Regarding the IDEA website

From: Intelligent des Evolution awareness (
Date: Fri Jan 04 2002 - 20:21:41 EST

  • Next message: george murphy: "Re: Regarding the IDEA website"

    Dear friends,

    Greetings, my name is Casey Luskin and I'm a recent graduate from UC San
    Diego and presently a researcher at Scripps Institution for Oceanography.
    I am the webmaster for the IDEA website, the website of a small
    student-run club at UCSD devoted to discussing origins and promoting
    intelligent design. Our mission statement can be read at
    "". I personally am a
    Christian and have an M.S. in Earth Sciences which I received last summer.

    I'd like to thank you all for taking an interest in the IDEA website, and
    for generating so much good discussion about our page, about which John
    Burgeson and Walter Hicks have kindly notified me. I've joined the ASA
    list for the time being to help answer any questions you might have and
    gain any good feedback you might have. Let me first say a little about
    the IDEA website.

    I'm not sure if it is the popular thing to be of a pro-intelligent design
    / Darwin-skeptic viewpoint on this list, but that's OK with me if it is.
    The website started off as a small site to aid the small IDEA Club, which
    is composed of people of a variety of different viewpoints. Almost all of
    the content on the site was posted by myself in my spare time as an
    undergrad and grad student. I realize that in many cases it isn't perfect
    and not always complete, but its the best I could do with the time I had.
    For this reason, however, I am always willing to entertain suggestions to
    the site, and they are very much appreciated. This is why I am thankful
    for the discussion on this list, and look forward to any helpful
    suggestions which might come my way as a result of my joining this list.

    I'll try to answer some of the posts:

    George Murphy noted some of the quotes from physicists. He refers to our
    page at "" saying that they
    might be called, "misrepresentations" and misunderstood if taken out of
    context to the uknowning reader. However, as it says on our "Quote
    Disclaimer and Explanation Page"

    "The Purpose: The quotes have been officially put here for the sole
    purpose of your own personal reading enjoyment and to assist and encourage
    you in research. Some of these quotes are admittedly quite provocative in
    their meaning and their intentions, and it is our hope that you might be
    affected by them in some way, others, though are just for fun.
    Ultimately we are not trying to say anything in particular by posting
    them, and we take no responsibility for the way you interpret or use them.
    They are officially just there for you to read, consider, and hopefully
    spur you on to your own further research. "

    It also says, "If you are going to use any of these quotes in any official
    format, I highly recommend checking them out the original source
    beforehand, and maybe even doing some background research on the issue and
    the author. "

    Hope that helps.

    As for our Doubters of Evolution Page at
    "", I can honestly say that
    this page probably generates the most controversy from those who visit our
    site around the internet.  I've received many comments over the past
    year or so, and I've often tried to incorporate them into the page.  I
    very much welcome your comments here for this page.

    John Burgeson noted our criteria for placement on the page. The purpose of the page is NOT to list everyone in the world who is a skeptic of Darwinism, but primarily to list those people who have a brain who have scientific and intellectual doubts of Darwinism. For this reason, I don't descriminate between YEC's, OEC's, or anybody else. My only purpose is to list their academic qualifications, and to list the media through which they expressed their doubt. As Burgy wrote, "criteria is fairly stated, and so both Alvin and Thomas necessarily qualify".

    ---- Michael Roberts took a critical position saying, "The whole website supports the view that ID is a YEC front and it carefully skates round the question of the earth's age."

    This comment comes to me as a surprise, for none of the club's primary organizers during its period of activity nor person who is responsible for 99% of the site content is a young earth creationist. If our site inadvertently promotes the idea that ID is YEC front, I'd very much appreciate people pointing me to where, how, and what justification there is for that assertion, so I can change it.

    I have carefully constructed the website in a way so as to promote ID in a way which shows it for what it truly is: NOT a front for YEC. Without making any comments about YEC, my hope is that the only people who leave our site feeling they've just seen a bunch of YEC material are only those who come to it with their own biases and pre-conceptions about what they think intelligent design ought to be and are unwilling to see the issues as they really are.

    Roberts seems to be concerned that we include YEC's, Grasse, and Patterson on one page about people who have doubts about evolution, but as John Burgeson notes, I think we've defined the page in such a way so as to make that acceptable.

    ---- Darwinism:

    First off, I agree and admit that we're using a strange and unorthodox definition for Darwinism here, one which doesn't really say much about Darwin's ideas nor other evolultionary theories. It isn't trying to say anything about mechanisms for evolution. I realize that the word "Darwinism" is misleading, and perhaps there is a better term we should use. If anyone has any suggestions after reading the purpose of our definition, I'm willing to listen!

    Dr. Allen Harvey says that we play a word game which makes evolution look like something a Christian should oppose. There is nothing philosophical or unscientific about theory behind the mutation-selection mechanism of evolution. As an earth sciences major at UCSD, I took many classes directly related to evolutionary theory, so I'm not at all unfamiliar with the science of the theory. However, what about when we begin to apply it? What about when we say that scales turned into feathers through a Darwinian process? When do we cross the line into the metaphysical and begin to say things that aren't so scientific?

    I'm not so much critiquing Darwinism as I am critiquing the uniformitarian assumption with regards to origins in general. Generally speaking, my definition of Darwinism encompasses the science which says that purely natural processes are solely responsible for the origins and evolution of life on earth. Perhaps I've misused the words "materialism" or "naturalism", and if I have, I'd like to know where and how. But my definition of Darwinism is the science which says that only natural processes created life. Anyone who has spoken out agains that science is fair game for our list.

    Uniformitarianism is a hypothesis, though often unstated, which says that only natural processes created life. Evolution and origins of life scenarios are theories which fit under the uniformitarian hypothesis. I think that the uniformitarian hypothesis is sometimes testable, but where it isn't, it is still taken as true. And where evidence seems to fit with the uniformitarian hypothesis, it often is weak or circumstantial evidence at best. For this reason I call it a philosophy as well, and where the evidence is lacking, uniformitarian hypotheses are still taken as true.

    Are we attaching a philosophy to science? Yes. I have no problem lumping the science of evolutionary theory together with the philosophy of naturalism. I see both coming out. We assume natural processes are the only ones at work (naturalism), we find feathers and scales, and we assume that feathers are genetically derived from scales. Sure, you've got a theoretical process by which the transformation can take place, but at the end of the day, that theoretical process can only be invoked if we make naturalistic assumptions to rule out other hypotheses, such as intelligent design or any creation-as-a-first-cause-hypothesis.

    When was the last time many of you took an evolution course? Any of you ever heard of story telling? I once had a geology professor who would begin many of his lectures saying, "let me tell you a story". Sitting through lecture after lecture of evolutionary stories about how this happened and that happened shows that that's all these evolutionary theories are--stories! Sure, perhaps the stories make predictions, but to really accept them as true, we have to make philosophical statements saying there were no non-natural processes involved in the creation of life. It's science guided by a philosophy.

    To accomodate this, we've constructed a definition of Darwinism which is, "the scientific theory which, operating under the philosophies of materialism and naturalism, makes the assertion that life today is the result of purely natural processes, such as the natural chemical origins of the first cell, and a mutatation-selection mechanism causing microevolution, macroevolution, speciation, which account for the origins of all cellular functions, morphologies, and common ancestry through descent with modification for all life forms."

    p.s. I like John Burgeson's modifications also, as I think they better reflect what we're trying to say.

    George Murphy says our version rules out that God is involved at any level. I disagree, for God coul be behind it as a secondary cause. My definition deals only with first causes, as natural mechanisms are only first causes.

    A Christian who accepts evolution through natural selection, etc, etc, wouldn't be listed on our site. This Christian also has made the metaphysical statement that only natural processes have been at work in the creation of life, whether God was behind it all or not.

    Sorry that this got so long. I don't always have a lot of time to write, so if I go MIA from this list for periods of time, my apologies.


    Casey Luskin

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