Abednego: August 2005 Archives

I took this Newsweek poll online a few days ago, and now overall results are tabulated. There was an earlier, phone version of the poll, done by Beliefnet and Newsweek, which reached far fewer people. Both show some interesting results. You can read about the earlier version here. Unfortunately, results of the earlier poll are tabulated in a more effective way so it's possible to get a little more information about who responded how -- but the statistics aren't as good.

Here are some interesting points:
When asked, "Can a good person who isn't of your religious faith go to heaven or attain salvation, or not?" 79% of people said yes, including 68% of professing evangelical protestants, 83% of professing non-evangelical protestants, 91% of Roman Catholics, and 79% of non-Christians (earlier poll). The later, online poll had significantly fewer people saying yes, and results aren't broken down by religious identification.

The polls found 85% (telephone) and 71% (online) of people identifying themselves as Christian. Yet 55% (telephone) and 51% (online) of people attend worship services once or twice a month or less. And 55% (telephone) and 52% (online) of people read "the Bible, Koran, or some other sacred text" less than once or twice a month. (On the flip side, I guess it's reassuring that 40-some percent of people do these things more than once or twice a month).

[UPDATE: It's worth also noting this comment in this Newsweek article:

Of 1,004 respondents to the NEWSWEEK/Beliefnet Poll, 45 percent said they attend worship services weekly, virtually identical to the figure (44 percent) in a Gallup poll cited by Time in 1966. Then as now, however, there is probably a fair amount of wishful thinking in those figures; researchers who have done actual head counts in churches think the figure is probably more like 20 percent.
]

Most people (70-80%) also believe (according to these polls) that God created the universe.


I once saw the following joke posted on the wall in a science building. Bear with me, as it's a short proof of sorts:

Knowledge is power, which we will abbreviate K=P.

Time is money, or T=M.

And, as any scientist or engineer knows, power is work per time (P=W/T).

Substitute into the third expression T=M and P=K to get K=W/M, then solve for M:
M=W/K.
That is, money equals work per knowledge.

Conclusion: For a fixed amount of work, the less you know, the more you make. And as knowledge approaches zero, money approaches infinity.
The rumor is that Bill Gates stumbled across this proof as an undergrad at Harvard and thus dropped out of school. Apparently it's worked pretty well for him.

And while we're talking about equivocation, or at least something like it, I recently heard this joke, which is a pretty good example, too:

Everyone knows that fire engines have 8 wheels and 4 men. 4 and 8 make 12. There are twelve inches in a foot. A foot is a ruler. Queen Elizabeth, a ruler, is the name of one of the largest ships on the seas. Seas have fish and fish have fins. The Finns fought the Russians and Russians are red . . . and fire trucks are always rushin' therefore, fire trucks are red!

Larry King had a number of guests discussing what he called "creationism or as it's now called intelligent design versus evolution" last night. I missed it, but am now reading the transcript (scroll down). For those who saw it, what were your impressions?

Right off the bat, I noticed that Larry King thinks creationism and intelligent design are equivalent (see the quote above). I know this is what evolutionists typically claim (i.e. "intelligent design is creationism in a cheap tuxedo"), but I don't buy it.

Science on Kansas

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Science Magazine has the following News of the Week item on the Kansas Board of Education decision (subscription probably required):

The Kansas Board of Education last week endorsed science standards that would allow for the teaching of alternatives to evolutionary theory. Scientists say the new draft standards are a thinly disguised attempt to slip intelligent design (ID) into the curriculum by highlighting uncertainty and gaps in current scientific thinking. But it's an open question whether they will translate into changes in the classroom.

Plantinga and Schonborn

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It looks like I forgot to point this out because I was traveling: Plantinga commented on the recent NYT editorial by Cardinal Schonborn, where Schonborn points out that what some people mean when they say "evolution" is incompatible with the teaching of the Roman Catholic church. Plantinga says essentially that Schonborn "has it right". You can see the whole story at Prosthesis; it's worth reading the whole thing if you are at all interested in the evolution/Intelligent Design debate.

As an aside, someone elsewhere called Plantinga's approach here "philosophy by press release". I thought that was funny.

David Klinghoffer has a column in National Review Online today on continuing developments in the case of Richard von Sternberg, the individual who was in the unfortunate position of being the editor who accepted (based on peer-reviews) an intelligent design article for publication. He has been treated rather unpleasantly since then.

And on a related topic, Telic Thoughts has a recent post with some academics' responses when asked whether they thought being an intelligent design proponent would disqualify a candidate for an academic position.

UPDATE: The WaPo has an article on the Sternberg story. I may say more on this in the near future, but check it out if you're interested.

Meeting of the Minds

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The folks at Telic Thoughts are hosting another "Meeting of the Minds", a blog carnival for posts positive towards intelligent design. Deadline for submissions is Monday, Aug. 22. Visit here for submission details.

Just wanted to give a heads-up to those who missed it: Laurence Krauss and Michael Behe were on the News Hour last night debating intelligent design in the wake of Bush's remarks about teaching it in schools. Right now you can access the section from this page, although I doubt it will stay there permanently. It's a pretty short segment and worth watching.

Jonathan Edwards saw self-examination as an important part of life. Not only did he want unbelievers to examine themselves and realize their need to come to Christ for salvation, but he wanted Christians to examine themselves and see where they fell short, to be brought to humility, repentance, and dependence upon God. And this wasn't just something he wanted for others -- he himself regularly set aside times of self-examination, to see where he fell short and be brought to humility. He saw these as an important part of his Christian life.

A hint of Edwards' focus on self-examination pops up in the sermon I recently blogged about, on the Preciousness of Time. I think if you read the sermon, or even my notes on it, with any degree of honesty, you'll begin to realize how much we have failed to value time, and how much of it we have wasted. I know I was greatly challenged by this. Edwards' application points seem aimed to incite self-examination, and probably spring from his own self-examination. For instance, he asks, "Have you not wasted your precious moments, your precious days, yea, your precious years? ... What is become of them all? What can you show of any improvement made, or good done, or benefit obtained, answerable to all this time which you have lived?"

I've returned from a research conference and another meeting, but I'll be traveling again next week.

I keep hearing talks at conferences that I find rather amazing. For example, in the areas of systems biology and biological networks, I've heard several talks about how these systems are "designed". Sometimes (as in the talk I just heard) speakers will go beyond saying that the systems "appear designed", and state that the evidence shows that they are designed. This seems scientifically well-received as long as the speakers avoid suggesting that there was actually an intelligent designer who did the designing (and perhaps instead suggest that natural selection was the designer). I find it remarkable that it is scientifically accepted to talk about design in biological systems, as long the designer is left out of the picture or assumed to be unintelligent. But many scientists vehemently oppose any suggestion of an intelligent designer.

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