James Lunney v. Evolution

by Aaron Wherry

From the Conservative MP’s statement before QP.

Mr. Speaker, recently we saw an attempt to ridicule the presumed beliefs of a member of this House and the belief of millions of Canadians in a creator. Certain individuals in the media and the scientific community have exposed their own arrogance and intolerance of beliefs contrary to their own. Any scientist who declares that the theory of evolution is a fact has already abandoned the foundations of science. For science establishes fact through the study of things observable and reproducible. Since origins can neither be reproduced nor observed, they remain the realm of hypothesis.

In science, it is perfectly acceptable to make assumptions when we do not have all the facts, but it is never acceptable to forget our assumptions. Given the modern evidence unavailable to Darwin, advanced models of plate techtonics, polonium radiohalos, polystratic fossils, I am prepared to believe that Darwin would be willing to re-examine his assumptions.

The evolutionists may disagree, but neither can produce Darwin as a witness to prove his point. The evolutionists may genuinely see his ancestor in a monkey, but many modern scientists interpret the same evidence in favour of creation and a creator.


James Lunney v. Evolution

  1. “Any scientist who declares that the theory of evolution is a fact has already abandoned the foundations of science.”

    Evolution is a fact. The Theory of Evolution is only our understanding of how it happens.

    “Since origins can neither be reproduced nor observed, they remain the realm of hypothesis.”

    The Theory of Evolution has never pretended to explain the origins of organisms, only how organisms change.

    “Given the modern evidence unavailable to Darwin, advanced models of plate techtonics, polonium radiohalos, polystratic fossils, I am prepared to believe that Darwin would be willing to re-examine his assumptions.”

    I don’t see how in the least these observations cast any doubt on Darwin’s ideas. But I can’t presume to speak for Darwin. Neither should Mr. Lunney.

    • “The evolutionists may disagree, but neither can produce Darwin as a witness to prove his point.”

      And it’s a good thing Science has rejected “Appeal to Authority” as proof.

    • Mr. Lunney has demonstrated his ignorance of Darwin's theory on the origin of species, the scientific usage of the word "hypothesis", the scientific process in its entirety, as well as recent developments in molecular genetics. In fact, evolution has become observable in just a few generations — for example, in bacteria, and in the Galapagos finches. And someone needs to inform Mr. Lunney that no scientist believes that we're descended from monkeys, which occupy a different branch on the same evolutionary tree, and with whom we share a common ancestor. This is a gross misrepresentation, which leads one to wonder whether Mr. Lunney is attempting to deliberately mislead the reader, or is simply not in possession of the facts — neither of which commend him as an authority on the subject.

  2. James Lunney has obviously been reading some creationist pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo.

    That said, we live in what is supposedly a representative democracy. CP-Decima surveys have consistently shown that almost 75% of Canadians believe in God, and more than 60% of Canadians believe God had a part in creation.

    • I don’t see anything inconsistent with a simultaneous belief in God and belief in evolution, though that is of course how the creationist crowd tries to portray it.

      • I don’t see any inconsistencies either, but other people do, and everyone is entitled to their beliefs, however misguided we may think they are.

        • Sure. But is it an “attack” against their beliefs to assert a scientific fact? Even if they disagree with the science, how is it insulting to someone else that I think (and most people think and almost all scientists think) that the earth is not 6000-10000 years old, for example? or that we act on and structure our world around that scientific basis?

          • Well, he didn’t use the word “attack”. He was talking about arrogance and intolerance, and it’s hard to deny that MPs with creationist beliefs have been thoroughly ridiculed by many in the media.

          • So now ignorance of science deserves “tolerance”?

          • Um, yes, religion deserves tolerance.

          • Religion is not the same thing as ignorance of science, no matter how often religious people insist that you must choose between religion and science.

          • Of course, people can have whatever kooky beliefs they want. They’re even welcome to convince themselves that their faith conflicts with or supersedes science.

            But Mr Lunney was acting in his professional capacity, on the public payroll in the freakin’ HoC! I do NOT have to tolerate a religious-based attack on science from him in that role in that place.

        • So next time someone asserts the theory of gravity, Mr. Lunney will say that it conflicts with his religious beliefs?

          • The ridicule directed at Gary Goodyear wasn’t about his creationist beliefs per se, it was because Dude is the Minister of State for SCIENCE and Technology.

  3. I see Mr. Lunney is another chiropractor. Where do they find these people?

    • Maybe they find these people (MPs) in the general Canadian population. A strong majority believe in God, and a solid minority (more than 20%) have creationist religious beliefs.

      • Nothing in science precludes a belief in God. Setting up science and religion as enemies is an old trick from those invested in religion. It tries to force people to make a choice, leveraging its influence in peoples’ unknowable/untestable/unprovable beliefs (aka “faith”) to quash science (and independent thought).

        • Right enough– but there are lots of ill-supported beliefs that science doesn’t rule out (how could it, when there’s always a story you can tell about why God allows evil, or why intercessory prayer doesn’t seem to work when we test it, etc.). I don’t see any way to force a choice, and wouldn’t really want to, and I support the emphasis on compatibility, but by the standards of evidence and reasoning that science provides, belief in God is a very shaky proposition– mere ‘faith’ (i.e. fideism) seems to me to be the only position open to the theist…

      • Er, I meant chiropractors, actually. Isn’t Goodyear another chiropractor?

        I’m a little preturbed that the man ostensibly responsible for science in this country evidently believes that there’s no illness that a little spinal adjustment wouldn’t fix.

        • Yeah, chiropractors suck. Canada’s science minister is a former chiropractor. Ergo, Canada sucks.

  4. I really do find the assumption that one must believe in evolution OR a creator to be extremely arrogant and patronizing.

    Equally as arrogant and patronizing is to claim that disagreeing or even ridiculing someone’s scientific beliefs is an attack on Christianity. Most Christians believe in some form of evolution, even the Pope and the official position of the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church. To claim that belief in evolution and science is an attack on Christians is an insult and attack on the majority of Christians who believe in evolution and science. Too many Christians permit the activism of fundamentalists to silence their voice as faithful Christians.

    But no one ever calls them on this.

  5. Oh for the love of god…

    “Mr. Speaker, recently we saw an attempt to ridicule the presumed beliefs of a member of this House”

    Nobody ridiculed Goodyear’s religion, we ridiculed the *Science Minister* for rejecting the foundation of modern biology. Nobody plays the victim like the religious right.

    “Any scientist who declares that the theory of evolution is a fact has already abandoned the foundations of science. ”

    Ok, not true. On the other hand, we have Goodyear playing up his credentials as a Scientician and Chiropractor declaring his belief in so-called “microevolution” while dodging the question of actual evolution… well, he hasn’t abandoned modern science, he’s simply never accepted it.

    “For science establishes fact through the study of things observable and reproducible. Since origins can neither be reproduced nor observed, they remain the realm of hypothesis.”

    Evolution is about the *process*. It doesn’t claim to explain origins. This is Grade 10 science here, Mr. Lunney.

    “Given the modern evidence unavailable to Darwin, advanced models of plate techtonics, polonium radiohalos, polystratic fossils…”

    Given the modern evidence unavailable to Darwin, he would be awestruck at the prescience of his theory. He nailed it, and modern biotechnology has backed him up all the way. As for plate tectonics, polonium radiohalos and polystratic fossils, it’s safe to assume that Mr Lunney, another frickin’ chiropractor, has no idea what these things are. He sounds like every other religious nut reading texts prepared for gullible creationists by their religious leaders.

    “The evolutionists may disagree…”

    The word he’s looking for is “scientists” or possibly “biologists”. Until creationism is supported by repeatable evidence, it’s religion and not to be confused with science. Calling biologists “evolutionists” is an attempt to drag science into religion’s realm of faith and holy declaration. Kinda like asking if our Minister of Science and Technology “believes” in evolution – absolutely the wrong question.

    “The evolutionists may genuinely see his ancestor in a monkey, but many modern scientists interpret the same evidence in favour of creation and a creator.”

    Yup – the same “scientists” or, more likely, scientitians who wrote the tract about “polonium radiohalos and polystratic fossils.”

    Honestly, first our Prime Minister misses the G20 photo event to take a dump, now we have a chorus line of chiropractors declaring their lack of belief in science IN the House of Parliament. We look like backwater hicks, but that’s what happens when the right wing takes power.

    • We look like backwater hicks? Only in your mind, my friend. I love how insecure Canadians always whine about “how we must look”, when the truth is that nobody is even looking. That G20 photo thing? It got huge airplay in Canada, and the rest of the world didn’t notice or care.

      • And our dueling Chiropractor leaders? Maybe nobody will notice that either, but anybody who does will think we’re barking idiots.

        • Newsflash, TJ Cook. Lots of other countries have more creationism and religious fundamentalism than Canada does. Like, uh, almost all of them. You can keep indulging in your national humiliation fetish, or perhaps you could check out a non-Canadian news source once in a while.

          • Actually it’s most likely fewer. Industrialized European countries have a far higher acceptance of Evolution than does Canada.

        • So let’s get this straight – since George W. Bush put the cast of The Beverly Hillbillies in charge, we shouldn’t be embarrassed when our PM hires the Dukes of Hazard?

          We don’t look as stupid as some states, but my standards are higher than that. To have a Science Minister who renounces science in the name of religion is a disgrace.

          • I can’t believe I’m defending Goodyear, but he didn’t “renounce science in the name of religion”. He was obviously confused about how evolution works, but that’s about it. He’s not competent in science, but he’s not the religious wacko you claim he is. Frankly, I’m sick of all the childish hyperbole surrounding this issue.

      • The G20 photo thing was the only thing the international press was writing about today that had the word “Canada” in it.

        • A simple Google News search proves that you are very wrong.

          • Not true: Macleans had the very article that showed all the international news agencies talking about this faux pas.

            The “the Telegraph, BBC, Wall Street Journal, Independent, Guardian, Financial Times, Bloomberg and Reuters.” are not insignificant, CR. Harper was an embarrassment today for Canada, regardless of what his reasons was for being late.

          • Those are called “wire services”, Scott. They generate thousands of articles per day. Many of them are barely read. Some 200-word piece about a missed photo shoot, buried in hundreds of other wire service articles about the G20 meeting, has all the impact of a fart in a hurricane. I guarantee you that the number of non-Canadians who paid any attention to something so trivial is close to zero.

      • You need to expand your horizons Critical Reasoning. I’m a proud Canadian senior and the antics of Lunney and Goodyear were brought to my attention not through my daily dose of the CBC radio and television but my daily scanning of international science blogs. Harper missing his photoshoot was played to the hilt on BBC, CNN and other news sources but that’s minor compared to the embarrassment of members of my parliament espousing belief in iron age mythos in front of the world and denying the scientific fact of evolution the single most important tenet in biological advancements today. It’s through the study and new discoveries in evolutionary biology that true medical breakthroughs and advancements are made, not spinal adjustments, prayer or laying on of hands. I’d love to know Lunney, Goodyear and your stand on homeopathy and astrology by the way. I also heartily recommend anyone unfamiliar with the 3 creationist strawmen raised in this episode should do just a small amount of research and you’ll discover each and every one has been repeatedly discounted by true scientific research.

        • My stand is the same for astrology, homeopathy, and creation science: each is completely bogus and is promoted only by charlatans.

          • My wife’s parents and grandparents are fervent believers in homeopathy, but they are solid and lifelong supporters of the Democratic Party of the US and the NDP party here.

            The left can’t really throw too many stones when it comes to kooks in their ranks who believe in things that aren’t scientifically acceptable. I mean hell, how many still think Margaret Mead is worth reading?

    • Oh,one more: “The evolutionists may disagree, but neither can produce Darwin as a witness to prove his point.”

      Darwin is the guy who formulated the theory. He’s not an oracle and he’s not a religious figure – the fact that we can’t summon his holy spirit to inform modern science doesn’t weaken modern science. We don’t need Darwin himself and neither does science.

      Only the religious would make such a ridiculous point.

      • How absolutely true. But wait. As a confirmed atheist the one thing that would bring me around would be if they could just produce God to prove his point. Wowser that’d make me think twice. OTOH, He did write a book just like Darwin wrote a book, but wait, I’ve actually seen photos of Darwin. Oh my.

  6. “The evolutionists may disagree, but neither can produce Darwin as a witness to prove his point..”

    I’m fairly confident that Darwin would have concluded that Lunney has manure for brains. Mr. Lunney may disagree. Since neither of us can resurrect Darwin to confirm or disprove my assertion, it must automatically be highly plausible.

    • You’re welcome to cite me as a proponent of your theory. The name oughta hold some weight with all those believers.

      • I’m really digging this Lunney “logic.” I just told my wife that Darwin most certainly would have wanted me to buy that new expensive guitar I’ve had my eye on. She argues that we can’t afford it, but in the absence of the reanimated bearded one, I find her dogmatic adherence to bank account belief systems to be an affront to my deeply held convictions and need of costly musical gear.

  7. “Mr. Speaker, recently we saw an attempt to ridicule the presumed beliefs of a member of this House and the belief of millions of Canadians in a creator. ”

    Nice straw man there. There’s nothing whatsoever that dictates that a belief in evolution precludes a belief in a creator. I’d even argue that the majority of scientists probably believe in a creator. It’s a classic move by the religious right, pretend that people are attacking your belief in God, rather than what’s really being debated.

    Setting up a false dichotomy – believe in evolution or believe in God – is the height of dishonesty, and unworthy of someone who claims to be a faithful believer.

    • HERETIC!!

      • LOL

  8. “Since origins can neither be reproduced nor observed, they remain the realm of hypothesis.”

    Actually, biologists study bacteria that reproduces quickly. Evolution has been directly observed.

    Science 1, James Lunney 0.

    • I’m guessing Lunney looked at the title “Origin of Species” and assumes that Darwin was writing about the origins of life itself.

    • Really, we’ve seen new species evolve? I always thought we had only got variation within a species through mutation, rather than a new species entirely.

      I know about evolution through the fossil record, so I assure everyone my orthodoxy is intact. I’m just genuinely curious if we’ve observed a new species differentiate itself from an ancestor.

      • I think we have observed a new species differentiate itself from an ancestor, at least for microbes.

        • I sent a quick message to a biologist friend and here is his quick reply.

          Defining “bacterial species” is kind of tricky, since they don’t really have sexual reproduction, and most species definititions are based on “reproductive isolation” ie: two individuals are different species if they can’t mate with each other. However, we have seen pretty massive changes in bacterial populations through mutation/selection, including jumping species, adapting to new environments (including living in highly radioactive sludge!) so I think it’s safe to say that we’ve seen bacteria speciate if your willing to define speciation as a large, virtually impossible to revert phenotypic change.

          We have definitely observed speciation in eukaryotes that do mate, many different times now.

          So there we go, evolution seems to be settled.

          • Terry, thanks for that very informative and interesting comment.

      • People, people, it’s 2009 and we’re on the internet. It’s ridiculously easy to look up your answer before posting. Hint: type “observed speciation” into wikipedia.

      • There are some observed instances of speciation listed here:


        As well, there is also the interesting phenomenon of “ring species,” one example of which is the Ensatina salamanders in California. These salamanders originated from a single group and spread on opposite sides of the San Joaquin Valley. Their morphology gradually changes as one progresses thru the valley, butalong the way salamanders from opposite side can still interbreed. However, eventually, the two groups meet up again at the opposite end of the valley and at this point they are no longer able to interbreed. IOW, they are now of different species. The interesting point is that all of the transitional phases of the speciation process are still exant in the gradual changes in traits along the sides of the valley.

        More info here:


      • See talkorigins.org for observed instances of speciation. By the terms of the biological species concept (whether the organisms would interbreed in the wild), we have seen many new species arise. Polyploidy in plants is one mechanism– fruitflies have also been observed to give rise to new species, and there a lots more.

  9. “Any scientist who declares that the theory of evolution is a fact has already abandoned the foundations of science.”

    Correct. There are only theories, some that have been fasified and others that have stood the test of time (such as evolution).

    “For science establishes fact through the study of things observable and reproducible.”

    Correct. However, evolution has been backed up by numerous reproducible experiments and predictions involving the fossible record, DNA and untold additional scientific endeavours.

    “Since origins can neither be reproduced nor observed, they remain the realm of hypothesis.”

    The man is an idiot.

    The rest is also garbage about what Darwin might say, which is completely irrelevant.

    Anyway, there are plenty of idiots on parliament hill, what else is new?

    • “Correct. There are only theories…”

      The existence of evolution is not a theory, it’s a fact. The *Theory of Evolution* is a theory on how evolution works, and it’s a damned fine theory at that.

      Tell you what – if the scientists start calling it “The Theory of How Evolution Works”, will you stop triumphantly declaring that evolution itself is just a theory?

      • Wrong. There are no facts in science. Period.

        • No facts in science? What does this mean? That nothing is ever proved conclusively, once and for all, proof against every possible error or confusion? If that’s what it means, you could shorten it: there are no facts. If science doesn’t provide facts (the earth orbits the sun, heat never flows from a colder body to a hotter one,…) what’s your source?

          • The earth and sun rotate around their barycenter (inside the sun). It’s possible to construct a model whereby the cosmos rotates around the earth it’s just a frame of reference. Also with the thermodynamics, it is primarily statistical so some particles transfer energy from cold to hot, the average temperature is the average of the particles, so the law holds for the average. In addition physics is not yet unified so there will be new ways of describing natural phenomena. Someone needs to define fact..

          • Dammit,

            The thermodynamic one, the individual particle of the cold body would still need to be warmer than the individual party of the warm body to transfer E. I took body to mean material rather than individual particle.

      • I mean, you have no idea what you are talking about.

        Why don’t you try to wrap your head around this example:
        1 – Newton’s greatest discoveries in physics were wrong. Why? His laws of motion break down at high velocities. Einstein proved him wrong.
        2 – Einstein’s greatest discoveries were wrong. Why? His theory of general relativity, which superceded Newton’s theories, break down at small scales. Quantum mechanics showed that. His particle theory of light was also wrong, because it turned out that light is both a particle and a wave. He believed in the ether and was wrong. His cosmological constant is considered wrong.
        3- Many of Darwin’s ideas about how evolution worked were wrong, completely and totally wrong.
        4 – All great scientists are proven wrong. That does not mean they did not make invaluable contributions to science and human knowledge.
        5 – There is no great scientist that is stupid enough to say that his theories are fact.

        There is no such thing as a fact in science. There are only theories, theories that last until they have been falsified or corrected.

          • Nice little essay! Some clever non-sequiturs and half-truths and oxymorons and other stuff, all packed into a few paragraphs.

        • Observations are as good as the tools available. Newton’s observations were as accurate as possible. Modern genetics also have observations that are as accurate as possible. Denying that these observations are facts is pretty silly.

          Theories are a different class. You have confused them. It is clear from your posts here that you don’t understand how science works and are not interested in learning. That is sad.

      • In fact, one of the most common features of the greatest scientists, is their willingness to abandon their current line of thinking when it becomes obvious they are wrong, their willingness to abandon conventional thinking, their willingness to consider all possible alternative. They are open-minded and they are willing to consider alternative lines of thinking, no matter how preposterous a given line of thinking may seem at first.

        Your attitude, that the matter is closed and final, that is anti-science.

        • Thanks for the sanctimonious lecture, but my master’s degree in molecular virology suggests that I do understand how science works.

          The fact is that religious types are trying desperately to discredit science. They take the nature of scientific communication – cautious, couched in caveats, avoiding words like “fact” – and abuse it to manipulate their flocks. Screw that, I’m not interested in letting these ignorant liars abuse science any more.

          Yes, I use declarative, simple language in talking about evolution with people who fundamentally fail to understand it. That language is all these people understand. That doesn’t mean that – should new evidence throw evolution into question – I’m unwilling to reconsider, or approach science with actual scientists with a closed mind.

          You said earlier “there are only theories” but fundamentally misunderstand that the Theory of Evolution is NOT a theory that evolution is happening but rather a theory on the mechanisms behind the observed phenomenon of evolution.

          Why don’t you try – again – to wrap your head around THAT.

          • “a theory on the mechanisms behind the observed phenomenon of evolution”

            First of all, that is your definition, you just made it up. There are a million definitions of what exactly “evolution” means. The first people to use the term did not use your definition at all. For one thing, the theory of evolution existed before it was possibly to observe it at all. When Darwin invented the theory, all he had to go on was geography and similarities between organisms, he did not the ability to observe it occurring.

            Secondly, do you actually believe that the understanding of these mechanisms has not changed? This understanding continues to change daily.

            So what if the guy is an idiot? What you said has no more validity than what he said, but your holier-than-thou approach, declaring evolution as a fact that cannot be disputed, is more disconcerting to me than his refusal to acknowledge the evidence for evolution.

          • my master’s degree in molecular virology suggests that I do understand how science works.
            So does a Grade 11 Biology textbook, which thoroughly corroborates what you say. ;)

          • Speciation, the outcome of evolution, is an observed phenomenon (quoting rumor above: “Hint: type “observed speciation” into wikipedia.”). Evolution is the mechanism by which speciation occurs. The Theory of Evolution is a theory on the mechanisms that drive evolution.

            So for me to say ““a theory on the mechanisms behind the observed phenomenon of evolution” is not MY definition, it is reasonable description of THE definition. There are not a million definitions, who told you that? What is your point?

            And of course the understanding of the mechanisms (ie the Theory of Evolution) has been refined and changed over time. Again, what is your point?

            What I’ve been saying is consistent with modern science. What Lunney said is a bizarre mishmash of religion, pseudoscience and feigned persecution. What I said has more validity that what he said because what he said is wrong.

            I say again – when dealing with people determined to mix religion with science, I am unwilling to use language that, in their ignorance, they will use to further mislead themselves and others. I’m not being holier-than-thou, I’m communicating with people who are ignorant, disingenuous or both. They have nothing to contribute to the study of evolution, so holding me to the finest standard of accuracy and explicit open-mindedness (a standard they don’t respect) is transparent bullsh*t.

            When the religious right stop trying to bastardize science and force their religious belief into the science classroom, when they stop deliberately misleading people with pseudoscience and lies, THEN I’ll revert to proper, nuanced scientifically-correct language.

            Why don’t you direct your precious outrage toward the religious types who deliberately mislead their followers rather than one scientist who refuses to get into an intellectual wrestling match with people incapable of having an intelligent discussion on evolution?

        • sf, when you say, “one of the most common features of the greatest scientists, is their willingness to abandon their current line of thinking when it becomes obvious they are wrong, their willingness to abandon conventional thinking, their willingness to consider all possible alternative,” yu are correct, and you are demonstrating exactly why creationists and intelligent design proponents are the exact opposite of scientists. Despite the literally millions of pieces of evidence that prove their ideas wrong, and the complete lack of the merest scrap of evidence to support their positions, they refuse to drop their doctrinally determined pseudoscientific ideas. That, as you say, is anti-science.

          • Yes, I certainly have no intention of arguing in favour of creationism myself. To me, the fundamental facets of evolution seem obvious.

            My point was about having a healthy respect for others’ points of view, and mostly my point was about humility.

            I think humility is fundamentally lacking in today’s society. I see complete idiots running around declaring how everyone else is a complete idiot. If people intend to lecture other people about what is right and what is wrong, they should get their facts straight first.

        • Closed and final it is– for any current purpose. The notion that evolution might turn out to be false is about as plausible as the notion that we might turn out to be brains in vats. A philosophical fantasy, fine for ‘out-there’ epistemological reflections about the limits of certainty, but irrelevant to the evaluation of the nonsense being put out by creationists and ID proponents, which is no better than flat earth silliness or HIV-AIDS denialism. Evolution is a fact if anything is (and so is natural selection, though subtle questions about the details remain open as ever).

          • Like I said before, I don’t think you are correct. There was not a soul in the world who would dare to question Newton’s laws as anything but fact, until Einstein came along. What seems like heresy one day can be obvious the next. It’s all a matter of following where the evidence leads.

            As for HIV-AIDs, there could easily someday come a discovery that there is another previously undetected virus at work that interacts with the HIV virus to trigger AIDS. Or there could be a discovery someday that the HIV virus is not the only virus that causes AIDs. Who knows?

            I value an open mind.

            That doesn’t mean that I think that there is any merit to ID or creationism. To me they are bunk, especially ID, which is some sort of attempt to disguise religion as science.

          • A lot of the people proclaiming creationists to be idiots, are the same people that
            -believe that spending money to dig holes and then fill them up is an economic benefit
            -classify CO2 as a pollutant
            -claim that toilets flush in opposite directions in the northern and southern hemisphere

          • Well, sf, there’s always generalizations and ad hominem to rely on. You should have stopped while you were ahead.

  10. Lo – and G*d gave him the tablets….
    And this too was recorded in the Book…

    But dang it – they never did find them blocks of stone – did they?

    But I’ll bet Mr. Lunney believes in them and the Book…and a whole hosts of…those winged creatures

    And he’s never seen them either…..

    Can turn it off and on at will Mr. Lunney. Do you think this a natural adaptation – or a learned trait?

    • It’s divine inspiration.

  11. “In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination”
    -Mark Twain

  12. The evolutionists may genuinely see his ancestor in a monkey, but many modern scientists interpret the same evidence in favour of creation and a creator.

    I’d say that sentence demonstrates about as clearly as possible how fundamentally James Lunney misunderstands the theory of evolution.

    Perhaps it’s too much to ask that an MP “believe” in the theory of evolution, fair enough, but is it also too much to ask that an MP have at least some basic understanding of WHAT THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION IS before deciding not to believe in it?

    If the theory of evolution was actually what Lunney apparently thinks it is, I’m not sure I’d believe it either.

  13. Given the modern evidence unavailable to Darwin, advanced models of plate techtonics, polonium radiohalos, polystratic fossils, I am prepared to believe that Darwin would be willing to re-examine his assumptions

    Given a quick Google search of “polystratic fossils” and “polonium radio halos” I am prepared to believe that James Lunney has been taken in by some pseudo-scientific creationist malarkey.

    You’re free to believe that the Earth is only 6000 years old. Just don’t try to tell me that this belief is based on “modern evidence unavailable to Darwin”. I’m hundreds of kilometres from Ottawa, but I can smell that from here.

  14. “Since origins can neither be reproduced nor observed, they remain the realm of hypothesis.”

    Is he making the case that belief in a God/ a creator, is also an unproven hypothesis?

    • He should, even if he is a good scholastic Neo-Thomist philosopher.

      • Hear hear, Terry. As I’ve agreed with you before on this subject, it’s ridiculous to have a debate about Creation, i.e. the very essence and origin of existence, without figuring out what we’re saying in terms of epistemology. To me, the difference between an evolved and a created world is the difference between a world of hypotheses and a world of facts: we think with the former, but we live with the latter. In my view, with their somewhat naive faith in the possibility of true knowledge itself, scientists are greater believers (unconsciously) in a created, knowable, factual world even than the evangelicals are. We need epistemological clarity on this issue or we’ll all just end up arguing at cross purposes ad infinitum.

        • I think this is something of a straw man. Our best scientists do not operate from any “faith” in “true knowledge”, but are interested only in generating defensible explanations of observed phenomenon. These are converted into “facts” as they suit or match the broader experience, and as such are somewhat plastic.

          There is no “knowable, factual world” in science. There are observed, measurable phenomena and theories that explain what they are, how they arose and what other properties they may have, any of which may change according to new observations.

          The strength of the theory of evolution is how well it has survived new observations, how well it has explained all sorts of previously unrelated phenomena and how rich it has proved in guiding further experimentation.

          This has no connection with the belief systems that religion supports and proposes and the two are only confused in error, deliberate or otherwise. I am baffled how scientists square a belief in god or a creator with their everyday work.

          • You are correct that faith ultimately relies on revelation, though I would argue a healthy religion is willing to accept observable fact and consistent logical thinking and will adjust how they view the authority of revelation accordingly. So I don’t think the current dichotomy favored by many that religion and science should be strictly departmentalized is healthy either. Logic and science can do much to instruct the theologian, and be good for their own sake as well. The medieval notion of “Faith seeking Understanding” and all that.

            As for how scientists square a belief in God with their work in empirical science, there are many different ways of doing so. I’ll presume you are talking about an average Christian scientist who follows the Nicene Creed, who does not believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. Largely, most good believers of intellect know that the miraculous is always going to be mysterious and absurd to observable experience. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be miraculous but instead observable. One believes in those absurdities (such as a man being able to rise from the dead) because it matches the experience of their cultural and inner life. One should always be skeptical of personal revelation because spiritual experiences are imaginations of the theological concepts of your faith rather than an observed experience. However, while unreliable, the subjective force of that experience compels the worshiper to accept revelation as truth. The particularly aware mystic will even be aware of the cultural, physical and emotional state he or she was in that brought about the spiritual experience, but will still feel a compulsion to believe.

            Once that person has accepted the revelation as truth, the humble and thoughtful religious believer attempts to apply reason to revelation, and tries to make the teachings of his faith as rational as possible. I imagine theistic scientists either alone or with counseling from their religious authority, attempt to harmonize the non-empirical beliefs with empirical science in countless different ways.

          • Isn’t it just the willing suspension of disbelief, the same mental process we use when reading a novel or watching a play?

        • “the difference between an evolved and a created world”…

          There need not be a difference, surely? If something is created and has thereafter never changed, it has not evolved. If created and then changed via some process, it has evolved.

          And every real thing is created, is it not? The question is, was there a creator, or was some other mechanism responsible for the creation?

        • I think I have to agree with Bill Simpson that scientists are concerned about explaining observed phenomenon rather than “true knowledge”. I think I’ll disagree with Bill Simpson that scientists don’t believe in a “knowable, factual world”. If you didn’t believe the world was knowable or factual, you’d abandon the quest to understand this world of lies and illusions and seek enlightenment.

  15. I’ve always thought of evolution as a kind of revealed truth. As I understand it, Darwin was a mere chiropractor practicing quietly in Liverpool when one day the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, told him to buy a big-ass yacht and sail to the Pacific, gave him a few pointers about iguanas, and dictated the first draft of The Origin of Species. Therefore anybody who disputes evolution is, frankly, an atheist.

  16. Mr. Lunney, having found himself mysteriously sitting in the House of Commons, not on a summer tourist tour, but as an actual member of the Canadian Parliament, and patiently awaiting his coming pension, has decided this occurrence, even miracle, could only be attributed to divine intervention.
    He may be right!

  17. Everyone is being too hard on Lunney. It only took the Church about 400 years to acknowledge it’s error regarding Copernicus. Give Mr. Lunney a little more time, please.

  18. “Given the modern evidence unavailable to Darwin, advanced models of plate techtonics, polonium radiohalos, polystratic fossils, I am prepared to believe that Darwin would be willing to re-examine his assumptions.”

    Mr. Lunney doesn’t seem to understand that biologists (like their colleagues in any field of science) are continually re-examining Darwin’s, and their own, assumptions and conclusions in light of new evidence and new research. And that constant process of re-examination has only strengthened the explanatory power of the theory of evolution. The “modern evidence” has confirmed and refined Darwin’s main themes, corrected some of his errors and clarified the process and history of biological evolution on Earth to the point where no one who seriously studies the subject can reasonably reject it.

    Mr. Lunney and others might want to argue that some guiding intelligence is behind the evolutionary process, and if they can propose some kind of empirical research method to investigate that question they’re free to do so, but to suggest that evolution doesn’t happen is simply ignorant.

  19. Funny how Mr. Lunney’s facile skepticism disappears when it comes to his ‘beliefs’ about the ‘unobservable’ past, not to mention how silly it is to imagine that the same kinds of evidence based on processes and traces are what we rely on every day to settle questions about the past. Put the selective skepticism together with the grotesque misinformation about evolution culled selectively from the distortions and dishonesty of creationist sites and literature, and you have a perfect illustration of why creationism is rightly criticized as lazy, ill-founded and a very bad sign about the rationality, education and biases of its believers. Beyond the minimal respect that says, you are free to believe as you see fit even if it is foolish and absurd, creationism deserves every bit of public mockery and dismissal it gets. Freedom of speech and opinion cuts both ways, and Mr. Lunney has revealed himself as a misled, deluded fool.

  20. Clearly some Canandians are devolving…

  21. Mr. Lunney is just plain wrong. He really needs to pick up a Biology text book.

    There are countless proofs of evolution. The examples of disproof he states are pseudo science (like Chiropractic) that are not accept by mainstream science.

    Mr. Lunney’s statement that many scientists now doubt evolution is wrong as in fact few scientists, especially biologists, doubt Evolution As evidenced by the statement below from the AAAS.

    Statement on the Teaching of Evolution
    by the Board of Directors
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    St. Louis, Missouri • February 16, 2006
    Evolution is one of the most robust and widely accepted principles of modern science. It is the foundation for research in a wide array of scientific fields and, accordingly, a core element in science education. The AAAS Board of Directors is deeply concerned, therefore, about legislation and policies recently introduced in a number of states and localities that would undermine the teaching of evolution and deprive students of the education they need to be informed and productive citizens in an increasingly technological, global community. Although their language and strategy differ, all of these
    proposals, if passed, would weaken science education. The AAAS Board of Directors strongly opposes these attacks on the integrity of science and science education. They threaten not just the teaching of evolution, but students’ understanding of the biological, physical, and geological sciences.
    Some bills seek to discredit evolution by emphasizing so-called “flaws” in the theory of evolution or “disagreements” within the scientific community. Others insist that teachers have absolute freedom within their classrooms and cannot be disciplined for teaching non-scientific “alternatives” to evolution. A number of bills require that students be taught to “critically analyze” evolution or to understand “the controversy.” But there is no significant controversy within the scientific community about the validity of the theory of evolution. The current controversy surrounding the teaching of evolution is not a scientific one.

    Follow the link for the full statement. http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2006/pdf/0219boardstatement.pdf

    • Wow, who would have thought it was possible to play creationist bingo (http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2007/09/bingo-creationi.html) in the Canadian House of Commons?

      Quoting Mr Lunney: “many modern scientists interpret the same evidence in favour of creation and a creator.”

      Er no we don’t actually, and to which of the many flavours of creation or creator are you referring? As a member of that undefined group of ‘many modern scientists’ I can tell you, Mr Lunney, that you are simply another victim of creationist propaganda. I direct your attention to Project Steve (http://ncseweb.org/taking-action/project-steve), a tongue in cheek response to this ridiculous lie perpetrated by advocates of creationism.

  22. I don’t know where to begin.
    I used to teach and I don’t think even my densest student could have squashed so much ignorance into so few words. The man is obviously uneducated, or is simply lying, hoping to collect the votes of fools.
    Who on earth voted for this dolt? One can only hope no-one will do so again.

  23. Goodyear and Lunney can believe the moon is made of green cheese, so long as they are not basing their political decisions on this belief. The problem is that Goodyear is our minister for SCIENCE, and yet demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge of the subject, and in fact is in the process of decimating our scientific institutions here in Canada!

    Did you know he is responsible for the planned shutdown of NRC CISTI and layoff of 300 highly skilled technical and scientific staff who work there? This means the shutdown of our national library, and privatization of our national science journals, etc. No more will all Canadians have free access to published Canadian research. Where will this outrageous attack on our scientific institutions end? Not to mention 300 more highly skilled full-time workers in the EI lineup.

  24. Lummey is a culturally biased religious idiot.

  25. To explain creationism and evolution one must first define the being of God (no easy matter). Is god a theistic god, all powerful, knowing and benevolent? or is it more of a deistic one, powerful but uninvolved, not caring, not a “parent” type.

    Then we must look at the history of mankind that science and social science tells us. We know that the world is older than 8 000 years old, carbon dating proves this. We also know that people have believed in numerous god(s) for differing reasons…long life, good harvest, war.

    Then we must interpret the institution of religion, how it came to be and how religion became controlled by men. This is an important one.

    Then we must use what we have learnt about the world, scientifically, to assume how it came to be. And we can’t forget that our world seems to be such a small, insignificant part of this universe.

    Certainly the notion of a creator is there, but not the god of the bible, koran, talmud or equivalent. Evidence points to either natural development of our universe or a deistic, distant being. Working in absolutes is always dangerous, so there mister Lunney is correct. But that goes both ways.

  26. What an embarrassment.

  27. What an embarrassment to Parliament.
    Why would an omnipotent Deity leave all these clues about evolution if he/she/it/they did it all in only seven days.
    If you are one of the faithful, these guys make your belief a laughing stock.
    If you’re atheist or agnostic they are pitiable in their lack of knowledge.

  28. The creationists will take their beliefs to the grave, but they still won’t be any more correct than when they started. Darwin’s theory will never be anything more than a scientific theory. That is not a bad thing, in the 150 years of the evolutionists, or proponents of intelligent design, desperately attempting to derail Darwin’s theory, science is finding more and more material to show that Darwin was right. The geneticists have even shown that our 23 genes in the DNA were once 24, just like the apes. (They found that gene number 2 is a combination of 2 genes joined together).
    I don’t care that they continue to attempt to rebut Darwin’s theory, but the methods they use are enough to make one want to shake their head in disbelief. There was a very good program on PBS on the attempt of these zelleots to hijack a school board and force the science teachers to instruct the “intelligent design” (creationist) concept on students. The program very elegantly explains how reason finally prevailed, but it also demonstrated the deceitful methods that these creationists will use in the attempt to have their way. The beauty of it all was the fact that the judge that made the determination that intelligent design was just another word for creationisn, and that creationism is not science was a Bush appointee

  29. The Harper government’s slashing funding to sciences of all kinds was one thing but to add the insult of appointing Goodyear right after cutting Arthur Carty’s position as Science Advisor is outrageous. I spent 38 years as a physicist at NRC and can personally attest to the qualifications of Dr Carty. But Goodyear? A fundamentalist fool who probably would have difficulty spelling “science”

    As a side note, I re-read “The Origin of Species” to commemorate the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth. I was struck again by the depth of the man’s insight and gentlemanly modesty. He really understood and used the scientific method and was overly generous in citing others, even the unlamented Lamarck.

    Stockwell Day was bad enough. Now we deal with Goodyear. Canadian science will be a laughing stock. How can I explain this to my scientific colleagues around the world?


  30. How is this embarassing at all…as long as Lunney collects taxes and serves his community well that’s all that matters. If his constituents dislike him they can vote him out next year. Tempest in a teapot folks.

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