Response to Luskin / Calvert story on “theistic evolution”

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In a post Monday, October 17, 2005 on the Discovery’s Institute’s Evolution News and Views blog, (a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one), Casey Luskin makes the following comment in regards to the Caldwell’s recent suit against the evolution website:

Caldwell thus does not allege that teaching evolution endorses religion. Rather Caldwell is alleging that when the government specifically suggests to students that “religion need not conflict with evolution,” that the government is telling students what their religious beliefs should be. According to Caldwell, this form of telling students how their religious beliefs should deal with evolution constitutes impermissible religious endorsement on the part of the government.

There is an important misconception here that also came up at the Kansas hearings. Informing people about different religions’ views on the nature of God’s relationship to the natural world, and thus those religions’views on the relationship between science and religion, is not the same as endorsing those views. More specifically, it is educationally appropriate to highlight the beliefs of Christians and other theists who accept evolution in order to combat the mistaken notion that Christians can’t accept evolution: doing so is not the same as saying that such theists are correct. Scientifically, we can’t pass judgment on any theological position, but we can offer accurate observations about the scope of religious belief.

Let me tell a story from Kansas concerning this issues, and then draw some conclusions.

During Pedro Irigonegaray’s closing statement at the Kansas hearings in May, we made the point that there are many Christians (and other theists) who accept evolution. Such theists, we pointed out, do not accept the argument put forth by ID leader John Calvert that “methodological naturalism” (i.e., science) implies “philosophical naturalism” (i.e., materialism and atheism) because they believe that God works through natural causes. Such theists accept that science is a legitimate and accurate use of our God-given reason to investigate the physical world, and that God’s presence in the natural world will manifest as a logically consistent world to our senses. (Since the hearings I have become aware of a nice quote from St. Augustine about this: “Nature is what God does”).

The existence of such theists, we argued, negates the ID argument that science is necessarily friendly to atheism and antagonistic to theism. Note that we were not arguing for the truth of the theistic evolution position, for that it is theological perspective outside the domain of science. Rather we were arguing that science is metaphysically neutral in respect to beliefs about spiritual reality: science can be, and is, embraced by a full spectrum of religious beliefs, from evangelical Christians to atheistic materialists. The slides which outline our argument can be found here.

Calvert misunderstood this basic distinction (as Luskin does above), as he made clear in his closing response to Irigonegaray’s presentation, when he said,

What is so fascinating is that the Minority Report is not interested in all of science. It’s interested and it’s focused only on the issue of origin science. An origin science, I’m sorry, is a very peculiar science. It’s peculiar in two respects. It is a science that unavoidably impacts religion, and much of what we heard today was proselytization for theistic evolution because that happens to be a religious concept that’s consistent with evolution.

(my emphasis) (Talk Origins transcript of the hearings)

No, we were not proselytizing. We were not saying that the theistic evolutionists are right. We were highlighting the existence of theistic evolutionists because if you accept that they hold a legitimate religious viewpoint, than Calvert’s argument about the relationship between science and atheism is shot down by the simple presence of a counter-example.

Calvert failed to understand (or chose to misunderstand) our point.

There are two basic reasons for this misunderstanding, I think, one being political and the other being religious. From a political view, the IDists cannot afford to acknowledge theistic evolution (and other perspectives which support science) because to do so would undercut the basic dichotomy that fuels the wedge: the false assertion that one is either for God or for science.

Religiously, the truth is that the IDists believe the theistic evolutionists are wrong – that they are not even good or proper Christians: as Johnson once said, theistic evolutions (he called them “liberal Christians”), “are worse than atheists because they hide their naturalism behind a veneer of religion.”

Calvert expanded on his view on this subject in a paper (a “brief” entitled Response to Reply), filed after the Kansas hearings in which he wrote the following. (I have punctuated this with bullets to highlight his points, but the text is identical.)

The Authors [the ID Minority] agree that many who believe in some form of evolution are committed theists. But what some believe and what others do not believe is irrelevant because beliefs are usually predicated on many factors other than logic and an informed understanding of evolutionary biology.[See footnote 3 below] The issue is not what this or that person believes. The issue is what is the logical effect of suppressing one side of a scientific controversy regarding origins on theistic and non-theistic religion. What may one reasonably expect an impressionable young child to come to believe if all he is shown is evidence that supports and does not contradict the proposition that life arises from unguided evolutionary change? Logically, this favors (but does not require) non-theistic religions and belief systems. At the same time it conflicts with theistic beliefs that many parents seek to instill in their children that life results from guided, rather than unguided change.

[Footnote 3 from above]

The claim that: Many scientists who are theists believe in evolution, therefore evolution has no conflict with religion, is not logically coherent because there are many reasons why scientists who are theists do publicly deny or take issue with evolution. Based on the testimony at the hearings and numerous conversations I have had with scientists and biology teachers over the past six years I know that many theistic scientists who fall into this category do so:

(a) because their religious beliefs are held for completely unrelated to science;

(b) because they have been misinformed about the adequacy of the evidence that supports evolution,

(c) because their reputation, job performance and job security depends on their allegiance to the theory,

(d) because they work in operational or applied science where evolution is generally irrelevant and there is no reason to question it, and

(e) because they can easily avoid social and political controversy by thinking of evolution as a “tool” used by God to do his work without truly understanding the nature of the evolutionary mechanism and its logical conflicts with their the beliefs.

Of all these reasons, concern about reputation and job security is probably the most significant reason for not voicing any doubts about Darwin. Indeed a theist can actually win friends and influence people in high places by simply toeing the line. Who wants to wind up like Nancy Bryson or Roger Dehart? Who desires the kind of verbal abuse that is levied upon anyone who has the courage to voice sincere and honestly held reservations.

Let’s put this in simpler language: Calvert is saying that if you are a theist who accepts evolution, you hold a logically contradictory position. However you persist in holding this position, perhaps not even seeing the contradictory nature of your beliefs because you are some combination of misinformed about evolution and/or God, uncaring, cowardly in respect to your beliefs, and so on.

No place is there any acknowledge that such theistic evolutionists might have a legitimate religious view. Calvert, and many others in the ID movement, can just not conceive there are other ways of understanding the nature of the metaphysical/spiritual world, and thus the necessarily conflate two distinct things: informing people (including students) about people’s beliefs, the existence of which disproves the basic premise of the Wedge, on the one hand, and asserting or teaching that some particular religious beliefs are true. For them, talking about a religious perspective and proseltyzing for it are synonymous, it seems.

It is not surprising that the IDists don’t “get” this (irrespective of the political reasons for not wanting to get it), because most of them are so certain of their religious perspective, and so certain that other perspectives have some degree of pernicious effects, that they really can’t conceive of a range of religious beliefs being tolerable. As has been made abundantly clear in Kansas, for the IDists either you admit the possibility of supernatural design into science or you are in league with the dreaded human secularists whose beliefs are responsible for the sorry state of modern civilization.

I have not looked closely at the materials on the Evolution website, but I can imagine that there are places where the distinction that I am pointing out (between teaching about religious beliefs in regards to science vs. teaching that certain religious beliefs are in fact true) may not be as clear as they should be. However, with that said, I am certain that Casey Luskin or Larry Caldwell or the IDists in general do not understand and/or don’t want to acknowledge the distinction. And I am reasonably certain (from a layman’s point of view) that there is nothing legally wrong with teaching about religious views as part of an argument that science is neutral in regards to metaphysical belief.

119 Comments

As has been repeatedly noted on this site, nothing about believing in evolution precludes belief in a god. That said, I think the IDists do correctly sense a real threat from Darwinism to their literal interpretation of the Bible. For while evolution does not make it impossible for there to BE a god, it does make it possible for there NOT to be one. Prior to the idea of natural selection, the “argument from design” would have been a hard one to answer. And how you gonna keep the kids down on the farm of literal belief in the Bible unless you use smoke and mirrors to create the illusion that evolution is “unproven” or at least “controversial”?

This is a good point - belief in God is going to have to find some rationale or justification other than an inability to explain the natural world, and that is a threat to some people.

Also, science has disproven, or made extremely unlikely, many religious beliefs: the idea that the wind is a breath of a spirit is no longer believed by any educated person; and the belief in a God that created the universe de novo six thousand years ago is likewise unsubstantiated by science. Scientific knowledged has honed our notions of what God might be like, and winnowed out many beliefs. This is something we have to live with, I think, but it also doesn’t touch the essential elements of what religious belief is about.

It is interesting to me that ID movement will never realize that it is they themselves who are responsible for the eroding of theism for many people. One of the first things to cause people to examine their faith in a critical light is the realization that the people who are telling them to “just believe” in God are actively struggling to convince, intimidate or even trick them into “just believing” in other things which are demonstrably false.

Maybe the NCSE should collect signees of a statement unsupportive of naturalistic evolution from religionists and then put that on their websites. It could go something like this.…

“The following promonent religious thinkers, ministers, and other various believers in Chrisitanity do not support the naturalistic foundations of evolutionary biology. Because these people are not naturalists and believe in a God who made the universe by non-natural intelligent design of some form, they question the validity of natural selection and random mutation, as well many other naturalistic mechanisms, to fully explain the observable biotic reality we live in. Some of theses signees reject evolutionary naturalism on purely religious grounds based primarily fully rational philosophical and theological arguments, while others believe that evolutionary naturalism not only has non-scientific objections, but also fails to be an adequate scienitific explanation. Some of these signees while they are themselves religionists, do not see any religious problems with evolutionary theory but nonetheless find evolutionary naturalism unconvincing for various rational reasons.”

Then have some huge list of religionist signees for people to look through.

This of course would be dangerous because religious students (more than half of America’s students?) viewing this list might respond with something like…

“Wow, look… there’s my minister and a thousand other ministers. I believe in God and want to think about how he made the natural world in a systematic and rational way. Man I better look into these questions and not just accept N.O.M.A. or some form of theistic evolutionary naturalism.”

While the response of a religious student to a list of ministers supporting evolution goes something like this…

“Ohh.… Well I had wondered whether or not I should think about my religious beliefs in relation with my science education but, lookie here, I don’t have to think about this at all, for religion endorses evolution anyways, and there must not really be any controversy between evolutionary naturalism and Chrisitanity. Good thing. It would suck to have to think about all this critically. Phew”

T. Russ

And, just so you PT thought policeman know.… I don’t think ID should be taught to highschool students as part of their science education, and I’n not here saying anything about ID, or Evolution not being an adequate theory. Just making a point for the sake of pete.

What point ARE you making T Russ?

wow,… fast reading.

The point here is simple. Getting a list of religionists to endorce evolutionary naturalism on a website designed to help students understand evolution is misleading because the website fails to mention that many religionists do not endorse evolution for various thoughful reasons. In my humble opinion, I believe students should be encourage to work out their religious and scientific understands of reality. Therefore I think it would be better to reveal to them that a controversy between their religious teachers and their scientific teachers exists. That way they don’t just take the easy way out and accept N.O.M.A. without ever thinking about it.

I have seen this intellectual shortcoming occur with many religious students in the university. I’ll meet a freshmen who comes into college as a creationists or anti-evolutionists of some kind for religious reasons and then after some time of dealling with the stigam and pressure of not believing in evolution they’ll here about somebody prominent who is a religionists (and boy ohh boy are there ever many different types of these) who say that evolution and religion aren’t in any conflict at all. Then viola! The student can aleve themself of social discomfort and never really think much about the subject.

Getting a list of religionists to endorce evolutionary naturalism

What is evolutionary naturalism?

T. Russ, very little controversy exists in the UK, where church and state are not separate. Darwin is even buried in Westminster Abbey (and appears on the back of a £10 note)!

Theistic evolutionists come in for a bashing from the ID camp because we are what you fear the most, a group of people who accept God as the creator, but don’t believe that science is capable of testing this fact. Think about it, how are you supposed to test for a supreme deity, whose possible actions are virtually limitless? Also, by implication, if you sit there and point to “designed” objects as some kind of measure of God, then you are just fodder to atheists who will point out objects that look to be poorly designed and insist that God must be incompetent. Your witness is just plain bankrupt.

But of course, we’re just stupid and deluded right? We haven’t thought through out position properly I am told. And don’t forget the name calling! I have been called many things in my time, “backslider”, “atheist”, “naturalist”, “worldly”, “satanist”(!), etc. All by supposedly good Christian folk who just can’t seem to stop worshipping the Bible as an idol and poisoning their kids with their bibliolatry. Their kids get made fun of at college because they hold ludicrous strawman positions on biology. I’ve even see kids lose their faith over a comparative theology class, let alone learning about what evolution really entails. Such is the blinkered way they have been brought up, were any alternative interpretation of any Bible passage is deemed as grounds for a toasting!

From what I’ve seen, most people who deny evolution do it because they have elevated their personal, literalistic Biblical interpretation to a level of infallibility. They simply *cannot* be wrong, it *must* be evolution (or anyone else’s interpretations) that are in error. Have you ever considered that your theology may be mistaken?

Andrew

T. Russ:

The point here is simple. Getting a list of religionists to endorce evolutionary naturalism on a website designed to help students understand evolution is misleading because the website fails to mention that many religionists do not endorse evolution for various thoughful reasons. In my humble opinion, I believe students should be encourage to work out their religious and scientific understands of reality. Therefore I think it would be better to reveal to them that a controversy between their religious teachers and their scientific teachers exists. That way they don’t just take the easy way out and accept N.O.M.A. without ever thinking about it.

Russ, when I was young, I was lied to. The liars told me that you had to accept a literal reading of Genesis if you were to have a coherent doctrine of revelation. They told me that there was no evidence of abrasion at fault line of the Lewis overthrust. They told me there were no transitional fossils. The short term result was that, very thoughtfully but without any understanding of evolution, I rejected evolution. The long term consequence was that I rejected their religion.

It seems to me you are advocating that sort of uncomprehending rejection of evolution. You want people to decide it is against their religion before they look to see whether it is true or not. Of course, having decided that, only a rare and courageous individual can still openly look to see if it is true.

But even if NOMA is false, that is the wrong way to procede. The first issue is whether evolution is true; and that is a matter decidable, and decided on emperical evidence. Only after having examined the evidence (the actual evidence, not the creationist lies) should the secondary question of whether evolution is compatible with religion be raised.

Of course, this is the why and wherefore of the different stances. Creationists (including IDists) know they are on a hiding to nothing if the evidence for evolution is looked at openly. Therefore they want to poison minds before they start. The NCSE, of course, has the opposite position. So they wish to open at least some of the minds the creationists have closed.

And the *insert any deity, theology* said “let there be light (knowledge)and darkness (ignorance)was banished”.

Its all in the interpretation.

There is so much the ID crowd are missing out on by not investigating myth in non oedipal manner.

Oh and I’m an atheist.

“Then viola!”

Is this the theory of intelligent orchestration?

Getting a list of religionists to endorce evolutionary naturalism

What the hell is “evolutionary naturalism”? Is this the latest fundie code word for “atheism”?

on a website designed to help students understand evolution is misleading because the website fails to mention that many religionists do not endorse evolution for various thoughful reasons.

Why should science be in the position of teaching religious opinions? Or vice versa?

I don’t think ID should be taught to highschool students as part of their science education, and I’n not here saying anything about ID, or Evolution not being an adequate theory.

Don’t BS us, Russ.

Why do violists smile when they play? Because ignorance is bliss and what they don’t know can’t hurt them.

Jack Krebs Wrote:

the necessarily conflate two distinct things: informing people (including students) about people’s beliefs, the existence of which disproves the basic premise of the Wedge, on the one hand, and asserting or teaching that some particular religious beliefs are true. For them, talking about a religious perspective and proselytizing for it are synonymous, it seems.

That’s because for an evangelical, there is no reason to ever discuss religion other than to “win souls for Christ.” They simply cannot accept that a group of people could discuss a religious topic without the goal of winning converts, because that is the focus of their existence.

That is also the reason I was banned from teaching in my fundie church. No one could accept that I wasn’t trying to “corrupt the youth in the church” (all of whom accept evolution and only became Christians when I explained to them that YEC belief wasn’t necessary to be a Christian).

As Lenny so eloquently puts it: (shrug)

Keep in mind that there are many problems with a literal interpretation of the Bible before you even get into science. When you do come to scientific issues, Christian geologists found that the earth was millions of years old before evolution became known.

The Wedge which Jack mentioned holds that all science, not just biology, must be theodized.

For Russ: The Clergy Letter Project.

Isn’t it a bit dimbulbish to think that you honor the Creator by disbelieving the creation?

That Calvert paper is a very good example of how logic can be used to confidently arrive at the wrong answer. Does he really think that because he’s talked to some scientists whose acceptance of theistic evolution is based on faulty thinking, it necessarily follows that all scientists fall into this category?

This seems to be another case of “allow me to know you better than you know yourself.” I come across this attitude all the time from religiously motivated pro-lifers in discussions about abortion, where they can’t or won’t believe that pro-choicers really mean what they say, and this business about rationalising away theistic evolution is yet another example. These people do seem to have a bit of trouble with the notion of looking at beliefs objectively and accepting that other people have their own point of view. So far his argument seems to be “This is what he says he believes. I think his belief is wrong. Therefore it is wrong. If it’s objectively wrong, he must know he’s wrong. Therefore he’s lying about his belief and I can discount what he says and substitute what I really know he means.” Arg.

Jack, your link to the slides does not work.

“During Pedro Irigonegaray’s closing statement at the Kansas hearings in May, we made the point that there are many Christians (and other theists) who accept evolution. Such theists, we pointed out, do not accept the argument put forth by ID leader John Calvert that “methodological naturalism” (i.e., science) implies “philosophical naturalism” (i.e., materialism and atheism) because they believe that God works through natural causes. Such theists accept that science is a legitimate and accurate use of our God-given reason to investigate the physical world, and that God’s presence in the natural world will manifest as a logically consistent world to our senses.”

If God works through natural causes then they are not, properly speaking, “natural” causes at all. Does it not also follow, that “nature” is identical with “Creation” on this view, and so theistic evolution is, properly speaking, an example of “methodological creationism”?

Well, First off I was only suggesting another list which fully illustrates the actual state of things. I never said anything fundie at all. But as is always the case, here at PT if you attempt to add some thought to an issue that isn’t status quo with the group, you are assumed to be some kind of fundie who rejects evolution for religious anti-rational reasons. And here I sit as always reading the comments of jokes like Rev Lenny thinking to myself, “this guy has no idea what I actually think, but thinks he does.” I’m not BS-ing anybody. I think ID (that is the intellectual question of whether design has occure throughout biotic history, not the “movement”) should be discussed at the highest levels of academia and then filter down to the schools if it has any merit. And, If you really are concerned with my personal religious understanding of evolution go read some Asa Gray. He and I are pretty tight.

Also:

Evolutionary naturalism: See below… (who doesn’t know what this means?) Well, for those who actually want to know, check out

Boller, Peter .F. 1969. American Thought in Transition: The Impact of Evolutionary Naturalism, 1865-1900. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Evolutionary Naturalism: the Philosophical Foundations of Humanism Presented by Pat Duffy Hutcheon to the January, 1997 meeting of the British Columbia Humanist Association http://www.humanists.net/pdhutcheon[…]turalism.htm

Callebaut, W./Stotz, K. 1998. Lean evolutionary epistemology. Evolution and Cognition 4: 11—36.

Collier, J.D./Stingel, M. 1993. Evolutionary naturalism and the objectivity of morality. Biology and Philosophy 8(000603): 47—60.

Morgan, C.L. 1923. Emergent Evolution. New York: Henry Holt.

Sellars, R.W. 1969. Evolutionary Naturalism. New York: Russell and Russell.

Ex-fundie: I applaud you. The discussion of religious topics without the desire to win converts is very possible and should be done frequently. For, Religion is a major component of the observable world is it not. To dismiss intellectual discussions concerning the existence and attributes of God, or God’s relation to the natural world, is reckless stupidity. Truncate your thought if you want to. But damnit if you think you are really thinking critically about the world you may live in. I think philosophical and religious discourse and its relationship to science, society, culture, whatever, should never be discouraged. (Even if God does not exist or the Deists have it right.)

Pete, Thanks for the link to the clergy project. Were I a member of the clergy, I might consider signing off on 95% of the statement.

Religion is a major component of the observable world is it not. To dismiss intellectual discussions concerning the existence and attributes of God, or God’s relation to the natural world, is reckless stupidity…I think philosophical and religious discourse and its relationship to science, society, culture, whatever, should never be discouraged.

Probably few here would disagree with you on this at all. The question is, should religious doctrine be presented in 9th grade science classes as scientific truth.

I suggest that discussion of the existence and nature of a wide variety of gods is probably worthwhile, for a wide variety of reasons. 9th grade science class is neither the time nor the place for such discussions to be helpful to anyone.

I’m not BS-ing anybody. I think ID (that is the intellectual question of whether design has occure throughout biotic history, not the “movement”) should be discussed at the highest levels of academia and then filter down to the schools if it has any merit.

ID has been discussed at the highest levels of academia. Such as by these groups:

National Academy of Sciences American Association of University Professors American Association for the Advancement of Science American Anthropological Association American Astronomical Society National Association of Biology Teachers Geological Society of America The American Chemical Society American Institute of Biological Sciences The Paleontological Society Botanical Society of America New Orleans Geological Society New York Academy of Sciences Ohio Academy of Science Ohio Math and Science Coalition Oklahoma Academy of Sciences Society for Amateur Scientists Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Society for Neuroscience Society for Organic Petrology Society for the Study of Evolution Society of Physics Students Society of Systematic Biologists Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Southern Anthropological Society Virginia Academy of Science West Virginia Academy of Science American Association of Physical Anthropologists American Geophysical Union American Society of Biological Chemists American Psychological Association American Physical Society American Society of Parasitologists Association for Women Geoscientists Australian Academy of Science California Academy of Sciences Ecological Society of America Genetics Society of America Geological Society of America Georgia Academy of Science History of Science Society Iowa Academy of Science Kentucky Paleontological Society Louisiana Academy of Sciences National Academy of Sciences North American Benthological Society North Carolina Academy of Science

They conclude it has no merit. And so it hasn’t ‘filtered down’ to schools.

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank asked: “What the hell is ‘evolutionary naturalism’? Is this the latest fundie code word for ‘atheism’?”

It’s certainly a code word that points toward atheism, but doesn’t quite mean it.

Here’s how it works, on Dembski’s site now is a well mined quote from from Barbara Forrest:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inde[…]archives/402

Dembski doesn’t even bother to comment on it himself. Barbara Forrest is simply quoted saying this:

“We have established scientifically some disquieting facts: (1) human beings have evolved from nonhuman life forms, meaning that (2) at one time we did not exist, and that (3) according to paleontological and astronomical evidence, at some time in the future we shall cease to exist. Furthermore, from a scientific standpoint, there is no discernible reason that we had to evolve in the first place, and there is no guarantee that we shall continue to evolve successfully; more hominid species have become extinct than have survived. The price of such knowledge has been the gnawing question of whether human existence has genuine meaning if it was constructed with cranes rather than supported by skyhooks, as Daniel Dennett says.

The problem of meaning is easily resolved for those who embrace a preconstructed system of meaning such as religion. However, religion cannot help us find meaning in any honest sense unless it can assimilate the truth about where human beings have come from, and the only real knowledge we have about where we came from we have acquired through science.”

The quote above can be called, by the IDers, an example of “evolutionary naturalism,” “atheism,” “metaphysical naturalism,” “infidel philosophy,” “Darwinism,” “Dawkinism” and “humanism.”

Those are all different things but the one thing they have common is they are in some far away land where IDers don’t see the difference and can only point in that general direction.

You will see if you read the comments, few people on Dembski’s site think that people evolved from an ape.

Calvert’s and Luskin’s and the Caldwells’ argument boils down to this: ‘True religious people don’t put any stock in evolution, and anyone who does is not truly religious and will burn in hell.’

Then Caldwell has the gall to claim that’s the what Berkeley and NCSE do, while he is defending academic freedom.

Condemnation masked as toleration – only, oddly, it seems masked only to people like Calvert, Luskin and the Caldwells. The would-be emperor’s new iron fist of religious discipline.

Rather Caldwell is alleging that when the government specifically suggests to students that “religion need not conflict with evolution,” that the government is telling students what their religious beliefs should be. According to Caldwell, this form of telling students how their religious beliefs should deal with evolution constitutes impermissible religious endorsement on the part of the government.

Whether or not it’s constitutionally permissible to make such statements in public school science classrooms, I believe it’s a very bad idea to do so.

Presumbably, the point of such statements would be to reassure students that they needn’t be atheists to accept evolution, and thus defuse opposition to learning the subject.

But the fact is, some students’ religions do conflict with evolution, and public schools have no business trying to change their minds on that. Yes, it’s good for students to know that religion and science can be compatible, but public school science class is the wrong place to teach that lesson.

Another problem is that making such statements in science class implies that compatibility with religion is a legitimate consideration. That’s clearly wrong. It doesn’t matter that evolution is compatible with many religious beliefs, just as it wouldn’t matter if evolution conflicted with all religious beliefs. Neither is relevant to whether evolution is science, or whether it should be taught in science class.

Jack Krebs Wrote:

[I]t is educationally appropriate to highlight the beliefs of Christians and other theists who accept evolution in order to combat the mistaken notion that Christians can’t accept evolution.…

I agree that may be appropriate in some settings, but I think it is very inappropriate in a public school classroom, for the reasons given. So, if “educationally appropriate” means “appropriate in science class,” I must respectfully disagree.

Yet, the fact remains that some students will have religious objections to learning evolution. How should a public science teacher respond? My humble opinion is this. The teacher should explain that evolution, like all scientific theories, is based on empirical observation and evidence. It is a theory that has broad power to explain the observed diversity of life. More importantly, it is a theory that has broad power to accurately predict things we have not yet observed, and it has done so, successfully, many many times already.

That explanatory and predictive power is what makes it so valuable. It doesn’t mean that the theory of evolution is correct in all particulars. It’s almost certainly wrong in some small ways, and incomplete in others. It may even be wrong overall. No scientific theory can ever be proven absolutely true. But so far, evolution is the only theory that can successfully explain and predict our observations. That is why it’s an essential part of biology.

If necessary, the teacher can further explain that the possible religious implications of evolution will not be a topic for discussion in class. Students are not required to “believe in” evolution, any more than they must “believe in” any other scientific theory. They need only learn and understand it.

Flint:

“should religious doctrine be presented in 9th grade science classes as scientific truth?”

Nope. Religion should not be taught in any form in 9th grade science classes. Also, It might be good if we didn’t teach or describe anything as “scientific TRUTH” per say.

“I suggest that discussion of the existence and nature of a wide variety of gods is probably worthwhile, for a wide variety of reasons. 9th grade science class is neither the time nor the place for such discussions to be helpful to anyone.”

I wholeheartedly agree.

Steve S.:

I don’t think that making statements about the ID movement counts as intellectual discussion of the question of design in nature. I do think that Dembski writing a paper and Elsberry then critiquing it does count. That is what needs to go on. I myself, don’t think it has been succesful enough to filter down. Maybe it never will. However, over the last 2500 years it has been discussed and at various times taught to young children.

Even though the scientific establishment of Galileo’s time made statements about his ideas having no merit they still eventually won the day in actual discussion. Statements by “scientific establishments” have meant very little throughout history.

I like the link to Demski’s weblog. I urge any and all of you to go over and register. I did. I will continually try to post rebuts to all the silly posts people make and to the articles listed.

I like the link to Demski’s weblog. I urge any and all of you to go over and register. I did. I will continually try to post rebuts to all the silly posts people make and to the articles listed.

lol. good luck posting anything dembski doesn’t like (er, which is pretty much anything that doesn’t praise him as godlike).

Theistic evolution offers great advantages. You don’t have to be angry with science.

Well, First off I was only suggesting another list which fully illustrates the actual state of things. I never said anything fundie at all.

Don’t BS us, Russ.

I think ID (that is the intellectual question of whether design has occure throughout biotic history, not the “movement”) should be discussed at the highest levels of academia and then filter down to the schools if it has any merit.

It’s already been discussed by lots of working biologists and other scientists.

It has no merit. It offers nothing useful. It is just religious apologetics pretending to be science. And it is about to be ruled illegal by a judge in Pennsylvania.

Game over.

T.Russ:

I do think that Dembski writing a paper and Elsberry then critiquing it does count. That is what needs to go on.

That’s what went on. IC was proposed and destroyed. CSI was proposed and destroyed. The NFL nonsense was proposed and destroyed. ID has been field tested. It was field rejected.

T.Russ:

Steve S.:

I don’t think that making statements about the ID movement counts as intellectual discussion of the question of design in nature.

From some of the groups I listed:

However, there is no debate within the scientific community over whether evolution occurred, and there is no evidence that evolution has not occurred. … the lack of scientific warrant for so-called ‘intelligent design theory’ makes it improper to include as a part of science education. …

That’s about the lack of content of ID, not a criticism of the “movement”. You could also go read “A Critical Analysis of Science and Creationism: A view from the National Academy of Sciences In relation to Intelligent Design Theory” if you don’t believe the groups I mentioned have addressed the content of the misnamed “ID Theory”.

T.Russ:

Even though the scientific establishment of Galileo’s time made statements about his ideas having no merit they still eventually won the day in actual discussion.

Quackwatch.org:

Pseudoscientists also love the “Galileo Argument.” This consists of the pseudoscientist comparing himself to Galileo, and saying that just as the pseudoscientist is believed to be wrong, so Galileo was thought wrong by his contemporaries therefore the pseudoscientist must be right too, just as Galileo was.

T.Russ:

Statements by “scientific establishments” have meant very little throughout history

Playing the odds, I’ll take a random (not cherry-picked) statement from a scientific organization, over a random statement from a religiously motivated fringe quack, any day. Especially if the quack is promoting an idea which you admit failed to gain scientific support in 2500 years.

It was a simpler time (back when we thought Edwards was going to be the last word), but I’d like to share the approach my high school Biology teacher took toward the issue. (This is in Lawrence KS in 1987 [now that I think about it that was the year of Edwards, wasn’t it?] –the teacher was Stan Roth, for those, like Jack Krebs? who might recognize the name.)

He said (roughly) Class, we are about to begin a six-week unit on Mendelian Genetics and Evolution. These are central concepts in the study of life, and you can’t really understand biology without them. However, there are those in this state and across the country who believe that I should be required to present you with an “alternative account” of how life, the universe, and everything came to be as it is… *proceeds, without further introduction, to read the Hopi creation myth* That’s my favorite. *smiles. proceeds to teach evolution* Thoughts?

Mr. Krebs (or anyone else who agree’s with Dr. Scott’s position), please tell my why you think my concerns are unfounded, or why you think the benefits of making such statements in science class outweigh the detriments.

With respect, Dr Scott doesn’t speak on behalf of all scientists, whether I agree with her statement or not.

Donald would like us to think she DOES.

Donald is full of cow crap.

Deliberately so, I think (having seen lots of Donald’s dances before).

yeah, if the fundies get their way, that teacher would be subject to reprimand just as readily as one who wouldn’t read the statement to begin with. and you know why.

Don’t BS us, Donald.

Oh, and I’m still waiting for you to tell me how anyone else can know any more about God than anyone else does.

Perhaps you should take your “BS” complaint to Ms Scott, since she’s the one advising teachers on how to talk about religion in the science class.

Dr Scott does not speak on behalf of all scientists, DOnlad. And your attempt to imply that she DOES, or that all (or even most) scientists agree with her, is BS. Deliberate, calculated, dishonest BS.

The kind I long ago learned to expect from ID/creationists.

As to your second sentence, you’ve got it exactly backwards. You’re the one who needs to answer the questions I put to you and not vice-versa. But as that was another thread, there’s no point resurrecting it here.

I don’t blame you, Donald. *I* sure wouldn’t want to state on a public blog, in front of the whoel world, that I think I know more about God than anyone else does because God talks to me and tells me.

People might think I was … well … nutty.

Speaking rhetorically, why would we consider making such statements in science class? It’s certainly not the place for comparative religious discussions in general. The only real argument for making such statements in science class is to overcome religious objections to the theory of evolution.

And I don’t think science should be in the business of reconciling religion and science. That’s what we pay theologians and ministers to do. Science teachers get paid to teach science.

Is theistic meteorology compatible with naturalistic meteorology?

If I fully accept the scientific account of how hurricanes arise with the one proviso that the causes might appear to be natural, but in fact are guided by God, am I not contradicting the whole point of the scientific account?

Hurricanes used to be explained as being the wrath of God, before the concept of nature and the method of science existed. Is not theistic meteorology a contradiction in terms?

…and if it is not a contradiction then why should I not be allowed to say that Katrina and AIDS and all the afflictions of humanity are not the punishments of God?

am I not contradicting the whole point of the scientific account?

both the point and the purpose, to be sure.

Donald M:

It strikes me that you are looking for a pure strategy in this game, and I doubt one can exist. For better or worse, the fact is that SOME religious doctrines do indeed make claims testable through the observation of evidence, and such claims run the risk of conflicting with the evidence and failing the tests. If Scott is saying this is not so, Scott needs to brush up on her religious doctrines a bit. It is just plain true that ANY religion that makes ANY testable claim bears this risk.

Now, what response can anyone possibly give when this happens? Should the teacher deny the evidence? Should the teacher reject the religious doctrine on the basis of evidence? If the teacher uses the general approach of “these are the facts on the ground, and here are the best current explanations for them, as science requires” is the student’s faith being undermined? How can the teacher best get across the essential point you focus your concern on: that the assumption of evolution as having no “overall goal” best explains the observations and leads to the most accurate predictions, while the projection of teleological views onto the evidence produces lousy predictions?

So I think any teacher should make this point at least once as required, and make it strongly: ANY religious doctrine that makes testable statements about the physical universe is ipso facto trespassing on scientific territory and runs the same scientific risk as any OTHER such statement, of being falsified by the evidence. And if your personal faith requires belief contrary to observation and evidence, this is YOUR problem and not a problem with either science or religion. At least not *necessarily* a problem with religion, because many faiths are careful not to insist on falsifiable claims.

Personally, I don’t like Scott’s approach, because I think it’s asking for trouble. To me, it implies that there are two classes of religions; neutral (read:useless) and stupid. And science only conflicts with the stupid religions. If yours is of the useless persuasion, you enjoy no benefits but at least suffer no conflicts. And in my opinion, faiths are perceived by those who hold them as being powerfully beneficial. Those that do not insist on the literal truth of arrant nonsense are fortunate that their faith did not choose to pick a fight with reality. Faiths that DO pick that fight will cripple their followers regardless of what Scott says or how science teachers teach.

So I prefer the approach Kurt Wise the Creationist recommends: tell the students to learn the lessons and pass the tests. There is no requirement that you *believe* anything you are taught, only that you understand it.

…and if it is not a contradiction then why should I not be allowed to say that Katrina and AIDS and all the afflictions of humanity are not the punishments of God?

You ARE perfectly allowed to say that, and to preach it from any pulpit in any church anywhere in the United States of America.

What you are NOT allowed to do is claim that it is “science” and belongs in science classrooms or textbooks.

Flint:

ANY religious doctrine that makes testable statements about the physical universe is ipso facto trespassing on scientific territory

Sorry, but the claim that religion is “trespassing” when it makes claims about the natural world is not a scientific claim, it’s a theological or philosophical one, and it does not belong in a public school science class. It’s essentially an expression of the NOMA position that the vast majority of scientists do not seem to accept.

Cromer wrote

Radin (1997) documents variations in lottery and gaming payout rates due to GMF fluctuations. And certainly some stock pickers have experienced remarkable success which may (or may not) be due to psi-like “gut feelings”.

Years ago I critically reviewed a paper by Radin in which he claimed to have shown that sensitives could ‘read’ the state of the memory of a distant computer. (I may still have a copy laying around here somewhere, even after three office moves.) Examined carefully, Radin’s work was a massive exercise in data selection, optional stopping rules, and mis-used statistics. I thereafter occasionally used it in classes as an exercise for experimental design and stats students. Mostly they caught all the errors.

RBH

Speaking of Casey, he’s got some more crap up at Evolve “News”. Still no fixed Trackbacks.

Flint said

So I prefer the approach Kurt Wise the Creationist recommends: tell the students to learn the lessons and pass the tests. There is no requirement that you *believe* anything you are taught, only that you understand it.

This is the most sensible thing I have seen in a week. Everyone is off the hook no further discussion required in the science class about what one “believes” just understand it. Science = understanding, God = belief and in science class we only do understanding NOT belief.

I never liked that word belief anyway and they can have trust, faith and truth as well …hey they owned them before science came along so they can have em back there’s plenty others! I hope they are satisfied with that because we could run out of few words we need but for the sake of peace whats a word here and there.

Why isn’t he running the DI ? Oh that’s right its a diabolical conspiracy How does the DI insult Wise etc I wonder… pragmatic wordists?

Lenny bombasts:

I don’t blame you, Donald. *I* sure wouldn’t want to state on a public blog, in front of the whoel world, that I think I know more about God than anyone else does because God talks to me and tells me.

People might think I was … well… nutty.

Have no fear, Lenny. People do think you’re nutty. Especially since you and not I have indeed have gone on a public blog (this one) and stated that you apparently know more about God than anyone else. (You recall, your as yet unsubstantiated claim that no one alive knows any more about God than anyone else…or was it, everyone knows zero about God…or was it no one can demonstrate that they know anything about God…it was really difficult to say, since you kept changing your claim) It’s there for all to see how you avoid any responsibility for your own bogus claim and then try to dodge defending it and pretend it was someone else (in this case me) who made the claim. But, this is your usual modus operandi when you’ve been caught in your own bad logic and “arguments”. Every post you make is either a red herring, a straw man, an ad hominem, a violation of the law of non-contradiction or a circular argument. There’s no reason to take you seriously about anything. You are simply intellectually dishonest. And you are a waste of time. You can hand wave away, make any false claim about me or anyone else you wish. You’re simply not worth responding to anymore.

Furthermore, I never ever made the claim you are desparately trying to imply I made, and you know it. In plain language, you are deliberatly being deceptive.

So, at the risk of bruising your tender ego, I simply see no reason to engage or respond to your non-sense (and that’s all it is) anymore.

Flint writes:

Personally, I don’t like Scott’s approach, because I think it’s asking for trouble.

Then, I think we agree. Note my last comment above: “I think teacher’s following Ms. Scott’s advice are in for a peck-o-trouble.”

I wrote:

Perhaps you should take your “BS” complaint to Ms Scott, since she’s the one advising teachers on how to talk about religion in the science class.

Which Lenny deliberately misinterprets thusly:

Dr Scott does not speak on behalf of all scientists, DOnlad. And your attempt to imply that she DOES, or that all (or even most) scientists agree with her, is BS. Deliberate, calculated, dishonest BS.

The kind I long ago learned to expect from ID/creationists.

Lest there be any doubt why I think Lenny is a waste of time. Lenny’s vigorous hand waving is simply not enough to get from my actual comment to his deliberate mis-characterization of it.

be careful donald, you’re many uses of lenny’s ™ colloqualisms and phrases like “hand waving” make it seem as tho he has you under his thumb.

how exactly did lenny misinterpret your statement?

when you say scott is “the one”? seems like he correctly interpreted that to mean you thought scott was the lone scientist advising the rest of us on how to teach science. perhaps you should be more clear with what you mean then? er, what WAS your point, anyway. I can’t figure it out even re-reading your statement several times.

Furthermore, I never ever made the claim you are desparately trying to imply I made, and you know it.

Don’t BS me, Donald.

Don P:

Don P Wrote:

Sorry, but the claim that religion is “trespassing” when it makes claims about the natural world is not a scientific claim, it’s a theological or philosophical one, and it does not belong in a public school science class. It’s essentially an expression of the NOMA position that the vast majority of scientists do not seem to accept.

I don’t think you read my post very carefully. I didn’t intend this statement as a policy position, but rather as a general observation of why science and religion sometimes come into conflict. Science has by implication claimed as its territory any aspects of the physical universe that can be investigated through observation and test. Or (if you prefer) any statement about the universe that is subject to falsification. Any testable statement runs the risk of being demonstrated to be wrong on the merits.

And this leads to problems when religions make statements of this sort, because it means that religions are making falsifiable claims, which just might turn out to be false on the merits. So the explanation I’m offering isn’t intended to be presented as a philosophical position in 9th grade science class, but rather intended as an explanation to Donald M of why such conflicts can’t be avoided by any tactics however clever. Science WILL investigate anything it CAN investigate, and if religion has trespassed into that territory, we run the risk of conflicting truth claims, one based on evidence and the other on doctrine. Can’t be avoided, UNLESS religion repositions the claim somehow.

I regard Scott’s approach as being a variation on “teach the controversy” - take time out in science class to explain that since SOME religions find no conflict, therefore the conflict isn’t inherent in religion per se, but rather an artifact of specific misguided doctrines of some particular faiths. And I don’t think this approach is helpful. That’s why I prefer Kurt Wise’s approach, which summarizes succinctly as “you’re free to remain stupid, but not ignorant.”

I’m not actual sure where to put this as it is the second (and last) post It is relavent to this part of the thread

Australian scientists are fighting back. They’re producing an open letter that unequivocally states Intelligent Design is not science and must not be taught in science classrooms. The open letter, signed by a host of Australian scientists and science educators, will appear in national newspapers tomorrow. http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1486827.…

Got a bland reply back from the Information Theory Society

Dear Mr. Story The IEEE Information Theory Society serves our members in several ways - mainly through our journal, conferences, newsletter and website. Our hallmark is peer review - we would welcome the submission of scientific papers from Mr. Dembski or yourself to our journal or conferences.

Best regards Steve McLaughlin President, IEEE Information Theory Society, 2005

Flint:

I don’t think you read my post very carefully. I didn’t intend this statement as a policy position, but rather as a general observation of why science and religion sometimes come into conflict.

I did read your post carefully. You said: “So I think any teacher should make this point at least once as required, and make it strongly: ANY religious doctrine that makes testable statements about the physical universe is ipso facto trespassing on scientific territory”

If you did not mean that you think teachers should make that point, you shouldn’t have said “I think any teacher should make this point…”

As I said, your claim that religion is “trespassing” when it makes claims that can be tested using the methods of science is not a scientific claim, it’s a philosophical or theological one, and it has no place in a science class.

@Steve

*sigh* pretty much what i expected; sorry. nice try tho.

Lenny Wrote:

You ARE perfectly allowed to say that, and to preach it from any pulpit in any church anywhere in the United States of America.

What you are NOT allowed to do is claim that it is “science” and belongs in science classrooms or textbooks.

True Lenny, but the real point is that if theistic science is compatible with naturalistic science and not a contradiction of it, then there can be no reason for objecting to them being taught alongide one another in science class.

The reason that this is absurd is because, of course, theistic science is a scientific oxymoron.

How can saying that natural afflictions are God’s punishments possibly be compatible with science?

Yet this would be logically permitted if theological add-ons had no contradictory effect upon scientific explanations.

The reason that theological “science” must be kept out of naturalistic science class is because they are not logically compatible.

True Lenny, but the real point is that if theistic science is compatible with naturalistic science and not a contradiction of it, then there can be no reason for objecting to them being taught alongide one another in science class.

Of COURSE there is —- the best reason of all. It’s illegal.

Science is science. Science is not religion.

Religion is religion. Religion is not science.

“Of COURSE there is —— the best reason of all. It’s illegal.”

Ha, silly of me. How right you are. Thank God for the constitution!

Thank God for the constitution!

Indeed. It, and it alone, is preventing the US from degenerating into full-fledged theocracy. Despite all our collective cackling about “science education” and “educating the public”, it is a handful of lawyers in Pennsylvania, and nothing else, that will kill ID dead. Thanks to that Constitution.

And if the Supreme Court ever decides to abandon the Constitution and open the door for theocracy, then I think that we, as citizens, have not only the right but the obligation to do whatever becomes necessary to restore democracy and the rule of constitutional law.

Lenny Wrote:

Science is science. Science is not religion.

Religion is religion. Religion is not science.

Absolutely! And religious science is just a nonsense: theistic evolution indeed.

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on October 17, 2005 10:26 PM.

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