Astronomer Martin Gaskell is suing the University of Kentucky for religious discrimination. Evolution News & Views sums it up well (emphasis mine):
Perhaps the most interesting detail Oppenheimer reports concerns the “smoking gun” in Gaskell’s case: the text of a 2007 email from UK staffer Sally Shafer to two colleagues:
“Clearly this man is complex and likely fascinating to talk with,” Ms. Shafer wrote, “but potentially evangelical. If we hire him, we should expect similar content to be posted on or directly linked from the department Web site.”
To this gem, Gaskell’s attorney, Francis J. Manion, said: “I couldn’t have made up a better quote. ‘We like this guy, but he is potentially Jewish’? ‘Potentially Muslim’?”
Bingo. Apparently committing evangelical Christianity disqualifies a scientist from employment at the University of Kentucky.
Yet again, the popular myth that current scientific authorities are “scientific” and “objective” while followers of Jesus are the ones with a worldview is shown to be false. Even though Dr. Gaskell was not interviewing to teach evolutionary theory, and even though he’s stated that he “accepted standard evolutionary science,” he was (gasp) “potentially evangelical,” and therefore someone to be avoided. Sounds like the scientific authorities are the ones interested in propagating their godless worldview without incident, while Dr. Gaskell just wants to teach Astronomy, doesn’t it?
Editor’s Note: Originally published on TownHall.com, used with permission. Frank Turek is a speaker and author, and a leading Christian apologist. Learn more at his website www.CrossExamined.org
You can’t put honesty in a test tube.
“Science” doesn’t say anything—scientists do.
Those are a couple of the illuminating conclusions we can draw from the global warming e-mail scandal.
“You mean science is not objective?” No, unless the scientists are, and too often they are not. I don’t want to impugn all scientists, but it is true that some of them are less than honest. Sometimes they lie to get or keep their jobs. Sometimes they lie to get grant money. Sometimes they lie to further their political beliefs. Sometimes they don’t intentionally lie, but they draw bad scientific conclusions because they only look for what they hope to find.
Misbehavior by scientists is more prevalent than you might think. A survey conducted by University of Minnesota researchers found that 33% of scientists admitted to engaging in some kind of research misbehavior, including more than 20% of mid-career scientists who admitted to “changing the design, methodology or results of a study in response to pressure from a funding source.” Think of how many more have done this but refuse to admit it! (The researchers said as much in their findings.)
Outright lies and deception certainly seem to be the case with “Climategate.” The exposed e-mails reveal cherry picking; manipulating data; working behind the scenes to censor dissenting views; and doubting what the measurements say because they don’t fit their pre-determined conclusion. Matt Drudge headlined this yesterday as the “Greatest scandal in modern science.”
I actually think there is another great scientific scandal, but its misrepresentations are not quite as obvious. In this scandal, instead of outright lies, scientific conclusions are smuggled in as philosophical presuppositions. Such is the case with the controversy over the origin of life and new life forms. Did natural forces working on non-living chemicals cause life, or is life the result of intelligent activity? Did new life forms evolve from lower life forms by natural forces or was intelligence needed?
Dr. Stephen Meyer has written a fabulous new best-selling book addressing those questions called Signature in the Cell. Having earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the philosophy of science, Dr. Meyer is at the top of the science food chain. In our August 8th radio interview, he told me he’s been working on his 600+ page book—which isn’t short of technical detail—for more than a decade.
What qualifies a man who has a Ph. D. in the “philosophy of science” to write on the origin of life or macroevolution? Everything. What some scientists, and many in the general public fail to understand is that science cannot be done without philosophy. All data must be interpreted. And much of the debate between Intelligent Design proponents (like Dr. Meyer) and the Darwinists (like Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins) is not a debate over evidence—everyone is looking at the same evidence. It’s a debate over philosophy. It’s a debate over what causes will be considered possible before we look at the evidence.
Scientists look for causes, and logically, there are only two possible types of causes—intelligent causes or non-intelligent causes (i.e. natural causes). A natural cause can explain a geologic wonder like the Grand Canyon, but only an intelligent cause can explain a geologic wonder like the faces of the presidents on Mount Rushmore. Likewise, natural laws can explain why ink adheres to the paper in Dr. Meyer’s book, but only an intelligent cause can explain the information in that book (i.e. Dr. Meyer!).
How does this apply to the question of the origin of life? Long after Darwin, we discovered that “simple” single-celled life is comprised of massive volumes of DNA information called specified complexity—in everyday terms, a complicated software program or a really long message. Richard Dawkins admits that the information content of the “unjustly called ‘primitive’ amoeba” would fill 1,000 volumes of an encyclopedia!
What’s the cause of this? Here’s where the philosophy comes in. Dr. Meyer is open to both types of causes. Richard Dawkins is not. Dr. Meyer’s book explains why natural forces do not appear to have the capacity to do the job, only intelligence does. However, Dawkins and his Darwinist cohorts philosophically rule out intelligent causes before they look at the evidence. So no matter how much the evidence they discover points to intelligence (as a long message surely does), they will always conclude it had to be some kind of natural cause. In other words, their conclusion is the result of their philosophical presupposition.
While Dawkins has no viable natural explanation for life or the message contained therein, he says he knows it cannot be intelligence. That philosophical presupposition leads to what appears to be an unbelievable conclusion: To believe that 1,000 volumes of an encyclopedia resulted from blind natural forces is like believing that the Library of Congress resulted from an explosion in a printing shop. I don’t have enough faith to believe that.
“This is a ‘God of the gaps’ argument!” Dawkins might protest. No it isn’t. We don’t just lack a natural explanation for “simple” life—1,000 encyclopedias worth of information is positive empirically verifiable evidence for an intelligence cause. Consider the cause of the book The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, for example. It’s not merely that we lack a natural explanation for the book (of course we know that the laws of ink and paper couldn’t have written the book). It’s also the fact that we know that messages only come from minds. Therefore, we rightly posit an intelligent author, not a blind natural process.
Why is it so hard for Dawkins and other Darwinists to see this? Maybe they refuse to see it. Maybe, like global warming “scientists,” they have their own political or moral reasons for denying the obvious. Or maybe they’ve never realized that you cannot do science without philosophy. As Einstein said, “The man of science is a poor philosopher.” And poor philosophers of science may often arrive at false scientific conclusions. That’s because science doesn’t say anything—scientists do.
I was practically screaming at my television set as I watched this. I don’t usually get so carried away when scientists say things that are intellectually dishonest. Actually, I guess I’ve come to expect it after many hours of watching NOVA and Steven Hawking. But this time, I couldn’t contain myself.
This was an episode of Naked Science on the National Geographic Channel that aired on Sunday, July 26th. The show’s thesis was that, new scientific evidence is suggesting that human beings had somehow made their way to the Americas thousands of years earlier than archeologists once thought. And these humans were not the hairy knuckle dragging cave men that your high school textbooks might suggest, but rather highly intelligent sea-faring engineers of amazing skill.
For the most compelling evidence of this they turned to J.M. Adovasio, PH.D, who is the director of Mercyhurst Archeological Institute. Adovasio is excavating an archeological site at Medocroft Rock Shelter, 35 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He and his team have been peeling this excavation site back layer by layer for the last 33 years. Each layer is carbon dated for age and they are able to record their findings for each chronological snapshot of time like flipping through the pages of a history book.
It was thought that the first Americans arrived on the continent 13,500 years ago, but when Adovasio reached the 13,500-year mark he kept digging. He describes what he was finding as, “unprecedented materials”. After another year of digging, they found an artifact that would “re-write the history books”.
Adovasio himself holds up a small black rock that appears to be polished in a slightly triangular shape. He twiddles it back and forth in this fingers holding it close to the camera and declares, “This very delicate tool is the oldest form tool from the site. It’s slightly older than 16,000 years.” Then the host says with confident assurance, “This find suggests that there was human life in North America 16,000 years ago…BECAUSE IF THERE WAS A TOOL – THERE WERE PEOPLE.”
This rock is SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE worthy of REWRITING THE TEXTBOOKS that human beings lived in America much earlier than previously thought. They were certain that people must have been there because tools don’t just make themselves. Could they observe the people who were there? No. Could they touch them or talk to them? No. The remnants of one of their tools was evidence enough. “…IF THERE WAS A TOOL – THERE WERE PEOPLE.” Its as simple as that.
It would be one thing if they found a typewriter or a bicycle or a computer chip…but they found – a rock…a polished rock. This little black rock is considered watertight scientific evidence that people were there because, “…IF THERE WAS A TOOL – THERE WERE PEOPLE.”
Wait…Are you telling me that that little triangular rock couldn’t have just kind of evolved that way? Don’t you think it’s feasible that the water or weather or something other than an intelligent human designer could have contributed over thousands of years to the slightly triangular shape of this rock? Yet there is no dispute from the scientific community. The evidence is conclusive – “IF THERE WAS A TOOL – THERE WERE PEOPLE”. Any moron could make such a simple deduction…right?
Now I’m no scientist, but I see a little bit of hypocrisy here. If a tiny, black, triangular rock, is scientific evidence that intelligent people must have made it, what are we to think about the trillions upon trillions upon trillions of atoms that make up our planet, each with electrons spinning with the synchronization of a Swiss watch around a nucleus made of protons and neutrons, like a self contained solar system?
What about the unbelievably complex design of our bodies that employ the aid of over 200 muscles just to take a single step?
What about the human eye, which is so elegant that scientists still don’t fully understand how it works? It completes 100,000 separate functions in a single day and it even conducts its own maintenance work while we sleep. It has automatic aim, focus and aperture adjustment. It even provides color and 3-D images and it can automatically function from darkness to bright light instantly. It can discern over 10 million color hues, including 500 shades of grey alone and can take in more information than the largest, most complicated telescopes ever invented.
What about our skin which contains in ONE SQUARE INCH; 4 yards of nerve fibers, 600 pain sensors, 1300 nerve cells, 36 heat sensors, 75 pressure sensors, 100 sweat glands, 3 million cells, 3 yards of blood vessels and 9000 nerve endings which send messages to our brain at speeds of up to 124 mph?
What about our brains, which only weigh about 3 pounds and yet contain 12 billion cells each of which is connected to 10,000 other brain cells, making 120 trillion connections. The brain stores so much memory data that by the age of 40, it would take the Empire State building full of computers just to store the same amount of information. It generates more electrical impulses in a single day then all of the world telephones put together, yet it uses less energy than a refrigerator light.
What about the DNA molecules in our bodies – the most complex molecules in the universe. Their code is so unbelievably elaborate that if you typed out all the DNA code in your body, it would create enough books to fill Grand Canyon 40 times.
What about bacteria such as E. Coli, which is equipped with a propulsion system, complete with a motor, rotor, stator, drive shaft, bushings, universal joint and flexible propeller; 40 moving parts in all, made solely from protein molecules. The ion powered motor can rotate at up to 100,000 rpm, can reverse direction in only 1/4 of a revolution and has an automatic feedback control mechanism. In spite of it’s enormous complexity, its size is only 1/100,000 of an inch (1/4,000 mm) in width.
Of course I could go on and on and on talking about the wonders gravity and magnetism that science still cannot fully explain, the flawless rhythm of the solar system, the perfect balance of nitrogen and oxygen in earths atmosphere that makes life possible, the amazing order in nature that forms a self supporting system of life, reproduction and disposal. But is any of this necessary? The scientific community is holding up a triangular shaped rock as conclusive evidence of intelligent (human) design.
Now I’m not asking any scientists to fall on their face and confess Jesus as Lord, all I am asking for is a little bit of honesty and humility. If there is a tool than simple logic suggests that there must have been a person who fashioned it and if there is an amazing world full of incomprehensible wonders of design then maybe, just maybe it’s possible that there is a designer. No wonder Psalms 14:1 says, “The fool saith in his heart there is no God”.
Guardian – 50% of Britons do not believe in evolutionism while only a quarter say it’s definitely true. Ironically, the results of the ‘Rescuing Darwin’ survey also reveal that 25% believe evolution is only ‘probably’ true.
The survey was conducted by ComRes (http://www.comres.co.uk/) whose clients include several of the biggest British banks, the BBC and the General Medical Council.
10% of British people felt that Young Earth Creationism was the best theory and a further 12% chose the idea of Intelligent Design. However, one critical voice from the academic world, James Williams (Sussex University) responded to the results, “Creationists ask if people believe in evolution. Evolution is a theory and a fact. You accept it because of the evidence. What the creationists have done is put a cloak of pseudo-science to wrap up their religious belief.”
The launch of BioLogos from Francis Collins resulted in fierce criticism from David Klinghoffer of the Discovery Institute (Dr. Brown’s review of Klinghoffer’s book “Why The Jews Rejected Jesus” can be found here). He wrote the following concerning theistic evolution on May 28th for Evolution News & Views:
Collins and Giberson are sincere Evangelical Christians — as far as I, a Jew, can tell — and undoubtedly innocent of all guile, but they represent an insidious trend in religious and intellectual life. This genuine opiate of the masses works as a stupor-inducing fog, enveloping the debate about intelligent design versus Darwinism. The fog lulls you with the thought that between the idea of design in nature, and that of no design in nature, there is actually no need to make a choice.
As the battle over human origins continues, I thought it would be worthwhile to look through Collins’ book “The Language of God” and present some of his ideas for thought and dicussion over the next few weeks as I read through it.
The book’s introduction includes a wonderful section concerning the presentation of Dr. Collins’ most well known work, the Human Genome Project, to the world:
But the part of his speech that most attracted public attention jumped from the scientific perspective to the spiritual. “Today,” [Clinton] said, “we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, and the wonder of God’s most divine and sacred gift.”
Was I, a rigorously trained scientist, taken aback at such a blatantly religious reference by the leader of the free world at a moment such as this? Was I tempted to scowl or look at the floor in embarrassment? No, not at all. In fact I had worked closely with the president’s speechwriter in the frantic days just prior to this announcement, and had strongly endorsed the inclusion of this paragraph. When it came time for me to add a few words of my own, I echoed this sentiment: “It’s a happy day for the world. It is humbling for me, and awe-inspiring, to realize that we have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God.”
What was going on here? Why would a president and a scientist, charged with announcing a milestone in biology and medicine, feel compelled to invoke a connection with God? Aren’t the scientific and spiritual worldviews antithetical, or shouldn’t they at lest avoid appearing in the East Room together? What were the reasons for invoking God in those two speeches? Was this poetry? Hypocrisy? A cynical attempt to curry favor from believers, or to disarm those who might criticize this study of the human genome as reducing humankind to machinery? No. Not for me. Quite the contrary, for me the experience of sequencing the human genome, and uncovering this most remarkable of all texts, was both a stunning scientific achievement and an occasion of worship.
Reading this made my heart leap. Yes! This is what true scientific discovery and the pursuit of truth is about. Peering deeper into the wondrous design of the Universe and the design of man is cause for worshiping He that is the author of life. For “in Him we live and move and have our being.”
Below is a video of Collins on CNN discussing his journey into faith: [Link to Video]
In the wake of news concerning the “missing link” fossil, an internet poll was recently released by OneNewsNow asking the question “Do you believe you evolved from an ape-like creature?”. With the site geared toward a predominantly conservative Christian audience, the results were overwhelmingly negative. PZ Myers, a biology professor frustrated with the poll, posted the following article on ScienceBlogs.com, entitled OneNewsNow.com makes the most truly stupid polls:
Would you believe what kind of inane question they’re asking now?
Do you believe you evolved from an ape-like creature?
Yes – 7.10%
No – 91.07%
Unsure – 1.83%
Gaaaah. I am an ape-like creature. My mother and father are ape-like creatures, as are my brothers and sisters and grandparents and distant relatives and ancient ancestors, going back tens of millions of years. And I’m proud of them all, every one of them, except for the lackwitted atavisms who squat in squalid ignorance at Christian news sites, congratulating each other on how their ancestry is only 6,000 years old…and every one of their parents was a similarly mindless blob with no connection to the deep history of life on earth.
Following the article’s posting, ScienceBlogs.com readers started going to the OnewNewsNow poll to change the results. One commenter said: “… we rock. Just sat there and clicked refresh on the poll for a couple of minutes. Watching yes creep up and no creep down.” followed by “Awesome, the poll is currently crashing at a rate of 2%/min…”, “almost 50/50 now…”, and ” “Boy, that handy ‘refresh’ thing they have under the poll is great. You can watch the numbers change practically in real time. Right now, it looks like it’s moving at about .01% toward ‘Yes’ every second. Wheee!” By the end of the day, the poll had swung from over 90% “no,” to over 80% “yes.”
Internet polls are notoriously unreliable, and quite prone to yielding skewed results like these (click here to find out how a 21-year-old college dropout named Christopher Poole was voted the most influential person in the world on a Time Magazine poll), thus it comes as no shock that the poll was affected in this way. It does however serve as a snapshot of the larger conflict going on with regard to human origins.
Smithsonian Magazine’s Brian Switek had the following to say with regard to the Ida fossil being described as “the missing link” by many:
Is Darwinius important to understanding primate evolution? Of course! It is an exceptionally preserved specimen that could do much to aid our understanding of adapid evolution and paleobiology. The grand claims about it being our ancestor, though, can not be upheld as true. The researchers simply did not do the work to support their case, and even if their language was more reserved in the technical paper they have gone hand-in-hand with the History Channel to create an aura of sensationalism around the fossil. I hardly think this is a responsible way to conduct or communicate science, flooding the media with poorly supported claims, but as reported in the New York Times some of this paper’s authors care more about marketing than about good science;
“Any pop band is doing the same thing,” said Jorn H. Hurum, a scientist at the University of Oslo who acquired the fossil and assembled the team of scientists that studied it. “Any athlete is doing the same thing. We have to start thinking the same way in science.”
This is a shame. I would have hoped that this fossil would receive the care and attention it deserves, but for now it looks like a cash cow for the History Channel. Indeed, this association may not have only presented overblown claims to the public, but hindered good science, as well. As Karen James has suggested, the overall poor quality of the paper and the disproportionate hyping of the find make me wonder if this research was rushed into publication so that the media splash would occur on time. The paper tried to cover so much, so quickly, and contained so many shortfalls that I honestly have to wonder why it was allowed to be published in such a state. Perhaps we will never know, but I am sickened by the way in which a cable network has bastardized a legitimately fascinating scientific discovery, with the scientists themselves going along with it every step of the way. I can only hope that Darwinius will eventually receive the careful analysis it deserves.
We are clearly blessed to have such a well-preserved fossil to aid in our understanding of biology and human origins, but let’s be patient in our search for truth. When someone like Switek, who it should be noted makes evolution a focus in his writings for the Smithsonian, argues that “the grand claims about [Ida] being our ancestor […] can not be upheld as true,” and “the researchers simply did not do the work to support their case,” we should be careful not to extrapolate scientific truth from the fossil prematurely, particularly as it relates to any sort of “final verdict” on human origins.
Researchers say they have found the “missing link” between humans and apes in a fossilized primate they have dated at 47 million years old. According to Daily News:
A team of researchers Tuesday unveiled an almost perfectly intact fossil of a 47 million-year-old primate they say represents the long-sought missing link between humans and apes.
Officially known as Darwinius masillae, the fossil of the lemur-like creature dubbed Ida shows it had opposable thumbs like humans and fingernails instead of claws.
Scientists say the cat-sized animal’s hind legs offer evidence of evolutionary changes that led to primates standing upright – a breakthrough that could finally confirm Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
“This specimen is like finding the Lost Ark for archeologists,” lead scientist Jorn Hurum said at a ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History.
“It is the scientific equivalent of the Holy Grail. This fossil will probably be the one that will be pictured in all textbooks for the next 100 years.”
The History Channel will air a film concerning the fossil next week, the promo is below: [Link to Video]
Interestingly, the announcement of this research comes just a few weeks after the launch of evangelical Christian Francis Collins’ pro-evolution BioLogos initiative (for perspective on how the BioLogos team believes God could have had a role in evolution, click here).
If they weren’t atheists, you’d think the scientists raising the ballyhoo over Ida were hailing the second coming.
Here is yet another icon of evolution. Every time one of these discoveries is made, there’s a huge PR snow job from the Darwin lobby to make it seem like it answers all the questions and objections. I thought Tiktaalik did that. Or maybe Archaeopteryx. It goes at least as far back as Proconsul. Each time the Darwinists seem to forget they already found the missing link — the one fossil to rule them all — and re-find it all over again.
At least CBS News was a bit more skeptical than Sky News when they reported it on Friday.
While the fossil doesn’t relate to the more heated debate over whether chimpanzees and humans share a common identity – the fossil is not the so-called “missing link” — the two factions will likely pounce on this new find with evolutionists claiming the skeleton adds to the limited fossil record.
Today’s Sky News article is amazing in its breathless excitement over this latest missing link. Naturally, this more nuanced and balanced piece is the one the media is jumping on and trumpeting today.
The discovery of the 95%-complete ‘lemur monkey’ – dubbed Ida – is described by experts as the “eighth wonder of the world”.
For perspective on another fossil that was proclaimed to have “illuminat[ed] our ancestors’ transition from sea to land,” only later to be dismissed as a fossil of “poor” quality with radials that “did not seem to match the way modern fingers and toes radiate from a joint, parallel to each other” by evolutionists, take a look at Evolution News & Views’ TikTaalik article.
The Texas State Board of Education approved new science standards that will encourage students in public schools to scrutinize “all sides” of scientific theories, including evolution. According to the AP :
The curriculum will require that students “in all fields of science, analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations … including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.”
In a huge victory for those who favor teaching the scientific evidence for and against evolution, Texas today moved to the head of the class by requiring students to “critique” and examine “all sides of scientific evidence” and specifically requiring students to “analyze and evaluate” the evidence for major evolutionary concepts such as common ancestry, natural selection, and mutations.
“Texas has sent a clear message that evolution should be taught as a scientific theory open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can’t be questioned,” said Dr. John West, Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute. “Contrary to the claims of the evolution lobby, absolutely nothing the Board did promotes ‘creationism’ or religion in the classroom. Groups that assert otherwise are lying, plain and simple. Under the new standards, students will be expected to analyze and evaluate the scientific evidence for evolution, not religion. Period.”
The new requirements were contained in revised science standards approved today by the Texas State Board of Education. The science standards include language requiring students to “analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations…including examining all sides of scientific evidence… so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.” Equally important, the high school biology standards now require students to “analyze and evaluate” the scientific evidence for key parts of evolutionary theory, including common ancestry, natural selection, and mutations.
Discovery Institute has long endorsed the idea that evolution should be fully and completely presented to students, including its unresolved issues.
It’s encouraging to see that when it comes to Charles Darwin’s statement that “…a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question,” Texas education leaders are in full agreement.