February 17, 2006 4:00 AM PST

'Dodos' film pecks holes in evolution debate

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There's nothing like evolution to get an audience riled up, scientist and filmmaker Randy Olson has discovered.

His film, "Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus," is the latest on the debate over intelligent design and evolution. Interviewing Harvard scientists, intelligent design advocates and even his 82-year-old mother (a voice of reason who thinks evolution should be taught in science classes and intelligent design taught in philosophy classes), Olson lets both sides speak, and pokes holes in the arguments of both.

But the on-screen debate pales in comparison to the one that has so far taken place in the handful of audiences for the movie. More than 50 universities have asked for screenings, but so far, "Dodos" has had only five public viewings.

In Stony Brook, N.Y., a 500-seat auditorium was swamped for a Feb. 10 screening, and guards had to lock the doors and turn away an overflow crowd. In Kansas, where the first screening of Olson's film took place, the documentary was greeted with laughter and applause, but the following panel discussion between evolutionists and intelligent design proponents degenerated into chaos.

"It was very sad and ugly when it broke down to a shouting match and turned into a whole big uproar. You could see people in the audience turning their heads away saying 'Oh God, here we go again,'" Olson said in an interview with CNET News.com.

The filmmaker was born and raised in Kansas, where the State Board of Education last year decided to support the teaching of intelligent design in schools. Intelligent design holds that life is too complex to have developed through random mutations, as proponents of evolution believe.

Olson, an evolutionary ecologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard University, has watched the controversy between religion and science brew for several years. Having left science teaching for filming, he decided to go back to Kansas and do a documentary that makes sense of the debate.

The film's title might suggest that it's an attack on intelligent design, but it is actually quite the opposite. With a large dose of humor, Olson explores the shortcomings of both sides.

"Flock of Dodos" audiences laugh at the expense of Olson's own evolutionist friends. While the evolutionists are playing poker and calling intelligent design proponents "yahoos" and "idiots," he turns the evolutionists into animated dodos, the extinct, flightless birds that were known for their lack of grace. He also shows examples of extraordinarily unintelligent design, like the fact that rabbits have to eat their own feces to absorb enough nutrients from food.

"The ID movement suffers from being based on the advocates' own intuition. It tells them that all things are designed, but they don't have a scientific way to demonstrate it," Olson said. Still, he said intelligent design advocates are far better communicators than evolutionists.

"Natural selection teaches us that when an environment changes, the species that don't change with it run the risk of extinction. The media environment in the United States has changed drastically," Olson said. Intelligent design advocates understand the rules of new media, but evolutionary scientists are "a huge flock of dodos when it comes to communications," he said.

And evolutionists agree with him. Pro-evolutionist Kansas writer Pat Hayes wrote after seeing the movie: "If scientists and supporters of reason do not begin to engage the public and learn to more effectively communicate their message, Olson makes a strong case that (the dodos) could be us."

Even though Olson himself is clearly pro-evolution, he said his heart is still in Kansas, which kept him from taking shots at intelligent design supporters. "I respect people of character who are willing to stand up and speak their mind for what they believe in, on either side of the fence," he said. "This is a fairly embarrassing film for scientists; the guys at the poker table are very arrogant and obnoxious."

Olson hopes his film will be a wake-up call for scientists to start communicating with the public in an engaging and understandable way. He's also sending out copies to film festivals, and hopes a distributor will pick it up for national distribution.

There's no question who he thinks is winning this long-running debate at the moment. "The intelligent design movement is having its way," he said, "and no one in the science world is there to stand up to it."

See more CNET content tagged:
Intelligent Design, evolution, Kansas, filmmaker, advocate


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Add your comment
Once more the flames arise....
The nice thing is that for all the furor, the universe is total proof
of itself. Idiotic explanations are irrelevant, stupid claims are
unnecessary. But, stand by. The foaming at the mouth adherents
are about to deluge this thread with their versions of reality.

It will be interesting. It may even be funny. And in some cases, it
will be pathetic that supposedly intelligent people are so
severely mind locked.

But such is life.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Amazing, and spoken like a good politician. You at once pretend to be grossly offended by "unintelligent" people, and yet say nothing of real meaning and intelligence yourself. You pretend to be incredibly jaded by the whole debate of Creation (we all know what ID means) and Evolution, and yet you jump at the the opportunity to spark that debate.

You fan the flames my friend, and it is obvious from your posting that you enjoy what will undoubtedly follow. A series of arguments based on second hand knowledge by non-experts, which will eventually degrade into what could be easily observed on a preschool playground.

I propose that people stick to the real issue and talk about the story, not the debate on creation VS evolution. That is after all what this thread SHOULD be about, the impact this film might have on the community.
Posted by jwarren.carroll (84 comments )
Link Flag
Don't insult the scientists
[[http://The nice thing is that for all the furor, the universe is total proof of itself. Idiotic explanations are irrelevant, stupid claims are unnecessary. But, stand by. The foaming at the mouth adherents are about to deluge this thread with their versions of reality. It will be interesting. It may even be funny. And in some cases, it will be pathetic that supposedly intelligent people are so severely mind locked. But such is life.]|http://The nice thing is that for all the furor, the universe is total proof of itself. Idiotic explanations are irrelevant, stupid claims are unnecessary. But, stand by. The foaming at the mouth adherents are about to deluge this thread with their versions of reality. It will be interesting. It may even be funny. And in some cases, it will be pathetic that supposedly intelligent people are so severely mind locked. But such is life.]]

I think it's unneccessary that you insult the scientific community like that. Give them a break!
Posted by Aussie Bob (3 comments )
Link Flag
This is the same person who was frothing at the mouth the last time this topic came up on CNET
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
Evolution on Defensive
The past few years, in the Evolution vs ID we have seen the Evolution side, consistently on defensive. I always wondered what could be wrong. Politicians/pastors are better at people skills (and media) in comparision with scientists, and it is these people who are defenders of ID (in most cases). In the world of "Mass Media" the weight of "Research Paper" is confined, and any person with right mix of zeal and communication skills can challenge the "Scientific Dogma" esp. in a world, when it is all about perception (reality takes a backseat). This movie seems to make that point (glad! it has) and just for the sake of evolution, scientists should now improve their "Camera Skills".
Posted by YankeePoodle (785 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Any established law is always on the defensive.
That's the nature of science. Once it has reached the threashold of proof, it no longer needs to prove itself, save against challenger theories.

The only real difference between the Evolution/ID debate, and something like the String Theory/Super Gravity debate is that people without scientific backrounds routinely wiegh in on the Evo/ID debate.

Harry Voyager
Posted by H Voyager (38 comments )
Link Flag
That poster is so&familiar
Anyone else think that the poster for the movie is incredibly similar
(an exact ripoff, IMO) of the poster for "Monty Python's The
Meaning of Life"?

That is too bad, because you could do something similar, without
outright copying!
Posted by whereswade (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
i don't know
I agree it looks like the Meaning of Life poster, which also looks like the Life of Brian poster, which in effect is a copy of the Ben Hur poster. It's all done in a mocking/joking way, you're hopefully supposed to see the connection to the original design
Posted by themaninthebox (67 comments )
Link Flag
A Different MP Poster
Actually, it's more like the Life of Brian.
Which, when you think about, is more fitting for the subject matter. A noble race, the Jayhawkers..
..sorry the Romans.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
does anyone else ever wonder
Why the intelligent design people only attack The theory of evolution? Chemestry, physics, and geology deal with how the universe and subsequently the earth was created but I don't see them pushing to have the Book of Genisis included in any of those textbooks. --Just curious if anyone else has ever wondered about that.
Posted by Bob Brinkman (556 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good Point, but..
You have to realize that intelligent design isn't anti-science. Science does not rule out the existence of God.
All evolution does is rules out the existence of God, with absolutely nothing but theory to back it up.
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
Link Flag
Look at history
In earlier times, chemistry, physics, and other sciences were considered heresy by the church. There's no reason why it couldn't happen again.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Link Flag
I have always wondered about that and finally came to the conclusion that avoiding those issues, was a matter of comfort and money! They wouldn't be able to explain where all that oil and diamonds as 2 examples, came from if the earth was only 4000 years old as a lot of the creationists claim!
Posted by dland51 (91 comments )
Link Flag
I think the answer to your question is that a culture is trying to emphasize philosophy/theology over science. Intelligent Design is philosophy and Evolution is science. Another question to consider and some who have read a little philosophy might catch on to this one, if one supreme being (God) created all, then he most assuredly created his biggest nemesis, the devil. Since the devil is the root of all evil allegedly and God created him, then God is the root of evil. Was that meant to be an intelligent part of the design?
Posted by aploessl (3 comments )
Link Flag
Intelligent Design theory
The theory of Intelligent Design rests on the fact that someone created all this. Who ever said that would have to be "God"? Hell - my theory uses ID, except that aliens dropped a few of us off 2000 yrs ago. Thanks, ID for making my theory possible!
Posted by dewalt25 (57 comments )
Reply Link Flag
One problem
There is a difference between theory and hypothesis. Dawin's theory is based on observable phenomenon. ID is based on a subjective instinct or belief, but doesn't even rise to the level of hypothesis, and therefore, can't be called a theory.

The result is that you have two camps, one discussing apples and the other discussing oranges. It's a false argument because Darwinism makes no statement about the validity of God, while the ID camp is attempting to make Darwinism into a religion.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Link Flag
Not your theory
That's Scientology theory. That alien droped us here thousands of years ago. So who dropped the aliens that dropped us here?
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
Link Flag
Well, that's something new...
The director comes to the conclusion that scientists need to communicate better with the public regarding this debate. Is that what they need? Spin?

Great, first Bush with "They have WMDs!" and "We need to go to war!" Now this: "I believe [ID], so science has to prove it [the unprovable] to be wrong...and be nice about it so we [the masses] can understand."

Gee, maybe if our education system had been a higher priority in this nation, we wouldn't have to educate the general public about the difference between scientific method/facts and philosophy/religion.
Posted by mrcuadra (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well said, and...
Academics could do a better job at communicating to lay people.
Still, it's awfully tough to get something across accurately when
your audience is poorly educated.

TV news is often absolutely terrible at accurately conveying the
meaning of experimental results. Sharing basic findings about
health can, of course, do more good than harm, even if done

But if people want more communication at that level, we
certainly don't need more of it. In the end, it just pollutes our
knowledge base.

Bridging scientists and "lay people" woul be fantastic. But let's
make sure that lay people are educated first.

Poll results showing that 51% of Americans reject evolution
points to a stupid populace (not to pull any punches).
Posted by mgreere (332 comments )
Link Flag
I don't think we have to educate the public as a whole, and the ones who need the education won't accept it anyway!
Posted by dland51 (91 comments )
Link Flag
The Apeal of ID
Science, and evolution in particular are complex. They do not lend themselves to quick soundbytes and talking points. ID on the other hand is a very simple soundbyte "god did it". For people with little educational background in science, little understanding of logical analysis, and very little desire to learn, ID is very attractive.
Posted by miketkrw (86 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Belief in something they can't see, or touch!
But why do people need to believe in ID or creationism to explain things? I guess that is like asking people why they turn around and go in a different direction, if a black cat crosses their path!
Posted by dland51 (91 comments )
Link Flag
You're right, Al did seem a little simple...
"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind."
-Albert Einstein

I doubt anyone would categorize Mr. Einstein as having "little educational background in science, little understanding of logical analysis," or "very little desire to learn," yet he obviously had a belief that something larger than chance played a part in his existence.

As far as the debate goes, my opinion is meaningless; however, I find it difficult to understand why people feel compelled to attack those that disagree with them. Instead of having rational discourse, one has to belittle the intelligence of their opponent. It's sad really.
Posted by joser358 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Who created god
Since 'god' is so immensely complex, he/she/it cannot exists on its own (according to ID). Therefore who dropped the god who dropped the aliens who dropped animals on planet earth:-)
Posted by pdude (65 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Interesting question but not relevant
A very interesting point but ultimately not relevant IMO.

Let me provide a purely fictional analogy:

We start receiving a transmission from alpha centauri. Let's say it's on a radio frequency in the low Ghz range using frequency modulation. It consists of a sequence of pulses with a pause to separate each sequence. The sequence goes 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59, 61, 67, 71, 73, 79, 83, 89, 97 and then repeats.

Now, using the same basic argument that "ID" rests on, scientists everywhere would be saying this signal could be a sign of extraterrestrial intelligence. I would certainly be wondering about it myself. Now, assuming this signal did come from an intelligence outside of our solar system, who cares if they were created, evolved, magically conjured, etc. The question is whether or not it's more likely that the message was the result of random natural processes or the result of intelligent will. The origin/ development/ purpose/ etc of that intelligent will is not in question. The fact that the basis of the "ID" arguments can't be applied in all situations is not at issue. The only question if whehter or not it's "easier" to explain the message in terms of natural occurences or as the result of intelligent design.

Who says the "intelligence" involved has to to come from a being who's infinitely complex. Perhaps the intelligence is from a different universe where the fundamental laws of nature favor increasing complexity. Regardless, it's not really the question at hand.

I could form another analogy using Godel's first incompleteness theorem but I think I've communicated my point.

BTW, I really enjoyed your post. It made me think.
Posted by pwinterrowd (18 comments )
Link Flag
God would be supernatural being, who is one 'beyond' and 'above' nature. He operates outside of time; He never was, never will be, but always 'is'.

Your assumption that God is too complex to exist on His own betrays your ignorance of theology and spirituality. Its like trying to explain affection with calculus.
Posted by aw_vil (2 comments )
Link Flag
Evo vs. ID
This debate on evolution vs. creationism/intelligent design is reaching some shallow depths. True, there is some faults on both theories, but to affirm a position by assuming that if it can't be understood then God did it is a little hard to bear. Evolution spans great expanses of time. We can observe the similarities of organisms from either the fossil record or more recent skeletal remains, and with those specimens we can see subtle morphing of certain species over time. This does have holes as it is impossible to possess all deceased species to examine. To assert that these gradual changes occur solely because they are sent from the supreme being is a disservice to God in that it saddles God with the imperfections in species that fail along with things such as mutations. I was brought up catholic and taught that God was the image of perfection, so therefore this intelligent design undoes the state of perfection.

Evolution is not a hard concept to embrace. Trial and error allow for organisms to adapt to their environment over time. The weaker adaptations die out and the stronger survive. Look beyond just the animal kingdom and physical characteristics. Think of how Christians have evolved from burning people at the stake for stating that the world was round or the sun was the center of the universe to a more civil people.

An issue still needing to be ironed out with intelligent design is which theory to use? Many people believe in a supreme being, have a different belief system than Christianity, and a different story of creation. Is everyone else wrong then even though their cultures have existed hundreds of more years than our own? So what’s next? Revised history lessons? Elimination of philosophy and anthropology as we currently see it?
Posted by aploessl (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is a good start
I will recommend also so stop teaching everything that implies something older than 6000 years. After all if ID is true, will be equivalent to be teaching lies or using machines that should no exist. So, Anthropology, History, Biology, Clime Prediction should be stop beeing tought and machines like carbon 14 should be banned.
Posted by bagart (4 comments )
Link Flag
Evolution proof?
The best proof that ID is just a belief is that life is, sometimes, not so complex as we all think. After all the theory of ID proves that same people have very simple ideas, confusing a belief with science.
Posted by bagart (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Evolution versus ?
Evolution is Smart Design; case closed.
Posted by edchela (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
The "debate" exists...
Only because a false dichotomy was setup by ID proponents
between ID and evolution.

ID or Evolution
Not Evolution
Therefore, ID

That's the only argument structure that works for ID. Of course,
the main flaw with the first premise is that the two are the only
possibilities and are mutually exclusive.

The rules of logic also let you complicate things a bit...

ID or Evolution
ID or Evolution or Alien Colonization or Flying Spaghetti
Not Evolution
Therefore, ID or Alien Colonization or Flying Spaghetti

No support is ever offered for the idea of ID, and yet even the
logic of the movement is flawed.

Scientists know evolution does not speak for or against God.
Posted by mgreere (332 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A scientific proof of the existence of God
Have you read the late Dr William Hatcher's essay titled as above in
which he bases on evolution and the 2nd law of thermodynamics?
He also has written a logical proof of the existence of God using
just logic.
Posted by Dr Phil (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I have no intrest in changing your beliefs
But a logical proof does not science make. You're delving in to the realm of phylosophy.
Posted by Bob Brinkman (556 comments )
Link Flag
A technical point....
... Nothing in the laws of thermodynamics argues for or against
evolution, or for or against a Creator.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Slight correction...
His logical proof, such as it is, only establishes that the universe
was created by an cause outside the universe. There are no logical
conclusions that the cause is anything more than a cause. It does
not qualify as a proof of a god for any religious group.

As noted, the 2nd law of Thermodynamics does not apply to any
discussion of ID and evolution.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Evolution not mathematically possible
"Even on a theoretical level, it does not seem possible for mutations to account for the diversity of life on earth, at least not in the time available. The minimum number of mutations necessary to produce the simplest new structure in an organism is five, but these five mutations must be the proper type and must affect five genes that are functionally related. In other words, not just any five mutations will do. The odds against this occurring in a single organism are astronomical.
Mutations of any kind are believed to occur once in every 100,000 gene replications (though some estimate they occur far less frequently). Assuming that the first single-celled organism had 10,000 genes, the same number as E. coli, one mutation would exist for every ten cells. Since only one mutation per 1,000 is non-harmful, there would be only one non-harmful mutation in a population of 10,000 such cells. The odds that this one non-harmful mutation would affect a particular gene, however, is 1 in 10,000 (since there are 10,000 genes). Therefore, one would need a population of 100,000,000 cells before one of them would be expected to possess a non-harmful mutation of a specific gene.
The odds of a single cell possessing non-harmful mutations of five specific (functionally related) genes is the product of their separate probabilities. In other words, the probability is 1 in 10 factor of eight X 10factor of eight X 10factor of eight X 10factor of eight X 10factor of eight, or 1 in 10 to the factor of 40. If one hundred trillion (10 to the power of 14) bacteria were produced every second for five billion years (10 to the power of 17 seconds), the resulting population (10 to the power of 31) would be only 1/1,000,000,000 of what was needed!
But even this is not the whole story. These are the odds of getting just any kind of non-harmful mutations of five related genes. In order to create a new structure, however, the mutated genes must integrate or function in concert with one another. The difficulties of obtaining non-harmful mutations of five related genes "fade into insignificance when we recognize that there must be a close integration of functions between the individual genes of the cluster, which must also be integrated into the development of the entire organism."
In addition to this, the structure resulting from the cluster of the five integrated genes must, "give some selective advantage, or else become scattered once more within the population at large, due to interbreeding." It seems impossible to explain [the origin of increased complexity] in terms of random mutations alone."
When one considers that a structure as "simple" as the wing on a fruit fly involves 30-40 genes, it is mathematically absurd to think that random genetic mutations can account for the vast diversity of life on earth. Even Julian Huxley, a staunch evolutionist who made assumptions very favorable to the theory, computed the odds against the evolution of a horse to be 1 in 10 to the power of 300,000."
Posted by edyang (54 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are showing why evolution is aptly called a theory. It can be argued against!
Posted by Bob Brinkman (556 comments )
Link Flag
Great... now...
Try not buying into the idea that if evolution makes sense then God
can't exist.

You can have both.
Posted by mgreere (332 comments )
Link Flag
Yet the flu virus keep mutating
As per your 'great' calculations the flu virus shall not mutate at all! However, every year we see different variations of flu viruses!

Also, see how HIV has been mutating!
Posted by pdude (65 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Evolution not mathematically possible
That's good figuring, but I want to discuss the logic.

Firstly, the odds of a specific incident are often astronomical,
but the odds of AN incident are not. For instance, the odds that
my parents would have produced ME are ridiculously high, yet
here I am. That is because the odds of them producing SOME
child, which happened to be me, were quite good.

Secondly, let's not ignore the fact that we have observed
evolution and can produce it in the lab. If I understood Mr. Yang
correctly, it was absurdly improbable that any evolution would
take place at all.

Thirdly, the premise that a mutation is required for an
evolutionary change is not correct, let alone 5 related mutations.
Check out the excellent Nova program on dogs. Dogs are a
puzzle because they have been bred so quickly, from such a
small genetically homogenous group of ancestors. It identifies in
an accessible way several non-mutating mechanisms including
the fact that genes can be turned on and off without mutations
at all.

Fourthly, and related to my first point, mutations accumulate at
random, then circumstances select what is favorable. It's not a
question of a mutation of 5 related genes suddenly arising to
meet a circumstance. That would indeed be unlikely.
Posted by Kevin Jaques (1 comment )
Link Flag
There's more to evolution than mutation
Mutation is an extremely small part of evolution. Genetic crossover is a much more dominant force in evolution, on the order of several orders of magnitude. In other words, mating is much more important than mutation in evolution. So doing a mathematical analysis of the probability of evolution based solely on mutation is simply misguided.
Posted by joeytrevino (1 comment )
Link Flag
Bad Assumptions + Good Math = Bad Results
There is a lot of stuff here that is just laughably wrong. Unfortunately, the old GI=GO applies here. (GI=GO ... Garbage In Garbage Out.)

"The minimum number of mutations necessary to produce the simplest new structure in an organism is five..."

This is a nonsensical statement. What does Camp (author of book you are quoting) mean by "simplest new structure"? Individual proteins do not require 5 simultaneous mutations in order to change function, and all structures are ultimately built up from proteins (or their actions). There are many accounts in the literature of proteins changing function with only a single mutation, and of individual mutations in regulatory regions having profound effects on morphology. Evolution generally involves one mutation at a time, not five.

"Since only one mutation per 1,000 is non-harmful..."

False. About 75% of mutations in protein coding regions will be non-harmful, and a much higher percentage can exist for non-coding regions (depending on what it does). Notice that 75% is a slight bit larger than 0.1%. Mutations are usually neutral.

"...10,000 genes, the same number as E. coli..."
E. coli only has 5,000 genes. If Camp had been right in his initial assumptions he could have doubled the already astronomical odds he calculated making them even more astronomical. But of course, GI=GO.

"The odds that this one non-harmful mutation would affect a particular gene, however, is 1 in 10,000 (since there are 10,000 genes).... The odds of a single cell possessing non-harmful mutations of five specific (functionally related) genes is the product of their separate probabilities."

But it is not necessary for the mutations to occur simultaneously. Some ancestor could have aquired mutation A, and some other mutation B, etc. Every generation could have cut the odds in half. (2 in 10,000; 4 in 10,000; 8 in 10,000; 16 in 10,000 ...) (A fun statistical game to play is to note what good odds there are that with 12 people in a room, how often 2 will share the same birthday out of the 365 days of the year. Try it sometime.)

"...the probability is 1 in 10^8 X 10^8 X 10^8 X 10^8 X 10^8, or 1 in 10^40. If one hundred trillion (10^14) bacteria were produced every second for five billion years (10^17 seconds), the resulting population (10^31) would be only 1/1,000,000,000 of what was needed!"

All of the assumptions here are again sadly wrong. But as for the number of bacteria, there are about 5 x 10^30 on Earth. If they divide once per hour, then that means 1.39 x 10^27 being made every second. Over 10^17 seconds, that makes 1.39 x 10^45 bacteria, or more than 5 orders of magnitude more than the obviously wrong 10^40 target being presented here.

My grandson points out: It's interesting to note that each human body has on and in it 100 trillion bacterial cells alone.
&lt;<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.brainyencyclopedia.com/encyclopedia/b/ba/bacteria_in_the_human_body.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.brainyencyclopedia.com/encyclopedia/b/ba/bacteria_in_the_human_body.html</a>&gt;
And let me add that there are many times that number in your bathroom sink!

"Even Julian Huxley, a staunch evolutionist who made assumptions very favorable to the theory, computed the odds against the evolution of a horse to be 1 in 10^300,000."

Huxley was referring to what we call the "coin-tossing fallacy". For example: with 6 billion people on Earth, there is a 1 in 3 billion chance that your father would be the man that he was (rather than some other man), and the same for your mother. Repeat that process for each gene you inherited from each parent, and figure in your grandparents etc, and you soon reach an astronomical number. This doesn't make you "impossible", however.

I hope this helps:-)
Posted by Edward Yin (31 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Evolution not mathematically possible
In my reply "Bad Assumptions + Good Math = Bad Results" to the post "Evolution not mathematically possible" I omitted a specific example in response to one of the more egregious fallacies:

"The minimum number of mutations necessary to produce the simplest new structure in an organism is five..."

A specific example of why this is false would be a HOX-gene. One mutation in a HOX-gene (the ones that regulate body shape) could produce an extra appendage.

Cheers! :-)
Posted by Edward Yin (31 comments )
Link Flag
Evolution not mathematically possible
Very good reply! Hope this is accurate so it stands up to scrutiny as it should be making its way around the internet in email forwards...I for one will save it and send it out when appropriate, thanks heaps for your time and Intelligently Designed input.
Posted by deshotel (5 comments )
Link Flag
Lack of transitional fossils
Besides my previous post on the mathematical odds of mutation, one of the biggest questions I have is the lack of fossils that show transitional forms.
Posted by edyang (54 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Great again...
You're like the 4 millionth person to make the same comment. I
think if you start building your knowledge from something other
than a religious source, you might not consider that a serious
Posted by mgreere (332 comments )
Link Flag
you don't need fossils though you can watch it happen
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.cienciateca.com/stsevol.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.cienciateca.com/stsevol.html</a>
Posted by Bob Brinkman (556 comments )
Link Flag
Okay, let's use some logic
I'm open minded to any theory. As soon as scientists generate life capable of reproduction from non organic materials, as they say happened to start with by accident, I'll be the biggest proponent of evolution that exists.
Posted by nyabdns (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Education is your friend
If you want to be taken seriously, how about finding out what evolution is all about?
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
What about synthesising a virus from scratch? It's been done.
Posted by alegr (1590 comments )
Link Flag
Both sides need more intelligent arguments
First off, the age of the Earth, according to religious scholars is NOT 4000 years. While many believe the Earth is 6000 years according to two popular geneologies, both are wrong and most religious scholars, today, do not believe those chronologies.

Andromeda Galaxy is our closest neighbor galaxy and anyone realizing that it is 2.5 million light years away can easily dispute the age of the Earth according to "Bible Chronology."

Now, the first THREE DAYS OF BIBLE CREATION did not, according to that text, have a sun or moon. There was no SOLAR calendar until the FOURTH DAY of the CREATION STORY. So, scratch the 24 hour "DAY" of the vast majority of uneducated preachers and people who refuse to correlate science and scriptures.

On the Intelligent Design theory, for lack of a better term, the idea that the universe was not created by chance was posed as a way of getting people to admit that there might be a deity of some sort.

Random chance is the thing disbelieved in the ID school, not necessarily evolution. However, there are several "pre-historic men" that have come under high scrutiny due to "problems" with them. Zinjinthropus erectus, for example, is not thought by many to have been extrapolated from the remains of an extinct pig. One of the Australopithicines is now considered to have probably been an aborial.

There has been, to date, no conclusive evidence to connect one species to another in an evolutionary tree. There are commonalities and high probability, but, no conclusive evidence.

The closest we might have is the Megalodon to the Great White Shark. They appear virtually the same except for size. Both seem to be perfect eating machines, perfection in evolution. Size could be explained in the vast ocean space needed to support a population of fish that size.

The Appalachian Mountains are dated at 280 million years old, the oldest mountains on Earth. We can debate the maturity of a planet, but, none can conclude the age of the "big bang" or even IF it ever happened, it is just another theory. To me, nebula theory makes more sense, even with red shift, another subject of debate.

So, we need to think more, talk less, listen, and keep observing.

Posted by FrodoBBaggins (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry, Frodo, but you have a few facts wrong...
"The Appalachian Mountains are dated at 280 million years old,
the oldest mountains on Earth"
&gt;&gt;The age is about right, but there are many mountain ranges
older than the Appalachians. The Caledonian Mountains date
from about 400 Million years, And in the 4 Billion years before
that, it's a safe bet than many other mountain ranges came and

"Zinjinthropus erectus, for example, is not thought by many to
have been extrapolated from the remains of an extinct pig."
&gt;&gt; OH 5, "Zinjanthropus", "Nutcracker Man", Australopithecus
boisei -- Discovered by Mary Leakey in 1959 at Olduvai Gorge in
Tanzania (Leakey 1959). Estimated age is 1.8 million years. It is
an almost complete cranium, with a brain size is about 530 cc.
This was the first specimen of this species. Louis Leakey briefly
considered this a human ancestor, but the claim was dropped
when **** habilis was found soon afterwards. from <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://" target="_newWindow">http://</a>
&gt;&gt; So, probably not a human ancestor, but definitely not a pig.

"We can debate the maturity of a planet, but, none can conclude
the age of the "big bang" or even IF it ever happened, it is just
another theory."
&gt;&gt; Try Wikipedia, for lack of abetter source at the moment -
"According to the Big Bang theory, the universe as we know it
began 13.7 ± 0.2 billion years ago. This may be seen as the
event from which the universe originated, and indeed time itself
began. It is not necessarily creation per se, as that word may be
seen as implying the existence of a creator, additionally the
theory does not describe the creation of matter itself, but rather
the singular point in space-time, after which the laws of physics
we know describe the history of the universe. Moreover, it has to
be emphasized that early universe history might be somewhat
different than what we intuitively think about when referring to a
"Big Bang" (see ekpyrotic universe, for example). Therefore the
"age" of the Universe refers to the time that elapsed since the
last hot and dense epoch the region of the Universe we live in
has experienced. Roughly speaking, it gives the time that has
elapsed since nucleosynthesis. The age of the Earth is
considered to be 4.55 billion (4.55 × 109) years based upon
dating of mineral crystal deposits and meteorites"

&gt;&gt; Anyhow, the age of the Universe is quite well known and

Maybe you should give the ring back to Bilbo.... ;-)
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
The debate over evolution and ID is pointless. Evolution does not prove there is or is not a God. The solid scientific evidence for evolution says nothing about the existance of God. ID, on the other hand, has no proof for any of its claims.

For the most part ID proponents really have no clue or science background, so how can they possibly attempt to debunk science? Most that I have heard, actually think that a scientific theory is just something made up with no proof. Maybe if they weren't so ignorant, they would be taken more seriously.

This whole thing is nothing more then more division to keep everyone under control.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Poor assumptions
You make the comment that most have no scientific background. I think that statement alone is a pretty bold one to make, and easily dismissed.

It is a false assumption that only scientists believe in evolution while religious nuts believe in ID. Many many scientists feel that evolution is not only unlikely but impossible. To generically label a movement is pretty weak.
Posted by edyang (54 comments )
Link Flag
Oh Really???
"For the most part ID proponents really have no clue or science background,"

Let me see Darwin beleived in both. So did Albert. A lot of the greatist scientific minds of all times feel they can both occure.

Quit trying to show everyone how smart you are by bashing religion. Charles and Albert are turning over in thier graves.

True Science = True Religion
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
Link Flag
[quote=Bill]"The debate over evolution and ID is pointless. Evolution does not prove there is or is not a God. The solid scientific evidence for evolution says nothing about the existance of God. ID, on the other hand, has no proof for any of its claims."[/quote]

That _totaly_ depends on what type of God you believe in.

If you take the average creationist or "ID proponent" His/Her God is the literal God of the bible: omnipresent, omnisient, and omnipotent, who; acording to the first book of the bible created everything in 6 days.

If you believe in this God, then evolution is at odds with this belief.

That my friend is how evoluition trys to disprove God. By attacking the genisis account.

[quote=bill]"For the most part ID proponents really have no clue or science background, so how can they possibly attempt to debunk science? Most that I have heard, actually think that a scientific theory is just something made up with no proof."[/quote]

Pfft blanket statement - i love these.

I also love how you have jumped from talking about "most ID proponents" to "most that _you_ have herd" .... to totaly different things.... unless you have heard from them ALL.

[quote=bill]"if they werent so ignorant they would be taken more seriously"[/quote]

Face it, they are ignorant because they dont embrace _your_ point of view.

If you go into any debate with a mind like this you will NEVER be able to weigh up both sides. and this means you are arguing and not debating. this smacks of so born and bread evolutionist... not someone who has made up their own mind.

[quote=bill]"This whole thing is nothing more then more division to keep everyone under control."[/quote]

You talk down the average person trying to debunk science in their own minds, as if science is a scource of infallibility - Its like you have reached a point in your mind where it is impossible to debunk anything scientific - how Orwellian
Posted by Neph (23 comments )
Link Flag
Some people came from APES, but not me.
I see ape like features in some people, but nothing close in myself.

So I propose that we teach that those people who believe in evolution came from apes, and the people that came from God did not.

What do ya think?
Posted by baswwe (299 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Since I am pretty hairless...

Since I'm Asian and pretty hairless myself, I think the probability I came from an ape is pretty low.

However, I have been found at times to be scratching myself in embarrassing places.
Posted by edyang (54 comments )
Link Flag
Who claimed that we come from apes(other then people who don't really understand evolution)?

There is evidence that we SHARE a common ancestor. Two totally different things.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
Now, this is one of the best suggestions I've read. You teach both theories and let people pick they one that suits them best. Perfect.

And for the record, I'm choosing the super intelligent Creator theory too as my personal favorite. :-)

Posted by James_U (80 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Glad someone agrees!
Posted by baswwe (299 comments )
Link Flag
Very good theories but...
I believe that we are the decendents of an ancient civilization from another planet. Our forefathers had their memories wiped upon landing on Earth in order to forget the tragedies of our past on the mother planet. We were sent here to start a new life and hopefully to avoid becoming the monsters that we were on the mother planet.

Unless someone/science proves otherwise... I believe my theory to be quite plausible.
Posted by Manny Frizzle (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Your sarcasm is escaping me?
Is your point that IDers use this shield for their defense?
Posted by edyang (54 comments )
Link Flag
.. perhaps if your theory explained the emergence of life....ir where it originated (not simply moved from) then it would be relevant?

(woops posted to story)
Posted by Neph (23 comments )
Link Flag
ID is not just speculation
When you look at a car going down the street, do you wonder if someone made this or did it just get made without someone designing it? Maybe, there were holes in the ground that were exactly the size and shape of each and every part of that car and just the right amount of metal melted into those spots a trazillion years ago. The fabric for the interior was created by lightning that made all the strands go just into the right place. Then over a trazillion and 5 years, all the parts came together and were put together just exactly right. The stitching was caused by a volcano or something that put the stitches in the right place. You know this is impossible. Of course someone designed it. You never saw the person who designed the car, but you can tell it was designed. Life is a million times more complex than a car. Let's just look at DNA for now. There are millions of nucleotites that need to be correct for the organism to even function correctly and reproduce. How did they get into the right position for things such as reproduction, and the aquition of nutrients? Let's say that only 1,000 genes are required to be in the simplest 1 cell organism. There are 4 possibilities adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine. So, the chances are 4^1000. I'd print the odds here, but I wouldn't want to take up 200 yottabytes (2^80 bits) of CNET's storage by printing the numbers 1:11481306952742545242328332011777637... Those are the odds of just the 1,000 genes of DNA being correct. That is even a conservative estimate. That doesn't include all the parts of the cell coming together at the same time and forming a cell that's descendants will last until AD 2,006. Hmm. I leave you to figure out weather you'll be stubborn and say that I fudges this all or you actually consider this like a true scientist would.
Posted by micahgeek (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
As an aside to the ID/Creator school of belief.....
... The current life forms on the Earth are all too often examples of
'faulty' design, with parts and functions that interfere with life
rather than promote it. How does the concept of ID deal with the
many biological examples of less-then-intelligent design?

Skip the flames. I'm looking for serious and intelligent responses
for knowledgeable poeple.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
At the end of science is what we call God
But first, in reply to your comment from a lay person (I'm not a scientist).

- that's why the current "version" of us took 4 plus billion years to get to where it is. It's anyone's opinion about how good/bad our version of "us" is at this point in time.

- if "we" are the supposed "end game" of this master plan/intelligent design, why wait 4 billion years? Hardly good planning, much less intelligent design.

- who says that our dominance is guaranteed and that "we" are the expected results of this intelligent design? We haven't even touched the length of time that T Rex and Co. ruled the planet. And where is T Rex now (some would say flying around)? And we have the audicity to think that "we" are the "end game" of this "intelligent design"?

- if this is all "intelligent", as in "planned", then there's definitely a bug/flaw in the design. How can a design that wreaks destruction and havoc on the planet and to it's own species unnecessarily be good design? Predators kill to survive (necessity). We kill for, uh, well, just about anything. Worse, we justify it...

So why my headline/subject line?

I do believe there is something other than science at work. Science will never be able to find the true origin of anything - it's an infinite loop:

- if you think the atom is the origin, think again, you'd still have to ask, where'd it come from?

- and once you identify it and give it some name, ask the same question.

- and again [loop]

Another doozy: "It all started from nothing"

- really? how can nothing be nothing without anything?

Science can only go so far....
Posted by EdSF (6 comments )
Link Flag
There is insufficient space to summarize both sides of that debate here. However, the conclusion is that there is no scientific evidence in favor of so-called Scientific Creationism. Furthermore, there is much evidence, observation and theory that can explain many of the complexities of the universe and life on earth.

The origin of the Argument by Design is a feeling that the existence of something as incredibly intricate as, say, a human is so improbable that surely it can't have come about by chance; that surely there must be some external intelligence directing things so that humans come from the chaos deliberately.

But if human intelligence is so improbable, surely the existence of a mind capable of fashioning an entire universe complete with conscious beings must be immeasurably more unlikely? The approach used to argue in favor of the existence of a creator can be turned around and applied to the Creationist position.

This leads us to the familiar theme of "If a creator created the universe, what created the creator?", but with the addition of spiralling improbability. The only way out is to declare that the creator was not created and just "is" (or "was").

From here we might as well ask what is wrong with saying that the universe just "is" without introducing a creator? Indeed Stephen Hawking, in his book "A Brief History of Time", explains his theory that the universe is closed and finite in extent, with no beginning or end.

The Argument From Design is often stated by analogy, in the so-called Watchmaker Argument. One is asked to imagine that one has found a watch on the beach. Does one assume that it was created by a watchmaker, or that it evolved naturally? Of course one assumes a watchmaker. Yet like the watch, the universe is intricate and complex; so, the argument goes, the universe too must have a creator.

The Watchmaker analogy suffers from three particular flaws, over and above those common to all Arguments By Design. Firstly, a watchmaker creates watches from pre-existing materials, whereas God is claimed to have created the universe from nothing. These two sorts of creation are clearly fundamentally different, and the analogy is therefore rather weak.

Secondly, a watchmaker makes watches, but there are many other things in the world. If we walked further along the beach and found a nuclear reactor, we wouldn't assume it was created by the watchmaker. The argument would therefore suggest a multitude of creators, each responsible for a different part of creation (or a different universe, if you allow the possibility that there might be more than one).

Finally, in the first part of the watchmaker argument we conclude that the watch is not part of nature because it is ordered, and therefore stands out from the randomness of nature. Yet in the second part of the argument, we start from the position that the universe is obviously not random, but shows elements of order. The Watchmaker argument is thus internally inconsistent.

Apart from logical inconsistencies in the watchmaker argument, it's worth pointing out that biological systems and mechanical systems behave very differently. What's unlikely for a pile of gears is not necessarily unlikely for a mixture of biological molecules.

Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
is this the year 2005 or 1005?
I am so tired of this debate.
For all those you who believe in ID than there must be a designer, i.e. a god.
If youre so certain than prove scientifically that there is a god.
To state you need faith or it says so in some book is a copout.
If you cant prove your premise than your conclusions are irrelevant.
So prove there is a god or shut up and get off the stage.
To sit and try to debate the believers in ID is pointless exercise.
I wonder whats next on the agenda for the religious zealots of this country, intelligent chemistry-chemical bonding only occurs as a god sees fit; intelligent physics-its a gods will that we keep from floating off the planet, not gravity; intelligent mathematics-a god makes two plus two equal four, intelligent.
When we stop believing in some mystical, magical unseen force and start believing in our own Human capabilities?
Posted by jautey (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's actually 2006
-There are many things you can't prove exists but you still believe exists. I doubt anyone has visited a black hole, but we can see the effects it has on its surroundings. You ask me to prove that God exists, I point at the Bible and the wonderous world. I'm guessing you won't accept my evidence anyway, because your mind is already made up. So your call for evidence is really pointless.

-I highly doubt that Christians call gravity "intelligent physics-its a god" as you put it. There are physical laws of the universe that exist, and that can be proven. For example we know gravity exists because if I drop something it falls towards the earth. However, evolution has not been proven, and the evidence is not conclusive. To rule out ID as a possibility is to be closeminded.

&gt;&gt;&gt;When we stop believing in some mystical, magical unseen force and start believing in our own Human capabilities?

-Like another poster said, when humans can recreate an experiment of creating organic from inorganic material in the labs, thats the day that many who do not believe in evolution may revisit their beliefs.
Posted by edyang (54 comments )
Link Flag
It's 2006, actually
Hey! I took an intro to logic class too!!

1. If there is a God, he is a supernatural being
2. Science is only capable of proving what is natural
? Science is incapable of proving the existance of God
Posted by 199657710366057339589467585945 (18 comments )
Link Flag
How will this debate end.
In my opinion, this debate is not in fact an exchange of ideas for the eventual arrival at the truth but a pointless contest between schools of philosophy. If Evolution is "proven" correct given some deeper understanding of evolutionary mechanisms, will The ID proponents then happily agree that yes indeed we have advanced science and go on arm in arm with the evolutionists ? Har dee har har.
If ID is "proven" given some greater manifestation of the Intelligent Designer's identity, motivation and whereabouts, will the evolutionist also start praying before their microscopes ? Hah.
Get back in the classroom and teach either religion or science.
Cut the funding for anyone engaging in this ludicrous "debate".That means eliminating the tax breaks for religious organizations that push ID as science.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Preaching to an easy audience
I agree that an argument presented in a pleasant way is more
likely to be listened to. But, what the filmmaker is claiming is
too simplistic. The reason a raving fundamentalist preacher with
a bad combover can get approval for his claim 'God did it!' is
largely that he is talking to people who are unsophisticated, and
none too bright. It takes reasonably good analytical skills to ask
the questions that a person who will believe in evolution would

The creationists/intelligent design folks are NOT the voice of
reason. What is helping them most is having an audience that
will choose simplicity over complexity. And, it doesn't hurt that
they are threatening believers, saying: Agree with us or God
with get you.

When will this debate end? I think that unless we want to see a
halt to scientific exploration and theocratic governments
worldwide, we must reject the efforts of the creationist/
intelligent design movement now.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A common misconception in this forum
is that Christians or anyone who believes in God is ignorant, has a bad combover, is offensive, etc etc. We are also raving fundamentalists bent on taking over the government at any cost.

If anything I've seen how those who oppose ID choose to attack on a personal level our beliefs rather than engage in intelligent debate.

I guess it's not surprising, but it's a bit sad.
Posted by edyang (54 comments )
Link Flag

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