Re: [asa] UN Downgrades Man's Impact On The Climate

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Thu Dec 14 2006 - 00:52:49 EST

At 06:14 AM 12/11/2006, wrote:

>>@ I have to believe that you're more widely read on this subject
>>than you're fallacious statement would indicate. If not, I'll be
>>glad to provide you with copies of other "alternative suggestions"
>>that have been published. ~ Janice
>>>For example, SETI. Why stop it? If you are so confident they'll
>>>never find anything, let them look. Let them come to a conclusion
>>>based on the evidence. As an aside, this is probably an area where
>>>serious ID research could even offer a valuable contribution:
>>>identifying signals generated from an extraterrestrial intelligent
>>>agent. ~ Wayne
>>@ Who wants to stop it? It's privately financed - mainly by the
>>types of people who are regular listeners to the Art Bell radio
>>show. It's none of my business how individuals want to spend their
>>own hard-earned dollars. ~ Janice
>Neither is it mine. But you equivocate. ~ Wayne

@@ Not at all.

"Cast your minds back to 1960. John F. Kennedy is president,
commercial jet airplanes are just appearing, the biggest university
mainframes have 12K of memory. And in Green Bank, West Virginia at
the new National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a young astrophysicist
named Frank Drake runs a two week project called Ozma, to search for
extraterrestrial signals. A signal is received, to great excitement.
It turns out to be false, but the excitement remains. In 1960, Drake
organizes the first SETI conference, and came up with the now-famous
Drake equation:

N=N*fp ne fl fi fc fL

Where N is the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy; fp is the
fraction with planets; ne is the number of planets per star capable
of supporting life; fl is the fraction of planets where life evolves;
fi is the fraction where intelligent life evolves; and fc is the
fraction that communicates; and fL is the fraction of the planet's
life during which the communicating civilizations live.

This serious-looking equation gave SETI an serious footing as a
legitimate intellectual inquiry. The problem, of course, is that none
of the terms can be known, and most cannot even be estimated.

The only way to work the equation is to fill in with guesses.

And guesses-just so we're clear-are merely expressions of prejudice.
Nor can there be "informed guesses."

If you need to state how many planets with life choose to
communicate, there is simply no way to make an informed guess. It's
simply prejudice.

As a result, the Drake equation can have any value from "billions and
billions" to zero. An expression that can mean anything means
nothing. Speaking precisely, the Drake equation is literally
meaningless, and has nothing to do with science. I take the hard view
that science involves the creation of testable hypotheses. The Drake
equation cannot be tested and therefore SETI is not science. SETI is
unquestionably a religion.

Faith is defined as the firm belief in something for which there is
no proof. The belief that the Koran is the word of God is a matter of
faith. The belief that God created the universe in seven days is a
matter of faith. The belief that there are other life forms in the
universe is a matter of faith. There is not a single shred of
evidence for any other life forms, and in forty years of searching,
none has been discovered.

There is absolutely no evidentiary reason to maintain this belief.
SETI is a religion.

One way to chart the cooling of enthusiasm is to review popular works
on the subject. In 1964, at the height of SETI enthusiasm, Walter
Sullivan of the NY Times wrote an exciting book about life in the
universe entitled WE ARE NOT ALONE. By 1995, when Paul Davis wrote a
book on the same subject, he titled it ARE WE ALONE? ( Since 1981,
there have in fact been four books titled ARE WE ALONE.) More
recently we have seen the rise of the so-called "Rare Earth" theory
which suggests that we may, in fact, be all alone. Again, there is no
evidence either way.

Back in the sixties, SETI had its critics, although not among
astrophysicists and astronomers. The biologists and paleontologists
were harshest. George Gaylord Simpson of Harvard sneered that SETI
was a "study without a subject," and it remains so to the present day.

But scientists in general have been indulgent toward SETI, viewing it
either with bemused tolerance, or with indifference. After all,
what's the big deal? It's kind of fun. If people want to look, let
them. Only a curmudgeon would speak harshly of SETI. It wasn't worth
the bother.

And of course it is true that untestable theories may have heuristic
value. Of course extraterrestrials are a good way to teach science to
kids. But that does not relieve us of the obligation to see the Drake
equation clearly for what it is-pure speculation in quasi-scientific

*** The fact that the Drake equation was not greeted with screams of
outrage-similar to the screams of outrage that greet each Creationist
new claim, for example-meant that now there was a crack in the door,
a loosening of the definition of what constituted legitimate
scientific procedure. And soon enough, pernicious garbage began to
squeeze through the cracks. .." ~ Michael Crichton

>>>What about evolution? The notion is always, "stamp it
>>>out!". Why? Are we afraid of something? I understand that
>>>worshiping the creation instead of the creator is an
>>>issue. However, if Augustine were not to have passed through
>>>Manichaeism and Platonism he would have hardly become the
>>>effective Christian father he became. It was by God's Grace that
>>>he because a Christian, and it was through the work of God's
>>>leading that passed him through these periods. We must live in
>>>this world, therefore we most also engage it. Should anyone
>>>really find rest in the temple of extremist scientism? ~ Wayne
>>@ Another fallacious statement, "the notion is always.." Which
>>theory of evolution are you talking about, and whose money do you
>>want to spend? ~ Janice
>[snipped the pope's statement] ~ Wayne

@@ You didn't want to answer the questions? Why?

>>Now, you may think that Christians ought to be willing to have
>>their tax dollars confiscated and used to teach their children what
>>they consider to be the atheistic / secular humanist version of the
>>theory of evolution, but most aren't. Once again, the "funding"
>>is where the problem comes in. ~ Janice
>These brawls have been about teaching creation and/or ID as science. ~ Wayne

@@ Now you know as well as I do that the brawl is about "Christian"
parents being quite frustrated by the fact that their tax money is
being used against their will to indoctrinate their children with
theories of evolution that are incompatible with the truth about man
(as the pope outlines below). They are merely trying to find a way
to counteract it.

The Pope: " A theory is a metascientific elaboration distinct from
the results of observation, but consistent with them. By means of it
a series of independent data and facts can be related and interpreted
in a unified explanation. A theory's validity depends on whether or
not it can be verified; it is constantly tested against the facts;
wherever it can no longer explain the latter, it shows its
limitations and unsuitability. It must then be
rethought. Furthermore, while the formulation of a theory like that
of evolution complies with the need for consistency with the observed
data, it borrows certain notions from natural philosophy.

And, to tell the truth, rather than the theory of evolution, we
should speak of several theories of evolution.

On the one hand, this plurality has to do with the different
explanations advanced for the mechanism of evolution, and on the
other, with the various philosophies on which it is based. Hence the
existence of materialist, reductionist, and spiritualist
interpretations. What is to be decided here is the true role of
philosophy and, beyond it, of theology.

Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the
philosophies inspiring them, consider the spirit as emerging from the
forces of living matter or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter are
incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground
the dignity of the person. ..." Excerpted from: Theories of
John Paul II Copyright (c) 1997 First Things 71 (March 1997):
28-29. Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, October 22, 1996

>>>Christians seem willing to invest .... Yet somehow, when it comes
>>>to environment and evolution, they shout "lies!" and
>>>"conspiracy!". If they are soooooo cock sure that it will all
>>>take care of itself with noooooo problem, why not let a little
>>>public investment find that out? What are they afraid of? ~ Wayne
>>@ More fallacious statements. The fact is, they're not afraid of
>>anything, they're just being realistic about human nature.. In one
>>of your more unguarded moments, you admit how right they are to be
>>skeptical: ~ Janice
>I see, so investing in creation science is showing more skepticism
>and being more realistic. ~ Wayne

@@ I wouldn't invest in it myself (I'd home school), but some
parents are desperate enough at this point to try anything to prevent
their children from being indoctrinated by atheists/secular
humanists. That's just the way it is.

>>"..Science is dazzling, and you can bamboozle all sorts of smart
>>people with a few whizz bang proofs and a lot of nonsense
>>equations. If you have some fancy gadget to show, that's even
>>better. Pretty soon, people are like a bunch of dumb dogs staring
>>at flashing lights and loud noises. .." ~ Wayne
>>Sun, 19 Feb 2006 11:34:04 EST Re: Self-deception, faith, and
>>"The problem is that greed, lust of the world with its the
>>trappings of power and influence, and the ability to find all
>>manner of specious pretext to exploit and abuse out brothers and
>>sisters in Christ, all conspire to tempt even those who have some
>>fear of the Lord to sin." ~ Wayne Wed, 8 Mar
>>2006 11:43:15 EST Re: The Left Hand of God or "is God a [s-word]"
>>~ Janice
>Pushing a little high on the hyperbole I see but hard to see how
>this actually fits the context here. And so ...... ? ~ Wayne

@@ It fits the context, and you know it. You plainly admitted how
easy it is to "bamboozle all sorts of smart people" with "science"
and how tempting it is - even for a Christian - to exploit and abuse
others with "all manner of specious pretext."

Those who know that human nature is basically depraved and
desperately wicked (caveat emptor) aren't surprised or offended when
someone is intellectually honest enough to admit such things. The
only ones who are shocked are the ones who prefer to tell themselves
that they are "basically good". :)

>>>I appreciate that Pim is taking so much time out to investigate
>>>these humdrum harangues from Janice. .." ~ by Grace we proceed, Wayne
>>@ :)
>>~ Janice .... who couldn't resist offering one last fallacious
>>humdrum harangue for this post : ) "..What offended me most
>>about creationists was not so much what they believe (although I
>>confess I find it strongly disagreeable), rather it was that they
>>insisted that I must believe it too. .."
>>~ Wayne Sun, 19 Feb 2006 10:46:47 EST - Re:
>>Believe it even if it isn't true
>This post was describing part of my own experience before and after
>I became a Christian. Throughout my Christian walk there have
>been times when that has come up again. ~ by Grace we proceed, Wayne

@@ Let's turn that around: "..What offended me most about
Darwinists was not so much what they believe (although I confess I
find it strongly disagreeable), rather it was that they insisted that
I must believe it too. .." ~ Creationists

"..The fact that the Drake equation was not greeted with screams of
outrage-similar to the screams of outrage that greet each Creationist
new claim, for example-meant that now there was a crack in the door,
a loosening of the definition of what constituted legitimate
scientific procedure. And soon enough, pernicious garbage began to
squeeze through the cracks. " ~ Michael Crichton 1/17/2003

Bio: CRICHTON, (John) Michael. American. Born in Chicago, Illinois,
October 23, 1942. Educated at Harvard University, Cambridge,
Massachusetts, A.B. (summa cum laude) 1964 (Phi Beta Kappa). Henry
Russell Shaw Travelling Fellow, 1964-65. Visiting Lecturer in
Anthropology at Cambridge University, England, 1965. Graduated
Harvard Medical School, M.D. 1969; post-doctoral fellow at the Salk
Institute for Biological Sciences, La Jolla, California 1969-1970.
Visiting Writer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1988.

"Therefore, he has as much credential as I do to discuss
environment." ~ Wayne Sat, 30 Sep 2006 18:28:47
EDT Re: [asa] Edward O. Wilson shares Dawkins' basic views

~ Janice

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Received on Thu Dec 14 00:53:36 2006

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