Teaching the controversy works

| 44 Comments

Seems that the public and the media are getting educated about the scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design

A few months have passed and, as predicted, a rehashing of Intelligent Design (ID) is underway in the newspapers’ letter pages. This is a technique used by creationists to keep their religious-based ideas in the public limelight; an effort to equate untestable divinity with verifiable fact. Fortunately, there is now an almost universally accepted rational consensus that ID is not real science.

There is a rational consensus that Intelligent Design is not real science

U.S, District Judge John E. Jones III says, “It should not be taught along evolution and biology because it is a religion playing as science.”

To teach the theory of intelligent design would not be fair to the 49 percent of students in an average high school who do not believe in God or in divine creation. Teaching intelligent design in schools is against the Constitution, and it is unfair to students who believe differently.

Intelligent design classes don’t belong in public schools”

Starting next year, high school students will use Florida Holt Biology, a text that doesn’t include the controversial intelligent design concept, which theorizes life could not have come about without help from a higher power.

Teachers find ‘design’ flawed

“Some people might find it surprising that a conservative judge struck down Intelligent Design only months after [President George W.] Bush said that schools should teach the controversy over evolution,” Walczak said. “But Intelligent Design is false science. It’s just a critique on evolution.”

Intelligent Design case lawyer speaks

44 Comments

Although is a pause and in certain way a respite to see the media seeing the light over the vacuity of the ID as a theory and is new “clarion” of Teach the Controversy, now is time for a more vigorous push by those who defend science and education to move into the more mainstream media. Let’s make it a duty to speak up and “correct” the media about what the ID-Creationism movement is all about.

Maybe we should call “teach the controversy” by the more accurate “invent the controversy”…

On Campus: Evangelicals and evolution

Christians need to make their peace with evolution. Let me amend that, evangelical Christians need to make their peace with evolution. This is not likely to happen, as opposition to evolution has almost become a litmus test of faith among evangelicals, but it is necessary if they are to retain their integrity and influence.

Nothing allows evangelicals to be dismissed as ignorant hicks so much as their adamant antipathy to Darwin’s theory. As evidenced by their constant bemoaning of the academic disdain they encounter, evolution’s foes are well aware of this; their desperation for respectability often induces disingenuousness. … Evangelicals challenge evolution out of religious, not scientific, conviction. Very few of those who believe scientific creationism, of which I.D. is the latest incarnation, even have any scientific training. What they do have is a belief that the theory of evolution is antithetical to their faith. I have worshiped with evangelical Christians all my life, and their rejection of evolution comes from the Bible first, with whatever scientific rationales they can stitch to their standard coming much later.

But they’ve learned that admitting as much during public debate ensures that they will lose. So they hide their religious motives (though not very well) behind a veneer of disinterested scientific criticism. It is, I suppose, to their credit that they are uncomfortable enough with the dishonesty to do a poor job of selling it. …

No pause here. In my neck of the bayou, we more often get this kind of letter to the editor in my morning paper, the Baton Rouge Advocate. I live nearby in a strange area. ACLU lawsuits against the school board for anti-evolution disclaimers, which the board lost, and Dr. Barbara Forrest (“Creationism’s Trojan Horse”) teaching in our small local university.

Letter: Evolutionists play ‘bait-and-switch’

Published: Feb 25, 2006

Recent letters to the editor concerning the evolution-vs.-intelligent-design controversy indicate a complete lack of understanding by the public and some scientists.

Evolutionists have been playing the “bait and switch” game for a long time, and the public is not aware of it. Consider the following arguments:

Evolution is a fact. “Bait and switch.” This statement is partially true and partially false because the meaning of the word evolution has changed. Modern biology textbooks define biological evolution as “change over time.” Charles Darwin observed that small changes do occur (microevolution) and assumed that this could result in the amoeba-to-man scenario (macro-evolution). Microevolution is proven and is a fact, but macroevolution has not been demonstrated or proved.

Natural selection is the driving force behind evolution. “Bait and switch.” This is true for microevolution but not for macroevolution because it cannot add information to the DNA. It only operates on the existing gene pool of a species.

Evolution is the unifying theme of biology. “Bait and switch.” Textbooks typically are discussing some microevolutionary fact and suddenly inject macroevolution into the discussion without labeling that they have switched subjects. I have talked to biologists, geologists, doctors, nurses and others who are supposedly dependent upon evolution, and they all agree that they do not and have not used macroevolution in performance of their professions. Evolutionary biologists and paleontologists are the primary users of evolutionary concepts because they are making their living trying to prove macroevolution. It is not necessary to fully understand how something came about to use the relationships between organisms.

Intelligent design is not science. “Bait and switch.” The bait is that intelligent design is not science. The switch is that they ignore that intelligent-design researchers use the modern mathematically sound area of information science to point up that organisms are too complex to have formed by “numerous, successive, slight modifications” as dictated by Darwin’s theory.

Evolution is science; intelligent design is religion. “Bait and switch.” Microevolution is science, but macroevolution as it is currently taught in our schools must rely on faith. It is a necessary requirement of atheism, a religion. It is impossible to devise an experiment to prove what went on in the past beyond the time when man was present on the Earth. Somehow the public and judiciary have failed to realize this and are letting atheism be made the state religion.

Charles H. Voss Jr. LSU professor emeritus, electrical and computer engineering department Baton Rouge

yet one more retired engineer posts his misunderstanding, and his laziness in searching the literature for both the evidence he seeks, and the fact that micro vs macro is an artificial construct created by creationists to begin with.

yeah, thanks for your 2 cents there.

your “letter to the editor” is duly noted.

now get of your ass and go check the evidence for yourself.

you can start right here; there are some great references on the front page of this very site.

…with more being published all the time.

He also said Atheism is a religion. So having no religion is a religion. What a genius.

“Teaching the controversy works”

But does Working the controvery teach?

But does Working the controvery teach?

hmm, one might think that the DI is living proof of what working the controversy teaches us.

so, yes.

Hey, some of us engineers (even working ones) have taken in enough information about different practices to realize that when the research scientists say something, they’re very probably right.

Of course, this is coming from someone who probably would have practiced biomedical, mechanical, electrical, and aeronautical engineering (all at once!) if he’d had the chance and the energy.  You don’t get far in those areas if you don’t concede that nature always has the last word.

One more thing about my area engineer. A little googling finds him as vice-president of Origins Resource Association (www.originsresource.org).

“Origins Resource Association is a nonprofit organization of scientists, educators, and citizens concerned about what we see as the brainwashing of our society into an unquestioning belief in evolution. Our mission is to furnish resources to help counter this trend.

ORA began in 1980 under the name Louisiana Citizens for Academic Freedom in Origins, or LCAFO. (You can see why we changed to a shorter name!) The organization was founded to furnish material and expertise to the state of Louisiana in support of the “Balanced Treatment Act.” This Act contained two main provisions: (1) Evolution could be presented in Louisiana public schools as theory but not proven scientific fact; and (2) Public school students should also be exposed to whatever evidence favored creation.”

Balanced treatment. Hey guys, it’s all about fairness. Who doen’t want fairness, huh? Mean evolutionistas, that’s who.

evolutionistas

hmm, that’s a new one to me. anybody heard that one before?

:p

Hey guys, it’s all about fairness. Who doen’t want fairness, huh?

think about it for just a second, and you’ll see:

the “origins research association”, that’s who.

all they gotta do is have an actual research agenda that actually has an hypothesis and some testable predictions, and they can have all the fairness they want, cause then it will be science.

what IDC has now is propaganda, not science.

got nothin’ to do with fairness.

blah blah blah Darwinism blah blah blah microevolution blah blah blah

Charles H. Voss Jr. LSU professor emeritus, electrical and computer engineering department Baton Rouge

Do you think if we got a bunch of biologists to write impromptu essays about computational group theory, or advanced topics in distributed data storage, the creationist electrical & computer engineers would get a clue how they look?

My guess is no.

So if we can’t teach them anything, we can at least point and laugh. Here’s computer technician Dave Springer, aka DaveScot, lecturing about blood types and proteins. Enjoy!

there are several proteins in human hemoglobin that must cooperate in gas transport. The proteins differ in types A, B, AB, O, rh+ and rh- blood types. Assuming that humans started with a common blood type, and diverged at some point into the types common today, how did this happen ? A single protein mutation that doesn’t kill the host has pretty long odds. However, the several proteins that must mutate -simultaneously- when going from any human blood type to another is impossibly long odds, even given billions of years.

That’s like an error per sentence!

quoted from here: http://groups.google.com/group/rec.[…]dmode=source

Do you think if we got a bunch of biologists to write impromptu essays about computational group theory, or advanced topics in distributed data storage, the creationist electrical & computer engineers would get a clue how they look?

maybe not, but I think it would be fun to try! I’m going to give a shot and see what happens.

Seems that the public and the media are getting educated about the scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design

Even in my rather religious neck of the woods (SC), not many people want intelligent design. Last month, one local TV station did a little poll, and only 3% wanted to teach only “intelligent design”.

Unfortunately for science education in my area, though, 36% wanted only creationism taught.

http://shrimpandgrits.rickandpatty.[…]lution-poll/

Intelligent design: Scientists hate it, and so do fundamentalists. Strange position to be in, I suppose.

He also said Atheism is a religion. So having no religion is a religion. What a genius.

Atheism is a religion in the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

I think that would depend on your definition of religion, actually. Atheism does make just as much of a statement about a divine creator as any religion you want to point your finger at.

One could argue that the only non-religion would be agnosticism, because then, there is a refusal to address non-natural questions.

Comment #82243

Posted by Skeptic on February 26, 2006 02:24 AM (e)

He also said Atheism is a religion. So having no religion is a religion. What a genius.

Atheism is a religion in the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

My favorite is Atheism is a religion in the same way that bald is a hair color.

I think that would depend on your definition of religion, actually. Atheism does make just as much of a statement about a divine creator as any religion you want to point your finger at.

One could argue that the only non-religion would be agnosticism, because then, there is a refusal to address non-natural questions.

What about the nontheistic religions.

I think that would depend on your definition of religion, actually. Atheism does make just as much of a statement about a divine creator as any religion you want to point your finger at.

Depends on the atheism variant. “Weak” atheism (which just says that there’s no even remotely conclusive evidence for God, hence it’s probably not worth accepting His existence as fact) couldn’t IMO be considered a religion under any circumstances.

“Strong” atheism (that actively states that God doesn’t exist) is a bit of a straw man in most cases, but where extant (I’m aware of a couple of examples) could at least be classed as a faith position, although probably not as a religion.

You beat me to it Lenny

and

agnosticism’s ‘refusal’ .….let me get my head around this.….

to discuss non natural questions.

Is there such a *thing* as non natural.

Neurons firing in your head are natural events.

Thoughts are natural time related actions performed by a natural animal.

When those organs express conscious ideas that cannot be connected with reality they are …er.… ‘unmarried’ to reality.

A wise man once observed married philosophers are an oxymoron.

A fantasy is a fantasy and knowing the difference between fantasy and reality is only a matter of simple honesty and conscience.

And of course don’t forget the ignostics.

Oh I forgot to add

Anything outside of the human mind claimed to be ‘un-natural’ is just wishful thinking pure senselessness in the truest sense.

Imaginative and creative thought however DOES have value, but there is nothing ‘super-natural’ about it.

Most eastern religions try to create ‘sacredness’ in thoughts and actions it is when they become “materialist” which is the old Cartesian duality problem ‘the western problem’ and try to describe anything ‘unreal’ outside of human thought they can only sink into “reality envy”.

Orlando Sentinel Suppresses Accurate Definition of Intelligent Design

In what was supposed to be a news article, the Orlando Sentinel yesterday substituted its own inaccurate definition of intelligent design for the definition actually used by proponents of the theory. In so doing, its editors apparently suppressed a more accurate definition of ID written by the reporter with whom I spoke. In addition to misdefining intelligent design, the Sentinel article engages in blatant editorializing by pejoratively labeling efforts to correct textbook errors as “watering down” the teaching of evolution. Below is the text of the letter I just sent to the Sentinel’s reader’s representative.

Dear Reader’s Representative:

The definition of intelligent design given in Chris Kahn’s article, “Broward selects biology text with watered-down passages on evolution” (Feb. 24), bears no resemblance to the definition actually used by the scholars and scientists who have proposed the theory. It also bears no resemblance to the definition I discussed with your reporter. Why is that? Why does the Sentinel refuse to allow the proponents of intelligent design to define their own theory, and instead substitute a highly inaccurate definition of its own? …

Your article also engages in blatant editorializing by insisting that Discovery Institute has tried to “water down” the teaching of evolution. In fact, we want to improve how evolution is taught by making sure students are exposed to the best evidence for and against Darwin’s theory. …

John G. West, Ph.D. Associate Director, Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture Discovery Institute www.discovery.org

Tsk, tsk, some in the media are no longer giving the DI the kid gloves treatment. Teach the cotroversy.

Corkscrew Wrote:

Depends on the atheism variant. “Weak” atheism (which just says that there’s no even remotely conclusive evidence for God, hence it’s probably not worth accepting His existence as fact) couldn’t IMO be considered a religion under any circumstances.

Weak atheism is even simpler than that. It is anyone who does not believe in God, but does not assert the belief that no God exists.

A wise man once observed married philosophers are an oxymoron.

I will presume that is intended as a one-liner joke, because it doesn’t hold up as a piece of “wisdom”. I know philosophers who are married. Perhaps they’re not “true” philosphers though. I can’t recall if they wear kilts.

Depends on the atheism variant. “Weak” atheism… “Strong” atheism…

Then there’s “Bully” atheism, which states that my non-God can beat up your God.

Nice one wamba

hehehehehe

watered down Creationism Industrial Deceit is watering down evolution ?

What next ?

Oh yeah tweak the P.R. knobs .…again.

Dang and I thought John D. West was going to put us all straight on the ACTUAL theory of Creationism Indecisive Duplicity

ooooohhhh I think he might just have done that.

by making sure students are exposed to the best evidence for and Recycled Creationist DOGMA and crackpot pseudoscience against Darwin’s theory.…

Wamba I may have left out almost …an oxymoron

I can’t find it now but there is a Monty Python sketch where a philosopher comes home to find his wife on the floor with the milkman and he goes into a long oblique discourse on Kant and Hegel .…I thought philosophy ended when “Social Text” printed Sokals spoof.

Then there’s “Bully” atheism, which states that my non-God can beat up your God.

Very Zen.

Regards West’s rant, here’s how he describes ID:

[ID] proposes that there is good evidence that some features of nature […] are best explained as the products of an intelligent cause, not chance and necessity.

Here’s how the article describes ID:

the idea that a god or other guiding force caused the development of life on Earth.

The first reads as “some features of nature are best explained as being designed by an intelligent entity”, the second reads as “an intelligent entity is the best explanation for some features of nature”. Surely these are just active and passive voice forms of the same concept? I don’t get what the fuss is all about.

That’s like an error per sentence!

quoted from here: http://groups.google.com/group/rec.games.program

I don’t want to derail this discussion too much.… but I did a bit of poking around that rec.games.programming thread, and it’s pretty clear that David Springer aka DaveScot spreads hate and discontent everywhere he goes. He definitely has some “issues”. He’s the kind of guy who may be very bright technically (in his narrow specialty, that is), but you sure wouldn’t want him interacting with any of your company’s customers. If I were his manager, I’d keep him well hidden in some dark corner of the computer lab. None of my customers/clients would even know that he exists!

I’m glad some of the public and the media are getting educated about the scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design, but there is a stealth ID sneaking into the New York Times:

This the review of Dennett’s new book: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/19/b[…]&ei=5070

Here’s a quote:

Dennett flatters himself that he is Hume’s heir. Hume began “The Natural History of Religion,” a short incendiary work that was published in 1757, with this remark: “As every enquiry which regards religion is of the utmost importance, there are two questions in particular which challenge our attention, to wit, that concerning its foundation in reason, and that concerning its origin in human nature.” These words serve as the epigraph to Dennett’s introduction to his own conception of “religion as a natural phenomenon.” “Breaking the Spell” proposes to answer Hume’s second question, not least as a way of circumventing Hume’s first question. Unfortunately, Dennett gives a misleading impression of Hume’s reflections on religion. He chooses not to reproduce the words that immediately follow those in which he has just basked: “Happily, the first question, which is the most important, admits of the most obvious, at least, the clearest, solution. The whole frame of nature bespeaks an intelligent author; and no rational enquirer can, after serious reflection, suspend his belief a moment with regard to the primary principles of genuine Theism and Religion.”

So was Hume not a bright?

Hume was pre-Darwin. The bold emphasis was mine. Now I ask you, did not Leon Wieseltier just slip in at least one ID argument into a New York Times article by using a Deistic pre-Darwinian philosopher?

Yes, Corkscrew, but that is precisely the problem the DI has. By actively mentioning God (oops), the Sentinel has derailed the DI’s passive attempt to introduce stupidity into the topic of evolution.

Surely, the media complaints division will leap on this obvious attempt to provide accuracy in reporting…shame.

blipey: I think you’re right. It’s interesting how much importance they assign to this perspective shift - and leaves me wondering if they’ve caught on to something about the public’s reaction to grammar that I’ve missed.

Hume was pre-Darwin. The bold emphasis was mine. Now I ask you, did not Leon Wieseltier just slip in at least one ID argument into a New York Times article by using a Deistic pre-Darwinian philosopher?

I think you’re being a bit overly sensitive. You are correct that Hume was pre-Darwin and thus should not be held to modern standards. However in this instance, Dennett initiated the quoting of Hume, so Wieseltier has justification for pointing out the context of the quote.

I will point out that writers of Hume’s time were not given free reign to question the existence of God without risk to their livelihood, health and even life. Look at the reception Thomas Paine got just for expressing his Deism. In my Worldwide Atheist Conspiracy manuals I have even encountered instructions on how to preface your doubt-riddled writings with a reassuring statement to throw off the scent (the specific reference would take some digging; might have been Baron d’Holbach, possibly quoted in A History of Doubt by Jennifer Michael Hecht)

the idea that a god or other guiding force caused the development of life on Earth.

West’s objections are very revealing. Who says the Discovery Institute gets sole rights to define IDC, it’s not like they invented it or anything…

Compare to, say, molecular biology, which has been around for maybe half a century, and yet everyone I meet seems to have their own variant definition.

wamba wrote:

I think you’re being a bit overly sensitive. You are correct that Hume was pre-Darwin and thus should not be held to modern standards. However in this instance, Dennett initiated the quoting of Hume, so Wieseltier has justification for pointing out the context of the quote.

Is that your answer to my question? Does this mean you don’t think that Leon Wieseltier slipped in at least one ID argument into a New York Times article?

Have you read the NYT book review I linked?

Is that your answer to my question? Does this mean you don’t think that Leon Wieseltier slipped in at least one ID argument into a New York Times article?

Have you read the NYT book review I linked?

Yes, that was my answer, and yes, I read Wieseltier’s review. I am not defending the review as a whole, only the bit about the Hume quote. But we’re venturing considerably off-topic here. You can find lengthy discussion of the Wieseltier review at Pharyngula

One of the articles mentioned by PvM got moved to the “Archives.” Did a search. The following link works:

Intelligent Design lawyer speaks

Sorry – the above link text should have been “Intelligent Design case lawyer speaks.” But the link still works, though.

Watergate wrote:

Origins Resource Association…began in 1980 under the name Louisiana Citizens for Academic Freedom in Origins, or LCAFO.

Note the qualifier: “for Academic Freedom in Origins” – but not for academic freedom in any other field of study?

So much for “teaching the controversy”…

Quoted above: “To teach the theory of intelligent design would not be fair to the 49 percent of students in an average high school who do not believe in God or in divine creation. Teaching intelligent design in schools is against the Constitution, and it is unfair to students who believe differently.”

Teaching ID as science is unfair to *all* students, no matter their religious proclivities, because presenting this concept as science makes it impossible to help students clearly understand what science *is*. It also muddies the waters if one of the intents of teaching is to improve students’ thinking skills in general.

To teach the theory of intelligent design would not be fair to the 49 percent of students in an average high school who do not believe in God or in divine creation…

Not to mention those students who DO believe in “God or divine creation,” but not in ID or creationism. Many of the plaintiffs in the Dover case were Christian parents who were upset because their kids were being force-fed a creation story (disguised as science) that differed from their own. And, in one instance, a kid came home and said to his parents: “You believe in evoution? What kind of Christian are you?”

I think that would depend on your definition of religion, actually. Atheism does make just as much of a statement about a divine creator as any religion you want to point your finger at.

And/or depend on what your definition of atheism is. There is the practical atheist who operates as if there is no god, without bothering to make a positive philosophical statement about his practice. And then there is the positive atheist who states his view that there is no god(s).

Of course, positive atheists can be equally vocal and sometimes militant about their philosophy; and I think it is those type of atheists that people tend to equate with “religious version of atheism”). I suppose if you include zeal and fervor somewhere in the defition, it might qualify as some sort of religion.

Raging Bee wrote… “Not to mention those students who DO believe in “God or divine creation,” but not in ID or creationism. Many of the plaintiffs in the Dover case were Christian parents who were upset because their kids were being force-fed a creation story (disguised as science) that differed from their own. And, in one instance, a kid came home and said to his parents: “You believe in evoution? What kind of Christian are you?””

I agree. For example, ID makes a strong statement of Theodicy. Most mainstream denominations do not subscribe to the notion that God directly meddles with natural events in significant way. For example, (contrary to what Pat Robertson might think), it would be heresy to suggest that God creates specific hurricanes or specific tsunamis in order to accomplish his aims.

Accordingly, it would also be heresy for the mainstream denominations to assert that God is directly creating nasty viruses and parasites in order to accomplish his aims. According to ID, The Designer must be working overtime designing so many strains of flu. He is working harder these days than in the past because now he has to “design” around the constant stream of new antibiotics. With ID, one is forced to conclude that The Designer is a highly vigorous and creative force that is actively working against human efforts to heal the sick and decrease misery and suffering around the world. Does this sound consistent with the God revealed to us through Jesus? Uh duh!

This is why so many mainstream denominations have no problem with science and evolution. Their theologies maintain that God is not a “proximate” or “immediate” cause of events in the universe (as distinct from “ultimate” or “mediated” cause). God’s ongoing creative activity in the universe is mediated by human activity and natural processes.

ID takes the Theodical “Problem of Evil” and adds to it the “Problem of Evil Creatures”.

Very offensive to mainstream Christianity.

k.e. Wrote:

I can’t find it now but there is a Monty Python sketch where a philosopher comes home to find his wife on the floor with the milkman and he goes into a long oblique discourse on Kant and Hegel.…

A Lesson In Logic. It’s from the Holy Grail soundtrack album.

Is there such a *thing* as non natural. Neurons firing in your head are natural events. Thoughts are natural time related actions performed by a natural animal. When those organs express conscious ideas that cannot be connected with reality they are - er - ‘unmarried’ to reality. A fantasy is a fantasy and knowing the difference between fantasy and reality is only a matter of simple honesty and conscience. Anything outside of the human mind claimed to be ‘un-natural’ is just wishful thinking pure senselessness in the truest sense. Imaginative and creative thought however DOES have value, but there is nothing ‘super-natural’ about it.

Consolidated for space, and makes a good summary of my thoughts. Furthermore, insistence that “fantasy is real” is an unconscious concession to the power of empiricism - the power of mutual experience - and a desperate attempt to co-opt that power.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on February 25, 2006 4:01 PM.

Teach the Controversy? was the previous entry in this blog.

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter