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A Socialist Manifesto on Evolution

The dangers of creationism in education

Report
Committee on Culture, Science and Education
Rapporteur: Mr Guy LENGAGNE, France, Socialist Group

Summary

The theory of evolution is being attacked by religious fundamentalists who call for creationist theories to be taught in European schools alongside or even in place of it. From a scientific view point there is absolutely no doubt that evolution is a central theory for our understanding of the Universe and of life on Earth.

Creationism in any of its forms, such as “intelligent design”, is not based on facts, does not use any scientific reasoning and its contents are pathetically inadequate for science classes.

The Assembly calls on education authorities in member States to promote scientific knowledge and the teaching of evolution and to oppose firmly any attempts at teaching creationism as a scientific discipline.

Incredible. I hardly know where to start criticizing this huge load of rubbish. I’ll let y’all pick it apart in the comments.

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22 Responses to A Socialist Manifesto on Evolution

  1. Well… . ID is not creationism of course and it has nothing to do with religous fundamentalism. But it seems to be pointless to tell an atheistic Darwinist about that.
    In what the document is right (unintendetly I suppose) is that ID is not based on facts. But ID makes predictions and these predictions can be verified and verified predictions are what you call evidence. So ID is not based on facts, but it is supported by lots and lots of evidence.

  2. Postings to this blog are now anonymous. Is that intentional?


    Scott Belyea

  3. Bill, I hope you read through the stuff I mailed you yesterday. What I’ve told you in it is the best way to defeat this.

    David

  4. Why atall refute some climes like “Asajdkask kj asdj kakasdaj” :) Go and refute this! I would be more interested if those who claimed these words actually believe what they say? If so, then I guess the party is not going to win any election with such skills of reasoning and observance!

  5. ID is based on what I consider a fact:

    All machines where the origin can be unambiguously determined are a product of intelligent agency.

    The problematic thing about this is that we have only one unambiguous example of intelligent agency and that’s us. One example is a small set from which to draw conclusions but it still remains the best empirical evidence we have for making any general claims about the origin of machinery.

    The hypothesis:

    All complex machines are the product of intelligent agency

    is scientific according to Karl Popper’s principle of falsification. A single observation of a machine where the origin was demonstrably NOT intelligent agency will falsify the hypothesis. Until such an observation is made it is a rock solid hypothesis based on known fact.

  6. “From a scientific view point there is absolutely no doubt that evolution is a central theory for our understanding of the Universe and of life on Earth.”

    I think this sentence sums up all the problems.

    First and foremost, they are positing evolution in arenas not deemed correct. One does not need evolution to understand the universe. The universe was not built on darwinian theory.

    Second, they are making this a worldview. I would never claim evolution is the central theory for understanding life on earth. I mean experience best explains life.

    Third, there are doubts from scientific view points about evolution.

  7. DaveScot:

    “The problematic thing about this is that we have only one unambiguous example of intelligent agency and that’s us.”

    This is not really true; animals display intelligence to the degree that they arrange their environment in ways that the basic “laws of physics” are unable to do. A bird builds a nest, a bee locates and retreives nectar. The act of selecting outcomes to produce a desired result not possible through “natural” forces is a fair definition of intelligence, I think. When considered this way, animals possess one level of intelligence, and humans a higher level, because they are able to accomplish more sophisticated tasks.

    In other words, the difference in the intelligence of machines, animals and humans is quantitative, not qualitative. The sophistication of the machine is determined by the intelligence embodied within it, and since intelligence “flows downhill”, so to speak, we are able to conclude that the biological machines we observe, being beyond our current capabilities, are the result of an intelligence greater than our own.

  8. “The theory of evolution is being attacked by religious fundamentalists who call for creationist theories to be taught in European schools alongside or even in place of it.”

    The horror! If I had a time machine, the first thing I would do is stop Darwin from publishing his “theory” so I wouldn’t have to read so much atheistic propaganda anymore. Honestly, if NDE went away, would it really matter beyond a few more people in the unemployment line? It’s basically irrelevant to science, IMHO. It *is* relevant to atheists would refuse to question their beliefs and insist on keeping the rest of us in the 19th century.

    “….’intelligent design’, is not based on facts, does not use any scientific reasoning…”

    No none at all. Design happens all the time without a designer. And to say that “evolution” (I’m assuming they mean unguided) is “a central theory for our understanding of the Universe” is simply ridiculous. So let me get this right, a “theory” which assumes no design when design is clearly present is “central” to us understanding the universe??? This stupid theory is only good for destroying the ability to think.

  9. The theory of evolution is being attacked…

    #1 The evolution of what and how?

    From a scientific view point there is absolutely no doubt that evolution is a central theory…

    #2 See #1. And, by the way, what is a “scientific” viewpoint?

    …evolution is a central theory for our understanding of the Universe….

    #3 I’m having a hard time following this logic. Yes, the universe has changed over time, but what does that have to do with random variation and natural selection?

    …evolution is a central theory for our understanding of life on Earth.

    #4 Let me get this right. Understanding random variation and natural selection will help us figure out how the cell’s incredible information content, information-processing and other machinery, self-repair and error-detection algorithms and mechanisms, and self-replication machinery works.

    The bottom line of this author’s argumentation seems to be: By government fiat, dictate that only 19th-century tinker-toy ideas about the universe and living systems should be taught. All other ideas represent religious fanaticism.

  10. scheesman

    Good point on animals as intelligent agents. I thought of mentioning that as I wrote the comment but I couldn’t think of any machines designed by animals. Can you?

  11. Dave Scot: “I couldn’t think of any machines designed by animals. Can you?”

    Many animals make use of objects as tools, especially the use of sticks or cactus spines as levers. Levers, along with the pulley and wedge, are considered the simplest machines in existence.

    Interestingly, while looking things up on the web, I found the following link to an article titled “Revisiting the Definition of Animal Tool Use” by Robert St. Amant and Tomas E. Horton of the Dept. Of Computer Science at North Carolina State University:

    ftp://ftp.ncsu.edu/pub/unity/l.....007-16.pdf

    From their abstract:

    “This article proposes a new, more explanatory definition that accounts for tool use in terms of
    two complementary subcategories of behaviors: behaviors aimed at altering a target object by
    mechanical means and behaviors that mediate the flow of information between the tool user and the
    environment or other organisms in the environment.”

    This is not a bad definition for a machine, either, and sums up quite nicely the point I was trying to make about how intelligence can be gaugued by our ability to alter and control the environment around us to accomplish a desired purpose.

  12. Dave,

    I hadn’t thought about it before, but you are right. Birds build nests and beavers build dams. These are not machines. Dams and nests are cool and obviously not the result of chance and necessity, but they don’t do stuff. As far as I can see, only human intelligence can build machines. Machinery seems to be a special case that uniquely requires a unique kind of intelligence. Does that not make humanity kind of unique?

  13. The trapdoor spider builds a door to cover the entrance to its burrow. The door is a plug made of soil, vegetation, and silk, with a functional silk hinge on one side that connects to the edge of the burrow entrance. The door and the hinge together form a unit that requires both pieces to do its job. This fits the definition of a machine: having rigid moving parts that perform some function or work. Note that the moving part need not involve rotation.

  14. It appears my reply to DaveScot wasn’t posted or went to the spam buffer, perhaps because I included a link.

    DaveScot: “Good point on animals as intelligent agents. I thought of mentioning that as I wrote the comment but I couldn’t think of any machines designed by animals. Can you?”

    The simplest machines are understood to be the ramp, pulley and lever. Animals, including birds, employ sticks or cactus spines as levers to pry insects out of holes. The sticks and spines are used exactly the same way the lever is, to provide mechanical advantage over the food.

    The manufacture and use of tools also shows various aspects of intelligence: “Like chimpanzees, but unlike any other species, New Caledonian crows use tools frequently, use many different tool types, manufacture their own tools, select tools according to each task, and can create a new design when they need it.” (Behavioural Ecology Research Group, Oxford).

    The following paper on animal tool use highlights the role of intelligence in the use of tools:

    REVISITING THE DEFINITION OF ANIMAL TOOL USE
    Department of Computer Science
    North Carolina State University

    I’ll leave out the link but a quick google search will turn it up for you. Of particular interest are these lines in the abstract, which mirror my point about the flow of intelligence:

    “This article proposes a new, more explanatory definition that accounts for tool use in terms of
    two complementary subcategories of behaviors: behaviors aimed at altering a target object by
    mechanical means and behaviors that mediate the flow of information between the tool user and the
    environment or other organisms in the environment.”

  15. scheesman

    I thought of all the examples you give but in common usage those are tools, not machines, as is stated in the wiki article I linked to. A complex machine needs several interdependent rigid moving parts and an energy source which it converts to useful work. An exception to the rigid parts is in electronic machines which may have nothing moving but electrons. Something borderline might be a bow & arrow which I’d tend to call a tool and another borderline thing might be a trebuchet which I’d tend to call a machine. I read Charlie Wagner’s definition of a machine a few years ago and that still strikes me as the best definition I’ve seen for the context of ID.

  16. DaveScot: “I thought of all the examples you give but in common usage those are tools, not machines, as is stated in the wiki article I linked to.”

    I will grant you that distinction in common usage, though in the context of this thread, it is the evidence of intelligence, not of complex machine-building ability, that we are dealing with. If we were talking about the latter, we’d have to exclude any number of “stone-age tribes” from our definition of intelligence (though you do note bows and arrows as “borderline”).

    MacT’s description of the trap-door spider’s burrow entrance, however, might pass your own definition.

    So, restating: By their usage of tools, animals display intelligence, though their inability to construct complex machines shows that they possess a lesser degree of intelligence than humans.

  17. I noticed that the blog was updated. I like this new (intelligent) design.

  18. “So, restating: By their usage of tools, animals display intelligence, though their inability to construct complex machines shows that they possess a lesser degree of intelligence than humans.”

    There are many humans who would fail the ability test.

  19. What makes human intelligence unique is not what it can build. What makes our intelligence unique is that we’re capable of abstract thought and understanding.

  20. scheesman

    The hypothesis given was “All complex machines are the product of intelligent agency”. Can we agree that only humans have been observed designing complex machines?

  21. DaveScot: “Can we agree that only humans have been observed designing complex machines?”

    I am in agreement here. As noted by DanielJ, another distinguishing feature is the level of abstraction embodied in complex machines, although I would substitute “unique” by “of a higher order”, since, apparently, something or someone else awfully smart has been here before us.

  22. SCheesman: ” . . . something or someone else awfully smart has been here before us.”

    I suggest this is an unparsimonious conclusion. There is no evidence — correct me if I’m wrong — that some intelligence other than human intelligence accounts best for the human ability to engage in creative and abstract problem solving, including machine building.

    DanielJ: “What makes our intelligence unique is that we’re capable of abstract thought and understanding.”

    Abstract thought and understanding are certainly not confined to humans. There is a vast literature in animal cognition that documents myriad examples of reasoning, problem-solving, other-perspective-taking, and more. This may appear to erode our uniqueness, and that thought makes many people uncomfortable, but it’s where the evidence leads. Humans are no less interesting or valuable for it.

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