ACLU: America’s intellectual terrorists?

| 155 Comments

On UncommonDescent, DougMoran is upset with the ACLU calling it “America’s Intellectual Terrorists” for failing to “protect our children from being told that they are unplanned and have no purpose”. The irony of it all is that the term unguided was added by the ID minority in Kansas. Read on for the rest of the story.

Dougmoran Wrote:

”… public schools should not be used by people to teach their personal religious beliefs to other people’s children…”

I agree. So when is the ACLU going to protect our children from being told they are unplanned and have no purpose and must believe the religion of Dawkin’s god?

First prizes in the worldwide competition for most hypocritical religious zealots and most vile intellectual terrorists go to the ACLU.

ACLU of Ohio Demands Schools Stop Teaching Intelligent Design as Science

The irony of this all is that the term unguided was added to the text by the ID minority in Kansas… If DougMoran considers that ACLU ‘intellectual terrorists’ for supposedly not opposing teaching that evolution is unguided, I wonder what words he has reserved for those in Kansas who insisted on including this into the science curriculum.

On UncommonDescent thread various people have responded

First Jack Krebs:

Jack Krebs Wrote:

I don’t believe that students in schools are being taught that they are unplanned and there is no God. Dawkins et al may say that, but Dawkin’s metaphysics is not being taught as science. In fact, I recently heard an ACLU lawyer tell an audience that if there were a science teacher teaching that students were purposeless accidents and that science showed there were no God, the ACLU would be first in line to take them to court.

then DaveScot

Davescot Wrote:

If that’s true then what is the meaning of this in the Kansas Science Standards: “Biological evolution postulates an unguided natural process that has no discernable direction or goal.” (G8-12,S3,B3,I1)”. -ds

DaveScot’s unfamiliarity with the history of the Kansas Science Standards is quickly explored by Egbooth

Egbooth Wrote:

DS, you may want to point out in your response to Jack Krebs that the only reason the word “unguided” is in the new Kansas Science Standards is because of the pro-ID community, specifically committee member Kathy Martin, who explicity added it. In fact, if you read through the Kansas science hearings held last May, you would have found scientists such as Steve Case arguing against the use of the word unguided in the standards.

In other words, the term unguided came from the ID minority and the majority and scientists argued against the inclusion of this term.

Egbooth Wrote:

Even though many Dawkins-esque scientists try to insert the word “unguided” in their discussions about evolution, it is abundantly clear that in this case the only reason they are in the science standards is to create a false duality between science and religion. This is how you pro-ID folks love to add fire to the “Darwin=religion” fire.

So the term unguided was added by the ID minority in Kansas and now ID activists are complaining that the ACLU does not stand up to protect out children? I am sure that the ACLU would be more than happy to join them in a lawsuit against the Kansas Board of Education.

Egbooth Wrote:

You have to remember DS, this is the one thing that I, Jack Krebs, a vast majority of the scientific community, and you all agree on: Any mention of “unguided” (in the supernatural sense) within any science lesson is completely meaningless and should not be used. That’s good isn’t it? Agreement. How ‘bout a big group hug for that one? You’ve mentioned before in this blog that this is ID’s primary purpose (to remove any mention of “unguided” in science class) so why don’t you just take the troops off the line and call it a victory for everyone? We finally agre

Egbooth is correct, science cannot address the final issue of whether or not something is unguided. What science can do is show how natural processes can explain a particular phenomenon.

Confronted with the facts, DaveScot ‘responds’

DaveScot Wrote:

Now if you’re quite through demonstrating to us how uninformed anti-ID knee-jerkers describe the “controversy” you can crawl back under whatever rock it was you came from. Or you can apologize and all will be forgiven. Your choice. -ds

Ouch, Egbooth must have touched a nerve here.

Jack Krebs, in a followup. addressed the comments made by Egbooth.

Jack Krebs Wrote:

“We, the majority on the science committee, did not write that line - in fact we rejected it in committee by a 2:1 margin

Egbooth is right. The phrase about “unguided” was added by the ID Minority on the writing committee and adopted by the Board. It is an unwarranted metaphysical addition made by the ID Minority. The majority of the writing committee (of which I am a member) believe that evolutionary theory, or science in general, can only study the physical world in a limited way, and that judging whether there is or isn’t divine guidance (as the word is meant to imply in the standards) is outside the scope of science.

And yes I know about the letter from the Nobel 38, and about Dawkins, etc. If the Nobel 38 meant to make a statement about metaphysical or divine guidance, then, despite what ever well-meaning intentions they had, they were not talking about science and not talking for science. More importantly, they are not teaching Kansas school children.

So, going back to the topic of the thread: if a teacher were to actually explicitly teach the position stated in the line added by the ID Minority (that evolution was a unguided process from a theological view, and that therefore students were accidents with no intrinsic purpose because there is no God), the ACLU would be first in line to support a suit against them, and Kansas Citizens for Science would support them.”

This topic probably deserves a blog - not the Uncommon Descent thread, but the issue of the inclusion of the word “unguided” by the ID Minority.

And there we are. On the one hand ID activists lament the use of terms like unguided or unplanned when discussing evolutionary science, on the other hand ID activists are adding the term to state standards. I wonder if those ID activists at Uncommon Descent who have spoken out so strongly against evolution being ‘unguided’ will join the ACLU in a legal challenge? Would that not be ironic…

Enough day dreaming, a more likely response will be to blame those darn Darwinists of insisting on the term ‘unguided’ and ‘unplanned’.

When asked the following question

“I would like to know why the ID minority insisted upon the language. Can anyone answer that without getting to overheated?”

Davescot Wrote:

Evolution IS understood by the academy to be an unguided process. The academy after all is dominated by atheists. -ds

So the ID minority insists on changing the language to read unguided because the academy is dominated by atheists? Come on Davescot, how hard is it to admit that once again you may have been to hasty in expressing your opinions?

On the ASA reflector Keith Miller commented on the situation in Kansas and how creationists continue what he considers a misrepresentation of evolutionary science:

Keith Miller Wrote:

The most frustrating aspect of this for me has been the rejection of TEs (evolutionary creationists, continuous creationists) by most in the ID community. The ID supporters state that the object of their critique is materialistic philosophy and the denial of design, purpose, and meaning. Yet they reject the arguments of those like myself who have consistently argued against just such a misrepresentation of evolutionary science. It is the ID proponents who insist on labelling evolutionary theory as “Darwinism” and on defining it as implying a purposeless and meaningless process that denies God. They did this precise redefinition in Kansas against the objections of the standards revision committee, and virtually every scientific and educational organization in the state. Ironically it is the ID supporters who are fighting for an atheistic definition of evolution against the science and educational community. The only reason for this that I can see is that it gives them political leverage to include ID in the science curriculum as the counter to this atheistic science (which they themselves have inserted into the standards).

For a good overview of the issues surrounding the Ohio Standards see PandasThumb.or Ohio Citizens for Science

So, let’s look at the ACLU’s press release of a letter sent to the Toledo Public Schools which caused DougMoran so much ‘pain’:

TOLEDO, OH – The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today sent a letter to the Toledo Public Schools demanding that they cease allowing staff to teach intelligent design in science classrooms throughout the district.

“Intelligent design has been proven to be nothing more than a thin cover for those who wish to teach creationism, a faith-based idea of human origins endorsed by certain Christian denominations, in science classes,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso. “While people have a right to teach their religious beliefs to others in churches, mosques, synagogues and private schools, public schools should not be used by people to teach their personal religious beliefs to other people’s children.”

So far nothing too shocking, merely repeating the findings of so many, including Judge Jones.

Gamso added, “Proponents of intelligent design have been unable to provide any credible scientific evidence to support their theories. The scientific community has, time and again, largely refuted purported evidence supporting intelligent design. By continuing to allow teachers to implement intelligent design into the science curriculum, educators are misinforming Ohio’s children on the fundamental principles of science.”

Still no real problems. ID’s scientific vacuity makes it very ‘vulnerable’ as it is inherently unable to provide any credible evidence to support their theories. Evidence typically involves arguments that evolutionary theory, or Darwinism cannot explain ‘X’ and that ID can explain it much better. The latter statement is invariably made without any supporting evidence or calculations and when asked for specifics or details, the critic is often rebutted with an angry response the ID is not in the business of providing pathetic details.

Recently, a news article in the Toledo Blade featured teachers in the Toledo Public School system who admitted teaching intelligent design in science classrooms. In the article, teachers acknowledged they taught lessons on various pieces of evidence that seemed to refute evolutionary theory, despite the fact that all were proven to be hoaxes by the scientific community.

In other words, the teachers were teaching something which lacked a valid secular purpose, Combine this with the abuse by such examples by creationists and one has a likely establishment clause violation.

The battle over intelligent design in Ohio schools began in 2002 when the State Board of Education endorsed teaching “critical analysis of evolution,” which is no more than a way of slipping intelligent design, and therefore creationism, into the public schools through the back door, according to the ACLU.

And Judge Jones’s opinion was not much better

Judge Joes Wrote:

… , we find that ID is not science and cannot be adjudged a valid, accepted scientific theory as it has failed to publish in peer-reviewed journals, engage in research and testing, and gain acceptance in the scientific community. ID, as noted, is grounded in theology, not science. Accepting for the sake of argument its proponents’, as well as Defendants’ argument that to introduce ID to students will encourage critical thinking, it still has utterly no place in a science curriculum. Moreover, ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID.

Following a court ruling in Dover, Pennsylvania in late 2005 that the local school board’s decision to teach intelligent design was unconstitutional, many in Ohio called for the State Board of Education to reexamine its science standards.

And the recent developments have shown that the Ohion State Board of Education has finally listened.

“As Ohio students compete with people from other states and nations for jobs in science and technology, allowing the teaching of intelligent design as a science standard will diminish their ability to compete in the economy,” Gamso said.

So what about these Toledo teachers? The following article provides us with some insight

Michael Maveal wants his eighth-grade students at Jones Junior High to know the truth - as he sees it. So, the Toledo Public Schools science teacher tells them that evolution is an unproven theory, as is creation. He teaches them about Nebraska man, a creature rejected by science long ago, to demonstrate the fallibility of evolution. He teaches them that Pluto has never been seen. [It has.] He teaches them that humans are not animals. [We are.] He teaches them about the famous scientific hoax, Piltdown man, once purported to be an early human ancestor. “I’m not afraid of dealing with all the fakery that’s going on in all the science community,” Mr. Maveal said. “We have to present information to the kids so they can make an intelligent decision for themselves. “I tell them what the scientists won’t admit.”

Toledo Blade

155 Comments

Please tell me that Michael Maveal is now out of a job. Please?

there seems to be a total knee-jerk hatred of the ACLU by the religious right.

IMO, all other disparaging of the ACLU seems to stem from the ACLU’s position on the abortion issue…

once you come down against the religious right on this issue, it doesn’t matter what you say after that.

They are “the enemy”, and even negative connotations that have absolutely nothing to do with what the ACLU actually does will be attached to them.

Moreover, there is of course pressure from those in politics who would prefer the ACLU simply go away, rather than bring up issues like torture and illegal surveillance. So you get those same politicos contacting their religious right base to inform them how “evil” the ACLU is, which trickles down to the rest of the sheep.

*sigh*

It never ceases to amaze me that these idiots would shoot the very organization that would preserve their rights.

Pluto hasn’t been seen?! How the hell does he think Clyde Tombaugh found it? Damn that makes me mad.

I must say I have a problem with these objections to the use of the word “unguided”. If science teachers cannot teach that natural evolution is unguided (apparently because some theistic evolutionists believe that even purely natural processes can be supernaturally guided), then can they teach that any process is unguided? Perhaps it is even wrong for teachers to refer to unguided missiles (as opposed to guided missiles), since even those missiles I must say I have a problem with these objections to the use of the word “unguided”. If science teachers cannot teach that natural evolution is unguided (apparently because some theistic evolutionists believe that even purely natural processes can be supernaturally guided), then can they teach that any process is unguided? Perhaps it is even wrong for teachers to refer to unguided missiles (as opposed to guided missiles), since even those missiles which we normally call “unguided” may in fact be guided by a supernatural being.

Oops, I made a mess of that last post. Please ignore the repeated bit.

This email was blocked by tps.org’s spam filter (I guess sbcglobal.net is a bad address to send from) It was sent to Maveal’s boss, Pamela King ([Enable javascript to see this email address.]):

From science.enotes.com:

Michael Maveal wants his eighth-grade students at Jones Junior High to know the truth - as he sees it. So, the Toledo Public Schools science teacher tells them that evolution is an unproven theory, as is creation. He teaches them about Nebraska man, a creature rejected by science long ago, to demonstrate the fallibility of evolution. He teaches them that Pluto has never been seen. He teaches them that humans are not animals. He teaches them about the famous scientific hoax, Piltdown man, once purported to be an early human ancestor. “I’m not afraid of dealing with all the fakery that’s going on in all the science community,” Mr. Maveal said. “We have to present information to the kids so they can make an intelligent decision for themselves. “I tell them what the scientists won’t admit.”

Teaching scientific hoaxes should demonstrate that science itself is self-correcting. How do you uncover a hoax? With science. Does he teach the children the good side of junk science such as Piltdown Man, the recent stem cell scam or Intellegent Design? When such nonsense comes along, it is viewed as an opprotunity to excel by exposing the fraud thus bettering science.

But I am really writing about the phrase “He teaches them that Pluto has never been seen.” How, exactly, does he think we know it is there? I’ve seen the pictures myself. If Mr Maveal would like, I can direct him to the photos.

“I tell them what the scientists won’t admit.”

This sounds like a man with a vendetta against science. Such a person should not be teaching the youth of our nation. We have a hard enough task ahead of us, given that India, China and Europe are racing ahead of the United States in every technological field. Left with teachers such as Mr Maveal, this is no mystery.

A good source to find out about what the religious right thinks of the ACLU is to have a listen to the Coral Ridge Hour (it airs on TBN here in the UK 3.00pm on Saturdays).

Some of the recent rantings by D.James Kennedy about the ACLU are, in my opinion, approaching paranoia. He usually covers stories on such subjects as abortion, posting the 10 commandments in courthouses, reading the bible in schools and creationism etc. When things don’t go right for them in the courts he blames the ACLU for turning America into a secularist, immoral, and humanistic country !

Yahoo.com is also a bad address. Methinks they are filtering for that poor fellow’s name.

Cowards.

you know, I used to think americans were weird, because they shot the doctors performing abortions, and bashed gays. Now I realise that we australians are exactly the same: it’s just we’ve taken longer for these people to be exposed. We had a vote today in our federal parliament about a pill that enables abortion without surgery. It passed both houses with a clear majority, but the arguments for it were so reminiscent of the arguments for ID that my partner had to tell me to stop yelling at the tv.. The same tactics of saying that it’s not about issue A, it’s about issues B and C, but when you look at those issues, the only reason why they’re a problem is if you have religius beliefs that conflict with them. I (and I’m sure I’m not alone in this) am sick of this obfuscation by religious people to disguise their ideals. Can’t we throw them in a river to see if they float, to know they are lying? That’s how they conducted business.. We have a catholic health minister saying that the fact that it’s an abortion pill is not the issue, it’s about parliament being responsible for decisions on these kinds of drugs. I see it as the same as people saying they are not teaching about ID (because that would be wrong), they’re teaching about the ‘conflicting theories’ or some such BS.. Seriously, am I the only one that has had enough of this? It makes me want to convert to Islam, so I can declare a jihad.. Seriously pissed off. How can we expose these people for the shallow bible-bashers that they are? I need some tools..

I’ll bet Michael Maveal spends his spare time searching for fairy godparents.

So, DaveyScotty, still pissed off from his recent common descent fiasco, is showing his frustration and ignorance again. What else is new? ;-)

When we had our first child I did an informal survey of the other parents in the maternity ward and I think it’s quite correct to refer to a large majority of children as “unplanned”…

I’m going to have to second Richard Wein’s comment. You don’t have to be a “religion is child abuse!” atheist to insist that evolution be taught as “unguided”. In fact, I would go a step further and say that pedagogy requires that it be so taught.

Surely almost all of the contributors and pro-science commenters on PT at one time or another have had a conversation with someone unfamiliar with evolution and sincerely making an effort to understand it, and encountered a question such as the following:

“If X evolved, how did evolution know that the organism was going to need X, and how did it know to provide all the supporting structures for X?”

I submit that the only appropriate, honest response to this very understandable and commonplace misconception must be “evolution doesn’t ‘know’ anything, because evolution is not ‘trying’ to achieve anything in particular.”

Let me state it even more strongly: any student who does not understand that evolution is unguided does not understand evolution.

Richard Wein was also perceptive enough to preempt the natural response of NOMAists, to wit, that “unguided” is a “metaphysical claim” that “goes beyond the science”. If that were the case, then all of science (including history and the social sciences) would be forbidden from ever claiming that any phenomena of any kind are “unguided”.

I must say I have a problem with these objections to the use of the word “unguided”. If science teachers cannot teach that natural evolution is unguided (apparently because some theistic evolutionists believe that even purely natural processes can be supernaturally guided), then can they teach that any process is unguided?

I believe the issue is the clarification of what we mean by “unguided”. If the statement is essentially equivalent to saying “no discernable goal that is detectable with empirical testing” and conforms to methodological naturalism, I don’t see a problem. That’s basically just saying we can’t find a purpose yet, not that it doesn’t have one. Unguided in that sense is fine.

But if you mean “unguided”, as in there can be no possible guidance because there is no God, then that’s kind of nuts. It’s something you cannot prove any more easily than ID. So, basically, saying unguided is almost irrelevant if you understand how science functions in the first place. One would realize, already, there is no attribution of final cause to evolution by science.

I do laugh about the ID folks inserting the “unguided” into the curriculum, though. I wonder how that will play in court.

From Richard Wein:

I must say I have a problem with these objections to the use of the word “unguided”. If science teachers cannot teach that natural evolution is unguided (apparently because some theistic evolutionists believe that even purely natural processes can be supernaturally guided), then can they teach that any process is unguided?

This is a good point, but I would still argue that calling evolution “unguided” makes a metaphysical claim that can’t be backed up with scientific evidence. So making that claim in a scientific setting isn’t appropriate.

Technically, the best way of describing evolution is probably to say that “as far as we can tell, it is not ‘guided’ any more than any of the other natural events that we see around us every day”. That’s accurate, without going beyond our evidence, but it’s a real mouthful. Maybe a better compromise, as a teacher, is to emphasize that organisms don’t direct their own evolution and that the natural forces which drive evolution are the same natural forces that students are familiar with– no more, no less. That addresses a couple of common student misconceptions: first, that organisms evolve because they “want” or “need” to, and second that evolution involves some special, mystical force that isn’t in other processes. But it leaves them free to decide for themselves whether or not God is present in the everyday, natural universe.

Of course, maybe explaining all of this isn’t an awkward nuisance; maybe it’s a great opportunity to emphasize to students how science works and where its limits are.

DaveScot’s insistence that the Nobel 38 are right in their definition of evolution as “unguided” and “unplanned” prompted me to jot this in my journal the other night:

There is a great deal of irony in this. When a scientist makes a statement about a topic on which he has no training– for which he can marshal no scientific tests or evidence– about which there is no consensus among biologists– that scientist is taken to be an unquestionable authority whose words are perfectly correct. But when that same man makes a statement about the evidence supporting the theory of evolution– a topic on which he is profoundly well-informed, for which there is an immense amount of hard fact, and on which there is no serious doubt within the scientific community– then, in the creationist’s eyes, his authority crumbles into dust and his knowledge is puffery, hardly worthy to be shrugged aside.

Joseph Goebbels would be proud and George Orwell would be shocked by this clever use of rhetoric and newspeak. As absurd as the claim may be, it will accomplish what it is intended to do – to keep fundamentalists engaged in the martyr complex so that they are plenty rejuvenated to return America to Christ … ala election 2006/8.

By the way, if I’m not mistaken the opposite of a “guided” missile is a “balistic” missile, wherein all the “guiding” happens at launch. I don’t believe there are any “unguided” missiles, at least not by design. I’d hate to think that any weapon’s targeting was left to an unknown and unspecified force.

In one right-wing forum, I posted a long list of cases where the ACLU was explicitly defending the rights of Christians to BE Christians and express their faith without unconstitutional resistance. There are quite a few of these.

The reactions to this post were straight out of DaveScot: The consensus was that the only conceivable reason the ACLU might do this was because they are simply too stupid to realize what they’re doing, and defended Christians out of sheer ignorant accident. What ELSE could explain it?

Yes, of course the ID proponents are inserting “unguided” in a deliberate attempt to misrepresent what evolutionary theory says, to make the result easier to attack. If you can’t attack what it says, MAKE it say something it does not and then attack THAT. The religious mentality never changes - in their world, things become true because they SAY they’re true. It’s ‘poof’ all the way down.

I also agree with Richard Wein; the real issue here is whether “unguided” is being used in an empirical or a metaphysical sense. As usual, creationists are equivocating between the two meanings of the word, which have very different implications, to cause confusion. Perhaps a good way to put it would be to say that evolution is unguided at the level of the organism, i.e., individual organisms cannot evolve based on what they “know” they need. On the other hand, whether evolution as a process in general is unguided is not a question that science can answer. In that sense, the IDers’ adding it to the curriculum is an attempt at straw-man creation.

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on February 16, 2006 10:50 AM (e)

By the way, if I’m not mistaken the opposite of a “guided” missile is a “balistic” missile, wherein all the “guiding” happens at launch. I don’t believe there are any “unguided” missiles, at least not by design. I’d hate to think that any weapon’s targeting was left to an unknown and unspecified force.

AFAIK. A guided missile has the ability to be controled/directed during flight. As opposed to an aimed missile that has no corective in-flight control.

Balistic refers to the nature of flight. Balistic objects fly just with power to weight ratio. IE they dont rely on wings for flight.

AD Wrote:

I believe the issue is the clarification of what we mean by “unguided”. If the statement is essentially equivalent to saying “no discernable goal that is detectable with empirical testing” and conforms to methodological naturalism, I don’t see a problem. That’s basically just saying we can’t find a purpose yet, not that it doesn’t have one. Unguided in that sense is fine.

But it really isn’t just saying that “we can’t find a purpose yet”. It’s not a metaphysical statement at all. It merely seeks to encapsulate the fact that the process itself is unconscious. I suppose one could imagine all manner of additional, metaphysical layers - such as that random mutations only seem random to us, but some god is really orchestrating them - but that’s not science.

I think such an explanation would clear things up for genuinely confused people. Of course, the scoundrels using “unguided” as a codeword for “atheistic” (even “antitheistic”) for political purposes are a different story.

Flint Wrote:

The religious mentality never changes - in their world, things become true because they SAY they’re true.

An excellent point, Flint. One can see other examples of this, such as the Calvary Chapel Christian School suing the University of California system for not granting transfer credit for creationist science courses (1). In the creationists’ minds, if they say something is true (i.e., creationism is valid science), then it is a violation of their right of free speech for anyone to say otherwise.

AC,

I meant that in a scientific sense we can’t find a purpose yet, or perhaps ever. It also clearly abdicates any statement about a supernatural purpose, which science isn’t going to speak to. The point is to make clear we aren’t saying it has no purpose, just that it has no discernable purpose from the perspective of an individual organism (they don’t evolve because they “want” to, or have a “plan”). There’s very obviously no statement about whether a God-being could be guiding the process from behind the scenes or not (because you can’t test that).

Judging from all the responses, though, I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone with a functioning brain that “unguided” in the scientific sense is not “OMFG NO GOD”, no matter how badly the ID folks want it to be that.

The idea that evolution is unguided is a reasonable induction, based on the observations of the random events that affect evolution, plus the selective–but by all appearances unguided–pressures that together make up the “evolutionary mechanisms”. We do not have to resort to any sort of metaphysics to make the sensible judgment that unguided processes are responsible, we’re simply using the positive evidence in hand to make a reasonable, but not absolute, judgment that evolution is as unguided as chemical reactions are.

This is what we’re fighting for, in fact, the freedom to infer and to teach what appears to be the case in the observable world. We are not denying that God could have anything to do with chemical reactions, ecology, or evolution, but we are denying that we see God’s guidance in these areas. And although it is likely that children need to be more clearly taught that scientific conclusions are indeed limited and that they do not rule out unobserved influences, I cannot think that we have any business suggesting that “guidance” is any more likely, according to the available evidence, in evolution than it is in the test tubes used in chemistry class.

That said, the fact that the pro-ID forces put in the word “unguided” is telling, both because of the typical ignorant lashing out at the “other” that we get from the ID camp, and because most of us wouldn’t go to the bother of saying that evolution is “unguided”. When one may do so, one simply leaves out the question of “guidance” and merely treats evolution like chemistry, as something where we look to the evidence to make our scientific models. There’s no more point to emphasizing the lack of guidance in evolution that we infer from what we observe, than there is in suggesting that evolution may be guided, as a kind of sop to the religionists.

So that I have no problem with saying that evolution is unguided, in the typical contingent and scientific sense that I would claim the behavior of wild albatrosses is unguided. But in most cases it doesn’t need to be said, nor should we make a point of stating that evolution is “unguided” (except in special cases). The known unguided mechanisms of evolution ought to be presented in the same manner that the known unguided mechanisms of chemistry are presented–as the best inference that we have at present. If anyone wants to mix up either chemistry or evolution with, say, Hegelian or religious mysticism, that is not really our concern, just so long as they understand what the evidence shows and they have some recognition of how we arrive at such scientific conclusions.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Ebonmuse Wrote:

On the other hand, whether evolution as a process in general is unguided is not a question that science can answer. In that sense, the IDers’ adding it to the curriculum is an attempt at straw-man creation.

I think even this language is still too vague to enforce the relevant distinction. “Guided as a process in general” is still an empirical claim, not a metaphysical one; furthermore, it’s a proposition that has been demonstrated by science to be false, as clearly as science has demonstrated geocentrism to be false.

There are AFAICT only two senses in which the claim that evolution is unguided is a “metaphysical claim” that “goes beyond what science can tell us.”

The first sense is the intellectually sterile response of the Pyrrhonic Sceptic where we might all be brains in vats or victims of an evil demon, in which case any claim about anything at all is “uncertain” and “goes beyond the evidence”. I don’t think anyone at the DI means it in this sense.

The other sense is a generally theistic one where “designed” and “guided” are conceptual honorifics – they’re anthropomorphic shorthand and loose analogies with the design activity of normal naturalistic human designers and guiders, employed because our finite minds cannot generate an adequate linguistic description of the process. This sense is essentially one of theological noncognitivism; to say “evolution is guided” is not even to state a choate truth-functional description of the world per se, but to express the speaker’s awe and wonder at the grandeur of the unfolding universe.

To the extent, however, that “evolution is unguided” expresses a meaningful cognitive claim about the world, then it has been proved as certainly true as anything can be proved. I’m deeply troubled by the implication that science ought to walk on eggshells to avoid giving offense to anyone whose religious beliefs employ euphemistic language involving designers or guiders. ISTM that if science can challenge the empirical claims of YECism, then it ought to be allowed to challenge the empirical claims of Intelligent Design, and ignore the protestations of people who want to coopt designist language into their own emotive expressions of spiritual experience. If your religion says Yahweh made the world 6,000 years ago, your religion is false. If your religion says Yahweh empirically-guided evolution, your religion is false. If your religion says Yahweh guided-evolution-in-an-undefined-euphemistic-sense, then your religion isn’t even in the business of making statements that can be true or false, and so you have nothing to fear from scientists calling evolution unguided.

I have a question that is probably quite a bit off-topic (unless you have a really good imagination that can find connections where they barely exist)

If a math teacher assigned a book for a class to read, and someone wanted to know if the book has been reviewed for its math content validity or value, where would that person look? I teach science, and if a teacher in my school decided to use “Pandas” in a class, I know where to get detailed reviews on the science presented in the book.

I ask this because a math teacher has included Darwin’s Black Box by Behe in a reading list (students may choose from this list; it’s not assigned). I can read scientific critiques of this book, and in fact as a department we raised the question of the book’s value because of its faulty science content, but I am curious why a math class would be interested in the book. I am not a mathematician, so I would have to depend heavily on experts for their take on this matter.

Thanks in advance for any help on this matter.

Hi KL,

As far as I can recall– it’s been a few years since I read it– “Darwin’s Black Box” contains no math whatsoever.

I’m having trouble coming up with any legitimate pedagogical reason why a math teacher would want students to read it. I can’t see how it would help them understand mathematics.

As you might imagine, this raises a warning flag in my mind. I’d be concerned that this math teacher has motives that aren’t pedagogical, but of course you’d have to check that out to be sure.

The ACLU has been the far right’s favorite whipping boy since the ‘20’s when the right decreed it to be an agent of the international communist conspiracy. The view held well into the ‘60’s during which period right wing politicians frequently tried to link it, in the style of Joe McCarthy, to the Soviet Union. Through it all the ACLU defended anyone who’s rights were in jeopardy, Christian or non-Christian, left-wing or right-wing, black or white. One of their clients back in the ‘60’s was even that grand Pooh Bah of the right, William F. Buckley, when he was being harrassed for his political views. The far right, Christian and otherwise, always needs an enemy (it’s needed for the martyr/persecution complex), preferably one with superhuman malice and cunning. “Evolutionists” and the ACLU currently serve that purpose for many. When god is on your side, your opponents must be in thrall to the devil. The far right’s current sway in the White House and Washington, given their proclivity to demonize anyone who disagrees, is why the current atmosphere there is so poisonous.

When IDists denounce Dawkins and Sagan for calling evolution a proven fact, they are actually attacking all physical scientists, because no scientist can prove any physical law or theory will be eternally true.IDists want absolutes, which science will never generate. Science does not provide the kind of eternal verities IDists seek. Every law or theory in science is a temporary truth, a relative truth. It works for now; it is true for now. But that is not to say it will never be enhanced. Scientists gather data and formulate theories based on what they have. As new information is collected, the theory is modified and improved, to take account of new facts. IDists, on the other hand, formulated theories based on personal beliefs, gathered data to corroborate them, and discarded all information to the contrary. Facts were made to fit beliefs, rather than vice verse. Secondly, there are always going to be questions in the physical sciences for which current theories or laws have no provable explanation. That is inherent to the nature of science. And because scientists don’t know all, creationists and others of an anti-science propensity will always have a void to exploit. And, of course, historically they have done just that. Quick to provide supernatural explanations for unknown causes or phenomena,(God Of The Gaps) they have specialized in focusing on the weakness of science and asking questions for which scientists had no conclusive proof. The struggle between scientists and supernaturalists has been, and will continue to be, a perpetual process in which supernaturalists are retreating, while naturalists are advancing. Every time naturalists have found answers to the questions of supernaturalists, the latter have moved to new questions. And until naturalists can provide satisfactory explanations for everything, supernaturalists will always have an opening for divine intervention If one seeks absolutes, statements which are true at all times, under all conditions, then he should stay with supernaturalists such as the creationists. They, alone, provide absolutes: absolutes which are absolutely wrong

failing to “protect our children from being told that they are unplanned and have no purpose”.

And how again is this the ACLU’s job?

I agree. As far as I can see, the main objection to the word “unguided” arises because some theistic evolutionists want to accept the scientific conclusion that evolution is a purely natural process while still holding on to their religious belief that it is supernaturally guided. This seems to me to be a claim that evolution is both guided and unguided at the same time. If I’ve misinterpreted the T.E. position, I hope someone will enlighten me.

You have misinterpreted the position, I would think, from what I understand. The problem is that there is confusion about what “guided” means.

A TE would say:

- Evolution is unguided with respect to any observable natural phenomenon.

- Evolution is guided/purposed with respect to unobservable supernatural phenomenon (aka God).

The basic argument is that simply because there is no natural purpose that we can observe does not deny ANY purpose. It just denies a natural purpose (and perhaps implies limitations to our perceptual abilities with regard to the supernatural). Why could this seemingly naturally random process not have been put into place with a specific purpose by a divine creator? Especially if that creator happens to be all-knowing and all-powerful, unlike us. Our inability to percieve any purpose does not deny it is there in some way we cannot directly percieve.

Scientifically speaking, however, it would mean that evolution was unguided in any meaningful or testable manner (thanks to methodological naturalism). Also, when evolution is speaking to unguidedness, that also means creatures do not have an “agenda” for their evolution. It’s not like bacteria sit around in board meetings and plan to evolve into multi-celled organisms because they think it might be nice.

Edit:

Somehow my last bit didn’t show up. It was this:

As a result, I don’t think there’s an objection from any TE’s about saying evolution is naturally unguided. There would be an objection about saying evolution is supernaturally unguided (what basis does science have to judge that one way or another? is the argument…).

Thus, the objection to “unguided” alone is probably on the basis that it’s way too vague and prone to being (deliberately) misrepresented by fundamentalists as atheistic. I doubt anyone would object to something like:

“Evolution is unguided on a natural level, but supernaturally, science has no basis to determine any method or level of guidance that may or may not exist.”

Cumbersome, obviously, but would clear up any attempts to color it as atheism.

AD, if TEs believe that evolution is guided by God, then how can they accept that it is a “natural” process? How can a supernaturally guided process be “natural”?

AC wrote:

…But if you wall it off with “I was there and you weren’t”, then we have reached the ultimate dead-end.

What you mean “we,” paleface? I’m still moving on; the religion-bashers are the ones hitting dead-ends by refusing to acknowledge the experiences of others.

Eugene Lai wrote:

Did your god or “spirit” tell you where I was? How do you know?

The fact that you and other religion-bashers are making overly-broad generalizations that are observably wrong, is sufficient proof that you have not been where I’ve been. (And it’s not that I’ve been anywhere extraordinary – my experiences come from everyday life!)

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on February 15, 2006 9:25 PM.

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