Allons enfants de la ID…

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Perhaps there are still true guardians of human rights and opponents of tyranny within the Council of Europe.

That’s great!, you are probably thinking, Finally the EU has decided to send troops to Darfur; to call for free elections in North Korea; to forcefully condemn human rights abuses in Guantanamo; or demand the right to vote for Saudi women; or to read Mugabe the riot act…

Ah, think again.

The paean to the enlightened minds in the CoE comes from our friend Casey Luskin and, alas, celebrates the Council’s decision, as reported by some news agencies, to postpone a vote on a Report from their Committee on Culture, Science and Education, issued a couple months ago, condemning Creationism and unequivocally supporting the teaching of evolutionary science in European schools.

So, what does the rant about tyranny and human rights gotta do with it? See, Luskin is claiming that the CoE resolution aims to “criminalize” ID and to impose “thought control”. But as it often happens with ID propaganda, Luskin is banking on his faithful readers not to read the original sources, because if they did, they’d clearly become aware that the Report states:

97. The teaching of alternative theories can only be considered if they provide sufficient guarantees as to the scientific nature and truth of the ideas put forward.

98. The alternative ideas currently presented by the creationists cannot claim to offer these guarantees, so it is inconceivable that they can be allowed to be taught within the scientific disciplines, either alongside or instead of the theory of evolution.

99. The creationist ideas could, however, be presented in an educational context other than that of a scientific discipline. The Council of Europe has highlighted the importance of teaching culture and religion. In the name of freedom of expression and individual belief, creationist theories, like any other theological position, could possibly be described in the context of giving more space to cultural and religious education. [emphasis mine]

In other words, Creationism/ID do not have sufficient scientific support at this time to be taught in science classes, and hence they should not, until and if they do. They can however be discussed openly in more appropriate contexts, having to do with religion and philosophy.

Does this equal a “ban on ID in science classes”, as Luskin ominously claims, a violation of human rights and academic freedom? It would be puzzling if it did, because this is the very same position espoused by prominent ID-sympathetic figures, such as Paul Nelson and Bruce Gordon. Heck, who would argue against the proposition that concepts taught in science classes should provide guarantees “as to the scientific nature and truth of the ideas put forward”? And where would those “guarantees” come from, in science, if not via peer review and widespread academic acceptance? The Committee report clearly says that its suggestion to keep Creationism/ID out of science classes is not final, but reversible should either idea assert itself scientifically based on evidence and the judgment of the scientific community.

Of course, what Luskin really wants, as argued by pro-ID defense expert sociologist Steve Fuller at the Kitzmiller trial, is a form of affirmative action for ID in school curricula, which presumably should apply liberally to all fringe scientific ideas that wish to be taught in science classes. Not surprisingly, the pedagogical value of such a free-for-all curriculum escaped the CoE Committee on Culture, Science and Education.

But hey, never let common sense and truth come between you and a nice bit of purple-prosed propaganda, uh, Casey? Let’s throw our young hearts over the barricades of bureaucratic barbarism, under the banner of Truth, Freedom, and the ID way. Sic semper.

61 Comments

Thanks for this post … most illuminating. I’ve had a chance with my kids, ages 9 and 12, to look at a few creationist videos associated with the opening of the “Creation Museum” in Kentucky. My kids took interest because I was in some of the videos, representing the scientific perspective. Taking advatage of these “teachable moments,” I put forth to my kids that they must be open to ideas of ID and other creationists. They accept that, but their young minds were working. So I asked what they want in their science classes … all views, or just science. They want science in their science classes, and, as per point 99 above, want discussion of the other things elsewhere in school.

Why doesn’t that work? Because, as we found out in Ohio, those who promulgate ID and other creationist platitudes have no interest in open-mindedness. They simply have an agenda, and it aint friendly to objective science or anything that takes them out of their comfort zone.

Forget the attack mouse Casey Luskin’s squealing. There’s an even funnier thing going on at ECLJ.

Some quotes from the European C for Law and Justice’s comments on the Resolution of the Counncil of Europe

The result of passing the Resoultion would be the prevention of…between…[ID] and…evolution. This approach will hamper the educational progress of students…

Respect for pluralism and diversity are hallmarks…To censor discussion and teaching of creationism (emphasis mine) would violate the spirit as well as the letters of democracy…

Hey Casey, you forgot to tell these guys that the latest disclaimery policy is not to teach ID but to teach the controversy! And creationism? you know that’s a no-no!

ECLJ is trying to take the same track as do the creationists in the US by demanding equal time etc., This may work in the US because the courts stay out of the question of what constitutes bad science. In Europe there is no such waffling. Nonsense gets the short shrift! As has recently happened in Britain, junk like Explore Evolution is destined for the woodshed.

The teaching of alternative theories can only be considered if they provide sufficient guarantees as to the scientific nature and truth of the ideas put forward

So ID proponents can ‘teach the controversy’ just as soon as they can demonstrate that an actual controversy indeed exists by putting some evidence on the table.

I can certainly see how that’s tragically unfair, after all it blatantly discriminates against any group with no evidence.

Pope on evolution again

Speaking to a group of Italian priests on July 24, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI again addressed the topic of evolution. Referring to debates over creationism in Germany and the United States, he suggested that evolution and belief in God the creator are presented “as if they were alternatives that are exclusive – whoever believes in the creator could not believe in evolution, and whoever asserts belief in evolution would have to disbelieve in God,” as the New York Post’s article (July 26, 2007) translated it. “This contrast is an absurdity,” he continued, “because there are many scientific tests in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and enriches our understanding of life and being. But the doctrine of evolution does not answer all questions, and it does not answer above all the great philosophical question: From where does everything come?” A transcript of his remarks, in Italian, is available on the Vatican’s website.

The Pope’s most recent remarks, although brief, suggest that he is continuing to maintain a form of theistic evolutionism, as he reportedly did in his contribution to Schoepfung und Evolution, the proceedings of a seminar on creation and evolution that he conducted with his former doctoral students in September 2006; according to Reuters (April 11, 2007), “In the book, Benedict defended what is known as ‘theistic evolution,’ the view held by Roman Catholic, Orthodox and mainline Protestant churches that God created life through evolution and religion and science need not clash over this.” Although Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn’s 2005 New York Times op-ed “Finding Design in Nature,” which seemed to express sympathy for “intelligent design” creationism, was widely feared to herald a possible shift in the Catholic Church’s attitude toward evolution, subsequent developments, including a series of clarifications from Schoenborn, have for the most part indicated otherwise.

Sort of on topic. The pope says evolution is OK. He favors theistic evolution. Atheists would say this is a copout. Irrelevant. What would you expect the pope to say? It could be a lot worse if he started sounding like Hovind or the ID bunch. I’m surprised neither PT nor pharyngula covered this.

FWIW, the catholic church claims 1 billion of the 2.1 billion world xians. They also claim 24% of the US population, largest denomination. Others say they are exaggerating. I wouldn’t know.

ECLJ is trying to take the same track as do the creationists in the US

This shouldn’t be surprising because ECLJ is a branch of ACLJ which was founded by Pat Robertson. ECLJ and ACLJ are related to the Robertson’s notorious Regent University and ECLJ organizes summer courses for Regent University students in Europe. Although it is quite obvious from their mission statements that ECLJ and Regent University have some idiosyncratic opinions of Human rights which can be summarized as “Jesus first” and “born to rule the world” they somehow managed to get invited by the European Court of Human Rights. IMO, this was really a bad day for Human rights in Europe.

Quoi ! des cohortes étrangères Feraient la loi dans nos foyers! Quoi ! ces phalanges mercenaires Terrasseraient nos fiers guerriers! Grand Dieu ! par des mains enchaînées Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraient De vils despotes deviendraient Les maîtres de nos destinées!

raven Wrote:

He favors theistic evolution. Atheists would say this is a copout. Irrelevant.

No, I’m pretty sure they would agree with biologists that “the great philosophical question: From where does everything come?” has nothing to do with evolution. You would have to insert teleology to make it theistic evolution, and that ain’t it.

But FWIW, theistic evolution isn’t a copout but wrong - there is no teleology in evolution. And since when is a pseudoscience irrelevant for science and education?

Isn’t it about time for a troll to appear in this set of comments?

Such joy aside, I’m not too bothered about theistic evolution because it offers many people a means by which to accept that there is no conflict between science and religion. They can accept the findings of mainstream science, and simultaneously believe whatever it is they want to believe about what “lies behind” the science. Philosophically, it is far more self-consistent than any position of apologetics or biblical literalism (the adoption of either of which requires that one ignore a huge body of evidence that contradicts the adopted position).

Such joy aside, I’m not too bothered about theistic evolution because it offers many people a means by which to accept that there is no conflict between science and religion.

A point I’ve been trying to make indirectly for days without any success.

How many evolutionary biologists at the PhD level in the USA are there?

My wild guess would be a few thousand at most actually working in the field.

How many Xians are there in the USA. Self identified there are 82%, say 250 million.

Who pays for science? The taxpayers mostly, who are 82% Xian.

If one frames the attack on science (real, ugly, and potentially catastrophic long term) as “evolution against Xianity” who will win? Do the math.

Few thousands against 250 million who pay their salary and research budgets.

In the real world, science needs all the allies it can get.

So how close are the antiscience cults, Xian dominionist/reconstructionists to controlling the USA?Very. Up until the 2006 election they controlled the house, senate, almost control the Supreme court, and own the president, Bush.

Science needs all the friends and allies it can get.

Getting back to my point, if one frames the battle as science and evolution against xianity in general, you will inevitably lose. NIH, for example, claims to support partially or completely 300,000 research personnel. Cut their budget 90% and 270,000 of those will apply for unemployment next week.

But FWIW, theistic evolution isn’t a copout but wrong - there is no teleology in evolution.

Shhhhh. Don’t let the TE’s hear you say such things. They might choose to start questioning their political alliances with the secular evolutionists, or perhaps question their own TE beliefs a little, or something.

Quote: “But FWIW, theistic evolution isn’t a copout but wrong - there is no teleology in evolution.”

Partly right. There is no teleology in evolution. In (most) forms of theistic evolution, there is teleology. TE is religion, not science, and the vast majority of TEs I know don’t confuse the two.

I think it’s important to remember that only a portion of religious people try to use their religion to explain the natural world; religion serves a different purpose. Those of us in the c/e controversy tend to generalize from the YECs and IDers who are trying to twist science to promote their religious views, forgetting that to the majority of Christians, religion functions to relate them to their God, rather than to explain cell division. Personally, I am happy to have TEs as allies; whatever their religious views, they accept science as the best way to explain the natural world, they accept evolution, and they are on my side in trying to keep evolution in school.

And don’t forget that there is a whole continuum of TE views: TEs cannot be lumped into one position. Some interpretations are more interventionist than others, but whether interventionist or non-interventionist (e.g., more on the Deistic side of the continuum) TEs make their claims not based on scientific evidence but on theological interpretation. People who use science in determining their theological views are not attacking science. It’s the YECs and IDists who insist that science supports their theological views who injure science and science education.

Torbjörn Wrote:

But FWIW, theistic evolution isn’t a copout but wrong - there is no teleology in evolution.

There is no teleology in evolution, as it works through random mutations. There is no teleology in natural selection either, even though natural selection is far from a random process, in most cases. This is one interpretation. However, I do not see an easy way to refute teleological evolution. It was hard enough to refute (local) hidden variable theories, and some (maybe very few) scientists are not convinced even now (the experimental set-up has been criticized fairly recently). I find it even harder to refute teleology in evolution. Of course, Occam’s razor does not lend support to the teleological interpretation.

If you are saying that evolutionary theory doesn’t need (and doesn’t encourage) teleological concepts, I’m fine with that. On the other hand, if you mean that there is a way to disprove teleological component in evolution, I would be interested to hear about that.

Regards Eric

Hooray for Pope Palpadict! I’m still pissed at him for scapegoating gays and “neo-paganism,” but it’s reassuring to see he’s still trying to keep his church sane on at least one major issue.

I guess they’re still smarting from having taken 400+ years to admit that the Earth moves, and Scripture does not prove otherwise. It’s a pity so many other “Christians” don’t have enough sense of shame to learn from this example.

And where would those “guarantees” come from, in science, if not via peer review and widespread academic acceptance?

In other words, ID can only be taught as science when the evolutionary stablishment decides that ID can be taught as science.

Good luck on that!

And where would those “guarantees” come from, in science, if not via peer review and widespread academic acceptance?

In other words, ID can only be taught as science when the evolutionary stablishment decides that ID can be taught as science.

Good luck on that!

Very good, you’ve progressed to a backhanded admission that scientific standards are met only by the (maliciously labelled) “evolutionary stablishment” [sic]. See, when you’re not on your guard you sometimes write something halfway reasonable.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

FL wrote:

Shhhhh. Don’t let the TE’s hear you say such things. They might choose to start questioning their political alliances with the secular evolutionists, or perhaps question their own TE beliefs a little, or something.

Of course, you conveniently ignore the first part of what T. Larrson said which was that the Pope and biologists most likely agree that “the great philosophical question: From where does everything come?” has nothing to do with evolution. He followed up by saying, You would have to insert teleology to make it theistic evolution, and that ain’t it. As I understand it, he is saying that inserting teleology into ToE makes theistic evolution a religious position and not a scientific one, which is also true. Teaching, in a science class, theistic evolution would be just as actionable as teaching creationism.

And to address your comment, it is obvious that political alliances have very little to do with what constitutes good science. However, as raven said the funding comes from the taxpayers who can vote in (as we have seen) anti-science religious fundamentalists who are quick to cut scientific funding for myriad programs they find objectionable based on their religious beliefs. Also, I sincerely doubt that TE’s will start questioning objective reality that disagrees with the Fundy branch of Christianity anytime soon. They’ve already proved they are more reasonable than that.

Raven “Theistic Evolution” is within Intelligent Design, since there is an Intelligence (God) at the beginning of the process.

Well, Mats, what other forms of “woo” besides ID should be shoved into science classes? Astrology? Numerology? Phrenology?

None other than the great Michael Behe has testified under oath that the definition of science should be expanded to include ID. Of course, that expanded definition would also put astrology under the definition of science.

A troll who got it right for once, Wrote:

In other words, ID can only be taught as science when the evolutionary stablishment decides that ID can be taught as science.

Good luck on that!

Only takes, you know, the evidence

(sound of crickets chirping)

We’ve found this thread’s troll already. I think this means I can (without reservations, anyway) go off-topic and announce that Behe’s going to be on Colbert tonight (Thursday). Here’s a link which at the time of this posting tells of the episode:

http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/[…]/index.jhtml

I suppose we could snark about how Behe’s junk is at best comedy, but it doesn’t work so well after Dawkins and other pro-science sorts have already been on there (along with the decidedly anti-science Dembski).

Glen D

Mats wrote:

“Theistic Evolution” is within Intelligent Design, since there is an Intelligence (God) at the beginning of the process.

Wow, Mats your two for two today. I am glad that you recognize that TE and ID are both philosophical and not scientific positions, that are completely compatible with eachother. Of course, it follows that since neither position is scientific, neither position has any business in science class. Good job.

“Theistic Evolution” is within Intelligent Design, since there is an Intelligence (God) at the beginning of the process.

Bill Dembski says otherwise.

I see Legion has come back from the (un)dead…

raven Wrote:

He favors theistic evolution. Atheists would say this is a copout. Irrelevant.

“Atheists” would?

Do you imagine there’s some kind of Atheist Central Committee chaired by PZ Myers or something, which issues official opinions which all atheists then adopt?

J. Biggs Wrote:

I am glad that you recognize that TE and ID are both philosophical and not scientific positions, that are completely compatible with eachother.

I’d personally tend to disagree with this. TE is, sure, a philosophical and not a scientific position.

However as I see it ID is any kind of philosophical or scientific position at all. ID is a movement, not a proposition. The leaders of the ID movement have expressed opposition to TE. Therefore, TE and ID are not compatible.

This story has been on going for a few weeks now. First the EU issue a resolution banning the teaching of Creationism and ID and then they withdraw it. Naturally, AiG is cock-a-hoop over this:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/art[…]w-resolution

A big factor in the withdrawal of the resolution must have been a rapidly produced 14-page booklet compiled by the European Center for Law and Justice (www.eclj.org).1 The ECLJ, which is affiliated to the ACLJ (the American Center for Law and Justice), keeps a close watch on what is happening in European institutions and legislative assemblies.

I was under the impression that the ACLJ was a parody of the ACLU and that their intention was to mirror the ACLU in any of their campaigns. Note that the letters are so similar. I suppose this is intentional in order to confuse the average US citizen.

So tell us, troll-boy, are the creationists in control of the USA doing more about Darfur or Korea than the anti-creationists in control of the UN?

Your attempt to change the subject is just plain pathetic.

Coin Wrote:

However as I see it ID is any kind of philosophical or scientific position at all.

Should read “However as I see it ID is not any kind of philosophical or scientific position at all”. Heh.

Coin wrote:

I’d personally tend to disagree with this. TE is, sure, a philosophical and not a scientific position.

However as I see it ID is any kind of philosophical or scientific position at all. ID is a movement, not a proposition. The leaders of the ID movement have expressed opposition to TE. Therefore, TE and ID are not compatible.

I agree that the ID movement chooses to be incompatible with TE. We all know that ID is a scientifically vacuous, “Big Tent” political movement that is attempting to replace materialism with “a theistic understanding of science.” But, IMO, if you separate the (somewhat useless) philosophy from the movement, it need not contradict TE because, as you say yourself, ID is any kind of position it wants to be. Of course once you accept that evolution is supported by the evidence, the IDers want nothing to do with you, so for all practical purposes you are more correct in your assertion. It’s just that Mats doesn’t get to be right very often so I was trying to be encouraging.

Coin wrote:

Should read “However as I see it ID is not any kind of philosophical or scientific position at all”. Heh.

Or you could just say that a movement that supports any kind of philosophical (barring materialism) or scientific position at all, doesn’t really have a philosophical or scientific position. Not that I’m trying to put words in your mouth or anything.

Or you could just say that a movement that supports any kind of philosophical (barring materialism) or scientific position at all, doesn’t really have a philosophical or scientific position. Not that I’m trying to put words in your mouth or anything.

I think that is an excellent way of putting it.

In short, my understanding of TE is that it is the view “things have happened the way the scientists tell us, but there is something more to life, the universe and everything than science can discover”.

And what’s the justification for the claim that there is something more than there is any evidence for?

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This page contains a single entry by Andrea Bottaro published on August 1, 2007 9:24 PM.

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