Someone better tell that to the plaintiffs in Dover:
Science teachers at the high school in Dover repeatedly resisted the school board’s efforts to force them to teach creationism on equal footing with evolution in biology class, according to a former teacher who is among those challenging the board in a landmark trial.
The conflict in Dover grew so heated that in public meetings board members called opponents “atheists,” threatened to fire the science teachers and invoked Jesus’ crucifixion as a reason to change the curriculum, two witnesses testified on Tuesday.
“We would repeatedly tell them, ‘We’re not going to balance evolution with creationism. It’s an inappropriate request,’ ” said Bryan Rehm, who once taught physics in Dover and is one of 11 plaintiffs in the suit.
And what do they want taught?
Outside the courtroom on Tuesday afternoon, Alan Bonsell, a board member who the plaintiffs said was leading the charge against evolution in the science curriculum, said the board wanted students to learn about competing theories only because it was “good education.”
The board ultimately abandoned the equal time idea, stopped using the term “creationism,” and instead required that ninth graders listen to a brief statement encouraging them to learn about intelligent design as an alternative to evolution.
“We are not teaching intelligent design,” Mr. Bonsell said. “I’ve said that a million times and the news media just doesn’t get it. I challenge everybody to read the statement and show me what was religious in the statement.”
But Aralene Callahan, a former board member, testified that Mr. Bonsell, the chairman of the curriculum committee, said at a school board retreat in 2003 that he did not believe in evolution and wanted “50-50” treatment in biology class for creationism and evolution.
My scientific theory isn’t scientific, isn;t a theory, and is instead based on 2000 year old writings, but it should be given equal time. And your book selection shows bias:
For about a year, Mrs. Callahan said, the school board refused to order new biology textbooks. Mrs. Callahan said that when she protested the delay at a meeting, another board member, Bill Buckingham, responded that the biology textbook was “laced with Darwinism.”
The textbook he was referring to was “Biology.” One of the book’s authors, Kenneth Miller, a cell biologist at Brown University, was in court here on Monday and Tuesday as the first witness against intelligent design.
I faced a similar problem in high school. My math book was riddled with arcane symbols. You could barely turn a page without seeing mystical igns and symbols like:
+ – * /
I don’t know how I got through it all. At least Mr. Buckingham is open as to what he wants:
At a board meeting in June 2004, the plaintiffs say that Mr. Buckingham declared from the podium: “Two thousand years ago, someone died on a cross. Can’t someone take a stand for him?”
Again, it is important to flashback to that Ted Koppel Nightline interview with George Will and Cal Thomas:
Cal Thomas: Well Ted, I think it could be if it was seen as a stand-alone issue. But taken together with school prayer, same-sex marriage, abortion on demand, the Terri Schiavo case, it is a general feeling that everything that a lot of God-fearing, tax-paying, flag-waving patriotic Americans care about is taken away — is being taken away by the courts and by the wider culture. So standing alone this might not have had the resonance that it does, but taken together with all of these other things, I think that’s where the problem lies.
Ted Koppel: So part of this, George, is about science, but most of it, really in the final analysis, is about politics.
George Will: It’s about cultural anxiety. It’s about a sense of being marginalized, and disrespected by certain groups. It’s a worry about the coarsening of the culture. All of these may be to varying degrees legitimate worries. They have absolutely nothing to do with the scientific puzzle of explaining the mechanism that produced us.
This isn’t about science. This isn’t about education. At least it isn’t for the ID/Creationist proponents. This is just another Quixotic rear-guard action in the culture wars.
Thought today’s Tom Toles was funn…..
I’m starting to notice certain themes around these parts.
Sheesh. Keep it in Sunday schools.
This is an embarassment to intelligent Christians.
I do not understand why Christians would support ID in the first place. It suggests that God did not create the heavens and earth in six days, that earth is older than 6,000 years, it suggests that God is so flawed that he has to correct his evolution creation, and allows children to question whether God even exists (could the designer be Satan or ET or even the Teletubbies?).
Those Discovery Institute assholes must be fuming about Dover dropping the ball.
Translation = We’re afraid that Christianity is losing its relevance within modern culture, so we’ll legislate it into relevancy!
Every time a Christian complains of being “marginalized” in Western society, read that as “I want to scare you so you’ll send me your money.” Because there’s really no other reason for saying that.
John, you obviously are strongly against teaching creationism/ID in school and think that evolution should be the only thing taught. I haven’t read your numerous posts here to glean why? however. I’ll presume that it’s because no matter how it’s packaged, you feel it’s just religion. Period – no question. Yes?
Do you feel evolution is a fact? Do you insist that it be taught as fact: indisputable, and creationism is therefore wrong, and not just a ‘non-scientific’ theory?
I tend to think this is somewhat short-sighted. OK, we don’t need to teach teenagers ID in a Science class, but shouldn’t it be emphasized that Darwin’s theory still isn’t completely proven? Shouldn’t that emphasis include at least some mention of other theories?
I do recall my own biology teachers doing such a thing. And this PA case I got the impression that those “pushing” ID were trying to ensure that biology teachers did such a thing.
I’ve heard the statement they want read. It doesn’t sound out of line to me.
I haven’t seen John say creationism is wrong. I don’t understand where you get that from.
I would be happy to teach other theories – if there is any evidence to support them. The idea that gaps in scientific knowledge can be filled by a supernatural being isn’t something that can be proven or disproven, though. It’s something separate and apart from science.
Well, ID is here.
In my district which is in Pennsylvania but not Dover.
My 6th grade kid asked me about Intelligent Design compared to Evolution at the dinner table last night. The topic came up during science class in the course of discussion on scientific method and the teacher, apparently, gave some sort of spiel regarding Intelligent Design. Not for or against, just talking about it.
So …. during dinner we did the short course on scientific method, what a theory is and isn’t, how science is spozed to work and why girls aren’t particularly good at it – :) – no, really, I’m just kidding – how Darwin came up with his explanations for what he saw, et cetera, et cetera.
We talked about public reaction at the time to Darwin’s ideas. We then rolled through the Scopes Monkey Trial and on into present day issues and why School Boards can choose what the science teachers are going to teach.
The central ‘unprovability’ to ID’s premise, that there is an intelligence – read: God – behind all this, so … we ended up in a place where I described ID as science-like, but not actually science.
I further went on say God is simply a societal construct to give weak-minded groups of people some sort of meaning to their lives, we pray before a meal because it gets you kids to sit down, shut up, and focus on eating, and the only reason we go to church is for the free coffee and cookies, because it’s cheaper than going out for brunch. (I’m kidding about this.)
An analogy I came up with had to do with math.
The boy was surpised to learn that not only is there no mathematical proof that “1=1” and, further, that there is no proof available. You just have to accept that 1=1, 15=15, and so forth in math. And, if you do, things work out really well.
But why does 1=1?
Given the elegance of what flows from that statement, there must be some intelligence behind the design and structure of mathematics – therefore, it’s obvious that God must have designed math.
So, what’s the harm in prefacing every math class with “remember, kids – there’s a theory out there that thinks that there’s intelligent design aspect to mathematics which implies that there was some sort of intelligence which created math.”
We then had dessert and wondered just how badly the Phillies were going to blow this playoff chance.
So the kid should have an interesting day today in both math and science.
My previous foray into glossing his school work had to do with the Great Age of Exploration – my contribution was ‘People generally explore to get money, find shortcuts to to places where they can get money, or they want land, fame, power and/or chicks – unless they’re missionaries, those guys do it for God, but the guys who want money, land, power, and chicks follow the missionaries.”
Anywho – here’s something right up the ID/Evolution debate alley. The boy may do something like this as a science project
Or he may model a dolphin with an opposable thumb.
a dolphin trained to use a dart gun with toxin-filled darts.
Newton’s theory about gravity still isn’t completely proven, I don’t believe. In fact, I believe Einstein has disproven parts of Newton’s theory. And, I’ve heard not one word calling for schools to emphasize that gravity is “just a theory.”
So, the creationists/intelligent designers complaints are largely specious. It’s reasonable to conclude that concerns about “other ideas” and the incompleteness of the theory of evolution are pretexts.
What they really seem to hate is that evolution seems to undermine the revealed truth of the Bible. Though, possibly I’m wrong on that. I don’t see how Christians can buy into Intelligent Design either. Deists, sure. Christians, nope. Not if they believe their Bibles to be even remotely accurate.
Shorter Bonsell: “My words are more important than my actions, you idiots!”
Your crack about the ‘mystical symbols’ reminds me of a joke… :)
Mithrandir–There are no other theories that withstand scrutiny regarding the origin of biodiversity. ID has no theory–they are just against evolution (and have been proven incorrect in every public assertion about evolution’s flaws). Are you pushing for alternate theories of gravity? Alternates to atomic theories? Of course not, and yet these have about as much proof behind them as evolution. Evolution itself is a fact; the only debate in the scientific community is exactly what drives evolution, and how important is each factor. Since the entire scientific community (with the exception of an extremely small number of people whose work has been thoroughly discredited) agrees with evolution, since it is the only theory that fits all of the facts currently in evidence, and since it successfully predicts future findings in biology, why should anything else be taught?
If AB and A is True then B is false. That is, if evolution is FACT, then creationism cannot be fact implying it must be wrong. That’s the direction I’m “coming from.”
No, I’ve not seen John say that outright, but haven’t seen to the contrary. So … I’m asking. Not accusing.
I understand your point wrt evidence. However, I could also contend that “survival of the fittest” cannot be proven or disproven. So does that make it wrong? Does that now separate it from “science?”
Personally, I think there had to be some type of “mix” of the two positions. I find it hard to fathom:
There was enough time for evolution to get us here.
That some of the “perfections” (a bird’s feather for instance) found in nature haven’t been designed and happened by “chance”
But who/what is this “being” that allegedly created it all? I’m not sure I know.
This just strikes to the fallibility of man: our puny brain cannot fathom the answers to any of the above questions. It all comes down to what you have faith in. (small-f faith)
I don’t agree. The money motive is true for televangelists like Pat Robertson, the Donald Trump of religious chicanery, but the ordinary citizens who fear marginalization are terrified by what they see as a culture war. They have no real moral or ethical mooring and cling desperately to received wisdom to relieve them of the need to make their own moral choices. Any behavior that doesn’t conform to the rules they live by is seen as a threat, and with widespread instantaneous communication of ideas and actions, they see themselves as beseiged by such threats. They can’t control the ideas and behaviors of others, and this makes them feel “marginalized” even though they are a significant majority of the population. Examples and teachings in the public sphere — schools, entertainment, media reports — that don’t conform to to their dogma amplify the threat of marginalization, and they desparately fight to eliminate or at least control them.
Well then, you just haven’t been paying attention.
Fair enough. Now, since that standard has been set, you have now obligated yourself to also state that the following are not completely proven:
The Theory of Gravity
The Theory of Relativity
Quantum Field Theory
Since that isn’t going to happen anytime soon, that begs the question of why it has to be done with the Theory of Evolution.
Yes, but the reason that ordinary citizens fear marginalization in a culture they have controlled for over 10 centuries and continue to control at all levels is because the televangelists/Dobsons stir up said fear in them. For the purpose of making money.
A terrific book on the Scopes trial is Summer for the Gods by Edward Larson. In eighty years, it appears that nothing has changed except clothing styles. Highly recommended.
Oops … my last post should read “If A (doesn’t equal) B…” I used greater-than/less-than symbols. Forgot HTML…. :-[
Mike Sullivan – you weren’t talking about me were you ;)
“Do you feel evolution is a fact? Do you insist that it be taught as fact: indisputable, and creationism is therefore wrong, and not just a ‘non-scientific’ theory?”
ID is a fraud, plain and simple.
I will post the following every time I see anyone even remotely suggest that ID is in anyway valid:
The Wedge aims to “renew” American culture by grounding society’s major institutions, especially education, in evangelical religion. In 1996, Johnson declared: “This isn’t really, and never has been, a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.”—————————————————————————————-
“Phillip E. Johnson’s book Darwin on Trial (1991), the intelligent-design movement crystallized in 1996 as the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC), sponsored by the Discovery Institute, a conservative Seattle think tank. Johnson, a law professor whose religious conversion catalyzed his antievolution efforts, assembled a group of supporters who promote design theory through their writings, financed by CRSC fellowships. According to an early mission statement, the CRSC seeks “nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its damning cultural legacies.”
Johnson refers to the CRSC members and their strategy as the Wedge, analogous to a wedge that splits a log—meaning that intelligent design will liberate science from the grip of “atheistic naturalism.” Ten years of Wedge history reveal its most salient features: Wedge scientists have no empirical research program and, consequently, have published no data in peer-reviewed journals (or elsewhere) to support their intelligent-design claims. But they do have an aggressive public relations program, which includes conferences that they or their supporters organize, popular books and articles, recruitment of students through university lectures sponsored by campus ministries, and cultivation of alliances with conservative Christians and influential political figures.
The Wedge aims to “renew” American culture by grounding society’s major institutions, especially education, in evangelical religion. In 1996, Johnson declared: “This isn’t really, and never has been, a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.” According to Dembski, intelligent design “is just the Logos of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.” Wedge strategists seek to unify Christians through a shared belief in “mere” creation, aiming—in Dembski’s words—“at defeating naturalism and its consequences.” This enables intelligent-design proponents to coexist in a big tent with other creationists who explicitly base their beliefs on a literal interpretation of Genesis.”
I think that the Dobson/Robertson crowd is capitalizing on the anxiety that already exists. They direct it, they profit from it, but I don’t believe they create it. It’s rooted in a collective insecurity, and it’s already there.
Evolution itself, the study of the biodiverisification and specialization of species is essentially FACT. As a Scientific theory, it is constantly undergoing scrutany. Intelligent Design does NOT open itself to the same scrutany. It contains the Deus Ex Machina for its final solution. It cannot be proven, nor disproven. It has no relation to science, it is anti-science.
Therefore, why teach it in school?
Before you know it, some crackpot is going to blather on about how all matter–including people!–is composed mostly of empty space, and tiny little subatomic particles zinging around, probabilistically ‘held together’ by mysterious forces. I mean, the idea that you or I could be made of the same stuff as a rock or a table or a book is just preposterous. And then to assert that even a rock is still made up almost entirely of empty space–where do these so-called ‘scientists’ get off!
Seriously though, I think if these people knew just a little bit more about the bedrock scientific theories of the past hundred years or so, they’d be ridiculing much more than just Darwinism. Give them some time to catch up.
Very few things in the universe can be completely proven down to the subatomic level, but the point of the scientific process is that we can collect evidence that makes these things more or less likely. We can’t do that with ID, or with anything else supplied by religion.
I suspect if the Hindus wanted to propose a theory that mankind improves itself through a process of “intelligent reincarnation,” you’d see a lot fewer people advocating that this alternative theory should be taught.
A theory is a proposition that attempts to explain a physical phenomenon. It is testable, predictive, and subject to revision. The “just a theory” crowd needs to understand that, but they never will.
No it doesn’t. And, actually, if your list is simply presented as theory, I’m satisfied. That is, the course syllabus says “On Thursday, we’ll discuss the Theory of Gravity” then we’re OK. That’s sufficient for me.
People here seem to be placing me in the “ID movement” and I am NOT there. Quotes from “The Wedge” aren’t fact, they’re opinion, although I don’t wholly disagree with them because of that fact. Yes, there’s a zealous group of people wanting to force this issue into the classrom. Again, I don’t feel that’s necessary. But quite honestly all I’m hearing in reply to my post is people who apparently don’t believe in any God and are telling me I’m wrong for doing so.
Shygetz has a good argument, but one thing is missing: the fallibility of Man. Sure, we’re “proving” things left & right, but it’s still based on our own knowledge. I’m not saying that because of that it’s wrong, but that shortcoming should be recognized.
No ET as in alien intellegence such as the X-File theory human seeding on planet earth.
Well, I’m a Christian and I believe ID is bunk – no matter whether you want to call it religion or science.
I’m all for teaching science in science class, and philosophy (including religious perspectives) in humanities class. While I don’t agree with it, I believe much of the impetus behind ID comes as a reaction to the way materialist philosophy permeates many public school treatments of evolution. And some evolutionists are rather immodest about what they know and don’t know; evolutionary theories about the origin of life are not on the same level as Maxwell’s equations.
Of course, ne of the ways the media consistently uses to screw Christians is by appointing Robertson et al. as our spokesmen.
If we are going to “dumb down” the science classrom by teaching such nonsense as ID, then we might as well open up Madrassas here in the states. Let’s teach only the Bible.
There is a giant leap over a yawning chasm between having “under God” in the Pledge and teaching ID in the classroom. Public schools, supported by public tax dollars should not be teaching religion, no matter how you cloak the subject.
That is the particularly disturbing part of all of this.
What really boggles my mind is the sheer visceral reaction by ID/creation types. I have never understood what is to be gained by believing in ID/creationism. Is God really so shallow that if a person maintains that evolution seems to be a valid explanation for life formation and adaptations on this planet they are condemned and damned?
If that is the type of deity they believe in, they can have him/her.
Please! Don’t give them any ideas.
Wait, it’s OK; they’re immune to ideas.
Delay indicted, steps down from leadership position…I guess the Delay rule would have come in handy about now.
Intelligent design is unfalsifiable, and predicts nothing, and thus fails as even an attempt at a useful theory. It is a cop-out.
Here’s another example, for the sake of illustration. Let’s say the Universe was created in its entirety 5 minutes ago, complete with fake fossil records, fake history, fake blog posts, fake memories. Sure, you *think* you’ve been around for years, and everything else for thousands, millions, billions of years. But how do you *know*? This is an example of a useless, unfalsifiable theory. Even if it is true, you can’t prove it, you can’t find evidence of it (everything ‘before 5 minutes ago’ is assumed to be fake, remember?) and it doesn’t help you in the least.
Now if you don’t think the evidence points to Evolution or something like it, then that’s fine: propose a credible alternative.
I think this is right, but also misses part of the larger terminology issue. Evolution is both a fact and a theory, and that is what seems to be causing most of the ‘confusion’ or blowback if you will. I don’t really know enough about ID as a science to state one way or another if it is something that should be or will be pursued.
I would have no problem mentioning to high school students both major theories of the origin of life on earth, and would encourage any university that wished to, to start doing some actual work on the subject of ID, using the accepted scientific method. I think the theory of life on earths origins still belongs in philosophy, but evolution as has been proven, belongs in science class.
All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster and his followers, the Pastafarians!
I have to believe that if they bring ID to my state, I will be the first to step up and demand the theory of FSM be taught as well.
Just think of the pirates! What about the pirates????
I’m not sure about the comparison. Maxwell’s equations are an expression of mathematical relationships among components of a phenomenon. They’re descriptive rather than explanatory.
But why does 1=1?
Given the elegance of what flows from that statement, there must be some intelligence behind the design and structure of mathematics – therefore, it’s obvious that God must have designed math.
Actually, 1=1 because an intelligent designer invented math, i.e. Man.
a modest experiment
You might want to read through the following PDF. It was originally published by Scientific American as “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense”. (It’s hosted by Swarthmore College in the link) In spite of the (to some, perhaps) inflamatory title, it does contain solid scientific responses to many of IDs main tenets – Irreducible Complexity, “Survival of the Fittest”, etc…
It’s definitely worthwhile reading to anyone who’s interested in the whole ID debate, as I find that IDers tend to muddy the waters with a lot of simplified arguments that science can’t even begin to address in a simplified way.
Again, you miss my point. I am not saying that creationism should be taught in school.
Using your example (would “explanation” be a good word for it, too?), I could say that we are all plugged into The Matrix. You can’t prove it, you can’t disprove it. AND – you can’t say evolution proves/disproves it either. After all, we have no knowledge to describe what is OUTSIDE the Matrix. Likewise you can’t actually say everything ‘before 5 min. ago’ is fake.
Creationism doesn’t say that either, much of it’s explanation is that our measurements are inaccurate because our frame of reference isn’t right. That’s my only point: evolutionary theory doesn’t explain it all, and can’t. Not because we haven’t yet discovered the answers, but because our brains cannot fathom the questions, let alone the answers.
We can say we “know” all this until the cows come home. But we have to preclude that our frame of reference makes it impossible to know what is right and what is wrong. I don’t think it’s
It just irks me that a lot of people think that a lack of religion equals a lack of moral character. If God isn’t being taught in schools, it doesn’t mean that all of the schoolchildren are going to become amoral monsters with no sense of ethics. Every generation has produced plenty of amoral assholes, and many of them were taught religion in school. I think that this attempt to have ID taught in schools can be directly linked to people fearing change, and fearing that their faith is becoming irrelevant in our society. IMHO, if they want to teach about ID in schools, fine. Teach it in philosophy class, or in comparitive religion, or sociology — but then you’re going to have to teach about other faiths’ theories, be they Mormon, or Hindu, or Muslim or Buddhist. And i somehow don’t think that the ID folks would be all that keen on that idea.
There is no way to quantitatively determine the accuracy of ANY of the theories in ID — so it has absolutely no place in a science class.
I think you would have a hard time selling that conclusion to the slowest antelope in the herd. Especially when he becomes dinner for the pride. Survival of the fittest is being proven every day in the animal kingdom.
Andrew J. Lazarus
Israeli elementary school math books don’t use the ordinary plus sign (+) because it looks like a cross. See, math mystical symbols have meaning.
The substitute has the bottom leg missing, somewhat like a centered “perpendicular to” symbol ⊥
(oops again) … continued: I don’t think it’s a black & white subject. I don’t think one rules out the other. I don’t need a science teacher to TEACH Creation. But I DO dislike the fact that it’s an “all or
nothingDarwin” question to those in knee-jerk opposition to any statement or mention of alternative. It seems to track that those with “open minds” always close them to religion.
Good point, but it’s not the context in which I meant it. The other antelope are still antelope. Their survival wasn’t because they evolved into something else.
Teaching evolution in science class has nothing to do with it being true. Its an example of the scientific process. Observations leading to hypothesis, leading to experiment and finally a THEORY. A conclusion drawn from the observations made in evolution may turn out to be false (we evolved from apes) but the method id dtill valid and thats what is taught.
Lets try it a different way. Students aren’t taught math just so they can later correctly add items together and get the correct result. It teaches you to think logically. It is teaching your brain to see things in a way that will help you solve problems in adult life.
Teaching evolution helps learn the scientific method. ID ‘teaches’ that the universe was begun by a higher power. One assumes the truth the other teaches how to find the truth.
I still think whats pissing these people off is that kids are learning thing in school that make it harder to believe in religious teachings. How are we supposed to raise good God fearing Christians if those heathen, pagan science teachers show our children that our planet is way older than 6000 years? How are we supposed to get our children to believe all animals came over in the Ark when scientists keeps finding bones of animals that the bible doesn’t put in the Ark? Will somebody please think of the children?
I agree with you there, and I think that the answers to those questions are so beyond the realm of human imagination that yeah…we would not even know what questions to ask. So no, science isn’t infallible, and there are gaps, and we all know that. However, it’s the only thing that we have right now that can actually be verified to a degree with real, objective, measurements. So do I think that science classes should indicate that Darwin’s theory isn’t proven beyond the shadow of a doubt? Yes, sure. It’ll teach kids to maybe do some critical thinking and exploration. Do I think that there should be a mention of other theories? No…I think if you mention that there are other theories, then they’ll want to know which ones, and then you’ve opened a can of worms, and are teaching religious theory in a science class. I think it should just be noted that science isn’t completely infallible, and leave it at that.
I’ve seen that text before. Really hate the title & name (wackononsense.pdf). Irks me to no end that I get labeled a “wacko” because I want to open my mind to a possibility other than Darwin. However, the points are valid. I won’t (haven’t) denied that. My whole point again is “Frame of Reference” (fallibility of Man).
How about Lysenko?
Indeed: hence, it’s unfalsifiable. I believe that was precisely my point.
Of course I can. At least, I can if you can “say that we are all plugged into The Matrix”. It’s equally as ridiculous, and it doesn’t help matters at all, but I can say it. However, just saying something doesn’t make it so.
I’d say that anything that “our brains cannot fathom” doesn’t belong in a Science classroom–that would also be a textbook example of unfalsifiability, and a cop-out besides.
Indeed. So let’s stick to what’s knowable, shall we?
Gee, I wonder how that works. Maybe it’s because those people with “open minds” are actually seeking knowledge, answers, things that are actually knowable by humans, instead of–by definition–wasting time attempting to ponder that which you admit that you as a human being will never be able to know, one way or the other.
Incidentally, I will concede that there could be a God, or many Gods, or Ghosts, or invisible pink elephants, or flying spaghetti monsters. I have seen no evidence of any of these things, however, and found no credible theories to justify the existence of any of them. Until I do, I’m not going to worry about any of them, either.
Correct. But science proves itself every day. There is a methodology in science to prove/disprove itself. Hypotheses based on knowledge, tested and proven or disproven. Nothing in science is taken on faith, every theory, every hypotheses, is tested again and again against the knowledge that we possess. Successful experiments add building blocks to that body of knowledge. Granted, sometimes we have to remove some weak building blocks and backtrack, yet there is a method for doing so.
I sense a certain *glee* in the anti-creationists here.
Thanks for your comments, Krista –
That’s not really true. What PA is (supposedly) doing is just that: “There’s this thing called ID out there that doesn’t fit the scope of this class, and if you want know more, you can pursue it with text “X” and talk about it with your family”
(That’s a very poor paraphrasing of the statement)
My “problem” is – reference the movie “Donnie Darko” if you know it. Donnie (the student) talks about a “religious” book (about the possibility of time travel) with his teacher. The teacher (who gave him the book) has to stop talking for fear of losing his job. That’s wrong. That teaches that society is more important than your willingness to learn and/or open your mind. This situation – a one-on-one discussion prompted by the student – doesn’t bother me. And it’s not the same as the teacher putting the subject in the syllabus.
Ahh…no the surviving antelope don’t morph into a new species, but no one ever said that’s how evolution works.
What you might expect to happen is that over a long time-frame, an isolated group of antelope experience a net change in which all antelope’s top speed is raised by 10 miles per hour. As the slowest antelope are culled out, and the fastest are the ones who reproduce, the isolated group of antelope as a whole get faster.
And if, continuing this hypothetical thread, the antelope body types changed slightly to adapt to the higher speeds they can now achieve, you’d now have an evolved antelope. Compared to other antelope that were outside of the isolated group, there would now be very obvious differences between the two groups.
Of course, this hypothetical situation likely won’t come to pass because antelope are usually eaten by predators not because they are naturally slower than their bretheren, but because they are sick, or too young to run fast. Those things can’t be bred out of the herd, they just happen.
Who need an open mind with religion. You believe it or you don’t. Science requires an open mind because new facts can change conclusions and you have to adapt. If you don’t adapt you spend centuries saying the same shit over and over no matter how many times new facts have destroyed your conclusions. If you can’t handle the fact that what you once thought to be true is no longer possibly true them you aren’t practicing science. Its dogma. Science also does not think there is anything that can’t be known. Maybe we don’t know it yet but we’ll get there. Unless someone caomes along with a new theory that gets put into law and can’t be questioned. Then we’re back to Galileo and Copernicus hiding what they know for fear of persecution.
Mithrandir, what other lessons does Donnie Darko have to teach us?
You and I are actually much more in agreement than you care to think. Our difference is that I am dropping in “evolution” where you drop in “creation” and vice versa in the discussion.
I’m not sure you get my point though. My point is merely that what we “know” must be framed. I’m not saying stop. I’m not saying you’re wrong. Thinking that your answers are absolute however is close-minded. But that doesn’t ask you to “worry about it” – just don’t deny its existence. Which is what you apparently do in your last statement. Goody. Glad to hear. That doesn’t justify the smart-ass remarks in the paragraph prior to it, though.
Ask John … that’s a topic for whole other thread!!! LOL
Yeah. I’m not a big fan of the URL ‘name’ either. But the text is there and is a solid scientific look at common Creationist/ID arguments.
You do raise an interesting point about the fallibility of Man though. To my mind (and rusty recollection of 8 years of Catholic School), it is this fallibility that prevents us from even placing God and his actions into a “knowable” context. It’s not possible for anyone who believes in God to claim that any aspect of the natural world was, in some way, designed according to God’s intent. Doing so attempts to structure a perfect being and perfect intent in a way that an imperfect mind can comprehend, thereby rendering the perfect being imperfect.
Lacking the ability to place God and His intent in a context my brain can comprehend, all I’m left with is science to explain what’s going on in the natural world. I don’t believe science and God are mutually exclusive, they just exist in different “spheres” of influence.
Mithrandir, should we bringing up the topic of religion-based time travel in classes then?
From what I’ve read, the idea of time travel has more scientific backing than the idea of creationism.
Very true. I would simply go on to say that those “spheres” overlap and don’t/can’t exist without each other.
This is making my head hurt:
This is coming from an expert on evolutionary theory called to testify against Intelligent Design. I thought randomness and undirectedness were central tenets of evolution. Am I missing something?
I don’t think we’re all disagreeing as much as we think we are. That being said, I personally think that the situation that you mentioned above could be resolved by having philosophy or comparitive religion classes available (but not mandatory) in schools. That way, if students have questions, there is an open forum available where students can freely discuss different theories. I agree that opening one’s mind to as many different theories as possible is what sharpens critical thinking and helps people understand each other better.
I just don’t see the need to mention it at all in science class. Even the way you paraphrased it, “There’s this thing called ID out there that doesn’t fit the scope of this class, and if you want know more, you can pursue it with text “X” and talk about it with your family” — I still think it opens a can of worms, because then you have to mention all of the other alternative belief systems out there — and I just don’t think that science class is the right class for that.
Well DougJ, you’re warping my illustration, but I’ll entertain you for a bit …
“The Philosophy of Time Travel” is a fictional book used in Donnie Darko. This is what frames the scene I described. Want more? visit http://www.donniedarko.com and http://www.stainlesssteelrat.net/ddfaq.htm for more information. This is the “religious” idea of time travel.
The illustration, however, was just to show how hog-tied the teacher is. I think he should have been able to pursue the conversation to what knowledge he had. It doesn’t “harm” the student to hear it. Those yelling “separation of church/state” in this context, though, apparently feel that any discussion outside of what they think is right will do harm to the student. This is what *I* mean by “close-minded.”
That is so very, very true. It’s rather maddening, too, that people will hitch their wagon to this craptacular horse.
I do, however, find it amusing that everytime these people get pressed and get proven wrong, they revert to platitudes like:
Yes. Jebus died to rid the world of evolution. Idiot.
What I fail to see is any reason why science teachers should be obliged to mention any controversy at all. Fundies don’t like naked boobs, right? Yet somehow physiology teachers get along without spending a unit on which Christian sects disapprove of naked boobs in the coursework. Mormons believe that America once teemed with elephants and giraffes and yet we don’t have paleontology teachers ‘teaching the debate.’ It’s simply idiotic to distract students who have barely begun to understand the concept of science with baseless controversies cooked up by religion-based interest groups.
Needless to say I’m preaching to the choir, except for one guy who I think is playing devil’s advocate to keep the thread alive.
I see Robert Pennock has testified in the “trial.” His book on creationism, Tower of Babel, is by far one of the best I’ve read. What makes it especially good is because it focuses on ID more than scientific creationism. I think it’s the new standard barer when it comes to dealing with ID proponents in academia.
Tim F – good point! It’s beneficial for people to learn about these alternative points of view, but yeah, science class is not the place.
ID proponents are afraid to discuss ID in any other classroom except a science classroom.
If one wants to examine the role of ‘unseen agents’, mythology, religion or whatever else that isn’t science, it seems perfect for a comparative religions course, part of a social studies ‘how religion has affected world history’ course and probably a few more.
ID as science is a fraud. It’s just as easy to change ‘intelligent designer’ to ‘little green men’ and lose nothing in the ID ‘theory’. Of course no one will advocate teaching ‘little green men’ as a real alternative to evolution. The reason for ID in any science course is evangelical, fundamentalist christian indoctrination.
ID , if you’ll forgive a colorful metaphor, is plain and simple bullshit.
My firm position is I don’t care whether creationism is true or not. It isn’t science, nor is ID.
The young earth stuff is obvious nonsense, but other tamer versions of creationism are irrelevant. So god created the heavens and the earth. So what? Say he didn’t? So what?
It is just, quite simply, irrelevant, and science classrooms are not the place for parents to firm up their belief systems.
I would venture that only certain mutations are random and undirected – other mutations are dependent on coupling or distances from other genes and therefore not exactly ramdon in how they can change. Evolution on the other hand is not random or undirected in the way it selects for survival.
metalgrid, I didn’t think of it that way. I would take “directed evolution” to mean evolution has a predetermined goal (ie, “the master race”). I suppose you’re right that survival pressures count as a form of direction but I’m afraid the lawyers for the defense will twist his words to sound like he meant God–excuse me, an Unnamed Intelligence–is directing evolution.
As far as teaching ID in biology class goes, I think a good compromise would be to have teachers spend a whole day explaining IDers’ points and evolutionists’ counterpoints. Turn it into a discussion on the scientific method and show how ID fails in that respect. I don’t believe in ID, but I’m afraid that ignoring, mocking or legislating it out of the classroom is a losing tactic in the long run.
I remember a sidebar in my high school biology textbook about Lamarck’s theory of acquired characteristics, so this idea is not without precedent.
Andrew J. Lazarus
My take on the “random and undirected” issue is that it ignores the fitness function imposed by external reality, i.e. Nature. The anti-science “tornado in a junkyard” argument tries to calculate utterly meaningless probabilities under grossly inaccurate concepts of randomness, all the while ignoring effects that prune the stochastic tree. William Dembski’s argument is pretty much the same dressed up in new and needlessly complex pseudo-mathematical notation.
I think a lot of the blame for why ID keeps getting brought up as an alternative to Evolution lies squarely with the scientific community itself. The theory of evolution is so often described as the truth. Discussions of what is or is not “the truth” belong in philosophy class, not science class. Even worse, it sometimes gets trumpeted as proof that there is no intelligent designer. Sorry, but no scientific theory (or law) is the truth. Nor can science be used to either prove or disprove a philosophical concept. This doesn’t stop a very vocal part of the scientific community from making just those claims, though, and this is where they do the theory a disservice.
People know when somebody is spouting philosophy to them and not science. They may not be able to point out how it’s being done, but they can feel it in their gut. And when Evolution morphs from cold, boring scientific theory into blazing, impelling truth, then it is seen as fair game. Can you blame folks for asking that their favorite philosophy be given equal time with what they see as simply a competing philosophy?
Until (and I’m not holding my breath) the zealots in the scientific community get a clue and stop marketing the theory of evolution as anything more than what it is, a rather thin scientific explanation for what we see going on around us and in the fossil record, large portions of the population will continue to see it as a philosophical threat rather than science.
re: BrianOf Atlanta
“I think a lot of the blame for why ID keeps getting brought up as an alternative to Evolution lies squarely with the scientific community itself. The theory of evolution is so often described as the truth. Discussions of what is or is not “the truth” belong in philosophy class, not science class.”
Well… I think your getting into needless semantics here regarding ‘truth’. If you believe ID is a science describe how it can be tested, you can’t.
Evolution can be tested, it might be a changing theory/’truth’ as more is learned, but it is scientific ‘truth’ with facts and data to support it.
re: “Until (and I’m not holding my breath) the zealots in the scientific community get a clue and stop marketing the theory of evolution as anything more than what it is, a rather thin scientific explanation for what we see going on around us and in the fossil record, large portions of the population will continue to see it as a philosophical threat rather than science.”
OK lets assume evolution as you say, is a ‘thin scientific explanation’, the other contesting ‘scientific theory’ is what?.. unseen forces? BTW if ‘large portions of the population’ suddenly see transplants as a ‘philosophical threat’ are we going to find a medical treatment like ID? Ooops, there already is, I think they call it……’faith healing’.
ID isn’t science, it’s philosophy. Evolution isn’t a truth or a fact, it’s a scientific theory. Semantics matter very much in science, moreso than in philosophy or everyday speech. Science has nothing to say about what “a truth” is, and “a fact” is a fossil or an observed change in an organism. Calling evolution a fact is not only wrong from a scientific perspective, it needlessly gets people’s dander up.
If you’re interested in starting a riot or an argument at a school board meeting, then use those words when talking about evolution. If you’re interested in evolution as science, then don’t attribute non-scientific qualities to it.
I call evolution a “thin” scientific theory for two reasons:
1. It has no clear, concise, generally-agreed-to definition.
2. It fails the predictive test of a scientific theory.
Evolution makes no falsifiable predictions. It is a reasonable and scientific explanation of what has happened in the past, but it says nothing useful (from a scientific perspective) about the future.
What do I mean by this? After all, theories in biology generally aren’t as cut and dried as theories in other scientific disciplines such as physics. There is no biological equivalent to the simple elegance of F=MA. Yet, even by biology standards, evolution is a wimpy theory. It’s a very important theory, but still wimpy.
Take Louis Pasteur’s germ theory of infection, for example. It states that infections are caused by germs. Does it make a falsifiable prediction? Yes. Find an infection that isn’t caused by a germ and you falsify the theory. This actually happened. Infections were found with no evidence of a germ causing them. This led to the discovery of viruses, and a modification of the theory of infection.
You can’t do that to evolution. Evolution makes no prediction as to how (or even if) a particular organism or population of organisms will evolve. There is nothing to refute, since there is no real prediction to begin with.
Hence my statement that evolution is neither truth, nor fact, nor even a robust theory. It’s the best scientific theory we’ve got to explain changes in species over time, but it isn’t the monumental end-all and be-all of theories.
As I am not a scientist, I’ll use a quote from American Geological Institute and Paleontological Society”……….
“The theory of evolution is the foundation of modern paleontology and biology. It provides a coherent scientific explanation of the incredible diversity of life on Earth – an explanation which is understandable within human experience.
[Brian, this part especially for you ]
In science, we do not use the term “theory” lightly. Statements such as “evolution is just a theory” show a lack of understanding of both the term ‘theory’ itself and the very nature of science and how it is done.
Evolution is as well-supported by evidence as the theory of gravity or the heliocentric theory of our solar system. The data supporting evolution are vast, having been gathered over hundreds of years and from many disciplines of science.
There are many, many fascinating questions still to be answered, and even more questions yet to be asked. As we continue to learn more about life on Earth, the theory of evolution itself continues to evolve. That is the strength and excitement of doing science – learning how the Universe works.”
ID attempts to minimize evolution science to try to justify a christian fundamentalist religious agenda.
Well, I’m not surprised that a bunch of paleontologists would come out swinging in defense of evolution. However, as a physicist I thank my lucky stars that I don’t have to explain away the physics equivalents of the Precambian Explosion or coelacanths when I talk about the theory of gravitation or heliocentricity. (Yeah, that’s snarky, but I couldn’t resist – my apologies to my paleontologist friends).
George Will, as usual, is righter than anybody else.
ID vs. Creationism vs. evolution is not the issue.
The issue is, and the fuel in the fire, is that the debate is a proxy for the culture wars.
There is any amount of nonsense taught in schools. Few of the kids are in a position to critically evaluate it. But only creationism gets the noise.
A teacher might, for example, teach about the Holocaust that the US did nothing about it, depending on the kids’ lousy (purposefully? just askin’) historical education and complete and utter ignorance of military affairs to keep them from questioning it. That would not generate any ink or noise or cyberwhatsit at all. Not all nefarious nonsense is created equal. Or evolved at the same rate, or something.
You can forget about trying to prove evolution. It isn’t the point.