Friday, July 08, 2005

The Church's curious op-ed and ID an admitted religious belief

Update: If you're visiting here from the thirteenth Skeptics' Circle, you may want to go to this continuation post to make your comments; the comment section here is already a bit long.

There's been a fair amount of discussion of the opinion piece by Christoph Schönborn, the Roman Catholic cardinal archbishop of Vienna, in the July 7 New York Times (linked above; also available in the July 8 International Herald Tribune). In this article, Cardinal Schönborn appears to be laying the ground for the new Pope to distance the Church from his predecessor's accommodating, though somewhat ambiguous, stance on evolution. Now that there's been a fair amount of comment on other blogs and my migraine has gone away, I thought I'd comment on the situation. Note that, since I'm not a Catholic, my reading of Church officials' statements is that of an outside.

Let's start with Pope John Paul II's October 22, 1996 address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The key part of the address is as follows (heavily edited by me for length, hopefully not changing its meaning):
3. ...I would like to remind you that the Magisterium of the Church has already made pronouncements on these matters...

In his Encyclical Humani generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII had already stated that there was no opposition between evolution and the doctrine of the faith about man and his vocation, on condition that one did not lose sight of several indisputable points...

4. ...the Encyclical Humani generis considered the doctrine of "evolutionism" a serious hypothesis, worthy of investigation and in-depth study... two methodological conditions: that this opinion should not be adopted as though it were a certain, proven doctrine and as though one could totally prescind from Revelation with regard to the questions it raises. He also spelled out the condition on which this opinion would be compatible with the Christian faith...

Today... It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favour of this theory...

5. The Church's Magisterium is directly concerned with the question of evolution, for it involves the conception of man... the human individual cannot be subordinated as a pure means or a pure instrument, either to the species or to society... St. Thomas observes that man's likeness to God resides especially in his speculative intellect... It is by virtue of his spiritual soul that the whole person possesses such a dignity even in his body. Pius XII stressed this essential point: if the human body takes its origin from pre-existent living matter the spiritual soul is immediately created by God...

Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the mind as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground the dignity of the person.

So, John Paul noted his predecessor's statement that evolution and the Church are not incompatible (essentially, I believe, he said that it was permissible for Catholics to work in evolutionary sciences). The two conditions that he cited were that evolution not be accepted as definitively proven and that no claim be made that the human soul arises merely from the material world -- that the creation part that God enters into is the creation of each person's soul.

John Paul appears to relax Pius XII's statement on the unproven nature of evolution, noting the independent evidence for it from numerous fields. So, what he appears to be saying is that, if one accepts that mind is not produced solely as the result of the action of matter and that individuals' roles are not merely that of a cog in an evolutionary machine, then it is acceptable for Catholics to consider evolution to be a well-supported scientific theory. Since evolution makes no statement about the soul nor of the purpose of individual organisms, this presents a very accommodative stance on the part of the Church. My interpretation appears to be supported by this web page, written by Michael J. Ghedotti, an Associate Professor of Biology at Regis University (he also summarizes the relationship between evolution and a number of other religions).

Now we come to Cardinal Schönborn's op-ed piece.

EVER since 1996, when Pope John Paul II said that evolution (a term he did not define) was "more than just a hypothesis," defenders of neo-Darwinian dogma have often invoked the supposed acceptance - or at least acquiescence - of the Roman Catholic Church when they defend their theory as somehow compatible with Christian faith.

But this is not true. The Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth, proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things.

Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.

He then goes on to minimize the importance of John Paul's 1996 address and pick other statements by him to support his thesis that evolution is guided by God. I think he is being very clear here, and is formally aligning the Church with the intelligent design crowd.

It is my understanding that, at some level, the official positions of the Church are considered eternal and infallible. Understandably, this makes Church leaders hesitant to make swift decisions or unambiguous statements. Even the cardinal's statement is not unambiguous. However, the gist of his writing is that while common descent may be true, the driving force behind evolution is not random, it is intelligent (and supernatural). This is much more restrictive than what John Paul said -- he place no such restriction on the mechanism of physical evolution -- and it certainly appears that he is laying the groundwork for Benedict XVI to, maybe not repudiate, but reinterpret the Church stance away from a focus on the special creation of the human soul and towards divine intervention in the ongoing processes of life. If you read this article, you may decide that this is mostly a subtle change of wording rather than a truly substantive change of policy.

A might be expected, the wackos at the "Intelligent Design" Institute are spinning this as a major victory. This is nonsense, and in fact ID's advocates' statements give the lie to their assertion that ID is science. If ID were science, then the Catholic Church's position would be irrelevant. The validity of scientific theories is not affected by the support of authorities or organizations -- it is supported only by evidence. By citing the op-ed piece as support for ID, these folks are in fact admitting that ID is a religious belief, and not science.

Other blog postings relating to this include: Chris C. Mooney, The Panda's Thumb, Red State Rabble, and SciAm Perspectives.

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11 comments:

  1. First, who is the "Intelligent Design Institute"?

    Secondly, ID advocates are not pointing to the Cardinal's op-ed on evolution as support for ID. It is what it is, an interesting and significant clarification of position on Darwinian evolution by an influential body. Not only that, but it is yet another branch of theism that has explicitly endorsed ID in some sense, and therefore provides further demonstration that ID is not a fundamentalist Christian notion (or even Christian at all since Muslims are also on board).

    But the collective religious composition of the people who support ID are irrelevant to deciding whether ID is science or religion. It's the content of the position itself that's important. The mere fact that 70% plus of Darwinians are also atheists does not make Darwinism a religious position. Likewise with ID. Religious or philosophical implications matter not in the determination of scientific content. Indeed, in the area of origins, religious and/or philosophical implications are unavoidable.

    Just out of curiosity, what religion is ID?

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  2. By "intelligent design institute" I meant the "Discovery Institute" (DI) of Seattle. I figured those familiar with the topic would know what I meant and the unfamiliar wouldn't care. It's also less obfuscatory than the real name.

    The cardinal's op-ed piece is only significant to those who feel that a religious leader's opinion is relevant to a scientific matter. And, I believe that most people would agree that the DI is crowing about it.

    The religious affiliations of those who "believe" in intelligent design are irrelevant. Their beliefs are irrelevant. The world works the way it works whether people believe it or not. It was round and orbited the sun when people "knew" it was flat and the center of the universe. Similarly, the religious beliefs of, as you call them, "Darwinists," or as most people call them, scientists (all but a handful of crackpots) is irrelevant (but I'd be very surprised if your 70% figure weren't bogus; I'd guess that the religious affiliations of scientists would be much closer to that of the general population).

    Theories must be tested against the real world. Evolution has been tested for well over a century. It has been refined and extended as we've learned more about how biology works. On the other hand, ID isn't even a hypothesis, by the admission of its promulgators. (To borrow a phrase from Wolfgang Pauli, it "isn't even wrong.") It is therefore not science, which is probably a good explanation for the lack of peer-reviewed publications and research grants.

    The closest the ID folks come to a scientific or mathematical statement is their argument of "irreducible complexity," which is merely a polite way of saying, "I'm too stupid to understand this; I guess that must be true of everyone else; therefore it must not have happened." In other words, more of a statement about ID boosters than the real world.

    BTW, I didn't say that ID is a religion, I said that it is a religious belief. It certainly isn't science.

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  3. Fine, if it's a religious belief, what is that belief exactly?

    I'm familiar enough with this matter that I thought perhaps by saying "Intelligent Design Institute", you just didn't know what you were talking about. After all, you had just finished calling them "wackos", so it was a bit difficult to discern if you were a typical knee-jerk reactor or if you were informed.

    You are right that the world works the way it works whether we believe it or not, and your logic about a flat earth and geocentrism can apply to Darwinism as well. Perhaps in 10 years from now, we'll be saying "yeah, and we new that everything evolved by purely material mechanisms just a decade ago". I suspect that is going to happen. The true explanatory domain of material evolutionary processes is going to end up far more restricted than the stories we've told over this "century of testing".

    Evolutionary biologists have been using the words of religious leaders to support their claim that Darwinism and theism are compatible systems all along. So clearly they too think that those opinions are "relevant to the scientific matter" as well.

    Regarding irreducible complexity, you know your characterization is a strawman. Or perhaps you don't, and you are in fact uninformed. It is a real phenomenon (verified with genetic knock-out experiments) requiring explanation. Direct Darwinian pathways are clearly out. Indirect pathways are nothing more than stories, and severely problematic at that. It's not that we don't know enough about, say, the flagellum. It's that we know material, unguided causes are not plausible for it's origin. Plugging in a "we'll find an answer someday" is nothing more than "materialism of the gaps", and is a matter of faith.

    Regarding publication, I fail to see the persuasiveness of that argument. The whole industry is dominated by Darwinian orthodoxy (see the Smithsonian episode with Priviledged Planet). Moreover, given the internet, ideas don't need to be "peer reviewed" in journals to get, well, reviewed. The irreducibility of the flagellum has been vetted and discussed ad infinitum online. No one can say the experts haven't taken their shots and critiques. Reading those critiques leave me wanting.

    That said, the line used to be "ID folks have never been published in journals". Well now its "ID folks rarely publish in journals". Off the top of my head I can think of 3 papers in the last several months. Soon, I suspect, the publication dismissal will be pretty useless.

    ID is clearly young in its current formulation. Much work needs to be done. But it is certainly on the right track in trying to dislodge materialism and a philosophical commitment in origins science. That commitment is not unlike a commitment to Biblical literalism. It assumes causes at the outset, and very often those assumptions become conclusions and inferences without supporting data.

    Remember, the world works the way the world works. Well, the history of life is what it is regardless of the definitions and constraints (material causes only) we choose to put on it's study. As life was unfolding, it certainly wasn't obligated to obey our materialistic requirements. That we try to cram it completely into material explanations alone as a matter of philosophical commitment, and a priori, leaves the door wide open for wrong explanations.

    So tell me, since evolution has been "tested for a century", what convinces you that irreducibly complex systems can be accounted for by material processes?

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  4. "Fine, if it's a religious belief, what is that belief exactly?"


    I dunno, that some supernatural entity, which might be God, but on the other hand might be some other supernatural entity (maybe Q?), created living things in some semblance of their current forms? Certainly, I assume that this creation act must have included all "irreducibly complex" biological features.

    By the way, I do not believe that anyone in the biological sciences calls evolution "Darwinism". Scientists may consider Darwin to have had incredible insight (especially considering, at that time, there was no knowledge of things like DNA), but that's about as far as they've taken hero worship.

    As far as the relevance of religion to science, scientists are only concerned with that either on a personal level or at the level where they'd prefer not to be persecuted for their work by crazy people (as has happened in the past, just ask Galileo). That latter reason is equivalent to saying, "nice doggy" to a strange dog. Call it diplomacy.


    "Or perhaps you don't, and you are in fact uninformed. It is a real phenomenon (verified with genetic knock-out experiments) requiring explanation. Direct Darwinian pathways are clearly out. Indirect pathways are nothing more than stories, and severely problematic at that. It's not that we don't know enough about, say, the flagellum. It's that we know material, unguided causes are not plausible for it's origin."


    This is patent nonsense. I don't mean the part about me being uninformed, you may assume my lack of knowledge of this area is boundless, my biological expertise being confined to neurophysiology. You may want to read this article to learn more about the flagellum.


    "The whole industry is dominated by Darwinian orthodoxy (see the Smithsonian episode with Priviledged Planet). Moreover, given the internet, ideas don't need to be "peer reviewed" in journals to get, well, reviewed."


    This shows that you really don't have an understanding of how science and scientific publication works. Your usage of the phrase "Darwinian orthodoxy" again indicates the deliberate confounding of religion and science done by creationists. If you have a testable theory and can conduct an experiment or make an observation that supports it in preference to some other theory, then you will be able to find a peer-reviewed journal to publish it. I've reviewed and published a number of papers, and they can be rejected for many reasons, but a bunch of "I don't like it" won't convince every editor of every bio journal (which is what it would take to keep a paper out of print). Rejection requires substance. Publication and review on the internet is not evidence that one's work has merit. For example, what I write in my blog isn't research and my research does not appear in my blog. The only valid review of scientific work is by one's peers, as they are the only people qualified to comment on hypothesis, methods, or results. As far as the Smithsonian and that film, the issue was the presentation of religious beliefs and pseudoscience as if they were legitimate science which was the issue. Again, when creationists can actually come up with a coherent hypothesis and present evidence that supports that it should be preferred to existing theory, then a claim to being scientific may be made. But even the first of those hasn't been done yet.

    Please feel free to provide citations for peer-reviewed creationist papers; I'll see if any colleagues would like to check them out. My observation, however, has been that the DI has mostly confined its activity to the political arena (i.e., convincing ignoramuses to sabotage their children's education and future career prospects), which is pretty solid evidence for them not being scientists.


    "So tell me, since evolution has been 'tested for a century', what convinces you that irreducibly complex systems can be accounted for by material processes?"


    I've yet to encounter anything irreducibly complex. I'm not even sure what a test for such a thing would be, if one wanted to prove that something were irreducibly complex. In fact, I'm not convinced that, in purely mathematical terms, such a thing could exist, given that the same biological machinery can code organisms with and without the supposedly irreducibly complex feature. Working in brain sciences, I'm very familiar with biological systems that are not well understood. However, unlike creationists, I don't confuse my own failings with the state of the world.

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  5. "Evolution has been tested for well over a century. It has been refined and extended as we've learned more about how biology works."

    Geez, it wasn't hard for evolution to gain traction as a theory when its only competition were mythological works. I mean come on you're talking about a time when geological processes were being elucidated, the enormous geological timescales certainly bolstered the concept of evolution. It certainly wasn't the evidence of how life work that has been "tested and verified for well over a century" they had no fucking idea how life worked on the level they needed to until the last 30 years: The molecular level.

    Most scientists had no idea how life on the molecular level worked and were guessing and observing from a very gross level, it's only been the last 50 years that they've only begun to understand how life actually works and this has major implications for understanding how life and "reality" really works. The fact is life is advanced nano-technology and saying scientists can just wave their hands and explain it without sophisticated detailed models (that haven't been done by the way) is ludicrous, evolution as in the actual tested part of the theory is in it's infancy, the causal properties of alleged mechanisms of how things came to be as they are today are certainly far from proven, the step-by-step observational evidence for the causal chains and knowing the limits of a proposed mechanisms capability is completely missing or far from being well understood.

    I agree that ID'ists are wrong headed in their religious beliefs but we will be designing life forms in the future, so at some point down in the future maybe someone will find new evidence that life was in fact designed, but for now evolution (or shall I just say "cause and effect") is the focus of research in biological sciences, its one thing to understand how something works, its quite another to say that how something works is enough explanation in itself to describe the origin of said object.

    Knowing scientifially how my DVD player works doesn't tell me much about the origins of my DVD player.

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  6. "The real core of Darwinism . . . is the theory of natural selection. This theory is so important for the Darwinian because it permits the explanation of adaptation, the design of the natural theologian, by natural means, instead of by divine intervention."

    Earnst Mayr in the foreword of Michael Ruse's book "Darwinism Defended". This is just one example I was able to find with a 10 second search.

    It's not hero worship, it's appropriate and proper distinction between the grand claim that unguided material processes can produce all of bio-complexity, and the non-controversial claim that "things change over time". Keeping the term Darwinism to characterize the former is simply a means of making sure terms aren't swapped. "Evolution is a fact". Fine, but Darwinism isn't (at least not as far as we can tell).

    The fact that some entity might have been involved in the design of life (some aspects at least) is not a religious belief. It is an implication from the inference that certain pieces of life indicate they were designed. The cause of design is an inference, not a belief. You seem sophisticated enough to know the difference.

    This is patent nonsense. I don't mean the part about me being uninformed, you may assume my lack of knowledge of this area is boundless, my biological expertise being confined to neurophysiology. You may want to read this article to learn more about the flagellum.

    Yeah, I've read it before. An obvious thing to note is that arguing from the co-option of TTSS is problematic since considerable data indicate it emerged from the flagella, and is not ancestral. In any case, you may want to read this article (and the others that follow it) as a well-thought critique: http://www.idthink.net/biot/flag2/index.html.

    I think this paper has a particularly good discussion of problems with postulating a filament formation following co-option of the TTSS. In any case, I'm always amazed at how Darwinists try to explain the "parts list", as if that were enough. Absent detailed assembly instructions of parts, both spatially and temporally, parts are meaningless.

    Regarding publication and Darwinian orthodoxy. Michael Behe has online documentation of correspondence with a journal in which they agree his paper has merit, but his inference to design is philosophically inconsistent with their journal, and therefore they woudn't publish it. The Smithsonian had reviewed the Priviledged Planet and found it worth of show, saying even that the science was right. They later changed their minds about sponsoring the event because of the philosophical implications and inferences made in the film.

    They did not, however, have any problems with Sagan's philosophical statements in "Cosmos", which they also showed years ago (Sagan even started his film with philosophical ponderings). I'm curious about whether you've read The Priviledged Planet or seen the film. I'm assuming not.

    Guillermo Gonzales has written an excellent open letter to his colleagues both about the reasoned substantive criticism he's received, as well as the mindless, pouty drivel others have offered. Worth reading. http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2699&program=CSC%20-%20Views%20and%20News

    Here are some articles published in journals and conference proceedings (peer reviewed) that are either explicitly ID and/or thoroughly non-Darwinian and telelogical (these will not satisfy your criteria of "creationist" papers if by that you mean Biblical creationists. but of course no one from ID is arguing that anyway.)

    Jonathan Wells, “Do Centrioles Generate a Polar Ejection Force? Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum 98 (2005): 37-62.

    Scott Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer, “Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits,” Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Design & Nature, Rhodes Greece, edited by M.W. Collins and C.A. Brebbia (WIT Press, 2004).

    S.C. Meyer, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 117(2) (2004): 213-239.

    M.J. Behe and D.W. Snoke, “Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues,” Protein Science, 13 (2004): 2651-2664.

    W.-E. Lönnig & H. Saedler, “Chromosome Rearrangements and Transposable Elements,” Annual Review of Genetics, 36 (2002): 389-410.

    M.J. Denton & J.C. Marshall, “The Laws of Form Revisited,” Nature, 410 (22 March 2001): 417.I.j

    People like you that have such strong zero concession policies (while at the same time arguing with utter condescension - "wackos", "ignoramuses", "not scientists" despite relevant Ph.Ds) are a mystery to me. The flagellum is irreducibly complex because it cannot function absent any of it's component proteins. The test is genetic knock-out experiments. To make the claim that evolution will provide an answer to it's origin is one thing. But to be so arrogant and stubborn as to not even admit that such systems present interesting challenges to material origins is to reveal your unbending and a priori commitment to a philosophy.

    You can call folks at the DI "non-scientists" all you want, but in my view at least they've demonstrated a willingness to let data dictate direction (as well as consider causal adequacy). As I said before, if science is most generally a systematic search for truth, people who have a blind commitment to materialism are the unscientific ones, because theirs is a strategy that can most easily lead to wrong answers. Fundamentalism is fundamentalism, be it Biblical or material.

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  7. Geez, it wasn't hard for evolution to gain traction as a theory when its only competition were mythological works.

    Seems like that's still the case, except that now the mythological beings are strangely left anonymous.

    I like science fiction as much as the next guy, and reading about aliens creating life (or our future selves doing such) can be fun and even thought-provoking. But, if we want to posit such an event having actually taken place, we would need to present a significant amount of supporting evidence. Gaps in existing theories are not support for alternative theories, they are merely lack of support for existing theories.

    Knowing scientifially how my DVD player works doesn't tell me much about the origins of my DVD player.

    Ignoring the fact that the DVD player is an artifact and continuing the analogy, an examination of the DVD player, in addition to many other electronic devices, both current and past, would allow you to learn a number of things. You would be able to infer a "genealogy" of such devices, based on the chips used. Similarly, you could determine how close different devices are structurally (e.g., that the DVD player is closely related to a computer's DVD drive). Likely, you would also be able to infer different design companies and manufacturers.

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  8. ...it's appropriate and proper distinction between the grand claim that unguided material processes can produce all of bio-complexity, and the non-controversial claim that "things change over time". Keeping the term Darwinism to characterize the former is simply a means of making sure terms aren't swapped. "Evolution is a fact". Fine, but Darwinism isn't (at least not as far as we can tell).


    As far as I'm aware, only creationists feel the need to make this distinction. Quote mining doesn't change that. As far as evolution producing all living things, I believe that this would be considered, in this context, the null hypothesis. If creationists want to put forth a theory that says that this is not possible, then they must be prepared to present a significant amount of convincing evidence (producing a "Designer" would do quite nicely). An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence -- in other words, a lack of an explanation for the evolution of some characteristic is not evidence that it could not have evolved.

    I'm not personally familiar with the citations you listed, but allow me to apply what I do know or can reasonably infer. The Minnich and Meyer paper appears to be at a creationist conference. The Wells and the Meyer papers appear to have been presented at conferences; I can't comment on the quality of those conferences, but biology conferences are usually not refereed and submissions are usually abstracts only. I can't comment on the other papers.


    The flagellum is irreducibly complex because it cannot function absent any of it's component proteins.


    Firstly, this is, at best, an argument for absence of evidence, i.e., of a certain set of experiments not showing a function. This is not evidence in support of creationism; at best (assuming it were true, which I cannot evaluate), it is lack of support for evolution. However, I would go further, saying that, even if true, it is not even a lack of support for evolution, because the techniques used to support the hypothesis are not "inverse evolution operations": in other words, they don't show that evolutionary change couldn't produce the characteristic.

    Let me elaborate a bit on that point. From an informal mathematical point of view, we can consider the genomes of each living thing, past or present, to be a vertex in a graph, with edges corresponding to what I'll call "evolutionary operations": whatever things evolution does to change one genome into another (point mutations, duplications, etc., etc). Irreducible complexity is an assertion that this graph is not connected: that, given a subgraph representing all living things at some point in time, there is another subgraph that is unreachable from the first and which contains other living this that arose later, and thus could not have evolved from the first. To prove that a graph is not connected, one must show that there are no connections. In the current context, I imagine that this would have to be done by collapsing subgraphs into equivalence classes and then showing that the evolution operators do not map from one class to another.

    I call the DI people non-scientists because they spend approximately 100% of their time doing politics and public relations. If they were scientists, they would be spending their time doing science.

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  9. It is my understanding that, at some level, the official positions of the Church are considered eternal and infallible.

    Only some positions taken by the pope are considered infallible or fully binding. An op-ed piece by a cardinal in a newspaper is fairly low on the authority scale. (In fact I would regard this as having less authority by Church standards than the letter Schönborn dismissed as being 'vague and unimportant'!) I do worry to some degree that this may be testing the waters for a more restrictive decree by Pope Benedict, but for the moment I do not think this represents a major shift.

    As you noted there is much ambiguous about Schönborn's column. In particular I would like to hear from him exactly what he means by "Neo-Darwinism." He can't expect to persuade anybody if he loads his columns with such jargon.

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  10. Pierce R. Butler7/21/2005 12:40 PM

    Stiber: ... Similarly, the religious beliefs of, as you call them, "Darwinists," or as most people call them, scientists (all but a handful of crackpots) is irrelevant (but I'd be very surprised if your 70% figure weren't bogus; I'd guess that the religious affiliations of scientists would be much closer to that of the general population).

    A 1998 survey of 517 Nat'l Academy of Sciences members found that (according to a summary at http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/frontlines_18_4.html): "Biological scientists rejected beliefs in God and immortality by 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively; among physical scientists, those beliefs were rejected by 79.0% and 76.3% of respondents." Only 7.0 percent claimed "belief in a personal god."

    The percentage of the general public holding such beliefs is harder to establish, but the same web page cited above includes a controversy about Gallup pollsters reporting 42% of Americans attending church regularly while some sociologists counted about 20% in a representative county.

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  11. Torbjorn Larsson7/21/2005 9:22 PM

    Here was a lot of creationist belief contra science knowledge. I am sorry that Michael had to stand up for the latter almost alone. But he did that splendidly.

    pierce:
    Those statistics are US only and seem confounded. Several questions are lumped together and there are no distinction between a religious worldview and major religions.

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