Saturday, August 20, 2005

DUMB INTELLIGENT DESIGN

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

One of the sillier attempts at unexplaining evolution is "intelligent design". You see, God is supposed to be this smarty pants inventor who carefully crafts living things to fit into each other perfectly. Of course, readers of the Bible know that He is a rather childish and cruel creature Who discards His messes by killing off nearly everything in a fit of pique. Why anyone would worship this creature puzzles me.

To be comforted by the existence of this cruel being is insanity, in my mind.

But this is the way it is. Intelligent design is a straw that many cling to even though this begs the point of why a creator would bother itself with this tiny, insignificant little blot of matter in the vast universe that is filled with planets and stars and matter and all sorts of things. Why there has to be a person that supervises all this seems excessive, doesn't it? If there is a being that is all over the universe toying with absolutely everything all the time, this explains nothing except maybe we should be very paranoid about it and suspicious, to say the least.

The latest salvo in this war of Slaves of the Entity vs Scientists is in the Smithsonian Museum. From the Washington Post:
Evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg made a fateful decision a year ago.

As editor of the hitherto obscure Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Sternberg decided to publish a paper making the case for "intelligent design," a controversial theory that holds that the machinery of life is so complex as to require the hand -- subtle or not -- of an intelligent creator.

Within hours of publication, senior scientists at the Smithsonian Institution -- which has helped fund and run the journal -- lashed out at Sternberg as a shoddy scientist and a closet Bible thumper.

"They were saying I accepted money under the table, that I was a crypto-priest, that I was a sleeper cell operative for the creationists," said Steinberg, 42 , who is a Smithsonian research associate. "I was basically run out of there."

An independent agency has come to the same conclusion, accusing top scientists at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History of retaliating against Sternberg by investigating his religion and smearing him as a "creationist."
Of course, this sounds like censorship...if someone has no understanding about how scientific journals are run. If any of the scientific astronomy journals were to run a story about how a God created the Big Bang, it would be laughed out of the joint. This doesn't mean astronomers themselves don't indulge in this fantasy, my own parents are believers of this!---but they don't publish stuff about it in scientific journals.

It doesn't belong there.

If Mr. Sternberg wanted to run a journal like mine, here, he could. But he can't do it on the Smithsonian's dime.
"The rumor mill became so infected," James McVay, the principal legal adviser in the Office of Special Counsel, wrote to Sternberg, "that one of your colleagues had to circulate [your résumé] simply to dispel the rumor that you were not a scientist."

The Washington Post and two other media outlets obtained a copy of the still-private report.

McVay, who is a political appointee of the Bush administration, acknowledged in the report that a fuller response from the Smithsonian might have tempered his conclusions. As Sternberg is not a Smithsonian employee -- the National Institutes of Health pays his salary -- the Special Counsel lacks the power to impose a legal remedy.

A spokeswoman for the Smithsonian Institution declined comment, noting that they have not received McVay's report.

"We do stand by evolution -- we are a scientific organization," said Linda St. Thomas, the spokeswoman. An official privately suggested that McVay might want to embarrass the institution.

It is hard to overstate the passions fired by the debate over intelligent design. President Bush recently said that schoolchildren should learn about the theory alongside Darwin's theory of evolution -- a view that goes beyond even the stance of intelligent design advocates. Dozens of state school boards have attempted to mandate the teaching of anti-Darwinian theories.

A small band of scientists argue for intelligent design, saying evolutionary theory's path is littered with too many gaps and mysteries, and cannot account for the origin of life.
Agreeing about exactly how life first got launched is being hashed out gradually as researchers understand more and more how the ecosystem of the early earth was different from today, drastically different, and how the evolving life forms radically altered it, an oxygenated atmosphere being the top example of a massive alteration. Virtually no scientists think that all plants and animals were suddenly materialized out of nothingness, instantly with all functioning systems.

It wasn't like there were creatures on the planet and then suddenly, creatures with eyes or wings appeared with the snap of a magical finger! There is no way this happened. Making believe that there was an invisible person tinkering with animals in secret and then springing the results upon this planet is laughable. There is no explanation about why God would even do any of this stuff. Bored and at loose ends? Frivolity? Did He decide to destroy all the previous creatures by materializing humans out of nothingness and then unleashing them upon the world He created so He could watch it be destroyed and then He could send His human creations into an eternal Hell and torture them there at His leisure so He could be amused for all eternity?

Shudder.

McVay, the investigator into the case of this malfunctioning of the magazine entrusted to Mr. Sternberg, is a Bush appointee and he gleefully goes after the institution and attacks the scientists, clothing his fellow right winger as some poor victim of a smear job rather than as a man who violated very strong scientific principles.

What these people want is "equal time" only they don't ever debate with me, for example. Raised by religous scientists, I had to fight this fight at home from early childhood. I actually tried my best to understand God. To please and understand my parents, I read the Bible very carefully. But then questions began. Mainly, why did this god do all these hideous things? This made me extremely unpopular at home on many levels leading to basically being kicked out of the family. Not one of my pertinent questions were ever answered by any priest or minister or my mom and dad. Why they worship this god which is probably the meanest, cruelest, most awful creature ever concieved by any mind baffles me.
Sternberg is an unlikely revolutionary. He holds two PhDs in evolutionary biology, his graduate work draws praise from his former professors, and in 2000 he gained a coveted research associate appointment at the Smithsonian Institution.

Not long after that, Smithsonian scientists asked Sternberg to become the unpaid editor of Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, a sleepy scientific journal affiliated with the Smithsonian. Three years later, Sternberg agreed to consider a paper by Stephen C. Meyer, a Cambridge University-educated philosopher of science who argues that evolutionary theory cannot account for the vast profusion of multicellular species and forms in what is known as the Cambrian "explosion," which occurred about 530 million years ago.

Scientists still puzzle at this great proliferation of life. But Meyer's paper went several long steps further, arguing that the presence of an intelligent agent -- that is, God -- was the best explanation for the rapid appearance of higher life-forms.

Sternberg harbored his own doubts about Darwinian theory. He also acknowledged that this journal had not published such papers in the past and that he wanted to stir the scientific pot.

"I am not convinced by Intelligent Design but they have brought a lot of difficult questions to the fore," Sternberg said. "Science only moves forward on controversy."
The Cambrian explosion. This is when the single celled creatures that evolved to take energy from the sun and use it to reproduce rather than merely capture other molecular chains drifting in the early seas of the earth changed the environment so that multicelled creatures could fill the new niches. This sudden proliferation ended in a vast, hideous extinction. We still debate what caused it. But the few pitiful survivors, thanks to reproduction abilities, continued to evolve and fill the niches. There is no debate about the mechanism for this for it is evolution as elucidated by Charles Darwin. The various steps and details are in debate but the way it works isn't in doubt. The survivors reproduced, they mutated all the time and whenever the environment changed due to populations and situations, the creatures either flourished or became extinct and the survivors reproduced some more. And by dint of eons of this activity, they shifted in form to become various ecosystems that interface with the enviroment and changes the enviroment.

The Permian is also the time when the oceans were rich in what little creatures loved to eat and so many of them died without being eaten by others creatures, their tiny bodies piled up on the sea floors in huge numbers so that, even after being crushed by vast mountains of rock and pressed together into a tight mass, turning into a black goo, they come back out of the ground as fossil fuels and are what we are burning today to create our own civilization.

From the BBC News:
President Bush is down on his ranch in Crawford doing what he likes best for relaxation - attacking timber with a chainsaw. As a warm-up, just before he decamped to the Texas White House for the rest of the summer, he sawed into a leafy, living branch of science - Darwinian evolution.

He did it with his usual nonchalance, in an off-the-cuff response to a reporter, by coming out on the side of religious activists who are campaigning for public schools to retreat from Darwin and teach something called "intelligent design" or ID.

In a nutshell, the ID activists maintain that many forms of life are too complex to have been the result of any random - indeed mindless - natural selection. A highly intelligent supernatural force must have designed, say, the human eye or the neurology of the brain.

Yet, as Charles Darwin demonstrated in his book Origin of Species in 1859, we weren't designed by any hidden hand in a single brilliant moment, but have all evolved from lower orders - ape to man - over hundreds of millions of years.

Bush didn't saw through the Darwinian branch entirely. He said that ID should be taught alongside evolution "because part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought".
Aside from the laughable idea of an idiot who looks and acts so simian, talking about "intelligent design" when he, himself, displays little intelligence, the attacks on evolutionary science are very dangerous. Because the Bible is taught in a childish way, the religious bigots explaining that we have to be child-like to believe and thus, applying rational thought is a danger, this means people surrender to their infantile upbringing when the Bible is presented as this cute story about a god that is very destructive and vindictive but loves the little boy or girl, personally, but then only if the little boy or girl prays to it...this irrational desire to not disturb infantile memories is what all good scientists have to overcome.

It is a burden to be set aside. The amazing story of the universe and how we came to be within it is interesting and helpful since it can save us from our doom which is to be exterminated in the bitter end. To keep evolving and moving along, we must understand the past and be able to predict the future. Pretending there is a god looking after us leads us to do dangerous things which will directly lead to our destruction!

So this isn't a game or a toy or a temporary thing, this is a vital problem that is directly connected with the destruction of our planet which is, incidentally, being assisted by our very own scientists who have created things that are very destructive like all those nukes that wait in the wings for Goetterdaemmerung.

These same people don't want to talk about global warming in a scientific way. They don't want to talk about pollution in the same way. They want fantasy science on many fronts because this allows them to do really dangerous things that will cause our annihilation and since they make money and get power from all this, they attack the messengers.

In England just the other day, a famous "atheist" suddenly announced he couldn't understand evolution so he was deciding there was a God out there. This ticked me off, I am assuming he, in his dottage, is doing what so many do when they age: the deeper, earlier parts of the mind take over and the thought processes become more and more akin to earlier and earlier childhood beliefs and thinking. The earliest circuits click on and take over. The devoluion of thought proceeds as the mind, facing death, retreats to the earliest forms. Studies of the elderly have shown that they can recite poems and songs from the earliest years while being unable to remember what happened yesterday.

The main reason why so many abusers of our planet want to kill any ideas about evolution is because the idea that we and all living things need each other and can't exist unless we work together to keep our ecosystems in balance means stopping mad schemes to destroy the earth.

The fundamentalists want to eat everything in sight, stuffing their faces and paving over the planet and sucking down all the tiny, crushed Permian bodies and spewing out their molecular remains as air pollution, changing the planet completely. This destructive greed and lust is then going to be rewarded by their strange, hostile god, who will put them in Heaven to sing happy songs of praise! This is not only hard to believe, it is repulsive. When I cast it in this light, the destroyers of our planet, after devouring it, plan to live in all eternity with their god, laughing, religion doesn't look so nice, does it?

Namely, I am looking at from the point of view of a monkey or an ape. Who we are exterminating or using for our inhuman experiments.

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