Updates on the AP Article

If you read the comments on my previous entry, you know that an AP article recently mentioned me and a textbook that I co-authored. Well, there have been a couple of developments you might want to know about.

First, I received an E-MAIL from the author of the story (Dylan T. Lovan). In my reply to his E-MAIL, I mentioned the fact that he truncated my quote about the demographic of homeschooling. He replied with the following:

I had your full quote on the question of why the homeschool materials industry is dominated by Christian-based texts. I especially wish your last clever line about natural selection would’ve made it in.

“If I’m planning to write a curriculum, and I want to write it in a way that will appeal to homeschoolers … I’m going to at least find out what my demographic is. And that demographic is, according to most research, 85 to 90 percent conservative Christian. I think in the end if I were an evolutionist looking at that market I’d say, ‘I’m not going to waste my time on that nonsense.’ ” “If I’m a creationist looking at that market I’m thinking this is a place where my views will be received very well. So I think this is sort of a ‘natural selection.’ ”

So it was not his decision to truncate the quote to make it sound like I was saying something I clearly was not saying. It’s nice to know that, because Dylan does seem like a great guy. It also makes me wonder how much of the AP’s dismal record when it comes to bias and inaccuracies is not the fault of the reporters who write for the AP.

The other interesting thing I received as a result of the article is yet another E-MAIL talking about the spectacular success of a student who used our curriculum. A mother (Lori P.) wrote to say:

I just read the AP article attacking Apologia Educational Ministries and I had to drop everything and pray for you. According to The Associated Press, Coyne argued your books may steer students away from careers in biology or the study of the history of the earth. He also said, “If this is the way kids are homeschooled, then they’re being short-changed, both rationally and in terms of biology.” My “case study” does not involve biology or the history of the earth, but does involve a hard science. My son studied several of your books and is now completing his second year in mechanical engineering at a large university. He received “Student of the Year” both years of his pre-engineering academy, received 5 on every AP test he took, including calculus and physics, and received multiple scholarships and honors. He has a 4.0 GPA. He was just elected officer in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers at his university and he is faithfully witnessing to the campus of the truth of the gospel. He was asked to give his testimony to the Point Man Conference, a national assembly of Navigators. He and I do not feel he was short-changed by Apologia. Instead we feel sorrow for the student who experienced “confusion” when she read your book which disputed Charles Darwin’s theory. Perhaps she is the one who was short-changed by not hearing the facts of the debate.

I strongly agree with this mother, and I am glad that the article inspired her to write to me to give yet another example of how successful a young-earth creationist education in the sciences can be. For more examples, you can go here, here, here, here, and here.

You might note that in the AP article, Dr. Jerry Coyne used his fervent faith in evolution to predict that my books “may steer students away from careers in biology or the study of the history of the earth.” Instead, the myriads of success stories clearly show that my books do exactly the opposite. Thus, while this is not a failed prediction of the theory of evolution itself, it is a failed prediction made by an evolutionist, based on his evolutionary faith. Not only does evolution produce lots of failed predictions, it seems that evolutionists do as well. Of course, that’s not surprising. If you base your view on unscientific ideas, you will come to unscientific conclusions!

Ida Thought They’d Have Learned by Now…

The history of evolution is filled with great pronouncements about how a new fossil find finally provides the “missing link” in some evolutionary transition. Of course, such missing links are generally found to be hoaxes or misinterpretations. Interestingly enough, however, the publicity related to the original announcement is generally significantly greater than the publicity of the fact that the original announcement was wrong. Darwinius masillae is probably the most egregious example of this general trend.

Ida, the fossil that created such a stir (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Darwinius_masillae_PMO_214.214.jpg)

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Slime Molds are Smarter than Me (at least when it comes to eating)

Anyone who has seen me in person knows that I am not very concerned about health. I am overweight because I eat a large amount of what I like, regardless of whether or not it is good for me. It’s not a smart way to live; I know. However, it is a fun way to live, so that’s why I do it. I was therefore rather surprised to learn that this slime mold:

This Organism is a Health Nut! (image in the public domain)

takes its diet more seriously than I do!

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Philosophers Without Gods

I read a lot of atheists, but the range is limited. I mostly focus on the writings of atheists who have a scientific bent (like Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, etc.). However, I ran across a review of Philosophers Without Gods (edited by Louise M. Anthony), and I noticed that I recognized only a couple of the contributors. Thus, I purchased it two years ago, and on the trip home from New Zealand, I read it. I am very glad that I did.

This book is a collection of essays from twenty atheists. The editor contends that atheists are a very misunderstood lot, and her hope is that these essays will help provide a more “just understanding” (p. x) of those who reject religious belief. I essentially agree with the editor’s premise. Most people who do not share a given group’s beliefs tend to misunderstand that group. Since most people in the world believe in some kind of “god” or “gods,” it is not surprising that most people in the world really don’t understand atheists. Of course, most atheists don’t understand those who believe in God, so the misunderstandings go both ways.

Obviously, I fundamentally disagree with the main premise of each of the authors, but that is no reason to avoid reading them. Indeed, early on in my scientific training I learned that some of my most enlightening discussions were the ones I had with scientists whose views were quite different from my own. Not surprisingly, then, of the books I read over vacation, this was my favorite. Mostly that’s because the editor has done a great job of bringing together a very diverse group of atheists, most of whom have coherent things to say.

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Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe

Simon Conway Morris is a Professor of Evolutionary Paleobiology at the University of Cambridge. Some would call him a “theistic evolutionist,” while others would simply call him an evolutionist who is also a Christian. I would call him an evolutionist who thinks the laws of chemistry and physics were “set up” (by God) to produce evolution, which would end up producing people. While I have never met him, that is the impression I get from reading his book, Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe.

The book presents his rather unique views on evolution in an interesting, entertaining way. Even though he says early on:

…if you happen to be a ‘creation scientist’ (or something of that kind) and have read this far, may I politely suggest that you put this book back on the shelf. It will do you no good. (p. xv)

On the contrary, this book did me a great deal of good. For example, it helped me see how uncertain virtually everything in evolution is. Some of it comes from Morris’s own frank descriptions of just how little is understood in the field of evolution. As just a sample, he says things like:

One such ambiguity is how life itself may have originated. As we shall see (in Chapter 4), there is no reason to doubt that it occurred by natural means, but despite the necessary simplicity of the process, the details remain strangely elusive. (p. 4)

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Pictures from New Zealand, Round 3

“Incredible” just isn’t enough to describe our experiences over the past few days. We left Hastings and flew to Queenstown. Once again, there was no security on the plane. We just walked up, gave them our names and bags, and off we went. I will definitely miss this kind of flying.

Kathleen was looking forward to this part of the trip more than any other, and it is easy to see why. We are staying at a place called Blanket Bay. It is on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, which is just amazing. It is New Zealand’s longest lake (about 50 miles long), and it is nothing short of spectacular:

The View from Our Room

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The Design of Life

Now that I have caught up on the scientific journals that I read, I am reading some of the books that have been on my shelves for a while. There is, after all, a lot of opportunity to read when you are on a beach or under a shady tree! More than a year ago, I purchased The Design of Life by William A. Dembski and Jonathan Wells. Dembski has a Ph.D. in mathematics (University of Chicago) and a Ph.D in philosophy (University of Illinois at Chicago) and is known for developing the mathematical underpinnings of Intelligent Design. Wells has a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology (University of California Berkeley) as well as a Ph.D. in religious studies (Yale University). Their mix of expertise makes for a wide-ranging discussion that is very enlightening.

While I don’t think the book lives up to the dust jacket’s claim that it makes “…the most powerful and comprehensive case to date for the intelligent design of life,” I do think it adds a great deal to the ongoing discussion in origins science. Specifically, there are three things it brings to the debate. First, it brings up certain facts that you generally don’t read in the evolutionary literature. Such facts are quite relevant to the overall question of origins, but most evolutionists ignore them (or sweep them under the rug) because they call into question many of the underlying assumptions of macroevolution. Second, it uses a very good blend of mathematics and biology to come up with a general means by which one can estimate the probability with which a certain macroevolutionary transition could occur. Finally, it gives a solid review of the current ideas regarding the origin of life and then demonstrates that they are utterly devoid of evidence.

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Prophecy Fulfilled – Evidence that Supports the Bible

Norwegian Shooter’s latest comment got me thinking about my journey from atheism to Christianity. As I look back on that journey, I realize how similar my experience was to that of Dr. Esther Su. As a scientist, I have to believe in things that are rational. As a result, when a girl who I wanted to date kept talking to me about Christianity, I dismissed it, because the brainwashing I had received from authors like Bertram Bertrand Russell indicated that Christianity was not rational. Of course, as is the case with most brainwashing, that turned out to be 100% false, but it took me a while to figure that out.

This girl eventually took me to a debate between an atheist who was a scientist and a Christian who was a scientist. The debate was interesting, but what was more interesting was that the Christian gave several references that I could read to learn more about the shocking idea that Christianity is rational. I reluctantly looked into some of those references, and eventually, I learned that atheists had lied to me most of my life.

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