Thursday, September 29, 2011


Whew, what a month it has been! First there was Lynn and Tony's 21st, then MCAC Social Night (pics for both will be up soon, I promise! Maybe...) Bill got a blog here, and as befits Bill it's suitably...capitalist. And evil. Though I guess evil capitalism is a bit like saying stupid Americans.

Anyway, the big news for me is that I'm no longer single! On the day that I'm typing this, Lynn and myself will have been Facebook official for one week :) I guess it's a big step for me, but it's also an exciting step! Can't wait to see what the future brings ^^

Well, I know what tomorrow is going to bring, at least. Got a job interview for Coles out in Rowville...kinda nervous, but not really. Probably won't get it, since I'll be heading off to China at the end of the year (2.5 months in total) for a 6 week in-country language study exchange, as well as travelling, and spending Chinese New Year in China for the first time! Really excited, but also sad that I'll miss out on most of the holiday break here in Australia. Christmas, New Years, my birthday...:( Apprehensive, nervous, and excited, all at the same time!

That's it for me for now, hope you're all enjoying your midsemester breaks :) Exams are comingggggg! D:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Intelligent Design


Background: Professor Michael J. Behe is a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University. He is a proponent of the intelligent design hypothesis, which essentially stipulates that an unknown 'intelligent designer' designed all living organisms. His proof for this is the apparent irreducible complexity of particular biochemical structures, which he states can only have arisen from intelligent design, not evolution.

Now, there are people in the US whgo weren't happy that intelligent design was being taught in schools. So they went to the Federal Court to try and change this, stating that intelligent design is not a legitimate science. The defense brought along Professor Behe and some others to act as expert witnesses. The judge, John E. Jones III, would later comment on Professor Behe's testimony:

"Consider, to illustrate, that Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God."

"As no evidence in the record indicates that any other scientific proposition's validity rests on belief in God, nor is the Court aware of any such scientific propositions, Professor Behe's assertion constitutes substantial evidence that in his view, as is commensurate with other prominent ID leaders, ID is a religious and not a scientific proposition."

"First, defense expert Professor Fuller agreed that ID aspires to 'change the ground rules' of science and lead defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology. Moreover, defense expert Professor Minnich acknowledged that for ID to be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened to allow consideration of supernatural forces."

"What is more, defense experts concede that ID is not a theory as that term is defined by the NAS and admit that ID is at best 'fringe science' which has achieved no acceptance in the scientific community."

"ID proponents primarily argue for design through negative arguments against evolution, as illustrated by Professor Behe’s argument that 'irreducibly complex' systems cannot be produced through Darwinian, or any natural, mechanisms. However, … arguments against evolution are not arguments for design. Expert testimony revealed that just because scientists cannot explain today how biological systems evolved does not mean that they cannot, and will not, be able to explain them tomorrow. As Dr. Padian aptly noted, 'absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.'… Irreducible complexity is a negative argument against evolution, not proof of design, a point conceded by defense expert Professor Minnich."

"In fact, on cross-examination, Professor Behe was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with fiftyeight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not "good enough."

"With ID, proponents assert that they refuse to propose hypotheses on the designer’s identity, do not propose a mechanism, and the designer, he/she/it/they, has never been seen. ... In addition, Professor Behe agreed that for the design of human artifacts, we know the designer and its attributes and we have a baseline for human design that does not exist for design of biological systems. Professor Behe’s only response to these seemingly insurmountable points of disanalogy was that the inference still works in science fiction movies."

Shut. Down.

Science/religion quotes


"Evolution is to the social sciences as statues are to birds: a convenient platform upon which to deposit badly digested ideas." - Steve Jones

"The word 'mundane' has come to mean 'boring' and 'dull', and it really shouldn't - it should mean the opposite. Because it comes from the latin mundus, meaning 'the world'. And the world is anything but dull: The world is wonderful. There's real poetry in the real world. Science is the poetry of reality." - Richard Dawkins.

"Thankfully, there are scientists who do search for answers to the question of the origin of the immune system. It's the immune system. It's our defense against debilitating and fatal diseases. The scientists who wrote those books and articles toil in obscurity, without book royalties or speaking engagements. Their efforts help us combat and cure serious medical conditions. By contrast, Professor Behe and the entire intelligent design movement are doing nothing to advance scientific or medical knowledge and are telling future generations of scientists, don't bother." - From closing argument of attorney Eric Rothschild in the Dover ID trial (check out the link, it's the Wikipedia article for Professor Behe, pretty interesting)

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." - Theodosius Dobzhansky

"Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered." - Stephen Jay Gould

"The universal opinion over thousands of years that the Earth was flat never flattened its spherical shape by one inch." - Isaac Asimov.

"From the definition [of God] it follows that nothing is better than God. Also, God must be better than me. Therefore, nothing is better than me. So, I must be God. Now, I certainly exist. So, God must too. Spotting the flaw is left as an excercise to the reader." - Daniel Harbour

"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." - S. H. Roberts

"Arguing with a creationist is like playing chess with a pigeon. It'll knock over the pieces, crap on the board, and fly back to it's flock to claim victory." - Anonymous

"It is often said, mainly by the 'no-contests', that although there is no positive evidence for the existence of God, nor is there evidence against his existence. So it is best to keep an open mind and be agnostic. At first sight that seems an unassailable position, at least in the weak sense of Pascal's wager. But on second thoughts it seems a cop-out, because the same could be said of Father Christmas and tooth fairies. There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?" - Richard Dawkins.

"Rational arguments don't usually work on religious people - otherwise there would be no religious people!" - Dr House

"It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. ... Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death." - Albert Einstein

"I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." - Albert Einstein.

"The universe doesn't care what you believe. The wonderful thing about science is that it doesn't ask for your faith, it just asks for your eyes." - XKCD