Ohio: They’re baaaack (again)

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Ohio is back in the news because yet another creationism-inspired proposal may come up for a vote tomorrow (Tuesday, September 12). This time it’s called The Great Evolution Debate, er, Macroevolution on Trial, er, The Great Macroevolution Debate, er, Critical Analysis of Evolution, er, Critical Analysis of Evolution, Global Warming, and Stem Cells, er, the “Controversial Issues” Template. (Yes, all of these are policies or proposed policies that the creationists in Ohio have tried to shove down the throats of public school students and teachers. See this amazing analysis of the history by Ohio Citizens for Science, which includes images of actual drafts of the “Critical Analysis of Evolution” lesson plan that was in place in Ohio until it was voted out in February 2003. I will try to post a text version of the OCS analysis later.)

The Akron Beacon Journal has come out against the new “Debates Template” (see “They’re back: The intelligent design crowd wants Ohio to consider again a place for religious faith in the science classroom,” Akron Beacon Journal, September 10, 2006). Alan Leshner, the head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has come out against it (“Design: Critical deception?” Akron Beacon Journal, Sept. 11, 2006). Apparently 14,000+ 140,000+ people sending email to the Board of Education think the same thing (“Ohio Board Deluged With Protest E-mail,” Red State Rabble, Sept. 9). And the key creationist shill on the Board, Deborah Owens-Fink, who usually runs unopposed, faces a strong challenge in the November election. I have heard rumors that she has the Discovery Institute on speed-dial and even calls them during breaks in the school board meetings. Heck, even Paul Nelson, a core member of the ID movement, has expressed opposition to the endless attempts by the ID movement to get its challenges to evolution into the schools via political machinations instead of honest, hard scientific work (he has yet to really do the right thing, which would be to unequivocally condemn this pseudoscientific hackery and dissociate himself from the movement until it completely disavows the “cut in line” approach, but we will take what we can get.)

Will all of this be enough? We might see tomorrow, if the proposal actually comes up to a vote. Unfortunately, there is a history in Ohio of creationists dodging votes to fight another day, if it appears that they might lose. Apparently they sometimes hope that they can float the proposal again when fewer people are paying attention. But given the long, shameful history in Ohio of creationists trying to get the government to endorse pseudoscientific objections to evolution that they can’t sustain for five seconds in a fair fight in the real scientific community, it seems unlikely that people will forget any time soon. That’s the thing about science: it doesn’t have all of the answers, and it’s not perfect, but often enough it is pretty darn clear that particular assertions are wrong. In fact, distinguishing correct and incorrect assertions about the natural world is basically the whole point of science. When creationists with a few sympathetic votes on a school board try to use political fiat to overturn reality established by decades of hard scientific work, it really sticks in the craw of the scientists and teachers who know it is wrong, and the annoyance steadily increases until the mistake is corrected.

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Teach the controversies, YES!, but with the essential proviso that the questions with which students will be critically engaged must be the REAL QUESTIONS and REAL CONTROVERSIES in the subjects they are studying. ... Read More

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I have heard rumors that she has the Discovery Institute on speed-dial and even calls them during breaks in the school board meetings.

Where have you heard that?

It was back earlier this year in January or February when the “Critical Analysis” lesson plan was before the board. I think the suspicion arose because the some of the DI press releases had intra-meeting timing.

But like I said, a rumor.

The Ohio Citizens for Science says:

The proposal seems innocuous upon first reading by someone unfamiliar with its context, history, and proponents.

Apparently no one has bothered to instruct the OCS members on the genetic fallacy.

Nick wrote:

That’s the thing about science: it doesn’t have all of the answers, and it’s not perfect, but often enough it is pretty darn clear that particular assertions are wrong. In fact, distinguishing correct and incorrect assertions about the natural world is basically the whole point of science.

And how would science go about determing whether or not a claim such as “the cosmos is a closed system of natural cause and effect” is a correct or incorrect statement about the natual world? Or, put another way, how might we determine scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe in nature can not be actual design, even in principle?

If actual design played a significant role in the history of, say, biological systems, how, exactly would science distinguish a correct from an incorrect claim, especially when science assumes a priori (under the rules of so-called methodological naturalism) that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect. Nick’s comment makes perfectly clear that science and philosophical naturalism are quite intertwined. Phil Johnson is right.

Alas for the fundies, ID has died in court, whether they have a “template” or not. And it’s still unconstitutional to teach it, whether they have a “template” or not.

Also alas for IDers, sooner or later, no matter what name they frame their ideas under, they sooner or later will have to produce an actual lesson plan detailing what they actually want to teach —- and as soon as they do, any literate person will see that it’s just the same old crap ID/creationists have been passing around for forty years now.

Donald M Wrote:

And how would science go about determing whether or not a claim such as “the cosmos is a closed system of natural cause and effect” is a correct or incorrect statement about the natual world? Or, put another way, how might we determine scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe in nature can not be actual design, even in principle?

If actual design played a significant role in the history of, say, biological systems, how, exactly would science distinguish a correct from an incorrect claim, especially when science assumes a priori (under the rules of so-called methodological naturalism) that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect. Nick’s comment makes perfectly clear that science and philosophical naturalism are quite intertwined. Phil Johnson is right.

Except for the domain here - why are EITHER of those two items eligiable for discussion or instruction in a high school science class. That’s always been my big problem with the creationist/ID attitude is that they want sub-standard instruction in things that normal or even GT/AP high school classes wouldn’t cover in the first place, particularly cosmology and abiogenesis. they want kids introduced to the controversy of things that they wouldn’t have been introduced to the scientific explanation for had the creationists not brought it up.

for that matter, the extensive listing of stuff related to probability and statistics, while useful, is also something that i’d never seen covered in high school beyond fraction multiplication. most students are too busy either getting through the basics or the fast track to the AP Calculus test (Alg 1, Geometry, Alg 2, trig, pre-calc (functions, differentials, and analytic geometry, calculus 1) to have time for really digging into statistics enough to actually recognize and counter the “big numbers” fallacies that will get thrown at them by creationists and advertisers. I got a little stats in alg 2, but not much ‘cause there was so much else to cover. granted, things might have changed since i went down that path (20 years ago), but not THAT much…

Apparently no one has bothered to instruct the OCS members on the genetic fallacy.

Oh, we’re just suppose to blind ourselves to history?

And how would science go about determing whether or not a claim such as “the cosmos is a closed system of natural cause and effect” is a correct or incorrect statement about the natual world? Or, put another way, how might we determine scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe in nature can not be actual design, even in principle?

If you figure out a way to make a supernatural hypothesis testable, I’m all ears. “God did it” is an unconstrained hypothesis. It cannot be ruled in or out by empirical evidence, so science says nothing about it.

If actual design played a significant role in the history of, say, biological systems, how, exactly would science distinguish a correct from an incorrect claim, especially when science assumes a priori (under the rules of so-called methodological naturalism) that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect. Nick’s comment makes perfectly clear that science and philosophical naturalism are quite intertwined.

Science can only test constrained hypotheses that produce constraints on the type of data we expect to see. Supernatural actors are notably not bound by physical laws, conservation of matter or energy, human psychology, or anything else that lets us get an empirical grasp on them.

But thanks for proving that this really is all about getting your particular religious view taught in the public school science classrooms.

Phil Johnson is right.

LOL.

The best way to nip this ‘controverisal subjects’ thing in the bud is to add additional ‘controversial’ subjects into the discussion list. Of course this has already been hinted at and covered, but so far I have seen only one controversial subject that they think they can push to get these people to back off.

1. Of course the big one, the existence of god and has religion been good for mankind with an emphasis on the crusades, the inquisition and the dominance of christianity as a primary motivating factor of the holocaust. 2. Communism and it’s benefits to the working class of today. 3. Lesbianism. Why it’s good for men as well as women. 4. Islam? The future faith of the United States? 5. Osama Bin Laden, murderer or misunderstood prophet of god? 6. George W. Bush, the drug and alcohol years revisited, in depth. 7. Mary Cheney. Driven to homosexuality by her fathers sexual assaults? 8. White men. Inferior in the bed, inferior in the mind. 9. White women. Why every black man should have one. 10. Donald Rumsfeld. Hand follicle implants or chronic masterbator? 11. Why anal sex is good for you. 12. Satan. Evil or young rebel victim of angelic propaganda? 13. Teacher student sex. Why study when you can fuck your way up the grade scale. 14. Christianity. Devine faith or homosexual death cult? 15. Abortion and stem cell research. Abort your way to financial success. 16. Saddam Hussein. Evil dictator or cia stooge gone awry?

But lets not leave out the southern states. Those folks need their controversial subjects too.

17. Plantation owners and the female black slaves that loved them. 18. Big black studs and southern bells, a match made in (her) heaven. 19. Whips and chains. How the south started the S&M movement. 20. Dixie, Song of the south of slang for gang bang? 21. Stars and Bars, better on your bumper than on your flagpole. 22. Confederate States of America, How not to fight a war. 23. Abraham Lincoln. How the nation’s first gay president whipped the south with his hands tied behind his back, and around his ankles. 24. Going South. Trip through dixie or southerners testing results?

And the list goes on and on. But the point is, someone needs to make it known that these people are so arrogant they never dared believe that people would consider the existence of god as a controversial subject to be debated and put down in a classroom full of impressionable children. Do these people want to have teachers duscussing the great many facts against the existence of god?

MYOB’ .

Back again, Donald? gonna answer my questions this time, Donald? Gonna run away again, Donald?

Here, 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.

Donald M Wrote:

And how would science go about determing whether or not a claim such as “the cosmos is a closed system of natural cause and effect” is a correct or incorrect statement about the natual world?

Science wouldn’t, doesn’t, and can’t do that. So it’s not really a claim that should be either plugged or attacked in science classes, is it?

Oh please let’s have another trial. I want Dr Behe to testify again.

Nick:

Oh, we’re just suppose to blind ourselves to history?

No, but you want to create a double standard. Apparently it is perfectly acceptable when well known atheists, for example (and NO, I don’t think or believe that all Darwinists are atheists), get involved with writing science standards, even though they have a history of advancing atheism. This is, of course, what the genetic fallacy is all about: guilt by association.

Science can only test constrained hypotheses that produce constraints on the type of data we expect to see. Supernatural actors are notably not bound by physical laws, conservation of matter or energy, human psychology, or anything else that lets us get an empirical grasp on them.

But thanks for proving that this really is all about getting your particular religious view taught in the public school science classrooms.

No, I’m demonstating that the science classroom is not a worldview free zone, contrary to what some might think. YOu speak of “constraints”. Where do those “restraints” come from, Nick? They come, in part, from presuppositions that one holds. In the instance of Ohio, the OCS seem to want to promote the pre-suppostion of philosophical naturalism. And, they want to promote it without argument or justification, apparently. But, since, as you’ve just admitted, science can NOT tell us whether or not nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect, it would be nice for once to see an actual argument as to why naturalism is (apparently) the only worldveiw to be permitted in a public school science class. After all, science classes are supposed to be JUST about science, right?

No, I’m demonstating that the science classroom is not a worldview free zone, contrary to what some might think. YOu speak of “constraints”. Where do those “restraints” come from, Nick? They come, in part, from presuppositions that one holds. In the instance of Ohio, the OCS seem to want to promote the pre-suppostion of philosophical naturalism.

I would have to say Donald M is correct here. Science, as it is necessarily practiced, DOES imply a “worldview” antithetical to Donald’s faith. In science, evidence matters; this violates Donald’s faith. In science, hypotheses MUST be testable, and this also violates Donald’s faith. In science, hypothetical notions can be demonstrated to be WRONG, and this *violently* abuses Donald’s faith. So the worldview of science is very real.

Donald is also correct that the constraints of science come from the presuppositions one holds. One presupposes (once again) that evidence matters, that testing matters, that if a proposition cannot be tested its truth value cannot be determined. After all, philosophical naturalism says that natural phenomena either have natural causes in principle explainable by science, or else science has no means of explaining them. This is a given.

But to take the worldview required by science out of science class, necessarily means taking science out of science class.

it would be nice for once to see an actual argument as to why naturalism is (apparently) the only worldveiw to be permitted in a public school science class. After all, science classes are supposed to be JUST about science, right?

Right. And supernaturalism, whatever it might be, is simply not part of science. By definition. This isn’t to say it shouldn’t be considered in the appropriate setting, but science cannot be the appropriate setting. Science IS applied naturalism. The two can’t be decoupled.

Flint

I would have to say Donald M is correct here. Science, as it is necessarily practiced, DOES imply a “worldview” antithetical to Donald’s faith. In science, evidence matters; this violates Donald’s faith. In science, hypotheses MUST be testable, and this also violates Donald’s faith. In science, hypothetical notions can be demonstrated to be WRONG, and this *violently* abuses Donald’s faith. So the worldview of science is very real.

Donald is also correct that the constraints of science come from the presuppositions one holds. One presupposes (once again) that evidence matters, that testing matters, that if a proposition cannot be tested its truth value cannot be determined. After all, philosophical naturalism says that natural phenomena either have natural causes in principle explainable by science, or else science has no means of explaining them. This is a given.

But to take the worldview required by science out of science class, necessarily means taking science out of science class.

Flint, you speak of “science as necssarily [empasis mine]practiced. But that ‘necessity’ isn’t determined by science itself; it comes from somewhere else, mainly philosophical considerations. Nor can you make the case that it is necessitated by evidence, because evidence, in the form of data or observations we make and collect in nature, isn’t evidence per se. Rather, scientists attach evidentiary status to data and obeservations based on other considerations and background knowledge, some of which are rooted, not in science, but philosophical considerations. They only way to avoid that is to find a way for scientists not to be human beings. But if those philosophical considerations are wrong, then conclusions about data or observations (evidence) and what they might indicate might very well be wrong as well. Based on your comment here, it seems that you take the view that science must be about seeking the best naturalistic explanation for any observation or phenomenon. But, what if one takes the view that science is about discovering the truth about how nature works, and in the case of historical sciences, i.e. evolution, cosmology, discovering the truth about how things came to be. Should it turn out (as I think is the case) that the Cosmos and everything in it is the result of intelligent cause in one form or another, then the constraint of naturalism will not only prohibit science from getting to that truth, but will require science to substitute an incorrect theory for a correct one, favoring, as it must, the account that falls within the constraints. That makes the inflexible requirement of the naturalistic assumption totally gratuitous to the practice of science itself.

if a proposition cannot be tested its truth value cannot be determined.

Let’s test that proposition itself. How would you go about testing the proposition “I exist” (said to yourself) to verify its truth value? I assume you believe the truth of your own existence. But how do you verify the truth value? Applying logic and reason, there simply is no non-circular way for you to do that, for you’d have to assume your existence and assume that your cognitive faculties were such that you werre receiving the necessary input from nature that you do, in fact, exist. In other words, the truth value of the claim “I exist” is not subject to the rule you just outlined. This is why scientism fails.

The short and long of all this is that it is simply disingenous to protect(as the OCS is apparently doing) and require a particular worldview in public school science, and at the same time claim science class is ‘just’ about science.

Science IS applied naturalism. The two can’t be decoupled.

So, Phillip Johnson was right after all. Thank you for your honest admission of that fact. WOuld that others would follow suit.

Donald wrote; science can NOT tell us whether or not nature is a completely closed system

OK, Donald, fair enough. I’ll tell you what; lets concentrate on teaching what we do know, that is, those portions of human knowledge that we can determine to be empirically true because we have some hard, physical evidence.

Science can go first, since it tells us a great deal based on the readily observable properties of nature and boxes and boxes of fossils.

And then it can be religion’s turn. Based on confirmable, observable, hard evidence, religion tells us exactly what about the physical world around us?

A hush settles on the room, you could cut the the suspense with a knife! Speculation is rampant, what confirmed piece of information will religion open with…

(cue sound of crickets chirping)…

Ah, I thought so. It’s not that religion can’t play, Donald, it’s just that it showed up without a ball.

“Science IS applied naturalism. The two can’t be decoupled.”

“So, Phillip Johnson was right after all.”

No, Phillip Johnson remains wrong because the successful application of naturalism in science, where it is applied to material phenomena, does not carry with it the necessary implication that philosophical naturalism is correct.

Sorry, please try again. And by that, I mean, please try again when you cdesign proponentists have actually got some useful science done based on your non-naturalistic approach. I won’t wait up.

But, what if one takes the view that science is about discovering the truth about how nature works, and in the case of historical sciences, i.e. evolution, cosmology, discovering the truth about how things came to be. Should it turn out (as I think is the case) that the Cosmos and everything in it is the result of intelligent cause in one form or another, then the constraint of naturalism will not only prohibit science from getting to that truth, but will require science to substitute an incorrect theory for a correct one, favoring, as it must, the account that falls within the constraints.

First, what is non-natural about an “intelligent cause” per se?

Second, if that “one form or another” happens to take the form espoused by theistic evolutionists, how is a naturalist explanation of the process, as opposed to the ultimate cause, an “incorrect theory”?

You first need to explain what is lacking from the natural explanation that requires us to conclude “god did it” and, second, explain why having a correct natural explanation necessarily means god didn’t do it, in some ultimate, ‘outside of nature’ sense, as is generally the theistic evolution stance.

By insisting that your god must be amenable to some (any) kind of empirical study, you simultaneously make your god very small and engage in the scientism you claim to resist.

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Donald writes:

But, what if one takes the view that science is about discovering the truth about how nature works, and in the case of historical sciences, i.e. evolution, cosmology, discovering the truth about how things came to be. Should it turn out (as I think is the case) that the Cosmos and everything in it is the result of intelligent cause in one form or another, then the constraint of naturalism will not only prohibit science from getting to that truth, but will require science to substitute an incorrect theory for a correct one, favoring, as it must, the account that falls within the constraints.

Donald, you seem to have missed two crucial points about science. First, it must be reproducible. That is, any second person must be able to look at the test results, and by dint of logical reasoning come to the same conclusion. You don’t get to simply ignore evidence because it might not fit your preconceived conclusions. You look at the evidence, ignore what you don’t like, and see “God” written all over the rest. Others don’t reach the same conclusion. You’re not doing science.

Second, more importantly, you believe that there is an absolute truth, one which science is ignoring. Science does not proclaim absolute truth. Science strives for the “best” explanation of the existing evidence. That “best” explanation can (*will*, *must*) change over time as new evidence is discovered. Why? Because our “best” explanation is limited by our current knowledge. You seek an absolute, unchanging, permanent Truth. That’s not what science is about. That’s the purvue of religion.

Does God exist? Maybe. If so, which god(s)? Did God(s) create the universe(s)? Maybe. Do we have any evidence today to support the claim that God(s) exist? No. Can we ever know the truth of this claim? No. Is this the truth claim you wish to teach our children in science class?

You have a point that science is based on a particular world view, and that we have to be honest with our children about that. Fine, no problem. Let’s start each science course with the disclaimer that, “This is how we do science. This is why. Everything else that mankind has tried has failed to explain the real world better. Now, here are the best results of that science to date.”

I don’t know of anyone who would object to such a disclaimer. In fact, most would agree that we often don’t do a good enough job of explaining what science is, and what scientists do.

BTW, the questions of “How do we know what we know” or “How do I know that I exist” are questions of philosophy normally covered in college, not in high school. Not that it couldn’t be covered in high school. There just usually isn’t enough time. But those questions *ARE* discussed all the time. You just have to get to the venue where it is normally taught. Do you want those questions taught in high school? Sounds good to me.

“That y x doesn’t mean that y is limited to be finite.”

Uuups. Forgot preview and HTML markup.

That y is smaller than x doesn’t mean that y is limited to be finite.

Donald M:

Flint, you speak of “science as necssarily [empasis mine]practiced. But that ‘necessity’ isn’t determined by science itself; it comes from somewhere else, mainly philosophical considerations. Nor can you make the case that it is necessitated by evidence, because evidence, in the form of data or observations we make and collect in nature, isn’t evidence per se.

Sorry, wrong, and wrong. Necessity is determined by the nature of evidence. Evidence is determined by human ingenuity in making observations. Science is engaged in the task of making and explaining observations. If you wish to consider it “philosophical” that the exercise of making and explaining observations is limited to what can be observed, OK. It’s a genuine human limit. Call it “the philosphy of not Making Stuff Up”.

Rather, scientists attach evidentiary status to data and obeservations based on other considerations and background knowledge, some of which are rooted, not in science, but philosophical considerations. They only way to avoid that is to find a way for scientists not to be human beings.

You have missed it once again. Scientists attach evidentiary status based on the human ability to MAKE observations, with the understanding that our ability to observe is increasingly aided by technology.

Now, you might usefully argue that WHICH observations science makes, of all that CAN be made, is far from random or fortuituous. Indeed, observations are directed and focused by theory, which in turn is informed by observation, in a feedback loop. You may wish for science to extend their observational efforts in unexamined directions; doing so may very well produce unexpected observations.

But if those philosophical considerations are wrong, then conclusions about data or observations (evidence) and what they might indicate might very well be wrong as well.

It’s one of the underlying assumptions of science that EVERY theory, every conclusion about data and observations, is ALWAYS subject to modification or rejection, forever. Indeed, it’s one of the dreams of every scientist to find that something heretofore accepted as accurate IS wrong.

Based on your comment here, it seems that you take the view that science must be about seeking the best naturalistic explanation for any observation or phenomenon. But, what if one takes the view that science is about discovering the truth about how nature works, and in the case of historical sciences, i.e. evolution, cosmology, discovering the truth about how things came to be.

What is the distinction you are drawing here? Science limits itself, by its nature, to natural explanations of natural phenomena. This is the ONLY way science has to “discover the truth about how nature works.” Propose an idea, find a way to test it. If there’s no way to test it, it’s not scientific. This doesn’t mean the idea is wrong, only that it’s not scientific.

Should it turn out (as I think is the case) that the Cosmos and everything in it is the result of intelligent cause in one form or another, then the constraint of naturalism will not only prohibit science from getting to that truth, but will require science to substitute an incorrect theory for a correct one, favoring, as it must, the account that falls within the constraints.

I agree. IF there is anything existing or going on due to supernatural causes, science is forever helpless to investigate it. Period. In this case, science really has only two options: Say “not understood” forever, or guess wrong. You understand (I hope) that if science guesses wrong, other scientists will be able to demonstrate that the guess is wrong, although they will never find the *correct* answer, the supernatural being outside the boundaries of what science can examine.

But I hope you realize that so far, science has not run into any such barrier. Granted there’s a great deal science has not explained, or explained only very tentatively and dubiously. But again, if there are gods diddling with reality in ways beyond human observation, the scientific method is forever blind to this. It’s a risk consciously taken, in exchange for the clear and present advantages this concession gives us.

That makes the inflexible requirement of the naturalistic assumption totally gratuitous to the practice of science itself.

NO! That makes “the inflexible requirement of the naturalistic assumption” essential, inherent, and fundamental to what science IS. Remove this assumption, and it’s no longer science. It’s magical mumbo jumbo and wishful thinking.

How would you go about testing the proposition “I exist” (said to yourself) to verify its truth value? I assume you believe the truth of your own existence. But how do you verify the truth value? Applying logic and reason, there simply is no non-circular way for you to do that

Not so. I can make observations that seem as complete and consistent as possible. Based on these, I come to the tentative conclusion that I exist. Science cannot EVER come to any *absolute* conclusions. But I admit I cheated: in addition to logic and reason, I invoked EVIDENCE. Evidence is very important; it’s what science is based on.

In other words, the truth value of the claim “I exist” is not subject to the rule you just outlined. This is why scientism fails.

And so clearly, this conclusion is incorrect. I applied appropriate tests, I established a high probability of correctness, subject to modification based on future observation or better analysis of current data.

The short and long of all this is that it is simply disingenous to protect(as the OCS is apparently doing) and require a particular worldview in public school science, and at the same time claim science class is ‘just’ about science.

Only if you redefine science to be something you WISH it was, but it is not. Science IS a worldview - that of methodological naturalism. Note that this is different from philosophical naturalism, which claims that what is natural is all that exists. Science does not make this claim. Science simply limits itself to what can be observed, EVEN IF reality encompasses much more that lies beyond the competence of science’s limits and methods. Science knowingly and willingly accepts that in limiting itself to what can be observed, it *might* be missing matters of truly critical importance. But if such matters were permitted, the exercise would no longer be science AT ALL.

So, Phillip Johnson was right after all.

Read what I wrote again. Science is applied naturalism. Applied doesn’t mean philosophical naturalism, it means APPLIED naturalism - that is, methodological naturalism. Philip Johnson is making religious claims. His faith might be based on something, but that something can never fall within the scope of science.

Donald M,

Quite simply put, the techniques of modern science have been selected because it has been determined by experience that people who follow these procedures make fewer mistakes than those that do not. Furthermore, the procedures of modern science are known from experience to detect and correct the errors that they do make.

If alternate procedures could be shown to provide more reliable results, they would be adopted.

Donald M wrote on September 11, 2006 at 06:59 PM

And how would science go about determing whether or not a claim such as “the cosmos is a closed system of natural cause and effect” is a correct or incorrect statement about the natual world? Or, put another way, how might we determine scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe in nature can not be actual design, even in principle?(emphasis mine)

Donald, Are you saying that Science actually makes this claim; or, if you prefer, that scientists are making this claim and saying that they base this claim on science? Am I also to assume that you consider this bad?

Sincerely, Paul

Another question Donald, if you will. Are you also saying that Science is incapable of making such a determination as I bolded above?

Sincerely, Paul

when well known atheists

Hey Donald, I thought ID wasn’t about religion. No siree Bob. Not at all.

Or were IDers just lying to us when they testified to that, under oath?

How about you, Donald. Are you willing to come to the next court case and testify that ID is a way of fighting “atheism” or “philosophical materialism” or whatever the heck else you want to call your religious war?

You are a liar, Donald. A deliberate, deceptive, dishonest, evasive liar.

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Another question Donald, if you will.

Alas, Donald doesn’t answer questions.

He just drops in once a month or so, preaches his sermon, and then runs away.

I note the following course being offered this fall at Southern Oregon University: The Science of Evolution and Intelligent Design. It will be interesting to see how this topic is covered.

Should ‘Intelligent Design’ be taught in biology classrooms? The ramifications are staggering. You will explore the key scientific issues in the contemporary debate concerning evolutionary biology, including the fossil record, phylogenetics, radiometric dating, geology, speciation, creation science, and intelligent design. No scientific background required.

I hope you don’t mind if I post questions to PT now and then, to clarify arguments in my own mind. The talkorigins archive should be especially helpful.

No scientific background required.

prediction:

without significant prerequisites in at least some of the basic underlying sciences, this course will fail, even moreso than the Cornell attempt.

Should ‘Intelligent Design’ be taught in biology classrooms? The ramifications are staggering.

I fail to see how the conclusion “no” would be staggering, which can only mean one thing…

No scientific background required.

Since this will be a class in pseudoscience, perhaps?

“Apparently no one has bothered to instruct the OCS members on the genetic fallacy.” Donald M, September 11, 2006 06:59 PM

Wrong - very wrong.

Genetic fallacies only occur when the origins or past characteristics of a proposition are irrelevant to the issue. Since the Intelligent Design movement claims to be leading a scientific endeavor, to use historical evidence to show that the movement is rooted in religion, not science, is a direct refutation of that claim.

The only fallacy here is your claim that OCS’ use of historical evidence is fallacious!

Re “how might we determine scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe in nature can not be actual design, even in principle?”

The “designed” conjecture isn’t rejected on principle, it’s rejected because nobody’s come up with a premise that uses that conjecture to actually explain anything in detail in a way that logically follows from that premise.

Henry

Teaching controversies in courses that are essentially surveys gets quite difficult for both teachers and students. From a pedagogical standpoint, handling caveats, asides and this or that controversy becomes tiresome and distracting. As teachers, we need to meaningfully structure our time with students (as we do in our own research and creative endeavors). If I have to chase down a controversy that is essentially a distraction from the goal of the course, then it’s going to do more to confuse students than it is going to reinforce the knowledge that I want in the course and that other experts and researchers have also determined should go into the course. Several years ago, a prominent musicologist or music historian (if you find musicologist too pseudoscientific) named Maynard Solomon found in Beethoven’s writings with a friend that he had been visiting “fortresses.” At the time that Beethoven was writing these messages, his behavior was morally questionable. Were these “ruins” actually prostitutes? Solomon devoted a few pages to this controversy in his neo-Freudian biography. Oooh. A controversy in music history. Oooh. A lacivious one at that. In a 10th-grade music, music history or music appreciation class, should someone have been teaching this controversy? “We just want students to be at least aware of the issues.” Right? Let’s invite a bunch of 15-year-old kids to dally down a bunch of, what will turn into, non-sequiturs and dodges. What a bunch of nonsense. Why provide a total distraction like Beethoven’s fortress business? (They did turn out to be fortress visits and not prostitute visits and I think Solomon has expunged it from the latest edition.) And…there are other Beethoven controversies. Who was his “immortal beloved?” Does the Ninth Symphony contain musical metaphors for rape? (Really…don’t ask.) And on and on.

But my controversy would hold even more water in class than ID would in Biology class. At least the above example was “discovered” by someone who is a recognized scholar in the field of music history/musicology who has lots of peer-reviewed literature and is unafraid to enter that process so that his scholarship might one day be included in a textbook. As Lawrence Krauss pointed out at last October’s AEI day on ID vs. Evolution, textbooks are about 30 years off of the cutting edge because it takes that long for all of the new stuff to filter through the redundancy of the scientific process and the development of teaching practices and methods for newer topics. Eventually, it comes around. ID, as many of us have said before, are just trying to circumvent that process. This is not a scientific controversy so why teach it in science class? There is no GOOD reason, as it would distract student attention away from what they are there to learn.

On a slightly different note, I wonder what Donald M thinks about the American legal system and its emphasis on the interpretation of evidence. We are to accept the proposition that there is a divine agent to whom we can ascribe historical events like the creation of the bacterial flagellum or the eye or the cosmos and others. We are to accept those beliefs (they are beliefs) despite their lack of support from a logical reading of all of the data before us. Why not believe that Pol Pot was really a vampire? Why not believe that human beings who are non-verbal, grind their teeth together, chirp loudly and pinch people aren’t autistic but are possessed by angry dolphin demons? We don’t believe those things because we can deduce and/or induce that they are not true.

Peter:

This is not a scientific controversy so why teach it in science class? There is no GOOD reason, as it would distract student attention away from what they are there to learn.

Surely you’re joking. The ID folks’ goal is to create a controversy that isn’t there, as a vehicle for getting the opportunity to preach their religion in science class, as opposed to teaching science. They are doing this because science, with its reliance on evidence and reason, is a direct and immediate threat to their faith, while evolution specifically shows key doctrines of that faith to be not just wrong, but stupid.

Ultimately, the goal is to replace or at least overlay the contents of every class with a heavy dose of preaching, as befits a theocratic government created to fit their dreams. Science classes are the initial target because (a) science most directly refutes their religious doctrine; and (b) science has a track record so successful it has earned deep public respect and admiration. If some of this respect and admiration can be siphoned off into creationism, any tactics that accomplish this are obviously self-justifying.

So please, do not forget: the goal of creationists isn’t to provide our children with useful knowledge, but to trick them into God’s Flock (their version) whatever it takes. Creationists never sleep, they never get distracted, they never lose focus. Genuine education is a barrier, NOT a goal.

Flint Wrote:

Creationists never sleep, they never get distracted, they never lose focus.

Why do I have an image of Michael Biehn shouting this at Linda Hamilton?

Flint, As per this: So please, do not forget: the goal of creationists isn’t to provide our children with useful knowledge, but to trick them into God’s Flock (their version) whatever it takes. Creationists never sleep, they never get distracted, they never lose focus. Genuine education is a barrier, NOT a goal. I know only too well.

When I was an undergrdaduate at Penn State I wrote editorials about a number of subjects, one of which was on the state of the creationism vs. evolution debate going on in the mid- and late-90s. It was a fun piece to write that brought me two things.

First, I got into a lengthy flame war with a creationist Engineering Professor named John Cimbala (Cimbala page) who told me that the reason that the T-Rex’s skull cavity was so big was so that it could accomodate “tanks of chemicals” so that it could “breathe fire” in a way similar to the action of a bombardier beetle. Wow. That’s impressive ignorance. It wouldn’t be because of the T-Rex’s olfactory bulb…the largest in existence…and second proportionately to the turkey vulture. Hmmmm. This man isn’t interested in knowledge. He’s interested in the promotion of ignorance to promote an ideological framework to get others to “LOOK! LISTEN! KNEEL! PRAY!”

So that brings me to another encounter brought about by my column. Associate Professor of Anthropology, Jeff Kurland wrote to me after reading my column and said something like, “Hey man. That’s great stuff, especially considering you’re a music student and not a bio or anthro student. Let’s have coffee.” We did. He is my friend. I married his daughter. It doesn’t get much cooler than that. I interviewed him for a piece I did for a small PA paper named Voices. The article can be accessed by going to here He sees ID as just another little slip down the slippery slope toward theocracy. ID. Prayer in schools. Evangelical prayer in schools. Disallowing the hiring of gays by public schools. Monitoring the study of intellectuals. This is how Jeff sees it and I’m inclined to agree even if the slippery slope can easily become a logical fallacy. But we know, because they lay their cards on the table, what the fundamentalist evangelicals want. Listen to Dobson, Ham and Phillip Johnson and you see it. THey want an evangelical Christian state.

So…after all of that, I know they aren’t interested in reason or logic. They are insanely invested in the preservation of an irrational system of hocus pocus at the expense of everything else. They’ll keep losing because there are enough rational people in this country who don’t want the nation run by people who believe that we shouldn’t stop deforestation because when the last tree falls, that means we’re about to get the rapture.

Flint:

DonaldM: How would you go about testing the proposition “I exist” (said to yourself) to verify its truth value? I assume you believe the truth of your own existence. But how do you verify the truth value? Applying logic and reason, there simply is no non-circular way for you to do that

Not so. I can make observations that seem as complete and consistent as possible. …But I admit I cheated: in addition to logic and reason, I invoked EVIDENCE.

Been said many times before, but many IDists appear at heart to be replicating Medieval Scholasticism, deducing their way to all knowledge and when confronted with its failure, flipping to authority of revelation. Hume and the rest never lived. There is a potential PhD history-of-ID thesis waiting.

How about this. If what the Creationists really want is to “teach the controversy” then surely they will be happy to see several alternative creation theories presented alongside Darwinian Evolution: the more, the merrier!

So why not insist that if credence is to be given to Creation theory then, recognising that different religions have different versions of the Creation myth, why not teach the local pre-christian (in the USA, Native American; in the UK, Celtic; in Australia, Aboriginal, &c.) creation myth alongside the judaeo-christian creation myth, so that our children have a better chance to make up their minds?

Re “then surely they will be happy to see several alternative creation theories presented”

It’s turtles all the way down!

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are leading the way at this years MTV Europe music awards with four nominations…

Madonna says she may adopt another child from abroad following her proposed adoption of a Malawian boy…

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on September 11, 2006 4:46 PM.

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