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Posted 4/19/16 at 9:00 AM | Mike Keas
Historian Richard Weikart's new book, The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life, is an important study of the erosion of the most basic values in the Judeo-Christian tradition of the West. Many things are striking about Weikart's powerful treatment of his subject, but I noted, in particular, his discussion of some statements from atheist biologist Richard Dawkins. These statements have a curious, persistent, and revealing inconsistency to them.
Here is Weikart, for example, on a 2007 interview with Dawkins:
[C]onsider how Richard Dawkins responded when Larry Taunton asked in an interview if his rejection of external moral standards meant that Islamic extremists might not be wrong. Dawkins replied, "What's to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn't right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question." Taunton admitted that he was stupefied by Dawkins's answer -- as he should have been. Anyone who thinks that making a moral judgment about Hitler is difficult has lost their moral compass completely and has no business pontificating about any moral issue (or proclaiming that he has discovered the "root of all evil" -- which is what he called religion, of course). (p. 80) FULL POST
Posted 2/26/16 at 9:52 AM | Mike Keas
DEADLINE FOR SEMINARS: April 7. SEE BELOW.
Before I tell you about Discovery Institute's two intensive 9-day seminars, watch this new video about intelligent design. Ever thought of excessive beauty as a sign of genius in design? Watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FothcJW-Quo&feature=youtu.be
This is the sort of thing you will learn at Discovery Institute's Summer Seminars.
The video asks:
Why do centipedes always have an odd number of body segments? How did that help the survive? Why do nearly all mammals, from mice to giraffes, have seven bones in their cervical vertebrae? All octopi have eight tentacles. Why not six, or ten? Jellyfish have a mesmerizing radial symmetry. Sand dollars and starfish both display a star-like pattern. Nature seems to have plenty of room to develop order and patterns that do no serve an immediate survival purpose. FULL POST
Posted 1/26/16 at 8:32 PM | Mike Keas
#3: Introducing The Information Enigma, Intelligent Design in a Nutshell
Intelligent design, or ID, may be the most misunderstood scientific idea ever. That's why we are delighted today to unveil an easily accessible 21-minute crystallization of ID's major argument in the form of a beautifully produced video from Discovery Institute, The Information Enigma. Read more.
#2: Hominid Hype Over a Species of Unclear Evolutionary Importance
The media is once again abuzz over the discovery of a new hominin fossil. The fossil is named Homo naledi, represented by hundreds of bones found in a cave near Johannesburg, South Africa. It has long been recognized that we are missing fossils documenting the supposed transition from the apelike genus Australopithecus to the humanlike Homo. Despite what you may be hearing in the media, Homo naledi does not solve this problem. Read more.
Posted 9/15/15 at 7:53 PM | Mike Keas
In 2013 Stephen Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design became a national bestseller, provoking a debate that has engaged reputable opponents. Now a sequel book is available: Debating Darwin’s Doubt: A Scientific Controversy that Can No Longer Be Denied:
Leading scholars in the intelligent design community respond to critiques of Meyer’s book and show that the core challenge posed by Meyer remains unanswered: Where did the influx of information essential to the creation of new body plans come from? In addition to ten chapters by Stephen Meyer, Debating Darwin’s Doubt also includes contributions from biologists Richard Sternberg, Douglas Axe, and Ann Gauger; philosopher of biology Paul Nelson; mathematicians William Dembski and David Berlinski; and Center for Science and Culture research coordinator Casey Luskin. In forty-four chapters, these contributing authors explore topics such as orphan genes, cladistics, small shelly fossils, protein evolution, the length of the Cambrian explosion, the God-of-the-Gaps objection to intelligent design, and criticisms raised by proponents of theistic evolution. Anyone who wants to understand the cutting-edge of current scientific debates over modern Darwinian theory needs to read this book.
Posted 3/18/15 at 4:14 PM | Mike Keas
I will highlight resources that support my 2015 Stand Firm Conference presentation, which carried the same title as today's blog. As a historian and philosopher of science, I address the question of whether Christianity has fostered scientific discovery. Earlier I published an essay that addresses some aspects of this question:
Discovery Institute hosts a website that explores science and faith. Here are some of its resources that support my main point today:
Are Christianity and science at war with one another? Not according to leading historians. "The greatest myth in the history of science and religion holds that they have been in a state of constant conflict," wrote historian of science Ronald Numbers in 2009. Dr. Numbers is not an adherent to any religious faith. He is also a leading expert on the history of science and religion. Why does the popular "science vs. Christianity" stereotype continue despite the impressive historical evidence otherwise? While some perpetuate this stereotype out of a deep desire to descredit Christianity, others simply repeat the stories in ignorance of their mythical status.
The truth is that science and biblical religion have been friends for a long time. Judeo-Christian theology has contributed in a friendly manner to such science-promoting ideas as discoverable natural history, experimental inquiry, universal natural laws, mathematical physics, and investigative confidence that is balanced with humility. Christian institutions, especially since the medieval university, have often provided a supportive environment for scientific inquiry and instruction.
Posted 1/30/15 at 9:35 PM | Mike Keas
Let's survey some important recent resources that will help you explore the theory of intelligent design and the theistic religious implications of these scientific discoveries.
Posted 11/20/14 at 7:37 PM | Mike Keas
This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I -- and this past week provided a terrible reminder that conflicts stirred by the war remain with us. In Israel, a pair of Palestinian Muslims turned a Jerusalem synagogue at morning prayers into a bloodbath, a reminder to Israelis (as if one were needed) of their vulnerability to terrorists fanatically opposed to the existence of the state. Observers with a long memory may have recalled how a 1917 promise by the British Empire to aid settlement of the Holy Land made possible the establishment of a Jewish state. In Israel, the famous Balfour Declaration, penned by Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, is intensely honored along with its author to this day.
However, while the name of Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930) lives on most famously for his connection to British Middle East policy, his contributions to philosophy are fascinating and important, and should not be forgotten.
Balfour was a statesman, Prime Minister (1902-1905), and philosophical defender of Christianity and its harmony with science. His thought can be appreciated by contrasting him with one of his most formidable contemporary counterparts, Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), famed philosopher and author of pithy essays such as "Why I Am Not a Christian." Timothy Madigan, Associate Professor of Philosophy at St. John Fisher College, and officer in the Bertrand Russell Society, recently celebrated the Russell-Balfour comparison in the pages of Philosophy Now ("The Paradoxes of Arthur Balfour"): FULL POST
Posted 9/18/14 at 9:20 PM | Mike Keas
About forty years ago biologists discovered that some bacteria swim by means of a rotating flagellum, which is a long whip-like propellor connected to a rotary engine that is situated within the cell membrane. About twenty years after this discovery biochemist Michael Behe began to argue that the bacterial flagellum and many other molcular machines within living cells exhibit the property of "irreducible complexity," which implied that the likelihood of their origin by means of an unguided material process is beyond reasonable belief. What has become of this argument in the last twenty years? Has the overall trajectory of research supported or eroded Behe's case for the "irreducible complexity" of molecular machines like the bacterial flagellum?
In his book Darwin's Black Box (1996) Behe explained that irreducibly complex systems could not have arisen by a gradual step-by-step neo-Darwinian evolutionary process.
The flagellum is a long, hairlike filament embedded in the cell membrane. The external filament consists of a single type of protein, called "flagellin." The flagellin filament is the paddle surface that contacts the the liquid during swimming. At the end of the flagellin filament near the surface of the cell, there is a bulge in the thickness of the flagellum. It is here that the filament attaches to the rotor drive. The attachment material is comprised of something called "hook protein." The filament of a bacterial flagellum, unlike a cilium, contains no motor protein; if it is broken off, the filament just floats stiffly in the water. Therefore the motor that rotates the filament-propellor must be located somewhere else. Experiments have demonstrated that it is located at the base of the flagellum, where electron microscopy shows several ring structures occur. (p. 70-72) FULL POST
Posted 8/20/14 at 9:54 PM | Mike Keas
This summer marks the hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War. By August 1914 many nations had joined the horrible conflict that would take 16 million lives. Although many factors contributed to the beginning of the Great War, a new documentary from Discovery Institute explores the Darwinian ideological connection.
The documentary relies heavily on the work of historian Richard Weikart who is one of the worlds leading experts on German Darwinism up through the Second World War. He has published many essays in refereed journals about the history of German Darwinism as well as several books on this fascinating topic.
The Biology of the Second Reich: Social Darwinism and the Origins of World War I debuted a few days ago. This 14-minute documentary introduces how Darwinian racial theory helped drive German intellectual and military leaders in the years leading up to 1914.
One of the key sources for the argument advanced in this documentary is Headquarters Nights by Darwinian biologist Vernon Kellogg. This book chronicles some of Kellogg's conversations with German officers and intellectuals during the early part of World War I. Here is one excerpt from that book (some of this is in the documentary): FULL POST
Posted 7/16/14 at 11:08 AM | Mike Keas
Let's review recent significant discussion of Stephen Meyer's book Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. Darwin's Doubt passed the 500-reviews milestone on Amazon just before the book's one year anniversary on June 18. Reviews, both popular and professional, indicate that even many critics of intelligent design have found it difficult to simply ignore Meyer's bestseller (although many of the critical reviews display ignorance of the book's precise evidential arguments).
ENV put it this way:
What's the biggest failure of the critics who tried to knock down the argument Steve Meyer makes in Darwin's Doubt -- Matzke, Prothero, Cook in The New Yorker, Farrell in National Review, etc., with the important exception of Marshall in Science? As Meyer says above [use link above to see video], it's the failure to wrestle with or really even to properly acknowledge the book's main argument. That is, the problem of where all the new genetic and epigenetic information needed to build the Cambrian animals came from. FULL POST