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Privileged Planet Website Opens

A website featuring a new book by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, The Privileged Planet, has opened.  The subtitle of the book is How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery.  The authors take issue with pessimistic views, such as those of Steven Weinberg and Carl Sagan, that our planet is “pointless” or […]

Much Ado About Nothing

How much can you say about nothing?  Some people can say quite a lot.  One astrobiologist just wrote a large book about it: Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life by David Grinspoon (Harper Collins, 2003).     Larry R. Nittler reviewed this new book in the March 12 issue of Science.1  Nittler describes […]

Evolution Battle Heats Up in Ohio

CNN has reported that the Ohio school board voted 13-5 in favor of an optional set of lessons called “Critical Analysis of Evolution.”  The usual opponents are lining up on both sides; some scientific organizations are claiming it is a “religious effort cloaked as science,” but others consider it a victory for students and for […]

Rethinking the Geological Layers

One of the most formative ideas in Darwin’s intellectual journey was the concept of gradualism, the principle of “small agencies and their cumulative effects.”  This idea became a dominant motif in his philosophy of life.  Describing how the assumption of gradualism permeated his last book (on earthworms) shortly before his death, Janet Browne, in her […]

Anthropic Principle Won’t Go Away

The so-called “Anthropic Principle” is the observation that the universe, whether by accident or design, appears to have been fine-tuned for our existence.  Dating back decades, if not centuries, the idea has been alternately criticized and seriously pondered by the world’s greatest cosmologists.  During the 1990s the idea was ridiculed to the point that, if […]

How Science Reports the School Controversies Over Darwinism

In the Feb. 28 issue of Science,1 Constance Holden reports on the battles over Darwinism vs. creationism in schools across the United States.  The tone is one of military alarm.  Here is the score as Science sees it (emphasis, underlining and brackets ours): Georgia school officials took a big step back from opening the door […]

How to Get a Genetic Code by Chance

The Feb. 17 issue of Current Biology1 has a Q&A magazine feature on the genetic code.  After dismissing some myths about it being universal, consisting of only 20 amino acids and obligated to only three codons (there are some minor exceptions to these mostly-true principles: see 04/30/2003), the authors tackle the big question: where did […]

Irreducible Complexity: Can It Be Explained Away?

When Sharon Begley, writing in the Wall Street Journal Feb. 13, criticized the intelligent design movement (see reprint on Access Research Network), Michael Behe answered with a pointed reply five days later.  Begley particularly singled out the concept of “irreducible complexity.”  Behe’s reply, defending the validity of irreducible complexity (a term he coined in his […]

DNA Is a Code Operated by Another Code

The discovery in the 1950s that DNA stored a coded language was amazing, but recently a new level of complexity has come to the awareness of biochemists.  Apparently, another code determines which DNA genes will be opened for expression and which should be suppressed.     The Feb. 14 issue of Science News1 describes the […]

Scientists Probe Differences Between Living and Nonliving Chemicals

“All life forms are composed of molecules that are not themselves alive.  But in what ways do living and nonliving matter differ?  How could a primitive life form arise from a collection of nonliving molecules?”  Any article beginning with questions like that is bound to be interesting.  That’s how Rasmussen et al. tantalized readers of […]

New Website Aids Slow Process of Dethroning Darwin

A new website, Darwin and Design.com, based on the book co-authored by Stephen Meyer and John Angus Campbell, has been announced by Discovery Institute.  Meanwhile, Ohio anticreationists are trying to caricature a proposed lesson plan on critical analysis of evolution by identifying it with intelligent design theory.  �Intelligent design isn�t even covered in this lesson,� […]

Happy Darwin Day?

Humanists hope to have a new international holiday by 2009: Darwin Day.  (Feb. 12 was Darwin’s birthday as well as Abe Lincoln’s, so it’s already set aside as a holiday in America, but promoters want this to be an international event.)  According to Robert Evans’ story in Reuters, the British Humanist Association believes such a […]

Comets as Cosmic Storks

Chandra Wickramasinghe and colleagues at Cardiff University have raised the bar on tale-telling ability.  They believe that comets splatting on earth can carry away germs of life that gradually spread farther and farther out, eventually escaping the sun’s pull.  Over time, they might spread life to other worlds.  They estimate that since the origin of […]

Why Darwin Is Like Yoda, and Darwinism Like Marxism

Homage for the master is palpable in John Vandermeer’s review (Science, Jan. 23)1 of a thick new book entitled Niche Construction: The Neglected Process in Evolution by Odling-Smee, Laland and Feldman (Princeton, 2004).  Vandermeer seems almost worshipful in his opening lines: The nascent germ of many novel ideas in biology can be traced directly or […]

Legality Argument

The Discovery Institute has posted remarks by David DeWolf, a law professor, to the Darby, Montana School District.  He addresses concerns that have been raised about the legality and constitutionality of a proposed change to their science policy that would permit “teaching the controversy” about origins in the science classroom. Has it come to this, […]
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