A Naturalistic Fairy Tale-Part VII

And all life forms did come from a single common ancestor. That simplest form of life that was able to form through unique conditions that did never exist before or since that time. Although we were a little overzealous in our initial thoughts about how life could have arisen, we have now developed more complex sets of facts that are clearly compelling, whereas all previous ideas were clearly false. We were confused and floundering for many years, but the great Stanley Miller and Harold Urey saved the day on May 15, 1953 CE. It was then that it was demonstrated that the primitive conditions of the Earth combined with electricity did give rise to certain amino acids. (1) We did later find that Miller’s conditions were not the same as we discovered in the early history of the Earth, but we were not daunted. We know what is true and what is false. We have no need for invoking a creator. Because Miller and Urey did demonstrate that 2 to 3 of the amino acids necessary for the 22 needed to form a protein, could arise under the right conditions. Then, we did find additional comfort in the experiments of Joan Oró, who did find that amino acids could be formed in a solution of hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and water. He did also find that a large amount of the nucleotide, adenine, did also form. (2) Then did we learn from Saturn’s moon Titan, that an organic haze may have filled the early atmosphere of the Earth. Potentially did this rain down organic chemicals onto the early Earth. (3)

(1) http://www.issol.org/miller/miller1953.pdf

(2) Joan Oró

(3) http://www.pnas.org/content/103/48/18035.short

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17 Responses

  1. I found this quote from an article by Dr. Ariel A. Roth M.S. in biology and a Ph.D. to be of interest.

    Without the foresight of a plan, we would expect that the random evolutionary changes would attempt all kinds of useless combinations of parts while trying to provide for a successful evolutionary advancement. Yet as we look at living organisms over the world, we do not seem to see any of these random combinations. In nature, it appears that we are dealing largely, if not exclusively, with purposeful parts. Furthermore, if evolution is a real ongoing process, why don’t we find new developing complex organs in organisms that lack them? We would expect to find developing legs, eyes, livers, and new unknown kinds of organs, providing for evolutionary advancement in organisms that lacked desirable advantages. This absence is a serious indictment against any proposed undirected evolutionary process, and favors the concept that what we see represents the work of an intelligent Creator.

    As with my asking for physical evidence of evolution, in my post, this is another reason why natural selection makes no sense to me. It is much easier for me to believe in a creator and creation (even though there is little or no empirical evidence, beyond the creation, itself)than it is to believe, with little or no empirical evidence, that we were evolved.

  2. “unique conditions that did never exist before or since that time”

    But “that time” did exist for hundreds of millions of years.

    “we have now developed more complex sets of facts that are clearly compelling”

    I think you made this up as a strawman. It is true that there are more facts since 1953, but no one that I know of claims that any particular theory of abiogenesis is compelling.

    At any rate, evolution since abiogenesis is an obvious truth.

  3. DB quotes Roth: “Yet as we look at living organisms over the world, we do not seem to see any of these random combinations…. [W]hy don’t we find new developing complex organs in organisms that lack them?”

    Dr Ariel A. Roth[0] assumed 40 years ago that arms, legs, eyes, and other major organs are the units of evolution that would be found in random combinations. This was never the case in mainstream science. The field of evo-devo, born since Roth wrote, and the discovery of body-plan genes and gene regulation, unknown to Roth, have demolished any minimal validity that his article may once have had.

    Even so, one may find new combinations and odd forms of development, even in humans. I said “find” rather than “see.” We never see the 30-40% of human pregnancies that end in spontaneous abortion. Why? Because the fetuses have started to grow limbs in odd places, or because metabolic pathways have been modified extensively, or because organs have developed abnormally. Occasionally, a modification is helpful rather than hurtful. For example, two intelligence-enhancing genes have appeared within the past few thousand years; one of them now appears in about 70% of the human population, the other in 30%.

    Limbs and organs that are beneficial tend to stick around. Biologists call this “selection.” But occasionally new features do appear. A family of snakes is now in the process of developing a new organ that senses infra-red radiation. You and I have a very primitive capability along these lines, but pit vipers are developing anatomies to enhance it, along the lines that eyes developed. Snakes’ organs for sensing infra-red are following a path similar to primitive eyes; their development is now at about the same place that mollusk eyes reached a few hundred million years ago. (At this point, you may pull a denial cape over your head if you desire.)

    Roth further: “In nature, it appears that we are dealing largely, if not exclusively, with purposeful parts “

    So what is his problem? Natural selection is purposeful. Sexual selection is purposeful. Group and species selection are purposeful. Their purpose is to enhance survival in the extant environment.[1] This may be another point at which the cape of denial may serve to cloak reality, as it did for Dembski at Uncommon Descent two years ago. A commenter pointed out that natural selection satisfied the criteria for Dembski’s definition of “intelligence.” When he could not refute her arguments, she was banned from the blog and her comments erased. (Yes, I was there.)

    DB: “It is much easier for me to believe in a creator and creation (even though there is little or no empirical evidence, beyond the creation, itself)than it is to believe, with little or no empirical evidence, that we were evolved.”

    It may be easier for you. For those who actually look at and understand the evidence, the balance tips the other way. Gathering evidence is long, arduous, and painstaking. Merely waving it away is very mucht easier. Especially when one has the notion, justified or not, that the evidence contradicts one’s faith.[2] Here again, invoking the cape of denial can conquer knowledge, just as Captain Marvel cried “Shazaam” to invoke the powers of the Roman gods to conquer evil.

    I would not argue these points unless there were a practical reason to do so. We have passed from the industrial age to the ago of information, and now we are on the cusp of the biotech age, where the study of life itself will produce important advances and change the way we live—perhaps even the nature of our lives. These advances will occur—but it seems more and more that they will not occur here. Several major US drug companies have already moved their research facilities to China. Singapore has attracted several prominent US investigators. South Korea and India have established new lavishly funded biotech organizations. “Medical tourism” is already a burgeoning business. American denialists will continue to receive the benefits of foreign advances, just as they now receive the benefit of evolutionarily designed vaccines.[2] But they will have to go to Asia to obtain them.

    ===========
    [0] Who authored a couple of papers dealing with the effects of light on coral reefs, but no reviewed papers which might be interpreted to support creationism or design of anything.

    [1] If you think short-term goals cannot produce long-range effects, look up the short-term algorithms that ants use to find efficient paths to food. Note how the short-term rules of cellular automata produce persistent patterns that appear to have been designed.

    [2] There are Native American tribes that refuse to participate in genetic studies because they fear that their relationships to other groups may controvert their creation myths.

    [3] Some Discovery Institute “scientists” have proposed an ID-based technique to defeat drug-resistant microbes. This provoked peals of laughter from real scientists, who quickly pointed out that their “discovery” not only would not work, it would actually increase resistance to drugs.

  4. I would not argue these points unless there were a practical reason to do so. We have passed from the industrial age to the ago of information, and now we are on the cusp of the biotech age, where the study of life itself will produce important advances and change the way we live—perhaps even the nature of our lives. These advances will occur—but it seems more and more that they will not occur here. Several major US drug companies have already moved their research facilities to China. Singapore has attracted several prominent US investigators. South Korea and India have established new lavishly funded biotech organizations. “Medical tourism” is already a burgeoning business. American denialists will continue to receive the benefits of foreign advances, just as they now receive the benefit of evolutionarily designed vaccines.[2] But they will have to go to Asia to obtain them.

    “We are now on the cusp of a glorious age….the age of the MACHINE!!” I can’t wait until evolution does actually evolve us a vaccine. Maybe even the syringes will grow on trees, and we can go out and pick them off!

  5. I said “find” rather than “see.” We never see the 30-40% of human pregnancies that end in spontaneous abortion. Why? Because the fetuses have started to grow limbs in odd places, or because metabolic pathways have been modified extensively, or because organs have developed abnormally.

    Olorin,

    Your statement contradicts itself! Produce the “30-40%” of aborted fetuses, and then prove that they were not caused by drug, smoking or alcohol usage, by the mother, and then maybe this info will be worth something!

    It may be easier for you. For those who actually look at and understand the evidence, the balance tips the other way. Gathering evidence is long, arduous, and painstaking.

    Let me paraphrase Pilate here, “What is truth and ‘evidence?’Is your truth and ‘evidence’ the same as mine?” I’ll answer the question. No!

    Sometimes, the hard thing to do is seek and have the evidence of that which can not be shown, in a material sense, to others, and yet continue to seek not only that evidence and truth but the material evidence as well. You accuse me, or project, what you, yourself, are guilty of, and that is, you refuse to consider any alternative to your belief system, because you are scared to death that you are wrong!

    In one short statement, you reduce my faith to that of a charismatic or fundy. Yet, just my willingness to respond to your insult, on this site, is proof that my faith is not blind. I resent your implication, but I’m not surprised by it, Sir, because you are not a seeker of truth, but instead, a seeker of self love and admiration!

  6. DB: “Sometimes, the hard thing to do is seek and have the evidence of that which can not be shown, in a material sense, to others, and yet continue to seek not only that evidence and truth but the material evidence as well.”

    I’m having a hard time parsing this one out. I seek “evidence” for the material aspects of the world, for advancing scientific knowledge. I do not seek physical evidence for my faith; it springs from within and needs no external justification, as the Bible tells us.

    Seeking to justify one’s faith by demanding that the universe produce physical evidence of it is, to me, an attempt to limit God to human proportions. This rubs me the wrong way in principle, quite apart from the fact that it has not succeeded, and seems unlikely ever to succeed.

    One might ask why you have a need to test God by scientific means. Scientific theories may be modified or overthrown by new evidence. Do you believe that God may be modified or overthrown by new evidence? Science deals exclusively with the physical universe. Do you believe that God is confined to the physical universe? The ultimate purpose of scientific knowledge is to control physical phenomena, to bend them to human will. Is it your aim to find out how to influence God? (In some circles, this is called “sorcery.”)

    Hazarding an informed guess, efforts to prove God’s existence (and characteristics) by the methods of physical science is a result of the ascendance of science in popular esteem. Religion seems no longer the center of everyone’s life or their major concern, as it was in the Middle Ages—or is today in some Islamic Republics. Darwin has even provided a secular creation myth in evolution. In short, today, science trumps religion. Some religious organizations are not happy with this arrangement. But how to regain the lost power? Well, instead of battling science head-on, let’s infiltrate it and eat it from the inside out, as wasp larvae do to caterpillars. This is the founding purpose of “intelligent design”; Phillip Johnson has said so a number of times.

    I resent efforts to dismantle science for the goal of replacing it with Johnson’s “theistic understanding” of the universe. This is misguided scientifically, theologically, and politically. (Remember that religious freedom was not put into the Constitution to protect the government, but rather to protect religion.). I also disdain the pervasive, endogenous dishonesty with which the Discovery Institute promotes its non-theory and trashes real science.

    Although I decouple scientific inquiry from my faith, scientific curiosity does prevail to the extent of continual efforts to gain knowledge about my faith. This includes courses in philosophy and history of religion, and pounding through a lot of materials. And subscribing to Skeptical Inquirer and reading Free Inquiry, to find out what the detractors are thinking. (If there’s something I really don’t want to hear, then odds are I really should hear it.)

    ================

    Post notam: I do not ignore the rest of your comment. Even though you ask for specific items of proof, experience shows that no amount of evidence will ever change your mind. All I can plead for at this point is that you refrain from helping your children with their science homework.

  7. Admin fulminates: “I can’t wait until evolution does actually evolve us a vaccine. Maybe even the syringes will grow on trees, and we can go out and pick them off!”

    It won’t be that hard, and you won’t have to wait too long.

    That is, if you push science out of the US where you have a hand in controlling it. I understand that China has neither religious constraints against scientific research nor moral constraints against using it for their own purposes.

  8. Olorin says,

    Hazarding an informed guess, efforts to prove God’s existence (and characteristics) by the methods of physical science is a result of the ascendance of science in popular esteem. Religion seems no longer the center of everyone’s life or their major concern, as it was in the Middle Ages—or is today in some Islamic Republics. Darwin has even provided a secular creation myth in evolution. In short, today, science trumps religion. Some religious organizations are not happy with this arrangement. But how to regain the lost power? Well, instead of battling science head-on, let’s infiltrate it and eat it from the inside out, as wasp larvae do to caterpillars. This is the founding purpose of “intelligent design”; Phillip Johnson has said so a number of times.

    I couldn’t care less what Phillip Johnson thinks. Your cynicism on this point makes me question your other statements about your faith. While it’s not for me to say if you have faith or do not, you quack like a different kind of duck than you say you are. Would you mind expanding a bit on what you believe, as you have no trouble expanding on many other issues?

    As for myself, and many others, we believe the evidence points in a different direction for both evolution and cosmology. Do we need that as proof that God exists? No. And the other thing is that some folks, “doubting Thomas'” so to speak, need more evidence than others. At the same time, your intent, and those of your ilk, seems to be to seek to castrate God (metaphorically), and say something akin to “there is no evidence he ever existed, BUT I BELIEVE! Hooray!! Viva Science!! Viva God!! But Viva Science even more!!”

    What scares you more, that science will disprove God’s existence, or that God will disprove science’s fantasies? It seems like your scared that before long, the Christians will be having the students singing hymns in science class, because if your beloved concept of macroevolution is found to have limits (1) and your cosmological models are wrong, then there will be no more scientific progress. These concepts contribute nothing to applied science. You may theorize that we are on the cusp of a glorious age…an age when abiogenesis, singularities, naturalistic evolution, and so forth will heal all of society’s ills…and just maybe, just might, be of benefit.

    Fast-forward 50 years, to when ID or creationism worms it’s way in like a tape-worm to science. Let’s see what it might look like from the perspective you seem to be purporting.

    Student to teacher: “That’s a beautiful butterfly. I wonder how it flies??”

    Teacher to student: “I don’t know don’t worry about it…Praise Jesus. Now let’s go back inside and sing Amazing Grace.”

    (1) Might I suggest Behe’s, The Edge of Evolution, to add to your list of delvings, if you have not already delved there.

  9. It won’t be that hard, and you won’t have to wait too long.

    That is, if you push science out of the US where you have a hand in controlling it. I understand that China has neither religious constraints against scientific research nor moral constraints against using it for their own purposes.

    Indeed. A lack of moral constraints really helped Germans like Josef Mengele (1) advance science a great deal. I’m waiting for a society that has a lack of religious and moral restraints to demonstrate their scientific acumen (come on Russia!! come on China!! Let’s see how great you can be with those handcuffs off which have been holding us back all this time). It’s a wonder our country ever achieved anything with it’s blathering, slobbering, religiosity and moral constraints (such as they have been).

    (1) Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz

  10. Admin: “Might I suggest Behe’s, The Edge of Evolution, to add to your list of delvings, if you have not already delved there.”

    I have indeed delved the depths of “Edge of Evolution.” I bought my own copy less than a week after it came out.[1] I have his “Darwin’s Black Box.” I have Wells, “Icons of Evolution. I have Dembski’s “The Design Inference.” I have read, but no longer have a copy of, his “No Free Lunch.”[2] I have a copy of “Of Pandas and People” by Davis & Kenyon.[3] I have read several of Henry Morris’ earlier books on creationism. Oh yes: I have Johnson’s “Darwin on Trial.”[4] Probably a number of others have slipped my mind. And the web sites. I follow Uncommon Descent, Evolution news & Views, Answers in Genesis, and others. I’ve tried to buy a copy of the Discovery Institute’s new auxiliary biology text, “Exploring Evolution, but they won’t sell me one. Imagine that. A secret biology book. Others seem to have problems as well. If you can find one, please lend it to me.

    Shrink:[5] “Indeed. A lack of moral constraints really helped Germans like Josef Mengele (1) advance science a great deal.”

    I am a member of the Ethics Committee of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The committee spend a lot of time making sure that Mengele nor his experiments ever visit our shores. Not that it is that difficult. Scientists tend to have high moral standards as regards their work.[6] One of the problems, frankly, is persuading certain government agencies to improve the substance of their standards, rather than merely requiring more inane paperwork. On the other hand, China. Several drug companies have moved their research facilities there, as already noted. China has an increasing number of home-grown and repatriated biologists. They have a very large pool of experimental subjects. Their standards for research subjects are not as demanding—could this have played a part in the moves? Hm.

    Political principles should have a say in scientific research.[7] But, if you kick the research out of the country, you forfeit the ability to control. Along with forfeiting a lot of economic advantages as well.

    (As to your other points, I’ve only had 70 years to think about my views. That’s not nearly enough time. Answers are not that facile, and even some of the questions are difficult.[8] And, in any event, it’s getting late and there are only two weeks left to master the lip-busting baroque-trumpet part for Handel’s Water Music.)

    ============
    [1] Even at that, I had only to wait two more weeks before a grad student HIV researcher in Oklahoma demolished his major point about how fast viruses could evolve, from her own experience.

    [2[ Jeffrey Shallit, one of Dembski’s PhD professors, wrote a refutation that is almost as long as Dembski’s book itself. Dembski, who was supposed to be a major witness in the Kitzmiller trial, bailed after finding out that the other side had listed Shallit as a witness to refute his claims.

    [3] Kenyon was supposed to be an expert witness in the earlier Aguillard court case, but he bailed too. The night before his deposition was to have been taken, he disappeared from his hotel room and never showed up.

    [4] A curious kind of trial, where the expert witness for the prosecution needs no qualifications whatsoever in the subject matter, and the defendant has no right to confront his witnesses. Johnson should know something about the law, but apparently these principles had escaped his attention.

    [5] Shrink and Admin must talk to each other a lot. Just as do Olorin and Kitab al-Falsafah and Walam Olum and Ho’omaloka and others.

    [6] Dishonesty is especially condemned, because it strikes the root of the process. The reson you hear about it when it happens is that it is rare, and it is a professional death sentence. Even Nobelist David Baltimore almost lost his life when it was suspected that one of his co-authors might possibly have changed some data. Compare with politicians taking baksheesh, or priests fondling children. Seems as though we read about it every week.

    [7] Although not the power to order scientists to change their findings, as the Bush administration has done on numerous occasions. Do I get incensed about that? Rev up the rant generator.

    [8] As noted in the story of the young student who nervously approached the ancient sensei and asked, “Master, what is fate?” “Ah, my son,” mused the master, “It is that which binds one man to another, which links entire civilizations, which forms the common thread of all being.” “And that is fate?” queried the student. But the master replied, “Fate? Fate? I thought you said ‘freight.’”

  11. Olorin,

    If you wish to engage others in a theological argument against ID or creationism, then I think we really ought to know if we believe in the same God. So, I say, “show us your cards,” or quit bluffing. Otherwise, stick to your standard methods.

    I am a member of the Ethics Committee of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The committee spend a lot of time making sure that Mengele nor his experiments ever visit our shores. Not that it is that difficult. Scientists tend to have high moral standards as regards their work.[6] One of the problems, frankly, is persuading certain government agencies to improve the substance of their standards, rather than merely requiring more inane paperwork.

    Great!! I’m comforted now….although a bit confused as to what this has to do with my point. Yes, the govt tends to take the approach that paperwork solves real problems.

    Even Nobelist David Baltimore almost lost his life when it was suspected that one of his co-authors might possibly have changed some data. Compare with politicians taking baksheesh, or priests fondling children. Seems as though we read about it every week.

    You really want to delve into the history of moral standards of American Scientists here?? I for one do not believe that scientists represent a moral elite, nor do priests, preachers, everyday Christian citizens, firefighter, lawyers, psychologists, shall I go on?

    On the other hand, China. Several drug companies have moved their research facilities there, as already noted. China has an increasing number of home-grown and repatriated biologists. They have a very large pool of experimental subjects. Their standards for research subjects are not as demanding—could this have played a part in the moves? Hm.

    Could it have anything to do with wanting to sell their drugs to 1+Billion Chinese people via the Chinese govt? Hmmm…. I have my doubts that the reason was to escape the religiosity of the US and irritating moral standards. To escape government paperwork, rules, fees, and restrictions….now I find that compelling. To equate that with religious and moral standards, I do not find that compelling. I’m sure they were thinking, “Ah…let us go to China. They’re trying to teach ID here!! Run away!! Run away!!”

    As to your other points, I’ve only had 70 years to think about my views. That’s not nearly enough time. Answers are not that facile, and even some of the questions are difficult.

    I doubt you’ve been thinking about your views for all of that time. 😉 The answers seem to be a lot more facile to you on matters scientific and against believers (devouring larvae that they are–on a religious quest to regain God’s power for Him–while God is up there cheering “I love you!!!”).

    Jeffrey Shallit, one of Dembski’s PhD professors, wrote a refutation that is almost as long as Dembski’s book itself. Dembski, who was supposed to be a major witness in the Kitzmiller trial, bailed after finding out that the other side had listed Shallit as a witness to refute his claims.

    That’s an obvious trump card. As if the attorneys did not know the basic psychology behind who would be found to be more compelling (the ‘master’ or the ‘student.’) You know that as well as I do–or should. Having a PhD professor write a refutation is not impressive to me either.

    Shrink and Admin must talk to each other a lot. Just as do Olorin and Kitab al-Falsafah and Walam Olum and Ho’omaloka and others.

    Do you really want to go there? I set up this new blog and realized that some folks may be confused about “admin”–the default setting. So, I switched it to what I used on the other blog. Big difference between that and direct deception to try and get across a point of disdain. We can explore this further, or you can drop it.

  12. Olorin,

    If you’re being honest in your statements, then it might surprise you to find out that I, as well as many other believers, have very little use for organized religion or “faith-based” government or, in my case, government at all! As much as I have made issue with eugenics and evolution, it was, after all, government that took this info and ran with it. I believe that our government and education system should represent all Americans, and therefore, we have to be careful not to let any single, religious belief, whatever form it may take, to dominate. However, we also shouldn’t exclude those beliefs, which are contrary to the popular scientific and political opinions of the day (since they are ever changing as the wind), from the political process either.

    If I were to find out, today, and for certain, that ID is an OVERTLY political ploy, as you imply, then I would be gone. Of course, none of us, in our beliefs or opinions, are completely free from the stench of man’s politics, it’s ingrained in our nature, isn’t it?!

    I’m surprised to find out that you’re seventy years old! I would have thought that a man of your age would have come, by now, to be more open and forgiving of others and their beliefs etc? Handel, do you have a degree in brass performance? I have a masters in composition, for whatever that’s worth?

    P.S. As to your comment about me teaching my child science etc. I am almost fifty nine, and my stepson is an architect and living and thriving in New York. He doesn’t hold to my beliefs, but we’re still close!

  13. DB wrote:

    I believe that our government and education system should represent all Americans, and therefore, we have to be careful not to let any single, religious belief, whatever form it may take, to dominate. However, we also shouldn’t exclude those beliefs, which are contrary to the popular scientific and political opinions of the day (since they are ever changing as the wind), from the political process either.

    Olorin, like DB, I think there ought to be a little academic freedom out there, and allow that folks will make up their own minds. Sure there will be kooks out there, but you can identify a kook fairly easily. It won’t be hard to spot, and certainly they can be fired as they are at times now. Also like DB, I’m not impressed with organized religion or the govt of this country. Believe it or not Olorin, we differ in our political beliefs, but we are still friends (he leans a bit more liberal and I a bit more conservative–although both fairly libertarian–sorry DB if I got that wrong, that’s just my presumption).

    Amazing that Fundy IDiots can be so open minded, isn’t it? As for you, maybe we could be friends some day, but you still think you’re smarter and better than everyone else. Maybe you are, but wisdom is more than years and pure recall of facts. I respect you, because you are my elder (by more than 2x), but out of respect, I think you ought to show more kindness and love as you believe your “god” shows. One of the wisest people I ever met, had an IQ of 66 (in the range of Mild Mental Retardation). His treatment of other people, ideas on govt, and understanding of God, so far surpass yours (and mine too). He’s not read hundred’s to thousands of books like we have, but wisdom does not come from reading a book. Don’t fool yourself on that point.

  14. Believe it or not Olorin, we differ in our political beliefs, but we are still friends (he leans a bit more liberal and I a bit more conservative–although both fairly libertarian–sorry DB if I got that wrong, that’s just my presumption).

    I would agree with you, Shrink! On some things I know I appear liberal, and probably am, and yet I hold to many conservative thoughts and values. I guess that’s the reason I hate labels, because they only help restrict and divide us.

    He’s not read hundred’s to thousands of books like we have, but wisdom does not come from reading a book. Don’t fool yourself on that point.

    Yes, there is a “wisdom” of this world, which, too often, only produces arrogant and troublesome people, but then, as you and I know and understand, there is a wisdom that is beyond the mundane, limited and self-absorbed mind of man. “For the thoughts of man are foolishness to God”

  15. DB: “Handel, do you have a degree in brass performance? I have a masters in composition, for whatever that’s worth?”

    Music was an early interest but never a career prospect, and suffered a long hiatus. The interest hass unfortunately always exceeded my talent. You have my e-mail if you wish to pursue this tangent privately.

    The only relevance to this discussion is that my “feeling of the numinous in the presence of the wholly other,” in James’ words, is kindled most readily through music. At the Congregational church we attend while in Maui, the liturgy includes the entire congregation singing The Lord’s Prayer both in Hawai’ian and in English. The walls, built in 1854 of volcanic rock, resonate to Heaven.

  16. The only relevance to this discussion is that my “feeling of the numinous in the presence of the wholly other,” in James’ words, is kindled most readily through music.

    I understand this fully! I sense His presence through music, as well as some of the other arts, all of the time. The church sounds amazing. Thanks for the email suggestion!

  17. DB: “If I were to find out, today, and for certain, that ID is an OVERTLY political ploy, as you imply, then I would be gone.”

    Like most ploys, ID is covert, not overt. Actually, their subversion of science for political goals was what soured me on ID to begin with. Before that, it was merely to smile at in passing. The best expose’ is Barbara Forrest’s “Creationism’s Trojan Horse.” The Discovery Institute considered her dangerous enough to try to get her barred as a witness from the Kitzmiller trial, and to mount scurrilous personal attacks on her throughout the trial. They were right to worry about the effect of her testimony.[1] The4 book (first published in 2003) contains a thousand references documenting ID’s history, political goals, and, shall we say, liberties with strict veracity.

    This is a frightening book. I recently updated my collection to the 2d edition, published after Kitzmiller. But it is such depressing reading that I put off delving into it for several months. If you could sum it up in one sentence, Phillip Johnson’s oft-repeated statement would be apropos: “This isn’t really, and never has been a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.”[2]

    Now that’s scary.[3]

    ===================
    [1] She and Nick Matzke are the ones who found the infamous “cdesign proponentsists” smoking gun in Of Pandas and People, when they changed “creationism” to “intelligent design” (but none of the definitions or descriptions) shortly after the Supreme Court’s Aguillard decision held that creation science was religion, not science.

    [2] Phillip Johnson, “Witnesses for the Prosecution,” World Magazine, November 30, 1996, Volume 11, Number 28, p. 18

    [3] I was closer than many to the McCarthy era in the ’50s, because my father knew Sen. Homer Capehart, one of Joe McCarthy’s henchmen. And that was only a small taste of what happens when ideology trumps reason. (By coincidence, Capehart’s grandson was a colleague of mine at IBM. We frequently went flying together when he was wearing his IFR hood and needed a copilot. His obsessive attention to detail was frequently welcome but occasionally stultifying.)

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