly, or any other scientific fact that you want to explain."

    It depends how you define "Creationism". If you take it to mean "the idea that God, through some unspecified mechanism, created the universe and hence, transitively, everything in it", you're right. However, you're also in the minority.

    If you take it to mean "God created the earth in 4004 BC, provided a bunch of fake evidence to convince the most intelligent of us that the world is really much older, and made Adam and Eve from clay literally as it depicts in Genesis", then you're not.

    The problem is that while there are plenty of intelligent religious people who take the first position, the idiot vocal minority who stage confrontational headline-grabbing stunts like pushing ID (philosophy!) into science lessons (or having evolution removed from them) mean that when most people hear the words "creationist" or "ID" they think of the second.

    To compound this, most religious people I know don't self-identify as "Creationist" or "ID", because, when you think about it, everyone who believes in a mainstream religion believes God created and designed them. A "Creationist Christian" is therefore a tautology. In contrast, the headline-grabbing lunatic fringe are always identified (and self-identify) as "Creationists", or "Intelligent Design" proponents.

    Thus, to the majority of people "Creationist" means one of those "dinosaurs coexisted with cavemen and the appendix is just god's little joke" idiots who wouldn't know a metaphorical account of man's acquisition of self-awareness if someone helpfully wrote it out in a big book and gave it to them to learn from.

    Is it fair that popular perception has twisted the meaning, so that people like you who self-identify as Creationist/ID are now assumed to be literal-interpretation idiots? No it isn't, but then it's hardly new either - try talking to a "hacker", or anyone who thought of themself as cheerful and "gay".

    In fact, it's probably even fairer than the examples I just gave, because the term "Creationist" and "Intelligent Design" didn't really exist until they was coined to describe the lunatic fringe they currently do, whereas the other examples are labels whose meanings were twisted many years after they were first used.

    "Does it really matter if I interpret the Genesis story to be a bit less literal than some ID proponents might claim?"

    To us? Not even a little bit. I don't think you'll find anyone who has a problem with someone who believes that Genesis is a metaphor for God creating the universe. Sure, you might get flack from some hard-line athiests for beliving in god at all but nobody had a problem with the idea that "god created man in some way" (since it's essentially unprovable) until a bunch of crazy fuckwits started a concerted political campaign to impose their particular literal interpretation of the same on everyone else.

    To the Creationists? You'd better believe it - why else would they spend years (and millions of dollars) campaigning to get evolutions replaced with their pet dogma? Everyone's got to believe exactly the same baseless irrational minority interpretation as them, period. Not only that, but they have to dress their favourite dogmas up and besmirch the good name of "science" to do it.

    "Also, the thing about say studying stem cells has NOTHING to do with Intelligent Design. It has to do with something called medical ethics - and something called the Hippocratic oath. The issue at stake is when is a person a person by legal rights - does using stem cells from aborted fetuses or harvesting them constitute abuse of someone's human rights or are they not really a human yet because they haven't been born?"

    Well, the utilitarian in me says that if they've already been aborted then the harm has a
  • by manifoldronin (827401) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:27PM (#14440761)
    You should tell that to the ID people, because that's exactly the reasoning _they_ are following: science can't explain how bees fly => there must have been a designer.

    The myth here is that science never ever said there _couldn't have been_ an Intelligent Designer. All science is saying is, "look, we can explain these things without resorting to a designer - whether there has been one or not, we dont _need_ him."

  • by cornjones (33009) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:29PM (#14440798) Homepage
    what is w/ all this drek about ID. I know the poster included the flamebait in the article description but can't anybody have a discussion on the actual mechanics of how bees fly?

    I mean c'mon that's why i use slashdot, am I going to have to actually read the article to get that?

    ej
  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:35PM (#14440863)
    In TFA it addresses the old creationist argument that science couldn't explain bee flight. The author simply spun it to ID, nail in coffin, etc.

    I also don't like the summary because it almost grants the notion that science has to have an answer for absolutely everything or else creation must be true. Really, that's the line of argument that creationists use, that there can be no unexplained mechanism or gap in the fossil record, and if there is it's evidence that evolution (or whatever) can't account for reality.

    Really, this notion is what needs to be argued from the top, rather than trying to come up with better fossil records and better mechanism to explain the compound eye or bee flight or whatever. Because no matter how many things science does explain, there will always be *something* it doesn't, and they'll fall back on that to make their argument.

    In other words, science doesn't need to explain everything to be the right approach, it just has to fit the available evidence as well as possible. For creationism to be "right" it needs to, for once, generate a testable, disproveable hypothesis and stop falling back on the old "anything we can't explain is God's will" argument.

  • by rseuhs (322520) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:39PM (#14440911)
    Why do so many religious guys don't get it?

    Science never claimed to explain everything. Never.

    Not only that, science also has said what it will never be able to explain or predict - so not only did science not claim to explain everything, science mentions several things which it will never be able to explain: For example what happens in a black hole or what was before the big bang.

    Science does claim to explain and predict a lot of things - and without it we wouldn't post here on Slashdot, we would still sit in cold caves worshipping sungod and moongod.

  • by jfengel (409917) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:40PM (#14440924) Homepage Journal
    Yes, they've got a bit more detail on it. That's pretty much how science works, with people adding bits of detail over time.

    This is press-release science, where a minor achievement (though I'm sure it's not minor to the grad students who spent thousands of hours poring over high-speed footage and writing analysis software) gets turned into a big deal. In this case it got tacked onto the Intelligent Design brouhaha, which bumps it up a level on the hype meter.

    Which is funny, because the "bees flying" thing isn't one of the classic darts that ID advocates throw at evolution, like the clotting cascade, the flagellum, or the eye. That's a more general "scientists aren't as smart as they think they are" myth, which persists even though it was debunked decades ago.

    So it's nice to have a recent article to point to when I hear the myth again. Not this article, which is over-hyped, but I'd like to have a cite of the original journal article I could show people to say, "Yes, scientists DO know how bees fly, please go away."
  • by Mr_Huber (160160) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:40PM (#14440927) Homepage
    Perhaps it is because they are attempting to replace evolution, a well established branch of biology, with ID, a religious argument and very poor proof of God?

    From your post, it appears you are not arguing against evolution, but abiogenesis - the process by which life arose to the point evolution could operate. While we do not have a good scientific theory of what happened, there has been a good deal of progress and the science is far from "it just magically happened". Processes by which amino acid and cell wall precursors arise naturally have been discovered. From there, our understanding is hazy, but there still is nothing that precludes natural explanations.

    Scientists do not accept "it just magically happened" as an argument, as magic falls outside of natural explanations. Nor should scientists be forced to discard promising lines of research into abiogenesis to satisfy the religious needs of a particular subset of some religion. Nor should a group of religiously insecure Biblical literalists be allowed to force there way into the science classroom.

    This is not being elitist, it is insisting that everything in the science classroom adhere to the rules of science. ID is not science. Were we to lower the bar enough to allow ID in, we'd also be forced to allow astrology, numerology and divination via the entrails of slaughtered sheep. And personally, I think bio class is messy enough without the latter.
  • by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:41PM (#14440938) Homepage
    Science does not specifically reject God(s), it merely rejects the manner of thinking which caused you to arrive at your belief. It's something that could change with hard evidence, but we've yet to see any.

    Do you believe in aliens? Do you believe in the possibility that they might exist?

    See, what I find fascinating is the ego of so many supposed science aficianados. We currently do not know whether aliens exist or not. We pre-suppose the possibility, we have conducted some scientific tests and experiments with no success in our results. One possibility is that we have not advanced to a high enough level of knowledge and scientific understanding to determine the existance of aliens.

    Is just the lack of our means and technical advancement enough to declare that a) intelligent exterrestials don't exist? b) is the fact that we don't know how to test for them successfully enough to deny such existance?

    The truth of the matter is we might one day achieve such a success. However, right now we are not advanced enough to make such determination.

    I find it funny that more people in their thinking of science will accept such. But you want to deny flat out the possibility of an intelligent designer.

    What happens if mankind creates an intelligence (a sentient computer). What happens if mankind dies away. Will they argue about whether there was a God called Man? and whether they were created or not?

    Is it possible that God can in fact be observed scientifically...but we might not have the means at this time? Does the fact that 200 yrs ago we could not observe an atom stand as an argument that atoms did not exist? What if God does exist and is observable in the universe but only on a sub-atomic extradimensional level we have yet to ever begin to observe.

    Why is it that one can claim in the name of science to be so right as to know that something is unobservable. When history is there to tell us that a mere few hundred years before hand we did not have the means to observe much of what we now know and use every day. Is it not wiser and more scientific to simply continue observing and not decry the possibility impossible without an evidence.

  • by Kazoo the Clown (644526) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:49PM (#14441026)

    Reportedly, years ago a biologist and a physicist met over dinner or something, and the subject came up about the physics of bee flight. Some back of the paper napkin calculations by the physicist didn't work, and they were overheard by someone who reported to the press that "science proves bees can't fly." Of course, everyone knows that bees can fly, so it was seen as a "har har, those silly scientists, they don't know anything." Science gets it wrong, so science is just a bunch of stuffed-shirt eggheads in labs that have convinced themselves they know something when they really don't know anything.

    However, it neatly ignored the fact that not too long after that discovery, the question raised actually led to further investigation of the subject and much was learned about insect flight. This story shows much is still being learned from that event.

    What really happened in this case, is someone detected an error. Science has a long history of individuals who found errors in our understanding of the universe. In fact, virtually all the famous names of science are famous because they uncovered an error in our understanding. It is simply by the detection of errors that science advances. Science is a philosophy that learns from its mistakes, and in fact, without the discovery of mistakes it really isn't learning much. It's in trying to determine what's going on with a discovered mistake that science moves forward.

    Consequently, every time I hear someone claim something to the effect of "oh look, here's where science got it wrong," I point to it and say, "oh look, here's where science learned something. Here's where science made progress."

    To the extent that ID is looking for mistakes in science, it will actually improve our understanding of the universe, which includes evolution. Where ID differs from science, is that not only is no one in ID even looking for mistakes in ID, ID isn't even capable of making mistakes, because their explanations would explain any phenomena-- and an explanation that explains everything really doesn't explain anything. Drop an apple and it falls down? It's ID. Drop an apple and it falls up? It's ID. There's no knowledge content to such an explanation.

    Any philosophy that is not capable of discovering its mistakes, must be either perfect or error-prone. And, since no human endeavor or understanding can be said to be perfect, I'd say it's pretty clear which it is. Science too is not perfect, but it has one thing the other philosophies do not, and that is at least some ability to detect its errors. Given the choice between a philosophy that can detect at least some of its errors, and one that pretends it can't make any errors, I think the choice should be pretty easy to make.

    Some suggest that scientists are in some kind of conspiracy or cover up. Such a suggestion is completely ignorant of how science and scientists operate. While an individual scientist may find it difficult to uncover errors in their own work, scientists are fully aware that careers are made by uncovering an interesting mistake in another scientists work, and would trumpet such a discovery to the high hills instantly. Conspiracy, indeed.

    ID proponents only succeed because they are not the only ones ignorant of these basic realities. Unfortunately, science education and interest is so weak that a large piece of the populace is similarly ignorant.

    Even those who aren't anti-evolution or particularly religious may believe in things like astrology, for example. But when was the last time anyone was recognized for finding an error in our "understanding" of astrology? Astronomy has a long list of names of those who've uncovered errors in our understanding: Aristotle, Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, etc.., for example, and there are many many more. Where's the list of names that have improved the quality of astrological knowl

  • by tmjr3353 (925558) <tmackintosh@gm a i l.com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:54PM (#14441068)
    Okay, fine, but reading the article and then reading the site you posted leaves me with an important question -- how does answering the question of how bees fly put a "nail in the coffin" of anything at all, let alone Intelligent Design? The site you linked to remarks that we have (had) a general understanding of what goes on, but not a specific one. It says that the specific way in which bees go about flying must be fairly "sophisticated." The article says this, "Turns out bee flight mechanisms are more exotic than thought."

    Well, wait a minute, isn't that what we ID folk have been saying all along? None of us ever said, "Hey, you guys don't know how bees fly, you MUST BE WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING." It's more like, "Hey, the way bees fly must be pretty incredible --so much so that we can't even figure out how it works yet." Discovering that the way they fly truly IS incredible does nothing to damage the idea of ID -- if anything it merely upholds it.
  • by Krach42 (227798) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:57PM (#14441107) Homepage Journal
    Science does claim to explain and predict a lot of things - and without it we wouldn't post here on Slashdot, we would still sit in cold caves worshipping sungod and moongod.

    Or more accurately, we'd still be sitting in castles, and homes of wood eating food cooked over an open flame.

    Seriously man, we were a lot farther along than cavemen when we picked up science. Unless, you want to credit science will all knowledge, but then it would include religion, unless you only credit it with all advancements of technology, but then it would not include much of linguists.

    Science is founded upon a philosophical argument that the world we observe has some reasonable attachment to "reality." Or that what we perceive is reality.

    Do many scientists not like admitting that their position is founded upon a philosophical point? No, because they like to assert that they're not making arbitrary choices, and to them a philosophy or religion is an arbitrary choice.

    It's not. The mere belief that a God doesn't exist, is a religion, and the mere belief that your perceptions are of a true reality, is a belief and a philosophical assertion. That doesn't make them wrong, nor does it even make them unjustified.

    It's just something you're better off admitting, rather than exposing your ideas to attack.
  • by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @07:26PM (#14441392) Homepage
    "Science isn't excluding God out of spite. Many scientists do believe in God. It is just that the practice of science excludes God because he/she/it is not scientifically observable."

    My dear sir, you've been mislead by fundamental dogmatic fools...

    How do you know that God is not scientifically observable? simply because you do not know of the means to scientifically observe God does not preclude that such means in fact do exist. If they did...then science would surely be in a trouble. It was not too long ago that atoms were not observable. And the concept of atoms traces back to the Greeks...mayber earlier. But it took nearly 2 millenia before we would advance our knowledge and technical skills to observe an atom. Even if you look to the mathematically theorized existance and observations of atoms which came before the actual physical observations; even these pre-dated by merely a few decades.

    So for approx 2,000 yrs we could not observe that which we had conceptualized existed. We could neither prove nor disprove. Did that invalidate any scientific validity to the pursuit of the knowledge of the atom? if not, then how can you claim such an argument in your above post...it's not logical.

    Who is to say that in another 2,000 or perhaps another 20,000 years we will not advance our knowledge and technical skills so as to apply science in a fashion so as to enable that we can scientifically observe God. Perhaps he is observable but such observations merely require a level of knowledge we do not yet posses.

    Pride, ignorance, and exclusion have been the repeated pitfalls of science. Why would you repeat such mistakes?

    The simplest way to handle ID is to re-stress the scientific method and denote that "yes, there is immense complexity in what we observe in our physical, chemical and biological observations. Some liken such to coincidence, chance and/or statistical probabilities and others believe such order and complexity to possible point to elements by design. Currently, we do not have the knowledge, nor technical skills to make an outright conclusion. What we do have is the scientific method and we should continue to observe an conduct analysis of what we observe according to that method."
  • Re:irrational? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mfrank (649656) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @07:32PM (#14441436)
    Irrational to me is saying "please don't teach ID in a science class" is the same as "God doesn't exist".
  • by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012.pota@to> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @07:35PM (#14441463)
    For creationism to be "right" it needs to, for once, generate a testable, disproveable hypothesis and stop falling back on the old "anything we can't explain is God's will" argument.

    Interestingly, this is not only bad science, it's bad theology. It's know as the "God of the gaps" problem, and it sets up a false conflict between science and religion. Just because we understand something doesn't make it any less wonderful.
  • by EccentricAnomaly (451326) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:03PM (#14441698) Homepage
    I mean, bees flying! A mystery that has eluded smarty men for a hundred years or more! Finally solved! And nothing in the article actually approaches a description of the solution.

    A friend of mine worked this out as a grad student at Purdue something like 10 or 15 years ago and his papers were presented at several AIAA conferences and in several AIAA journals. He was even interviewed on Scientific American frontiers. Last I heard he was working for Aerovironment in Monrovia, CA building mini spyplanes using insect style flight (which works at low Reynolds numbers).

    This is just an article about someone reinventing the wheel instead of doing a search of existing publications.
  • by Choco-man (256940) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:09PM (#14441738)
    I've two advanced degrees - one in chemistry, t'other in genetics. I'm the technical director for one of the largest companies in the world. My wife is a professor.

    I say that only to establish that I'd consider myself a fairly educated, scientific person whose social sphere includes other well educated individuals. I'm also a devout Christian. What boggles my mind is that the two sides tend to line up like soliders in the revolutionary war - a clearly divided line of people wearing one color on one side, and people wearing another color on the other side - and insist that their way is the only right way, not acknowledging that perhaps there's some middle ground to be had. Why is it so hard for Christians to accept what we've proven in science? Why is it so hard for non religious scientists to acknowledge that we've not discovered all the answers, and indeed, may never do so? I'm not all that old, but as I age, I'm increasingly realizing that things are rarely one way or the other. Everything in life, science - coexists in a relationship of one sort or another. To out of hand entirely dismiss something because it seems preposterous to you today is incredibly closed minded. And I say that to both sides. Our knowledge doubling rate is so fast these days, a great deal of what we 'knew' unequovically to be truth 10 years ago has changed.

    I believe in God.

    I believe in science.

    The two are not mutually exclusive.

    I'm sure I'll get the obligatory 'you're an idiot - how can you believe in something science can not prove' responses. And I'll read them from the middle of the field, sandwiched between both sides who are too busy trying to prove the other side wrong to notice that the space between the two sides can be occupied.
  • by tiraid (798619) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:32PM (#14441904)
    I'm still not sure that science and God are mutually exclusive. Being a scientist does not mean that one cannot be religious. Being religious does not mean that one cannot be a scientist. Holes in scientific knowledge do not prove science wrong. Holes in religious knowledge do not prove religion wrong. Sometimes science and religion agree, sometimes they contradict one another.

    I disagree that creationism needs to "generate a testable, disproveable hypothesis". That would be dragging religion into the realm of science, where it doesn't belong; just as ID tries to drag religion into the science classroom, where it doesn't belong.

    Science has an advantage over religion. Science proved by one person is available to everyone. Religion proved by one person is only available to that person, it cannot be given. I believe in God and have proved Him for myself. No scientific fact has affected that proof. If you really want to know for yourself, you'll have to search. It isn't for the lazy, and it definatly isn't for those who *want* it to be false.

    The arguement that anything we cannot explain must be wrong is just ignorant. How many things could we not explain 100 years ago that we can explain now? Does that mean those things were false then but true now? I think anyone employing this argument can be safely ignored. By the same token, anything religion cannot explain is also not false. It's all just unknown. I'm ok with it. That's what the future is for.
  • Re:Straw man (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sebastopol (189276) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:47PM (#14441999) Homepage
    > Intelligent Design, in its simplest form, really means order and complexity don't
    > spontaneously happen. It doesn't mean science is invalid, just the opposite.

    Intelligent Design absolutely is anti-science.

    It says, "This is too complicated to understand, the designer made it."

    Last time I checked, that ain't since, sonny boy.

  • by maraist (68387) * <michael DOT mara ... DOT n0spam DOT > on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:51PM (#14442023) Homepage
    Since you're trying to use semantics. Then I will try to as well. Science is certainly a philosophy.. http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=philosoph y [reference.com] However it is definitely not a theology http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=theology [reference.com]. Atheism, on the other hand is a theology in that it is defined as a philosophy about theology; namely that the sacred is not present in the philosophy (except recursively from the definition).

    The definitions I've linked to are very primative (especially about atheism and theology), but I wanted a consistent reference point.

    As the philosophy of science is largely technical (the process of deduction, successive validation of ever more accurate mathmatical descriptions of physical phenomena, perfecting the a knowledge of cause and effect, etc.), it is in itself not a theology.

    Now there is nothing in the scientific method to preclude dogma. The the laws of Gallelao, the laws of Neuton, the laws of Maxwell, the laws of Einstein, the laws of whatever great thinker in the future that puts these guys in their place. A dogma of a particular period of time is held against heresy, and we label the successful deviants as forward thinking; other's we debase as "cracks". Just as in religion (Saints and heretics)

    But this is because the very thing that develops Religion is intrinsic to human nature... The need for "nomos" (defining truth). Once we think we find it, we are internally terrified by anything that threatens it. Even those that presumably welcome if not seek change are at a profound level really just re-seeking the same stable truth that they find present in the merely slight changes of venue.

    It is important, therefore, to distinguish Theology from what we normally think of as Religion. Religion is the socialization of theology. There is a likewise socialization of science. The presentation of this article as an answer to ID is a perfect manefestation of this socialization of Science. I'm not sure what the best word to describe this process is; you choose to call it religion, but I and other posters believe this is in error.

    I do, however, agree with your underlying principle - that science has a common root with religion; the thing I and some authors call nomos. More importantly it is something which transcends the particulars of the philosophy, and intrinsicly fights for a life of it's own.

    As a slight tangent, but to further the parallel. Philosophy involves a logical method. And there are many great thinkers who have applied this logical method to Theology. The allusive ontological proof; the logical deduction of God, is a perfect example. This proof holds that there exists a set of axioms which validate the empiracal aspect of God. In my opinion, they are all crap. But no more can be said about the Big Bang or of evolution as the source of diversity on Earth. (Though I personally don't believe in the evidence of the Big Bang, but I do believe in the evidence of evolution).

    Put in another way, those that apply logic to Theology, are taking certain humanly important (sacrad) phenomena and treating them as axioms. It is perfectly permissable to apply the scientific method to this process to discover and eliminate logical strains. I feel that the ontological proof is largely moot, but more interestingly are proofs of morality. But now we're into the social sciences. So again, we're merely trading our starting points; our axioms.
  • by laffy4 (818693) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:56PM (#14442066)
    I wonder if the next round of ID will come with their own version of "peer-review"... Christian Science Journal perhaps..
  • by maraist (68387) * <michael DOT mara ... DOT n0spam DOT > on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:56PM (#14442070) Homepage
    Science can't tell you what the purpose of life is, or if a war is just or not.

    Ha! but in fact, science does tell us if war is just or not.. In fact, most every war waged this century had more to do with the scientific method than religion. Logical constructs of use-cases. Quantitatively weighing the human cost against the abstract political gain.

    War is a math problem, just like effective memory compaction.

    Any given "moral" issue can be socialogically deconstructed. And just like inconsistencies between quantum and reletevism, current gaps in our understanding of social moral delemmas are only a PHD thesis away.
  • by Temsi (452609) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:02PM (#14442120) Journal
    ID != Supernaturalism.
    This is patently false. Indeed ID = Supernaturalism.
    How? Very simple. Science and evolution rely on NATURAL explanations.
    ID does not. Indeed it relies on the existance of some "higher" being, a "designer".
    A "designer" who himself was not designed or came to be out of nothing, is by definition a supernatural being, and therefore, by definition, ID is supernaturalism.

    The point of design is that God is so great that he could cause a bee to fly (or any other astounding example from nature) within the natural order, without relying on his supernatural powers.
    Not so. If a fly can fly for purely natural reasons without the benefit of "supernatural powers" what exactly is the problem? And where exactly does the idea of "God" fit into all of that? If there's a natural explanation, why do we need to complicate the matter further by trying to force a man-made "supernatural" idea into it?

    ID proponents are not looking outside of science to explain how the natural world works.
    If that were true, there would be no argument, as there would be no mention of a "higher being" that designed everything. A "designer" of nature would by definition be outside of nature, and thus the very core of ID revolves around something which is not part of nature. Science is wholly grounded in natural explanations. A designer outside of nature simply does not fit in that basic set of observational rules. Therefore, a thing like ID, which does revolve around a designer, cannot by definition be based in science.
    Furthermore, ID does not have any theories or even hypotheticals which can be proven one way or another, and are therefore not scientific (all science must be falsifiable in order to qualify as science).

    What they are doing is questioning how the natural order came to be.
    That's all well and good, but the problem is, they're asking the wrong questions. They question things that have been demonstrated and explained ad nauseum, again and again because they don't like the answer (i.e. it doesn't suit their pre-conceived idea of a god or a creator).
  • by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:05PM (#14442134) Homepage Journal
    Plus, it sucks to be using the "God of the gaps" argument when science has pretty consistently filled in the gaps.

    ID proponents seem to think science needs to explain everything for it to be valid, without realizing that being able to explain everything would mean we didn't need science any more. Heh.
  • by sparkz (146432) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:05PM (#14442135) Homepage
    I'm not in the American hysteria about "ID", but I am a Christian (did anyone see last night's Channel 4 programme by Richard Dawkins, "The Root of All Evil?"? I taped it because I was interested to see how he would argue the case; I'm glad I did, so I can blog all the holes in his argument. I have to admit to being disappointed at the number of holes; I was expecting a more coherent argument against religion. I actually think I could have done better myself! Anyway; for example, http://www.paghat.com/beeflight.html [paghat.com] :
    The "science has proved that bees can't fly" urban myth originated in a 1934 book by entomologist Antoine Magnan, who discussed a mathematical equation by Andre Sainte-Lague, an engineer. The equation proved that the maximum lift for an aircraft's wings could not be achieved at equivalent speeds of a bee. I.e., an airplane the size of a bee, moving as slowly as a bee, could not fly. Although this did not mean a bee can't fly (which after all does not have stationary wings like the posited teency aircraft), nevertheless the idea that Magnan's book said bees oughtn't be able to fly began to spread.
    If ID proponents are using arguments like that, they really need to get a cluestick. This is not news (for nerds or otherwise), and it certainly isn't stuff that matters.

    As this post isn't getting into the Big Picture, I won't bother getting into details here (check my website in the near future for that kind of detail) but science is constantly moving on (as it should do) so a total belief in the current findings of science is, by definition, irrational.

    If you trace back through your family tree for a few hundred years, and (I guess you don't know them all personally) assume that they had full belief in the scientific research of the time, your predecessors believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth, that the Earth was flat, that the West Indies were actually part of India, and so on.

    Science has achieved a lot, and we are learning more every day, but only a fool would believe that our research has given us any definitive information about our environment.

  • by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012.pota@to> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:20PM (#14442240)
    But with the advent of science and philosophy, religion has become an antiquated relic of the past.

    Given that I'm a flaming atheist, this will sound weird. However, I disagree.

    I think science is about explaining how things are, not why they are or what we should do about it. Philosophy gives you a set of tools for approaching those questions and has a lot of interesting historical information on what people have said. But there's no right answer to many of philosophy's most interesting questions. For many people, they get those answers from one religion or another.

    There is also an area that religion addresses that philosophy and science don't address at all: the lived experience of humankind, especially what many would call the spiritual side of things. Some Buddhist schools, for example, have nothing to say about gods or devils but a lot to say about how to live one's life in accordance with particular beliefs, like The Four Noble Truths [budtempchi.org] and The Eightfold Path [budtempchi.org]. Consider this quote:
    The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism.
    You'd think some monk or preacher said that. Turns out, it was Albert Einstein.

  • by On Lawn (1073) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:23PM (#14442255) Journal
    Evolution is no God killer and lack of understanding is never a good proof. Why people want nails in the ID coffin is not science, but politics. And politics and science have often done injustice to each other as they conspire.

    Capernicus met a church who borrowed science not from the Bible when it said the universe revolved around the earth. The church at the time borrowed from Aristotle, who acted with no biblical reference whatsoever*. He met a world of science that thought we already knew things that we didn't actually know.

    Later Faraday was derided for his religious beliefs, which gained him an open mind to see things that people who believed Science had the answers couldn't see.

    Einstein who wanted to know God's thoughts constantly disregarded what people told him were already settled issues to unlock mysteries that are still not well understood today.

    Do I think ID will be proven a sham? No, I don't. PlanesDragon above gives a good breakdown of that discussion. Neither evolution or ID can be ruled out without some very dramatic evidence that may never be found. Though it is funny to me how so many of the ignorant and arrogant consider ID the same way religious people see herasy.

    Its not a matter of moving targets. Its a matter of science and recognizing what is known and what is simply used as glue to fit the pieces we don't have together.

    _______________
    * Some Jewish scholars well before Aristotle even conjectured that Biblical verses which discussed astrological events elongating or shortening days to indicate that the earth revolved around the sun.
  • by clambake (37702) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:24PM (#14442263) Homepage
    I just think that if God performed miracles, he'd do so that they had longevity in addition to an immediate awe factor.

    Personally I find the awe factor in the much less miraculous. Just making something happen as if by "magic" seems almost like cheating. At that point, you have to ask, "Ok, so God can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and follow none of his own rules. Then why doesn't he just magic me up eternal happiness right now? Why make me jump thought these silly hoops? That's just mean, and in the end, pointless. Because it's obvious He could just change the rules on me at a moment's notice, so why even bother. This sucks."

    Whereas when I see the vast forces of "mundane reality" at work, like neutron stars, galactic warping, the beauty of the simple unloved adinosine tri-phosphate molecule, the spooky twists and turns of quantum mechanics, I think, WHAH, now there is a God who has some class... Mysteries wrapped in riddles wrapped in enigmas, and just waiting for us to unravel!
  • by copponex (13876) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:30PM (#14442305) Homepage
    The reason they don't get along is not because of this theory.

    When it is illegal for me to do whatever I want with my own body or a consenting, adult partner, because someone else can't let go of the nice feelings they get when they imagine an invincible chaperone in the sky -- THAT is when disagreements happen.

    They hate science because it is displacing religion. Rainbows aren't God's sweet little promise not to kill us all again. They're just the result of the way light refracts off of water droplets, and if the physics of that magically changed 4,000 years ago, maybe that would explain how you fit millions of animals into a wooden boat.

    See, they don't want a competing theory in classrooms. They want prayer before and after meals in school. They want Christ presented as a historical character, and Shiva presented as a myth. They want far more than their painfully pathetic attempt at challenging evolution.

    The good Christians I've met are the ones who actually have enough faith in the bible to share it with others intead of trying to get it passed as law. The people trying to shove it down others' throats are the ones to be feared, because they haven't understood the most basic premise that Christ taught: love, no matter what! Love, because NO ONE is without sin. Love because only GOD can pass judgement upon others. I got that out of the book by reading it. I'm afraid most Christians have not.
  • by sparkz (146432) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:39PM (#14442370) Homepage
    Sorry, but you've got it the wrong way around.

    Christianity proclaims that we were created by God.

    Science has certain procedures and formalities, by which every detail must be checked until it can be declared as a fact.

    So, in fact, it is science which declares that this detailed requirement is needed for Science (by which you presumably specifically mean the theory of evolution) to prove itself, and not the other way around at all.

    Taking your argument (Science doesn't prove the Bible), I could take it from the other side and say that the Bible doesn't prove Science. However, the more archaeology is done, the more the Bible's historical accuracy is validated. So that's an unfair argument, because the Bible has the advantage.

  • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:44PM (#14442400)
    The articles was about how finally they can disprove one of the main points that ID fanatics have been bringing up. As you noted the big thing missing is the explanation -- I guess the article, was only meant for the anti-ID fanatics that are just as crazy and will believe anything as long as the authors hate ID.

    This is an example of research done for a political purpose to shoot down some whack pseudo-scientific crowd. In other words, they might not really want to find out how bees fly as much as they want to "stick it" to those ID people. The potential problem could be if they didn't really explain how the bees fly, or mis-interpreted their data, then it will actually end up hurting their own cause.

  • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:46PM (#14442423) Homepage
    I agree with einstein. I think the religion of the future (today) is philosophy. Spirituality doesn't have to involve any set of mythology. Nor does it have to involve blind-faith. Many fields of philosophy do attempt to address issues about existence, the human condition, or the nature of consciousness and the human experience, etc. The fundamental difference is how this knowledge is derived. With buddhism, there is more of a blend of theology and philosophy than other religions. Descartes, also tried to reconcile his philosophical beliefs with his religion. But the more religion (dogma, mythology) you try to fuse into philosophy, the more confounded the philosophy becomes (Descartes' proof of the existence of god is a good example of this). So in a way, philosophy is what religion aims to be in its purest & truest form.
  • Re:Straw man (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NardofDoom (821951) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:55PM (#14442480)
    So what's the issue then? The issue is that the ID proponents don't seem to like the possibility that there might not be an Actor, and the evolution proponents don't like the idea that there must be an Actor. (And if you have any doubt as to which Actor ID proponents assume, just look who's backing it most forcefully. It ain't the Hindus, Jews or Muslims.)

    However, evolutionary theory has been scientifically tested and can be reduced to very basic terms. The only 'unknown' is why genes mutate or habitats change. Science can provide answers (to a point) with research, ID says "god did it."

    So there's no reason to teach ID in schools beyond "Something caused this electromagnetic ray or chemical to mutate this gene. We're not sure what, but that's not the point of this lesson."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:56PM (#14442485)
    Really, that's the line of argument that creationists use, that there can be no unexplained mechanism or gap in the fossil record, and if there is it's evidence that evolution (or whatever) can't account for reality.

    This is like saying that all Muslims justify terrorism with the argument of...

    Not all Muslims condone terrorism; not all terrorists are Muslim (or Evelutionists, or Creationists). Most Creationists I know also believe in evolution.

    Evolution is provably true. Even evolution on a large scale makes sense. Creationism is not provably false, and looks more possible (note: I didn't write "probable") every year.

    Wierd people might think that reality is so incredibly complex that there must be a God.
    Other wierd people think that reality is so incredibly complex that no sensient being could possible understand it all and be able to design and implement it.

    If I walk out into the desert and find a bicycle, I don't think, "Wow! What a strange natural phenomenon!" I figure it must have been designed and created by humans. The biological system of something like a bee is vastly more complicated than a bicycle, and consequently enormously less likely to be the result of a long string of random accidents. It is possible that both the bicycle and the bee are products of natural coincidences. It is also possible that they are both products of some incredible design.

    It is amusing to me that both camps would insist that the bike did not evolve, nor was it created by God in the beginning of time; but some Evolutionists can't accept a being capable of designing a bee, and some Creationists can't accept that a bee might have evolved over time. It seems very clear to me that both are possible. In fact, it seems very possible that both might have occurred. A bee may have evolved from some creature similar to a bee that was designed by some genius creator.

    But I still have no idea how it flies. Especially while it is steering that bicycle.
  • by Fweeky (41046) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:56PM (#14442488) Homepage
    "The mere belief that a God doesn't exist, is a religion"

    Pretty dilute meaning of the word "religion" you're using there. What do you base this on?

    Much here depends on your interpretation of the nature of the belief. I consider myself an atheist, but I still don't really have a strong conviction along the lines of "there is no God"; how the hell should I know? It's not a concept I can disprove.

    Equally, though, it's not a concept I see any vaguely convincing argument for, either. And let's face it, we're not talking about just one belief here; you say "a God", which is a pretty vague concept, but one that's far removed from most religions. It's a hop of astronomical proportions to go from there to a God who takes a personal interest in my specific beliefs, feelings and actions, and which really wouldn't mind a chat and some appreciation, and maybe a few temples (which you might want to donate something towards), and who also likes to talk more directly to a few authority figures who can tell us exactly what pleases him/her/it, and to never mind the thousands of others following the same patterns because *ours* is really *real*.

    I fail to see how one can make such a leap; what little I do see points rather more strongly to evolutionary psychology and the exploitation of our flawed perceptions and critical thinking skills by memes and people more than any deeper truth about the nature of the universe.

    Maybe I'm wrong, and this tendancy to believe in *some* kind of Godlike being does reflect reality. Maybe there is some God out there who is displeased by my doubt, and would like to see me stoned to death for engaging in premarital sex or using one of his names as an expletive or eating pork that hasn't been killed *just* so, but I don't see why I should give this significantly more credence than the possibility that the Invisible Pink Unicorn is going to trample me to/after death for suggesting that she likes pepperoni more than ham.
  • by mOdQuArK! (87332) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:00PM (#14442528)
    If you want to disprove ID,

    It's impossible to prove or disprove ID: "an all-powerful Creator did it, and did in it such a way to make you think otherwise!"

    That's why it's not science, and never will be.

  • Article illogical (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DktrYes (855230) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:12PM (#14442575)
    What makes me laugh is that figuring out how something works doesn't tell us about the person or process that made it. It does NOT follow that if a) we can understand it then b) evolution made it. What if bee's are extraterestial? Does knowing that they flap their wings faster than a swallow mean they are NOT from a distant galaxy? Where is the fossil evidence of the evolutionary tree of bee's? Because it doesnt' exist does that mean they came from outer space? Or are bee's prehistoric? Are there dinosaurs among us? How could anybody with half a brain have ever taken the argument. "you can't explain it therefore you have to admit God created it.", seriously enough to try to refute it??????
  • by Darby (84953) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:48PM (#14442781)
    Or more accurately, we'd still be sitting in castles, and homes of wood eating food cooked over an open flame.

    No, the OP had it exactly right.
    Just because the modern scientific method hadn't been formalized yet doesn't mean that castles used to be built by believing that the stones would magically stack themselves.

    The mere belief that a God doesn't exist, is a religion,

    That's barely arguable, but irrelevant.
    Opting not to believe some ridiculous nonsense is not a religious belief, it's basic common sense. There is no reason whatsoever to believe in any god, so not believing isn't religious at all. Every single person who ever lived was born an atheist.

    the mere belief that your perceptions are of a true reality, is a belief and a philosophical assertion.

    No, the exact opposite of what you are saying is true. Arguing that nothing is real and we're all just living through a common delusion or somesuch is philsophical. Dealing with the reality we all live in as it is is realism.
  • by Darby (84953) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:57PM (#14442833)
    Science never claimed to explain everything. Never.

    Is completely incorrect as far as most people are concerned. Answers on the tests in high school science class are either right or wrong, never giving points for original thought.


    So your tests in high school covered everything?
    Dude, you're such a ridiculous troll. Questions on high school science tests that I've seen are simple enough to admit simple yes/no answers. Your response had nothing to do with the post you were responding to.
    I got points for original thought. I rightly didn't get points for ignorant trolls.

    But that's NOT the way it's presented when you go to court to exclude other explainations from the classroom.

    Sure it is. Other explanations are more than welcome. Why don't you come up with one?
      Ignorant religious nonsense isn't. That's what churches are for, not science classes.

  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:22PM (#14442962)
    Science has certain procedures and formalities, by which every detail must be checked until it can be declared as a fact.

    You don't understand science, and yes I am a scientist. Creationists fundamentally do not understand the word "theory," and they have no room in the certainty spectrum between solid fact and fiction. By definition, nothing can be checked enough to be declared as fact, not even that the sun will rise tomorrow. By setting up that kind of scheme, creationists try to win by saying that "theories" aren't fact and crap like that. No, simply because evolution is a "theory" doesn't make creationism right.

    Taking your argument (Science doesn't prove the Bible), I could take it from the other side and say that the Bible doesn't prove Science.

    I could say that religion and science make terrible bedfellows. Further, science is a process and need not be proved.

    However, the more archaeology is done, the more the Bible's historical accuracy is validated.

    Sometimes yes, sometimes no. However, treating the Bible as a cohesive unit is a fallacy because it's not, having been writting over the span of millennia. It's also a logical fallacy to point at a few successes and assume that the whole thing is rigorously "true." Finally, you fail the test that most creationists do, namely that you have no problem accepting science (here, archaeology) when it serves your purpose, dumping it when it compromises your thesis. Not to mention that the Bible doesn't contradict evolution unless one dimwittedly interprets the thing literally.

    In other words, if the Bible is to be accepted as an accepted predictive model, it need make a prediction that is testable and possible to prove wrong. Until that point, the Bible cannot stand up to any rigor and shouldn't be compared to science. Science is the process of fixing a model to available facts, and creationism is the opposite.

  • Re:Straw man (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KnightStalker (1929) <map_sort_map@yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:53PM (#14443117) Homepage
    It ain't the Hindus, Jews or Muslims.

    Though you can find examples of creationists from all those camps and more, especially Turkish Muslims. I have seen a Native American anti-evolutionist argument as well, but I don't have the details anymore.
  • by a-singularity (594098) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @12:28AM (#14443273)
    For creationism to be "right" it needs to, for once, generate a testable, disproveable hypothesis and stop falling back on the old "anything we can't explain is God's will" argument.

    First and foremost, God's will is for you to love him with all your heart, mind, and soul. Christian doctrine tells us that man has Fallen. Man commited the sin of pride, the cardinal sin, of prefering your own will to God's.

    To address your statement: Creationism, in a Christian sense, mostly goes hand in hand with a belief in a Creator. You're asking for a 'testable hypothesis', which is science. Science is a method for learning about the world around us. Science cannot tell us about religion. They have been pitted against each other in modern culture but for no reason. They are not at odds. Faith in a Creator does not preclude participation in an experimental method to determine strongly supported theories of the universe. The method does not speak to things not open to experimentation in our world. It can't. Creationism is a belief, not a theory inferred from evidence. Your request is - as I understand it - nonsense.

    There is no doubt that ID is the like. I do not support ID in science class, as it is not science. I do support science. I like science. If I were to throw out a problem with teaching particles to people evolution that science currently has no answer for, it would be that there has been observation of speciation and some circumstantial, 'Where else?'-type evidence for particles to people evolution. Speciation, however, is AFAIK always the mutation of the genetic material to less information, not more. Particles to people evolution requires observation and experimentation that show spontaneous generation of new genetic material. This is IMO, a bigger problem than how bees fly. This all just ties up my argument above, however, even this does not prove belief in a Creator is logically false. It just offers better evidence for particles to people evolution. As science always does, it tells us something about the world around us, but nothing of beyond it.

  • by dbucowboy (891058) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:03AM (#14443440) Homepage
    Nothing new needs to be added to the Bible. It is a completed work. And just because we've figured out how something works does not in any way negate ID... Say I painted a painting and for a long time nobody could figure out why and how it looked the way it did. One day another artist figures out how I painted it and understands the technique. Does that discredit me as the artist and prove that the painting was produced any other way than through an artist? If anything it only solidifies the 'proof' of a creator.
  • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:32AM (#14443562) Homepage
    So you're saying that you believe that God created the earth through evolution? But the biblical creation story claims it was all created in 6 days. In any case, that has little to do with what is being argued. My point was that science and religion are fundamentally different cultural/social forces. The arguments against each are also fundamentally different. Scientists don't argue that religion is wrong because the bible doesn't explain how bees are able to fly. They argue that religious explainations for natural phenomena are false because they go against logic and observed evidence. That isn't the same as when religious fanatics say "you can't explain how the big bang happened so all knowledge based on science is wrong." The problem is the kind of attitude/thinking that religion imposes on people. When you teach people that to be good (in god's eyes) you have to suppress reason and rational thought and discourage skepticism and free thought, you end up with a following which is incapable of critical thinking. That's why there's no comparison when you put religious arguments against scientific ones.
  • by Larthallor (623891) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @02:24AM (#14443754)
    the substance of the earth and universe came into being through a means other than a deity.

    That's pretty much the whole point of cosmology and fundamental physics, isn't it? The quest of science is to find ever more accurate and predictive explanations for how the universe works. Saying, "because God made it that way" is pretty much the antithesis of this quest. It is either a content-free answer to the question (equivalent to saying "because that's the way it is") or an answer that depends on also believing another theory ([insert your religion here]) that is itself based on little evidence, almost none of which is repeatable and may therefore conflict without hope of resolution with someone else's theory ([insert other religion here]).

    As a matter of fact, there is a decent explanation of how matter came into being called the Standard Model [wikipedia.org], a portion of which incorporates E=mc^2. It's not perfect and will end up being superseded by something else, but that doesn't really matter because it is already much more powerful and predictive than "because God made it."

    Even if we didn't have a theory that was so powerful as the Standard Model, it is still a simpler explanation (in the Occam's Razor [wikipedia.org] sense) to say, "I don't know; let's go find out," than to posit an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving (yet undetectable, let alone communicative) intelligence that has always existed and is somehow exempt from the rules of logic you wish to impose on everything else. Indeed, the leap from "I don't know how matter formed from non-matter yet" to the vague, non-denominational "Must be due to a powerful intelligence" reeks of the anthropomorphism [wikipedia.org] so pervasive within our species' thought process. Throw in the concept that the entire universe (which is billions of light years across with at least as many stars as there are grains of sand on Earth [google.com]) gets created as a by-product of creating a cozy place for us and you're really stretching credibility. But to make the leap from "I don't know" to "Well, I guess one of the many gods described by scrolls written by profoundly ignorant people well over two thousand years ago from an even longer oral tradition clearly borrowed from even earlier generations of similarly superstitious people must be right," is too large a chasm to be considered rational.

    Until it can be empirically proved that no God existed, both theories should retain the uncertain authenticity they deserve, and both sides should earn the right to be respected of their beliefs.

    Respecting someone's right to believe something is different from respecting someone's beliefs and while I agree with the former, most people's religious beliefs deserve very little respect as explanations of physical reality.

    People that state that they don't believe in macro-evolution (evolution of kind, such as dogs and cats having a common ancestor) do so because they are:
    • Ignorant of the mountain of fossil and genetic evidence that all life that we know of descends from a common ancestor in distant geological time.
    • Refuse to budge from a literal interpretation of an Nth generation of translation of a single book written hundreds or thousands of years before people knew anything about biology or geology by people suffering the above described ignorance. This refusal is usually tied (in fundamentalist Christians, anyway) to the tenet that the Bible is the Word of God, rather than the words of men writing about God. If something in the Bible is false, then it can't very well be the Word of God, can it? And if it's a fallible work of man, what else could be wrong?
    • Both of the above

    Pardon my lack of respect for the hypothesis that God miracled each "kind" into existence, but

  • by sasami (158671) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @02:41AM (#14443806)
    But hasn't the purpose of religion always been to fill in the gaps in human understanding

    Nope. That's a myth. ;-) Religion serves a great many purposes, of which explaining the natural world is sometimes a small part. In Christianity, specifically, it is almost no part. On the other hand, Christianity spends a lot of time talking about the purpose of life, about which science has little to say.

    (albeit with unfounded/illogical assumptions)?

    I'll infer that you consider the existence of God to be the primary illogical or unfounded assumption. After all, a "rational" person should never believe in anything until it is proven, right? Except rational people believe in plenty of things that are not proven, foremost being Reason itself. Another example would be the existence of the universe. Oh, does that sound silly? Let me rephrase it, then: the belief that we are not living in the Matrix. These beliefs cannot be proven. They are axioms. You can accept or reject an axiom, but not through pure reasoning.

    God is an axiom.

    Our notion of a "rational," "intelligent," "educated" person is of one who accepts the axioms of Reason, the axiom that the universe exists, but not the axiom that God exists. This is an arbitrary cultural distinction, and has nothing to do with being rational, intelligent, or educated.

    When you can't explain something with reason (backed by empirical observations when appropriate), then you turn to theological explanations which rely on mythos rather than logos.

    I wonder who you're referring to. Certainly not most of the Christians I know (although being from the Northeast I don't personally know too many raving fundamentalists). Did you know, by the way, that (contrary to the delightfully articulate but sometimes ill-informed Thomas Paine) Christianity is directly responsible for the scientific method? Prior to the writings of Aquinas, scientific thought was governed primarily by Platonic and Aristotelian worldviews, which specifically deny the reliability of physical experimentation.

    I thought it quite interesting that the researcher quoted in TFA feels the significance of his research is to show that "we can use science to understand the world around us." Christians originated modern science, and it's silly to see both sides of this idiotic non-debate forgetting that fact.

    But with the advent of science and philosophy, religion has become an antiquated relic of the past.

    Since we have already established that religion is perfectly agreeable with science, we will address your other assertion: what philosophies, exactly, have effectively displaced religion? Again, as above, philosophy stems from prior assumptions -- one of which is, again, the existence of God. Perhaps you were not aware that there are theistic and nontheistic philosophies? In recent years, Alvin Plantinga [leaderu.com] has done much work in establishing theism in the forefront of philosophical scholarship. To pin your hopes on philosophy is merely to work off of beliefs you have already assumed.

    --
    Dum de dum.
  • by sasami (158671) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @02:45AM (#14443824)
    This is getting pretty offtopic. Maybe I should refrain? Nahh. ;-)

    Ha! but in fact, science does tell us if war is just or not.. In fact, most every war waged this century had more to do with the scientific method than religion. Logical constructs of use-cases.

    This appears quite circular to me. You're talking about using science to determine the truth or falsity of various measures of justice, but the original assertion is that science cannot provide a definition of justice.

    Rather, you simply assume here...

    Quantitatively weighing the human cost against the abstract political gain.
     
    ...what sounds like a utilitarian model of justice.

    Any given "moral" issue can be socialogically deconstructed. And just like inconsistencies between quantum and reletevism, current gaps in our understanding of social moral delemmas are only a PHD thesis away.

    Morality is socially deconstructible only if you believe it is. That's a philosophical assumption, a starting position that is no more, or less, rational than the assumption that morality is objective.

    And frankly, I have a pretty low view of our "current... understanding of social moral [di]lemmas." The radical subjectivism characteristic of postmodern social sciences is beyond ridiculous -- and would be particularly irksome to the scientifically-minded Slashdot crowd if they ever realize that the "best" contemporary scholarship in the social sciences all begins with the assumption that truth does not exist [uga.edu] -- not even scientific truth. [nyu.edu]

    The idea that social and moral concepts will fall to the inquiry of Reason is an old one -- rooted in (of course) the Enlightenment, buoyed by the triumph of Newtonian physics. But as we know, science went on to achieve an unbroken record of success, while the sociological side is fairly a train wreck. All attempts to create Utopia have failed, despite the appearance of rigor and plausibility in their underlying theses. Marxism is the poster child, of course; but the same impulse led to that other regime that Godwin prohibits me from mentioning outright. ;-)

    The essential problems of the human condition are moral ones, chronicled in literature for thousands of years, unchanged in the face of scientific advancement. Lately, from Nietzsche to Skinner to Dawkins, the fashionable response has been to blandly assert that these things are just illusions and social constructions -- a non-answer that Kant famously decried as being pretty unhelpful, even if true.

    So, given that there isn't much historical reason to believe that social Progress has anything to do with scientific Progress, I can only assume that you look to the impending solution to all our moral problems as an article of faith? (Kidding, kidding. Mostly.)

    --
    Dum de dum.
  • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @03:30AM (#14443952) Homepage

    I'll infer that you consider the existence of God to be the primary illogical or unfounded assumption. After all, a "rational" person should never believe in anything until it is proven, right? Except rational people believe in plenty of things that are not proven, foremost being Reason itself. Another example would be the existence of the universe. Oh, does that sound silly? Let me rephrase it, then: the belief that we are not living in the Matrix. These beliefs cannot be proven. They are axioms. You can accept or reject an axiom, but not through pure reasoning.

    Axioms, ofcourse, cannot be proven to be true in themselves, they can only be proven to be consistent with other axioms within the same theoretical model/system. Generally, mathematical axioms are true by definition so that it's not necessary to prove them to be true. Also, empirical science doesn't assert that any knowledge is absolute, and it's still accepted that cause and effect relationships cannot be proven to be absolutely true simply through emperical observations (you may see B happen after A 100 times in a row, but that still doesn't prove that on the 101st time B won't happen before A). Nonetheless, I'll give you that contemporary math/science/philosophy are still based on fundamental assumptions. However, science/math/philosophy try to minimize the number of assumptions you have to make, and basic assumptions are recognized as assumptions and areas of uncertainty. Scientific knowledge is provided as the most plausible explaination.

    But the reason I consider religious beliefs to be irrational is because they are not founded on logic and reasoning, they are presupposed to be true based on religious faith. If you're a Christian, this includes the belief that there is a God, as portrayed by the bible, and that everything else written in the Bible is also true. Well, why do you believe in God? Because the Bible says I should. Why do you adhere to the Bible? Because it was written by God. You would not be able to get away with that kind of circular reasoning in science or philosophy or math. It's illogical to create such meaningless and arbitrary tautologies.

    Lastly, Christianity is not responsible for the scientific method. Christian scientists have certainly contributed to the method (partly because in the past almost every European had to be a Christian due to cultural factors), but nothing in Christian religious doctrines was used to provide the basis for the scientific method. The scientific method actually originates from Greece.

  • by Alsee (515537) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @05:16AM (#14444260) Homepage
    I do not entirely understand what the "ID" camp are putting forward

    The first thing to note is that the ID movment was established immediately after, and in direct response to, a Supreme Court ruling that it was unconstitutional for government officals to abuse their governmental powers to use the public school system to push their beleif and interpretation of Literal Biblical Creationism. Literal Biblical Creationism as in literal talking snakes, and the non-existance of death prior to Adam&Eve's sin... meaning that all predators were herbovours and that they used their fangs and claws to hunt leaves and fruits... they couldn't have been eating prey animals becuase there was no death yet, remember? So God created fully formed pathers to hunt figs, and fully formed venus flytraps that never actally killed any flies. Oh, and of course there were also immortal flies. Prior to Adam eating the apple and getting cast out of the Garden, all creatures existed in fully formed immortal perfection.

    Wikipedia has good coverage. [wikipedia.org]
    Intelligent design (ID) is the concept that the universe and living things have features that could only have been designed by an intelligent cause or agent, as opposed to an unguided process such as natural selection. Leading proponents, of which all are affliated with the Discovery Institute, say that intelligent design is a scientific theory that stands on equal footing with, or is superior to, current scientific theories regarding the origin of life.

    If you want to get a bit of insight into the Discovery Institute and the driving vison behind the ID movement, I suggest you read their fundraising ducument, the Wedge Strategy. [antievolution.org] Or you can just Google "Wedge Document". [google.com] It lays out their 20 year plan to infiltrate the school system and get control of government legislatures and ultimately to reshape all of society in their religo-moral image.

    Note that they have a three phase strategy, but they have completely skipped Phase I. Scientific Research, Writing & Publication and gone directly to Phase II. Publicity & Opinion-making and right into the part of phase three where they "pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public school science curricula".

    As I read the Bible, evolution does not deny faith

    These people do not read the Bible the same way you do. These are the same sort of people who wanted to lynch Galileo for saying the sun was at the center of the solar system... because their "literal" reading of the Bible says that "the earth does not move".

    The activists behind ID are latched on to two rediculous ideas (or one idea with :
    (1) If evolution is true it proves false their idea of God and their limitations on how God could have done things, and of course their idea of God is the only True God and therefore evolution = atheism.
    (2) If God exists... and remember their notion of God is the only True God... that if God exists... that is you want to beleive in God at all... that it proves evolution false.

    They routinely make statements labeling the majority of Christians as atheists because they accept evolution. That anyone, even the Pope, is an atheist if they do not see a conflict between evolution and God.

    And with the PR campaign the activists are running, PR campaigns carefully stripped of overt religious content and carefully crafted to paint themselves as victims of some atheist conspiracy and oppression, they are getting a lot of normal majority Christians like you jumping to side with these fundamentalist nutjobs.

    You and I are on the same side. There's no conflict between evolution and God. The fight is whether government schools can or will teach religion. In the US governmen
  • by sasami (158671) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @09:45AM (#14445174)
    Hint: any time you find yourself inferring or rephrasing someone else's argument, you're most likely just creating a strawman

    Interesting! That's a good rule of thumb, I'll keep it in mind. Although, in this case I wasn't rephrasing the argument, but an ambiguously-stated parenthesis. It was really more of a lame attempt to find a segue. :-)

    it's disingenuous to suggest that because nothing can be absolutely proven, all things are at equal levels of non-proof

    This wasn't my intention, though I apologize if my tendency to oversimplify on Slashdot made it unclear. I am certainly not arguing for Humean skepticism!

    Formally restated, a rationalist generally accepts only propositions that are either (1) axiomatic to reasoning or knowledge, (2) incorrigible [philosophypages.com], or (3) established to one's satisfaction by evidence in accordance with (1) and (2).

    Being pedantic, as you say, means that we have to consider (1), (3), and perhaps (2) to be suspect. But pragmatically, we do not. We are, in a nutshell, talking about beliefs -- they might be untrue assumptions, but how many of us really think so?

    So if I believe (3) to be true, then it easily establishes the rising of the Sun, and disqualifies the non-rising of the Sun. Even Hume did not walk around all day questioning the existence of everything.

    However, my point was that there are propositions that most of us also accept as true, but are not rationally justified by the model above. And Godel showed us that some of these propositions will in fact be true. The existence of a real universe is the obvious example; we should consider that it might be an illusion, but how many of us really think so?

    The existence of God is arguably another example. Thus, I did intend to suggest that the specific axioms of God and non-God are indeed at equal, or at least comparable, levels of non-proof.

    So no, I do not expect a rational person to refute gods because they cannot be absolutely proven to be true. I expect a rational person to refute gods because their existence would be contrary to a larger and more consistent set of evidence about the cosmos.

    This approach is entirely reasonable, if indeed you have made a considered decision that the evidence for God is similar to the evidence for werewolves. My complaint is firmly with those who think the assumption of non-God is automatically rational, mature, and intelligent while the assumption of God is somehow automatically irrational, ignorant, and unintelligent.

    I will quibble, though, that the axiom of God is hardly contrary to any physical evidence. (Maybe you meant "unsupported?") At one extreme, the Deist God can't contradict anything since it never touches the physical universe (so then we cue Occam's Razor =). But the Christian model includes both the axioms of rationality, applied wherever appropriate, as well as the axiom of an active God, who might physically intervene every so often, but whose real interest is almost totally on the human condition; more specifically, on fixing individual souls; more specifically, on yours and mine.

    Anyway, thus I reiterate (obTopic) that the axiom of God is absolutely not supported by vacuous statements about "science can't explain X, so there!" (And for TFA to trot this out is a strawman.) But I could argue that by accurately encompassing both science and humanity, the Christian model presents an even "larger and more consistent set of evidence." That is definitely a topic for another time, however.

    --
    Dum de dum.
  • by sasami (158671) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @10:15AM (#14445294)
    the reason I consider religious beliefs to be irrational is because they are not founded on logic and reasoning, they are presupposed to be true based on religious faith. ... Well, why do you believe in God? Because the Bible says I should. Why do you adhere to the Bible? Because it was written by God.

    Again, you are simply asserting that the non-God axiom is somehow superior to the God axiom. Perhaps I misunderstand, but precisely what steps of logic and reasoning would constitute a foundation for any axiom? The acceptance or rejection of any axiom is ultimately a pre-rational belief. There are plenty of people in this world who do not hold logic as an axiom at all. I find that evidence suggests they are wrong. I also find that evidence suggests the God axiom is at least as plausible as the non-God axiom. Like the Axiom of Choice [google.com], the plausibility is not one-sided but symmetric: acceptance or rejection of the axiom both have desirable and undesirable ramifications, making Occam useless.

    In other words, I do not use the Bible to justify itself circularly. You seem very keen on this idea, but blind faith is actually improper [biblegateway.com] in Christianity. The claims made by the Bible are, to my satisfaction, sufficiently consistent with my observations of the human condition, my research, and yes, my personal experience. (Maybe this what you meant by logic and reason?) This is not proof of an axiom but it is evidence enough to evaluate some pros and cons and come to a decision. The decision between two plausible alternatives is one way to understand proper faith -- not just in God but in all aspects of one's worldview. After all, it is strictly plausible that we do indeed live in the Matrix, but how many of us really believe that?

    Further details along these lines probably don't belong in this topic, but I can open a journal entry if there is interest in continuing the thread.

    nothing in Christian religious doctrines was used to provide the basis for the scientific method. The scientific method actually originates from Greece.

    The roots of almost everything Western go back to Greece. :-) Thales the Milesian is often cited as a key figure, notable especially for studying and proposing natural causes for natural events. However, it's unclear how rigorous his methods were, and crediting him (as some do) with establishing the scientific method is plausible but may also be an overstatement.

    Thales notwithstanding, the greatest influence on Western thought came from Plato and Aristotle. Plato divided the world into Matter and Forms, raw material ordered by rational ideas. Sounds quite scientific! But the funny thing is, Platonism rejects that avenue, teaching instead that Forms are superior to and actually more real than the visible world of Matter; this is the point of his famous shadow-puppet allegory. Matter is inferior, chaotic, and never completely obeys Form.

    As a result, intellectual inquiry into Form was an exalted pursuit (familiar today as mathematical platonism), while experimental inquiry into Matter was considered unreliable and even ignoble. This dualism was absorbed fully by Augustine, and therefore went unchallenged for ten centuries. For this reason, the medieval era saw little advance in the physical sciences, as monasteries flourished in drawing the best minds to a pseudo-Platonic life of abstract Formal rumination, rejecting Material concerns.

    When Aristotle resurfaced in the 13th century, it almost brought about the Renaissance, had it not been for that pesky Black Death incident. Now, Aristotle certainly advocated natural inquiry; however, his method wasn't quite scientific either. He posited Four Causes, thr
  • by Cerberus7 (66071) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:59PM (#14447049)
    See, you just don't get it. You're being reasonable. You're supposed to start frothing at the mouth, babbling unintelligable crap. At least, that's what the anti-Christians expect from you. And they won't listen to a thing you're saying, even if it makes perfect sense. They already have made up their minds, and you refuting one of their examples won't make a lick of difference because they'll keep coming up with more. You could refute or explain every single one, and they'll not listen. Their final dismissal will be "but you believe it, so I'm not going to listen to you" no matter how completely you explain yourself.

Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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