News Roundup

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The American Institute of Biological Science has issued a statement Criticizing the President’s comments:

“Intelligent design is not a scientific theory and must not be taught in science classes,” said AIBS president Dr. Marvalee Wake, a perspective shared by President Bush’s science advisor, Dr. John Marburger III. On Tuesday, August 2, Marburger stated in an interview that “evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology” and “intelligent design is not a scientific concept.”

The committee that wrote Kansas’ new science standards have voted to distance themselves from the revisions being championed by the State School Board.

Most members of the committee that wrote Kansas’ science standards asked Tuesday to have their names removed from revised standards that encourage criticism of evolution.

The committee endorsed a 14-page critique of everything the State Board of Education’s conservative majority added in June and July.

The wording critical of evolution “parallels the language of the Intelligent Design Network and Discovery Institute,” the committee wrote. “Critical analysis of evolutionary theory is a repeated theme of both organizations’ Web sites and literature. This critical analysis has no basis in science or science education.”

Most of the news this week concerning evolution has dealt with President Bush’s statements supporting adding “intelligent design” to education. Of course other things are going on in our world.

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AN UPDATE FROM AN AUSTRALIA

Since this is the news section I thought I’d write about the state of ID and skepticism in Australia.

Dembski linked to an article in on his weblog ( shudder ) in which the inventor of the bionic ear reports his attachment to ID. The article was very sympathetic, which was odd because it came from the age, a usually very objective and matter of fact newspaper from liberal Melbourne.

It’s pretty bad news because over here, in Australia, the inventor of the bionic ear is pretty much everyone favourite medical scientist. There were also, from memory, a couple of sympathetic statements of agreement by the inventors colleagues, identifying intelligent design as legit. For a country which has one of it’s major cities named after Darwin this is a bit of a surprise. Australia, the first country to successfully teleport light, fallen to the hoards of darkness! Not quite, Dr Karl ( famous Australian science populariser and runner of the “War on error” science fair) will no doubt have something to say about this. But if this keeps up maybe we really will become the “Failed democracy of Australia” as Dr Steve Steve put it.

Australia has something of a history of pseudoscience. Our primary university, the university of Sydney is almost entirely ruled by Foucault fetish style postmodernists of the sort the “Skolal hoax” was directed at, our whole English and History criculiums have a relativistic flavour ( one English project asks students to examine how various “ideologues” construct their truth), Phillip Davies, winner of the Templeton prize and rouge scientist who believes in a form of moderate pantheistic ID is perhaps our chief science populariser, at our universities one can take one of numerous courses in “alternative medicine” as part of a general medical degree and even major in the area and last but not least the creator of Answers in Genesis came from Australia.

sb story, if you haven’t gotten a paper yet today grab a N&O and check out the editorials. a professor named Pugh from Elon has a piece critical of idc. the link is here for everyone else. sincerely, Paul

Ken Miller is my hero. I hope one day I can come close to speaking to my students like he does. Thanks for pointing out that interview, I really enjoyed it. Why can’t we all be as unconflicted, energetic, and articulate as Ken Miller? I doubt he offended anyone on either side of the debate. Sorry for the rant, I just can’t get enough of the man. It is teachers like him that inspired me to become a biology teacher myself.

Paul, thanks for the heads up. In about an hour I’ll be at the Starbucks in Cammy Village, sipping on some Kenya, and reading the N&O editorial page. I read the NYT for information, the N&O for amusement. If there’s something anti-ID in it, I’ll get to enjoy a week of letters by the angry rubes. “Intilugent Design is real science the way Jesus intended not like evilution which is a atheism religion…” “Evolution is wrong that’s why Darwin retracted it on his deathbed and gave his life to our Lord and Savoir…”

That interview with Dr. Miller was great. Thank you, Reed.

That was a decent article. Pugh argues that ID is bad because it requires teachers to deal with distressing theological questions. For those outside the near-Raleigh area, the article is here http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion[…]133900c.html Of course, ID supporters won’t find this a problem. They are in favor of teachers promoting christianity. That’s the whole point of ID. Like Bill Buckingham said: “Ain’t nobody gonna stand up for Jesus?”

But if this keeps up maybe we really will become the “Failed democracy of Australia” as Dr Steve Steve put it.

Perhaps Prof. Steve Steve should fit the island continent into his itinerary. He recently featured some photos of a wallaby, but that was in Hawai’i.

From: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opini[…]esign09.html

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Intelligent design is sorely misunderstood

JOHN G. WEST GUEST COLUMNIST

Over the past several months, there has been a growing public debate about the theory of intelligent design, whether it is science, and whether it should be taught in public schools. President Bush’s recent endorsement of teaching about different ideas when studying evolution, including intelligent design, is sure to add fuel to the controversy.

Unfortunately, all the attention has not necessarily led to greater public understanding of the theory of intelligent design or the views of the scientists who support it. Indeed, as intelligent design has become more prominent, foes and friends alike have latched onto it to promote their own agendas. For foes, intelligent design is merely the latest tactic by the “religious right” to use government to impose “creationism” on unsuspecting students and teachers. These critics of intelligent design typically depict scientists who support the theory as zealots determined to twist the findings of science to support their faith in God. If foes are guilty of misappropriating intelligent design, however, so are some of its newfound friends.

As intelligent design has become a household term, a few well-meaning but misguided public officials have conflated the theory of design with creationism or tried to impose it by legislation.

In Utah, a state senator recently advocated the adoption of what he calls “divine design.” In Pennsylvania, the Legislature held hearings on a bill that would allow school districts to mandate the teaching of design. These conflicting voices in the public arena claiming to speak for intelligent design have promoted serious misunderstandings about what the theory actually proposes and what its supporters really want.

The first misunderstanding is that intelligent design is based on religion rather than science. Design theory is a scientific inference based on empirical evidence, not religious texts. The theory proposes that some features of the natural world are best explained as the product of an intelligent cause as opposed to an undirected process such as natural selection. Although controversial, design theory is supported by a growing number of scientists in scientific journals, conference proceedings and books. While intelligent design may have religious implications (just like Darwin’s theory), it does not start from religious premises. A second misunderstanding is that proponents of intelligent design theory are crusading to have it required in public schools. In fact, they are doing the opposite.

Discovery Institute, the main research organization supporting ID scholars, opposes efforts to mandate intelligent design. Attempts to mandate teaching about intelligent design only politicize the theory and will hinder fair and open discussion of the merits of the theory among scholars and within the scientific community.

A third misunderstanding is that there are widespread efforts to mandate the teaching of design. In reality, what most states are considering is not teaching design but teaching the weaknesses as well as the strengths of modern Darwinian theory. This is the approach adopted in the science standards of Ohio, Minnesota and New Mexico. It’s also the approach under consideration by the Kansas State Board of Education, which earlier this year heard testimony critical of Darwin’s theory from professors of biology, genetics and biochemistry.

While scholars supporting ID are not seeking to impose their views, opponents have tried to silence critics of Darwin’s theory using coercion and intimidation. At George Mason University, a biology professor was banned recently from teaching about intelligent design in her classes. At the Smithsonian Institution, the editor of a biology journal says he faced discrimination and retaliation after accepting for publication a pro-ID article.

Supporters of intelligent design are willing to disavow misguided efforts to impose it by government fiat. Defenders of Darwinism likewise need to reject efforts to enforce their views by trampling on academic freedom.The validity of intelligent design should be decided through fair and open debate, not through legislation enacted by its friends or witch hunts conducted by its foes. John G. West is associate director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute and an associate professor of Political Science at Seattle Pacific University.

Of course, West and other IDers could clear up all this “sore misunderstanding” about ID simply by telling us WHAT THE HECK THE SCIENTIFIC THEORY OF ID **IS**. What did the designer do, specifically. What mechanisms did it use to do whatever they think it did. Where can we see these mechanisms in operation today.

But, for some odd reason, they consistently refuse to do that.

It’s almost enough to make one think that they are simply lying to us when they claim to have a scientific theory of ID, and all they really have is the religious opinion that “Godddidit” . … . .

Indeed, as intelligent design has become more prominent, foes and friends alike have latched onto it to promote their own agendas.

Lest anyone has forgotten the, uh, “agenda” that ID was originally formed and planned to support, I reproduce here the entire “Wedge Document”. I leave it to others to judge for themselves whether the Discovery Institute’s own document supports West’s whining about being “misunderstood”:

CENTER FOR THE RENEWAL OF SCIENCE & CULTURE

INTRODUCTION

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West’s greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.

Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art

The cultural consequences of this triumph of materialism were devastating. Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.

Materialists also undermined personal responsibility by asserting that human thoughts and behaviors are dictated by our biology and environment. The results can be seen in modern approaches to criminal justice, product liability, and welfare. In the materialist scheme of things, everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions.

Finally, materialism spawned a virulent strain of utopianism. Thinking they could engineer the perfect society through the application of scientific knowledge, materialist reformers advocated coercive government programs that falsely promised to create heaven on earth.

Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature. The Center awards fellowships for original research, holds conferences, and briefs policymakers about the opportunities for life after materialism.

The Center is directed by Discovery Senior Fellow Dr. Stephen Meyer. An Associate Professor of Philosophy at Whitworth College, Dr. Meyer holds a Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. He formerly worked as a geophysicist for the Atlantic Richfield Company.

THE WEDGE STRATEGY

Phase I.

* Scientific Research, Writing & Publicity

Phase II.

* Publicity & Opinion-making

Phase III.

* Cultural Confrontation & Renewal

THE WEDGE PROJECTS

Phase I. Scientific Research, Writing & Publication

* Individual Research Fellowship Program

* Paleontology Research program (Dr. Paul Chien et al.)

* Molecular Biology Research Program (Dr. Douglas Axe et al.)

Phase II. Publicity & Opinion-making

* Book Publicity

* Opinion-Maker Conferences

* Apologetics Seminars

* Teacher Training Program

* Op-ed Fellow

* PBS (or other TV) Co-production

* Publicity Materials / Publications

Phase III. Cultural Confrontation & Renewal

* Academic and Scientific Challenge Conferences

* Potential Legal Action for Teacher Training

* Research Fellowship Program: shift to social sciences and humanities

FIVE YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN SUMMARY

The social consequences of materialism have been devastating. As symptoms, those consequences are certainly worth treating. However, we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a “wedge” that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the “thin edge of the wedge,” was Phillip ]ohnson’s critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeatng Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe’s highly successful Darwin’s Black Box followed Johnson’s work. We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

The Wedge strategy can be divided into three distinct but interdependent phases, which are roughly but not strictly chronological. We believe that, with adequate support, we can accomplish many of the objectives of Phases I and II in the next five years (1999-2003), and begin Phase III (See “Goals/ Five Year Objectives/Activities”).

Phase I: Research, Writing and Publication

Phase II: Publicity and Opinion-making

Phase III: Cultural Confrontation and Renewal

Phase I is the essential component of everything that comes afterward. Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade. A lesson we have learned from the history of science is that it is unnecessary to outnumber the opposing establishment. Scientific revolutions are usually staged by an initially small and relatively young group of scientists who are not blinded by the prevailing prejudices and who are able to do creative work at the pressure points, that is, on those critical issues upon which whole systems of thought hinge. So, in Phase I we are supporting vital witting and research at the sites most likely to crack the materialist edifice.

Phase II. The pnmary purpose of Phase II is to prepare the popular reception of our ideas. The best and truest research can languish unread and unused unless it is properly publicized. For this reason we seek to cultivate and convince influential individuals in pnnt and broadcast media, as well as think tank leaders, scientists and academics, congressional staff, talk show hosts, college and seminary presidents and faculty, future talent and potential academic allies. Because of his long tenure in politics, journalism and public policy, Discovery President Bruce Chapman brings to the project rare knowledge and acquaintance of key op-ed writers, journalists, and political leaders. This combination of scientific and scholarly expertise and media and political connections makes the Wedge unique, and also prevents it from being “merely academic.” Other activities include production of a PBS documentary on intelligent design and its implications, and popular op-ed publishing. Alongside a focus on influential opinion-makers, we also seek to build up a popular base of support among our natural constituency, namely, Chnstians. We will do this primarily through apologetics seminars. We intend these to encourage and equip believers with new scientific evidence’s that support the faith, as well as to “popularize” our ideas in the broader culture.

Phase III. Once our research and writing have had time to mature, and the public prepared for the reception of design theory, we will move toward direct confrontation with the advocates of materialist science through challenge conferences in significant academic settings. We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public school science curricula. The attention, publicity, and influence of design theory should draw scientific materialists into open debate with design theorists, and we will be ready. With an added emphasis to the social sciences and humanities, we will begin to address the specific social consequences of materialism and the Darwinist theory that supports it in the sciences.

GOALS

Governing Goals

* To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.

* To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.

Five Year Goals

* To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.

* To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.

* To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

Twenty Year Goals

* To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.

* To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its innuence in the fine arts.

* To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

FIVE YEAR OBJECTIVES

1. A major public debate between design theorists and Darwinists (by 2003)

2. Thirty published books on design and its cultural implications (sex, gender issues, medicine, law, and religion)

3. One hundred scientific, academic and technical articles by our fellows

4. Significant coverage in national media:

* Cover story on major news magazine such as Time or Newsweek

* PBS show such as Nova treating design theory fairly

* Regular press coverage on developments in design theory

* Favorable op-ed pieces and columns on the design movement by 3rd party media

5. Spiritual & cultural renewal:

* Mainline renewal movements begin to appropriate insights from design theory, and to repudiate theologies influenced by materialism

* Major Christian denomination(s) defend(s) traditional doctrine of creation & repudiate(s)

* Darwinism Seminaries increasingly recognize & repudiate naturalistic presuppositions

* Positive uptake in public opinion polls on issues such as sexuality, abortion and belief in God

6. Ten states begin to rectify ideological imbalance in their science curricula & include design theory

7. Scientific achievements:

* An active design movement in Israel, the UK and other influential countries outside the US

* Ten CRSC Fellows teaching at major universities

* Two universities where design theory has become the dominant view

* Design becomes a key concept in the social sciences Legal reform movements base legislative proposals on design theory

ACTVITIES

(1) Research Fellowship Program (for writing and publishing)

(2) Front line research funding at the “pressure points” (e.g., Daul Chien’s Chengjiang Cambrian Fossil Find in paleontology, and Doug Axe’s research laboratory in molecular biology)

(3) Teacher training

(4) Academic Conferences

(5) Opinion-maker Events & Conferences

(6) Alliance-building, recruitment of future scientists and leaders, and strategic partnerships with think tanks, social advocacy groups, educational organizations and institutions, churches, religious groups, foundations and media outlets

(7) Apologetics seminars and public speaking

(8) Op-ed and popular writing

(9) Documentaries and other media productions

(10) Academic debates

(11) Fund Raising and Development

(12) General Administrative support

THE WEDGE STRATEGY PROGRESS SUMMARY

Books

William Dembski and Paul Nelson, two CRSC Fellows, will very soon have books published by major secular university publishers, Cambridge University Press and The University of Chicago Press, respectively. (One critiques Darwinian materialism; the other offers a powerful altenative.)

Nelson’s book, On Common Descent, is the seventeenth book in the prestigious University of Chicago “Evolutionary Monographs” series and the first to critique neo-Dacwinism. Dembski’s book, The Design Inference, was back-ordered in June, two months prior to its release date.

These books follow hard on the heals of Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box (The Free Press) which is now in paperback after nine print runs in hard cover. So far it has been translated into six foreign languages. The success of his book has led to other secular publishers such as McGraw Hill requesting future titles from us. This is a breakthrough.

InterVarsity will publish our large anthology, Mere Creation (based upon the Mere Creation conference) this fall, and Zondervan is publishing Maker of Heaven and Earth: Three Views of the Creation-Evolution Contoversy, edited by fellows John Mark Reynolds and J.P. Moreland.

McGraw Hill solicited an expedited proposal from Meyer, Dembski and Nelson on their book Uncommmon Descent. Finally, Discovery Fellow Ed Larson has won the Pulitzer Prize for Summer for the Gods, his retelling of the Scopes Trial, and InterVarsity has just published his co-authored attack on assisted suicide, A Different Death.

Academic Articles

Our fellows recently have been featured or published articles in major sciendfic and academic journals in The Proceedings to the National Academy of Sciences, Nature, The Scientist, The American Biology Teacher, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Biochemirtry, Philosophy and Biology, Faith & Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Analysis, Book & Culture, Ethics & Medicine, Zygon, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith, Relgious Studies, Christian Scholars’ Review, The Southern Journal ofPhilosophy, and the Journal of Psychalogy and Theology. Many more such articles are now in press or awaiting review at major secular journals as a result of our first round of research fellowships. Our own journal, Origins & Design, continues to feature scholarly contribudons from CRSC Fellows and other scientists.

Television and Radio Appearances

During 1997 our fellows appeared on numerous radio programs (both Christian and secular) and five nationally televised programs, TechnoPolitics, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Inside the Law, Freedom Speaks, and Firing Line. The special edition of TechnoPolitics that we produced with PBS in November elicited such an unprecedented audience response that the producer Neil Freeman decided to air a second episode from the “out takes.” His enthusiasm for our intellectual agenda helped stimulate a special edition of William F. Buckley’s Firing Line, featuring Phillip Johnson and two of our fellows, Michael Behe and David Berlinski. At Ed Atsinger’s invitation, Phil Johnson and Steve Meyer addressed Salem Communications’ Talk Show Host conference in Dallas last November. As a result, Phil and Steve have been interviewed several times on Salem talk shows across the country. For example, in ]uly Steve Meyer and Mike Behe were interviewed for two hours on the nationally broadcast radio show ]anet Parshall’s America. Canadian Public Radio (CBC) recently featured Steve Meyer on their Tapestry program. The episode, “God & the Scientists,” has aired all across Canada. And in April, William Craig debated Oxford atheist Peter Atkins in Atlanta before a large audience (moderated by William F. Buckley), which was broadcast live via satellite link, local radio, and intenet “webcast.”

Newspaper and Magazine Articles

The Firing Line debate generated positive press coverage for our movement in, of all places, The New York Times, as well as a column by Bill Buckley. In addition, our fellows have published recent articles & op-eds in both the secular and Christian press, including, for example, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Times, National Review, Commentary, Touchstone, The Detroit News, The Boston Review, The Seattle Post-lntelligenter, Christianity Toady, Cosmic Pursuits and World. An op-ed piece by Jonathan Wells and Steve Meyer is awaiting publication in the Washington Post. Their article criticizes the National Academy of Science book Teaching about Evolution for its selective and ideological presentation of scientific evidence. Similar articles are in the works.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on August 6, 2005 4:06 AM.

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