Saturday, October 29, 2005

It's not anti-Creationism; It's anti-anti-Scientific Method

NixGuy links to a post by Fred Reed at Fred on Everything that comments on a policy debate that's very much in the news: Creationism in science education within the Dover, Pennsylvania public school system (audio NPR Talk of the Nation segment):

A landmark court case is shaping up in Pennsylvania, as school teachers rebel against being forced to teach creationism in their biology classrooms along with evolution.

In his commentary, Reed builds a strawman, pardon the pun, reed by reed (emphasis added):

...Why, oh why, are the curricula of the schools the business of the courts? If Pennsylvania wants to mention Creationism, or to require three years of French for graduation, it seems mightily to me that these things are the business of parents in
Pennsylvania. Yes, I know: In practice, both freedom of expression and local government are regarded as ideals greatly to be avoided. The desire to centralize government, impose doctrine, and punish doubt is never far below the surface, anywhere. Thus our highly controlled media, our “hate-speech” laws, our political correctness and, now, Evolutionary Prohibition. The Catholic Church once burned heretics. The Church of Evolution savages them in obscure journals and denies them tenure and publication. As a heretic I believe that I would prefer the latter, but the intolerance is the same...

Reed continues to pile it on with:

One might point out, fruitlessly, that Creationism, communism, Christianity, and capitalism are all major intellectual currents and therefore ought to be explained to the young. Not likely. The free market of ideas applies only to one’s own ideas.

Puhlease! Reed would have a case, and Porkopolis would support his argument, if the Dover suit was about the public school study of Creationism in the Humanities.

The issue Reed conveniently obfuscates is Creationism as an area of study in the Sciences and in a public school setting. If the Dover school system was not state accredited, then the parents could 'Create' away all they want to in the 'science' education of their children.

It is for the very reason that "The Catholic Church once burned heretics", that Creationism should be kept out of science education/biology. Heretics were those that had the nerve to say, "let's look at the evidence and how it informs us about the universe we live in." Remember Galileo's persecution over the publishing of the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems?

Creationism is welcomed by Evolutionist if it is prepared to play by the rules of the Scientific Method (see also: Hypothesis--> Theory-->Law). In Science, anyone can offer a hypothesis that explains a phenomenon. However, the person offering a hypothesis is responsible for going the extra mile in 'making the case' by providing evidence that supports the hypothesis and allowing for the hypothesis to be challenged by logic. Short of that, Science and Creationism can coexist, much like the work's of Newton and Chaucer coexist in public schools across the nation, but in different disciplines.

Mr. Reed argues for a dilution of science and its foundational methodology for truth seeking. His self-claim of heresy is misdirected at a discipline that brings him the very technology of the new public square, the blogsphere, that allows him to offer up his misinformed rant of distortions.

Science is to important to be subjugated to a line of thinking that calls 'time-out' and pleads 'faith' when the scientific method is applied; as when reason-based and reasonable scientific inquiries are asked of Christian Creationists' claims about the age of the Earth or the 'virgin' birth. Advocates of true science don't say it didn't happen, they simply say if you make the claim you have to prove it.

Evolutionist are not anti-Creationism. Evolutionist are anti-anti-scientific method (pro scientific method) and against the line of thinking that would seek compromise in it.


In Mr. Reed's rant he poses the following questions:

Now (and I hope this doesn’t bore those who have read me before on the matter), an entertaining way to study the politics is to ask the Evolutionists questions that a scientist would answer (since scientists are not ashamed not to know things), but that an ideologue can’t afford to. They are simple. (1) Has the chance occurrence of life been demonstrated in the laboratory? Yes or no. (2) Do we really know, as distinct from guess, hope, or imagine, of what the primeval seas consisted? Yes or no. (3) Do we know, as distinct from guess, pray, wave our arms, and hold our breath and turn blue, what seas would be needed for the chance formation of life? Yes or no. (4) Can we show mathematically, without crafted and unsupportable assumptions, that the formation of life would be probable in any soup whatever? Yes or no.

The answer today to all his questions are no, but the scientific quest for the answers is ongoing and much progress has been made in this very area.

Mr. Reed would serve himself well be reviewing the excellent research in this area as covered by the November 1995 issue of Discover Magazine (archive copy of it here: "First cell - biophysicist David Deamer believes that protective cells predated the first DNA"):

...For most of the others, explaining the origin of life means explaining the origin of the genetic code: How did DNA arise from chemical reactions on the early Earth? How did the original building blocks of today's genetic code assemble themselves into crudely self-reproducing units? Were the first life forms based not on double-stranded DNA but on single-stranded RNA?

For the past 18 years, though, Deamer has been gently reminding his colleagues that these questions define only part of the puzzle of life. DNA does not float loosely through the oceans. Life is constrained in a place--or, to be more specific, within a boundary. Life is chemical interaction, and for that interaction to occur, life's molecules must be close to one another. Without a physical boundary of some sort, without a skin, a bark, or a cell membrane, an organism is nothing more than a diffusing blur of molecules. To explain how the first creature came to be, you have to explain how its innards got to be distinguished from its surroundings. In other words, you've got to explain how the first single-celled creature got encapsulated in a cell.

Over the years Deamer has persistently been teasing out some answers to this thorny question. Now he has reached a milestone. Under conditions something like those on the early Earth, he can create something like a cell: an enzyme-carrying bubble that draws in nutrients from its surroundings and crafts them into genetic material. Call it a quasi cell--and say that Deamer has created quasi life. A cell membrane's importance to life is often underappreciated, says Deamer. "People say, `Well, it's just a little bag., But it's much more. It's the interface between life and everything that's outside." The membrane of any cell has to do many things at once. It has to be impermeable enough to keep essential things (like DNA) in and harmful things (like viruses and poisons) out. Yet a cell membrane can't form a perfect seal. It has to be able to flush out waste and heat from its own system and take in nutrients from the surrounding medium. And the first cell membrane, like the membranes of many single-celled organisms today, probably had to be able to collect energy as well...


Post a Comment

<< Home