0126 HKSAR Name of the Day

May 31, 2009

Yuanna Hui, Hunghom resident, Hong Kong (SCMP letters; Hunghom demolition)

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation

0125 HKSAR Name of the Day

May 30, 2009

Warmy Chiu, music student, Pokfulam, Hong Kong (SCMP letters; music conservatory)

About Novel HKSAR Names

Name Category: Creation

0124 HKSAR Name of the Day

May 29, 2009

Silky Wong, third year medical student Hong Kong University, Hong Kong (SCMP letters; anti-tobacco)

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation

HK Doppelganger 2

May 29, 2009

Rafael Hui Si Yan // Penfold Hamster

Rafael 1; Rafael 2

Penfold 1; Penfold 2

Rafael Hui Si Yan, GBS, JP (Chinese: 許仕仁, born 1948) is the 3rd Chief Secretary for Administration of Hong Kong and a former career civil servant. He was appointed on June 30, 2005 (for two years, until June 30, 2007).

About HK Doppelgangers

Related Links:
HKOB lookalikes

0123 HKSAR Name of the Day

May 28, 2009

Omicron Ma Leung-hang, postgraduate biology student, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation

0122 HKSAR Name of the Day

May 27, 2009

Jennings Ku, head graphics designer, HSBC, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare

Dismissing Creationism and Intelligent Design part 5

May 27, 2009

Here are yet more letters to the editor, largely supporting reason, science and evidence. The “Hong Kong Beling duo comprising father and son” is sad. (Perhaps I might blog some more on this later?)

Reference (SCMP)

Teach science not creationism

May 16, 2009

If Hong Kong’s creationists get their way, who knows how many fairy tales will be introduced into science classes? Which versions of creation should be taught as science? Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Islamic, Genesis version 1, Genesis version 2, Australian aboriginal, the John Frumm religion?

Religious beliefs from texts written by pre-scientific societies have suppressed science as it challenges the beliefs that the sun revolves around the Earth, that diseases are caused by sins and curses and that rain can be made by dancing or sacrifices.

As the Hubble telescope is being repaired to enable better views of distant galaxies created not long after the big bang, should we allow astrology to be taught alongside astronomy, alchemy to be taught alongside chemistry? Should we allow creationists to teach that evolution couldn’t give rise to new viruses, but some intelligent designer is responsible for Sars, avian flu and swine flu?

The Education Bureau needs to decisively stop mythology being taught in science classes.

Ian Stones, Mid-Levels

Evolution explains the complexity of organisms in an elegant way

May 22, 2009

In “Creationism row hots up as objectors fight back” (Education Post, May 15), Stephen Tsui Kwok-wing refers to “the complexity of living organisms today” and “gaps in the fossil record” as pieces of evidence that are “not compatible” with evolution.

But this is simply not the case. While organisms are complex, this does not preclude evolution. Natural selection, a mechanism that drives evolution, is a perfectly workable solution that gets around the problem of complexity by referring to small, gradual, accumulated changes in genetic material due to hereditary variation and non-random reproduction over a long period.

It is an elegant solution because it breaks down the seemingly overwhelming improbability of complex organisms into small, slightly improbable but yet still plausible steps. Simply because organisms are complex does not mean evolution is false; quite the contrary, because complexity is something evolution succeeds in explaining.

Professor Tsui also cites “gaps in the fossil record” and the “Cambrian explosion” as evidence against evolution, but these are not arguments. Simply because we lack complete, unbroken sets of fossil records for every evolutionary transition does not invalidate evolution.

The fossil record is not perfect, but we are fortunate to have the many records we do, and every fossil record that has been discovered has served to corroborate, rather than refute, the theory of evolution.

David Dudgeon was correct when he said: “There is no controversy over evolution”. The scientific community at large has accepted evolution as the explanation for the development and diversity of life on Earth because all the evidence available supports it. This is the nature of science.

Creationists scrutinise every piece of evidence supporting evolution, but fail to notice that there isn’t a shred of evidence supporting the beliefs they so adamantly espouse. We must realise that creationism is dogma, not science, and as such should be kept firmly within the realm of religious studies and out of biology lessons.

GARETH CHENG, Year 11 Student, German Swiss International School

Teach intelligent design in philosophy classes

My name is John Beling and I am an undergraduate physics student at the University of Liverpool. I was born, grew up and went to school in Hong Kong. The secondary school (West Island School) I went to taught Darwin’s theory of evolution in GCSE science classes.

I appreciated the teachers doing this, but while teaching it they assumed it to be absolutely true and discredited any opposing views. This biased view provoked me to start much discussion on the origins of life with my fellow students.

Although intelligent design (ID) was not taught I did look into it outside of school after my father – Chris Beling, particle physicist at the University of Hong Kong – said it was credible and scientific and could potentially be taught alongside Darwinian evolution.

ID does not challenge evolution, it challenges the specifically Darwinian idea that life is the result of a purely random, undirected process that mimics the power of a designing intelligence. ID is not a critique of natural selection, it is based on our knowledge of, not ignorance of, the cause-and-effect structure of our world.

For instance, our knowledge suggests there is a cause sufficient to produce digital code. We know that that cause is intelligence from common sense. Bill Gates has said DNA is like a software programme, only much more complex than anything that has been written.

People will say that ID is not science but religious propaganda. We must ask: “Is there any scientific evidence for the involvement of intelligence in the origin of nature and its laws of operation?”

I am sure any strict atheist scientist would agree with me that this is a perfectly legitimate scientific question. Therefore, put simply, if ID has no evidence whatsoever it should be considered religious propaganda. However, if it does have, the situation changes dramatically, following which ID could potentially be introduced into the science curriculum.

I am against creationism being taught in science classes because it does not have much of a scientific basis – it definitely should be taught in philosophy and theology classes – but I am for the theory of ID being taught in science classes at secondary schools in Hong Kong. I believe ID is a legitimate scientific theory that can be falsified.

JOHN BELING, Liverpool University

Beling’s arguments laughed out of court

I have been following Chris Beling’s posts around various online forums where he continues to trot out tired old creationist canards like the irreducible complexity of the bacteria flagellum (a long debunked argument that was laughed out of court in the 2005 Dover trial), a rehash of the “puddle” fallacy (see Douglas Adams’s famous analogy of an egocentric puddle) and design from morality.

He has no valid arguments against evolution and, when pressed, it becomes obvious he is arguing from nothing more than his personal moral need for a supernatural overlord.

He has yet to present any case for intelligent design as a scientific theory in its own right, which of course it isn’t – it fails to make any predictions, it fails to produce any supporting evidence, it is not falsifiable. Poking holes in a scientific theory does not an alternative theory make.

There is no controversy in the legitimate scientific community about the fact of evolution. The genuine scientist looks at the gaps and tries to find an answer through observation and data. The IDeologue is satisfied with non-answers such as “goddunit”.

ALETHEA DEAN, Discovery Bay

Sacrificing education on the altar of religion

I was intrigued to read about the views on the teaching of evolution of the “group of 64”. I would refer Professor Tsui to the article entitled “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense”, published in the July 2002 edition of Scientific American.

This article explains how natural selection can produce sophisticated structures and explains rather comically that, “Even if a creationist does accept a fossil as transitional between two species, he or she may then insist on seeing other fossils intermediate between it and the first two. These frustrating requests can proceed ad infinitum and place an unreasonable burden on the always incomplete fossil record.”

Curious as to what may motivate the group of 64 to take a position at odds with the overwhelming majority of scientists, I decided to Google the four members identified in the Education Post article. Could it be that these were renegade scientists struggling valiantly against a vast conspiracy?

Alas, the evidence points to a less edifying explanation. Professor Tsui’s page on the Chinese University of Hong Kong website includes a photo endearingly titled “my church”. Chris Beling is described as a Christian at http://www.eulertruthbible.wordpress.com. Anissa Chan Wong Lai-kuen is principal of St. Paul’s Co-educational College, whose website states its mission includes to “uphold the founding Christian spirit of our schools … “, and Professor Ho Kin-Chung is an adviser to Stewards Pooi Kei College, whose website states that “Our moral education is based upon the principles stated in the Holy Bible.”

The group of 64 would have us believe that this dispute is a scientific one, but it appears instead to be a dispute between religion and science. Entertaining as this dispute may be, it is important that the integrity of Hong Kong’s education system is not sacrificed on the altar of religion.


0121 HKSAR Name of the Day

May 26, 2009

Candida Mo (Ms), manager, PanaOceans.com (boating / junk rental company), Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare

0120 HKSAR Name of the Day

May 25, 2009

Eman Kwong, information chief, Social Welfare Department, Hong Kong Government, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation

Dismissing Creationism and Intelligent Design part 4

May 25, 2009

These cretinists and IDiots will not back down. When provided with reason, science and evidence that clearly dismiss their claims, they still refuse to accept how fallacious and dishonest their stance is. This is why Richard Dawkins (evolutionary biologist and aetheist) has vowed to never publicly debate with proponents of creationism and intelligent design. Perhaps Hong Kong might well consider this tact too? Difficult though, I know.

Also, there is a further danger when being moderate about people’s religious views (see 2nd SCMP article below regarding the professor(s) attempting to appease or pander to the religious). Give them an inch and they’ll take, er, the whole planet!

Previous Related Post: Dismissing Creationism and Intelligent Design part 3

Reference (SCMP)

Creationism row hots up as objectors fight back
Group of 64 takes on the Facebook 400

Liz Heron
May 15, 2009

The row over teaching creationism in school biology lessons has intensified after 64 people signed a statement calling for controversial curriculum guidelines to be retained.

The group, which includes 40 academics and seven teachers, lodged its plea with the Legislative Council’s education panel this week, just a month after another opinion group backed by hundreds of supporters called for the guidelines to be scrapped.

The groups were formed after four scientists at the University of Hong Kong accused the Education Bureau of tacitly encouraging the teaching of creationism through its guidelines for the new senior secondary curriculum.

A clause in the biology guide states: “In addition to Darwin’s theory, students are encouraged to explore other explanations for evolution and the origins of life.”

Initially, the bureau declined to answer questions about whether teaching of creationism was allowed but after the Concern Group for Hong Kong Science Education pressed the panel to call for the guidelines to be tightened up, it released a statement on the issue to RTHK’s The Pulse.

The TV programme carried the following comment from the bureau: “Creationism is not included in the biology curriculum framework, nor is it considered as an alternative to Darwin’s theory.”

But now the group of 64 is calling for the clause to be retained in its original form, arguing it is “stimulating, balanced, non-biased and has worked well for Hong Kong as well as being consistent with the 3+3+4 reform”. The group, which includes the Open University’s dean of science and technology Ho Kin-chung, St Paul’s Co-educational College principal Anissa Chan Wong Lai-kuen and HKU physicist Chris Beling, claims there is no universally accepted definition of science, while there is still controversy over Darwinian theory.

Spokesman Stephen Tsui Kwok-wing, a molecular biologist at Chinese University, said: “Good education is not just a matter of learning facts but also includes the process of learning to critically think through issues.”

Professor Tsui cited the complexity of living organisms today and gaps in the fossil record as examples of evidence not compatible with the Darwinian theory of evolution. “It is well known that in the Cambrian explosion many species appeared at the same time,” he said. “It is not compatible with the dogma of random mutation in natural selection.”

But HKU science faculty board chairman David Dudgeon, one of the four scientists calling for the guidelines to be changed, said: “There is no controversy over evolution. These people manufacturing controversy are simply mischief makers.”

The Concern Group, which now has more than 400 members on Facebook, held a meeting last night to prepare a rebuttal to the group of 64.

The education panel resolved at its meeting on Monday to call on the bureau to provide a position paper before scheduling a debate.

Creationism ‘should not be taught’

Elaine Yau
May 15, 2009

Paul Chu Ching-wu says there is no room for the teaching of creationism in local schools.

He made the comment following his talk at the HKCEC science forum.

The age-old standoff between science and religion was one of the many topics covered in the exchange.

While saying that he did not believe science and religion necessarily had to clash, Professor Chu said there was no room for religious indoctrination in science lessons.

“Even the United States is moving away from the teaching of intelligent design in biology lessons now,” he said. “There are many unknown things in this world. Should we teach them all?”

Professor Chu recognised the role of religion in civilisation. “Knowledge is infinite. Human life is limited. There’s no way for humans to study everything. Religion will always exist alongside science,” he said.

Professor Yang also said he thought science and religion could complement each other.

“There’s a limit to what we can understand through academic studies,” he said. “My views on religion have undergone some changes over the years. When I was young, I thought I could do many things and academic studies were unlimited. As I grow older, I discover academic studies have limits, no matter how successful they are.”