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Abortion: Murder or Right?

Warning: Please do not use my work and submit it as your own. Students have been caught plagiarizing from this site, and at least one university knows about this site due to that issue. This blog is not peer-reviewed, and thus is also not acceptable for scholarly research. Feel free to read the articles and papers here, but do your own research for your own schoolwork. Thank you!

 

Whether about the murder of an innocent or the right of a woman to decide what to do with her own body, the argument over abortion is long running, full of fallacy, and highly emotional. Logic will help wade through the charged terms and poignant testimony to determine the real issue at hand, and find an answer best suited for compromise and legislation. Using arguments from both sides, this paper will show why abortion, in the third trimester, is immoral and should be illegal.
The argument between “life” and “choice” is full of connotative terms that set up straw man fallacies on both sides. Even the terms the two sides call themselves, “pro-life” and “pro-choice,” insinuate that those in the other camp are “pro-death” or “anti-freedom,” respectively, and as such, this paper will refer to the two sides as “those who oppose” and “those who support” legalized abortion. Some of the most bumper-sticker worthy arguments are based on these straw men, such as “Abortion is murder,” and “My body, my choice.” When referring to the unborn, those who oppose legal abortion will say “unborn child,” “innocent,” and “victim” for empathy while those who support abortion will say “zygote,” “embryo” and “clump of cells” to dehumanize the fetus. This illustrates the great difference between the two camps: they view the potential person very differently. One views any unborn child as a person who is not born yet, but still worthy of the rights of a newborn, while the other views an unwanted fetus as part of the mother’s body, a burden, a parasite, “less than human but more than nothing” (Selley, 2011).

Other fallacies run rampant through the argument over abortion, including a false dichotomy and appeals to pity. The false dichotomy is one that is often seen in politics where each side believes that by giving any ground, the war will be lost. Thus those who oppose abortion argue for personhood at conception, while the those who support it argue for life at birth. Of course, science and reality do not fit either category, which will be explained later. Appeals to pity occur on both sides, though the person to be pitied changes. Those who oppose abortion beg for the life of an innocent victim who has not yet had the opportunity to experience the joy of life, and claim that abortion is selfish, particularly when couples are so willing to adopt who cannot have children of their own. They also mourn the well-being of the mother who kills her unborn child, and the guilt she is sure to bear throughout her life. Those who support abortion, on the other hand, mourn the mother almost exclusively. Her opportunities for education, employment, or even childhood are lost because of one mistake. The victim of rape must look at the evidence of her life’s most horrifying and tragic event growing within her, and the poor woman must endure pain and suffering to bring a child she cannot afford into the world only to give it away. There may be kernels of truth within each of these arguments, but they are not the base issue in the argument. Some, such as the child of rape, may provide contextual exemptions to the eventual legislation, but for the most part, they only muddy the waters as red herrings, rather than focusing on the real issue: when does personhood begin, and is it acceptable to kill an innocent person?

Argument one: “The presence of, or lack of, brain activity is an indicator of life or death. A fetus exhibits brain activity near the point of viability, at 24 weeks. Human beings only produce other human beings. Therefore, at 24 weeks, the fetus is a live human.” In this day of machine-assisted medicine, a body can be kept functioning beyond the point of death (Chiong, 2005). Increasingly, doctors are using the irreversible loss of brain activity as the point of death for their patients (Chiong, 2005). If the loss of brain activity indicates loss of life, it follows that brain activity means life. The scientific definition of life includes the ability to grow and gather or expend energy. At conception, the cell divides, and is scientifically alive. This is not debated. However, the debate usually revolves around what makes humans unique, what determines personhood, our consciousness, usually exhibited in our brain (Krause, 2011). With surgical procedures now being performed on fetuses in utero, doctors are now able to monitor them with EEGs. Surprisingly for some, the brain activity of a fetus in the third trimester is enough to consider it more than simply instinctual with voluntary breathing and the beginning of dreams (Rajeev, 2011). With this new information about the formation of the brain in utero, we can say that scientifically, life begins at conception, but personhood begins just before the third trimester.

Argument two: “A woman is an autonomous person with the moral capacity and the moral right to decide whether a pregnancy will be aborted or brought to term (Kissling, 2005). A woman has the right to choose what happens to her body. A fetus is a part of a woman’s body. Therefore, a woman has a right to terminate an unintended pregnancy.” This is the base argument for those who support abortion. While few would argue that a person should have the right to their own body, the biggest argument comes from the third premise. At conception, the embryo has its own DNA, separate from the mother. When the fetus’ heart starts beating, it pumps blood in its own cardiovascular system entirely separate from the mother. This also follows from a common sense idea of a person never having two brains, four lungs, or a woman never having male genitalia. Judith Thomson provided a thought experiment to assist in the visualization of this argument (Krause, 2011). If a woman wakes up in the hospital with a world-famous violinist attached to her kidneys, and she is told that the violinist cannot survive without her, is she morally or legally obligated to accept this? Of course, this hinges on the woman being completely unaware of the attachment, which only works when referring to victims of rape who become pregnant. Another stipulation was put on the experiment, adding that the woman was attending a party, knowing that someone with her blood type would be chosen to assist this violinist. This is supposed to simulate the knowledge that any sexual activity can result in pregnancy. Does the answer to the question of obligation change if she willingly attended this party with full knowledge that she may be chosen? Finally, the true litmus test is how the woman’s right to choose lines up against the fetus’s right to live. If the fetus is considered a person, such as in argument one, then it has an inalienable right to life, enshrined in our own Declaration of Independence. All rights stem from life, which indicates that the right to life is greater than the right to choose. In addition to this, one single choice wipes an entire lifetime of choices that will not be made by the aborted fetus. Therefore, the right to choose is an insufficient reason to justify killing an unwanted fetus.

Argument three: “The most likely people to have unintended pregnancies are in bad situations such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse, physical abuse, or poor economical standing. Children born into these situations will suffer as well. Therefore, it is more merciful to terminate unintended pregnancies.” Some people argue that abortion will prevent child abuse, and that an unwanted child is more likely to be abused, however, child abuse has increased since abortion was made legal (U.S. Abortion Statistics, 2011). This must be one of the worst arguments for proponents of abortion. It would be an incredibly cruel person to suggest euthanasia of all children in poor or abusive households, which is why we have social workers and foster care in the first place. Society as a whole would never accept killing children because of a situation they cannot control. If we accept that a fetus in the third trimester is the same as a child, from argument one, then the transitive property states that killing a fetus in the third trimester is cruel and unacceptable as well. This appears to be a case of trying to skew reality to fit a pre-determined world view.

Argument four: “Unintended and unwanted pregnancies occur. If safe and legal abortions are not readily available, women will resort to unsafe “back-alley” abortions. Therefore, to protect women, safe and legal abortions are necessary.” This is one of the more compelling arguments for abortion. There are no compelling and factual estimates for how many illegal abortions were performed in a period of time, or how many women died in the process because these procedures are never reported. However, if the standard of third trimester is adhered to, any woman who claims to “need” an abortion will have plenty of time to arrange one before the third trimester.

After twenty-four weeks, a fetus has brain activity sufficient to consider it a person. Various arguments try to muddy the topic or add complications to what is truly a simple question: Is it moral to kill a human being for what amounts to convenience’s sake? The answer is a resounding “no.” It is immoral to kill an innocent human being. A fetus in the third trimester is a human being. Therefore, it is immoral to perform abortions in the third trimester. Society, as a whole, must work to prevent abortion from being used as birth control. Estimates show that more than half of all women obtaining an abortion were not using birth control when they got pregnant, 47% of women obtaining an abortion have already had one or more, and 84% were performed on unmarried women, suggesting a use of abortion as birth control (U.S. Abortion Statistics, 2011). There are approximately 1.2 million abortions performed each year, and between 88 and 92% are performed in the first trimester, consistent with the current laws to prevent late-term abortions (U.S. Abortion Statistics, 2011). Perhaps if more emphasis was placed on safe sex, less promiscuity, and a sense of responsibility for one’s actions, the argument over abortion would not be so important.

References
Chiong, W. (2005, Nov-Dec). Brain death without definitions. Hastings Center Report 35(6) 20-30. Retrieved October 21, 2011 from Project Muse.
Kissling, F. (2005). Is there life after Roe? How to think about the fetus. Conscience, XXV (3), 10. Retrieved October 21, 2011 from ProQuest.
Krause, K. (2011). Abortion’s still unanswered questions. The Humanist, 71(4), 40-42. Retrieved October 21, 2011 from ProQuest.
Rajeev, L. (2011, September 22). Brain development in fetus. Retrieved November 4, 2011, from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/brain-development-in-fetus.html
Selley, C. (2011, August 31). Less than human, more than nothing. A debate about the selective abortion of twins has exposed the messy ambiguity in pro-choice ranks. National Post, A.15. Retrieved October 21, 2011 from ProQuest.
U.S. Abortion Statistics. (2011, November 5). Retrieved November 10, 2011, from http://www.abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/

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11/12/2011 Posted by | College Papers, Learning | , , , , | Leave a comment

Darwin vs. God

Warning: Please do not use my work and submit it as your own. Students have been caught plagiarizing from this site, and at least one university knows about this site due to that issue. This blog is not peer-reviewed, and thus is also not acceptable for scholarly research. Feel free to read the articles and papers here, but do your own research for your own schoolwork. Thank you!

Darwin vs. God: The Argument between Intelligent Design and Evolution

            According to Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), creationism is religion, and religion, focusing on nonmaterial reality, has nothing in common with science, which searches for material explanations (Scott, 2004).  Some evolutionists go so far as to say professional scientists are effectively throwing their hands in the air and saying “It must be a miracle!” because they cannot find the answer, but there are many scientists who are finding God in their work, and evidence of His works (Strobel, 2004).  Indeed, Walter Bradley, a former professor at Texas A&M University and co-author of The Mystery of Life’s Origin (1984), said, “I think people who believe that life emerged naturalistically need to have a great deal more faith than people who reasonably infer that there’s an Intelligent Designer” (Strobel, 2004, location 699).  The main argument evolutionists have against creationism and Intelligent Design is that “the most insidious evil of supernatural creationism is that it stifles curiosity and therefore blunts the intellect” (Scott, 2004, p. 253).  This paper does not intend to prove the existence of God or disprove evolution, but aims to show the weakness in evolutionary theory, such as the lack of transitional forms and the various animals that seem to defy evolution, and the evidence pointing toward design, through irreducible complexity and specified complexity, to show that Intelligent Design is not merely a method of intellectual surrender, but a legitimate, scientific theory on par with evolution theory.

Background

            There is quite a bit of confusion that takes place between the different belief systems.  Many people form their arguments against “evolutionists” or “creationists,” but those two terms can mean a great many things to different people.  The first step, then, is to fully define each group of beliefs so arguments over semantics and “word games” can be avoided.  There have been scientists who try to place the different creationism beliefs onto a line showing how literally they follow the Bible and thus, how scientific their beliefs are, but this ignores the large impact the Bible has had on scientists throughout history, including Darwin himself (Ross, 2005).  Since the main argument of this paper deals with universal common ancestry, that will be the dividing line between “evolutionism” and “creationism” for the purposes of this paper.  The term “evolutionist” or “naturalist” refers to all persons who believe all living plants and animals descended from the same single-celled organism, and that all events can be attributed to natural processes.  The term “creationism” or “Intelligent Design” refers to the belief that universal common ancestry is false, and that someone or something, which is unnamed, created several organisms, fully-formed.

Methods

            This paper was compiled using secondary sources and books that used both primary and secondary sources for their research.  The books used are either written by prominent scholars in the evolution field, such as Eugenie Scott of the NCSE, or are accounts of interviews with leading scientists in the field.  Lee Strobel’s Case for a Creator is an account of interviews conducted with several leading Intelligent Design scientists at the Discovery Institute, and proved to be incredibly useful as many of the peer-reviewed articles were unavailable through the Ashford Library.  Other sources were obtained through Ashford Online Library’s search engines.  One major difficulty in compiling this paper was the scarcity of articles in scholarly journals defending creationism.  The Discovery Institute has a list of peer-reviewed articles, but few were available through Ashford resources and applicable to the narrow focus of this paper.

Results

Dogma

“Dogma- an idea held by belief or faith- is anathema to science,” says Eugenie Scott (Scott, 2004, p.8), but creationists argue that the absolute belief in atheism is simply scientific dogma.  One large argument from evolutionists is that science tests hypotheses against nature, and a Creator is outside the ability of science to test because a scientist could not hold a Creator constant, and “any action of an omnipotent Creator is compatible with any and all scientific explanations of the natural world” (Scott, 2004, p. 19).  Therefore, naturalists spurn the idea of a Creator and believe that natural processes are the only options for development of life.  Some creationist scientists, such as Stephen C. Meyer, claim that this refusal to acknowledge the possibility of the supernatural is an atheistic dogma, that “many believe that science must only allow naturalistic explanations, which excludes from consideration the design hypothesis,” and “many scientists put blinders on, refusing to acknowledge that evidence” (Strobel, 2004, location 1474).  In effect, both naturalists and creationists believe the other side is simply reading what they want into the evidence and not following scientific method properly.  Naturalists refuse to believe the supernatural could have had an effect, and creationists refuse to let go of God if they continue to see evidence that fits into their world view.

Macro- versus Micro- evolution

            One of the easiest ways to believe in evolution is to look around at the present world and see how many strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, insects resistant to pesticides, or even people’s average heights increasing over the last several hundred years.  These are examples of “micro-evolution,” or evolution on the species level.  The real argument creationists provide is the argument against “macro-evolution” or evolution between types.  For universal common ancestry to be true, fish would evolve into amphibians, amphibians into reptiles, reptiles into birds and mammals, and mammals back into the water as whales and dolphins.

Darwin himself said “[i]t is a truly wonderful fact . . . that all animals and all plants throughout all time and space should be related to each other . . .” (Darwin, 1859, p. 122).  However, even Darwin knew the fossil record did not support his theory at the time of On the Origin of Species’ publishing.  He mentions the lack of “transitional forms” in Origin, wondering how there can be such distinct forms, rather than variants from one to another (Darwin, 1859).  The biggest dent in evolution theory comes from 540,000,000 years ago: the Cambrian Explosion.  As many as forty new and unique body types appeared “suddenly” in this layer of the Earth, with no discernable transitional forms preceding them (Strobel, 2004).  The argument that previous body types were too soft or too small to leave traces does not hold up under scrutiny considering that several single-celled organisms, which are both soft and small, sponges, worms, and jellyfish had been found in the layers older than the Cambrian (Strobel, 2004).

Injurious Aspects

            “Natural selection will never produce in a being anything injurious to itself, for natural selection acts solely by and for the good of each” (Darwin, 1859, p.183).  If a creature or plant were found to have a part of itself that caused harm, it would go a long way towards disproving evolution.  An example may be found in the honeybee.  The honeybee has a barbed stinger that will stick into a mammal’s skin so forcefully that when it flies away, the stinger, along with some of the bee’s insides, will be ripped from its body, causing the bee to die (Brown, 2010).  The barbs apparently aid in bee-to-bee combat, helping to penetrate the armor of the other insects, but they get stuck in the elastic skin of mammals (Brown, 2010).  The interesting part of this is that the honeybee is the only member of the family to have such large barbs on the stinger, possibly because the other bees and wasps have evolved to smaller or nonexistent barbs, but the honeybee did not for no discernable reason (Brown, 2010).

Symbiosis

One pillar of Darwin’s theory was that every trait a creature developed was for the good of that creature alone.  “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection” (Darwin, 1859, p. 182).  This brings to mind creatures that live symbiotically.  Most symbiotic relationships do not function this way, but one that looks possible is that of the tubeworm Lamellibrachia luymesiL. luymesi is entirely dependent on the bacterial symbiont living within its body because the tubeworm itself has no digestive tract (Cordes, Arthur, Shea, Arvidson & Fisher, 2005).  This creature was discovered relatively recently, and more research must be done to determine whether the bacteria gains any benefit from oxidizing the sulfates, or if the tubeworm’s foot provides any benefit to the worm beyond feeding the bacteria that feeds the worm (Cordes, et al., 2005).  Such a circuitous path surely is not within the realm of natural causes.

Irreducible Complexity

One of the cornerstones of Intelligent Design, irreducible complexity describes an animal, cell, or body part that needs each of its pieces to work in order to perform its function.  This seems to be a direct assault on Darwin, as he said “[i]f it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down” (Darwin, 1859, p. 173).  The example used by Michael Behe is that of a mousetrap.  Each piece, the platform, the spring, the trigger, the hammer, and the connector between trigger and hammer, has a specific job, and without any one of these pieces, the mousetrap would not work (Strobel, 2004).  Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box (1996), says that irreducibly complex biological machines cannot be produced “directly by numerous, successive, slight modifications of a precursor system,” because any precursor, or transitional form, would be missing a piece and thus be unable to function properly (Strobel, 2004, location 3564).  Biological examples of these irreducibly complex machines include the hair-like cilia on the surfaces of cells, blood clotting, and the bacterial flagellum (Strobel, 2004).  The flagellum has a drive shaft, a hook protein, a bushing to allow penetration into the cell without allowing “leakage” in or out of the cell from around the shaft, and a power source that is still unexplained by science, and is made up of at least 40 different proteins (Holmes & Randerson, 2005; Strobel, 2004).  It spins more efficiently, at higher speeds, than any car motor we have ever been able to produce, and can stop and reverse directions within ¼ of a turn (Strobel, 2004).  Blood clotting involves specified coordination between ten different proteins and could not have occurred naturally through slow changes without causing the animal to bleed to death in the meantime (Strobel, 2004; Holmes & Randerson, 2005).

Specified Complexity

Another argument Intelligent Design offers is that of specified complexity.  A common analogy for specified complexity involves a million monkeys at a million typewriters.  No matter how long you let them pound away, they will never write a Shakespearean sonnet.  DNA stores information written in a code of four chemicals, adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine (Strobel, 2004).  However, just putting those four letters together in random sequences will not produce life; they must be put in the correct order, thus specified complexity.  Each protein has anywhere between 1,200 and 2,000 letters in its code, meaning that for the specific organization of these letters to form would take a prohibitively long time (Strobel, 2004).  Even if the complex protein evolved from a simpler one, the minimum required complexity for a protein to properly fold from the four chemicals is somewhere in the range of 75 amino acids, and the likelihood of this happening by chance is astronomical- one in the number “ten with 125 zeroes after it” (Strobel, 2004, location 4139).  In Scott’s book, she says that life could not have survived prior to 3.8 billion years ago, while comets and meteors were bombarding the Earth, but “shortly after the bombardment ceased . . . primitive replicating structures appeared” (Scott, 2004, p. 24).  If the chances of specified complexity occurring naturally are astronomical, the chance that it happened in a relatively short amount of time must be even lower.

Conclusions

            Science is about maintaining an open mind and following the evidence, wherever it may lead.  Both sides can be faulted for dogmatic beliefs in the evolution/creation argument.  It is rare to hear an evolutionist even acknowledge a creationist scientist’s findings because they prefer, generally, to dismiss creationism as pseudo-science at best.  Some creationists are guilty of infusing religion into science without any evidence or against contradictory evidence.  As Eugenie Scott herself said, “the willingness to change one’s explanation with more or better data, or a different way of looking at the same data, is one of the great strengths of the scientific method” (Scott, 2004, p. 5).  Perhaps evolutionists should be reminded of this passage when dismissing Intelligent Design’s claims.

Evolution has some strong arguments behind it, but there are still flaws and gaps that have yet to be explained.  The fossil record is far from complete, but points overwhelmingly toward an event called the Cambrian Explosion, in which as many as forty new body types were suddenly introduced to the world (Strobel, 2004).  Evolution does not act quickly, as it requires several small changes through generational change using natural selection as the main tool (Darwin, 1859).  Some of the hypotheses for macro-evolution have held up, while others require as much faith as creationism.  Another flaw is found in body parts that cause harm to the possessor, the most obvious being the honeybee.  If a bee dies when it stings a mammal, the gene that produces the barbed stinger should be selected against, and no longer occur, but it still does.  Finally, more research is required to determine the validity of this particular event, but natural selection would not provide for a creature to function in a way to be exclusively beneficial to another creature.  The newly discovered Lamellibrachia luymesi may have a hand in overturning this pillar of evolution.

Intelligent Design has foundations in astronomy, cosmology, biology, and physics, to name a few, but in this paper, biology and biochemistry were the main focus.  Irreducible Complexity shows that numerous, successive, small changes from a natural phenomenon could not have created complex bio-machines, such as the flagellum, the cilia, and the act of blood clotting.  These pieces must have been created at the same time to have any ability to function correctly, and “created” is the best way to describe the action.  Alone, “irreducible complexity fulfils [sic] the requirements of being science.  It relies on empirical, historical, and experimental evidence to support its stance” (Bateman & Moran-Ellis, 2007, p. 272).  Specified complexity attempts to explain that the time required to randomly generate complex codes to build proteins that actually work to create life would be prohibitively long.

In conclusion, the scientists at Discovery Institute, the leading proponents of Intelligent Design, believe there is real scientific evidence for a Creator without invoking Biblical passages or other revelatory text.  The least science can do is investigate these claims with an open mind and discover the truth.  It would truly be a fault against science if it dismissed the possibility of supernatural events simply because of a dogmatic belief that everything must occur naturally.

References

Bateman, P.W., & Moran-Ellis, J. (2007). The science in the intelligent design debate: Teach it like it is. South African Journal of Science, 103(7/8) 271-273. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Brown, J. (2010, September 28). Bees, wasps, and stings. The Signal, 15. Retrieved from ProQuest. DOI: 2151091471.

Cordes, E. E., Arthur, M. A., Shea, K., Arvidson, R. S., & Fisher, C. R. (2005, March). Modeling the mutualistic interactions between tubeworms and microbial consortia. PLoS Biology, 3(3), e77. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1044833/ ?tool=pmcentrez#pbio-0030077-b06

Darwin, C. (1859).  On the origin of species [Kindle edition].

Holmes, B. & Randerson, J. (2005, July 9). A sceptic’s [sic] guide to intelligent design. New Scientist 187(2507), 10-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ross, M. R. (2005, May).  Who believes what?  Clearing up confusion over intelligent design and Young-Earth Creationism.  Journal of Geoscience Education, 53(3), 319-323.  Retrieved from http://nagt.org/files/nagt/jge/abstracts/Ross_v53n3p319.pdf

Scott, E.C. (2004).  Evolution vs creationism: An introduction [Kindle edition].  London, England: University of California Press, Ltd.

Strobel, L. (2004).  The case for a creator [Kindle edition].

09/04/2011 Posted by | College Papers, Learning, Thinking | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Skepticism, Intelligent Design, Darwinism, Philosophy homework

Warning: Please do not use my work and submit it as your own. Students have been caught plagiarizing from this site, and at least one university knows about this site due to that issue. This article, itself, was copied directly into two discussion posts. This blog is not peer-reviewed, and thus is also not acceptable for scholarly research. Feel free to read the articles and papers here, but do your own research for your own schoolwork. Thank you!

So this week’s discussions were oddly interesting, and I figured I’d post my points here to let you dissect and dismantle my thoughts, particularly since it is becoming increasingly unlikely that any of my classmates will actually read my topics, let alone have something intelligent to say on the matter. (Edit: I’ve had to adjust the wording of the assignment so it is not as easily found through searching, and to prevent any issues stemming from announcing assignments that may be the intellectual property of AU.)

Discussion 1

Can a person be skeptical about everything?

My response:

Title: Logically, no.

My initial response to the first question is no. If a person believed they needed to doubt everything, they would also doubt that they need to doubt everything, and thus would be skeptical of being skeptical. They have conviction that they need to doubt, and with conviction, doubt is erased. From the text, it was “impossible to know anything with certainty,” but to say something is “impossible” seems pretty certain to me (Mosser, 2010). Turns out, this is almost the same argument Descartes had.Word games aside, I think in order to become beliefs and proven facts, any assertions should be justified in the face of skepticism. That’s what makes facts proven- to have someone try to debunk your theory, and emerge victorious, is the epitome of scientific triumph. Anything worth believing is worth defending in the metaphysical realm, and scientific fact or mathematical proofs can be held up against detractors. Once the facts are established, the game isn’t over. We are constantly discovering new horizons, new particles, new building blocks, new facts to hold up to scrutiny, and we must always keep our minds open to the possibility of change.

I can show two examples of beliefs that I believe hold up to skepticism- one is math. Math is constant no matter what you do. The mathematical equation for acceleration due to gravity is the same whether you are on Earth or Mars. Skeptics can doubt it, but math does not change. The second belief is that one should always have an open mind. If the skeptic were to say “you don’t need to have an open mind,” it would defeat their own purpose. The entire point of skepticism is to prevent closed-mindedness. We don’t just believe whatever has been stated in the past. We dig deeper, find new truths to provoke thought, and find new ways to view the world. Just because Aristotle was a smart guy doesn’t mean he was 100% right 100% of the time, or that his ideas have not been surpassed by new technological or scientific insight. We must always be vigilant against complacency and keep an open mind about everything.

Mosser, K. (2010). Philosophy: a concise introduction. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/books

(Side note, I think we need to petition the dictionaries to add “assertation” to the English language.)

Discussion 2

(Edit: Video link removed)

What is the basic issue about teaching creationism (or Intelligent Design) in public school science classes? How would you resolve this dispute?

My response:

Title: The World is Flat!

Whenever people close their minds to ideas, when people just argue over each other instead of sharing information, when people plug their ears and shout “I can’t hear you!” over the person they are debating, all I can think about is that one day, hundreds of years ago, there were people insisting that the world is flat. People knew that if they sailed too far in one direction, they’d fall off the edge of the world and get eaten by sea monsters. People once knew that the best way to get rid of a headache is to drill a hole into the top of your head. Everything we knowis only a discovery or two away from being tossed into the dustbin of history. This is why it is important to have an open mind when dealing with science, or anything else for that matter.Personally, I have struggled with issues of faith in my life. I was not raised to be religious, but have never considered myself to be atheist either. The best description I could find was how I perceived agnosticism- I don’t know, so I withhold an opinion. When the rest of my family decided to follow the Christian God and Jesus, it put pressure on me. My mom started asking me, every time I talked to her, when I was going to get baptized. I have always been skeptical and have always been more scientifically minded, and it seemed to me that faith, particularly the ‘faith’ that has no evidence, was simply something to make us feel better, make us less lonely, make us feel safer in dangerous times. An old saying is “There are no atheists in foxholes” and even I had muttered some prayers in my time as we went through dangerous waters during my time in the Navy or through rough turbulence in an aircraft. My dad found Christ through a book called The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel and suggested it to me. I went a step further and read The Case for Faith, and The Case for a Creator as well. Lee Strobel is a journalist who had been an atheist since he first learned of Darwin in high school and decided to go to experts to try to debunk the “Jesus myth,” as it was called. Using the same skills he used as a journalist, he searched for factual evidence and actually wound up becoming a Christian because of the strength of the evidence pointing towards Jesus being a real person, Jesus actually performing miracles, and evidence of a transcendant Creator. If you want to see the scientific evidence for creationism in one place in a fairly easy-to-read format, you can’t do much better than The Case for a Creator. In fact, after it went through and disabled many of Darwinism’s strongest arguments, it says, ” . . . people who believe that life emerged naturalistically [Darwinism, evolutionism] need to have a great deal more faith than people who reasonably infer that there’s an Intelligent Designer” (Strobel, 2004, location 699). If the argument between creationism, Intelligent Design, and evolutionism is interesting to you, I strongly recommend this book.

As for the actual question here, the issue lies in personal choice, personal belief, and education. I don’t remember actually learning about creationism OR evolution in my school district. I’m almost positive we didn’t learn about creationism. I think that when it comes to issues like this, the best way to handle it is to approach all major theories equally, present them equally, and let the students determine which makes more sense. We should not be squashing the desire to find truth in our students. If truth is ever to be found, all options need to be considered, not just those that people agree with. There are many factors in many branches of science that point towards Intelligent Design, even if the Designer cannot be named, particularly in cosmology, or the study of the beginning of the universe. There have been hundreds of scientists who have committed themselves to God because of their discoveries. Automatically assuming that there is no God removes an option from the table, something that should never be done in truthful pursuit of scientific evidence. We should act the same way when teaching our children. Present all sides of an argument equally. At the very least, they should know that there is a debate about which way is correct instead of simply presenting theories as fact when they are anything but.

Strobel, L. (n.d.). The Case for a Creator [Kindle version]. (Original work published 2004) 

08/17/2011 Posted by | College Papers, Learning, Thinking | , , , , | 12 Comments