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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Darwin is Dead Carnival, Autumn posting

The Rules: All postings to the Carnival are accepted as long as they are on the subject in some way and as long as they are not patently offensive in nature. I may or may not agree with the submission but will post them all anyway.

Here are the submissions to the latest Carnival:


RECONCILING RANDOMNESS AND DETERMINISM/ J. Colannino

Abstract

Neither the scientific method nor statistics requires formally unknowable events. Random error is the result of physical realities and follows logically via mathematical rigor. In no case does the concept of randomness demand or allow for uncaused effects.

The Scientific Method

The scientific method is a systematic search for regularity confined to subject matter that is observable, testable, repeatable, and falsifiable. This much seems uncontroversial among scientists of various stripes. However, the reason for this normative view differs dramatically among theists and non-theists. Theists believe that that an all-wise, all-powerful, and rational Creator – in a word, God – formed the heavens and the earth. Modern theists therefore expect that God’s works unmistakably bear the mark of their Author. Since God is rational, so is the universe. God knows His work certainly and intimately, and the consequence of every event that may or may not transpire is completely determined and foreknown in His mind. This is the theistic scientist’s raison d’etre for science, substantiated by God’s word. Historians generally credit the origin of the scientific method to Francis Bacon and Christianity.

Non-theists (e.g., materialists) admit to...(continue reading)

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Dinosaurs vs. Birds: The Fossils Don't Lie

(#399)by Timothy L. Clarey, Ph.D.

Abstract

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to the idea that dinosaurs evolved into birds continues to be the lack of fossil support.

The term "Dinosauria" was first used in 1841 by Sir Richard Owen in an address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, subsequently publishing the term in 1842. He was the first to recognize that dinosaurs ("fearfully great reptiles") were a distinct group of reptiles, much different from today's lizards. Owen defined dinosaurs as reptiles that walked erect, having a posture similar to elephants and rhinos. Dinosaurs did not have wings, flippers, or fins. Owen was the best known and most authoritative comparative anatomist in the nineteenth century. He argued extensively against Darwin's theory of evolution later in his life.

Thomas Huxley, the famous supporter of Darwin's theory, was the first person to suggest the dinosaurian origin for birds in publications between 1868 and 1870. Huxley found that some dinosaurs had a bird-like ankle joint, a short torso, massively braced hips, a long and mobile neck, and long hind limbs so typical of bird anatomy. He also found that some dinosaurs had holes in the bones for air sacs as in modern birds, and that some dinosaurs possessed the backward pubic bone typical of birds. Later, the presence of what is interpreted as a "wishbone" in some dinosaurs was added to this list.

Archaeopteryx to Archaeoraptor: Bird to Hoax ...(continue reading)

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RESPONSE TO ASA'S STATEMENT ON INTELLIGENT DESIGN/J. Colannino

The American Statistical Association's Statement on Intelligent Design

Post Script (from the executive director):

In addition to having endorsed the AAAS resolution regarding science curricula (see my Board Highlights, Amstat News, May 2006), the Board of Directors recently adopted the following statement and resolution: It is the mission of the American Statistical Association to promote excellence in statistical practice and to work for the improvement of statistical education at all levels. Statistics, as the science of data, is embedded within the broader scientific enterprise, and as statisticians, we have a responsibility to help safeguard its integrity and that of science education generally. ASA takes no position on whether intelligent design is right or wrong. Nevertheless, it is clear that intelligent design is not a scientific theory subject to empirical testing, and thus has no place in science education. Therefore, the Board of Directors of ASA adopts the following resolution:

Intelligent design should not be taught as part of any science curriculum. Further, the Association urges its members to continue to support vigorously those principles of inquiry and verification that characterize sound scientific practice.


MY RESPONSE

To the editor,

ASA has erred in its resolution regarding intelligent design. In its preface, ASA stated that “intelligent design … is not subject to empirical testing and thus has no place in science education.” In fact, intelligent design is critical to well established sciences such as forensic science and archeology...(continue reading)

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Spirituality is Integral to Humanity

After my reintroduction to existentialism by the kind folks at Landmark, I have been in a tailspin. Existentialism asserts that the universe is absurd and meaningless and it is us humans that gives it meaning. This did not sit well with my first-hand spiritual experiences or my love for my spiritual practices. I've been in a hurricane of confusion, self-doubt and depression trying to make sense of them both, as living in a world without spiritual sustenance seems unlivable to me. Lately, thanks to help from Sir Maslow, I have been able to conjoin the meaninglessness and apparent insignificance of my life (as compared to the vastness of the universe) with my own spiritual experiences and inclination to lead a spiritual life.

So, how do Maslow, existentialism and spirituality correlate? Let's use Maslow's hierarchy of needs, one of the most commonly accepted models for human development, as our reference point. Per Mr. Maslow, we have needs that cascade upwards from physiological to safety/security to belongingness/love to esteem to self-actualization...(continue reading)

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Mature at Birth: Universe Discredits Evolution

(#214)by David F. Coppedge

Critics of recent creation ridicule the belief that a universe so vast, composed of so many diverse phenomena and processes running at diverse rates, could be fit into a few thousand years. They are less likely to acknowledge the many and severe problems with an old, evolutionary universe. Some of these problems have become accentuated in recent months. Any cosmological system is going to have its share of challenging phenomena to explain. Before casting stones, a little humility is in order.

A strange cartoon graced the cover of Science News last fall (10/08/2005) that serves as a symbol for a whole class of problems for evolutionary astronomers. It showed a star-shaped old man in a stellar maternity ward. With its title, "Crisis in the Cosmos? Galaxy-formation theory is in peril," the article exposed a running theme in astronomy: as far back as we look, stars and galaxies appear mature.

"Imagine peering into a nursery and seeing, among the cooing babies, a few that look like grown men," Ron Cowen quipped. "That's the startling situation that astronomers have stumbled upon as they've looked deep into space and thus back to a time when newborn galaxies filled the cosmos."

Other recent findings echo this theme of "mature at birth." Consider three examples from March of this year:

* The Spitzer Space Telescope found clusters of galaxies a third of the assumed age of the universe.
* UV and infrared surveys found "ubiquitous" galaxies at redshift 6.7, corresponding to 5% the assumed age.
* The Swift satellite detected a gamma-ray burst 12.8 billion years old in the assumed time scale. "This means," said Nature (3/9/2006, p. 164) "that not only did stars form in this short period of time after the Big Bang, but also that enough time had elapsed for them to evolve and collapse into black holes."

More examples could be cited. These findings corroborate a January 8, 2002, NASA press release that was considered astonishing at the time...(continue reading)

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THE INSUFFICIENCY OF SIMPLE RULES IN ORIGINATING COMPLEX LIFE / J. Colannino

For sometime now, evolutionists have charged that complex outcomes (including biological life) may be generated from simple instructions. This was asserted by Dawkins long ago (1986) when he was amazed to find that simple instructions led to complex looking “biomorphs.” And what were biomorphs? They were sets of branching lines that superficially resembled insects. The instructions to create them were written on an Apple computer in a relatively simple BASIC computer program. Small “mutations” in the rules would lead to complex line drawings that delightfully surprised Dawkins. When he self-selected certain rules (thereby simulating a micro-evolutionary selective breeding pressure) he could produce relatively complicated looking “bugs” [my description]. Of course, if one looked carefully, one could see they were merely branching lines – ink on paper. Yet as a whole, the biomorphs did bear a gross resemblance to insect life due to rules coding for bilateral symmetry, the numbers and kinds of branching allowed, and rules for stopping the branching. Dawkins’ argument was that such rules were analogous to genes – the biological instructions that code for hereditary traits like hair and eye color, or more fundamentally, body plan. More recently (2002), Wolfram published his magnum opus “A New Kind of Science,” which asserted the same. Woven throughout this interesting book was the tale of “cellular automata” – simple computer rules that generated fancy looking fractal pictures. The claim being reiterated was that simple rules can lead to the expression of complicated outcomes.

Now, on its face, the claim is irrefutable. That is, in general, simple rules or instructions do code for complex outcomes. Otherwise, why have the rules? That is, the blueprint is simple compared to the house, the electrical schematic is simple compared to the radio. But such an argument overlooks two things. First, there are the ancillary structures needed to express such rules, and second, intelligence underlies the rules themselves...(continue reading)

Radaractive does not necessarily agree or disagree with the postings above, which represent (hopefully substantiated) opinions of others. I will be happy to discuss the articles with one and all, however.

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