This site is a little quiet these days. I know it is the middle of the Summer holiday season and the impact of Covid has been devastating to normal life. But I wonder why the site is still receiving around 100 unique visits a day when seemingly fewer of those visitors are adding opening posts or leaving comments.
If anyone has thoughts about what would encourage more participation, exchange of ideas, please let’s hear from you.
I heard this first at Uncommon Descent from blog-tsar, Dave Springer. I think it is a reasonable aspiration. Do we at TSZ fall short? Is it possible to attack the ideas of Donald Trump without being disparaging about the person of Donald Trump? I’ll admit to a lapse there. But in general, I think contributors support their claims and naked ad hominem seems rare here to me. Please correct me in comments if your mileage differs. Continue reading →
Astronaut Charles Duke became a Christian after he returned to Earth after being the youngest man to ever walk on the moon and after finding himself in a troubled marriage and problems with alcoholism. The Christian faith restored his marriage and brought sobriety into his life, and sometime thereafter he led a prayer meeting where a blind girl recovered her sight. Somewhere in all his life’s saga, he also became a Creationist.
One of the people who posted at TheSkepticalZone, Richard B. Hoppe (RBH), knew of Duke, perhaps even personally since RBH worked on the Apollo program intimately. When I confronted RBH about Duke’s Christianity and Creationism, RBH (normally quick to criticize Christian Creationists) became strangely silent. No one to my knowledge has questioned Charles Duke’s credibility or integrity as far a making up stories to draw attention to himself or make Christian converts. After all, he was a national hero, an air force general, an astronaut, and a successful businessman. Unlike a televangelist, there is little reason for him to make up stories of miracles.
I had the privilege of meeting Charle Duke when he spoke at a College Christian event…
As it seems most communities world-wide are going into voluntary or enforced quarantine that involves staying at home and avoiding physical contact as much as possible, I thought we could have a thread where we could try a bit of mutual support by cheering each other up over the next few days, weeks, months… Who knows?
I don’t know: suggestions on films to watch, books to read, gardening tips, exercise ideas
Usual rules apply plus a guideline. Let’s be kind and supportive to each other.
The biggest news of this week for the “conversation” this blog is in some small way a part of will likely be the discussion between Drs. Michael Behe and S. Joshua Swamidass in Texas. The answer for both men to the polemical question above is not “God w/out evolution”, but rather “God with evolution,” iow both God and evolution. So what else important is there left for them to disagree about? http://www.veritas.org/location/texas-a-m-university/
For Behe, “evolution” has a narrower meaning than it does for Swamidass. One key question, that likely won’t be asked, is: how wide is Swamidass’ meaning of “evolution” and where does it stop (i.e. what doesn’t ‘evolve’)? Is Swamidass, who somewhat incredulously claims to be neither a creationist nor an evolutionist, actually both? One of the biggest challenges unaddressed still by Swamidass regarding his evolutionism will be met when he starts describing or explaining the “limits of evolutionary theories”, rather than only “the great possibilities of evolutionary theories”, now as we live in a post-Darwinian, extended synthesis scenario.
We may nevertheless hope for some reconciliation, or even a moment or two of peace amidst an artificial storm in the USA involving “Intelligent Design”, evolution, and creationism. Those moments will likely constitute a rare pause in their otherwise contrary apologetics approaches, both taking a “public understanding of science” attitude of pedagogical communication to the stage. We may thus, purely on the communications front, simply get either a parody of abstract intellectualism driven by “religious” or “quasi-religious” agendas, or more positively, a few simple concessions of common ground that shouldn’t be too difficult for either of them to find, or to make towards each other.
As 2020 both cools down in temperature and heats up in rhetoric, here is a response to S. Joshua Swamidass’ recent book that deserves more air time given how a few evangelical Protestant theologians and apologists are expressing surprised praise at it, calling it a ‘game changer’ because of ‘genealogy’ vs. ‘genetics’. I would consider it a ‘game changer’ only in a borrowed or catch-up sense of that term, given Swamidass’ YECist+ audience. Any thoughts here on this critical review of the book by a fellow evangelical active at BioLogos?
From what I’ve read so far, I do not see that Swamidass “makes God a monster” in the book. That rather appears to be what comes from Johnson’s hermeneutics, rather than Swamidass’ intentions or expressions. BioLogos was similarly confused, and hadn’t read Kemp, much like Swamidass (that is, until he finally did). Swamidass has previously written about dungeons & suffering, which perhaps by some people may be mistaken as ‘monstrous’. It would be more appropriate and charitable to say, ‘he knows not what he does’ by opening this rift. Thus, he speaks about “what it means to be human?” as a distant (methodological) naturalist, with an important background personal concern involving local fellow YECists and activistic sociology behind the book’s publication (e.g. choice of publishing house).
The end of the year and the imminent arrival of the new decade made me wonder when exactly Dr Liddle set this blog up. I see it was in (or at least prior to) August, 2011. Lizzie put up her first opening post Where does information come from?here. You can tell it’s the first because the link is to “hello_world”, the example post that comes with the WordPress package. UD addicts may like to follow this link to exchanges between Lizzie and the charming Upright Biped that may have had some part in the birth of TSZ. So TSZ is well on the way to it’s first decade – a remarkable achievement considering Lizzie has not actively participated here for some years.
Designer was riding Her submarine through the depths of the ocean one day, taking stock of Her work, and decided, “I’ve learned just about everything I’m ever going to learn from these prototypes. It’s high time to take the next big step toward the ultimate goal, a species of animal in which to ripen souls for harvest.” (Of course, souls that turn out goatlike go to Hell, to suffer eternal torment at the hands of Satan, and souls that turn out sheeplike go to Heaven, to kowtow forever at the feet of God. But Designer had to come up with something considerably more sophisticated than sheep and goats, to satisfy God’s requirement that the Fate of Souls be contingent instead of determined.)
Now, if Designer had done a complete redesign, when advancing from aquatic to terrestrial organisms, Hell might well have frozen over before there were any goatlike souls to fuel the flames. So Designer said, “I know that the optics are different in air than in water, but fish eyes are gonna have to do.” Lacrimal system After observing that Her transitional prototype frequently took dips in the marsh to wash its eyes, She invented an organ to wet the eyes with saltwater. Compared to the eyes themselves, the lacrimal glands were a cinch to get right. As for eyelids, Designer had already tested them on some sharks. She did not anticipate that drainage would be a problem, but found that mammals with drops of water running down their faces looked very sad. In a flash of brilliance, Designer realized that eyewash could be reused to moisten the nostrils. And that was when She invented the lacrimal and naso-lacrimal ducts. What initially was supposed to be an aesthetic feature turned out to serve a useful function. God was highly impressed, and gave Designer, whom He called Asherah, a generous bonus at Christmas.
“Yahweh [front, flaunting large penis] and His Asherah [rear, working at computer]”
Given that you are a ______________________ (your particular informative specialty, background &/or theological/worldview approach to the topic), what would be the first question(s) you’d like to ask to start a discussion on the topic of the origins of life and the origins of human beings if you could ask:
1) A person who is confused about why people use their precious free time to join websites & forums (such as this one), chat sites, groups, on-line meetings rooms, and listserves, who attend conferences, workshops, presentations and talks delivered about origins & processes of natural & human history, including monumental & meaningful topics involving science, philosophy & theology/worldview discourse.
2) An atheist or agnostic who thinks evolutionary biology, the ‘Evolutionary Epic’ (as in E.O. Wilson, D.S. Wilson, Connie Barlow, et al.) &/or evolutionism as an ideology that buttresses their personal worldview, makes it very difficult if not impossible to believe in the Creator-God attested to in Abrahamic monotheistic scriptures and institutions.
I tire of keiths and his revisionist history. In a recent thread…
Glen: The real question is if Mung has read and comprehended Losos’ book.
keiths: Yes, which brings to mind what happened with Andreas Wagner’s book, Arrival of the Fittest. Mung was blathering about how it was an ID-friendly book, which is nonsense.
I challenged him:
Alan’s review barely touches on what I think are the most important ideas in the book: those concerning the “libraries”, the “networks”, and the extent to which the networks extend across the libraries.
How about summarizing those ideas for us in your own words? That will serve the dual purpose of 1) filling a gap in Alan’s review and 2) demonstrating that you actually understand what Wagner is saying.
Having summarized those ideas, if you still don’t (or pretend not to) understand the implications for ID, I’ll help you out.
Think of it as being similar to an ideological Turing test. I’d like to see if you even bothered, or were able, to understand the book before dismissing it as no threat to ID.
keiths: To no one’s surprise, Mung squirmed, stalled, and then skedaddled.
Last week, George Church talked at the school where I take part-time evening classes. I provide a link to that talk. He talked about re-engineered codons (something I’m grateful to Rumraket for introducing me to), stem cell research, human animal chimeras, aging therapies, human genome re-engineering, and just a little bit about ENCODE. Though I have ethical concerns about human/animal chimeras, and human genome re-engineering (like what happens if you mess up), Church goes into the technologies and raises questions as to what our world may look like in the not too distant future. Not that I’m trying to make a point about ID or God by linking this video, but it shows how rapidly we may be forced to deal with certain issues.
I personally don’t have too much problem with GMO foods. After all, my YEC friend John Sanford created the gene gun through which a large fraction of genetically engineered crops on the planet were made at one time. But one thing that bothers me is genetically engineered bacteria. Church discussed super bacteria created for research applications. I can imagine an accident where germs are created accidentally that become really hard to kill and we basically have an apocalypse. Maybe that will be the fulfillment of prophecy by Jesus, “there will be famines and pestilence”.
Here is the video (with Francis Collins speaking at the start):
As a card-carrying YEC (voting member of the Creation Research Society), I don’t think the Ark Encounter project is viable, nor do I think it is a wise use of God’s money. I speculate it may go insolvent in short order. Just a guess…. Continue reading →
The writings and life work of Ed Thorp, professor at MIT, influenced many of my notions of ID (though Thorp and Shannon are not ID proponents). I happened upon a forgotten mathematical paper by Ed Thorp in 1961 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that launched his stellar career into Wall Street. If the TSZ regulars are tired of talking and arguing ID, then I offer a link to Thorp’s landmark paper. That 1961 PNAS article consists of a mere three pages. It is terse, and almost shocking in its economy of words and straightforward English. The paper can be downloaded from:
Thorp was a colleague of Claude Shannon (founder of information theory, and inventor of the notion of “bit”) at MIT. Thorp managed to publish his theory about blackjack through the sponsorship of Shannon. He was able to scientifically prove his theories in the casinos and Wall Street and went on to make hundreds of millions of dollars through his scientific approach to estimating and profiting from expected value. Thorp was the central figure in the real life stories featured in the book Fortune’s Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System that Beat the Casino’s and Wall Street by William Poundstone. Continue reading →
I’ll be making a presentation at AM-NAT 2016, and Dan Graur will be the poster boy of impractical naturalism. Below are some things I collected from his websites, some of which I view as highly anti-science. The aim of my presentation isn’t to settle the question of God or no God or ultimate questions of whether godless naturalism is the best description of reality. The goal is to suggest there are some unspoken naturalistic creeds that often take priority over experiments and observations. In a manner of speaking, there are some interpretations of naturalism that actually go against dispassionate examination of how the natural world actually operates. Continue reading →
From time to time, when I am not actively engaged in “dishonest quote-mining” of materialists and evolutionists, I take time to actually read their writings. Today I was reading John Maynard Smith.
I now want to take a great leap forward in time, and suppose that not only has a modern protein-synthesizing machinery evolved, but that specific enzymes exist catalysing specific reactions, and that the organism has a cell membrane which prevents the products of catalysis from diffusing away.
– p. 115
This isn’t a great leap forward in time, it’s just a great leap. Poof! A cell membrane! I love how that just magically appeared. Let’s assume a fully functional cell membrane.
I often encounter posters here at TSZ who claim that Genetic Algorithms (GAs) either model or simulate evolution. They are never quite clear which it is, nor do they say what it means to model or simulate evolution (what would be required) and how GAs qualify as either one or the other. My position is that GAs neither model nor simulate evolution. In addition to other reasons I’ve given in the past I’d like to present the following argument.
GAs are often used to demonstrate “the power of cumulative selection.” Given small population sizes drift ought to dominate yet in GAs drift does not dominate. Why not?