November 9, 2005

Intelligent design.

If you're worried about Kansas:
The fiercely split Kansas Board of Education voted 6 to 4 on Tuesday to adopt new science standards that are the most far-reaching in the nation in challenging Darwin's theory of evolution in the classroom.

The standards move beyond the broad mandate for critical analysis of evolution that four other states have established in recent years, by recommending that schools teach specific points that doubters of evolution use to undermine its primacy in science education.
You may want the courts to stop this immediately.

But remember that democracy works too:
Voters on Tuesday ousted a Pennsylvania local school board that promoted an ''intelligent-design'' alternative to teaching evolution, and elected a new slate of candidates who promised to remove the concept from science classes.
ADDED: It's too simple, however, to point to what happened in Dover, Pennsyvania as proof that democracy is all the correction that is needed. That vote took place in the context of an ongoing trial:
For the last six weeks, the teaching of intelligent design has been challenged in federal court by a group of Dover parents. They said the concept is a religious belief and therefore may not be taught in public schools, because the U.S. Constitution forbids it. They also argue that the theory is unscientific and so has no place in science classes....

The trial, which attracted national and international media attention, was watched in at least 30 states where policies are being considered that would promote teaching alternatives to evolution theory.
We have to take into account the effect of this litigation on the voters:
1. It may have educated and persuaded voters that teaching intelligent design is a bad idea.

2. Even if they still like the policy, they may want to avoid the bad publicity the litigation brought to their town.

3. They may still like the policy but be averse to the expense of the litigation.
Without lawsuits (and the threat of them) the democratic process would play out differently.

94 comments:

Telecomedian said...

I went to a Catholic school in Annapolis, Maryland, that taught evolution in science class, and creation in religion class. I'm stunned that public school boards are unable to make this distinction.

Pete said...

Umm, isn't democracy at work in Kansas, too? Surely the Kansas Board of Education was as duly elected as the Pennsyvlania local school board. Or does democracy only work when the outcome is the way you want it and the courts invoked for when the outcome isn't? (Or was your tongue planted firmly in cheek about using the courts? If so, er, never mind.)

Dave said...

The problem with democracy is that it allows duly elected officials to make choices based on popular sentiment, not a cogent understanding of the issue at hand.

Democracy is better than totalitarianism, but like totalitarianism, democracy has a lot of weaknesses.

Jacques Cuze said...

There isn't a whole lot of fear of litigation in Dover. Activist conservatives went shopping for a school district by promising they would bear the costs of litigation. Check out what these conservatives believe the role of the court is: (via Arthur Silbur, Libertarian)

HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 3 - For years, a lawyer for the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan visited school boards around the country searching for one willing to challenge evolution by teaching intelligent design, and to face a risky, high-profile trial.

Intelligent design was a departure for a nonprofit law firm founded by two conservative Roman Catholics - one the magnate of Domino's pizza, the other a former prosecutor - who until then had focused on the defense of anti-abortion advocates, gay-rights opponents and the display of Christian symbols like crosses and Nativity scenes on government property.

But Richard Thompson, the former prosecutor who is president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Center, says its role is to use the courts "to change the culture" - and it well could depending on the outcome of the test case it finally found.


Can you believe what these conservatives want the courts to do? Is there no honor amongst thieves?

Of course, Bush the Panderer, eggs them on. WASHINGTON - President Bush said Monday he believes schools should discuss “intelligent design” alongside evolution when teaching students about the creation of life.

During a round-table interview with reporters from five Texas newspapers, Bush declined to go into detail on his personal views of the origin of life. But he said students should learn about both theories, Knight Ridder Newspapers reported.

“I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought,” Bush said. “You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes.”

Starless said...

Pete said...
Umm, isn't democracy at work in Kansas, too? [snip] Or does democracy only work when the outcome is the way you want it and the courts invoked for when the outcome isn't? [snip]

Science isn't democratic. If popular sentiment were in favor of teaching astrology or alchemy in high school science classrooms, would you agree that it was reasonable because it was voted on and passed in a democratic manner?

downtownlad said...

The people of Kansas don't deserve to learn real science.

If they want to learn ID instead of real science - let them. Just don't make me pay for their welfare when they can't get a job.

You get the govenment you deserve.

Pete said...

Starless,

I’m talking about the school board here, not science. In both instances, a democratically elected school board determined, or will determine, what will be studied in the schools; presumably the elections represent what the people want, no matter how foolish you think that is. (Personally, I see no harm in questioning theories, even a theory as firmly entrenched as evolution, and I don’t quite equate Intelligent Design with alchemy or astrology.) I don’t see anyone’s civil rights being trampled on as a result of this election and so I don’t think lawsuits are quite in order just yet. Maybe Ann’s later point is valid, that the threat of lawsuits affects the democratic process, but this is still a process, not an end result. If it doesn’t work out this go-round, the other side will get their shot at it. Not pretty, but freedom seldom is.

downtownlad said...

There's a lot more evidence to back up astrology than there is intelligent design.

Why not teach astrology?

Why not teach the flat-earth theory as well? I mean let's present two theories, that the earth is round and that the earth is flat, and let the students decide.

Why don't we teach alternatives to the moon landing? Let's teach the theory that it was all staged.

Why don't we teach about UFO's while we're at it as well?

Starless said...

Pete said...
Personally, I see no harm in questioning theories, even a theory as firmly entrenched as evolution, and I don’t quite equate Intelligent Design with alchemy or astrology.

Aye, but there's the rub. "Intelligent design" can be equated with alchemy and astrology. When you mold the facts to fit your theory or you change the playing field and redefine science (which the school board did by opening a loophole and allowing for other than natural explanations), you are not engaging in science, you are engaging in pseudoscience. "Intelligent Design" advocates can sanitize their language and pull out as many "facts" as they like, but "Intelligent Design" is still just Scientific Creationism all dressed up and shiny for the 21st century.

Challenge Darwin all you want. That's one of the fundamentals of good science, but do it within the framework of scientific inquiry, not belief trumped up as science.

That being said, if the Kansas Board of Education and the voters of Kansas think it's important for their children to learn "Intelligent Design", then they should teach it, but they shouldn't call it "science". Of course, they may have to admit to the truth then and call it "religious belief", which would make it unconstitutional. And that's the problem, isn't it? They know what they're proposing is unconstitutional, so they're trying to slip it into the curriculum by calling it "science".

One of the basic principles of this nation is that government should not meddle in defining what religion is, and in the same way, government shouldn't be meddling in defining what science is.

HaloJonesFan said...

"When you mold the facts to fit your theory or you change the playing field and redefine science..."

This is, frankly, what most evolution advocates do all the time. "You should believe in this, because a bunch of smart people have said that it's true. Ignore all these inconsistencies and big holes, we just won't talk about them because we know that this is the right thing." Yeah.

There's a difference between a rational discussion of the theory of evolution, and working yourself into a screaming fit over the Rightness Of Your Position.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Or does democracy only work when the outcome is the way you want it and the courts invoked for when the outcome isn't?

I think the answer is obvious from the comments.

Ann Althouse said...

"Or does democracy only work when the outcome is the way you want it and the courts invoked for when the outcome isn't?"

What I'm raising in this post is the question of how broadly the establishment clause should be read. One of the arguments for reading it narrowly is that the democratic processes will already work to preserve many of the values that we may want to expand the clause to protect. There really is a lot of controversy about what the clause means, and the question of what democratic majorities will do if they are less restricted by constitutional law really affects the debate. If I believe majorities, left to their own preferences, will import a lot of religion into government, it will make me more likely to support a broader reading of the establishment clause.

Pastor_Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jeff said...

You know, it's funny seeing how the Darwinists are scared of their shaky theories that they won't allow anything to challenge it.

Pastor_Jeff said...

I've blogged about this at Conblogeration.

I think this has to do with the conflation of science as a discipline and process with scientific naturalism. Science educators are the ones who brought discussion of origins into science classes, but they want to limit the discussion to a favored viewpoint. If you're going to talk about worldview and origins, teach the controversy. Present the best case for evolutionary theory, recognize that you're living in a country where the majority of people have sincerely held religious beliefs that conflict with materialism, and discuss problems with atheistic evolution and challenges people have presented. Or, just don't talk metaphysics in Physics.

Jacques Cuze said...

You know, it's funny seeing how the Creationists only in the United States are scared of their shaky bible and call for answers from mystical beings that they won't allow scientific and rational thought processes to challenge it.

Starless said...

HaloJonesFan said...
This is, frankly, what most evolution advocates do all the time. "You should believe in this, because a bunch of smart people have said that it's true. Ignore all these inconsistencies and big holes, we just won't talk about them because we know that this is the right thing." Yeah.

Hehe. I could care less what anyone believes or doesn't believe. It's not a question of belief, it's a question of evidence and scientific proof. If you look at the evidence and, based on your trained expert scientific analysis, you conclude that the Theory of Evolution is wrong, then prepare your evidence and submit it for peer review. Then again, ever since it's inception, legitimate, learned biologists have tried to deflate Darwin's theory and have all failed.

I don't know what inconsistencies and "big" holes you're referring to, but some inconsistencies and holes doesn't delegitimize a theory. An inability to explain every instance is what separates a theory from a law. And while natural selection is generally considered a law, no legitimate biologist will tell you with a straight face that it is correct 100% of the time.

The Theory of Evolution Through Natural Selection can be tested using the scientific method, Intelligent Design cannot. This is the fundamental separation between the two and what makes one science and one not science.

I'm not about to try to convince anyone that Intelligent Design is wrong, because if they believe in it, no amount of argument will change their minds. All I'm saying is that no matter how much make-up you put on it, a pig is still a pig.

There's a difference between a rational discussion of the theory of evolution, and working yourself into a screaming fit over the Rightness Of Your Position.

Was I screaming?

Jacques Cuze said...

If you're going to talk about worldview and origins, teach the controversy. Present the best case for evolutionary theory, recognize that you're living in a country where the majority of people have sincerely held religious beliefs that conflict with materialism, and discuss problems with atheistic evolution and challenges people have presented. Or, just don't talk metaphysics in Physics.

Agreed. Do it your blessed church though on your dollars please, not mine. In my taxpayer funded *science* classes, teach Karl Popper, teach empirical evidence, teach the scientific method.

When Sagan says it's the cosmos stupid and nothing but the cosmos, I understand that to mean that science will answer questions based on evidence, and falsifiable theories.

There are millions of Americans that with no paradox believe in G-d, or don't, and who believe in science and evolution. No paradox. Keep your rank corrupt politics and religious viewpoints out of the science classroom.

Do fund, if you wish, a religious sampler course where you teach a good sampling of the various creation myths of the world. Including pastafarianism.

Danny said...

Evolution has been updated and corrected from the moment Darwin made his mark. You need only look through past issues of Nature and other journals of biology to see how various concepts of evolution have been challenged and modified. It is a living and breathing scientific theory, and 'intelligent design' is nothing more than an attempt to paralyze it.

It's silly to call scientists "evolutionists" just as it'd be silly to call them "plate tectonicists"--another more recent theory that affected multiple disciplines of science.

While discussion about the establishment clause is lively and relevant, any arguments for intelligent design carry about as much weight as those for a geocentric universe or a loch ness monster.

Smilin' Jack said...

If I believe majorities, left to their own preferences, will import a lot of religion into government, it will make me more likely to support a broader reading of the establishment clause.

Aha! Sounds like an admission that all these "philosophies" of constitutional interpretation are so much hogwash...all that really matters is getting the result you want.

tiggeril said...

I recommend the two posts here.

The sticking point, I think:
I suppose what bothers me is this insistance on just giving up when the questions become too difficult and leaving it all up to God, because had we done that at many points along our history we'd have been robbed of many of our greatest achievements and discovery. If there is a God the last thing I'd expect he'd want us to do is accept ignorance in our name, it's as much a subversion of the faith as intelligent design is a subversion of science.

AlaskaJack said...

I'm told that professors of archaeology regularly teach their students that one can easily distinguish between a rock and a pottery shard because the latter shows evidence of design. Are they teaching religion? Hmm.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Keep your rank corrupt politics and religious viewpoints out of the science classroom.

Ah, Quxxo, there's no discussion you can't turn into an ugly and pointless diatribe.

In my taxpayer funded *science* classes, teach Karl Popper, teach empirical evidence, teach the scientific method.

Sounds good to me. Can we just stop there, though?

When Sagan says it's the cosmos stupid and nothing but the cosmos, I understand that to mean that science will answer questions based on evidence, and falsifiable theories.

Hmmm. Apparently not. How exactly did good old Carl determine scientifically that there's nothing but matter? And if that's more than a scientific position, what's it doing in a science class? Atheistic materialism is a faith position, just as much as your pastafarianism. So teach both or neither, but not Saganism only.

There are millions of Americans that with no paradox believe in G-d, or don't, and who believe in science and evolution.

I myself don't happen to have any problem reconciling scientific investigation with belief in God. I only have a problem with science educators exercising a monolopy on metaphysical viewpoints that will be taught in science class.

If you want to teach scientific naturalism, go ahead - but make sure to also throw in ID, pastafarianism and Zoroastrianism for all I care. Just don't pretend it's science when it's a worldview.

Starless said...

And here's where we get the full court press from the "ID" playbook: Saying that the Theory of Evolution is just another "worldview" among many, so why shouldn't others, like say Intelligent Design, get equal time in the classroom? (They ask school boards innocently.)

The problem is that the Theory of Evolution is a scientific theory not a worldview.

The strategy of the "Intelligent Design" movement is to try to put it on the same footing as the Theory of Evolution, to say that it is an "alternative theory" and to use terms like "scientific naturalism" and "atheistic materialism" as put-downs in place of the word "science". Their "theory" doesn't actually have any scientific traction, so they need to pull the Theory of Evolution down to their level in order to make their case before a school board.

Their hope is to give legitimacy to "Intelligent Design" by having it declared "science" through popular pressure and litigation.

Again, I refer to the pig and his make-up.

paulfrommpls said...

Seems to me the basic question is: does strict adherence to scientific principle in discussion of the deepest questions of life (Who are we really, where dd we come from etc.)in the science classroom gradually push people (taken in general) away from religion?

And if it does, is that okay? Or is it a serious issue?

Given that my new hobby is understading conservatives, I don't necessarily begrudge those who at least raise the issue, as long as they do it honestly. In fact I could even see them as courageous.

paulfrommpls said...

Although I'm not totally confident of my starting point, the characterization of those opposing ID in the science classroom. Because I gather the IDers claim to be scientific too. But I don't think that totally kills the whole comment; maybe it does. It's difficult to say, I must say.

Knemon said...

"How exactly did good old Carl determine scientifically that there's nothing but matter?"

Bishop Berkeley? Is that you?

me said...

paulfrommpls said...
"Seems to me the basic question is: does strict adherence to scientific principle in discussion of the deepest questions of life (Who are we really, where dd we come from etc.)in the science classroom gradually push people (taken in general) away from religion?"

Paul -- we're not talking about metaphysics class, or a comparative religion class, or even a social studies class. I learned about Moses, Jesus and Mohammed in social studies as part of history.

We're talking about science class, where students learn about cells and plants and animals. We're talking aobut proponents of intelligent design making high (and, presumedly lower) school teachers tell students that their biology textbooks are in doubt because they espouse the theory of evolution as the best thing to explain the life on earth we see today and the history of life in fossils. Instead, these science teacher are supposed to say "there is scientific evidence for intelligent design, which says that some 'designer' made the universe and everything else, and the theory of evolution is in doubt, so you shouldn't believe it." If there actually was research supporting intelligent design, science teacher would be glad to teach it. But there isn't. So it shouldn't be taught in science class. It should be taught in social studies and comparative religion type classes.

paulfrommpls said...

I know it's science class we're talking about, that was part of my question. I didn't think it was necessary to add - maybe it was, I might have been unclear - with other ideas, more subjective ideas, covered in other classes. Does that way of approaching the teaching inevitably push people away from religion over time.

I have no idea at all of the specifics of the Kansas case. What I'm trying to do is feel where the IDers may be coming from. Based on my instinct that they're not evil.

Troy said...

Someone earlier said ID was invented to paralyze evolution? Huh? Tell that to Augustine, Aquinas, and Newton.

Pastor jeff is right. Most believers in ID are able and willing to discuss. Yes there are caricatures out there -- squeaky wheel types.

And whomever said evolution involves no worldview is ignorant. EVERYTHING involves a worldview. Not having a worldview is in and of itself a worldview so let's not pretend that there's no faith involved in evolution. It's still a theory in which some conclusions are being jumped to. I'm fine with that, but don't pretend it's not so.

Oddly, being called an "idiot" by the likes of the (admittedly brilliant, but "brilliant" isn't "wise") Brian Leiter does not deter.

Most believers have room for a Creator and some degree (many variations) of evolution because we actually debate these things. The "evolution-only" types want only to talk of their industry er... theory and completely exclude any suggestion of a Prime Mover.

Who's close-minded again?

Starless said...

paulfrommpls said...
I have no idea at all of the specifics of the Kansas case. What I'm trying to do is feel where the IDers may be coming from. Based on my instinct that they're not evil.

"Intelligent Design" has risen out of the failure of the Religious Right (not all conservatives buy into "ID", btw) attempts to have straight Creationism taught in public schools. The frontal assault wasn't working, so they regrouped, looked at Scientific Creationism, and reworked it into a more generally palatable theory. Armed with that theory, they look for school boards who will be receptive to their theory and then pressure them to accept it into their curriculum.

It's a shrewd strategy very similar to their current approach to abortion. They've stopped assaulting it head-on, and instead are trying to chip away at it at the local level.

As far as the theory itself is concerned, while the Theory of Evolution Through Natural Selection generally attributes the physical changes in living organisms to breeding through "natural selection" (which IDers like to call "chance"), "Intelligent Design" claims that if there is order (or "design") in the universe it can't have come about merely through chance, but must have come about through the conscious design of some higher order of intelligence (they shy away from saying "God"--it would turn too many people off).

I'm sure there are plenty of IDers who would like to have it described in a more flattering like, but that's really it in a nutshell.

paulfrommpls said...

I think I basically understand that version of their motivations, too, although the description of the science disagreement was helpful. But I shy away from the totally cynical view of who they are and what they're trying to promote.

By the way, aren't there some branches of physics that come close to pondering something similar? I think I remember an article a long time ago talking about how some physicists begin to wonder if they aren't uncovering some evidence of some kind of directive consciousness or intent at a very basic level.

And actually, instinctively, the way you summarize the debate on the source of order, at a gut level I'm not totally horrified by the way you describe the ID approach. Of course if they are dishonest that's not excusable. I would guess some are and some aren't.

The Nat'l Review folks are totally aghast at ID, as far as I can tell. They wish it would go away, but they seem to consider it a relatively minor irritation.

It's like I've sad before: the right's crazies are like the whacked out aunt in the attic everybody knwos is there. The left's crazies are like termites, and the owner seems to keep ignoring the signs of their impact.

paulfrommpls said...

And actually, there are days I almost prefer the right's crazies. On an integrity I almost trust them more.

Starless said...

troy said...
And whomever said evolution involves no worldview is ignorant. EVERYTHING involves a worldview. Not having a worldview is in and of itself a worldview so let's not pretend that there's no faith involved in evolution. It's still a theory in which some conclusions are being jumped to. I'm fine with that, but don't pretend it's not so.

Ok, well that's a pretty circular argument if I ever heard one.

Scientific theory is a conclusion based on verifiable, observable facts and analysis, a worldview is a set of opinions about how the world works. You believe in a worldview, you don't believe in a scientific theory. I don't believe in the Theory of Evolution--whether I believe in it has no bearing--I accept it or reject it based on whether it stands up under the scrutiny of scientific method or not.

paulfrommpls said...

I should clarify, Starless, that I'm sure groups and motivatioons like you describe are part of it, even orginated it. But I'm not sure that's all there is; and as you say, there might even be a more generous description of the hard-core adherents available.

paulfrommpls said...

Given a choice between Noam Chomsky and Jerry Falwell, I'd actually be more worried about Noam deciding he needed to turn me over to someone someday. In some sort of hypothetical Omega Man world, I mean.

(Anthony Zerbe was a very left-based villain in that one.)

Frank Borger said...

In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made School Boards.

-Mark Twain: Following the Equator; Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar

Anyone who believes in intelligent design hasn't studied the duck-billed platypus. - me

although I don't believe in ID, i do think discussing it rationally should be possible in schools. One should also be able to discuss UFOs, alien abductions, etc. UFOlogy is almost a religion too.

paulfrommpls said...

My favorite evidence proving the existence of a higher power is the way almost all kittens understand the purpose of the litter box nearly immediately.

Why would they have the knowledge so ingrained?

And I don't buy the "well they go in dirt naturally" argument. I'm talking about the way they almost all go, "Oh great, thanks! I'll just go in here from now on and ignore those other sources of dirt scattered around the house!" Weird.

Starless said...

paulfrommpls said...
I should clarify, Starless, that I'm sure groups and motivatioons like you describe are part of it, even orginated it. But I'm not sure that's all there is; and as you say, there might even be a more generous description of the hard-core adherents available.

I'm not attributing eviality to IDers, nor am I making a value judgement about their intent. I'm sure they are all very well-intentioned, but they do have a very specific political agenda: get "Intelligent Design" into curricula no matter what it takes. Go to their web site, look at their literature. They are highly organized and they are focussed on that one political objective.

But in the process of fulfilling their agenda, they engage in all manner of logical fallacies and other obfuscations just as the proponents of other pseudosciences do. In doing so, they promote intellectual laziness. And I, for one, have seen enough intellectual laziness in public schools, I don't want to see people adding to it unnecessarily.

paulfrommpls said...

This whole topic may in fact be most interesting to me as a part of a comparison of crazies.

Anthony Zerbe could actually play Noam Chomsky, incidentally.

http://www.nndb.com/people/232/000025157/

Coco said...

The very fact that such a heated debate is occuring on this subject...on this website no less...is simply amazing to me. Perhaps my memory is faulty, but upon reflection I cannot imagine that even 10 years ago a collection of otherwise intelligent individuals would be having such a "scientific" discussion - the very idea would be laughable. I'm not going to debate evolution versus intelligent design here, becuase there's simply no point to it. I'm merely asking whether anyone who is not a creationist or a frequest flyer in such social circles, can recall a time period in which a discussion challenging the fundamentals of evolution would be deemed a serious subject worthy of conversation. I certainly cannot and I'm not sure when it became such a subject. Seems like it just happened overnight. Anyone?

Kathy Herrmann said...

although I don't believe in ID, i do think discussing it rationally should be possible in schools. One should also be able to discuss UFOs, alien abductions, etc. UFOlogy is almost a religion too.

I'm an evolutionist and also believe in a higher power. I have no problem with the sentiment put forth by Frank Borger, shown above.

However, let's talk about science in science class, religion and philosophy in humanities or social science classes. And let's do talk about the diversity of beliefs out there that extend beyond Christianity. There are lots of creation myths for example.

paulfrommpls said...

This doesn't strike me as all that heated.

Coco said...

My favorite evidence proving the existence of a higher power is the way almost all kittens understand the purpose of the litter box nearly immediately.

Why would they have the knowledge so ingrained?

And I don't buy the "well they go in dirt naturally" argument. I'm talking about the way they almost all go, "Oh great, thanks! I'll just go in here from now on and ignore those other sources of dirt scattered around the house!" Weird.


Paul - my cat is disproving your theory....over...and....over again. The evidence is abundant and disgusting!

Starless said...

Coco said...
I'm merely asking whether anyone who is not a creationist or a frequest flyer in such social circles, can recall a time period in which a discussion challenging the fundamentals of evolution would be deemed a serious subject worthy of conversation.

There's the problem that biologists have been dealing with since "ID" went public. Their initial reaction was to ignore it based on the theory that if they acknowledged it (by going to school board meeting where it was being discussed, for example), it would lend it legitimacy as a scientific theory. There's been too much publicity, though, and now it has to be confronted head-on.

Kathy Herrmann (aka Roaring Tiger) said...
There are lots of creation myths for example.

Indeed, and that was a fundamental problem for the Religious Right when they tried to push Scientific Creationism--it was specifically Christian in origin. With "Intelligent Design", though, they can claim that they are talking about some vague "higher being" which isn't attached to any particular religion. It's all very neat and tidy.

Coco said...

SOme people seem "heated" on the subject. But my post was wondering about when and why this topic became an issue worth discussing at all - regardless of whether the discussion is heated or tepid.

whit said...

"For the last six weeks, the teaching of intelligent design has been challenged in federal court by a group of Dover parents. They said the concept is a religious belief and therefore may not be taught in public schools, because the U.S. Constitution forbids it."

Sorry, I can't find that prohibition anywhere in the Constitution.

me said...

"Most believers have room for a
Creator and some degree (many variations) of evolution because we actually debate these things. The "evolution-only" types want only to talk of their industry er... theory and completely exclude any suggestion of a Prime Mover.

Who's close-minded again?"

Troy, we aren't talking about people's personal beliefs about the Creator or evolution. We're talking about empirically proven facts taught to children in science class. Do you think that science teachers should discuss the possibility that a Creator made the universe and guided the development of plants and animals on Earth, a theory which there is no evidence for and therefore goes against the scientific method, the very thing they are trying to teach? Or should they stick to what they can prove -- that there is very good evidence for the theory of evolution? Before you call scientists close minded because they don't want to teach intellgent design, give them one peer-reviewed study showing evidence that intelligent design actually occurred.

Starless said...

Coco said...
SOme people seem "heated" on the subject. But my post was wondering about when and why this topic became an issue worth discussing at all - regardless of whether the discussion is heated or tepid.

I'd say after the first Dover decision. And maybe after the head of the Vatican Observatory was able to get on C-SPAN and advocate ID (which he did recently). Prior to that, it was flying under the radar.

As to the "why"--well, the "ID" movement has a well-oiled machine in place that is targetting school boards. These school boards have primarily been hearing the "ID" side of the argument, with little input from the scientific community. Enough people are becoming concerned that these school boards are hearing only one side of the story.

Undecided said...

The mellennially slow and adaptive process of evolution is naturally more amazing than any conception of creation that I've ever heard a non-scientific person posit. To be mired in a debate that long since has outgrown its usefulness is to suffer from the ostrich syndrome. (Btw, an Ostrich is a bird with wings that cannot fly: Why?) The sad fact is that millions of species of fauna and flora are now extinct, or headed toward annihilation. This is due to the destruction of their habitat, e.g., the Amazon rainforest, and other factors related to negative environmental pressures caused by ill-considered human activities or the results of such activities occuring on a monumental scale, e.g., global warming. The discussion of evolution becomes a nostalgic one if there are no species left alive to evolve in a natural habitat. Evolution doesn't take place in Zoos. One could take the reasonable point of view that life on earth would be much better off if Homo sapien sapien ALONE were to go extinct. Some think that the human species is too stupid to take steps to prevent it's ultimate demise much less care about whether other life forms were to disappear along with it. So, the debate that should now be raging is about how to stop ourselves from turning earth into a lifeless cesspool. Perhaps humans need to evolve into a more advanced primate, but time is running out for life on earth. Can man genetically intercede to make itself smarter and wiser? Can she learn to control her exploding population? But, I don't expect to see or hear this vital debate because humans tend to focus on past debates of truly mind-numbing banality. As I said, the human species is about as "dumb as a dodo", another flightless bird. One, that I hasten to add, was made extinct by unthinking humans at the end of the 17th century. In the case of the dodo, the inability to fly away turned out to be its fatal flaw. I think humans have more than one "fatal flaw", but that is the subject for a more philosophical debate.

Synova said...

Pastor Jeff is so right... "I think this has to do with the conflation of science as a discipline and process with scientific naturalism."

This is where World View comes in. Scientific naturalism (or some variation) is a World View. A World View is whatever pattern a person uses to explain and predict how the world works. A scientist can have profound faith in God, but someone can also be a scientist who's World View includes scientific naturalism and does not allow a place for God.

Conflating the two things is not the error of one side but of people on either side. There *are* people who believe that science is not compatible with religious faith on both ends of this. In essence, they are in agreement.

It would do us a great deal of good, though, for the rest of us to make a serious effort to use language that separates the concepts, solves this "conflation" problem. "Evolution" is not the same thing as origins and accepting the scientific reality of evolution does not, at all, require giving up faith in God... or even that God created the natural world.

"Science educators are the ones who brought discussion of origins into science classes, but they want to limit the discussion to a favored viewpoint. If you're going to talk about worldview and origins, teach the controversy."

"Where did we come from and what does it mean?" is the scientific equivalent of the theological question "who is Melchezidek?" The speculation is great fun, but beyond the entertainment value what good is it?

Origins is a fun question for the scientist but it's not science. It's speculation. Unlike evolution, it can't be tested or observed. It can be investigated and should be. But should it be taught as fact to school students? Students who are compelled to attend the school and who have a Constitutional right to their religious traditions and beliefs?

What anti-ID people seem to miss so badly is that SCIENCE TEXTBOOKS SUCK. That's even in the NON controversial parts. There's no reason at all to indoctrinate students with the idea that we came from monkeys or jellyfish or whatever under the guise of explaining the scientific reality of mutating viruses or genetic inheritance or the creation of species.

I think the question of Melchezidek is about the coolest thing ever... but I'm not going to indulge in my speculative fun about him to a Sunday School class and defend myself with "It's in the Bible, it's theology, how dare you suggest I not teach theology in Sunday School!"

That would be stupid.

Synova said...

In case that wasn't clear... I don't think that Intelligent Design should be in any science text book.

But neither should evolutionary origins. Evolution, yes. Origins, no.

"Where did we come from and what does it mean," is a religious question.

paulfrommpls said...

Coco -

Some citizens brought it up, rather insistently. Specifically, what they brought for discussion up was that idea, the idea that how we think about "evolution" as accepted science vis-a-vis our inherent nature and possibility of a spiritual side is worth talking about.

You seem aghast we're talking about it; talking about it is their point. I doubt this will last forever. I don't see it having the staying power of abortion.

Your cat falls outside "almost all" or "most." Or she falls into that very large cat category "I know what you want and it is beyond me why I should comply, to be brutally honest about it."

bbbri said...

anyone who doesn't acknowledge evolution as fact needs to give up their computer, because computers were developed using the same scientific process that validated evolution.

mcg said...

Here's a suprising ally of those who believe that ID should not be taught in schools: the creation scientists at Reasons to Believe, an organization devoted to constructing a testable, scientific model for old-earth creationism---and who in general do not accept macroevolutionary theory (though they do accept microevolution).

Creation Scientist says Intelligent Design Has No Place in Public School Science Curriculum

Further explanation of their position is here.

Starless said...

Ah, yes, turf wars. I imagine that Creation Scientists aren't pleased that after their decades of work, the IDers have bullied their way into the spotlight in only a few years.

lo-rez said...

I think we should sit down the IDers and the Darwin worshippers with WWE's The Rock. He could ask both sides why they think their side is right to which they would reply 'Well, Mr. The Rock, I think my side is right because.." and The Rock would reply..

"IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU THINK! KNOW YOUR ROLE!", and then he'd powerbomb Pat Robertson and give The People's Elbow to the recently reanimatedCharles Darwin. The Rock would retain his title of The People's Championand the rest of the debate would be wholly comprised of a ninja vs pirate battle royale with Catcus Jack and Noah officiating whilst riding on the back of a Tyrannosaurus.

It would be the greatest televised debate of all time.

mcg said...

Starless---forget about ID, there have long been turf wars even within Creation Science... the folks I quoted above are old-earth creationists, and the press release (the first link) even labels as "ludicrous" the young-earth creationism belief that the earth is only thousands of years old.

Starless said...

Right, right. I'm just glad to see they're practicing the time-honored academic tradition of eating their own young.

Paul said...

Dover is five minutes up the road from me. It has one traffic light and people who already think taxes are way too high.
No matter which way U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III decides by January, the people I know think the money to defend I.D. has better places to go and they are mostly church going.

Synova said...

Actually, starless, since religious people generally reproduce at higher rates than non-religious people, it seems to me that the group that could most accurately be defined as "eating their young" are the folks sterilizing themselves with negative fertility rates.

Which, of course, has some interesting evolutionary implications. Survival of the fittest and all that.

;-)

Starless said...

I think the tendency in academia to eat their own young is non-denominational.

PatCA said...

I haven't read the Kansas guidelines, but it seems like they are only saying that ID is what people of a certain faith believe rather than Darwinism.

Ho hum. It's just another thing parents will need to discuss with their kids, just like they've been discussing all the left-inspired dogma of the past two decades.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Just to reiterate - I don't think ID is science, nor do I think it necessarily belongs in a science class. The problem is the conflation of the scientific method and a metaphysical theory of origins and purpose, scientific materialism or naturalism - e.g.,

When Sagan says it's the cosmos stupid and nothing but the cosmos, I understand that to mean that science will answer questions based on evidence, and falsifiable theories.

That's not science, that's materialism - the belief that all observations can be explained by purely material causes and that no supernatural reality exists. Science can no more prove, test or falsify that claim than I can jump to the moon. And ironically, this kind of assertion is exactly the same as ID.

If you want to teach materialism, fine; just don't call it science, and don't lie to students by telling them that science has proven your materialist philosophy. Either get it out of the science classroom or at least allow people to challenge the theory (which is all the Kansas guidelines do, anyway).

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Icepick said...

Undecided, your comments are myopic. Lots of species became extinct before hominids evolved. It is the natural course of events for species to die, just as it is for individual organisms.

The Earth has been warmer in the past than global warming models predict it will be in the near future. The Earth has experienced climatic change on a more rapid and devasting scale than global warming predicts. Hell, the extinction event that allowed the dinosaurs to evolve wiped out 90% or so of all living species. That level of destruction surpasses what happened to the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago, and that took a great g-d-damn big rock traveling at huge speed impacting the Earth. I'm not saying that there aren't bad things attributable to hominids, but get a grip, and some perspective. It's not the end of the world!

Troy said...

Circular arguments...

Of course scientific evidence is accepted or rejected -- facts have no worldview. The interpretation of those facts, since they are interpreted by humans, is affected by worldview. People push Evolution as if it were fact when it is not a fact, but a theory. People believe in evolution when they push it as a fact (which requires some faith since it is only a theory. I'm well aware, resigned or whatever there are no empirical proofs of God, though I think one day that will change (based on faith of course). ID is not science in that there is no proof of God's existence to satisfy those who must see with their eyes before they claim knowledge. The debate is pointless, but if you're going to teach origins, then the physical and metaphysical are going to bump into each other.

Starless said...

Pastor_Jeff said...
Just to reiterate - I don't think ID is science, nor do I think it necessarily belongs in a science class. The problem is the conflation of the scientific method and a metaphysical theory of origins and purpose, scientific materialism or naturalism - e.g.,

You can't have it both ways--present "ID" in scientific terms, claim that it should be judged on the same footing as a scientific theory, and then turn around and say, "oh, but I don't think it's science". The point behind arguing so vigorously for "ID" is the proposition that it is indeed a science. Or, at least, that is what proponents would like school boards and voters to think. To suggest that there is some "conflation" involved in the Theory of Evolution is a diversionary tactic to try to cast doubt on its validity without presenting any real evidence, just the suggestion that the Theory is an attempt to answer metaphysical questions.

The Theory of Evolution is an explanation of physical processes, not of metaphysics. The suggestion that there is anything metaphysical about it comes from religious opponents of the Theory as a wedge which they try to drive home with the notion of "origins science". It's a funny kind of scare tactic, a way for Creationists to say to parents, "Look, by teaching Evolution, your schools are teaching religion".

If you want to teach materialism, fine; just don't call it science, and don't lie to students by telling them that science has proven your materialist philosophy. Either get it out of the science classroom or at least allow people to challenge the theory (which is all the Kansas guidelines do, anyway).

As much as you'd like people to think that the scientific method is materialism, or naturalism, atheism, or whatever the latest "-ism" is in vogue for attacking science, it just isn't. It's a simple, self-correcting, objective measure which has not been adhered to with "ID". The Kansas guideline specifically singles out Evolution with the intent to teach "ID" as science, yet it hasn't even been subjected to peer review (and, no, the Catholic Bioethics Quarterly doesn't count for objective peer review).

Synova said...

"You can't have it both ways--present "ID" in scientific terms, claim that it should be judged on the same footing as a scientific theory, and then turn around and say, "oh, but I don't think it's science"."

I don't think that Pastor Jeff is doing that at all. I think he's pretty much saying what I'm saying (though I could be wrong about that.)

Parents see a threat to the faith of their children in the way that science is taught. It's not an imaginary thing. It's real. "Where did humans come from and what does it mean" is not an innocent question of biology.

Science limits itself to the natural but this is often conflated with the notion that this isn't a limit on Science but rather a definition of truth. Not that Science explores the natural world, but that nothing beyond the natural world exists.

I don't think ID should be taught in the classroom at all. But if the text is going to talk about origins or meaning, then it's only fair to allow equal time.

But better would be if the text books and teachers could be counted on not to present Science as the answer to all questions, including the philosophical and religious ones, such as where we came from and what it means.

Evolution isn't origins and origins isn't evolution. Would it really be that disasterous to leave origins out of it? The space in textbooks is limited... I'm sure those four pages could be put to good use examining something else in more depth.

Greg D said...

1: What business is it of people not living in Kansas what Kansas teaches? What is it about "liberals" that makes them so all fired intolerant of anyone who thinks differently than they do?

2: Let's consider a different belief: the belief that none of the differences between women and men in scientific achievement are caused by genetic differences between men and women.

You know, the belief that Larry Summers was crucified for questioning.

When it comes to asinine ideas totally unjustified by science, I'd say that belief is at least as loony as anything offered by the IDers. Shall I go to court to crush that belief?

3: There is a lot that science simply cannot explain about how life came into being (here's a simple example: provide an evolutionary path explaining how tRNA could have come into existence). Until science builds reasonable theories (not merely hypotheses) for all those issues, the belief that science can explain how life came into existence is just another profession of faith. It's rank hypocrisy to complain about Christians pushing their faith, while encouraging scientific materialists to push theirs.

Scientists using the scientific method have figured out a lot. But they do not understand everything. They certainly don't understand everything about biology, or evolution, or the origins of life. If people would stop claiming that it is all understood, and show a bit of basic humility about what is and isn't known, I think we'd all get along much better.

JodyTresidder said...

Greg D said: "If people would stop claiming that it is all understood, and show a bit of basic humility about what is and isn't known, I think we'd all get along much better."

And if Greg D and others here had bothered to LOOK at high school science textbooks for two minutes, they would discover that statements therein about evolution - not to mention origins - are consistently framed as best theories so far - NOT matters of secular "faith".

As a mongrel ex-pat Brit in the US I can - and do- cheerfully defend most misperceptions about the USA mischievously held by European friends and family. The perennial move to smuggle religion into science lessons is the one "only in America" topic that leaves me completely sheepish.

me said...

SippicanCottage said...see comment above (didn't post it for space considerations).

Umm...right. The average high school science teacher is trying to teach "secular humanism, tied to a kind of pagan luddite worldview [that] is the de facto religion of the left and the public school system"????? Did you ever experience a public high school biology class? I did, and our biggest focus was dissecting frogs, and our teacher certainly did NOT tell us that our religions were wrong, or promote secular humanism (unless you think refraining from speaking about ANY religion in public school science class promotes secular humanism).

And you think anyone who doesn't want to teach ID will soon be "screaming that all human beings aren't just equal, they're identical, so any difference in outcomes between any two persons or groups is evidence of malice"???? I mean, get a grip. All the people who believe that evolution by natural selection occurred are not radical leftists. And really, you think anyone who disagrees with you is bent on "trying to destroy . . . progress and the hard won institutions it wrestled from the mire, and send us back to the stone age to achieve their utopia"?? Riighht.

the pooka said...

"But better would be if the text books and teachers could be counted on not to present Science as the answer to all questions, including the philosophical and religious ones, such as where we came from and what it means."

OK, there's an unfortunate tendency to conflate these last two:

- "What it means" is, in fact, an exclusively metaphysical/religious question, and one that -- to the best of my knowledge -- no scientist or science class or text book worthy of the name addresses, or should address.

- "Where we came from" is a scientific question, one perfectly amenable to empirical inquiry. It is not exclusively a religious question, though for some individuals it raises metaphysical issues. The latter issues are not amenable to scientific inquiry, and thus should have no part in any science curriculum, though they are perfectly appropriate in the context of studying philosophy, religion, theology, metaphysics, etc.

Happily, we live in a nation that has, until just recently, recognized that these two aspects of the "origins" question belong in different contexts.

To the extent that people of faith somehow feel their faith threatened by the teaching of evolution -- and so push to have that faith somehow validated by secular authority -- I believe it says a lot more about the strength of that faith than about the dogmatism of the scientific community.

Bruce Hayden said...

I went into this in more detail on an earlier thread of Ann's, but to some extent, ID is an answer to places in evolution and cosmology where the classical view just assumes things happened a certain way, but can't prove it. Yes, we can see how a single mutation, if marginally beneficial, can flourish. But does that work with 20+ so far apparently independant mutations many of which don't appear to have been overly beneficial? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe a divine being pushed things along there.

And that is how I would teach ID. A quarter or so of standard evolution, and then at the end, when the teacher is telling them where the frontiers are, to throw this in just to get the students thinking. Maybe 15 minutes out of the quarter. More than that, I would think would be wasted time.

Starless said...

Synova said...
I don't think that Pastor Jeff is doing that at all. I think he's pretty much saying what I'm saying (though I could be wrong about that.)

But he is indeed. No matter how many qualifications they use or how slippery their tongues become, "ID" proponents are presenting it as an alternative to a scientific theory. The implication is that it has been weighed with the same criteria as the Theory of Evolution and been found to be equivalent. It hasn't, they know it, and they are counting on parents and voters not to notice this.

Parents see a threat to the faith of their children in the way that science is taught. It's not an imaginary thing. It's real. "Where did humans come from and what does it mean" is not an innocent question of biology.

Sure it is. It explains physical processes for biological evolution. It only becomes a metaphysical problem when people try to reconcile the Theory with their ideological position and find that there is a gap. This problem has been around since about five minutes after Darwin published. Just as others did 150 years ago, people like the parents you talk about and Pastor_Jeff look at the Theory of Evolution and say, "This contradicts Genesis, it can't be so". So they start to look for reasons why Evolution shouldn't horn in on their ideology. It's "materialism", it's "naturalism", it "conflates natural science and metaphysics".

And 150 years later, people are still reeling from the implications they see in Evolution for their religious beliefs. Scientific Creationism, "Intelligent Design", and "origins science" are the latest pseudoscientific constructs they've come up with to try to convince themselves and others that Evolution should be reigned in so it doesn't trod on their ideological positions.

Science limits itself to the natural but this is often conflated with the notion that this isn't a limit on Science but rather a definition of truth. Not that Science explores the natural world, but that nothing beyond the natural world exists.

Again, we return to timeworn fears about science: people will lose their faith if they "believe" in science. Well, some people do believe in science and they're wrong to do so, but there's no evidence that in the thousands of years of Western scientific method where this has become the rule instead of the exception.

I don't think ID should be taught in the classroom at all. But if the text is going to talk about origins or meaning, then it's only fair to allow equal time.

And the IDers are counting on people to think like this. If enough people who may be ambivalent about "ID" are willing to concede that "ID" is in any way equivalent to Evolution, then they have the power to wedge their way into curricula.

This is the genius of the Creationist concept of "origins science". They knew that the evidence and research was overwhelmingly in favor of Evolution, so in a retreating action they tossed this landmine out there--"We'll concede that your evidence has weight, but we reserve the right to separate 'origins' from Evolution". This way they can claim that "origins" is out-of-bounds for Evolution and convince people who are conflicted between faith and reason over Evolution that "origins" is not the business of science.

If you insist on "equal time", then just teach Creationism. That, at least, doesn't pretend to be science or feign "objectivity".

But better would be if the text books and teachers could be counted on not to present Science as the answer to all questions, including the philosophical and religious ones, such as where we came from and what it means.

I don't buy your conclusion. I don't think there's a public school teacher out there who could get away with saying, "This will provide the answer to all questions".

Evolution isn't origins and origins isn't evolution. Would it really be that disasterous to leave origins out of it? The space in textbooks is limited... I'm sure those four pages could be put to good use examining something else in more depth.

I refer to my previous statement about "origins science".

Coco said...

Greg D said:

"1: What business is it of people not living in Kansas what Kansas teaches? What is it about "liberals" that makes them so all fired intolerant of anyone who thinks differently than they
do?"

Are any other "conservatives" offended by this idea? My extremely conservative catholic education saw no dispute here - science was taught separately from religion. I learned both, but science (including the fundamentals of evolution) was not taught as a worldview - it was taught just as mathematics was taught - even theoretical mathematics. Religion was taught as faith - and as immutable faith - stronger and more important than biology or any other science, but the lines were never blurred. These priests and nuns devoted their entire beings to God and were not materialists, atheists or even "liberals" and yet were able to to differentiate between the two with ease.

JodyTresidder said...

Bruce Hayden wrote: "Maybe a divine being pushed things along there.

And that is how I would teach ID. A quarter or so of standard evolution, and then at the end, when the teacher is telling them where the frontiers are, to throw this in just to get the students thinking."

Throw WHAT in, Bruce? WHAT is the mechanism that ID proposes?

Mike Porter said...

Yet another convincing argument for the complete separation of school and state. It should not be the function of government at any level in a free society to try and create good little citizens and citizenesses out of our children. Each private school should decide how to approach these topics. As a militant athiest I would not send my children to a school that tried to teach ID as anything other that a religious view. It has nothing to do with science. Evolution should be taught in science class and ID taught (or explained) in religion class, or comparative religions class, or current events/issues classes.

Barry Kearns said...

"(here's a simple example: provide an evolutionary path explaining how tRNA could have come into existence)"

Rather than repost, I'll point you towards the comment that I left on a similar thread here.

You're falling into the same trap that Behe lives within... you're pinning the test for whether something happened on whether you can imagine HOW it happened.

This is the classic "god of the gaps" fallacious argument:

Advocate: "Process 'A' looks like the work of a creator! Since you can't explain it, it must be intelligently designed"

Scientist: "Ok, out of curiousity, I'll go study that..."

(time passes)

Scientist: "Here's a logical and plausible scientific explanation for how that might have arisen... it's made up of several steps as follows..."

Advocate: "OK then, what about Process 'B'! That's certainly unexplainable!"

Scientist: "No, we've known about that for some time, here's the ninth revision of the currently prevailing explanation..." (detailed explanation follows)

Advocate: "Never mind that, surely you must accept that Process 'C' is evidence of a designer! No one has yet written a paper on exactly how that came to be!"

... and so on, ad infinitum.

At some point, if you're intellectually honest, you need to examine the underlying PREMISE that's being used... namely, that if you don't know how, you think that's evidence that it's not possible.

Starless said...

You can swap that argument with the classic UFOlogists' argument:

I don't know what that bright light is, it must be an alien spacecraft.

No, that's Venus. Look at this sky chart

What about that light moving across across the sky?

That's an airplane. Notice the navigation lights on the wings.

What about that point of light moving from North to South. It's up way too high for an airplane.

That's a satellite, here's it's orbital schedule.

What about that bright light over there?

That's Venus again.

Well, how about this blurry video of an object making right angle maneuvers in the sky over New Mexico?

I can't explain that.

Aha! You can't explain it, it MUST be an alien spacecraft.

Synova said...

Coco: "My extremely conservative catholic education saw no dispute here - science was taught separately from religion."

There is a context there, even in the Science class, that God exists. The school was a Catholic school. The building, the teachers, everything declared an acceptance of God active in the world. Science class concentrated on science and the best ideas that scientists had at that time to explain the world.

Who is going to worry overmuch about kids coming home convinced that Science disproves God?

And we are talking about *kids.* They get weird ideas. I know my high school Biology teacher didn't stand a chance, we opened the book to the picture of the monkey people gradually changing to a modern human man (we've all seen that picture, right?) the future homecoming queen raised her hand and said "We didn't come from monkeys." our teacher was obviously annoyed at this and sputtered some reply or other and went on. Anyone who wanted to just ignored him. (Poor guy, that happened to him a lot.)

But then there was one of my friends. Not popular. Not going to get into a discussion that would draw negative attention to herself. The same teacher showed a movie in class about discovering past lives through hypnosis. After class I tried to tell my friend that this was unscientific garbage. She could not be convinced.

Two points *proved* to her that past lives were true... the film was shown in science class and the people in the film wore lab coats.

What matters most to me about that incident, though, is that I didn't tell my Mother about the hypnosis and past lives film until I was over 30 years old. It never even occured to me that I ought to mention it.

Can anyone really, honestly, claim that teachers don't come up with weird, inappropriate stuff? Do you not *remember* being in high school? Do you ever wonder what your kid isn't telling you?

Coco said...

"Who is going to worry overmuch about kids coming home convinced that Science disproves God? "

No one comfortable with their faith...becuase it simply cannot.

Of course, faith has no business being taught in a public school and certainly not in science class. That's what religious schools are for and those parents who want that context provided should send their kids there or teach them at home.

"Two points *proved* to her that past lives were true... the film was shown in science class and the people in the film wore lab coats."

This is precisely why ID should not be taught in science classes.

Greg D said...

Jody,

"Theories" are things that have been rigorously tested, and passed all tests. Hypotheses are ideas that have been proposed, but not really tested.

Macroevolution is more of a hypothesis than a theory. The idea that science can actually explain how life came about is a hypothesis, and a very weak one (try to explain how tRNA came into existence. You can't translate RNA into Protein without them, but until you're translating RNA into Protein, they serve no purpose).

But both are taught as theories.

When I was in high school, the color changing moths were offered as "proof" that Darwinian evolution takes place, despite the fact that they prove no such thing (when the pollution got cleaned up, the population's color quickly reverted to the previous color). And Darwinian evolution was presented as an accepted fact.

When I got to college I learned that Darwin's theory of evolution was false (he believed in gradual change, the fossil record is entirely lacking in evidence of such changes. Last I checked, the current Pravda was "punctuated equilibrium"). But that people were positive that evolution was correct, because anything was conceivable, except for the thought the science might just not be able to explain where we came from.

So, Jody, how many high school textbooks teach that Darwin was wrong about gradual evolution? How many of them discuss all the "gaps" in the fossil record. How many point out that "survival of the fittest" is a tautology, since whatever survives is presumptively labeled "the fittest"? How many high school textbooks teach the truth about evolution, which is that it's an interesting hypothesis, occasionally useful, that still needs a lot of work before it can be considered solid? Any?

Science is a tool. It's a wonderful tool. But it's only a tool. It's not the be all and end all of existence, and there's no reason to believe that it can explain everything.

The belief that it can do so is an article of faith. And I see no reason to believe that faith is superior to all other faiths.

JodyTresidder said...

Greg D,
It is difficult to grope for any sensible response to your statement that:"When I got to college I learned that Darwin's theory of evolution was false."

Except to wearily counter: "Nearly everyone educated in science agrees that there is neither controversy nor debate over the fundamental premise of evolutionary theory".
http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/47366?
&print=yes

populistpaul said...

Religion without Science is Blind and Science without Religion is lame.

Let us assume that we were created by a divine being. Then this God gave you the faculties to see the world and wants you to understand. And to do so we need to search for answers. ID is a cop out. NOTHING is beyond understanding, given time and research. That is the lie that the proponents of ID are trying to spread.

God gave you eyes to see and a Brain (at least most of you) to understand with. Science is the search for understanding of Creation (read God). What is appalling is the way that the supposed "believers" deny what God has made so evident.

There is nothing intelligent about ID, it is a mechanism to dumb up our children and should be vehemently opposed. What I truly don’t understand is why these zealots choose to attack what is the most tested and tried Scientific Theory, should of set their sites on some of the easier targets: like the Chaos Theory.

Starless said...

populistpaul said...
What I truly don’t understand is why these zealots choose to attack what is the most tested and tried Scientific Theory, should of set their sites on some of the easier targets: like the Chaos Theory.

Probably because they think it directly contradicts this:

1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.


Whereas the Bible doesn't say much about Chaos Theory. Additionally, Evolution is more widely known and "understood" by the populous. If you say to the Man On The Street, "Evolution" his ears prick up, but if you say "Chaos Theory" he'll probably just look at you in confusion. So if IDers go in front of school boards and demand that an alternative to Chaos Theory which includes an "Intelligent Designer" in it be taught in science classes, the boards' eyes would probably just glaze over and they'd move to the next subject.

But your point is taken and I'll take it one step farther: math has probably done more to step on the notion of an "Intelligent Designer" than biology and is chock full of theories. Yet you don't hear many people saying, "because there are so many unanswered questions in mathematics, we need to teach students that there may be other, non-natural explanations for these anomalies".

AlaskaJack said...

What gives? What accounts for the intemperate attacks on Pastor Jeff by Quxxo and Starless? Pastor Jeff, after all, was only making a philosophical point, and a serious one at that.
But rather than addressing the Pastor's point in a thoughtful way, Quxxo and Starless resort to ad hominem attacks: "Keep your rank corrupt politics and religious viewpoints out of the science class room", "Again I refer the the pig and his makeup", and "...people like the parents you talk about and Pastor Jeff look at the Theory of Evolution and say 'This contradicts Genesis, it can't be so.'"
One can infer two things from their attacks on Pastor Jeff. First, Starless and Quxxo, wittingly or unwittingly, are proponents of a theory of reality that can best be described as radical philosophical materialism. That is, their view of reality is that the only things that exist are things that consist only of atoms and blind forces that interact with atoms. (Just why these blind forces are constrained by abstract mathematical laws is a question that politeness tell us should not be put to a committed materialist.)
The second inference is that they view Pastor Jeff's point as quite threatening to their belief of what constitutes reality. However, instead of a rational counter-argument, we have emotional tirades like those quoted above. Why? I suggest that both Starless and Quxxo may be suffering from SPUD--severe philosophical understanding deficit.
As a remedy for this disorder, I suggest, hopefully with Pastor Jeff's blessing, that over the coming winter both Starless and Quxxo read and study the works of George Berkeley. I fear Quxxo is hopeless; but perhaps the good Bishop will provide an antidote to Starless' naive materialism.

Starless said...

alaskajack said...
Quxxo and Starless resort to ad hominem attacks

Errr, I don't use ad hominem attacks (unless I just want to make someone mad, which I didn't in this case). The "pig" I was refering to is Scientific Creationism, not a person. Try reading a little more closely.

As far as the comment, "...people like the parents you talk about and Pastor Jeff look at the Theory of Evolution and say 'This contradicts Genesis, it can't be so.'," is concerned, I think it's a stretch to call it an ad hominem attack. No, Pastor_Jeff didn't actually say that in this forum, and maybe I should have qualified my statement to that effect, but it's still my contention that that's the core of what drives pro-IDers to make the arguments they make.

As a remedy for this disorder, I suggest, hopefully with Pastor Jeff's blessing, that over the coming winter both Starless and Quxxo read and study the works of George Berkeley. I fear Quxxo is hopeless; but perhaps the good Bishop will provide an antidote to Starless' naive materialism.

Haha.

Gooood, I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred...
-Emperor Palpatine

I don't know whether Evolution is truth or not and I'm not qualified to make that judgement. What I do know is that it's the best theory out there for why the biological world is the way it is (and, yes, I'm a good citizen and keep myself informed about what it is as opposed to just accepting it as some scientific Gospel). What I also know is that "ID" is pseudoscience of the first order and that the popularization of pseudoscience encourages ignorance and intellectual laziness.

So, you see, my fight isn't against "ID" per se or for Evolution, it's against hucksterism and the hucksters who push it.

Patent medicine, anyone? Guaranteed to fight melancholy, whooping cough, and intemperance of the bowels!

Greg D said...

It is difficult to grope for any sensible response to your statement that:"When I got to college I learned that Darwin's theory of evolution was false."

Except to wearily counter: "Nearly everyone educated in science agrees that there is neither controversy nor debate over the fundamental premise of evolutionary theory".


Jody, You need to work on your reading skills.

I didn't say "I learned in college that evolution didn't happen", I said "I learned that Darwin's theory of evolution was false."

Darwin believed in gradual change. There's no evidence, at all, that evolution happens the way Darwin thought it did, and a good deal of evidence from the fossil record saying it doesn't happen that way.

As for "Nearly everyone educated ...", read this NPR story about what happened to a scientist who merely published a peer-reviewed article by someone who supported ID with data from the fossil record.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5007508

Scientists who are secure in the knowledge that they're right don't act like inquisitors, they simply use the data to prove the other person wrong.

Is evolution the best scientific answer to how we came about? To the best of my knowledge, yes.

Is it proved that science can answer the question "how did we come about?" (the same way, for example, that it's been proved that cholera is caused by a certain bacterium)?

No, it's not.

Science currently has some lovely hypotheses about how we came about. Scientists have managed to shove most of the available data (with some straining) into holes that "support" the hypothesis, and they've managed to mostly successfully ignore the rest of the data (for a good summary of the data they ignore, see "Kicking the Sacred Cow", by James P. Hogan).

But they haven't come close to dealing with all the data. And they haven't even started addressing some of the questions they'd need to address to have a hope of coming up with a worthwhile explanation of how we came to be here (e.g. explaining how tRNA came into existence).

You are free to cling to the religious belief that science will conquer all, that science will answer all the questions. But others are free to cling to their religious beliefs, too.

Don't bitch about them clinging to their beliefs when you insist on clinging to yours.

Show me a textbook that says: "The best scientific explanation we have for how life came about is evolution. This is what it says. This is where it's been successful. This is where it hasn't been successful."

But if you try to use that textbook, the "Darwinists" will foam at the mouth about "IDers pushing their religion on the rest of us."

And thus we get the current mess.

Starless said...

Greg D said...
As for "Nearly everyone educated ...", read this NPR story about what happened to a scientist who merely published a peer-reviewed article by someone who supported ID with data from the fossil record.

Ah, yes, the poor "persecuted" Dr. Sternberg.

And thus we get the current mess.

You get into the current mess when people try to get something annointed a legitimate scientific theory through popular pressure and litigation before it goes through the peer review process and rigorous debate within the scientific community as a whole.

Of course the Smithsonian went ape-shit when they heard that a journal (no matter how small) they supported had published a paper on "ID". It was already a political hot potato and the Smithsonian has always been sensitive to political repercussions. For Sternberg to say that he didn't expect a storm after he published Meyer's paper shows that he's either lying or horribly naive.

JodyTresidder said...

Greg D,
My reading skills are fine, thanks.
I suggest you climb down from your peculiar hobby horse: the one that makes you foam and gnash and insist that science is dogma-based. Science remains open to better theories. Religious dogma does not.
Here is a brilliant quote for you: "The critics forget how the reward system in science works. Any researcher who can prove the existence of intelligent design within the accepted framework of science will make history and achieve eternal fame. He will prove at last that science and religious dogma are compatible! Even a combined Nobel Prize and Templeton Prize (the latter designed to encourage search for just such harmony) would fall short as proper recognition. Every scientist would like to accomplish such an epoch-making advance. But no one has even come close, because unfortunately there is no evidence, no theory, and no criteria for proof that even marginally might pass for science. There is only the residue of hoped-for default, which steadily shrinks as the science of biology expands." (http://www.harvardmagazine.com/on-line/110518.html)

Starless said...

JodyTressider said...
"Any researcher who can prove the existence of intelligent design...will make history and achieve eternal fame. He will prove at last that science and religious dogma are compatible! Even a combined Nobel Prize and Templeton Prize...would fall short as proper recognition."

Not to mention a million dollars from the Amazing Randi.

Barry Kearns said...

The idea that science can actually explain how life came about is a hypothesis, and a very weak one (try to explain how tRNA came into existence. You can't translate RNA into Protein without them, but until you're translating RNA into Protein, they serve no purpose).

Again, this is an example that demonstrates the logical flaw in relying on personal imagination as the metric for determining what is possible.

Just because you can't imagine a purpose for tRNA (or structures which were the precursors to it) prior to the need for the translation of RNA into protein, that doesn't mean that tRNA or something similar COULD NOT HAVE EVER ARISEN.

Some evolutionary changes tend to arise through scavenging of existing code, retasking and reusing bits and pieces along the way for purposes that may have little, if anything, to do with their current functions.

If the along-the-way steps happen to grant an advantage, they will tend to propagate more quickly, but so long as they don't provide a marked disadvantage, there will be no reason for them to selected against (no negative pressure).

That's why techniques like scaffolding, duplication and divergence, and advantages becoming necessities allow structures to arise that appear to be chicken-and-egg type problems, but in fact often are not.

The test for whether something could not have happened is not whether you can imagine or figure out how it happened. Relying on such a test is logically fallacious.

But exactly such a test is required as the lynchpin of "intelligent design". It's a game of forever-regressing-goalposts where the advocates want to hold up a succession of things that they declare are "impossible" for evolution to have created... yet when it is shown how an example is possible, they don't consider their "intelligent design" hypothesis to be falsified.

Because it can't be falsified (by design)... and it's therefore not proper science.

Greg D said...

Time is short, so I'll make one last response, then leave the field to you all.

1: Dr. Sternberg.
Dr. Sternberg published a peer-reviewed article that showed problems with Evolutionary theory. What was the response? Was it: "wow, this guy has published an article that teaches us things we didn't know"?

Was it "this guy published a clearly flawed article. Here's the data to prove it wrong"?

Nope, it was "this heretic published something we don't want to hear. Let's burn him at the stake." So much for Judy's "Nobel Prize" claims.

And so much for claims that this is about "science". They didn't attack him for publishing a sloppy paper, they attacked him for publishing something they disagreed with.

Anyone think they would not have disproved the paper, if they could have done so?

Any of you "pro-science" people noticed that they didn't disprove the paper? Or do facts, reason, and logic just not matter to you when it comes to your religion of evolution?

2: tRNA
Barry writes a whole bunch of pretty stuff, that has absolutely nothing to do with what I said. I'll try again, putting it in small words so he won't unintentionally fail to understand me (there's nothing I can do, after all, to keep him from willfully refusing to understand).

If "Darwinian" evolution is correct, then everything came about by random chance plus natural selection. That means that tRNA, the "charger" proteins that specifically attach the right amino acid to the right tRNA, and the Ribosome (or some other place where the mRNA has tRNA lined up against it, and then the amino acids those tRNAs carry are attached together) all had to come about by chance. It also means that they all had to have other "jobs" before RNA -> Protein came about.

So, what were those jobs?

The burden of proof is on "science". Until scientists can propose reasonable explanations as for where that machinery came from, "assuming" that science will come up with an answer is a matter of faith.

Which is to say, those who claim that science does / can explain how we came about are pushing their own religious dogma, just as much the creationists are.

I'd like to see all the religious dogmas kept out of school science texts. But every time someone tries to get the textbooks to be honest, and point out the weaknesses, flaws, and gaps in evolutionary "theory", the "science" zealots go apeshit.

There's an old joke about a drunk looking for his keys by a light poll (rather than where he dropped them), because "the light's better over here." Science is a tool. It's a wonderful tool. But it's only a tool. It cannot answer all questions ("what's the best poem?" "What's love?" "Am I in love?" etc.). The question reasonable people need to ask is "can science answer the question "where did we come from?"

Whining that ID "isn't scientific" begs the question. Being scientific doesn't automatically make something correct. Being unscientific doesn't automatically make something wrong.

What matters is correctness.