Wednesday, June 2, 2010

IOSE Key Readings, References and Media

Throughout the survey above (and in the rest of this course) as online references have been used, they have been linked. In addition, common generic online reference resources -- such as Wikipedia and New World Encyclopedia (cf. also the Internet Public Library, the Dictionary of the History of ideas, and the Free Online Dictionary) -- have been used as handy summaries of typical “101 level” views on relevant matters. (Cf. The tutorial by the State University of North Carolina Libraries, Wikipedia Beneath the Surface. Also, cf. remarks by Carleton College's Gould Library here. Also, see Wikipedia's own guidelines here.)

While such generic sources sometimes reflect biases and inaccuracies, in fact by and large they are presenting the typical evolutionary materialistic view on origins science, which is one side of the issue. We observe as well, as has been shown the above, that other sources up to and including the official publications of the US National Academy of Sciences and major textbooks or even peer reviewed research papers, can also be demonstrably biased or resort to outright fallacies; for, unfortunately, origins science is an area of study that is often intensely polarised. (If you doubt his, monitor the Creation-Evolution news headlines site for a week or so.) This course therefore cites but seeks to balance such sources so that the participant will have a more balanced, more informed overview; with a particular emphasis on the significance of complex, functionally specific organisation and associated information.

So, as one makes use of reference materials, one should bear in mind that there will often be an imposition of the sort of a priori materialism that Lewontin noted on in his 1997 article; as is discussed above. Consequently, in looking at further references on the topics surveyed, this should be borne in mind. More important than that, we have to learn how to move beyond bias, blind following of authorities (or blind rejection) and manipulation.

A good way to do that is to notice that -- just as Aristotle aptly observed 2,300 years ago, in his The Rhetoric [[Bk 1 Ch 2; 1356a] -- arguments gain persuasive power by appealing to (a) emotions [[pathos], (b) credibility/ character/ repute of claimed authorities (or witnesses or presenters) [[ethos], and (c) facts and reasoning on the facts [[logos]. (Note, too: just now, I was not appealing to Aristotle's authority to try to persuade you my reader, but instead I am acknowledging the historical root of a key observation on how arguments work!)

However, (a') emotions are no more reliable than the accuracy of underlying perceptions and judgements; and (b') authorities are no better than their facts, assumptions, models/theories and logic. So, (c') we should strive to find the balanced range of material facts – those that make a difference to conclusions drawn and decisions at stake – while carefully assessing reasoning relative to the facts, assumptions and models/theories being used.


Annotated Key References, by Topic:

1] Introduction/Survey, bias issues and general references:

The issue of perspectives and bias

Lewontin, Richard: “Billions and Billions of Demons” (New York Review of Books, Volume 44, Number 1 (January 9, 1997)), pp. 28-32; online full text here. (NB: it is NYRB, not NYT Book Reviews.) A review of Carl Sagan's The Demon- Haunted World, in which Dr. Lewontin, then Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Biology at Harvard University, acknowledged the a priori, implicit materialism of “all but a few” of today's scientists studying origins related matters.

National Academy of Sciences (US). Science, Evolution, and Creationism (National Academies Press, 2008), p. 10. Here, the official, incorporated, Government-acknowledged Academy for the Sciences in the USA issues a rebuttal to Creationism, in which their definition of science, as interpreted in its immediate context, imposes an a priori naturalistic view. This underscores the prevalence and significance of Lewontin's a priori materialism on origins science matters, and illustrates an attempt to impose it on science education in the name of Science. (Cf. the well-known NAS 1998 text on teaching evolution here, and Sarfati's critiques, here and here.)

Johnson, Philip E. “The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism” (Access Research Network: First Things, 77 (November 1997)) pp. 22-25; online full text here. Leading design thinker, prof Philip Johnson of University of California, Berkely, rebuts prof Lewontin. His key observation is:

“. . . For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. We might more accurately term them "materialists employing science." And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence . . . . [[T]hat is why Darwinists do not take critics of materialist evolution seriously, but speculate instead about "hidden agendas" and resort immediately to ridicule. In their minds, to question materialism is to question reality. All these specific points are illustrations of what it means to say that "we" have an a priori commitment to materialism” . . . . When the [[US] National Academy of Sciences appoints a committee to advise the public on evolution, it consists of persons picked in part for their scientific outlook, which is to say their a priori acceptance of materialism. Members of such a panel know a lot of facts in their specific areas of research and have a lot to lose if the "fact of evolution" is exposed as a philosophical assumption. Should skeptics accept such persons as impartial fact-finders? Lewontin himself knows too much about cognitive elites to say anything so naive, and so in the end he gives up and concludes that "we" do not know how to get the public to the right starting point.

Origins-related science background: Physics, Astronomy, Biochemistry, Biology

Schiller, Christoph. Motion Mountain: the Adventure of Physics, 23rd edn (2009), 6 vols; online full text here. An excellent online- based general, introductory survey of physics, touching on many of the themes of interest in this course. (The survey of general relativity is an excellent place to sample this book, and is highly relevant to cosmology. The one-volume 22nd edn can be obtained here.)

Seligman, Courtney. Online Astronomy Text (1993 – 2010), online full text here. A general, introductory level survey of astronomy, organised as a textbook.

Stroebel, Nick. Astronomy Notes (2007), 17 sections, online full text here. An award-winning online text. The resources on the Science-Religion interface give a useful presentation of the theistic evolutionary perspective on origins, in part through a collaboration between the author an astronomer and a “mainline” protestant minister of religion (his brother). Cf. Sarfati here for a summary of the typical Creationist view of this perspective.

Australia Telescope. Astrophysics for Senior Physics (2005), six themes; online materials here. A survey of astrophysics themes at senior high school/ introductory college level, with an especially good survey on the theory of the life and death of stars.

Garret, Reginald and Grisham, Charles. Biochemistry, 2nd edn (Harcourt Brace, 1999), chs 1 – 25, online here. (PDF format here.) An online excerpt of a helpful introductory survey. Ch 1 is a powerful survey of the nature of cell based life in light of the underlying chemistry, setting a context for origin of life issues. The discussion of water in ch 2 is a good place to understand the context in which abiogenesis faces its many challenges.

King, Michael W. The Medical Biochemistry Page (1996 - 2010), online contents here. A medically oriented survey of biochemistry and closely related topics. The remarks on protein structure give a useful introduction to protein structure, complexity and function.

Kimball, John W. Kimball's Biology Pages (revised to 2010), revised from the 1994 6th print edn.; online text here. This is an online version of a highly popular introductory college level biology text, presented in several formats, e.g. an alphabetic listing of topics.

Farabee , Michael J. On-Line Biology Book (Maricopa Community College, 2007), online text here. A survey of biology at a similar level, organised as a more conventional textbook.

Darwin, Charles R. The Origin of Species by means of natural selection,or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life, 6th edn (1872, 1st edn 1859), intro and 14 chs; online here. The main foundational classic for evolutionary biology. In his introduction, he makes his thesis clear on p. 3, in discussing his chapters on Struggle for Existence and Natural Selection; also implying that there is an associated engine of unlimited, gradual variation that gives rise to the proposed branching tree of life that appears in the only diagram in the book, that is to front p. 90:

. . . the Struggle for Existence amongst all organic beings throughout the world, which inevitably follows from the high geometrical ratio of their increase, will be considered. This is the doctrine of Malthus, applied to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms. As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurrent struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.

This fundamental subject of Natural Selection will be treated at some length in the fourth chapter; and we shall then see how Natural Selection almost inevitably causes much Extinction of the less improved forms of life, and leads to what I have called Divergence of Character.

Darwin, Charles R. The Descent of Man, 2nd edn (1874, 1st edn 1871), intro ad 21 chs; online here. Extends the theory of evolution to the origin of man. Chs 5, 6, 7 bring out implications and issues relating to race; the just linked p. 146 ff. giving a particularly telling set of remarks including this disturbing passage on p. 156:

The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies—between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridæ—between the elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked,18 will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. (Emphasis added.)
18 'Anthropological Review,' April, 1867, p. 236.

Wallace, Alfred Russel. On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely From the Original Type (1858), online here. The famous Ternate letter to Darwin that led to his recognition as co-founder of the modern theory of evolution. (Also cf. his often overlooked 1911 work [[which, e.g. does not appear in Wallace's Wikipedia biography], The World of Life; A Manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose (Chapman and Hall, 1914 [[orig. 1911]), here (36 MB), which laid out his theory of Intelligent Evolution.)

Foundations of Design Theory

Thaxton, Charles B., Bradley, Walter L., and Olson, Roger L. The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories (Philosophical Library, 1984, Lewis & Stanley, 4th ed., 1992), 228 pp. PDF here, chs 7 – 9 (HTML) here. The classic critical review monograph on the origin of life that in large part launched the modern design theory school of thought. (Bradley's supplemental technical discussions on thermodynamics and polymer formation here and here are helpful.)

Denton, Michael. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Adler and Adler, 1986), 368 pp. The second foundational book of the modern design school of thought. A widely influential critical assessment of Darwinian thought by a non-design, non-theistic thinker. Cf. 1995 author interview here; where Denton remarks:

Darwinism is claiming that all the adaptive structures in nature, all the organisms which have existed throughout history were generated by the accumulation of entirely undirected mutations. That is an entirely unsubstantiated belief for which there is not the slightest evidence whatsoever. Maybe there will never be that evidence because those mutations occurred in the distant past and have now disappeared forever, perhaps, from the view of man.

So the first claim, that random mutations are selected and create different forms of life, is unsustained. The second problem is that there are a vast number of complex systems in nature, and no matter how unglamorous this problem is, no matter how people try to look the other way, the fact is that a huge number of highly complex systems in nature cannot be plausibly accounted for in terms of a gradual build-up of small random mutations.
Indeed, in many cases there does not exist in the biological literature even an attempt to explain how these things have come about. A classic example would be the lung of the bird, and I could mention some other ones, but everybody knows the lung of the bird is unique in being a circulatory lung rather than a bellows lung. I think it doesn't require a great deal of profound knowledge of biology to see that an organ, which is so central to the physiology of any higher organism, its drastic modification in that way by a series of small events is almost inconceivable. This is something we can't throw under the carpet again because, basically, as Darwin said, if any organ can be shown to be incapable of being achieved gradually in little steps, his theory would be totally overthrown . . .

Milton, Richard. Shattering the Myths of Darwinism (Park Street Press, 1997), 308 pp; American preface is online here. Another independent critical survey of Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, by a neo-Lamarckian Science Journalist and design engineer. This illustrates the ferment of often suppressed controversies and questions out of which the modern design school rose. (Cf. as well his article, Neo-Darwinism: time to reconsider, (online here); which was written for the London Times Higher Education Supplement, but which was censored after intervention by Dr Richard Dawkins.) Perhaps his most pointed observation is from the preface to the American edition:

In my mailbox are letters from biologists who are concerned by the teaching of Darwinism as holy writ and from medical men whose practices have led them to make medical discoveries having a bearing on evolutionary biology. They have sought to publicize these discoveries in journals such as Nature [[the most prestigious of all science journals] but have been universally rejected because their discoveries are anti-Darwinian in implication and hence counter to the ruling ideology in the life sciences. They have appealed to me — a non-scientist — to help them gain publicity.

It is worrying to learn that in countries like Britain and the United States, thought to be among the most civilized on Earth, some professional scientists can feel so isolated and ignored that they have to take their case directly to the public via the popular press . . .

Johnson, Philip E. Darwin on Trial (IVP, 1991), 195 pp. The third foundational book of the modern design school of thought. Critically assesses the logic and rhetoric of the case made by contemporary Darwinism.

Barrow, John and Tipler, Frank. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford, 1986/ 1996), 706 pp; Google Books excerpt here. A well-known survey of key evidence on the general history of design thought in connexion with science, and with an emphasis on the issue of the fine-tuning of the cosmos, leading to discussion of anthropic principles. Cf review by W. L. Craig here.

Modern Creationist perspectives

Morris, Henry M. and Whitcomb, John C. The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and its Scientific Implications (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1961), 518 pages. The classic book that launched the modern, young earth, flood geology catastrophist school of creationist thought.

Morris, Henry M. Scientific Creationism (Master, 1974 on), 277 pp. A classic textbook outlining the young earth creationist school of thought, which has been used in high school and college level classes.

Brown, Walter. In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood, 8th Edition (Center for Scientific Creation, 2008), online edn here. Presents Dr Brown's hydroplate theory model for a global flood and related tectonics, discussing many lines of evidence related to recent catastrophism, especially the suddenly frozen fauna of Siberia etc.

Ross Hugh. The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God, 3rd edn. (NavPress, 2001), 272 pp. A modern presentation of Old Earth Progressive Creationism by Astronomer Hugh Ross of Reasons to believe, the leading current proponent of Old Earth Creationism.

Morris, Henry M. Intelligent Design and/or Scientific Creationism (ICR, n.d.), online here. A position statement by the founder and president emeritus of ICR, on the distinctions between Creationist and Intelligent Design views. (Jerry Bergman's article, Theistic Evolution and the Creation-Evolution Controversy, on distinctions from modern theistic evolutionist views, here, is also to be noted.)

Surveys of Current design thought

Meyer, Stephen C. Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne, 2009), 611 pp. Author interview here. The Amazon book overview sums it up thusly: “the first book to make a comprehensive case for intelligent design based upon DNA .”

Dembski, William A and Wells, Jonathan. The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence In Biological Systems (Foundation for Thought and Ethics , 2007), 401 pp.; online overview here. Sequel and successor to Of Pandas and People, the first High School level ID textbook.

Stewart, Robert B. (Editor). Intelligent Design: William A. Dembski & Michael Ruse in Dialogue (Fortress Press , 2007), 257 pp. A print form balanced exchange on issues connected to modern design thought, with additional comments by a panel of respondents. Dembski is a mathematician and philosopher who is a leading design theorist and a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute, and Ruse is an internationally known, naturalistic philosopher of science.

House, Wayne H. Intelligent Design 101: Leading Experts Explain the key Issues (Kregel, 2008), online excerpt here. An introductory level survey of the historical and ideas contexts, philosophical and legal issues, evidence and general case for intelligent design in biology. Moves the discussion of evidence on biologically oriented ID thought forward from the mid 1990's, and rebuts major critics.

Gonzalez, Guillermo, and Richards, Jay Wesley. The Privileged Planet: how our place in the cosmos is designed for discovery (Regnery, 2004), 464 pp; online excerpts here. Video presentation here. A wide-ranging astronomically based survey of how “our planet is exquisitely fit not only to support life, but also to give us the best view of the universe, as if Earth were designed both for life and for scientific discovery.”

Collins, Robin. The Fine-Tuning Design Argument: A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God (1998), online here. A presentation of the fine-tuning argument to a Creator-God by a philosopher with graduate-level training in physics. (Other resources at professor Collins' academic site are also well worth surveying, here.)

Meyer, Stephen C, Minnich, Scott, et al. Explore Evolution (Hill House Publishers, 2007), 160 pp. A High School/general level critical survey of (neo-) Darwinian Evolutionary theory, outlining the theory, its strengths and limitations and why some scientists hold high confidence in it while others with similar qualifications do not.

Strobel, Lee. The Case for a Creator (Zondervan, 2004), 341 pp. A collection of popular level interviews with major design thinkers, presetting their cumulative case for intelligent design of the cosmos and of life. YouTube videos here.

2] Chance, necessity, design and the cause of functionally specified complex information:

Orgel, Leslie. The Origins of Life (John Wiley, 1973), 237 pp. In this work, the father of the RNA world hypothesis introduced the concept of specified complexity in the modern discussion; as a clarification of his key terms. He distinguishes order, randomness and organisation; making it clear that the specificity he had in mind was functionally defined, in the context of bio- functional complex molecules such as proteins, DNA and RNA:

. . . In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity. [[p. 189.]

Wicken, Jeffery S. “The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. Discusses how “organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an [[originally . . . ] external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection [[by which Wicken evidently hopes to include artificial and natural selection], rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’” This introduces the double-contrast between randomness and order on one hand, and organisation on the other. (Also, given the implications of needing to form components in a complex organised, self-replicating pattern out of a very large number of possibilities, that natural selection can account for the origin of body plans -- including the first -- has to be demonstrated, not merely asserted or assumed.)

Abel, David L., and Trevors, Jack T. “Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information” (Theor Biol Med Model. 2005; 2: 29) online here. Develops a three-dimensional framework for analysing the contrast between order, randomness and functional complexity; thus for noting that in directly observed cases, the latter invariably traces to the action of intelligence, or what the authors contrast with “chance contingency,” namely “choice contingency.” Diagrammatically, from their Fig. 4
Fig. Gb.1: Analysing and distinguishing ordered, random and functional sequences. (Source: Th Bio Med Mod, Fair use of open access US Gov't publication.)

Abel, David L. “The Universal Plausibility Metric (UPM) & Principle (UPP)” (Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling 2009, 6:27), online here. Discusses and develops a threshold for sufficient complexity of a functional entity that it is implausible that it will originate by chance within a given gamut of resources, up to the observed universe.

Dembski, William A. Specification: The Pattern That Signifies Intelligence, ver. 1.22 (Design Inference web site, 2005), online here. Provides the current version of Dembski's quantification of complex, specified information. Excerpting pp. 17 – 24:

define ϕS as . . . the number of patterns for which [[agent] S’s semiotic description of them is at least as simple as S’s semiotic description of [[a pattern or target zone] T. [[26] . . . . where M is the number of semiotic agents [[S's] that within a context of inquiry might also be witnessing events and N is the number of opportunities for such events to happen . . . . [[where also] computer scientist Seth Lloyd has shown that 10^120 constitutes the maximal number of bit operations that the known, observable universe could have performed throughout its entire multi-billion year history.[[31] . . . [[Then] for any context of inquiry in which S might be endeavoring to determine whether an event that conforms to a pattern T happened by chance, M·N will be bounded above by 10^120. We thus define the specified complexity [[χ] of T given [[chance hypothesis] H [[in bits] . . . as [[the negative base-2 logarithm of the conditional probability P(T|H) multiplied by the number of similar cases ϕS(t) and also by the maximum number of binary search-events in our observed universe [[10^120]
χ = – log2[10^120 ·ϕS(T)·P(T|H)].
3] Worldview perspectives and implications for Origins Science

Job, Book of, ch 38:1 - 11. (Bible, n.d., est. ~1,000 BC +/- 500 y), online here. Puts the core Creationist challenge to speculations on origins: we were not there and need to listen to the One who credibly was (instead of stopping our ears up even before we hear evidence and reports).

Plato. The Laws, Book X, Jowett translation (c. 360 BC); online here. Perhaps the first Western academic discussion of the worldviews context and moral/societal challenges of evolutionary materialism and the contrast between works of accident, nature [[i.e. mechanical necessity] and art:

[[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . . these people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them . . . These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[here, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . . [[Emphases and explanatory parentheses added.]

Lucretius. The Nature of Things, Leonard translation. (c. 50 BC); online here. A classical naturalistic philosophical poem, based on Democritus' Atomism. Demonstrates just how longstanding and just how philosophically rooted evolutionary materialistic views are. Exemplifies the framework of thought Plato discussed.

Lahiri, R.K. The Hindu View on Cosmogony (Boloji Media website, 2006); online here. An illustrative presentation of Hindu views on cosmology. [[NB: Cornelia Dimmitt gives a summary of the classical Hindu texts and teachings in her Classical Himndu Mythology: A reader in the Sanskrit Puranas, of which excerpts are online here.]

Lakatos. Imre. Science and pseudoscience (Open University, 1973), Programme 11 of The Open University Arts Course A303, 'Problems of Philosophy,' transcript online here. (MP3 file here.) A discussion of the distinction between science and pseudoscience, and the role that worldview level assumptions play in science and its progress (or, lack of progress).

Adler, Mortimer J. “Little Errors in the Beginning” (The Thomist, XXXVIII, January, 1974), pp. 27-48; online at The Radical Academy's Adler Archive here. Brings out how profoundly core philosophical assumptions and assertions can shape – and, distort -- the course of thought across centuries; arguing along the way for accepting knowable first, self-evident principles of reasoning and similarly self-evident truths as a start-line for further sound thought and argument.

Newall, Paul. Introducing Philosophy 6: Philosophy of Science (Galilean Library web site), online here. [[Cf. the Wikipedia article here.] A fairly simple “101” survey of philosophy of science. Money quote:

[[Across the C20] some philosophers began to wonder if the prospect of a unique scientific method was such a good one after all. (Meanwhile, other philosophers worried that such thinking would swiftly send the world to hell in a hand basket.) Research found that in fact the many sciences were not unified at all and employed different methodologies (for example, compare particle and condensed matter physics, or molecular and organismic biology), very often even within the same field (compare Einstein or Dirac to Ehrenhaft). Nowadays this disunity of the scientific enterprise is gaining greater recognition and scientists and philosophers alike are less keen to hold forth on the scientific method. Moreover, studies in the history of science have shown that no methodological account seems to be able to take in all the twists and turns made by individuals. [[Emphasis added.]

4] Physical Cosmology, Dating and timelines

Dinah L. Moche. Astronomy. A Self-Teaching Guide (Wiley, 7th edn 388 pp.) [[Amazon] A useful introductory survey.

Stern, David P. From Stargazers to Starships (Nasa Web), online here. A High School/general survey course in astonomy.

Swinburne Astronomy. Cosmos (Swinburne University of Technology ), online here. An online encyclopedia of astronomy. (The Australia Telescope glossary is here.)

NWE writers and eds. Age of the Earth (New World Encyclopedia), online here. An editorially controlled survey on dating and constructing the conventional earth timeline; which is the context in which issues of origins are discussed.

Pitman, Sean D.  Radiometric Dating Methods (, 2001), online here. A critical survey of the keystone radiometric dating techniques.

5] The Origin of Life

NWE writers and eds. Origin of Life (New World Encyclopedia), online here. A relatively concise but comprehensive, encyclopedic editorially controlled survey article, that also identifies some of the difficulties with the common OOL models. This survey article on the cell gives an idea of the key context and challenges, as does this discussion of what [[cell-based] life is.

Line, Martin A. “The enigma of the origin of life and its timing” (Microbiology 148, 2002), pp. 21-27; online here. A survey of the state and challenges of OOL studies at the turn of the new millennium; challenges that still remain. Cf. also Robinson's 2005 discussion here, in which he was moved to observe that “significant problems persist with each of the two competing models that have arisen—usually called “genes first” and “metabolism first”—and neither has emerged as a robust and obvious favorite. ” (The exchange between noted OOL researchers Shapiro and Orgel here and here, will underscore why.)

Aw Swee-Eng. “The origin of Life: A Critique of Current Scientific Models” (CEN Tech Journal, vol 23 no. 3, 1996), pp. 300 – 314; online here. A still relevant Creationist technical critique of OOL models.

6] (Macro-) Evolution and the origin of Major Body Plans

NWE writers and eds. Evolution (New World Encyclopedia), online here. An editorially controlled generic survey of the theory of evolution and associated ideas and issues, with onward references. It is worthwhile to excerpt from the discussion of the claim that evolution is a “fact,” in light of (i) the adage that while we all debate opinions only fools dispute facts, but also (ii) the issue of imposed a priori materialism as a distorting filter on origins studies, as was discussed by Johnson in reply to Lewontin [[cf. subtopic 1 above]:

In common usage, people use the word "theory" to signify "conjecture," "speculation," or "opinion." In this popular sense, "theories" are opposed to "facts." Thus, it is not uncommon for those opposed to evolution to state that it is just a theory, not a fact, implying that it is mere speculation. But for scientists, "theory" and "fact" do not stand in opposition, but rather exist in a reciprocal relationship.

Scientists sometimes refer to evolution as both a "fact" and a "theory."

In the broader usage of the term, calling evolution a "fact" references the confidence that scientists have that populations of organisms can change over time. In this sense, evolution occurs whenever a new strain of bacterium evolves that is resistant to antibodies that had been lethal to prior strains. Many evolutionists also call evolution a "fact" when they are referring to the theory of descent with modification, because of the substantial evidences that they perceive as having been marshaled for this theory . . .

Wells, Jonathan. Why Darwinism is False (Discovery Institute, 2009), online here. A current survey critique of the [[neo-] Darwinian theory of evolution, which is what is often meant when Macro-evolutionary theory is presented as “fact.”

Meyer, Stephen C. “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories” (Proceedings of The Biological Society of Washington, 117(2), 2004), pp. 213-239; online here. While neither the first nor the only Intelligent Design supportive paper to be published in peer-reviewed literature after – hot disputes to the contrary notwithstanding -- passing “proper peer review,” this is the paper that ignited a firestorm of debates over the origin of body plans and associated functionally specific, often irreducibly complex biological information; with the Cambrian fossil life revolution as chief exhibit, now that we can no longer plead that we do not have enough fossil evidence. A key excerpt:
One way to estimate the amount of new CSI that appeared with the Cambrian animals is to count the number of new cell types that emerged with them (Valentine 1995:91-93) . . . the more complex animals that appeared in the Cambrian (e.g., arthropods) would have required fifty or more cell types . . . New cell types require many new and specialized proteins. New proteins, in turn, require new genetic information. Thus an increase in the number of cell types implies (at a minimum) a considerable increase in the amount of specified genetic information. Molecular biologists have recently estimated that a minimally complex single-celled organism would require between 318 and 562 kilobase pairs of DNA to produce the proteins necessary to maintain life (Koonin 2000). More complex single cells might require upward of a million base pairs. Yet to build the proteins necessary to sustain a complex arthropod such as a trilobite would require orders of magnitude more coding instructions. The genome size of a modern arthropod, the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, is approximately 180 million base pairs (Gerhart & Kirschner 1997:121, Adams et al. 2000). Transitions from a single cell to colonies of cells to complex animals represent significant (and, in principle, measurable) increases in CSI . . . .
In order to explain the origin of the Cambrian animals, one must account not only for new proteins and cell types, but also for the origin of new body plans . . . Mutations in genes that are expressed late in the development of an organism will not affect the body plan. Mutations expressed early in development, however, could conceivably produce significant morphological change (Arthur 1997:21) . . . [but] processes of development are tightly integrated spatially and temporally such that changes early in development will require a host of other coordinated changes in separate but functionally interrelated developmental processes downstream. For this reason, mutations will be much more likely to be deadly if they disrupt a functionally deeply-embedded structure such as a spinal column than if they affect more isolated anatomical features such as fingers (Kauffman 1995:200) . . .
7] The origin of Man, Mind, Morals, etc

NWE writers and eds. Human Evolution (New World Encyclopedia), online here. A survey on the current state of evolutionary thought on human origins. A key excerpt is:

Substantial evidence has been marshaled for the fact that humans have descended from common ancestors by a process of branching (descent with modification) and for a primate origin of humans. However, proposals for the specific ancestral-descendant relationships and for the process leading to humans tend to be speculative. And, while the theory of natural selection typically is central to scientific explanations for the process, evidence for natural selection being the directive or creative force is limited to extrapolation from the microevolutionary level (changes within the level of species) . . .

Lubenow, Marvin L. Bones of Contention:A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils, rev. Edn. (Baker, 2004), 400 pp. A survey and critical assessment of the fossil record used to argue for human evolution.

8] Origins Science in Society

Plato. The Laws, Book X, Jowett translation (c. 360 BC); online here. Perhaps the first Western academic discussion of the worldviews context of evolutionary materialism and the contrast between works of accident, nature [[i.e. mechanical necessity] and art. It is also perhaps the first presentation of the now notorious is-ought gap of materialistic worldviews, as if all that is, is the result of chance and necessity only, then we have no foundational is that can ground the ought that must be the basis for law; if law is to be premised on justice not naked force.

Provine, William B. Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life (University of Tennessee Darwin Day Lecture, 1998, Abstract); online here. A contemporary working out of the consequences of evolutionary materialism, by a leading professor of the history of Biology. Key excerpt:

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent. . . . . The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

Bryan, William Jennings. The Menace of Darwinism (Fleming Revell, c. 1922), 64 pp, pdf online here. (NB: This is a chapter from Bryan's James Sprunt lecture series at Union Theological Seminary, In His Image (Fleming Revell, 1922), separately published as a booklet.) Bryan – a former Secretary of State of the USA, who has been slanderously caricatured as a raving ignoramus in the Movie Inherit the Wind (Cf comparative table of the historical 1925 trial and the movie, here) -- lays out the limitations of scientific evidence and lack of observational warrant behind Darwinian evolution as applied to the origin of man, its philosophical roots and the resulting challenge of amorality first raised by Plato. He argues that:

If [[atheists and agnostics] desire to teach that there is no God and therefore no Bible and no Christ, why do they not build their own col-leges and support them? Christians do not deny to atheists the right to dispute the existence of God or to agnostics the right to declare themselves without an opinion on the subject; Christians do not deny the right of atheists and agnostics to teach their views; Chris-tians would put all on the same level. The question in dispute is whether atheists and agnostics have a right to teach irreligion in public schools — whether teachers drawing salaries from the public treasury shall be permitted to undermine belief in God, the Bible, and Christ by teaching not scientific truth but unproven and unsupported guesses which cannot be true unless the Bible is false. [[ pp. 5 - 6. Emphases added.]

Bradbury, AC. The Scopes Monkey Trial, online here. A carefully researched survey of the epochal 1925 trial and the subsequent appeal as well as how it has been presented ever since; the key events that utterly poisoned the discussion.

National Academy of Sciences (USA). Science, Evolution and Creationism (National Academies Press, 2008), online here. The current version of a long running pamphlet by the US NAS. (Cf rebuttals by Sarfati here and here.)

National Center for Science Education (USA). Evolution Education: Understanding and teaching the Science of Evolution (NCSE Web site), online here. Gateway page for education-related materials, by a well-known centre billing itself as “defending the teaching of evolution in public schools.”

Calvert, John C. et al. Statement of Objectives regarding Origins Science (Intelligent Design Network, 2007), 4 pp.; online here. A proposal on primary and high school level public education on origins science, arising from the Kansas controversies. (Cf also Calvert's assessment of the Dover/ Kitzmiller decision by Judge Jones, here.)

Staff, The Discovery Institute, Center for Science and Culture. Discovery Institute's Science education Policy (DI, CSC, rev. to 2009); online here. Key comment: “[[DI] believes that evolution should be fully and completely presented to students, and they should learn more about evolutionary theory, including its unresolved issues. In other words, evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned. ”