Science & Human Origins by Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe, and Casey Luskin
The recent Hollywood SciFi movie, Prometheus, by Ridley Scott (2012), is a good reminder of how fascinated we are with the story of our own origins. Finding clues left by extra terrestrial beings, scientists funded by motivated entrepreneurs, leave on a galactic journey to find the "Engineers" who seeded life on earth. What they find surprises them, and while they find some answers to "who" created us, they are left with the more disturbing question of "why" they create us.
Perhaps the movie provides us a little insight to the question of why every hominid bone discovery in Africa is hailed by anthropologists and media sources as the key missing link in explaining human origins. We just want to know where we came from. Standard scientific texts and news reports lead the average person to believe it has all been figured out according to Darwin's theory. The new discoveries are just filling in a few missing gaps in the evidence. That could not be farther from the truth. Scientists are nowhere closer to knowing the "who" or the "why" based on the evidence than they were 50 years ago. We frequently get requests for good texts that provide a critique of the Darwinian theory of human origins. What are we to make of the latest fossil finds from Africa or the claim that our DNA is almost identical to that of the chimpanzee? Until now there has not been a definitive text - just an article here or a chapter there. We are happy to recommend this brief text on the topic that is written with a general audience in mind.
The modern scientific creation story is that humans evolved from a common ancestor through the process of common descent and natural selection acting on unplanned genetic variations. The two lines of reasoning that are typically used to argue for our common ancestry with ape-like creatures are both based on similarity - similarity in anatomy, and similarity in DNA sequence. In this new book, Science & Human Origins, the authors take on both lines of argument and show that similarity between two complex structures does not reliably indicate an evolutionary path between them.
In chapters 1 and 2, Ann Gauger and Douglas Axe challenge the central claim that Darwin's undirected mechanism of natural selection is really capable of building a human being. In chapters 1, 3, and 4, Ann Gauger and Casey Luskin critically assess the genetic and fossil evidence that human beings share a common ancestor with apes. And in the final chapter, Ann Gauger refutes scientific claims that the human race could not have started from an original couple.
So whether it's for yourself, a high school or college student, or a friend at work, the next time someone claims that the fossil or DNA evidence proves we descended from a common ancestor according to Darwin's theory, this is the book you want in order to start examining the evidence and arguments in greater detail. Like the scientists from the movie Prometheus, we think you will be surprised by what you find.
On this episode of the ID The Future podcast, Casey Luskin talks with ARN Executive Director Dennis Wagner on the Access Research Network's Top 10 Science Stories of 2011. Gaining top honors on the list was the publication of the 50th peer-reviewed pro-ID scientific paper. Biomemetics, the field of science where man tries to mimic designs found in nature, made the top 10 list again this year with inventors from Harvard building a prototype butterfly and researchers in China reverse-engineering the woodpecker in order to build a better shock-absorbing system. Tune in to find out what else made science headlines in 2011.
by John Calvert 
July 28, 2008
Elliott Sober's July 2008 article titled Evolution without Naturalism, addresses concerns of Theistic Evolutionists. Many have tried to reconcile God and evolution by thinking of evolution as a guided process - one in which God intervenes from time to time to guide it for a purpose. However, evolutionary theory is a materialistic theory of origins. It posits an unguided process, driven by random variations and natural "selection." The random interactions of the properties of matter, energy and the forces supposedly account for life, not the guiding mind of a creator. Sober suggests they can reconcile the conflict by believing in a "stealth God," whose non-detectable "interventions fly below the radar of evolutionary biology."
A guided process is one directed by a mind to achieve a goal conceived by the mind. The construction of a bird's nest is guided by the mind of a bird for a purpose - to incubate eggs. An unguided process is one not related to a mind. It merely reflects random interactions of the properties of matter, energy and the forces. Imagine a drop of rain falling onto the surface of a placid pond. The resulting perfect circle that appears on the surface of the pond is the product of an unguided process driven simply by the interactions of matter (the drop of rain) being pulled by the force of gravity into a substance having the properties of a liquid to impose a force on the liquid that results in a perfect circular ripple. The ripple is not due to a guiding mind. It just occurs due to a series of material causes for no purpose.
The Theistic Evolutionist has two concerns with life arising from an unguided process. An unguided process driven only by mindless material causes cannot result in a purposeful effect as purpose derives only from a mind. This is true even of a purposeless process set in motion by a mind. I can close my eyes and let my fingers randomly fly over the keys to make a pattern like this: 'i gf h h''[ qgu vn It is one devoid of meaning, because the fingers were not guided by a mind to create one. They just flew randomly. If life is just an occurrence that results from an unguided purposeless process, then it has no inherent purpose, even if set in motion by a mind.
Furthermore, if all the relevant evidence reflects an unguided process, then faith in a stealth god who leaves behind no evidence of his work lacks a rational basis. In that case, we all have a clear "excuse" for non-belief. Any belief in a God is then based only on faith and not in part on a rational analysis of the available evidence. Such a faith is called fideism. This is a concern for the theist in her religious competition with non-theists over the mind of her son. Atheists and "Secular" Humanists will tell her son that Atheism/Humanism is evidence based and rational, while the theistic belief of his mother is not Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it is based on faith and mythology.
SoberÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s response ignores the chief concern - that an unguided process produces purposeless effects. Instead, he first argues that in some respects evolution may be directed rather than random. But that is not helpful, because even a river is directed in the sense that the law of gravity directs it to flow into the sea. The issue is whether it is directed by a mind. If not, then the process is not guided.
He then finesses the point by arguing that the "theory does not entail" an unguided process. Hence, it does not "deny" God. It leaves room for a God who just "flies under the radar of evolutionary biology:"
"Theistic evolutionists can of course be deists, holding that God starts the universe in motion and then forever after declines to intervene. But there is no contradiction in their embracing a more active God whose post Creation interventions fly under the radar of evolutionary biology. Divine intervention isn't part of science, but the theory of evolution does not entail that none occur."
The argument that evolution does not deny God is the same odd claim made by Judge Jones in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Can a theory ever "entail" or "require" any effect? Theories, unlike doctrines, don't entail anything. Even rigorously tested theories invite challenge. The argument that the theory does not deny God, is a strawman. No one is arguing that the theory denies God. The question is whether, if true, it makes God irrelevant. If evolution does the work of God why believe in Him? Why not worship the world from which life arises, rather than an irrelevant non-detectable spirit?
Curiously, however, evolutionary theory as applied, does entail the impermissible effect - the denial of God. This is because the radar it uses is calibrated to never detect an intelligent cause. Hence, when confronted with the question: Where do we come from? its internal dogma will invariably yield only one answer: Life arises from unguided material causes. The radar does entail that a non-God answer be given to the mother's impressionable young son.
Interestingly, the use of this kind of radar is not scientifically necessary. Today, science employs "radars" that do differentiate between patterns that have been guided by choices made by a mind -- "artifacts" -- against those that just arise from the random interactions of matter, energy and the forces. Jacques Monod, in Chance and Necessity, describes a mechanism that does that. His radar easily distinguishes artifacts produced by a guided process from physical objects like quartz crystals that just occur due to an unguided chemical process.
I mention Monod, because Sober"s article is inspired by MonodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s essay. Monod noted that the distinctive aspect of an artifact is its "purpose" or "structural teleonomy." Since purpose derives only from a mind and cannot be produced just by mindless chemistry, physics and chance, MonodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s radar implicates mind when it detects "structural teleonomy," function or purpose. The parts of an eye are related to the same function as the parts of a mind-produced camera. Science actually uses Monod's radar in a number of its investigations. SETI scientists use it to distinguish between guided and unguided radio and light waves. Archeologists, anthropologists, coroners and arson investigators use similar "radars" to look for evidence that implicates the prior activity of a mind. Did the effect arise from mind or matter - from intelligent or natural causes? Monod's radar gives off a loud signal when it scans the lengthy coded messages of living organisms that are translated into precisely integrated functional complexity.
However, the radar used by evolutionary biology has been modified to add an "on-off" switch. The switch turns off the radar's ability to detect "structural teleonomy" or evidence showing that an effect might have been the product of a guided process. When the switch is "off" the radar will only collect evidence of unguided material causes. After noting that this creates a "profound epistemological contradiction," Monod lumped the remaining explanatory causes into two categories - chance and necessity.
If the detector says one of the two causes is absent, then the other must be present. This is because chance and necessity provide the only two possible causal explanations for life. When Monod applied this modified radar to DNA with the switch off, it showed him that the nucleotide sequences that comprise the messages in DNA are not caused by chemistry - by necessity. This is because the four ACTG nucleotide symbols used to carry the coded messages are like four different colored clothes pins hanging on a sugar-phosphate clothesline - they can be hung in any order and therefor have no necessary physical or chemical relationship to one another. Their relationship is physically independent but functionally dependent. A given function depends on the correct sequence, not chemistry. Since the switched off radar rules out necessity, then it necessarily reports the sequences that account for life are just "random occurrences:"
"We call these [mutation] events accidental; we say that they are random occurrences. And since they constitute the only possible source of modifications in the genetic text, itself the sole repository of the organism's hereditary structures, it necessarily follows that chance alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free and blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution: this central concept of modern biology is no longer one among other possible or even conceivable hypotheses. It is today the sole conceivable hypothesis, the only one that squares with observed and tested fact."
But this is surely an odd test! A radar whose "structural teleonomy" switch has been flipped off does not test for the "source of innovation." It tests for nothing, since it omits consideration of a hypothesis suggested by the evidence. It is a radar calibrated to advise that life arises from material causes. It then looks for the best of the available material cause explanations. Chance becomes the answer by default, when the machine fails to detect chemical necessity for the messages of life. One doesn't even need to do a statistical analysis to test the plausibility of the chance conclusion. It can't be wrong, because it is the only remaining causal explanation. Like Hollywood, natural selection, with lots of faith and imagination, no observation, experiment or statistical analysis and no permitted competitor, can weave any story needed to make the implausible appear plausible.
Sober uses the same sort of radar. He flips the switch off so that it wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t look for design or a guided process because:
"The problem is that we can't assess what probability the ID hypothesis confers ... unless we have independently justified information about the goals and abilities the putative designer would have if there were such a being. And we have no such information (Sober 2008b, Chapter 2)."
His argument doesn't follow. Even though we can't know a particular mind, we do know generally how minds work and the kinds of patterns they manifest to produce desired functions. Minds integrate future events for intended functions. The existence of the prior intention is often manifested in the physical world through patterns of tightly integrated elements or symbols that have recognizable functions. Often the precise intention is obscure because the function is obscure. However, without knowing the precise intention, the probability that mind rather than chance and necessity were at work, can often be reasonably calculated. Coroners, arson investigators, archeologists, and SETI scientists reliably test patterns for mind. The activity of a mind at work is most clearly manifested by writings, whose very function is to reveal an intention of a mind. Before discovery of the Rosetta Stone, no one would deny the hieroglyphics on the temples at Luxor were the products of mind, even if the "goals and abilities of the putative" minds couldn't be independently determined. The messages in DNA are like writings, except they are translated with a ribosome rather than a Rosetta Stone. Observed data allow us to attribute intelligence not only to humans, but to birds and animals. Even cellular systems like the immune system reveal a kind of intelligence at work.
So, why flip the switch to the off position when the question is Where do we come from? What is the scientific benefit of flipping the switch off and then telling the child there is no tested evidence of a mind that may have made his life possible?
Why not tell the child and the Theistic Evolutionist that there is an off switch on the radar? When it is flipped on, the way we use it in our day-to-day affairs, it reveals strong evidence that life comes from mind. When we flip it off to exclude evidence of mind, it shows no evidence that will support God, because it is designed to do exactly that.
What should be said to the child when he asks, "why not leave the switch on?" Why shouldn't we know about evidence that implies that life comes from mind?
The standard answer is that we can't have "religion" in science. That seems absurd to the child's mom, because religion dogmatically relates human life to the world in which it is lived. When the switch is off, the radar dogmatically relates human life to matter, not mind. That conclusion is the foundation for many religions, including Atheism, and "Secular" Humanism. Hence, when the structural teleonomy switch is off, the radar produces a religious effect. It entails a non-God, material cause effect.
Interestingly, a truly scientific effect is achieved only with the switch on. When the switch is on, the radar is not required to relate life to any particular cause. It collects the data and analyzes it with an open mind, generating only probabilistic answers that may change over time as new data is analyzed. This open-minded calibration produces a scientific effect, not a dogmatic religious effect. The on switch removes religion from science, while the off switch inserts it.
The scientist who turns the radar off to remove "religion" from "science" incorrectly defines religion as only belief that life comes from God. Religion also includes beliefs that God is non-existent or irrelevant because life just arises "from unguided evolutionary change." This is the key tenet of the Humanist Manifesto. He also fails to recognize that the key distinction between science and religion is in their methods. Religion is dogmatic while science is supposed to be unbiased and open-minded. The radar used by Sober and Monod which entails a no-God conclusion, is not an instrument of science. It is a dogmatic instrument of materialistic religions.
The concerns of the Theistic Evolutionist are valid. We should study life science with the switch on so that we can test all the hypotheses suggested by the data. Science should not seek to limit theistic belief to an irrelevant stealth God that flies under a rigged radar. It should throw out the radar and use one calibrated to conduct a rigorously objective and open minded investigation of a question key to all religions. That kind of radar would achieve the goals of both religion and science.
 John Calvert is an attorney specializing in constitutionally appropriate methods for teaching origins science in public education. He has a degree in Geology and is the Managing Director of Intelligent Design network, inc., an organization that seeks institutional objectivity in origins science.
 Elliott Sober, Evolution Without Naturalism ("Evolution without Naturalism ." In J. Kvanvig (ed.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, volume 3, forthcoming. http://philosophy.wisc.edu:80/sober/recent.html
 Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity, an Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology, (Vintage Books, 1972).
by Judge Darrell D. White (Retired)
Debate over the Louisiana Science Education Act (SB 733) calls to mind UC, Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson's Wall Street Journal op-ed observation,
"A Chinese paleontologist lectures around the world saying that recent fossil finds in his country are inconsistent with the Darwinian theory of evolution. His reason: The major animal groups appear abruptly in the rocks over a relatively short time, rather than evolving gradually from a common ancestor as Darwin's theory predicts. When this conclusion upsets American scientists, he wryly comments: 'In China we can criticize Darwin but not the government. In America you can criticize the government but not Darwin.'"
Evaluating evidence is critical in the search for truth--in science as in all areas of life. And while science textbooks speak often of "evidence", no helpful definition is provided. As a lawyer and retired trial judge, I find that scientific criticisms of DarwinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s views would clearly be admissible in a court of law.
"Relevant evidence" under Louisiana Code of Evidence Article 401 "... means evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action [lawsuit] more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence."Moreover, if an attorney fails to disclose to a court evidence that is directly contrary to legal authority cited, unethical conduct results! (Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct 3.3--"Candor toward the Tribunal")
Darwin himself acknowledged the need for critical thinking in Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. He wrote,
"a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question..."And then Darwin devoted three of the book's fifteen chapters to criticizing his own theory! How can the science textbooks justify withholding all the facts from students?
Congress announced a standard for "quality" science education in the No Child Left Behind Act declaring,
"where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society."In 2006, Ouachita Parish School Board unanimously adopted a science curriculum policy that addresses these goals and is a worthy example.
Having reviewed all BESE-approved science textbooks, I can verify that the goal of teaching students to distinguish between observational and historical science is poorly done with the current slate of textbooks. And, as a concerned parent and grandparent, I commend Senator Nevers for his Louisiana Science Education Act legislation. Our children and their teachers deserve enactment of SB 733.
The Facts about Intelligent Design
A Response to the National Academy of Sciences' New Science, Evolution, and Creationism booklet
Recent polls reveal that only 13% of Americans believe that humans developed through purely natural evolutionary processes. Fearing the public's unyielding skepticism of evolution, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences recently released their third edition of a booklet on Science, Evolution, and Creationism promoting misinformation about intelligent design and bluffs about the scientific status of Darwinian evolution.
In Part 1 of our critique of the NAS booklet Cornelius Hunter provides an overview of the fundamental flaws of the NAS triumphant claims for Darwinism. In Part 2, Casey Luskin provides a detailed 12 page analysis of the specific errors and misrepresentations in Science, Evolution, and Creationism including documentation of how:
1. The NAS oversells the scientific importance of evolution.
2. The NAS unscientifically elevates evolution to the status of unquestionable dogma.
3. The NAS misrepresents the facts about the state of origin of life research.
4. The NAS misrepresents the nature of the fossil record.
5. The NAS misrepresents the evidence for universal common ancestry.
6. The NAS overstates the case for human evolution.
7. The NAS misrepresents irreducible complexity and the flagellum.
8. The NAS misrepresents the nature of intelligent design.
9. The NAS adopts the "Judge Jones Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It" approach to ID.
10. The NAS dismisses the scientific case for intelligent design.
You can view the full Part 2 report here. David Tyler notes that a "Spread the Word" editorial in Nature, indicates a missionary zeal to distribute the new NAS booklet and convert the masses to the Darwinian worldview. Be sure to have your ARN responses handy when the NAS booklet shows up in a public school classroom in your neighborhood.
by Cornelius Hunter
It is no surprise when a dictator wins an election. With one name on the ballot the election is, of course, a landslide victory and no one is fooled by the self-congratulatory victory speech. The situation would be laughable except that the dictator holds all the power. Something like this occurred in the scientific world last week when the National Academy of Sciences published the latest version of its on-going assault against anything and anyone not aligned with evolution. According to the new 88 page booklet, entitled Science, Evolution, and Creationism, Darwin's theory is unquestionably true, required for scientific research and, in fact, the only choice to begin with.
In the life sciences one's alternatives are to be a Darwinist or to be a Darwinist. Passing grades, letters of recommendation, graduate school admission, doctorate exams, faculty hiring, and tenure promotion all require adherence to the theory of evolution. The lists are long of otherwise qualified candidates who could not take that next career step because they did not conform to the Darwinian paradigm. Academia, and the life sciences in particular, have undergone a long period of in-breeding and it is hardly surprising that, as the National Academy of Sciences' booklet triumphantly declares,
the overwhelming majority of scientists no longer question whether evolution has occurred.
This in-breeding, however, is not the only reason for Darwin's triumph. In a far more profound way the game is rigged to ensure that evolution, in one form or another, is the winner. As the booklet explains, the entire enterprise of science must be limited to naturalistic explanations:
In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. 
This is a standard weapon in evolution's arsenal of arguments, and I am confronted with it in virtually every debate I have with evolutionists. This argument is flawed but the full explanation requires a digression into the history and philosophy of science (see for instance my book: Science's Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism).
For our purposes what is important is that evolutionists are dogmatic about their view of science. They believe that science must, in principle, be absolutely constrained to naturalistic explanations. Furthermore, they do not merely prefer this type of science for themselves. They believe that all scientists must rigidly adhere to this definition of science.
This is a philosophical position that evolutionists hold--there is no scientific evidence that could make evolutionist's think twice about their commitment to naturalism. Like the creationist who mandates a particular interpretation of scripture and interprets scientific evidence accordingly, the evolutionist also mandates a particular interpretation of the scientific evidence. All explanations must be thoroughly and completely naturalistic, no matter how contorted those explanations become.
We could find a code buried in our cells but for evolutionists, only naturalistic causes can be considered. And so all scientific evidence is interpreted according to this restriction--one way or another the evidence is force-fitted to the pre existing framework. As the National Academy of Sciences booklet makes clear, this is their rule. And so it is hardly surprising that evolutionists hold that the purely naturalistic explanation for the origin of species is the right one. This claim that evolution must be true dates back to Darwin's day, and is as strong as ever today. As the booklet explains:
In science, a "fact" typically refers to an observation, measurement, or other form of evidence that can be expected to occur the same way under similar circumstances. However, scientists also use the term "fact" to refer to a scientific explanation that has been tested and confirmed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing it or looking for additional examples. In that respect, the past and continuing occurrence of evolution is a scientific fact. Because the evidence supporting it is so strong, scientists no longer question whether biological evolution has occurred and is continuing to occur. Instead, they investigate the mechanisms of evolution, how rapidly evolution can take place, and related questions. 
Indeed, how rapidly evolution can take place, and related questions are sometimes quite vexing. But regardless of how poorly evolution fits the scientific evidence, Darwinists are convinced it is true. Darwinists have constrained science to naturalism, and not surprisingly they consistently discover that the scientific evidence proves naturalism to be true. This is awfully convenient, but could it be that the Darwinists' interpretation of the evidence is colored by their paradigm?
In fact, the booklet's claim that the evidence for evolution is so strong is an overstatement, but the claim is hardly a surprise given evolutionist's philosophical position on science. It is always easier to adjust the data in terms of the paradigm than to adjust the paradigm in terms of the data.
One of the many problems with evolution is the seemingly endless examples of jaw-dropping high complexity in biology. How was evolution supposed to have created sonar in the bat, which is superior to our best military equipment? Since evolution is assumed to be true, questions such as this are taken by evolutionists to be not questions of whether evolution occurred but rather of how evolution occurred. They cannot explain how sonar evolved, but they know that it did evolve. It would be a problem for evolution only if it could be absolutely proven impossible to evolve. As Darwin put it:
If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case. [emphasis added]
In other words, unlike most scientific theories, evolution is assumed true until proven false. And while it may sound generous of Darwin that his theory would "absolutely break down," the burden of proof he places on the skeptic is actually quite high. It would be virtually impossible to prove rigorously that the bat's sonar absolutely could not have evolved, no matter how unlikely it is. The result is that Darwin's theory was granted a true-until-proven-false status not typical in science.
More recently this protection has been further strengthened using the naturalism requirement. Even if a complex biological structure was somehow proven to be impossible to evolve, explains the National Academy of Sciences, we must remember that alternative explanations such as intelligent design are not scientific because they are not thoroughly naturalistic. As the booklet informs the reader:
Even if their negative arguments against evolution were correct, that would not establish the creationists' claims. There may be alternative explanations. For example, it would be incorrect to conclude that because there is no evidence that it is raining outside, it must be sunny. Other explanations also might be possible. Science requires testable evidence for a hypothesis, not just challenges against one's opponent. Intelligent design is not a scientific concept because it cannot be empirically tested. [41-2]
So not only is evolution a fact, but it will remain so in spite of scientific problems. Those problems will simply have to wait for naturalistic solutions. Evolutionary theory may be modified, but only with alternative naturalistic explanations. In fact this constantly occurs as evolution is stretched in dozens of different directions to try to account for the data. The oft-repeated concept of natural selection, for instance, is merely a sub hypothesis of evolution. It can be sacrificed. The hard constraint within evolution, as Darwin once pointed out, is that all explanations be completely naturalistic. Beyond that anything goes. So science is constrained to naturalism, all the scientific evidence uncannily fits this constraint, and evolution remains true even when scientific challenges do arise.
While evolutionists may not know how evolution occurred, they know it must have occurred. The booklet surveys what the authors view as positive evidence for evolution, but the evidence is interpreted according to evolution rather than from a theory-neutral perspective, unfortunately leaving the casual reader with the message that this constitutes strong positive evidence.
How did life evolve? The booklet explains that there are no consensus hypotheses for this remarkable event, and that evolutionists are searching a variety of ideas. "Researchers have shown how this process might have worked," write the authors. For "if a molecule ... could reproduce ... perhaps with the assistance ... it could form ... if such self-replicators ... they might have formed ... could lead to variants" and so forth.  The evidence for the origin of life is packed with question marks.
Obviously we do not have strong evidence that the highly complex cell arose on its own, and the booklet admits that "Constructing a plausible hypothesis of life's origins will require that many questions be answered. Scientists who study the origin of life do not yet know which sets of chemicals could have begun replicating themselves." As if realizing that this hardly constitutes "compelling" evidence, the authors conclude this section with a nod toward the future:
The history of science shows that even very difficult questions such as how life originated may become amenable to solution as a result of advances in theory, the development of new instrumentation, and the discovery of new facts. 
While this certainly is true, scientists also need to evaluate theories according to what is known. We can always hope our favorite theories will be saved by future findings, but this is no substitute for accurate evaluation according to the known data. It is simply misleading and irresponsible to state that it is a scientific fact that life evolved from non living chemicals.
This unfortunately is characteristic of how the booklet informs the reader of the biological evidence for evolution. While some legitimate evidences are presented, the booklet repeatedly presents mere interpretations according to the theory as strong evidences for the theory, and it consistently ignores the many negative evidences. An informed reader can easily see that the evidences fail to demonstrate that evolution is true, much less a well supported theory. But unfortunately many readers will likely be more influenced by the authority of the National Academy of Sciences, and erroneously conclude that the evidence must support the booklet's triumphant claims.
Level II Chemistry of the popular Real Science-4-Kids science curiculum is now in stock at ARN. This program teaches high-school and college level concepts of chemistry, physics and biology to kids in grades 1-2 (Pre-Level 1) grades 3-5 (Level I) and now grades 6-8 (Level II). The program is designed for homeschool use with complete teacher manual, but many schools are using the curriculum as well. There is no better science program available for this age level. Sample chapters for each level can be downloaded from the catalog page links above.
Here is a comment from one happy parent:
I am a graduate student in Physical Chemistry at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, with three years experience lecturing at the college level, plus seven years as a teaching assistant at the college level. I gave my final exam for RS4K Chemistry I to my own children over the weekend. I've been totally impressed with the program.
I never thought of teaching my kids science because I was always unimpressed with the "Gee, lets throw some baking soda in vinegar and watch it fizz" where you never saw â€œWhyâ€ the soda and vinegar fizzed. I had resigned myself to waiting until my kids knew some algebra before I started teaching science.
My oldest daughter was ready to do pre-algebra so I thought I'd start I was looking for some Jr. High Level science for her. That is when I saw the RS4K chemistry text. I looked at the table of contents and said to myself, "This looks like a Freshman College text book" and then looked at the content and saw "This is grade school level." I was very impressed on how Dr. Keller was able to remove the math from the material without loosing the â€œWhyâ€ things are happening.
When Iâ€™ve shown this material to the profs here at UW-Madison, the normal response is an incredulous, â€œYou are teaching this to grade-school kids!??â€ They are all just as impressed with the quality of this material as I was when I saw it.
Ideas have consequences. That was the title of Richard Weaver's 1948 book which opened with this observation: â€œEvery man participating in a culture has three levels of conscious reflection: his specific ideas about things, his general beliefs or convictions, and his metaphysical dream of the world.â€ The primary focus at ARN is on the Darwin vs. Design debate, but the reason we think it is such an important debate is because these are powerful ideas that have consequences in many other areas of life. Bioethics is one such area we would like to focus on in this monthâ€™s newsletter. What is the underlying â€˜metaphysical dream of the worldâ€™ that was driving the decisions of those involved in the Terri Schiavo case? For the most part they remain unstated, but like a CSI forensic scientist we can piece together the clues with the help of our featured authors Jim Reitman and Wesley Smith to get a pretty good picture.
Perhaps more painful than any other object lesson to emerge out of the life and death of Terri Schiavo is this recurring realization: Once end of life controversies are relegated to the courts, all the colorful subtleties that comprise meaningful life making it worth pursuing, are bleached white by the caustic chlorine of the ethic of radical individualism, and its derivative Contractual Model of decisionmaking upon which both the courts, and increasingly the medical profession, lean all too heavily. It has become obvious over the last 40 years in a succession of legal controversies over the so-called â€œend of lifeâ€ issues that the god of personal autonomy has now bullied its way into medicine and has all but totally extinguished the ethics of care.
Our featured author, Jim Reitman, has tackled three such â€œend of lifeâ€ dilemmas in a series of articles promoting a rational alternative to the Contractual Model of decisionmaking, a Wisdom Model based on precepts found in Old Testament wisdom literature. Drawn from the books of Job and Ecclesiastes, the Wisdom Model reveals that ambiguity is the rule rather than the exception in â€œend of lifeâ€ decisionmaking, and the added pain and disillusionment of suffering while life remains, typically makes a travesty of ethical individualism and the Contractual Model of decisionmaking: Personal preferences expressed in the face of uncertainty are â€œheld hostageâ€ by the pain of suffering and the contagion of despair. Such preferences are thus bedeviled by ambivalence and jeopardize true community and care. The Wisdom model looks suffering and ambiguity squarely in the face to reveal how these counterparts of suffering induce our profound disillusionment with self-sufficiency and draw our attention away from our own demands and toward a larger design for our lives. Such Wisdom cannot help but restore true community and care to end of life decisionmaking.
The first article deals with the issue of Physician Assisted Suicide and exposes how the radical individualism underlying recent legal precedence in end of life cases has insidiously emasculated the medical profession by ignoring moral deliberation, and eliminating the prerogative of true care and advocacy in end of life scenarios that come to the courtsâ€™ attention. The article makes it clear why the next step to Court Assisted Suicide in the Schiavo case was such a short step, revealing how both due process and equal protection for the medically disabled were trampled by the radical individualism that has imbued the â€œdeath with dignityâ€ movement with such power that determines the outcome in such cases.
The second article tackles the dilemma of Medical Futility and exposes how the premise that advance directives can truly preserve autonomous choice has really become the â€œemperor with no clothes.â€ Even conservative theists have been hoodwinked into believing that Advance Directives, including the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, can really protect the wisdom of community and care against the incursions of legally sanctioned radical autonomy. The Wisdom model illuminates why neither Schiavoâ€™s parents, nor the governor of Florida, nor the medical profession (in their futile attempt to physiologically define the limits of meaningful life), nor the President, nor the Congress of the United States could withstand even the most tenuous and ambiguous of presumptive â€œpreviously expressed preferences.â€ The article also reveals why the very notion of expressed preferences is itself fatally flawed by the ambiguity and uncertainty that typically characterizes end of life decisions.
The third article exposes the deceptive and deadly philosophical underpinnings of the rationale for Partial Birth Abortion as a legitimate solution to the agonizing anguish of Fatal Congenital Anomalies discovered in utero by genetic testing. By revealing how the rationale itself is fatally flawed even in this seemingly logical and acceptable way to mitigate the suffering of bearing a doomed pregnancy to term, the article uses the Wisdom Model to subvert the rationale for abortion in any case, possibly excepting clear and present danger to the life of the mother (as in ectopic pregnancy).
Together, these three articles provide a sound rationale to question radical autonomy as ever constituting an adequate or legitimate basis for finding lasting meaning in so-called â€œend of lifeâ€ dilemmas. The Wisdom Model provides a rational template to surface the issues that truly contribute to lasting meaning, and to develop the circle of community that helps discover that meaning over time, as disillusionment and the pain of suffering give way to redemptive purposes in that suffering.
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