Why We Do This.

| 110 Comments

As regular PT readers know, Ohio was a primary battle ground for the Disco Institute’s attempt to inject ID creationist trash “science” into the state science standards and model curriculum under the deceptive rubric “critical analysis of evolution”. That attempt was defeated in February. Patricia Princehouse, leader of Ohio Citizens for Science, was a mainstay in resisting that effort over five years. Now Patricia has received the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award from the Playboy Foundation for her efforts.

Patricia’s acceptance speech is posted at The Nation site. From it:

People ask me, Why pour so much energy into protecting science education? Why not fight for literacy generally or any of a thousand other educational issues? I have two answers. One is easy: I know about evolution, so it makes sense that I would work on what I know best. The second is harder to grasp. And that is that freedom of religion is the bedrock foundation of liberty in this country. If we allow certain special-interest religious groups to co-opt the public school science classroom, to use it as a vehicle for converting children to religious views their parents don’t hold, if we allow them to spout outright lies about the nature and content of science, what do we really have left? If you can lie about science and get away with it, you can lie about anything. (bolding added)

That’s why we do this stuff.

RBH

110 Comments

Dodging elephant dung science. I love it!

Watch, UD and their ilk will now make a connection between evolution and pornography. Just watch.

I would imagine Richard, that one of the reasons is because of this:

http://www.answersingenesis.org

With ID being the latest attempt to get it into science classes. This is what over 50% of Americans (and a growing number in the UK it would seem) are demanding is taught as an alternative to conventional science. No wonder you guys do this !

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 7, column 7, byte 263 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Don’t believe those statistics: the questions asked in the surveys these guys put out are so obscure that anyone could answer affirmatively to them.

It’s a wonder the creationists have so little to show for their efforts; they’ve been doing the rhetorical equivalent of flinging elephant dung for years.

Oh, I don’t know, there are a host of reasons for “doing this stuff”. One is that it can be enjoyable, sometimes through Schadenfreude, sometimes because it is interesting to discuss the nature and content of science on a more philosophical level. The best discussions we have are among ourselves.

We don’t want the inheritance of the Enlightenment to fade away. We want there to be a comfortable level of secularism in this country, which is probably true for a number of religious “evolutionists” as well.

The confusion of what science is could open up funding and promotion of countless other pseudosciences. This would take monies away from worthy uses, and would lead to further degradation of intellect in this country. Fundies would not like having to pay for astrology classes, but they might very well have to do it if they can force ID into schools. Naturally, they have mostly not thought through the future possibilities.

Justice would be in jeopardy if the bases of evolutionary thought were to be scorned. Derivation is often enough at issue in the courts, from paternity suits to copyright infringement cases, and if we can’t use derivation markers in biology to decide small-t “truth”, how can we use them elsewhere?

Then there’s the simple matter of honesty. Neither history nor biology classes ought to be places where children are told lies. I realize that she brought up this issue, but perhaps not with sufficient emphasis upon the outrage that deliberately lying to students really constitutes. If we don’t resort to the evidence to determine what is true (in the lesser sense), then we are just saying that lies are as good as honesty.

Which leads up to the fact that many, if not most, other subjects rely upon science and/or processes akin to the scientific endeavor in order to exist as something other than good campfire tales. This is why general literacy is threatened by attacks upon science.

Mostly I am agreeing with her, of course, since one could consider my issues to be implied in her piece. I just thought that I could expand on her theme profitably, and show that there are more than two points in favor of defending science, once one considered the various implications.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Watch, UD and their ilk will now make a connection between evolution and pornography. Just watch.

…and completely forget how Dembski bragged of his visit to Hef’s mansion a while back.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Your efforts on this blog site on behalf of all who can’t argue the points as well as you do are appreciated far more than I can adequately express.

Thank you for both educating me and re-awakening my love of science.

Sincerely, thank you.

fnxtr

Watch, UD and their ilk will now make a connection between evolution and pornography. Just watch.

They needn’t bother. Evolutionary biologists and thier ilk already want to explain everything else in evolutionary terms, so its only a matter of time before they get to porn. We already have “religion explained” and “consciousness explained” and “love explained” so its a small step to “porn explained”. All the end result of the blind, purposeless force of RM and NS.

Donald, you forgot ‘random’.

Hey donald:

ever looked at a playboy or a “naughty” video?

don’t lie now…

From Princehouse quote:

If we allow certain special-interest religious groups to co-opt the public school science classroom, to use it as a vehicle for converting children to religious views their parents don’t hold, if we allow them to spout outright lies about the nature and content of science, what do we really have left? If you can lie about science and get away with it, you can lie about anything.

I guess Princehouse lives under the delusion that the science classroom is a worldview free zone, which, of course it isn’t. But she is right that we ought not subject children to outright lies about the nature and content of science. For example that we know scientifically (not philosophically, mind you, because this is science class after all) that everything, absolutely everything we observe in nature is the result of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy evolving over eons of time through the engine of chance and necessity or their combination and that any apparent design we observe in, say, biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle. Yes, lies like that should not be part of the science class…oh wait, they already are. I guess there are some lies that are acceptable for the science class after all…as long as Princehouse and her ilk get to pick which lies, I guess.

She’d have a whole lot more credibility if she could explain how to have a worldview free science class in the first place. It doesn’t exist and her whole commentary from this article that Richard references is an excercise in deception and delusion…the very things she accuses the “other side” of wanting to do.

I guess Princehouse lives under the delusion that the science classroom is a worldview free zone, which, of course it isn’t.

I’m sure you’d love to be able to prove this, but you know you can’t.

go off your meds again there donald?

Donald M:

I guess Princehouse lives under the delusion that the science classroom is a worldview free zone, which, of course it isn’t.

Sir Toejam:

I’m sure you’d love to be able to prove this, but you know you can’t.

Like any other discipline, science holds certain philosophical presuppositions as essential to the practice of science. Philosophical presuppositions are worldview dependent. If you think otherwise, by all means make the argument, even though you’d be at odds with virtually all of philosophy and philosophy of science.

As far as I know, as a non-scientist, the only presupposition that I know science makes is that there’s a natural explanation for observable phenomena. Are there any presuppositions I’m missing?

Donald M

its a small step to “porn explained”

Donald M

its a small step to “porn explained”

Hold on… porn is difficult to explain? More difficult than the other things you listed?

Like any other discipline, science holds certain philosophical presuppositions as essential to the practice of science.

…and we’re still waiting for you to show us how construct replicable experiments using supernatural phenomena, there, Donald.

Ohhhh Lennnnyyyy! Donald’s trying to play in the sandbox again.

porn hasn’t been explained yet? hmmm…then I suppose it’s my duty to go study some right now. As a scientist, or whatever.

donald -

thanks for showing the lurkers EXACTLY why we in fact, do this stuff.

great job!

we should pay you.

porn hasn’t been explained yet? hmmm…then I suppose it’s my duty to go study some right now. As a scientist, or whatever.

well, I’m sure that’ll be a quick study.

>:)

All done!

LOL

Conclusions:

We need a sandwich and a nap.

The funny thing is that while ID argues it replaces methodological naturalism, it’s own approach fails to do so. Probably because the assumptions used to do science have been so fabulously succesful.

What does ID have to offer? Scientifically it is truly a vacuous concept.

Donald says: “We already have “religion explained” and “consciousness explained” and “love explained” so its a small step to “porn explained”.”

Explain porn? Umm, let’s see… To get intelligent animals to perform sex, it seems evolution made it rewarding (at least I know I am) instead of instinctive. Which is perhaps why some social intelligent animals perform sex as a social activity, not coupled to procreation (at least I know I do). Sex, with porn as social stimulant, is a free rewarding activity.

Sounder says: “the only presupposition that I know science makes is that there’s a natural explanation for observable phenomena.”

I am not sure it does even that.

The methods of science has proven themselves by being used successfully. The only assumption is that observations are used to find phenomena.

Consequently the theories must be validated by observations. That we call these phenomena “natural” seems to me to be just a description - a name.

Well, congratulations indeed to Patricia Princehouse and her fellow Ohio Citizens.

Though “the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award” does have a slight ring to it of “the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth”. ;-)

Donald M Wrote:

For example that we know scientifically (not philosophically, mind you, because this is science class after all) that everything, absolutely everything we observe in nature is the result of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy evolving over eons of time through the engine of chance and necessity or their combination and that any apparent design we observe in, say, biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle.

Actually evolution does not make that claim (& I think you know it). While there’s no guarantee that an “evolution only” science teacher will not make such a statement as a matter of personal opinion, it is almost certain that a “teach the controversy” activist teacher will call attention to it. Is that what you want?

But enough about what evolution claims, what students should learn in science class, and what they can find out in 5 minutes of web surfing. What exactly do you think happened and when in biological history? Is life ~4 billion years old and related by common descent, or not? Is the design implemented by genetic change and natural selection or not. And if not, exactly what are these alternate processes and/or timelines, and how can we test them?

Gee, Donald, your motnhly drive-by is early this month.

I suppose FL and Sal will be right behind you.

But now that you’re here again, Donald, let me repeat my questions for you once more, just in case you missed them the first dozen times:

What, again, did you say the scientific theory of ID is? How, again, did you say this scientific theory of ID explains these problems? What, again, did you say the designer did? What mechanisms, again, did you say it used to do whatever the heck you think it did? Where, again, did you say we can see the designer using these mechanisms to do … well . . anything?

Or is “POOF!! God — uh, I mean, The Unknown Intelligent Designer — dunnit!!!!” the extent of your, uh, scientific theory of ID .… ?

How does “evolution can’t explain X Y or Z, therefore goddidit” differ from plain old ordinary run-of-the-mill “god of the gaps?

Here’s *another* question for you to not answer, Donald: Suppose in ten years, we DO come up with a specific mutation by mutation explanation for how X Y or Z appeared. What then? Does that mean (1) the designer USED to produce those things, but stopped all of a sudden when we came up with another mechanisms? or (2) the designer was using that mechanism the entire time, or (3) there never was any designer there to begin with.

Which is it, Donald? 1, 2 or 3?

Oh, and if ID isn’t about religion, Donald, then why do you spend so much time bitching and moaning about “philosophical materialism”?

(sound of crickets chirping)

You are a liar, Donald. A bare, bald-faced, deceptive, deceitful, deliberate liar, with malice aforethought. Still.

… we ought not subject children to outright lies about the nature and content of science. For example… that everything, absolutely everything we observe in nature is the result of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy

Donald M, could you point me to a few biology textbooks that emphasize for schoolkids that evolution is inherently “blind” and “purposeless”? I’m actually quite sincere about this request, because that’s a claim that starts crossing the line into metaphysics, and I’m very much against any metaphysics being taught as science.

I doubt you’ll be able to give any impressive examples. All of the science texts I recall from school spent their time discussing science, not metaphysics, because– after all– that’s what scientists are most interested in, despite the efforts of nonscientists to claim otherwise.

If you can prove me wrong, I will merrily eat my words. Until then, though, I will stick with the scientists, who have proven themselves trustworthy in the past, rather than with the antievolutionists, who have proven themselves to be hollow and deceptive.

–B. Spitzer

Gle, Obviously I’m not a philosopher or a neuroscientist. The problems you mention isn’t a scientific problem as I understand it.

Science isn’t about establishing truth statements on an unobserved reality, but about establishing facts on observed phenomena. Some natural phenomena are so robust and basic that scientists can take them as real objects and come away with it. (Of course, sometimes some less substantiated phlogiston theory bites the dust.) That seems to be a good definition of reality to me.

I guess I shouldn’t say “definition of reality” because then you tell me there is some ‘realdealist’ school of philosophy I’m discussing, and why they are philosophically wrong.

I guess even “concept of reality” is too strong here. That last sentence is unneccessary, but I like it. It is at least compatible with observations. So I will tentatively leave it. Very tentatively…

My thanks to everyone who commented on the quote provided earlier by Sounder. I like it because it asserts a primal role in science for models. This is consistent with the role of models in my own field, systems engineering, and in the field of mathematical systems theory, in particular. (To me, the lack of models in the ID approach shows its uselessness, essentially by definition.)

BTW, I think that the modeling perspective clears up a particular area of confusion that I have seen in some ID discussions, including in this thread. People on both sides of the ID issue will refer to events happening “by chance.” Such statements can be read as positive assertions that there exists some cosmic random number generator. But as far as I know, there is no more evidence of such a random number generator than there is evidence of a cosmic chooser. Instead of saying “event X happens by chance” it is more precise (but admittedly awkward) to say “in the model under discussion, the occurrence of X is modeled as a random variable.” Maintaining this perspective keeps the emphasis on the current state of our knowledge and leaves out unnecessary and unsupported teleological (and counter-teleological) implications.

Re ““in the model under discussion, the occurrence of X is modeled as a random variable.””

I’ll second that strategy.

Henry

Donald M wrote: The event in question is life itself. To say that life began through some combination of evolutionary processes and chance events is to say that life itself is the end product of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy acting over eons of time throug chance and necessity or their combination.

Anton Mates: No, it really isn’t. You simply reshuffled the first statement and pulled “blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy” out of nowhere.

Now if you want to believe that evolutionary processes and chance events are in fact blind and purposeless, that’s great. I happen to believe that myself. Of course, I’m an atheist, and I was under the impression that you weren’t…

“Chance” is not a theological term.

I’m not suggesting that ‘chance’ is a theological term. If the cosmos is in fact a closed system of natural cause and effect, which is the only option for a true atheist or philosophical naturalist, then chance and necessity or their combination are the only tools available to explain anything we observe in nature. That is what I meant by chance. It is the same sense in which Jacques Monod used it in his book Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology where he writes near the end “The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below; it is for him to choose.”

If chance and necessity are the only tools available to nature, then those tools are also blind and purposeless. Foresight and purpose come from intelligence, the one thing denied in the naturalistic worldview. I didn’t pull this from nowhere. It is the logical conclusion of the naturalistic worldview. But what no one can say, including Princehouse, is that we know scientifically that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect. But I doubt she’d raise her eyebrows over any science textbook that said as much.

If chance and necessity are the only tools available to nature, then those tools are also blind and purposeless.

Yikes. anybody care to point out the multiple flaws in that little piece of “logic”?

the way you come to conclusions never ceases to amaze.

you know, Ducky, you only need to demonstrate your utter inability to expound a logical argument once a month.

Your continuing demonstration here is really just overkill.

do you really think that B follows from A in this statement???

And once again, Donald shouts “SCIENCE IS ATHEISTIC !!!!!” at the top of his lungs.

(yawn)

a true atheist or philosophical naturalist,

But ID isn’t about religion. No sirree Bob. Not at all. It’s just them lying atheist darwinists who say it is.

(snicker) (giggle)

Thanks, Donald, for (once again) demonstrating so clearly for all the lurkers that (1) ID is just religious apologetics, (2) IDers are just lying to us when they claim it isn’t, and (3) Judge Jones was entirely correct when he concluded it is.

That’s why I love fundies so much. They quite literally can’t go ten minutes without preaching and giving the whole game away.

No WONDER they’ve lost every court case they’ve ever been involved with.

B Spitzer:

I think the sentences that Donald provided sound a lot more like ontological naturalism than methodological naturalism— they’ve slid over the line.

The fact that we can argue about whether it’s MN or ON suggests that it’s a minor infraction, but I’d prefer to err on the side of being too scrupulous when it comes to keeping science and ideology— any ideology— separate.

Well, I suppose one could split philosophical hairs over which sort of naturalism the statement in the Miller-Levine book represents, but it would be beside the main point. The main point is that statements like that get slid into the textbooks, or the lesson plans all the time and they are not science, but philosophy masquerading as science. While this particular statement is some form or other of naturalism, what is odd about it is that one of the authors, Miller, is a theist. I bring that up to say that in pointing this out I’m not suggesting anyone is trying to teach atheism, because I certainly don’t think that. Miller is rather muddled on this whole issue in many ways, but that’s another story.

In the Kansas kerfluffle, 38 Nobel Laureates signed this statement in defense of science. Intended to provide support for those opposing the teaching of ID in the schools, these Nobel Laureates state “Logically derived from confirmable evidence, evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.” Sounds a lot like the Miller-Levine quote. It is interesting to note that these Nobel Laureates seemingly have no problem introducing a purely metaphysical concept into what is supposed to be science curriculum. No doubt Princehouse would also approve. The question nobody bothered to ask these Nobel scientists is how is evolution understood to be the result of “an unguided and unplanned process”. Did some of these Nobel Laureates conduct a scientific experiment to demonstrate this hypothesis, or is it just their philosophical opinion? What is clear is that certain philosophical worldviews are apparently acceptable for the science classroom but others aren’t. I wish Princehouse or someone else could tell us how we can know scientifically which are okay and which are not. But since science can’t tell us that, we’re stuck with choosing one worldview over another as the basis of what is supposed to be just science. As I said, the science class is not a worldview free zone. The only question is which worldview is allowed and why.

really DM, stop already! everybody here already knows you’re a complete ignoramus. no need to continue.

put down the nerf gun.

The only question is which worldview is allowed and why.

liar.

the only question is why on earth we should allow a religious worldview to imprint itself onto a method that has nothing to do with religion.

the answer is, has been, and always will be obvious to anyone with half a brain, and those that aren’t suffering from some form of mental disorder.

so, I have a question for YOU ducky:

which is it in your case? Are you suffering from a mental disorder that forces you to build projections and denial as defense mechanisms to protect your fragile worldview?

or is it just that you are lacking half a brain?

there is no other alternative using your own logic.

Donald M Wrote:

I’m not suggesting that ‘chance’ is a theological term. If the cosmos is in fact a closed system of natural cause and effect, which is the only option for a true atheist or philosophical naturalist, then chance and necessity or their combination are the only tools available to explain anything we observe in nature.

Chance and necessity are the only tools available anyway. If visible choirs of angels came down to kick apart every single radioactive nucleus at its appointed hour, score one for “necessity”. If we were permanently unable to work out why said angels appeared at certain times and not at others, and all we could do was work out a probability distribution for their appearance, score one for “chance.” This classification works for fields and forces and gods and leprechauns alike.

If chance and necessity are the only tools available to nature, then those tools are also blind and purposeless. Foresight and purpose come from intelligence, the one thing denied in the naturalistic worldview.

Again you theologically load these terms. Every theistic scientist in the world–as well as whichever scientists happen to believe the universe is a simulation on a giant computer–is quite happy to believe that the laws of chance and necessity are here for a goal and a purpose. (OK, I should exempt whichever theistic scientists believe in Azathoth.) The law of gravity or the uncertainty principle need not be intelligent entities themselves to have been created by an intelligence. The “naturalistic worldview” simply says that you don’t get to label speculations about whether they were so created as “science” unless you can figure out a way to test them.

And once again, Donald shouts “SCIENCE IS ATHEISTIC !!!!”

(yawn)

Is there anyone still out there who hasn’t grasped the fact that Donald thinks science is atheistic? Anyone? Come on, raise your hand if you still don’t get it. …

(silence)

Good job, Donald. Mission accomplished. (shakes hand)

Time to move on and enlighten someone else now.

See you next month.

Re “Is there anyone still out there who hasn’t grasped the fact that Donald thinks science is atheistic?”

Hmmm. Let’s analyze that. First, science is in essence a study of reality. Second, if studying reality is atheistic, then reality is atheistic. Therefore, anyone claiming science to be athiestic is proclaiming that atheism is reality. Though that’s probably not what they thought they were saying…

Henry

Sir Toe-Jam:

Yikes. anybody care to point out the multiple flaws in that little piece of “logic”?

the way you come to conclusions never ceases to amaze.

you know, Ducky, you only need to demonstrate your utter inability to expound a logical argument once a month.

Your continuing demonstration here is really just overkill.

do you really think that B follows from A in this statement???

Perhaps it would help matters if you read the entire post instead of only one sentence. My statement is the logical conclusion of the quote from Monod. If you think otherwise, then by all means expound upon what you think the logical conclusion of Monod’s statement ought to be. I don’t see that it is any different than what I wrote. I challenge you to refute Monod with an actual argument instead of a stream of ad hominem statements or straw man misrepresentations of what was actually said like you do here.

Donald M Wrote:

Foresight and purpose come from intelligence, the one thing denied in the naturalistic worldview.

How does “the naturalistic worldview” deny intelligence? Are humans not intelligent? Do we not possess the capacity of foresight and the ability to define purpose? Isn’t the “one thing denied in the naturalistic worldview” simply that a supernatural intelligence (i.e. god) has anything to do with it?

But what no one can say, including Princehouse, is that we know scientifically that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect.

We conclude scientifically that “nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect” due to overwhelming evidence to that effect and no evidence to the contrary. If you just have to add a note saying “but it might be God!”, post it in your mind rather than sticking it in a textbook.

By the way, I find Monod’s “His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty.” to be a wonderful statement of freedom.

Yes, yes, yes, Donald — science doesn’t pay any attention to your religious opinions, and you don’t like that. Right. We got it. Really. We heard you the first hundred times.

Of course, weather forecasting or accident investigation or medical practice or the rules of basketball also don’t pay any attention to your religious opinions, do they.

If it makes you feel any better, Donald, none of them pay any attention to MY religious opinions either. Of course, I don’t throw tantrums over it, like you do. (shrug)

I think that we should save the pandas for a good cause. i am a middle school student, but i have been researching on pandas. what we have been doing to them is why they are endangered becoming enstinc. i cant really spell, but i am doing a panda report and we need to save the pandas!

i am happy mostly - though terribly sick at times - the medicine is not a perfect fix - i think some weed would help but caant find any - Kant find any…

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on May 18, 2006 4:39 PM.

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