[CLUG-chat] Evolution vs I.D. (WAS: FYI: ESKOM Controlled Shutdown)

Adrian Frith adrian at leg.uct.ac.za
Tue Nov 29 15:33:05 SAST 2005

On Tue, 2005-11-29 at 13:45 +0200, Roland Giesler wrote:
> clug-chat-bounces at clug.org.za wrote:
> > ready wrote:
> > 
> >> religion: why - as in why is there gravity : well for one breathing
> >> would be a little difficult with out it, but is that the real reason?
> >> mmmmm the plot thickens
> > 
> > More like *WHO* is behind it then why.
> > 
> > At the end of the day it's not about the mechanics but about the
> > engineer! 
> What most people don't understand regarding the ID / Evolution, Science /
> Religion thing is that it's not a scientific debate.

The ID/Evolution thing *is* a scientific debate. It is a debate about
the nature of science, and about whether a *belief* (creationism) can be
called science, when science is based on *evidence*.
> It's the clash of two
> religious value systems.  It's Humanism against Monotheistic Religions.
> Humanists have successfully shrowded their real tennets by renaming things:
> Faith is called Science for example.

If science is a disguise for humanism, why were and are so many
scientists also religious, often Jewish or Christian (i.e.

Science is a search for laws or theories that, based on past events,
will correctly predict future behaviours. It has nothing to do with
religion, belief, or faith. If you disagree with this and disagree with
science, then that is your prerogative; but unless you give up
electricity, computers, motorised vehicles, and all the other products
of science, I will call you a hypocrite.

> When they encounter something that
> doesn't fit their beliefs, they will not allow it.  It will be dealt with it
> any suitable way, except acknowledgement. 

The only "faith" or "belief" in science is the "belief" in the empirical
evidence. If the empirical evidence agrees with the theory, then the
theory is more likely to be true. (Note: not definitely, but more
likely.) If the empirical evidence disagrees with the theory, then the
theory need to be corrected, expanded or replaced to explain the

> They make no secret of the fact
> that they will deal harshly with any opposition to their beliefs if they had
> the power to do so. 

I don't understand this. Are you saying that if scientists ran the
world, they would go and persecute people who disagreed with them? From
personal experience, scientists are amongst the most tolerant people I
know. Yes, they get *angry* when people claim that creationism is
science and things like that; that doesn't mean they're not tolerant.
Don't you get angry when people repeatedly say things which seem like
nonsense to you?

The only people of whom I know who want to deal harshly with opposition
to their beliefs, are religious fundamentalists - like Al-Quaeda, or
that televangelist in America who said the American government should
assassinate Hugo Chavez. Not to mention the dogma of hellfire - surely
that is the most harsh and violent example of intolerance ever.

> There are alternative world-views to humanism.  Aamof many more Americans
> for example have a worldview based on Christian views than those based on
> humanism, but the humanist is only tollerant towards his own views (although
> he says he is tolerant to all) and will not acknowledge dissenting views,
> let alone allow them if given the power to do so.  (The ACLU is prime
> perpetrator of this, destroying the fabric of US society in the name of
> freedom)

I don't necessarily agree with the policies of the ACLU; on the other
hand, I don't understand what you mean by saying that they are
"destroying the fabric of US society". Explain, please? If you refer,
for example, to the prayer-in-schools issue, they are not saying that a
student *may not* pray in school; they are saying that the school may
not *force* students to pray to a monotheistic god, when not all
students believe in a monotheistic god.

Also, what do you mean by saying that the the humanist is only
"tollerant [sic] towards his own views"? When have humanists ever burnt
people at the stake for their religious views, or fought a war about
religious belief?

> Now many christians are guilty of the same thing.  My personal view is that
> this is because they are insecure in their worldview and beliefs.  So if
> something comes along that threatens (or appears to threaten) them or their
> beliefs, they freak out and start doing things which they would condemn
> others for has they done it.  It one thing to say no to something, it's
> another to attempt to destroy someone else just because they don't adhere to
> your beliefs.  After, freedom of religion is exactly about that: The right
> to practice and express your beliefs.

Exactly. I repeat my question above: when have humanists ever tried to
destroy other people because they believe in a monotheistic religion?

> In the ID / Evo issue though, the matter is really clear: The ID people are
> saying there is more than one view and kids should be told.  The Evo people
> are saying no, you either believe what we tell you, or we force you to.
> (Remember this is not about science, because if it was, there would just be
> open study, evaluation, discussion, etc. and nobody would feel threatened by
> broader study and wider investigation)

No, the ID people are saying "You must tell kids about ID, and you must
tell them that ID is scientific". The scientists are saying "You can
tell the kids what you like, but if it's not science you can't call it
that, and ID is not science". After all, who is better qualified to say
what is science, that the people who actually practise it?

I personally (and I believe most scientists would agree) have no
objection to a discussion of Evolution vs. ID vs. Flying Spaghetti
Monsterism in school social studies classes, or
theology/divinity/religious studies classes, or history classes -
anywhere appropriate. But not in science classes - because ID (or FSM)
*is* *not* *science*.

> Why for example did Marc freak out towards Hendrik's statements initially?

Because he's pissed off by all the unscientific crap that goes around?
(NB: I'm not saying that what Hendrik said was crap, just that that's
the reason Mark "freak[ed] out".)

> What if Hendrik knows something that Marc doesn't?  Would it hurt Marc?
> Probably not, unless his belief system is threatened by it.  Belief is a
> funny thing and it does strange things to people when threatened.  It takes
> real maturity to be change your viewpoint if presented with evidence that
> demands it.  Most people can't do it, scientists included.

Well, if the evidence was provided, and a theory that explained all the
evidence (not just the evidence that is convenient), then I imagine that
Marc (being a scientifically trained person) would accept that theory -
if it made testable predictions (i.e. if it were falsifiable), and if
those predictions proved to be true.

> So let's not get all wrapped up in a so called science argument, when most
> don't want to to see the science for fear of their beliefs being shaken.

Despite what creationists claim, science is willing to accept any theory
which is verifiable, falsifiable, useful, and (here we go again)
*agrees* *with* *the* *empirical* *evidence*. Evolution *does*, ID

> Simple, isn't it?

No, actually it's very complicated, otherwise there wouldn't be this
much argument about it.

Basically, what I'm saying is that you can believe what you like, say
what you like, teach what you like in the schools (subject to separation
of church and state). This is freedom of speech and expression. What you
can't do, however, is claim that it is science when it isn't.

If, as you claim, science is just a disguise for humanistic faith, why
do you want ID to be considered as science? Logically then, wouldn't
that discredit it? This is the contradiction - creationists slag off
science and scientists, and then want to claim that their beliefs should
be included as science.

> (And by the way, I'm not religious, although I am a disciple of Jesus
> Christ.)

Doesn't being a disciple imply being religious? Particularly being a
disciple of an important religious figure? (This really is a question,
not an argument, BTW.)



Full disclosure time: I am a science student, and I consider myself to
be a humanist.

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