Burning Question: Should intelligent design be taught in science class?

| 20 Comments

The Seattle Post Intelligencer has an opinion piece where it asks the following burning question:

Chapman and company acknowledge that intelligent design is underdeveloped as a testable scientific theory. Nevertheless, they believe their ideas deserve inclusion in science curricula. A number of states already have opted for just such a requirement. Soon, we all may be facing this Burning Question:

Should intelligent design be part of science education?

The PI does not mince any words to point out that which is so obvious to any observer, christians and non-christians alike namely that ID is all about God and little about science. But the genie has been let out of the bottle and the DI has lost control over its own “Wedge” and the cracks are starting to show, surprisingly not as much in Darwinian theory as amongst ID creationists.

Now that the media has been alerted to Intelligent Design, more and more Christians and non-Christians will have to make a choice. Good science or poor religion.

Bruce Chapman has long been one of the smartest guys in Seattle.

As president of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, Chapman is at the forefront of a nationwide push to topple a materialistic interpretation of human existence and reaffirm the idea that, behind all physical reality, all nature and science, there works an unseen hand and an omnipresent mind – aka God.

20 Comments

That piece actively solicits comments. Give it a go.

I wonder if this change about thinking that it should be taught is due to the fact that they forgot to tell the people that they scammed that they had changed tactics back in 1999. It is pretty bad when it comes out that the President is one of the rubes that you scammed. It would be difficult to admit that you had dropped ID as the Wedge and decided on a replacement scam that didn’t even mention ID, and that you did it years ago.

Dembski seems to be leaning in this direction. He had obviously signed onto the new scam right after Ohio with his comments about ID proponents not overstating their case, when all the Ohio rubes wanted to do was what Dembski had been advocating in the 1990s. So since they don’t want the President and Presidential wannabees to look too much like clueless rubes they have to come out and try and claim that there is still something to teach about ID.

It is a novel strategy. Admit that your science isn’t up to snuff, but you still claim that it should be taught anyway. Since none of the creationist rubes ever asks for a lesson plan they never have to demonstrate how bogus their ID junk is.

Dembski can demonstrate that I am wrong by putting up an ID lesson plan that backs up the President instead of just empty propaganda. Why didn’t guys like Dembski ever put up an ID lesson plan even when they were advocating teaching ID? Why can’t Dembski put one up now when he claims to back the President? Could it possibly be that there is nothing to the new claims? ID doesn’t seem to have gotten any better since Ohio, they just are more embarassed. Really, if you claim to be able to teach this junk, it should be easy enough to demonstrate it by posting an ID lesson plan. Why didn’t the Discovery Institute ever post an ID lesson plan? Why didn’t a lesson plan accompany the Wedge document? Why is there no counter evidence that the bluster about ID is and was empty bogus bluster?

Hello SPI,

The answer to your question should “intelligent design” be part of science education is:

No, it shouldn’t.

The reason is simple. “Intelligent design” is not science. There is no “theory of intelligent design.” There has been no research.

“Intelligent design” is the result of a marketing campaign run by a well-funded organization right there in Seattle.

The question I have for SPI is this:

Should Flying Spaghetti Monsterism be part of science education? Why not? At least they have the meatballs to identify the designer.

Regards, Dr. Bill Farrell Houston, Texas

PvM Wrote:

The PI does not mince any words to point out that which is so obvious to any observer, christians and non-christians alike namely that ID is all about God and little about science.

Broken record time (apologies to Ron, who has read my recent Talk Origins posts): If it’s so obvious, why do we keep telling everyone what they know, while slick IDers keep getting clueless followers to say “Gee, I never thought of it that way!”?

The PI asked for a short response, but I was unable to comply. I’m sending this in anyways:

Should intelligent design be a part of science education?

The answer is an unequivocal no. While, contrary to the Discovery Institute’s claims, there is actually little debate among life scientists about the evidence for biological evolution, the controversy is significant to the lay public. It is difficult to explain to people who aren’t scientists about the process of discovery and confirmation, and reconfirmation a thousand times over, that led to our present understanding of mutation, natural selection and speciation. It is especially difficult in the extremely short spaces the modern media affords for these debates. The best way I can explain it is with analogy. For example, there are many scientists who believe that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. They are a small minority, but they do exist. They claim the HIV-AIDS link is just an orthodoxy that is predicated on a conspiracy of the research establishment (sound familiar?). Unlike most of the folks at the Discovery Institute, many of these scientists actually have done research and published scientific papers. In fact, the HIV-nonbelievers even include a Nobel prize winner. They make observations about flaws or unanswered questions in the present research on the virus, and then make the unfounded leap to the conclusion that it must be all wrong. Yet, despite this “controversy,” we wouldn’t consider teaching that AIDS is not caused by HIV in schools, unless the deniers actually came up with a theory of their own that explained why so many people with HIV are dying, and why if we give them anti-retroviral therapy they seem to live. Similarly, intelligent design doesn’t even have a theory of it’s own. It exists only by criticizing how, strangely, we can’t explain every minute detail of an evolutionary process that occurred over billions of years. If they can come up with an actual theory, that isn’t immediately obliterated by a mountain of verifiable observations and evidence, then we should have this debate again. Until then, it simply isn’t science.

As a reference, some of the HIV denier literature can be found at healtoronto.com. The Nobel prize winner I referred to is Kary Mullis, who won the prize in 1993 for his invention of PCR.

sanjait Wrote:

The PI asked for a short response, but I was unable to comply.

My email (less than 150 words) keeps getting an “unable to send” error message. Did you have that problem too or do you just mean that you decided that it’s too long?

Anyway, you may already know that the DI’s own Phillip Johnson, the #1 popularizer, if not the originator, of the ID strategy, was (is?) one of the most vocal HIV deniers.

Sometimes, not often, I really like the WWW.

BTW, the email I couldn’t send:

While “Intelligent Design” (ID) is an appropriate topic for a non-science class, its chief promoters now admit that it is not a well-developed theory like evolution. So now they mostly just advocate a “critical analysis” of evolution. Who can object to that? Unfortunately, what they offer is not a true critical analysis but a slick misrepresentation, which promotes ID and the related creationism without referring to either directly. Mainstream science, mainstream religion, and politically conservative scientists like me overwhelmingly conclude that ID and creationism are bad science and bad theology. Nothing in evolution denies design or creation in the general sense, unless it is misrepresented as such. And because that’s exactly what the ID activists want to do, what they advocate is inappropriate for science class.

Hmm. looks like my post didn’t go through earlier. BTW, kwickxml “p” and “hr” aren’t working. Anyway, here’s my letter:

You ask, “Should ID be taught in science class?”. How would one go about teaching it, since even some fellows of the Discovery Institute have admitted, there’s no actual ID Theory?

ID is not a scientific movement. It is a religious program. The founders of ID, such as William Dembski, believe evolution is an obstacle to accepting christianity. So they strive to give people the impression that evolution is dubious and can be safely disregarded.

The scientific community knows otherwise. Evolution is the fundamental framework which makes sense of biology. Biotechnology is important to Washington, and evolution is important to biotechnology. With the emergence of China and India, competition for good technical jobs will only increase. Don’t send your kids into battle unprepared. Support evolution, and good science in general.

Steve Story

The email link at the bottom of the Seattle PI article looked pooched; try [Enable javascript to see this email address.].

And the answer to “Should We Teach Intelligent Design in Science Classes?”

Of course!

Right after we teach that diseases are caused by demonic possession. And that thunder is the sound of angels bowling.

Even the Discovery Institute fellows admit “intelligent design is underdeveloped as a testable scientific theory.”

*If* at some point ID becomes accepted as mainstream science, it will be taught. Until then, we’ll keep teaching about the germ theory of disease, about electrical discharges - and evolution as the grand unifying theme of biology.

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Frank: The linkto on the seattle pi page was busted, but after following csa’s link it went through. I was not aware that Phillip Jonhson was involved in both of these “theories,” although I don’t find that surprising. I guess he is just a natural conspiracist and contrarian. In 1994 I was 16 years-old, so I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but from reading a few archived notes it seems like this HIV stuff got a lot of attention in the mainstream press around that time. I first became aware of it lasst year when grading papers for a university introductory microbiology course. The students were assigned to come up with a theory about how a small part of the population seems to fall into a “nonprogressor” category, as in they are HIV positive for many years but don’t lose T cells even without antiretroviral therapy. They were supposed to go online and find stuff about missing receptors, fused antibodies or otherwise altered immune function, but I was appalled when many of them came back with some nonsense about “good nutrition” or “living a healthy lifestyle” and not taking their medications, all referenced that HEALToronto website. That must be the first hit on Google or something. Ignorance is truly painful to witness.

Re “At least they have the meatballs to identify the designer.”

Groan!!!!!

So, according to that theory, the designer is an Italian chef?

Henry

Henry, wouldn’t the Italian Chef be the designer’s designer? Maybe that fringe group the Chef-Boy-Ar-Deists are actually on to the bigger picture!? I’m so confused, either way, RAmen…

Henry J,

Look, Hank old buddy, you can’t debate the IDer’s. They don’t respond to science. What’s a guy to do? So, I resort to humor, even bad humor. Laughter is the best medicine and these guys need a lot of it!

Personally, I think that we have a great chance of getting Flying Spaghetti Monsterism taught in schools. The students will eat it up!

Regards, Doc Bill

It’s getting pasta joke now guys.

The link for e-mail on that web page is busted. Remove the space from

[Enable javascript to see this email address.]

Posted by KiwiInOz on August 28, 2005 10:50 PM It’s getting pasta joke now guys.

Are they posting responses already? Do you have a link? All I can see is the “Sound Off” at the bottom of that page with 1 comment, no mention of FSM.

csa Wrote:

And that thunder is the sound of angels bowling.

You are 100% wrong. Thunder is the Devil beating his wife! And lightening is when the wife falls over and breaks the lamps.

Get it right!!!

Should we teach ID in science???

NO NO NO NO NO

There is no theory. The day the ID’ers come up with an actual scientific theory, is the day when pigs fly!

My reply to SPI:

No, for any of several reasons.

One: Intelligent Design, the alleged “scientific theory” which holds that “somewhere, somewhen, somehow, somebody intelligent did something”, is simply too vacuous to be worth spending *any* class time on.

Two: According to ID, dead-matter-plus-natural-laws *absolutely cannot* generate living matter. If this is true, ID’s Designer cannot Itself have been a product of natural law; therefore, ID’s Designer must be supernatural. Since science cannot address the supernatural, ID has no place in science classes.

Three: What, exactly, would an ID class *teach*? There is no ID lesson plan!

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on August 28, 2005 12:28 PM.

More on the California creationist lawsuit was the previous entry in this blog.

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