Thursday, 20 March 2008

Science, Creation and Evolutionism

Dr. Jonathan Sarfati has written an article which is practically a guided tour of the current state of many aspects of the creation-evolution debate, and the dishonesty of overt atheists who hide their true beliefs in order to enforce the teaching of evolution without criticism by force of law in schools.

It's written in response to the US "National Academy of Science"'s recent updating of its anti-creationist booklet. To give a flavour of how much ground it covers, here's the table of contents:
 1.  Does science need evolution? 
  •  Does medicine need evolution? 
  •  Agriculture and evolution? 
  •  Evidence for common ancestry: homologies? 
  •  Evolution of mankind? 
  •  Whale evolution? 
  •  Molecular evidence? 
  •  Evolution in action? 
  •  Mutations and evolution of bodily changes 
  •  Evolution of bodily changes: Hox genes? 
  •  Gene duplication 
  •  Have claims of intelligent design been refuted? 
  •  Eye 
  •  Practical application of evolution? 
  •  Evolution v biology 
  •  Origin of first life; Chemical evolution 
  •  Problems with panspermia 
  •  Cosmic evolution? 
  •  How old is the Earth? 
  •  Self-serving SEC definitions of ‘science’ 
 2.  Is evolution compatible with religion? 
  •  Terms 
  •  Track record 
  •  Other ‘proofs’ of ‘no conflict’ 
 Appendix  : Education and legal issues 
  •  Mandatory teaching in public schools? 
  •  Separation of school and state 
  •  American legal aspects
I particularly appreciate the following two honest quotes from the appendix, one by an agnostic and another by an evolutionist libertarian, both facing up to the facts about state schools (in an American context) a lot more frankly than many Christians seem willing to do:
‘Indeed, we believe that the penalty that is now imposed on parents who do not send their children to public schools violates the spirit of the First Amendment, whatever lawyers and judges may decide about the letter. Public schools teach religion too, not a formal, theistic religion, but a set of values and beliefs that constitute a religion in all but name. The present arrangements abridge the religious freedom of parents who do not accept the religion taught by the public schools yet are forced to pay to have their children indoctrinated with it, and to pay still more to have their children escape indoctrination.’
‘[T]he key source of the school wars we and others have experienced has always been compulsion: forcing people to either send their children to or pay for schooling that violates their convictions. When there is no compulsion, conflict is relatively insignificant. Consider other marketplaces, such as the one for religion. Do Protestants picket outside synagogues saying, “No, Jesus wasn’t just some guy, he was God!!!!” Nope. Despite the fact that people often feel very strongly about their religious views, it’s live and let live, because there is no compulsion in the religious marketplace.

‘Liberals, ironically, think that a liberal education system based on parental choice would be socially divisive. They have it exactly backwards: it is the compelled conformity of a single officially-established school system that is socially divisive. Individual freedom in other areas of American life, especially religion, is the reason we have had such a comparatively stable and peaceful society. If we got rid of the one significant remaining area of cultural and ideological compulsion, the official school monopoly, the current red vs. blue animosity would lessen substantially (though of course there are reasons why it wouldn’t go away entirely).’
The bits where Sarfati reviews the NAS's attempts to argue that evolution and theism are compatible too are also amusing, as Sarfati points out that the NAS's membership has only 7% who believe in a personal god, with more than one of the committee behind the booklet in other contexts holding precisely the opposite position to that in the booklet, i.e. that evolution absolutely rules out theism. One team who sought to investigate the make-up of the NAS wrote:
‘NAS President Bruce Alberts said: “There are very many outstanding members of this academy who are very religious people, people who believe in evolution, many of them biologists.” Our research suggests otherwise.’
Here's another great quote:
Sometimes the NAS committee is so keen to attack creation or ID with pseudo-philosophical word games that they can’t even think straight. E.g. SEC makes this blunder in two sentences:
"However, the claims of intelligent design creationists are disproven by the findings of modern biology. … (two pages later) ... Intelligent design is not a scientific concept because it cannot be empirically tested."
But if the claims of ID are ‘disproven’ by certain findings, then they must have been empirically ‘tested’ and failed this test, which is impossible if they "cannot be empirically tested"! But since these sentences are two pages apart, their attention span may have been too small to notice this blatant contradiction.
The article is full of fascinating links which further develop the various points briefly made. Read the whole thing here.

No comments: