EvoKE Project Pushes European Public to “Accept” Evolution

first_img Recommended Evolution Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Intelligent Design EvoKE Project Pushes European Public to “Accept” EvolutionCasey LuskinMay 8, 2017, 2:26 PM Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour TagseducationEuropean CouncilEuropean UnionEvoKEevolutionintelligent designNature Ecology & Evolution,Trending Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Casey LuskinAssociate Director, Center for Science and CultureCasey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.Follow CaseyProfileWebsite Share “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Education A recent article in Nature Ecology & Evolution, “Public literacy in evolution,” discusses a newly launched project to push evolution on the European public. Called EvoKE, or “EVOlutionary Knowledge for Everyone,” the project’s main concern is to find ways to increase “European citizens’ acceptance and understanding of evolution.” In multiple places, the article quotes EvoKE leaders who are worried about the level of “acceptance” of evolution. The language is telling:On why EvoKE was needed: “[I]n Europe, we lacked a formal conversation about the public acceptance and understanding of evolution.”On the goals of EvoKE: “To stimulate a discussion on the state of European citizens’ acceptance and understanding of evolution.”On the content of EvoKE events: “The question of whether evolution is accepted and understood by European citizens indeed formed the focus of several discussions at EvoKE 2017.”On key action items for EvoKE: “[R]esearchers need to be proactive and at the forefront of science communication efforts, especially given movements to undermine the acceptance of evolution.”In case you missed it, EvoKE spends a lot of time fretting about whether the European public “accepts” evolution. They seem particularly distressed about those “movements” that do not encourage people to “accept” evolution.In response, the project aims to get political. The last paragraph states:In 2007, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted the resolution: “The dangers of creationism in education.” This resolution urged state members to notably defend and promote scientific knowledge, and to promote evolution knowledge as a fundamental scientific theory in school curricula. However, we are not aware of an EU policy agenda regarding the teaching of evolution. Support for EvoKE and the projects that came out of the meeting would certainly be a way for the European Council to be more proactive on those issues.We reported on the above-mentioned 2007 resolution, adopted by the Council of Europe, at the time. Memorably, it stated that teaching intelligent design may entail a “threat to human rights.” Specifically, that resolution declared:“[T]he Parliamentary Assembly is worried about the possible ill-effects of the spread of creationist ideas within our education systems and about the consequences for our democracies. If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights which are a key concern of the Council of Europe.”“Creationism has many contradictory aspects. The ‘intelligent design’ idea, which is the latest, more refined version of creationism, does not deny a certain degree of evolution but claims that this is the work of a superior intelligence. Though more subtle in its presentation, the doctrine of intelligent design is no less dangerous.”“The neocreationist movement, which mainly consists of the advocates of ‘intelligent design,’ defends the hypothesis of the intervention of a so-called superior intelligence. Describing it as scientific, the supporters of intelligent design demand that their ideas be taught in biology classes alongside the theory of evolution.”“[T]he intelligent design ideas are anti-science: any activity involving blatant scientific fraud, intellectual deception, or communication that blurs the nature, objectives, and limits of science may be called anti-science. The intelligent design movement would seem to be anti-science for several reasons. Firstly, the nature of the science is distorted. Secondly, the objectives of the science are distorted. The writings of the leaders of this movement show that their motivations and objectives are not scientific but religious.”“With creationism today, we are witnessing a growth of modes of thought which, the better to impose religious dogma, are attacking the very core of the knowledge that we have built up little by little concerning nature, evolution, our origins and our place in the universe. There can be no doubt that this is a serious attack on human rights.”“Our modern world is based on a long history, of which the development of science and technology forms an important part. However, the scientific approach is still not well understood and this is liable to encourage the development of all manner of fundamentalism and extremism, synonymous with attacks of utmost virulence on human rights. The rejection of all science is definitely one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights.”To summarize, the resolution claims that intelligent design is a form of creationism that is “dangerous,” “anti-science,” promotes “deception,” is religiously motivated. It says that teaching these ideas amounts to “a serious attack on human rights,” of “utmost virulence on human rights” and “one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights.” The resolution goes on for 105 paragraphs this way. Read the whole thing.And remember, this rabidly intolerant screed isn’t a random blog rant from some intolerant undergraduate atheist student club. It was adopted as a resolution by the Council of Europe, a quasi-governmental body and would-be protector of “human rights.” According to the article in Nature Ecology & Evolution, the EvoKE project wants to lobby the European Union — a true governmental body with real lawmaking powers — to draw inspiration from this resolution and start making policy.What kind of policy could come from such a declaration, standing directly against freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of scientific inquiry? The resolution’s claims that intelligent design could pose a “threat to human rights” sounds like a thinly veiled wish to criminalize or legally inhibit ID advocacy. Is this how EvoKE aims to encourage Europe to “accept evolution” — by declaring that alternative views pose a “threat to human rights”? Would they threaten dissenters with legal retaliation for being “anti-science”?Oppressive regimes have tried gambits like that in the past. One hopes that EvoKE would aim to persuade the public with reason and evidence, not through the force of the law. But on any objective showing, reason and evidence are on the side of intelligent design, not evolution. Maybe that’s why, it seems, some are tempted by harsher remedies.Image: Europe from space, by Smh232 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.last_img read more

Jerry Coyne, Infanticide, and the Evolution of Morality

first_imgIn a recent blog post, already noted by Michael Egnor and Wesley Smith, University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne not only argued  that infanticide and assisted suicide should be permitted, but he insisted that our increasing acceptance of these deeds is a sign of moral improvement in our society. He stated, “This change in views about euthanasia and assisted suicide [i.e., legalization in some states and countries] are [sic] the result of a tide of increasing morality in our world.”In his book Faith Versus Fact, Coyne made a similar proclamation: “Indeed, secular morality, which is not twisted by adherence to the supposed commands of a god, is superior to most ‘religious’ morality.” (p. 261)Earlier in Faith Versus Fact, Coyne argued that morality was the product of evolutionary forces, as well as cultural changes.  He denied that morality is fixed and objective and decreed that it is malleable. He even makes a big deal out of this argument, claiming that it disproves the existence of God.It seems to me that Coyne is talking out of both sides of his mouth. There can be no “increasing morality” and no “superior” morality unless there is some objective moral standard, a point that Coyne rejects. Evolution, we are told again and again, has no goal, so any morality it produces has no objective reality. (That’s why the famous evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson and philosopher of science Michael Ruse called morality “an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes.”)Of course, one of the other major problems with Coyne’s analysis of morality is that many people see the policies he favors, such as infanticide, as evidence of our moral decline.So, how does Coyne justify his claim that infanticide and assisted suicide are morally praiseworthy?  He relies on arguments that are based on his understanding of evolutionary biology. He claims humans are not a special or unique species, a point he bases on Darwinism. After thus undermining the sanctity-of-life ethic, he states in his blog: “After all, we euthanize our dogs and cats when to prolong their lives would be torture, so why not extend that to humans?”Does Coyne really believe that we should treat humans like dogs and cats? Given his desire to see the United States embrace progressive public policies similar to those in Scandinavia, I rather doubt it. But let’s test and see.I have a modest proposal for Coyne to consider. Picture this: Round up all the homeless people in Chicago, sterilize them, and then incarcerate them until someone comes to provide them a home. If no one is willing to take them in after a few weeks, then we can euthanize them. The problem of homelessness would be solved.I’m confident Coyne will be outraged by this proposal — as he should be. However, this is exactly how we treat dogs. Apparently, Coyne does not think humans should be treated like dogs. Apparently, he recognizes that some things are objectively immoral.Coyne, like many secular intellectuals, sees morality as non-objective, because he thinks it is produced by random mutations, natural selection, and also changing cultural factors. He uses this moral relativism as a sledgehammer against morality (and religion) that he doesn’t like. But then he turns around to promote a different “progressive” morality and tries to impose that on everyone. This morality, we are assured, is better and more advanced — hence the term “progressive.” It thus claims to be moving toward an objective moral standard.  You cannot have it both ways, Dr. Coyne.For further analysis of Coyne, see pp. 84-87 of my book The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life.Photo credit: Dave Parker, via Flickr.Dr. Weikart is professor of modern European history at California State University, Stanislaus, and Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture.  He has published six books, including The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life and Hitler’s Religion: The Twisted Beliefs That Drove the Third Reich. “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Culture & Ethics TagsDarwinismDogsE.O. WilsonevolutionFaith Versus FacthomelessJerry CoyneMichael Rusemoralitysanctity of lifeUniversity of Chicago,Trending Recommended Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Evolution Jerry Coyne, Infanticide, and the Evolution of MoralityRichard WeikartJuly 19, 2017, 2:28 PM center_img A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Richard WeikartSenior Fellow, Center for Science and CultureRichard Weikart is Professor of History, California State University, Stanislaus, and author of From Darwin to Hitler, Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress, Hitler’s Religion: The Twisted Ideas that Drove the Third Reich, and The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life.Follow RichardProfileWebsite Sharelast_img read more

How Embryonic Development Bears on Evolution

first_imgEvolution Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Life Sciences How Embryonic Development Bears on EvolutionCornelius HunterJanuary 22, 2018, 1:47 AM Cornelius G. HunterFellow, Center for Science and CultureCornelius G. Hunter is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he earned a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Computational Biology. He is Adjunct Professor at Biola University and author of the award-winning Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil. Hunter’s other books include Darwin’s Proof, and his newest book Science’s Blind Spot (Baker/Brazos Press). Dr. Hunter’s interest in the theory of evolution involves the historical and theological, as well as scientific, aspects of the theory. His blog is Darwin’s God. Share In order for evolution to have occurred as the orthodox theory describes, the intricate embryonic development stages of species must have evolved. Indeed, the developmental pathways of the species would be crucial in such a process. If we are to believe the evolutionary claim that the species spontaneously arose, then untold embryonic development pathways must have somehow undergone massive change.But while evolutionists expected the study of such evolution of development to yield great insight into the evolutionary process and history, it has underwhelmed. This shortcoming is well known, as exemplified in a 2015 paper, “The Comet Cometh: Evolving Developmental Systems“:First, traditional comparative approaches to the evolution of development — whether focused on the morphological or on the molecular/genetic level — are reaching their limits in terms of explanatory power. [Emphasis added.]Except that this is an overstatement. To say that comparative approaches “are reaching their limits in terms of explanatory power” is to suggest that there was, at one time, some significant level of explanatory power provided. That would be a very optimistic interpretation of the data.The paper continues:The more we learn about the evolution of pattern-forming gene networks, or the ontogeny of complex morphological traits, the more it becomes clear that it is less than straightforward to conclude anything about evolutionary origins or dynamics based on such comparisons alone.“Less than straightforward”? Let’s be clear — a more accurate descriptor would be “impossible.” In fact, the evidence does not reveal an evolutionary history, but rather is supported by the theory. Evolutionary theory does not follow the data, as Huxley prescribed, but rather the data follow the theory.The paper continues:On the one hand, homoplasy or convergent evolution abounds at all levels of investigation. One of the most lauded major insights of EvoDevo is that a common toolkit of genes and signaling pathways is reused over and over again to create a large diversity of different body plans, shapes, and organs.Most lauded major insights? That would be the mother of all euphemisms. Evolutionists are always rationalizing devastating contradictions as teachable moments, and here we have yet another example. To cast the nonsensical finding of a “common toolkit” as a “major insight” is laughable.This becomes clear as the paper continues:Because of this, similarities in gene expression patterns or morphological structure often do not necessarily imply common ancestry, since they may as well reflect the frequent reuse of the same regulatory or morphogenetic modules.Profound similarities “do not necessarily imply common ancestry.” We have now entered a Lewis Carroll world, as Elliott Sober would put it. The whole point of evolution was that such similarities revealed and mandated common descent. But now, we have the exact opposite, as similarities cannot be due to common descent, but must have arisen independently. And this is an “insight”? A fundamental prediction is demolished and evolutionists do not skip a beat. This is not science.But it gets worse:On the other hand, developmental system drift allows conserved networks to change considerably in terms of their component genes and regulatory interactions without changing the phenotypic outcomes such systems produce. This means that even functionally conserved regulatory networks can become unrecognizably divergent at the molecular and genetic level, especially across large evolutionary time spans.We have now reached the height of absurdity. First, profound developmental similarities were found which could not be ascribed to common descent. Now we find that those developmental pathways which can (theoretically) be ascribed to common descent are profoundly different.When will this bad dream end? The science contradicts the theory. Over. And over. And over. And over.Photo: Chicken embryo, one week old, by Ben Skála (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.Cross-posted at Darwin’s God. Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Sharecenter_img Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Tagsbody planscommon descentconvergent evolutionElliott Soberembryonic developmentEvoDevogene expressiongeneshomoplasyLewis Carrollmorphological structureorgansshapesThomas Henry Huxley,Trending Billions of Missing Links: Mysteries Evolution Can’t Explain “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Recommended Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Sharelast_img read more

Happy New Year! #1 Story of 2020: Biology Journal Demands Government Censorship of ID

first_img“A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide With videos and other disfavored material being suppressed by YouTube and other social media platforms, where most Americans get our news, it was only a matter of time before would-be Internet censors turned their gaze on us. Speijer submitted his article on February 29, as, incidentally, the U.S. moved to stop travel from Iran and urged citizens to avoid visiting South Korea and Italy. But again, Speijer’s focus was on other perils. Here is the gist of what he wrote. From “Bad Faith Reasoning, Predictable Chaos, and the Truth”: Photo credit: Shannon Kringen from Seattle [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.Editor’s note: Welcome to an Evolution News tradition: a countdown of our Top 10 favorite stories of the past year, concluding today. Our staff have been enjoying the holidays, as we hope that you have done, too! Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Free Speech Happy New Year! #1 Story of 2020: Biology Journal Demands Government Censorship of IDEvolution News @DiscoveryCSCJanuary 1, 2021, 1:02 AM Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man No Need to Worry TagsAndrew MooreBioEssaysCDCcensorshipCOVID-19Dave SpeijerdemocracyDennis PragerDiscovery InstituteEvolution NewsFacebookFederal Governmentfree speechintelligent designInternetIranItalyKarl PopperPaul Nelsonregulationschoolssearch enginessocial mediaSouth KoreaThomas PaineUniversity of AmsterdamvaccineWhite House,Trending Far from balking at censorship, the tech companies are already willing collaborators in efforts to squeeze out ideas that don’t fit their preferred perspective. Be prepared. There is no reason to think that this could not happen to Discovery Institute, Evolution News, and others who urge a fair consideration of design evidence. Recommended The author of the editorial, biologist Dave Speijer of the University of Amsterdam, read what Nelson had to say and disliked some of the ID proponent’s comments. Speijer was also distraught about a staff-authored article at Evolution News, published back in November 2019. The latter commented on a piece by BioEssays editor Andrew Moore, which Moore titled “That ‘junk’ DNA… is full of information!”  Nowadays, such sites [as Evolution News] pose as “objective” sources of information. Speaking more generally, spreading misinformation can be linked to climate science denial, vaccination avoidance, and a resurgence of pseudo‐scientific racism. Internet regulations to counter these sources of pseudo‐science are urgently needed….We have identified the problem; how about the solution? My favorite Thomas Paine quote: “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself,” eloquently explains why I am not a great fan of taking down websites. Only the most egregious ones (for instance, those inciting racial violence or denying well‐documented genocide) should be treated thus. But what about the sites discussed in this article? In such cases search engines could have mandatory color coded banners warning of consistent factual errors or unscientific content, masquerading as science. I can almost hear the strongly doubting voices. “The tech giants will never agree to that.” Make them. “It is impossible to draw the line, so how will you make sure that you do not stifle healthy debate?” Whenever one proposes internet regulations along these lines, opponents use such arguments to stop us from doing anything. Yes, the line might be difficult to draw, but below are several clear common‐sense cases where banner warnings should apply. And by all means, let us contribute to debates about the difficult instances: ongoing debates that a mature complex society with evolving insight should have. After all, scientists are not the ones afraid of complexity. Here is Tom Paine again: “If I do not believe as you believe, it proves that you do not believe as I believe, and that is all that it proves.” But as for Dave Speijer, if you do not believe as he believes, then that proves you need to be censored. Paine also said: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered.” Biologists at the prominent science journal BioEssays issued an urgent call. What was it, you ask? Try new experimental drugs? Rush a vaccine into development? Shut the schools? Open the schools? No — censor Evolution News! The following was originally published on May 14, 2020. Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Here’s another irony: the article anticipates resistance from the “tech giants.” On that score, Dr. Speijer should stop worrying so much. A glaring problem, completely off BioEssay’s radar screen, is that Big Tech seems eager to squash ideas they don’t like. Think of YouTube demonetizing Dennis Prager videos, Twitter deciding which tweets ought to come with COVID-19 warning labels, or Facebook appointing a “Supreme Court” to decide which kinds of posts will be tolerated. Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Our Debt to the Scientific Atheists Like most censors, Dr. Speijer thinks his proposals are entirely reasonable and warranted. He writes, “below are several clear common‐sense cases where banner warnings should apply.” Wait until you see what triggered him. You’ll be shocked at how benign and careful our original comments were, how unwilling ID-critics are to hear any form of criticism, and how the accusations they make against us are, with striking irony, applicable to their own rhetorical tactics. If Speijer’s thinking catches hold in this changing media and cultural environment, Western democracy is in bigger trouble even than it seems to be at the moment. It was March 20, 2020, seven days after the U.S. Federal Government declared a national emergency over COVID-19. That was just one day after the country hit the dark milestone of 10,000 verified cases. Most people were focused on coping with new lockdown regulations, social distancing, and radical changes to everyday life. What the White House or the CDC could or should do to counter the virus was a subject of debate. Some scientists, however, had identified a surprising object of needed government action.  Discovery Institute’s site offers daily analysis of evidence for intelligent design in life and the cosmos. What had we done to spark such an emergency? The timeline seems to be this: The crisis got going after February 11. That day, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson penned a brief post here at Evolution News. Dr. Nelson, a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow, asked “Is Popperian Falsification Useful in Biology?” He was responding to an editorial, from which he borrowed his headline, in BioEssays. Referring to the thought of influential philosopher Karl Popper, Nelson offered his opinion that Popperian falsification is indeed relevant in biology.  There are a number of ironies here. One is that BioEssays calls for censorship while having the chutzpah to quote from Thomas Paine, a foremost spokesman for free speech in Western democracy. As Speijer notes, Paine said: Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share A Matter of Time Evolution NewsEvolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues. Share Speijer condemns the “infamous Discovery Institute, a notorious ‘intelligent design’ (aka ‘creationism in a tuxedo’) think tank.” (Normally they say “creationism in a cheap tuxedo,” so this represents a sartorial upgrade.) A separate post here will respond to the details of Speijer’s objections, offered in justifying his call for censorship. Let’s just say for now that they are bizarre. Yet Speijer’s proposal is the epitome of oppressing and restricting the liberty of those with whom he disagrees. Paine further said, “That government is best which governs least,” but if put into action, the demand from BioEssays would hugely expand government power, creating government policies or even government-backed thought-police boards to determine which ideas are unfit for public consumption and must be censored.  Paine-ful Irony His proposal: “[S]earch engines could have mandatory color coded banners warning of consistent factual errors or unscientific content, masquerading as science.” And what if major technology companies shy from censorship? Then the government should take aggressive action: “Make them.” Let this sink in: the peer-reviewed journal BioEssays published an editorial pushing for government censorship policies to decide which websites the tech giants should be forced to take action against, diminishing the reputation and accessibility of those websites. Specifically, the scientists at BioEssays want to censor intelligent design websites like Evolution News. An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates his duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself. A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more

Meyer: “Is the Designer an Alien or God?”

first_img Recommended Intelligent Design Billions of Missing Links: Mysteries Evolution Can’t Explain Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Photo credit: Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash.Science atheists like Richard Dawkins have admitted the possibility of intelligent design — the hypothesis that an alien intelligence, not God, designed and seeded the first life on Earth. What’s wrong with this idea of “panspermia”? Stephen Meyer goes into much more detail in his new book, Return of the God Hypothesis, but he summarizes at The Stream. Physics, Earth & Space Meyer: “Is the Designer an Alien or God?”David [email protected]_klinghofferApril 4, 2021, 7:00 AM Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Share Tagsalien intelligenceatheistsbiological informationBrian KeatingcosmosDNAHarperOneintelligent designNew Atheismorigin of lifepanspermiaphysicsReturn of the God HypothesisRichard DawkinsscientistsThe StreamU.C. San Diego,Trendingcenter_img [I]f life in the universe displays evidence of intelligent design, can science tell us anything about the identity of the designing intelligence responsible for life? In my book Return of the God Hypothesis, I address this question by showing that there are two basic options: (1) The intelligence responsible for life is an intelligent being either (1) within the cosmos or (2) beyond it. In other words, the designer is either an immanent intelligence or a transcendent one — basically, either an alien or God. There are good reasons for thinking that the latter option provides a better explanation.First, an intelligence operating merely within the universe does not actually solve the problem of how biological information came to be. Purely undirected chemical processes have not been able to account for the origin of life because they have not been able to explain the functionally specified information in DNA — the key signature of intelligence. How then does invoking similar undirected processes in outer space solve the problem of life’s ultimate origin? It doesn’t. It only begs the question of the ultimate origin of life and biological information.Second, physics has now revealed evidence of design in the very fabric of the universe. Since the 1960s physicists have recognized that many physical parameters are finely tuned, against all odds, to make life possible. Even very slight alterations in the values of many independent factors such as the force that determines the expansion rate of the universe, the speed of light, the strength of gravitational or electromagnetic attraction, as well as the masses of elementary particles, would render life impossible.Much of this fine-tuning, moreover, has been present from the very beginning of the universe itself and, thus, cannot be explained by any agent arising from within the cosmos after the beginning. Instead, the fine-tuning of the universe is better explained by an intelligent agent that transcends the universe, one that has the attributes that we associate with God. Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Read the rest at The Stream. Return of the God Hypothesis is out now from HarperOne. Brian Keating, Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Physics at U.C. San Diego, calls it, “A meticulously researched, lavishly illustrated, and thoroughly argued case against the New Atheism.” More plaudits from top scientists are here. Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more

Montana Wildfire Forces Evacuation of Subdivision

first_img Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. COLUMBUS – The Columbus Fire Department chief in south-central Montana says a wildfire has forced the evacuation of about 20 homes Sunday in a subdivision between Columbus and Reed Point.Rich Cowger says the entire Hearts and Diamonds subdivision has been evacuated due to a blaze he estimates at about 70 acres.Cowger says 45 firefighters are at the scene and that additional crews have been called from surrounding counties, along with at least two helicopters.The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Emaillast_img read more

Full Agenda as Congress Tries to Finish for Year

first_img Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. WASHINGTON – The unemployed and millionaires. Doctors and black farmers. Illegal immigrants hiding from the law and gays hiding in the military. Along with just about everybody else, they all have something at stake as Congress struggles to wrap up its work for the year.Lawmakers, after taking Thanksgiving week off, arrive in town Monday along with the Capitol Christmas tree for the final stretch of the postelection session. Facing a daunting agenda, they could have that tree in their sights well into Christmas week.At the top of the to-do list are the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, enacted in 2001 and 2003 and due to expire at year’s end. President Barack Obama and most Democrats want to retain them for any couple earning $250,000 or less a year. Republicans are bent on making them permanent for everybody, including the richest.The cuts apply to rates on wage income as well as to dividends and capital gains. A failure to act would mean big tax increases for people at every income level.Obama has scheduled a meeting at the White House with Republican leaders on Tuesday, and possible options for compromise will be on the table, including providing a temporary extension for the wealthy.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has suggested that the Senate hold two votes: one on the Democratic plan confining the tax cut extension to the middle class, the other on Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to extend the cuts to everyone. If both are defeated, as anticipated, then the real negotiations begin.“There will be bipartisan support in the lame duck to extend all the tax cuts for two or three years, and I think that vote will be had before the end of the year,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Sunday. “And if the president doesn’t support that, I think he’s running a risk of making the economy weaker.”Congress also has a Dec. 3 deadline to pass a temporary spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. The Senate hasn’t passed a single spending bill for the budget year that began Oct. 1. Democrats are working on a catchall $1.1 trillion to fund the government’s day-to-day operations. Republicans, fresh off their election victory, are unlikely to go along.“If this election showed us anything, it’s that Americans don’t want Congress passing massive trillion-dollar bills that have been thrown together behind closed doors,” said McConnell, R-Ky.One idea is to fund the government at current levels through February, when the next Congress and its influx of anti-spending conservatives, will deal with the matter.If the pre-Thanksgiving first week of the lame-duck session is any indication, the chances aren’t good that Congress will accomplish much in the weeks ahead.The House tried, and failed, to extend federal unemployment checks for the 2 million people whose benefits will run out during the holiday season. Republicans objected, saying the $12.5 billion cost of the three-month extension should be paid for so it doesn’t add to the deficit.The Senate’s main achievement was approval of a long-delayed settlement with black farmers and American Indians who say they were swindled out of aid, subsidies and royalties in past dealings with the government. Under the agreement awaiting House approval, black farmers would receive almost $1.2 billion and American Indians $3.4 billion.The Senate also postponed, for a month, a 23 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors; it was to begin on Dec. 1. The House is expected to go along, giving lawmakers time to come up with a longer-term plan to avoid cuts that could prompt doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients.As early as Monday night, the Senate could pass and send to the House a measure that gives the Food and Drug Administration greater authority to order food recalls and inspect imported food.The House is to take up a Senate-passed child nutrition bill, which promotes healthier school lunches and has the support of first lady Michelle Obama.Also on the House agenda is a last-ditch effort by Democrats to show they have not forgotten immigration policy. Legislation known as the Dream Act, which has stumbled once in the Senate, would provide a path to legal status for the children of illegal immigrants who either go to college or join the military.Also on the to-do list:—Senate Republicans have blocked a defense bill that would end the military’s ban on gays serving opening. The Pentagon is to release a report Tuesday on how lifting “don’t ask, don’t tell” would affect military operations, and Democrats say they will try again to change the policy. Graham said he doesn’t believe there are “anywhere near” the votes on the GOP side for a repeal right now. “So I think in a lame-duck setting, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is not going anywhere.—Obama says the new START treaty that would reduce nuclear weapons arsenals in the U.S. and Russia is a “national security imperative” and he wants the Senate to hold a ratification vote this year. But a key Republican, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, says the vote should be put off until next year. There are “higher priority items” in the lame-duck session, he said Sunday. The addition of more GOP senators in the new Senate will complicate passage.—Democrats say they want to give the extension of unemployment benefits another shot. One possibility is tying it to the tax cut bill. Democrats could try to portray Republicans as supporting tax cuts for the rich that would cost $700 billion over 10 years while opposing help for the jobless.—There are numerous other tax breaks, such as for research and development, that need to be renewed. Congress is facing a deadline to shield some 21 million from significant tax increases by adjusting the alternative minimum tax by the end of the year. The cost of that is about $70 billion.On the sidelines, hearings are expected on new airport screening methods judged by some travelers as being too intrusive, and House Republicans will continue to develop the rules under which they will govern when they become the majority in January. Republicans must settle several disputes over who will become committee chairmen next year.To darken everyone’s holiday mood, the president’s bipartisan deficit commission on Wednesday is expected to come out with its ideas on long-term cuts to Social Security, Medicare, defense and other federal spending needed to keep the government solvent.“The commission probably is dead,” Graham said. Emaillast_img read more

Not Just Any Business Is Personal

first_imgI’ve decided that we need to spend more time here focusing on the smart businesses and what they do, in hopes of making more Flathead businesses fall in the smart column.It hit me while motoring from Memphis to Mom’s place after hearing yet another ad for Angie’s List.We “need” things like Angie’s List, the Better Business Bureau (which I think has little to do with better business) and to a lesser extent, the US Consumer Protection Agency, partly because we are lazy consumers.Consumer laziness compels us to return to a business even though we were treated poorly the last time we went there. Consumers are going to do what they’re going to do, collectively. Individually, of course, each of us can do something about it via word of mouth.ResponsibilityBusinesses have a lot of responsibility here as well, and not just the ones treating consumers poorly.Why do businesses that routinely treat their customers poorly manage to stay open?I blame your business. And myself.It doesn’t matter what economic level, what market position, or what part of the world your business is in. This isn’t about businesses focused on serving value-seeking customers vs. those focused on serving affluent customers.It’s about customers on every rung of the economic ladder, how you take care of them and how you educate them.The responsibility of a good business doesn’t stop there. Not even close.ObligationA good business is obligated to communicate why they are either the only logical solution (or on the “short list” of logical solutions).“We’ll beat any price.” doesn’t do that. In fact, it usually takes everything else off the table, saying “We believe nothing is more important than price.” That might be true in a few situations, but in reality, people make one or two cent buying decisions every day.Do you know what drives them?A good business is obligated to find a way, even in commodity markets, to get their clientele to cross the street in their direction and pay two cents more. Most importantly, these customers are glad they did so and will be happy to again.Likewise, a good business is obligated to do whatever is necessary to make it as easy as possible for their clients to tell others about the insanely good (or maybe just consistently good) experience they have with that business.Talk is cheap, until they talk about youWhy does Angie’s List have to exist in order to get someone’s testimonial for your business online?To expand that beyond AL (I’m not picking on them – I happen to like their service), why do people have to search the internet to find out word-of-mouth info about you? It’s great that the info is there, but you should be leading the charge (strategically, not smarmily – yes, I made up that word) to let people know who thinks you hung the moon.It’s your responsibility to first do good business and then make sure others find out what your clientele experienced. Doesn’t matter whether they find out via Twitter, Facebook, at the grocery store, after church or at a kid’s ballgame.What haven’t you done to get that information on your site? In your store?What haven’t you done to personalize your business to the point that people can’t help but tell their friends about you?If you can identify those things, why haven’t you done them?Why is that?Are you really willing to sit there and let people cross the street to the other guy to save a penny or two, knowing full well the experience they will have?The treatment they get from a competitor reflects on you because you’re in the same business. Do you take that personally?You should. I wonder what you’ll do about it.Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com. Email Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.last_img read more


first_img Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Email When I was producing movies, which I did for 55 years, every time I was able to show a profit I invested it in my own company rather than the stock market. However, I do enjoy watching the numbers go up and down.But I have developed my own indicator of how healthy the American economy really is and it is easy to track inflation as well. It is simply the cost of a stack of pancakes in a restaurant. I will present some concrete evidence to substantiate my claim. I have been working on my autobiography and last night I uncovered a 1930 newspaper grocery store advertisement:Flour, 10-pound sack, 25 cents.Oleomargarine, two pounds, 15 cents.Butter, 28 cents a pound.Peanut butter, two pounds, 19 cents.Hamburger, 5 cents a poundBread, 6 cents a loafAs a child this pretty well constituted the ingredients for my meals except for the occasional liver on Fridays. But let’s get to the restaurant pancakes. I first became aware of what they cost in the café at San Onofre when I started surfing there in 1940. You could get a stack of pancakes with plenty of butter and syrup for 25 cents. I settled for a short stack because two pancakes only cost 20 cents. This left me a nickel to buy a Snickers.By 1950 pancakes were at the unbelievable price of $1 for three, but they gave me the strength to keep my right foot on the throttle and my eyes on the road until I got to my next show several hundred miles away.It seemed that overnight a stack of pancakes doubled once again to $2 a stack and they have been spiraling upwards ever since I bought my first stack in a restaurant 70 years ago.So I guess it should not have been surprising last weekend when my wife had gone to Seattle to the symphony and I stopped by a local restaurant for a Sunday morning stack of pancakes. I was casual about ordering and did not even look at the menu. When the bill came the stack was $13.75! Fortunately I had my credit card with me but that stack cost 55 times as much as the one I bought in the cafe at San Onofre in 1940! I am certainly not an economist or an accountant but a 1940 bottle of Root Beer cost 5 cents, and now costs $2, which is 40 times as much. At this current rate, my grandchildren, when they are my age, will be paying $40 for a candy bar, maybe even more? It doesn’t really matter. If you want it, put your money or your credit card on the counter and buy your brief moments of enjoyment.In the early years that I have written about, when things were a lot cheaper, those prices were burned into our brains and I almost subconsciously compare them to everything I purchase. I reluctantly come to the conclusion that prices are 40 or 50 times what they were. Then, the take-home pay of most families was between a $1,000 and $3,000 a year.Happiness is not counting the cost of stuff; rather it is in the amount of fun and freedom we are able to earn. Time to catch a fish, fly a kite, sail a boat, do any manner of things without a score or a court. Which of course is why I play a lot of golf and I don’t keep my score and I don’t waste a lot of time looking around in the pucker brush for a used golf ball I only paid 25 cents for. Am I a cheapskate? I don’t know. I rather think that I, and millions like me, grew up with the absolute necessity of being frugal so that is what I call it. What I have left has to last until I am ready to leave and I plan to spend the very last dollar on my very last day!last_img read more

FEMA: Nearly $29M Awarded in Flooding Aid

first_imgHELENA –The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it has approved nearly $28 million in public and individual assistance for Montana flooding damages.The U.S. Small Business Administration has provided nearly $1 million more in low-interest loans to residents and business owners.FEMA said in a statement Wednesday that it has processed more than $23.7 million through its public assistance grant program. The program pays 75 percent of the cost of eligible flood-recovery projects undertaken by the 48 counties and five reservations included in the June 17 presidential disaster declaration.Another $4.2 million has been awarded to individuals for housing and other needs resulting from the spring floods that affected much of the state.SBA disaster loans to repair or replace damaged homes go up to $200,000. Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Emaillast_img read more