Teach the Controversy? Why not Teach ALL Controversies?

| 190 Comments

Jay Bookman, deputy editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, had a great column on September 12th. Bookman writes

Unfortunately, though, I don’t believe ID advocates are sincere about wanting to teach the controversy. If they are, they simply haven’t thought through the implications. A controversy, remember, has two sides. And if alleged weaknesses in evolution theory are to be taught in our schools as science, then scientific evidence against the existence of an intelligent designer or God must be taught, too. That’s how science works. If you propose a theory, you issue an invitation to others to shoot holes in your theory. So think about that: Do we really want science teachers exploring the evidence for — but also against — the existence of a designer? I don’t think that’s wise or useful for a number of reasons, but that’s what a rigorous and intellectually honest debate would require.

Anyone wanna bet whether or not the Discovery Institute agrees to teach all controversies? I dibbs “No.”

190 Comments

A good example of this is Dover, PA’s anti-evolution statement. The statement claims that evolution has problems and offers ID as an alternative explaination but neglects to mention any problems of ID.

A possible flaw in this argument: there is no evidence against the most generally-drawn ‘Goddidit’ argument. There is evidence only against specific instances.

Example:

The flagellum is irreducibly complex. Goddidit.

The flagellum turns out to be not irreducibly complex. Goddidit.

the root of all these problems that the “judeo-christian” (as they like to call it) belief system is facing boils down to one simple fact. it simply does not have the power of explanation it once did, and thusly has lost it’s moral mojo, so to speak. sure i could believe theat the earth is 5000 years old and was created in a week, but i would be either: a)stupid b)delusional, there isn’t much wiggle room anymore for the true believers. sure I.D. smells like flowers, but so doesn’t a mortuary. the floral aroma covers up the scent of the dead quite nicely.

As an intellectual challenge, and I use the term loosely, suppose I declared that I was the Designer. Yep, it’s been me all along and I’ve been hiding out here in Texas. I designed the flagellum AND inspired the invention of the outboard motor.

How would you prove me wrong?

p.s. I don’t do parlor tricks so don’t ask…

Well, if you want to put it that way, the root of these problems is that the IDers, creationists, theocrats, and various other fundie groups have very little understanding of that belief system.

It bears remembering how many Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu etc religious groups have few problems with evolution, and how many people in this country who belong to these religions have few problems with evolution.

No, the real problem, as has been mentioned ad nauseam, is that ID is both half-arsed science and half-arsed religion.

One problem I point out to theists who hammer on the “design” thing is: how do you know you’re looking at design in nature? After all, what is your frame of reference? When you say life looks designed, the question becomes “designed compared to what?” Can they provide an example of a non-designed thing? In order to comprehend design, one must have a frame of reference, an idea of something that isn’t designed in order to be able to make the distinction in the first place. If you had never experienced warmth or heat in your life, would you even know to define your environment as cold? Can a stone deaf person understand the distinction between a loud noise and a slightly louder noise?

So what do the ID’ers imagine a non-God-designed universe would look like? Would planets look like bananas and spin in figure eight patterns? Would things fall up and sideways when you drop them? And if so, could they still say that this universe was not designed…by a designer who happened to be mad?

Problem #1 with ID: not falsifiable. Next.

“and various other fundie groups have very little understanding of that belief system.”

i beg to differ. they know exactly what it means. where, in the new or old testaments, does it say, “oh, by the way, what you have just read in an allegory and should in no means be taken literally.” b—s—. sure, some folks have recognized the need to expand and bend interpretations of texts in order to correspond to a more cohesive view of reality. i applaud those folks for their release of literalism. but let us not pretend that the holy texts are not intended to be “truths.” they are presented as truths and taught as truths, and as such they have run square into the scientific method.

that is why fundamentalists fight tooth and nail against science, it is truly an affront to their beliefs, and they cannot possibly win the battle. and it is not because they don’t understand their belief system, it’s precisely because they do understand it and they know they’re going down. it is inevitable, unless through violence or the use of legal force they manage or to suppress the progress of science (which obviously is not unprecedented among these folks). religious literalists have always understood the threat of science and sought to suppress it. I.D. is not science, half assed or otherwise and it is 100% religion. it is merely another attempt by literalists, who understand the threat of science, to cloud people’s minds with mumbo jumbo and dress their dead little world up in a pretty new dress.

ID advocates use the Dembski Method for handling controversy and disagreements: you simply expunge from the record anything you don’t agree with!

teach the FSM controversy. And here’s a funny FSM photoshop from a fark contest

http://jimmiethescumbag.cliche-host[…]hops/fsm.jpg

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Martin writes: “One problem I point out to theists who hammer on the “design” thing is: how do you know you’re looking at design in nature? After all, what is your frame of reference? When you say life looks designed, the question becomes “designed compared to what?” Can they provide an example of a non-designed thing? In order to comprehend design, one must have a frame of reference, an idea of something that isn’t designed in order to be able to make the distinction in the first place.” Please at least read what Dembski says about detecting design as, e.g., specified complexity. It’s an answer to the question “how do you know you’re looking at design in nature?” Dawkins, in Blind Watchmaker, agrees that the universe has the appearance of being designed. His claim is that Darwin showed how the appearance of design comes about. He argues that Darwin’s theory allowed him to become an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Darwinian theory explains design; Wm. Paley’s notion of how design comes about has been falsified. Thus ID is falsifiable. Therefore “Problem #1” re. ID is not a problem at all.

Darwinian theory explains design; Wm. Paley’s notion of how design comes about has been falsified.

So you’re claiming that the mere availability of one theory falsifies another theory of the same phenomenon? Fascinating.

See “Irreducible Complexity Demystified” by Pete Dunkelberg at talkdesign.org for an attempt to falsify ID by showing how irreducibly complex systems can evolve. Thus, Dunkelberg belives he falsifies ID. See also Ken Miller’s “The Evolution of Invertebrate Blood Clotting” at talkorigins.org. Both essays understand that ID is falsifiable, and propose to falsify it. Thus Martin’s idea that ID is “not falsifiable” is itself false. That’s all.

See “Irreducible Complexity Demystified” by Pete Dunkelberg at talkdesign.org for an attempt to falsify ID by showing how irreducibly complex systems can evolve. Thus, Dunkelberg belives he falsifies ID. See also Ken Miller’s “The Evolution of Invertebrate Blood Clotting” at talkorigins.org. Both essays understand that ID is falsifiable, and propose to falsify it. Thus Martin’s idea that ID is “not falsifiable” is itself false. That’s all.

John Piipo Wrote:

Please at least read what Dembski says about detecting design as, e.g., specified complexity. It’s an answer to the question “how do you know you’re looking at design in nature?”

No it is not. Dembski’s specified complexity method is known to suffer from both false positives and false negatives. It’s no answer, just a post-hoc rationalization.

IDists ignore the fact that not only are Paley’s design detection ideas falsified, so are all the modern claims. Why should anyone have to reiterate the falsification because the IDist have religious objections to evolution?

Thus, Dunkelberg belives he falsifies ID.

No, showing that IC systems can evolve doesn’t falsify ID – that’s the whole point. Dembski has essentially abandoned Behe’s IC as a refutation of evolution, but still is an IDist. ID is religious apologetics – it makes an a priori assumption for which it seeks rationalizations.

That’s all.

No, that’s not all. You claimed “Darwinian theory explains design; Wm. Paley’s notion of how design comes about has been falsified”. As I noted, this suggests that the mere availability of one theory falsifies another theory of the same phenomenon. It’s fascinating that someone would take such a position.

John Piipo Wrote:

Thus Martin’s idea that ID is “not falsifiable” is itself false. That’s all.

Fascinating. I guess we can add another name to the roster of ID advocates who do not understand what “falsification” means.

Yep.

I challenged a couple of IDers to teach the controvery over homosexuality. Answer, ‘nope, that’s a moral issue’. But the controvery is their and both sides (pro-gay rights, against gay rights) should be argued.

And if alleged weaknesses in evolution theory are to be taught in our schools as science, then scientific evidence against the existence of an intelligent designer or God must be taught, too. That’s how science works.

I thought that the scientific evidence against the existence of an intelligent designer was the precisely the evidence for evolution.… In other words… I thought we were already teaching the evidence against a designer.

What is the difference between evidence for blind evolution and evidence against purposeful intelligent design?

Andrew Rowell Wrote:

I thought that the scientific evidence against the existence of an intelligent designer was the precisely the evidence for evolution

Only if you accept the false dichotomy that there are only two alternatives: ID and neo-darwinism. The scientific arguments against ID are counter-arguments to ID’s claims e.g. about the IC of the flagellum, clotting mechanism etc.

I think a lot of this comes down to the age of the Earth. The age of the Earth should not be open to question. There are no alternatives to the accepted age of 4.55 billion years. How can an alternative to this be taught when there isn’t one ? Why 45% of Americans (many are very well educated and certainly not stupid), and a growing number of people in the UK, believe that the Earth is just a mere 6,000 years old is still beyond me. Here in Northern Ireland the figure could well be higher in the protestant denominations. At least in this part of the world thay can’t change the way science is taught as all public schools here must follow the national curriculum.

Bookman’s point about babies being born with severe abnormalities or why so many people loose their lives due to hurricanes or tsunamies can easily be answered by creationists - this is all a result of the fall (Adam’s sin) since before this there was no death,genetic imperfections,natural disasters etc. I’m not sure how IDr’s view this but Young Earth creationsts are allways going on about it. This supposedly is why christians shoudn’t believe in “billions of years” despite the fact that many influential evangelicals like C.S.Lewis for example, didn’t have a problem with science or evolution.

Reed A. Cartwright Wrote:

A good example of this is Dover, PA’s anti-evolution statement. The statement claims that evolution has problems and offers ID as an alternative explanation but neglects to mention any problems of ID.

I’m no grammar expert, but I found the Dover statement to be very ambiguous:

“Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin’s Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to Intelligent Design. The Origins of Life is not taught.”

Last year I emailed the Dover School District requesting clarification. I asked whether it meant:

1. “Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin’s Theory and of gaps/problems in other theories…”?

2. “Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin’s Theory and of the existence of (but not necessarily gaps/problem in) other theories…”?

3. Both 1 and 2?

…and whether “The Origins of Life is not taught” meant:

1. That abiogenesis, and its differences from evolution, will not be discussed?

2. That the chronology of the origin and diversification of life will be omitted?

3. Both 1 and 2?

4. Something else?

To date I received no reply.

Bayesian Bouffant Wrote:

A possible flaw in this argument: there is no evidence against the most genrally-drawn ‘Goddidit’ argument. There is evidence only against specific instances.

It’s not a “possible flaw,” it is a definite flaw, and one that IDers are fully aware of. Although Bookman probably means well, he takes the bait.

Instead of defending evolution and arguing against design, and thus validating the false dichotomy without even trying, the main demand should be that IDers — especially the ones who don’t want ID itself taught — to state explicitly what their alternative is, and detail all the gaps/problems in it. This can be done without any reference to a designer. IDers need to start with, not defer, the “what happened and when” in biological history. They say that they are not creationists (meaning not YECs). It’s time for them to back it up. The tent will come down sooner or later.

I’m going to break my self-imposed exile to comment on this post. It’s just too good. I cannot speak for the DI, but my guess is they’d happily agree to the proposition: teach both design and the arguments against it. I for one would love to see schools permit a debate pitting the evidence for cosmological ID against the contrary data. Actually, there are no contrary data, just some simple arguments viz., some cosmologies allow (but do not demand) multiverses which, apart from violating general relativity (one of the best tested theories of all time) can never be detected, or (in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary) there are “bounce-back” cosmologies that need just the right violation of the 2nd law of thermo at just the right time to avoid the bounces dying out.

Teach the controversy over design? By all means, bring it on dude.

Wesley, I am sorry that you are still embarrassing yourself by clenching your fists and chanting “Popper” every time someone mentions falsifiablility. You forget, perhaps, what it is actually like to do science, spending all your time in the political arena, as it were. Scientists have their working definition of falsifiability: if the evidence mounts to the point where a theory begins to stink beyond any hope of salvage, it is jettisoned, without asking Popper’s permission. I mean, the nerve of Rutherford believing he falsified the plum pudding atomic model without waiting for Popper to grant him a certificate of authenticity.

As an aside, Wesley, as a physics instructor, I sought help and advice on the boldly named National Center for Science Education of which you are a director, only to discover that none is available. Is the NCSE misnamed, or do you not regard physics (or chemistry) as science?

Oh, and Hyperion, you continue the half-lie that religious groups such as the Catholic Church have no problem with evolution. The Catholic Church, for one, at least at the highest levels, has imposed severe caveats. You can drop Kenneth Miller’s name all you want, be he ain’t the pope, and if he professes belief in full-blown undirected evolution as the explanation for all life, he has gone farther than the Catholic church permits. Panda’s Thumb (and the NCSE—does the ‘S’ really stand for Science?) are culpable in distorting Rome’s position on evolution.

Martinwhat would a non designed universe look like? Oh that’s very easy. It would have no galaxies or stars. It would either consist of Hydrogen and some Helium (because it expanded too fast) or a big clump because it expanded too slowly.

Evilgeniousabroad, what controversy over homosexuality?

By the way guys, the FSM humor has played out. It was cute and funny for a while, but really now—humor relies (so I’m told) on firing uncommon—as opposed to overloaded—neural pathways.

Mr. Heddle:

in case you forgot during your self-imposed exile, a lot of people here are eagerly waiting for you to tell us how likely our universe’s fundamental constants are, i.e. what other values they could assume, and how do you know that.

Oh, and by the way, your description of an “undesigned universe” takes for granted that our universe is designed, which means you are affirming the consequent, which is a fallacy.

I suggest you go back to apologetics, because as a logician you are pitiful.

Aureola,

Sigh. The value of the constants, or indeed how likely those values are, is irrelevant. It is their sensitivity that is important. Otherwise it would be a God in the Gaps argument, and it isn’t.

If a given constant has to be within a certain (constrained) range for life to exist, it doesn’t matter whether its probability is essentially zero (meaning, perhaps, we don’t know why it has its value) or one (some new theory has shown why it has to have that value.) That just changes, philosophically, whether you say God chose the value of the constant to be what it is or He chose the laws of physics to generate the value. The only relevant point is the sensitivity to the value. That is why the cosmological constant fine tuning is so impressive, regardless of (a) the value of the cosmological constant and (b) the explanation, if any is ever forthcoming, of the value.

As for logic, I agree I haven’t attained the pinnacle of Panda’s Thumb logic, which you reminded is:

1) Question asked (what would the universe look like..) 2) Question answered 3) (This is the part that I just don’t grasp, the PT pièce de résitance:) Oh, but that answer doesn’t count.

The existence of stars is proof of cosmic design? Oh my!

Mr. Heddle:

if the probability is one, no ID is required. Thank you for supporting my point so well.

As you see, your answer does count, only it shows exactly the opposite of what you pretend it shows. Also, you used to argue something very different, namely that we are very lucky to exist.

In my book, an event with a probability of one is hardly “lucky”; but on the other hand, unlike you, I have no foreordained conclusion to “support”.

David Heddle Wrote:

Oh, and Hyperion, you continue the half-lie that religious groups such as the Catholic Church have no problem with evolution. The Catholic Church, for one, at least at the highest levels, has imposed severe caveats. You can drop Kenneth Miller’s name all you want, be he ain’t the pope, and if he professes belief in full-blown undirected evolution as the explanation for all life, he has gone farther than the Catholic church permits. Panda’s Thumb (and the NCSE—does the ‘S’ really stand for Science?) are culpable in distorting Rome’s position on evolution.

David, during your self-imposed exile, you must have missed a couple of threads that belie your position: Like here, and here and here. Read them carefully: official postition is that God can manifest Himself through either contingency or active agency, the former of which is the “undirected” aspect that gets your boxers in such a knot.

Finally, all arguments from design are not amenable to scientific scrutiny because they lack a proper frame of reference, i.e., a coherent view of what an undesigned universe would look like. See Elliott Sober for details.

Sad that your time away has only intensified your lack of knowledge regarding science and how it works. But good to hear from you again.

I have three ID talks to give next month, maybe four. Have to prepare.

Better hurry. Dover is about to make it all utterly irrelevant. Although I’m sure that you will still be able to sell books to the gullible, like Gish and Morris.

Ah yes, Mr Huddle has singularly demonstrated that the Intelligent Design movement is improperly and deceptively named. ID would be more aptly named the Ignorance Divine movement. With his arguments in smoldering ruins, he turns to a “My God can beat up your God” posture and loudly yells “Runaway!” while banging two coconuts halves together.

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Being as this is the “teach the controversy” thread and W would like to teach controversy, it is time to point out to W that he needs to start listening to his science advisor. According to an article on MSNBC titled Katrina forecasters were remarkably accurate both the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center predicted and warned the feds about the possibility for Katrina’s devastation including W himself.

Wrote:

National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield also gave daily pre-storm videoconference briefings to federal officials in Washington, warning them of a nightmare scenario of New Orleans’ levees not holding, winds smashing windows in high-rise buildings and flooding wiping out large swaths of the Gulf Coast.

A photo on the White House Web site shows Bush in Crawford, Texas, watching Mayfield give a briefing on Aug. 28, a day before Katrina smashed ashore with 145-mph winds.

He then turned around three days later and said

W Wrote:

I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.

Come on George, I know your not a ‘science guy’, but to willfully remain oblivious is beyond my comprehension. You have the best tools in the world and yet you completely ignore them. Stop spinning and pandering and start doing your job. At least on Thursday evening, he had the ping-pongs to take responsibility for the total meltdown of the new and improved FEMA system he ‘designed’.

I wonder how history class will teach this controversy.

Quote mining W’s statement…

W Wrote:

I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.

W Wrote:

I don’t think…

W Wrote:

…anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.

Posted by David Heddle on September 15, 2005 06:57 PM (e) (s)

Well Lenny, because my religion is the true religion, while Islam, Buddhism, JW, Mormanism, etc. are false religions.

Yeah, but which denomination are you?

What the hell has happened to this thread, anyway? What happened to “Teach ALL controversies?” Where’s the juicy arguments about the ichneumon fly, whose apparently exquisitely-designed ovipositor (an egg-laying instruments) can pierce several inches of wood, and is used for injecting its young into the bodies of hapless insects who are then eaten alive from the inside? Huh?

If this feature is too complex to have evolved, i.e. if it was, like the flagellum, ‘designed,’ what was the Designer’s intent? Hmmm?

Didn’t some creationist claim that all the nasty, violent stuff in nature was designed ‘after the Fall’?

Re “Didn’t some creationist claim that all the nasty, violent stuff in nature was designed ‘after the Fall’?”

I have this temptation to ask the fall of which year, but never mind.

Henry

Mormanism????? Obviously no one here is from the beehive state. That word transcends even divine design.

Mormanism??? What is that? No one here from the beehive state. Even Rep. Buttars wouldn’t spell it that way. Donnie and Marie are crying in their Mormon tea.

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