‘Induction over the history of science suggests that the best theories we have today will prove more or less untrue at the latest by tomorrow afternoon.’ Fodor, J. ‘Why Pigs don’t have wings,’ London Review of Books, 18th Oct 2007

Friday, 18 December 2009

Christianity in the UK

I have often quoted the research finding of Prof David Voas (Manchester) that whereas non-religious parents have a near 100% chance of passing on their lack of religion to their children, religious parents have only roughly a 50/50 chance. I have used this data to help Christians appreciate the overwhelming secular indoctrination faced by our children through the media and in education. Adults of course are also strongly influenced! Preliminary analysis of more recent data has been made available by Prof Voas. So far I only have the report (17 December) from Ekklesia (a Christian thinktank sadly strongly pro-TE and anti-ID - not a rare situation today) at. Read Ekklesia article here

Here is a key extract:

"The study suggests that the decline in faith is largely attributable to children no longer being brought up in a particular religion.

Professor Voas commented: “The results suggest that institutional religion in Britain now has a half-life of one generation, to borrow the terminology of radioactive decay. Two non-religious parents successfully transmit their lack of religion. Two religious parents have roughly a 50/50 chance of passing on the faith. One religious parent does only half as well as two together.”

He believes that the population can be categorised as religious, non-religious or “fuzzy faithful” – the 36 per cent who “identify with a religion, believe in God or attend services, but not all three”.

Despite the survey showing falling belief in God, 65 per cent of those questioned still thought that religion helps people to find inner peace while 79 per cent thought it provided solace. An additional 44 per cent said it was a shame that the influence of religion on British life was declining, while 18 per cent claimed both that faith is becoming more influential and that this is a bad thing."
Arthur Jones

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Times names new ID bestseller as a Book of the Year

By Andrew Halloway

Flying in the face of critics who say Intelligent Design (ID) is not real science, leading ID scientist Dr Stephen Meyer’s latest book has been named a Book of the Year by the Times Literary Supplement (TLS).
ID – the theory that says design explains life better than evolution – is usually most vociferously opposed by atheist evolutionists on the basis that it is religion not science. Yet the brave TLS reviewer who has chosen the book is an atheist himself.
The selection of Stephen Meyer's ‘Signature in the Cell’ for the prestigious award was made by prominent philosopher and noted atheist Thomas Nagel of New York University.
Nagel says: “Stephen C. Meyer’s Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperCollins) is a detailed account of the problem of how life came into existence from lifeless matter – something that had to happen before the process of biological evolution could begin.
“The controversy over Intelligent Design has so far focused mainly on whether the evolution of life since its beginnings can be explained entirely by natural selection and other non-purposive causes. Meyer takes up the prior question of how the immensely complex and exquisitely functional chemical structure of DNA, which cannot be explained by natural selection because it makes natural selection possible, could have originated without an intentional cause.
“He examines the history and present state of research on non-purposive chemical explanations of the origin of life, and argues that the available evidence offers no prospect of a credible naturalistic alternative to the hypothesis of an intentional cause. Meyer is a Christian, but atheists, and theists who believe God never intervenes in the natural world, will be instructed by his careful presentation of this fiendishly difficult problem.”
Last month, Signature in the Cell was also named one of the top ten bestselling science books on Amazon.com. Yet, in Darwinist-dominated Britain, the book hasn’t yet been published, and is only available from the USA.
Evidence of the irrational opposition of evolutionists to ID came this week in the overwhelmingly vicious and vitriolic flood of comments by Guardian readers on an article in support of ID. Arguing that ID should not be excluded from the study of origins, educational consultant Alastair Noble wrote in The Guardian on 1st December that complex biological systems have not been explained by neo-Darwinian processes.
Dr Noble was responding to the government move to put evolution on the primary curriculum for the first time. It is notable that the most ardent proponents of teaching evolution to primary children are atheists. Both the British Humanist Society and the British Council have been active in persuading the government to introduce evolution into primary schools. This is no coincidence, as atheists depend on evolution as one of the few scientific justifications for their beliefs.
Yet it is hypocritical, as they also say that children should be free to choose what they believe, rather than being indoctrinated. How can they choose, if they are not even offered a choice? Evolution is the only show in town as far as science teaching is currently concerned. No alternatives are allowed, and never will be, if atheists can help it.
But even the British Council’s own survey found that 54% of Britons agreed that evolution should not be taught in isolation, but science lessons should also include “other possible perspectives, such as Intelligent Design and creationism.”
Infuriated by the results of their own survey, the atheists are on the warpath.
As a former science teacher and schools inspector, Dr Noble is well-qualified to speak on the issue. He writes: “I am disturbed that proposals for science education are based on near-complete ignorance of Intelligent Design. I also think the views of most British people in this matter should not be so readily set aside.”
In addition, he says that ID “has a good pedigree. A universe intelligible by design principles was the conclusion of many of the great pioneers of modern science.”
In fact, even the co-discoverer of natural selection believed in an “overruling Intelligence”. Alfred Russel Wallace, a contemporary of Charles Darwin and the unsung scientist whose own work on natural selection propelled Darwin into publishing his ‘On the Origin of Species’, was opposed to Darwin’s purely materialistic (atheistic) version of evolution.
Michael A. Flannery, in his book ‘Alfred Russel Wallace's Theory of Intelligent Evolution: How Wallace's World of Life Challenged Darwinism’, shows that Darwin's exclusion of God from any involvement in the development of life was well entrenched in his mind long before he wrote ‘Origin of Species’. In other words, his belief that evolution could happen all by itself was not a product of his science but his philosophical position.
After many years of research, Wallace, second only to Charles Darwin as the 19th century's most noted English naturalist, came to the conclusion that evolution could not have happened without being guided by a higher intelligence, whereas Darwin held to the concept of randomness in evolution.
Writing in Forbes magazine, Flannery explained: "Darwin's own theory could hardly be called objectively scientific. Early influences on Darwin's youth established his predisposition to materialism and a dogmatic methodological naturalism [the exclusion of supernatural explanations] long before his voyage on the Beagle.
"In short, Darwin's metaphysic compelled his science. Wallace, on the other hand, was a tireless investigator who increasingly discerned design in nature. Unlike Darwin, Wallace's science compelled his metaphysics."
Dr Noble, continuing his argument in the Guardian, points out that discoveries in the 150 years since Darwin and Wallace have only increased the strength of Wallace’s case: “It is easily overlooked that the origin of life, the integrated complexity of biological systems and the vast information content of DNA have not been adequately explained by purely materialistic or neo-Darwinian processes. Indeed it is hard to see how they ever will.
“In an area such as this, where we cannot observe what happened directly, a legitimate scientific approach is to make an inference to the best explanation. In the case of the huge bank of functional information embedded in biological systems, the best explanation – based on the observation everywhere else that such information only arises from intelligence – is that it too has an intelligent source…
“There is a tendency in school science to present the evidence for evolution as uniformly convincing and all-encompassing, failing to distinguish between what is directly observable – such as change and adaptation over time through natural selection – and the more hypothetical elements, like the descent of all living things from a common ancestor. The evidence for these various strands is not of equal strength.
“If you insist that intelligent causation is to be excluded in the study of origins then you are teaching materialist philosophy, not science.
“I believe current government guidance is wrong in denying intelligent design the status of science. However, it does encourage teachers to handle it ‘positively and educationally’. That's a small step in the right direction.”

Doubting Darwin

Theos have now published their final report on Darwinism in 2009. The report Doubting Darwin - Can be read here. It investigates the thinking of creationists and evolution sceptics in the UK, and is suprisingly balanced in its approach, although a bit dry at times.

There is also an interesting debate here Have we misunderstood Creationism

Paul Bickley writes; "The first myth is that there is such a thing as a movement which we can legitimately call ‘creationism’." Undoubtedly that is correct, although there are as many views amongst those who hold to evolution. Undoubtedly also there is some bitter disputes, but I would suggest mainly at the fringes. Most creationists I know seek dialogue in a respectful manner.

"The second myth is that evolution sceptics are, in the words of Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society, “…anti-science…" Again quite right, most creationists are not anti-science, as even Ron Numbers has pointed out.

"The third myth is that the way to take the wind out of creationist sails is fierce rebuttal and public derision in the mode of Richard Dawkins or Harry Kroto. On the contrary, if evolution scepticism could ever be moulded into a movement, it would be due in no small measure to the galvanising effects of Dawkins’ rhetoric:" Again a good point, although the report does note that many creationists feel like a minority under attack.

"Bickley finishes with this useful statement,"If the public debate on faith and evolution is to move beyond its stale polarities, we could do worse than starting with rigorous analyses of the protagonists’ respective positions. The evolution-sceptical community is not really what reputation would make it. Listening carefully – knowing who ‘creationists’ really are and what they really think – is a first step to understanding the roots of their antagonism. In time, this understanding could undergird strategies which improve public engagement with science."

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Guardian 'Comment is Free' on ID

A 'Comment is Free' item on the Guardian website has stoked a great deal of interest with over 1500 responses. Clearly the item, by former schools inspector Alistair Noble, has stirred up a hornets nest.

Intelligent design should not be excluded from the study of origins - Complex biological systems have not been explained by neo-Darwinian processes

From the blog profile "Dr Alastair Noble is an educational consultant and lay preacher, and a former teacher and research chemist."