Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The final straw: Bush endorses intelligent design

I tell you, I fail to check my blog for several hours after posting the morning's article at an ungodly early hour (mainly because I was hard at work in the lab and in meetings), and what happens? I miss something big and end up addressing it much later than the rest of the blogopshere. By the time I get to it later in the evening, either the issue's played out, or I'm too tired to blog about it. It's a bitch when my real job gets in the way of blogging, isn't it?

Yes, as you might have guessed, yesterday I missed this (another report is here) which I only discovered when an e-mail informed me of it. The news? Our President has endorsed the teaching of "intelligent design" creationism in public schools:
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.''
Ugh. I wish I could say I were surprised, but I'm not. It's been mind-numbingly obvious since the stem cell debate in 2001 that this President is more concerned with placating his religious base than with advancing science and science education. It's just that, up until now, he's remained cleverly canny about his views on this particular subject.

Naturally, I turned to PZ Myers for his inimitable take on this bit of news and through him learned of Bush making this comparison:
Bush compared the current debate to earlier disputes over "creationism," a related view that adheres more closely to biblical explanations. As governor of Texas, Bush said students should be exposed to both creationism and evolution.
Mr. President, "intelligent design" is creationism. Period. If you have a doubt about that, just ask your own science advisor, who has denounced ID as unscientific. Just ask an ID advocate who this "intelligent designer" is. Ask him if the "designer" is God. He will almost certainly either decline to give a straight answer (or even to speculate), or he will mumble that he does not place any "conditions" on who the "intelligent designer" is. Then ask him: Why can't the designer be David Icke's race of intelligent giant lizards, an extraterrestrial humanoid civilization, as the Raelian cult claims, or even a Flying Spaghetti Monster, as illustrated here? The question will make an ID advocate very uncomfortable (or even angry), especially if you're persistent and don't accept the usual equivocating, handwaving responses, a point I've been making since very early on in this blog.

The bottom line is that there should be no inherent contradiction between accepting evolution as the best current scientific theory explaining how the diversity of life developed (which it is) and a belief in God. Evolution has enormous quantities of experimental and observational evidence to support it, evidence that is consistent with and complementary to evidence and theories from other disciplines. "ID" creationism has no such evidence or science to support it, and is ultimately not falsifiable. In essence, all ID does is throw up its hands whenever it encounters a complex biological structure whose origin cannot yet be understood by science and says "it must be 'designed,'" basically giving up on an explanation other than a higher intelligence (whose identity is left intentionally vague but implicit). Science cannot answer the questions of whether God exists or whether He is guiding the evolution of life forms (barring a highly unlikely Revelations-like appearance of the Almighty telling us that that is what He has been doing, complete with miracles to convince the doubters). Such questions are simply not within the purview of science. There is nothing wrong with believing that a "higher power" either set evolution into motion (otherwise known as theistic evolution) or is guiding evolution to complex organisms ("intelligent design"). Belief in theistic evolution or ID make perfect sense if you believe in God. However, such beliefs are a matter of faith, not science. It would be perfectly acceptable to teach ID as religion or philosophy in public schools, but not as science because such beliefs are not science. Indeed, it is at the very least ascientific, relying on unfalsifiable hypotheses, fallacious reasoning, and distortions or even outright lies about what evolutionary theory actually says and what the evidence supporting it really is.

This statement by President Bush not unexpectedly has caused pro-ID bloggers, such as Jonathan Witt, Denise O'Leary, Stephen Jones, and William Dembski to crow. At least one was more circumspect, pointing out correctly that the President cannot dictate what school boards include in their curricula. True enough, but the President can influence where federal education aid goes and to what sorts of programs. Fortunately, this announcement has outraged even many conservatives, seemingly (to me, at least) even more so than liberals, a heartening development. It shows that not all conservatives drink the antiscience Kool-Aid being laid down by fundamentalists, nor do they all want to teach thinly disguised religious beliefs as "science" in the public schools. Examples from the conservative half of the blogosphere who have attacked the President's statement include: Instapundit, Rick Moran, John Cole, Right Thoughts, Catallarchy, Roger L. Simon, Don Surber and Andrew Sullivan, among others, and even some conservative columnists are also taking aim at ID. The best quote, as is often the case, comes from The Commissar:
Trying to prove the Dems right, one stupid f*cking statement at a time. Is Bush ‘playing to the base’ or does he believe it? I don’t know which is worse. One is horribly irresponsible; the other is just ignorant.
Charles Krauthammer also gets in a good shot, though:
There are gaps in science everywhere. Are we to fill them all with divinity? There were gaps in Newton's universe. They were ultimately filled by Einstein's revisions. There are gaps in Einstein's universe, great chasms between it and quantum theory. Perhaps they are filled by God. Perhaps not. But it is certainly not science to merely declare it so.
Indeed. Come to think of it, certain ID advocates and fundamentalists aren't too thrilled with sciences like geology, physics, or astronomy, either. Will they start trying to dictate what is taught in these sciences as well?

Regular readers know that I've been becoming increasingly disillusioned with the brand of conservatism that is currently in ascendence in this country, even though my own political beliefs haven't changed much, if at all. This clear ignorance about what is and is not science on the part of our President, now confirmed yet again, is just one more reason why. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a place for someone like me in the Democratic Party either, which leaves me without a party to call my own, at least a party with a chance of actually influencing policy. As John Rogers put it, I miss old-fashioned Republicans, the pro-science realists of the past.

45 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 8/03/2005 7:18 AM, Blogger Ahistoricality said...

Well, as a liberal, I can't really speak to the political tension you're experiencing (as a Democrat, I gave up expecting to agree with my representatives years ago), except to express my entire lack of surprise. This is not an administration which has any respect for science (unless you consider polling and demographic political analysis to be sciences), and a lot of respect for the hard-core voters ID will bring them; again, I gave up on these guys ages ago, so I have nothing but a "yeah, it's about time he came out and said it" for you. Sorry.

 

At 8/03/2005 8:19 AM, Blogger Lord Runolfr said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of the effectively disenfranchised. Fiscally conservative, socially liberal (or moderate) candidates simply don't exist (or if they do, they can't seem to get nominated).

Look forward to more disappointment in 2008.

 

At 8/03/2005 8:20 AM, Blogger Lord Runolfr said...

On an unrelated note, how did you miss that yesterday was the anniversary of Hitler's rise to power in Germany? Are the Hitler Zombie and EneMan engaged in a turf war?

 

At 8/03/2005 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you expand on why you wouldn't feel comfortable in the Democratic Party? I know people who are far more conservative, fiscally and culturally, than you seem to be who are Democrats. And there's no other party that has the slightest hope of beating back the swelling Republican tide of ignorance.

 

At 8/03/2005 8:34 AM, Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Sigh! There's a village somewhere in Texas that is missing an IDiot.

GrrlScientist

 

At 8/03/2005 9:10 AM, Blogger Rockstar Ryan said...

That is why voting in this 2 party system sucks so much: We have to choose between a turd sandwich or a giant douche (thank you, South Park!)

Jesse Ventura said it best regarding 2 party systems back in the day:

"That's only one more than Russia."

 

At 8/03/2005 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may be interested to hear that ID made a brief appearance in the UK media this week; there was an interview on BBC Radio 4 on Monday morning featuring Stephen Meyer and Sir David Attenborough in which the latter convincingly affirmed the fact that ID is not science and has no place in science classes. As a philosophical subject, fair enough...
You can listen to this discussion online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/
follow the link to Radio 4, select The Today Programme for Monday and fast forward to around 8.20am

 

At 8/03/2005 10:54 AM, Blogger Natty Bowditch said...

As a person of science, when you observe the same things happening time after time after time and conclude that, maybe, it might not happen again---who's to blame?

Conservatives knew Bush's record--yet they voted for him. Now, they're all doing their best Captain Renault imitations and expressing shock.

And how much longer are conservatives going to hide behind the tissue facade that is fiscal conservatism? Is Got getting smaller? Is 'borrow and spend' preferable to 'tax and spend?'

 

At 8/03/2005 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent entry. As a moderate Christian, your arguments echo my own beliefs exactly. It's too bad that the religious as well as the political spectrum is being taken over by foaming-at-the-mouth radicals.

~L. Walsh

 

At 8/03/2005 1:23 PM, Anonymous D Bunny said...

You not only conveyed my sentiments much better than I ever could have, but you used intelligent words with fancy syllables and without cussing. A feat I could not accomplish, so I'm linking to you in my entry. :)

 

At 8/03/2005 2:35 PM, Blogger Brent McKee said...

I have to confess that there's a certain aspect to theistic evolution that is rather intriguing. It would seem to harken back to the thoughts of the French philosophes of the 18th century who liked the notion of the "Great Clockmaker" who put things in motion but once in motion didn't interfere. Of course that's the sort of thing that advocates of "Intelligent Design" would reject out of hand in part because they demand that God be more than just an entity who sets things in motion and then observes. They want to believe in an interventionist God - but one who intervenes on their side only.

 

At 8/03/2005 2:44 PM, Blogger Rockstar Ryan said...

I have to confess that there's a certain aspect to theistic evolution that is rather intriguing. It would seem to harken back to the thoughts of the French philosophes of the 18th century who liked the notion of the "Great Clockmaker" who put things in motion but once in motion didn't interfere

That's called deist thought Brent, and really harkens more of a philosophical belief than a religious one. If I recall, Thomas Jefferson and Isaac Newton were of this school of thought. So was a young Rockstar till he learned about Occam's Razor

 

At 8/03/2005 4:29 PM, Anonymous Jeff Z said...

I posted this on another site, when I was infuriated. where it was ignored, but I just don't get it. I was an English Instructor at a major state university for five years and would have loved the teaching opportunity that an issue like ID would provide. Would someone take two minutes to tell me what I'm getting wrong? Am I just a crank? I give up, I guess.

Scientists remind me of what Israeli politicians say about the Palestinians: “They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Here is what the President actually said: “’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.’

Here’s an idea: Take the President at his word and expose students to different ideas, and in a dispassionate, ruthlessly logical way, demonstrate why ID does not hold up as science.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know that none of you would ever do that. After all: You’re right! (and, yes, I agree: You are right.) The data prove it! (and, yes, it does). Anybody who can’t see that is an idiot! And so the ID people win again.

In other words, scientists, who are far more educated, relying on flawless logic, and with all the physical evidence on their side, are losing to their opposites. And you guys think that they’re the idiots.

Scientists have to learn how to educate, not simply point to data. To educate means to learn the true needs of your students and address those needs. Let them tell you their objections to ID and ask them about those objections. Then ask another question. Then, when you fully understand, you can teach.

Bush has just thrown his full support to you:”’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.’

Instead of embracing him as an ally, you guys sit around making up reasons why he is a moron. Yeah, that’s it, it’s everybody else’s fault that they’re too stupid to understand how brilliant you are.

 

At 8/03/2005 5:47 PM, Blogger hashishan prophet said...

Here is the secret doctrine revelated to you that no man may know: I am the scret holy one of God, the God, the mother of God, the whore of God: I am the secret/sacred Intelligent Designer.

In my book of infinite wisdom I have set many traps for fools. The first of these is the filthy lie of Darwin. What fools to believe that my precious children are the filthy excretions of apes! In all of history past and present their was only onw man-ape -- Jesus the (false) Christ, filthy beast of Satan, and all his followers. Cursed forever!

Women is radiant flower of heaven, after my feminine pattern -- man is corruputed woman, eaten by WROM, false kundalini sex vampire, evil worm spurting devourer of precious truth! The beasts are a enemy from SCORPIO, my hated country.

Liars preach infinite universe/infinite time. True children of ME will realive that STARS are fixed beacons on crystal sphere 4 thousand miles above earth -- after my fashion. Each constellation is a beautiful homeland, filled with flowers, diamond castles, and wise CHALICOTHERIUM = "einhorn". NOT SCORPIO ? TUARUS = EVILEVIL!!! Earth is PANTIC shell covering holy secrets and blissful extase. The center of the earth is THAI()LAND.

The age of the earth is 3456 years - sacred number of my imminent return! Behold, I speak a supple sppech! Could words these beauiful radiate from a monkey-whore like Christ or Tesh? I AM THE LORD THY GOD == ANCIENT OF DAYS!

George W is a trap for fools -- my little puppet, and carnal prophesyer of the netherworld. In 2013 he shall assume the guardianship of DORADO, and repair the spiritual XAOS of XRISH(n)IANITY...

Christ/spirit/soul is lying fool contraption of sinister deceivers set on wrecking piece and destroying korean people in a sea of flames --- true truth is found in THETAN notion or JUCHE idea found by Sara Lyara Antichrist (I AM) december 21 1914 I AM antcient of days lo and beholden

Hello. My name is Sara. I am in contact with superior thought pattern from the swirling genital clouds of Cassiopia.

Hello. My name is Ted. I am redeemer/destroyer/expounder, founder of heaven and earth -- I turn sick lies into true thougts.

Hello. My name is Naum. I am ex-military, anti-Nixonian. 1972 my wife and children 'disappeared" and I was put away for twenty. It wasn't me it was Nixonian forces in CIA that forced my wife to undergo plastic surgery live in Brazil last I saw he she didn't rescue I saw my kids near the runway eating ice cream everything was changed we were chased down the river by Indian canoe paid for by CIA I am noe trying to recover my good name.

Behold my trinity nature, very beautiful and holy. I am death I am life. I preach the doctrine of material atheisma and spiritual goddes worship.

I shall place you into my fold in my absolute book of divine mercy 31 of december 2005 -- but you must accept my absolute faith and perform works of love and wickedness in many countrys.

I have lovely supple shape of female eyes, white skeleton, angel ribs (for wings, pony tail (truth), flaming nostrils, backwards teeth. All who faithfully follow my wisdom will obtain congress with me in BOOTES November 30, 2012 -- after polar reversal swamps monkey-worms from earth.

Repent your Darwin heresis! Release sweet innocents from your EVIL brain scam. Contact me faithfully in Prayer, bourished in your temple garments.

 

At 8/03/2005 8:18 PM, Blogger Mike the Mad Biologist said...

Orac,

I like this post. I'll admit that your brand of conservatism would be much harder for Democrats to beat–and I say this as a Democrat. In the mid 80s and very early 90s the only thing that kept Dems afloat in VA (where I was a resident) were the social issues like abortion. Moderate GOP women were terrified of the religious right.

I think the fanaticism of the religious right is finally starting to hurt the GOP. When the backlash comes, it's going to be ugly. While it will probably be good from my point of view, I think you're too nice a guy to deserve it.

 

At 8/03/2005 8:27 PM, Blogger Axiom said...

A trackback by hand: "Perhaps we need to INCREASE public school curricula and budgets (eek! taxes?!)."

Excerpt: "So here's the deal: I'm tired of the increasing American stupidity quotient. That is not a claim that we, as a group of people, are getting stupider. We are, however, generating material for stories that definitely make us all look like donkeys."

http://racross.blogspot.com/2005/08/perhaps-we-need-to-increase-public.html

 

At 8/03/2005 9:53 PM, Blogger Orac said...

Jeff Z:

Where have you been? What do you think scientists have been trying to do for years now? The real problem is that scientists have been playing it straight, while ID'ers can distort the evidence all they want with impunity.

You're just falling back on the "teach the controversy" line that the Discovery Institute pushes. Consider this and this (although I'm not nearly as stridently anti-Republican as PZ is). It's not a matter of anyone being "too stupid to understand how brilliant we are"; it's a matter of combatting a well-financed campaign of preying on the weak links in our system, the school boards and forcing ID to be taught. They are antievolutionist in their agenda.

As for Hashishan prophet, all I can say is: WTF?

 

At 8/03/2005 10:03 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

Jeff Z,

I think the reason that people are disgusted with Bush's idea has two primary motivations. First, the way the ID movement and presumably Bush present their case is that the neo-Darwinian synthesis and the ID materials should be taught as if each have equal scientific validity. If this were done, it would a travesty of science, because the neo-Darwinian synthesis has years of data and experiments supporting it whlle ID has only a few feeble philosophical arguments quibbling with evolutionary details. It's like saying that you should equally weigh the advice of your crank neighbor and your doctor on how to cure your cancer.

Second, the time frame for the typical high school biology class is already compressed. While it would be beautiful to spend weeks discoursing on the philosophy of science, there just isn't enough time. At the same time, I think it would be good for a teacher in a conservative district to consider how to overcome the anti-scientific prejudices of his or her students in order to help the students learn biology. Perhaps a discussion of how evolutionary theory disproves God no more than gravitational or germ theory would be in order. Further, it would be good to expose students to the concept that science is a process, not a set of facts to memorize.

In sum, the problem with teaching the controversy is that 1) there is no scientific controversy and 2) time is limited.

 

At 8/03/2005 10:19 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

Two more things I forgot to add:

1) Remember the target of this debate: typically high schoolers in tenth-grade general biology. They usually have short attention spans and all too often aren't deeply interested in biology. They will be neither interested in nor knowledgeable enough to be getting into the real, scientific debates going on in evolutionary biology like the role of endosymbiosis in the origin of specific cell components.

2) Evolution should not be a specific unit in a general biology class. It is the thread that ties biology together and should be taught that way, all throughout the course.

 

At 8/04/2005 1:31 AM, Blogger moioci said...

Orac: "I miss old-fashioned Republicans."

Funny how Garrison Keillor agrees with you here: http://thismatters.org/Keillor.html

 

At 8/04/2005 11:51 AM, Anonymous Jeff Z said...

I'll start off by apologizing for being so confrontational. I was too angry to be articulate. I really, really appreciate the feedback that people took the trouble to give. This problem is not only an intellectual one for me, but pragmatic as well. Part of my job involves educating scientists and engineers on how to increase their influence at the companies that my organization consults for. These are huge corporations that are trying to increase internal productivity. One of the biggest opportunities for the greatest marginal improvement is found in the interaction between the Science/Engineering/Technology Departments and the rest of the company. Seeing the problems I face with this group replicated in this topic drove me batty.

Orac: 1) I know scientists have been trying for years and I admire them for doing so. (I admire your for the effort and time you put in for the Blog.) I'm not denying this. What frustrates me is that they are doing it ineffectively. I'll get to that.

2) I am not saying to "teach both sides." What I am saying is to educate, not teach. A educating is teaching, but not all teaching is education. I'll get to that.

Andy: I agree with 3.5 of your points: 1) there is no scientific controversy; 2) time is limited. 3) tenth graders (I have one) have short attention spans; and 4)Evolution should not be a specific unit in a general biology class; but not: 4.5) It is the thread that ties biology together.

Now, I'll get to that.

First, my job: Like you guys, my techs (industry jargon for scientists, engineers, etc.) are almost always right, but, like you guys, almost always lose when facing an opponent. They do the same thing you do: Present the data, explain what it demonstrates, and prove their conclusion. The rest of their project team disputes it. The techs explain it again. The team disputes it again. The techs explain it again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Ad infinitum.

One day I show up. Talk to the Techs. There is no question they are right and the Project Teams are wrong. They are frustrated. The Project Teams are frustrated. Their company is losing a ton of money because of this problem.

I go back to the Techs. We sit down. "In these meetings," I ask, "What are you trying to accomplish?" "We are trying to demonstrate to the Project Team what we can and cannot accomplish for the project in question." "Then why am I here?" I ask. "I've seen your stuff. There's no question that in these meetings, you are demonstrating precisely that."

Confusion. "Then why don't they believe us?" they ask. "Exactly," I answer. "What?" they ask. "Your goal," I say, "is to find out why they don't believe you." "How are we supposed to do that? We've been trying for years and we've gotten nowhere," they yell. "You ask them," I answer.

So we set up a meeting with Marketing, Product Management, Sales, etc. And we ask them. Typical reasons are: Too hard to understand technical details; Techs are always negative; Keep pushing the Techs and they'll find another way; Belief that Techs always take the most extreme view and should be negotiated to a compromise;...well, that's enough. But we keep asking and pushing and learn a lot of stuff.

At the next meeting, I sit down with the Techs and they are optimistic and grateful. "We learned a lot from that meeting about everybody else's perspective in the project meetings," they say. "You're half right," I say. Surprise. "You learned a lot from that meeting, but you didn't learn anything project meetings." More surprise. "That wasn't a project meeting," I point out. "So you didn't learn anything about project meetings. What you did learn was what to do in a project meeting. At your next meeting, after you make your presentation and people still don't believe you, you ask why. You keep asking and asking until you learn the real reason, and most of the time that real reason is going to have nothing whatsoever to so with the science."

Obviously, I'm doing a tremendous amount of simplifying here, but that's the gist of it. Also, Techs have a great ability to learn and to apply knowledge, once it has been demonstrated to them convincingly, so my organization can always make a lot of progress in a hurry with this group.

Alright, now to the discussion. I agreed with Orac that the scientists were teaching, just as the Techs above were doing, but that they weren't educating, again, just as the Techs above were doing. The root of problem is that it is being framed incorrectly. (There was an article in the NYT Sunday Magazine a few weeks ago by some political guru about how the Democratic Party's problems could be solved by reframing. If you happened to have read the article, simply think the exact opposite about framing that it said and you will have a better understanding of what framing is.)

Your current framing of this issue is:

Problem: ID and Creationism are trying to be taught as science, which they are not.

Conflict: The partisans of these beliefs refuse to listen/can't understand/are afraid to admit that ID and Creationism are not science.

Resolution: Politicians are trying to force ID and Creationism into the classroom, while scientists attack this effort every way they can.

Let's reframe it. Reframing does not change the facts on the ground, but rather allows for more creative and productive behavior. The reframing will propose that: 1) Problem = Opportunity; 2) Conflict = Education; and 3) Resolution = Progress. Let's try:

1) Opportunity: Significant pseudo-scientific movements have arisen that will give science the opportunity to prove that ID and Creationism are not science.

2) Education: Through questioning and debate, scientists can discover the real reasons why people believe their ID and Creationism are science and why the believe that our science is inconclusive, false, flawed, etc.

3) Progress: Science can address these reasons and make genuine progress in its fight against pseudoscience.

Don't get me wrong. This is not going to "solve the problem." Nothing will ever "solve" this problem. What it will do, however, is push ID and Creationism back out of the scientific mainstream.

How do we do this in the classroom? Let's use W's wise (and no, I am not being sarcastic) words as a guide. Here are they key words:

W "...I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught...so people can understand what the debate is about...I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting -- you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

So why are they wise words? I'm going to say something not very nice: Scientists are very smart and have mastered as deep, profound, and fruitful a system of thought as the humanity has ever invented, but they think know everything, and as I showed above, that ain't so. So scientists: Stop thinking about how little W knows about science and start thinking about how very, very much he knows about politics. His words above are very poor science, but they are masterful politics.

Let's extrapolate from that to get to another big error the pro-Darwin side is making: This is a scientific struggle, but it is not solely a scientific struggle; it is also a political struggle. The president's statement has just handed us a major victory; maybe there is a better way to further our goals than pissing all over it and throwing it back at him.

Here is what W has proposed to resolve the problem:

1) "Both sides ought to be properly taught."

2)"People need to understand what the debate is about."

3)"Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought and...different ideas."

You guys have rushed to say that this supports the ID and Creationism. Not at all--unless you want it to, and you don't. So let's apply W's criteria to the 10th grade classroom and I'll try to address Andy's points at the same time. This is not a template, just an example of a method, and a radically simplifeid one at that. (If you want the full deal, you'll have to call my company and pony up six figures.) We'll put in an ID'er and Creationist. Creationsim is easier, so I'll put him up first.

Teacher: "Any questions?"
Creationist: "But what about Adam and Eve?"
T: "A lot of people wonder about that. What's your concern?"
C: "Well, the bible says that G-d (Note: I'm Jewish and that's how we write. I know it's a bit annoying. Sorry.) created the world, life, people, animals, and everything."
T: "My understanding is that you're absolutely right."
C: "Well, I think that's the truth. What you say is only a theory."
T: "A lot of people believe that too."
C: "Are you saying I'm wrong and you're right or are you saying I'm right and you're wrong?"
T: "Now that you mention it, I don't know. Do you mind if I ask you a question? It's a question that is going to make me sound stupid." (Andy, if that isn't going to get every 10th grader in the world's full attention, I don't know what will.)
C: "Sure!"
T: "What class is this and in what department?"
C: "Biology. Science Department."
T: Right. And you are graded by how well you learn science and biology, right? If I gave you an F for not being a good English student or being poor at gym, that would be wrong, correct? The criterion for this class is how well we do at biology, yes?"
C: "Sure."
T: "So when we talk about right and wrong in this class, we are talking about right and wrong in terms of biology and science, agreed?" (NOTE: THIS IS W'S KEY CRITERION: "PROPERLY TAUGHT." REPEAT "PROPERLY TAUGHT.")
C: "Yes."
T: "So, C, what are the scientific criteria for truth?"

Alright, you can take it from here. You can never go over the scientific method, etc. often enough and doing so only advances your cause anyway. Always remember that the ultimate is not to disprove the bible, but to remove Creationism from the realm of genuine science. Your goal in this conversation is to get C to acknowledge that since Adam and Eve is not scientifically provable or disprovable, it is not science. The big worry of most C's is that scientists are opposed to and attacking religion. To neutralize most of the C's opposition to teaching evolution, all we have to do is demonstrate that we cannot do this. Not will not, cannot.

This has the further advantage of being true.

Note how we have met W's criteria:

1) "Properly taught:" In a science classroom, proper teaching is about science.

2)"People need to understand what the debate is about:" In the science classroom, the debate is about meeting sceintific criteria

3)"Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought and...different ideas:" In the science classroom, this how science thinks. C has exposed another school of thought, based on a different idea, but because of the limitations of the proper way to teach this subject, this will have to be further explored in other classes.

Good old W -- he's right about everything.

Finally, there is no contradiction in both believing wholeheartedly in Evolution and having full faith in G-d and the absolute truth of the Bible. Numerous people do, including yours truly (well, the Old Testament, anyway).

On to ID. I think one of the biggest mistakes our side makes is to conflate ID and Creationism, because of their united opposition to us. They seem to be opposite to each other as well, because ID embraces the scientific method, while Creationsim rejects it. I suppose that in Creation Science they come together, but disproving the entirety of Creation Science is not going to have any affect on the Creationsists, because the root of their belief is faith.

I'm going to have to stop here for now. The running dog capitalist exploiters I work for insist that I do something for them now. I'll have to finish tomorrow, if anybody is interested. If you are, will you please post saying so?

Thanks!

PS: Sorry about any typos. I don't have time to proof.

 

At 8/04/2005 11:58 AM, Anonymous Jeff Z said...

Going over this, I see about a half-dozen word omissions. I'll correct it tomorrow if anybody wants me to continue this. Sorry I don't have time today.

 

At 8/04/2005 12:32 PM, Anonymous Thad said...

Fiscally conservative, socially liberal (or moderate) candidates simply don't exist

What are you talking about?

I seem to recall a time in the not-too distant past where the federal deficit was finally eliminated after years and years of reckless spending, and the government actually started running a yearly surplus.

Gosh, who was it that was running the country at the time? I just can't remember.

Anyway, Orac, while I don't understand why on earth you feel there "isn't a place for you in the Democratic Party," it's time to face facts -- there are two parties in this country, the pro-Englightenment party and the anti-Englightenment party. As your pal John Rogers likes to say:

Everybody who wants to live in the 21st century over here. Everybody who wants to live in the 1800's over there. Good. Thanks. Good luck with that."

 

At 8/04/2005 2:12 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

Jeff, you raise some good points. I will concede the effective communication strategies section to you because I'm not an expert in that field.

It appears that what I initially thought -- that you advocate a teach the controversy with both sides being given equal scientific validity -- was wrong. Nontheless, I still have some concerns about what you said.

First, you said, "ID embraces the scientific method, while Creationsim rejects it." What do you mean by this? If you've read the Wedge document and heard Johnson, Wells, Dembski and other prominent IDists, you will see that they embrace the appearance of looking scientific but they reject the scientific method. The scientific method relies on methodological naturalism. The IDists explicitly reject this key concept because they think they can scientifically prove the supernatural. Their methods consist of arguments from ignorance and flashy but empty techno-babble. It's been years since they promised IDist research, but you won't find the IDists in the lab because there are no IDist labs. They embrace and produce propaganda, not science.

Second, why don't you agree that evolution is the thread that ties biology together? Without evolution, biology becomes an archipelago of discoveries with nothing to unite them or see how they are related, even though specific research areas in biology don't explicitly depend on evolution on a day-to-day basis. To say that biology is not the key uniting into an coherent whole is like saying that a music historian could study the emergence of rock by just studying R&B, Little Richard, Bill Haley, and Elvis in isolation, without looking at how the many different genres and groups interacted with and evolved from each other to produce rock.

Last, do you really think the message Bush was trying to communicate was the same message you are sending? I find it implausible. Bush, who has said the jury is still out on evolution, either is a creationist or else was trying to placate his fundy base.

 

At 8/04/2005 2:14 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

"To say that biology is not the key uniting into an coherent whole"

should be

"To say that evolution is not the key uniting biology into an coherent whole"

 

At 8/04/2005 2:26 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

Orac, I miss the old Republicans too. In the last election, I could not bring myself to vote for either Bush or Kerry. That was a mistake, because the candidate I voted for was a wasted vote. We know that it was not practical to expect a third party candidate to win. If I were to do it over again, I would have voted for Kerry, even though I would have had to grit my teeth at the economic populism of Edwards. When the choice is between Democrats, who often seem to go against positions that economists almost universally support (free trade, for one), and Republicans, who wholesale reject science (creationism, global warming, etc.) and are increasingly under the thumb of the Dominionists, I am forced to pick the Democrats.

 

At 8/04/2005 5:02 PM, Anonymous Jeff Z said...

Andy:

1)My statement that "ID embraces the scientific method, while Creationism rejects it," was based on ignorance, then. My exposure to ID is clearly too limited. I've read Behe's "Darwin's Black Box," which I thought was very good. He seemed to present his arguments straightforwardly enough that I felt comfortable enough to find them sincere, imaginative, flawed, and unconvincing, and he is a wonderful biology writer. I found his descriptions of the inner workings of the cell, the structure of the eye, and the propulsion organs of microscopic animals not only accessible, but quite gripping, which is not relevant to his theories, but made me inclined to trust him. Aside from that, my only other serious exposure (as opposed to newspaper articles, websites, etc.) were a short series of articles in Commentary magazine, which I found much more abstruse and turgid, but they seemed to be accepting of standard scientific criteria. You're way ahead of me on this one--which is great! It lets me off the hook for tomorrow. I'll have to put a lot more study into this.

2) "Why don't you agree that evolution is the thread that ties biology together?" Uggh-You're right again, but guilty with an explanation: It wasn't that statement that I was trying to refer to, but what came after: that it "should be taught that way, all throughout the course" was that with which I disagreed. This goes back to my "teaching without educating" theme that I was trying to build on. I disagree with your approach as an educational strategy. If it is taught this way, the prejudices and defenses of students will go up immediately. Instead, I think a more effective approach (this is high school Biology 1, right? I don't mean on the advanced level) would be to lay the groundwork for this throughout the course so that it appears as a conclusion based on evidence learned during the year.

3) This one: "...do you really think the message Bush was trying to communicate was the same message you are sending? I find it implausible. Bush, who has said the jury is still out on evolution, either is a creationist or else was trying to placate his fundy base," I'll push back on, for the most part. Your last phrase: "Trying to placate his fundy base," is correct, but, well, you don't seem to have listened to what you were saying.

Before I explain that odd and insulting (sorry!) remark, let me explain a little bit about understanding a certain kind of political communication. Frequently, when people are speaking about political matters, they are putting themselves in danger. In the US, (thank G-d!) this is not (usually) physical danger, but rather the danger of losing power, influence, or your job, whether president or town councilman. The more danger politicians believe they are putting themselves in, the more carefully they have to speak. This means that in these situations, you have to pay very close attention to their words.

In other countries, where the danger is truly physical, people are far better at this, for good reason. If you have ever read any Soviet novels or autobiographies, you can actually observe people reading a newspaper or listening to the radio able to infer political activity through the placement of articles like "the" or "a," the facial angles of politicians in news photographs, and the syntax of a sentence.


W's statement about this matter is one of those situations. The reasons are as obvious as keeping a wide and varied coalition (the Republican Party goes from libertarian digerati to holy rollers) to safely maintaining the deepest tensions in a democratic republic (reason v. revelation, truths v. values, etc.). If he says the wrong thing, or even the right thing in the wrong way, or even the right thing that an opponent can make sound like the wrong thing, the consequences could be disastrous.

W has plenty of flaws, but he is a very good politician, and one of his strengths is his ability to address the key needs of his constituencies. This is why he kept winning even though is a terrible candidate, and why, when he should be on the ropes politically, he is still pushing big parts of his agenda through congress.

Notice how there has been some controversy about this statement, but not enough for anyone to get any real traction. That is what W's wording was designed to do, and that's what it did.

Your statement that I agreed with: "trying to placate his fundy base," was quite right and he was successful. But read his words carefully and you will see that at no point does he actually agree with his fundy base. Let's look again at what he said:

"...I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught...so people can understand what the debate is about...I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting -- you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

At no point does he say ID or Creationism is true. He doesn't say that they are science. He doesn't even say that they should be taught in Biology class. He says that they should be "properly taught," which means...which means...which means whatever you want it to mean.

He doesn't say that ID or Creationism are the intellectual equal of evolution and science, that there is evidence for them, or even that they are good or respectable, he says "understand the debate...hear both sides...expose people to different schools of thought." Look at his words closely. Is there anything in there with which you truly disagree? Only if you put in something that you disagree with. Also, only if the ID'ers and Creationist put in something that they disagree with will they be able to.

Bush (and his writers and advisors) found the one need that the ID'ers and the Creationists and the Darwinists and you and me have: We need to be right. His wording is designed so that any objection to it had to be based on the objector's belief that his case was weaker than that of his opponents. His words are all about giving each side a fair chance. Well, the only way you would object to that is if you could not win fairly, because the other person's case was stronger than yours.

"Aha!" you say, "that's what we're objecting to. Giving the ID'ers and Creationists equality with us makes them equally legitimate." That's right, and that's what the "fundies" heard Bush say.

But that's not what he said!

Here's the actual transcript that I found:

Q I wanted to ask you about the -- what seems to be a growing debate over evolution versus intelligent design. What are your personal views on that, and do you think both should be taught in public schools?

THE PRESIDENT: I think -- as I said, harking back to my days as my governor -- both you and Herman are doing a fine job of dragging me back to the past. (Laughter.) Then, I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught.

Q Both sides should be properly taught?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, people -- so people can understand what the debate is about.

Q So the answer accepts the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution?

THE PRESIDENT: I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting -- you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.

Here are his criteria:

1)"Properly taught" No equality there, only fairness.

2) "So people can understand what the debate is about." Fair? Sure. Equality? No.

3) "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. People ought to be exposed to different ideas."

As far as "The jury is still out" line is concerned, I'd go along with that. After all, nothing is absolutely certain. The Messiah could show up five minutes from now and say, "Gotcha! I planned the whole thing out--even the Grand Canyon!" However, that's not science. And once the argument is about what is science and what is not science, we win. Remember: That's the goal, to get ID and Creationism out of science.

True, at one point, he is asked for his opinion:

Q "So the answer accepts the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution?"

"HE PRESIDENT: "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting -- you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

This was so beautiful I almost wept:

Q: ""So the answer accepts the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution?"

W: "...you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

Granted, the word "validity," outside of a few special situations (e.g.: Is that a valid driver's license?) has no meaning whatsoever.

Still, I'm going to try it with my wife tonight:

WIFE: "Do I have to do everything around here? Can you at least take out the garbage, you lazy bastard?"

ME: "I think that part of marriage is to expose people to different ways of loving and sharing, and I'm not suggesting -- you're asking me to have sex with you, the answer is yes."

Fairness is not equality. Let's take an old rival to Darwinism--Lysenkoism. If you felt you needed to cover this dispute, wouldn't you make sure that it was taught "properly," that students "understood the debate," and that you were doing it because "part of education was to expose people to different ideas and schools of thought?" And you would disprove it completely.

The critical thing is that Bush has shown us how to win, by giving us the criteria that is accepted by our opponents and that ensures our victory if we use it properly. Go back to the little Socratic dialogue I concocted with the Creationist kid for an example.

Was Bush intending to do this? Not at all; his goal was political. Won't the other side fight back hard and try to frame Bush's words to their own benefit. They can and they will.

But we're not going to persuade them and it doesn't matter. The people who really care about this enough to make it their major issue and work actively for it are a small minority.

We're trying to persuade the people who either agree with them, but who are not sure that teaching this stuff in a biology class is a good idea or people who don't understand the importance of the situation.

The goal is not to vanquish ID and Creationism, it is to make sure they are not classified as science and keep them out of biology class.

Work emergency! I'll look for your answer. Sorry about any typos.

 

At 8/04/2005 5:46 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

Jeff, I think we agree on much more than we disagree in this discussion. There were only three comments I had.

As your experience shows, the IDers produce very slick materials. But check out the Wedge document here:
http://wiki.cotch.net/index.php/Wedge_document
It is this very slickness that the IDers are capable of that makes them dangerous. One of the more prominent IDers, Jonathon Wells, is clearly anti-scientific in his methodology, having stated his goal of destroying evolution before he even evaluated the data.
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2004/03/mything_the_poi.html

You said that you disagree that evolution "should be taught that way, all throughout the course." But you also said that you don't think evolution should be confined to one isolated unit in Gen. Bio. 1. What I meant is that evolution should be used to explain things throughout the course, from taxonomy to the development of pesticide resistance. I was not saying that fundie kids should be beaten over the head with evolution for the whole course. I think we agree here, but I'm not sure.

As far as Bush, I will agree that he must have some measure of effectiveness in political communication, having won the presidency twice. I think he personally couldn't care less evolution. I can appreciate if he is cottoning to the political realities as he sees them.

Nontheless, something is wrong if the leader of the most powerful nation on earth must even give the _appearance_ of supporting teaching ID in schools as a valid scientific theory. Evolution is one of the most strongly supported scientific theories out there. Bush may as well have equivocated on heliocentrism, which some people still support (http://geocentricity.com) and some churches still held as offical doctrine within living memory (see Missouri Synod Lutheran Church among others).

 

At 8/04/2005 10:09 PM, Blogger Orac said...

Jeff,

Dude....

Only Orac is allowed to such post long-winded articles here, mainly because it's Orac's blog...

 

At 8/05/2005 6:58 AM, Anonymous Kristjan Wager said...

Funny enough, I was going to say that for a communications expert, Jeff is pretty bad at keeping in short and precise.

 

At 8/05/2005 10:01 AM, Anonymous Jeff Z said...

Kristjan: For me, that is short and precise! No, these lengthy posts are unique for me. I care so deeply about this issue, and it is one area where I have both some expertise and experience, that I wanted to make a serious contribution. The blog world moves too fast for editing, which the posts certainly could have used.

So, (real quick, Orca!) Andy:

1) Thanks for the link. My orientation is religious, so I feel comfortable with Creationism, but I now see my ID knowledge is minimal.

2) You know a lot more about the subject, but we agree: How to best teach evolution to gain acceptance. Example: With my fellow religious believers, I can usually gain a foothold for evolution in discussing the natural selection of bacteria as seen in resistance to anti-biotics and build from there.

3)Agree with you on Bush's political indifference. He seems to be like me on this issue: G-d has said what he has to say on the matter, and that's his business, not yours. And frankly, if you can maintain your faith in a world where evil is so often triumphant and the innocent so often suffering, nothing anybody says about a pile of rocks is going to sway you, and vice versa.

Orca, I'm going to put in two last paragraphs here, and not post the entire essay, so throw me a bone. (Time for my own blog, I guess.)

This is a war that science is coming very late to, and of which the Evolution/Creationism/ID controversy is only a small and insignificant part. It has nothing to do with Scopes, and everything to do with the intellectual war on objectivity and truth that has been grinding on for almost two centuries now. When I was in grad school (English), I got some dissertation (never completed) help from the neuroscience people, who were very amused by the inanity of the Critical Theory schools that were so pervasive in English, and the equal types of silliness throughout the various Humanities and Social Science Departments (even Music, which was profoundly weird).

Funny, huh? Well, guess what? They won. Now they're coming after you. The "fundies" are only belatedly reaching in for their piece of the pie. In Western intellectual life, it is now taken for granted that objectivity and truth are illusory, and that all knowledge is provisional and subjective. The destruction of science is the last battle of a very long war.

One of the very few scientists who gets this is Allan Sokal. If you don't know him, a good starting interview to read is at:
http://www.philosophers.co.uk/noframes/articles/sokalnf.htm

Thanks for your patience, Orca. I'll keep 'em short and sweet from now on.

 

At 8/05/2005 11:39 AM, Anonymous Dan S. said...

I'm quite impressed with both the tone and content of Jeff's post. Jeff, hopefully you've taken a gander at good ol' Wedgie, and have found out more about what ID really is (at least in its current quasi-political incarnation). I'm interested in hearing what you, as a communications-y person, thinks of the Wedge . . . .

Certainly good communication strategies are a big part of effective teaching. No argument there! But . . .You mention finding out why people believe ID/Creationism is science. The general impression is that there are three reasons. 1) don't know a great deal about science. and/or 2) don't know a great deal about ID, and/or 3: the big one religion. That's what makes it such an . . . interesting . . . issue.

You say "Let's take an old rival to Darwinism--Lysenkoism. If you felt you needed to cover this dispute, wouldn't you make sure that it was taught "properly," that students "understood the debate," and that you were doing it because "part of education was to expose people to different ideas and schools of thought?" And you would disprove it completely."

Exactly. And in some ways this is an excellent parallel, because Lysenkoism was tied into a quasi-religious ideology, and served to combat scientific ideas deemed to ideologically unacceptable. One thing, though. Nobody believes in Lysenkoism anymore. Certainly nobody in America is upset with evolution because they think it's an evil capitalist imperialist plot (well, ok, very few people with no influence to speak of).

Now, as you know, for the DI crowd, ID is meant as the thin edge of a wedge intended to shatter evil materialistic atheistic science and replace it with something more theologically acceptable. (I always find that hard to write without feeling like I should be wearing a lovely tinfoil hat . . .)

More importantly, for many people these ideas are very convincing. Evolution is seen as promoting not just atheism but amorality - it's responsible for Columbine, didn't you hear? It's anti-God. It says we're just shambling apes staggering around a soulless world until our quick, final and meaningless deaths. And so on. Yes, it's not *true,* but it's very hard to argue against. Imagine if the tech team situation involved something like this?

I talk too much, but more to the point - I think that using ID as a teaching tool (as I repeat at mindnumbing length in various places around the internet), no matter how sensitively done, would leave some kids with the impression that you -and by extension, science - just shat on their beliefs. Explicitly, too. That's no good at all. I would think that it would be better to avoid the subject if possible. I may be wrong, and in some circumstances it might work out fine. Indeed, some teachers do take that approach. I dunno. Learning abstract thinking is difficult, and most 9th and 10th graders are still working on it. Trying to teach the scientific method, making sophisticated metaphysical distinctions, and challenging important beliefs all at the same time?
Let me go try to dig up research about learning in cases with a strong negative emotional component. But anyway, I'd suspect that for lots of kids, bringing this up will make them *less* likely to learn, not more. Not all kids, I'm sure, but . . .

Hmm. What's the best way to keep ID out of science class? I would think you might be able to divide ID-in-the-science classroom people into groups:
a) pro-science supporters: it would help teach the scientifc method!
b) innocent bystanders: there's a controversy, right? It seems only fair to teach both sides. ID's science too, isn't it? -lack of knowledge? Here ID's scientific trappings come into play.
c) leaners: like innocent bystanders, but with a more religious component. Here ID's plausible-denial religiousity comes into play as well. It's not obviously over-the-top 6-day wackiness, and it sounds scientific, *and* it fits right in with their beliefs, soothing any concern, etc.
d) religious anti-evolutionists: they're pushing evolution on our kids, telling them their religion is wrong, that they're just monkeys and life is meaningless!
(See also the recent attempt to have the Tulsa Zoo put up a creation display, on the grounds that the statue of Ganesha by the elephants was endorsing religion and needed to be balanced)

Although it's more complex; ID's congruency with religious beliefs gives it at least an unconscious boost with most innocent bystanders as well. I'm not usually a fan of Philly Inquirer political cartoonist Tony Auth, but his teach the controversy cartoon (see a post or two up) hit the nail right on the head. An ID-style movement for alchemy wouldn't get much support, largely because of belief factor.

Still, different approaches for different groups.
Gee, that was helpful of me . . .

 

At 8/05/2005 11:56 AM, Anonymous Dan S. said...

" Each constellation is a beautiful homeland, filled with flowers, diamond castles, and wise CHALICOTHERIUM"

Really?! I would love to see a chalicothere. That would rock. Teach me, o wise pebble beast!

"I have lovely supple shape of female eyes, white skeleton, angel ribs (for wings, pony tail (truth), flaming nostrils, backwards teeth."
I went out with a girl like that once . . .

"George W is a trap for fools -- my little puppet, and carnal prophesyer of the netherworld."
Gee, Hashishan Prophet is sounding surprisingly sensible . . . (sorry, Orac)

Teach Hashishan Prophet in school! Let the children decide!!

 

At 8/05/2005 2:29 PM, Anonymous Jeff Z said...

Dan S.: I'm going to start my own blog next week, for those who are interested, and I don't want to abuse Orca's hospitality any further, so I'm going to give brief assertive responses to your points,which I will expand on greatly in my future blog.

1)Wedge. One of my first blog pieces will deal with this. Wedge's root error is to ascribe observation--Marx, Freud, Darwin--to cause: The peculiar nature of the evils of the 20th and 21st centuries. "Materialism" (Wedge's term) did not cause this evil, it only gave permission. But Christianity gave this permission for many centuries and Islam still does.

2) Lysenko. Right, except it was tied to an atheistic-scientific ideology, not a quasi-religious one. You can't ask religious people to acknowledge the abuses of religion if you won't do the same of science.

3)Atheism as immorality. Inaccurate, but atheism does have the problem of finding authority for morality. Ultimately, it has to rely on force or persuasion. Religion does to, but also has faith, revelation, and a superior authority. When faced with this point, go to the second half of #1, above.

4) Education. Keep asking questions, until you get to the root of your opponent's objections. Make them define any word whose meaning is not clear. Example: (Really, quick, Orac!) The only debate I've "won" recently (meaning the other guy said, "I guess you have a point.'), was making a lawyer advocating the federal government as the sole national health care provider (imagine RFK, jr, holding a high post), was forcing him to define his opening sentence, "Profitng off other people's misery is disgusting." Okay, he was a lawyer, so it was easy, but still...

 

At 8/07/2005 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lysenko. Right, except it was tied to an atheistic-scientific ideology, not a quasi-religious one. You can't ask religious people to acknowledge the abuses of religion if you won't do the same of science

In which class does one discuss Lysenko? Biology class? Or perhaps History class instead? It's like the Scopes Trial. Any discussion of biology as a science would not repeat not include William Jennings Bryan's testimony any more than it would rehash Lysenko's notions of "vernalization".
These events, like Galileo's trial, are events in the history of modern science as an institution, as examples of what Helge Kragh(Introduction to the Historiography of Science) calls "S2" as opposed to the sciences themselves--"S1". ID deinitely falls into the S2 category.
In other words, not in Biology class.

 

At 8/07/2005 11:34 PM, Anonymous Dan S. said...

"Lysenko. Right, except it was tied to an atheistic-scientific ideology, not a quasi-religious one. You can't ask religious people to acknowledge the abuses of religion if you won't do the same of science."

Hmm. Well, what I was trying to get to was that what Marxism became was not scientific or truly atheistic. In other words, it kinda became a religion, in some sense. It wasn't an abuse of science, except in that science became a victim of abuse - but not as badly as the purged real scientists and the people who starved . . .

 

At 8/08/2005 5:10 PM, Anonymous Jeff Z said...

Dan S: Poor choice of words. I should have said something like "perverted" instead of "abuses."

 

At 8/14/2005 7:46 PM, Anonymous Weasel said...

If we're going to keep religion out of science class, then let's keep materialist philosophy out as well.

There's no proof that there's no God. There's no proof that the origin of life was random, or that mutation actually gave rise to all of our species.

If you believe anything stated in the previous paragraph, it's based on faith, not science.

There's plenty of proof that unfit species die out, or at least fail to reproduce well. That's scientifically true, as much as any other theory. That means it has been tested a lot, and hasn't been refuted yet. See Karl Popper's many works about the nature of scientific truth.

 

At 8/15/2005 8:56 AM, Blogger Orac said...

It is precisely because science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God that intelligent design should not be taught as "science."

You're also spouting off the usual creationist straw men. Evolution has nothing to do with the origins of life. Nothing. Evolution only tries to explain how life evolved into its present diversity AFTER it already existed. Also, evolution does not equal atheism, as the Catholic Church has accepted, the recent article by a prominent Cardinal notwithstanding.

 

At 8/16/2005 10:39 PM, Anonymous Weasel said...

Orac, no straw men are intended. My point is that many, many angry & humorless evolutionists insist that evolution encompasses proof of the accidental origin of all life, the accidental development of all species, and the non-existence of God. Of course it does none of those things. I think you just agreed with that last comment in your prev. post. I have no other agenda. I'm open to accept anything that can be proved. I'm no expert here, as my PhD is not in Biology.

 

At 8/17/2005 11:15 PM, Blogger Orac said...

Hmmm. Which "humorless evolutionists" insist that evolution "encompasses proof of the accidental origin of all life, the accidental development of all species, and the non-existence of God"? What, specifically, did they say to make you conclude that?

 

At 8/19/2005 12:55 AM, Anonymous Weasel said...

There are along the lines of 'evolution proves there is no god', but aren't always as direct as that.

Julian Sanchez is sympathetic
http://juliansanchez.com/notes/archives/2005/08/when_faith_isnt.php

Commenter Mark Barton here, along with other commenters
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/08/julian_sanchez.html#c42703

George H. Smith’s book Atheism: The Case Against God

Richard Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene

Philip Kitcher
http://slate.msn.com/id/33241/entry/33366/

Blogger and commenters here dance around the subject
http://groktheidiom.blogspot.com/2005/08/oh-man-why-does-he-say-this-kind-of.html

Parts of this Jerry Coyne article
http://www.tnr.com/user/nregi.mhtml?i=20050822&s=coyne082205
as discussed by Pigilito here
http://pigilito.blogspot.com/2005/08/new-republic-has-lengthy-intelligent.html

That's what I could get out of a quick google search. Besides that, from experience, some atheists are quite dogmatic about their atheism.

Nice talking to you,

 

At 8/19/2005 9:41 AM, Blogger Orac said...

So what? Even if true, that has no bearing on whether or not evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of live, nor does it say anything other than that there are opinionated people on both sides of the issue. People have done horrible things perverting evolution too, such as social Darwinism. That doesn't invalidate evolution. It's nothing more than argumentum ad consequentiam.

 

At 8/20/2005 8:26 PM, Anonymous Weasel said...

Orac, we're now approaching violent agreement. I agree with you that evolution is the best explanation for what it explains (life as it exists today), and not for things it doesn't explain (the ultimate origin of life). I agree that there are people on both sides who argue their beliefs past what the science supports. That's what I have been saying for three comments now. Glad to have you on my side. 8^)

 

At 8/26/2005 2:22 AM, Blogger FreeThinker said...

This issue simultaneously fascinates me and bores me.

Of course "God" can not be proved or disproved. But you can assign a probability to it. I think Bigfoot is more likely to exist than a god. But I will say I do not believe in either.

PS ~ Check out my latest post on ID.

 

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Links to this insolence:

Create a Link

<< Home