Jack Krebs posted Entry 1582 on October 17, 2005 10:26 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1577

In a post Monday, October 17, 2005 on the Discovery’s Institute’s Evolution News and Views blog, (a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one), Casey Luskin makes the following comment in regards to the Caldwell’s recent suit against the evolution website:

Caldwell thus does not allege that teaching evolution endorses religion. Rather Caldwell is alleging that when the government specifically suggests to students that “religion need not conflict with evolution,” that the government is telling students what their religious beliefs should be. According to Caldwell, this form of telling students how their religious beliefs should deal with evolution constitutes impermissible religious endorsement on the part of the government.

There is an important misconception here that also came up at the Kansas hearings. Informing people about different religions’ views on the nature of God’s relationship to the natural world, and thus those religions’views on the relationship between science and religion, is not the same as endorsing those views. More specifically, it is educationally appropriate to highlight the beliefs of Christians and other theists who accept evolution in order to combat the mistaken notion that Christians can’t accept evolution: doing so is not the same as saying that such theists are correct. Scientifically, we can’t pass judgment on any theological position, but we can offer accurate observations about the scope of religious belief.

Let me tell a story from Kansas concerning this issues, and then draw some conclusions.

During Pedro Irigonegaray’s closing statement at the Kansas hearings in May, we made the point that there are many Christians (and other theists) who accept evolution. Such theists, we pointed out, do not accept the argument put forth by ID leader John Calvert that “methodological naturalism” (i.e., science) implies “philosophical naturalism” (i.e., materialism and atheism) because they believe that God works through natural causes. Such theists accept that science is a legitimate and accurate use of our God-given reason to investigate the physical world, and that God’s presence in the natural world will manifest as a logically consistent world to our senses. (Since the hearings I have become aware of a nice quote from St. Augustine about this: “Nature is what God does”).

The existence of such theists, we argued, negates the ID argument that science is necessarily friendly to atheism and antagonistic to theism. Note that we were not arguing for the truth of the theistic evolution position, for that it is theological perspective outside the domain of science. Rather we were arguing that science is metaphysically neutral in respect to beliefs about spiritual reality: science can be, and is, embraced by a full spectrum of religious beliefs, from evangelical Christians to atheistic materialists. The slides which outline our argument can be found here.

Calvert misunderstood this basic distinction (as Luskin does above), as he made clear in his closing response to Irigonegaray’s presentation, when he said,

What is so fascinating is that the Minority Report is not interested in all of science. It’s interested and it’s focused only on the issue of origin science. An origin science, I’m sorry, is a very peculiar science. It’s peculiar in two respects. It is a science that unavoidably impacts religion, and much of what we heard today was proselytization for theistic evolution because that happens to be a religious concept that’s consistent with evolution.

(my emphasis) (Talk Origins transcript of the hearings)

No, we were not proselytizing. We were not saying that the theistic evolutionists are right. We were highlighting the existence of theistic evolutionists because if you accept that they hold a legitimate religious viewpoint, than Calvert’s argument about the relationship between science and atheism is shot down by the simple presence of a counter-example.

Calvert failed to understand (or chose to misunderstand) our point.

There are two basic reasons for this misunderstanding, I think, one being political and the other being religious. From a political view, the IDists cannot afford to acknowledge theistic evolution (and other perspectives which support science) because to do so would undercut the basic dichotomy that fuels the wedge: the false assertion that one is either for God or for science.

Religiously, the truth is that the IDists believe the theistic evolutionists are wrong – that they are not even good or proper Christians: as Johnson once said, theistic evolutions (he called them “liberal Christians”), “are worse than atheists because they hide their naturalism behind a veneer of religion.”

Calvert expanded on his view on this subject in a paper (a “brief” entitled Response to Reply), filed after the Kansas hearings in which he wrote the following. (I have punctuated this with bullets to highlight his points, but the text is identical.)

The Authors [the ID Minority] agree that many who believe in some form of evolution are committed theists. But what some believe and what others do not believe is irrelevant because beliefs are usually predicated on many factors other than logic and an informed understanding of evolutionary biology.[See footnote 3 below] The issue is not what this or that person believes. The issue is what is the logical effect of suppressing one side of a scientific controversy regarding origins on theistic and non-theistic religion. What may one reasonably expect an impressionable young child to come to believe if all he is shown is evidence that supports and does not contradict the proposition that life arises from unguided evolutionary change? Logically, this favors (but does not require) non-theistic religions and belief systems. At the same time it conflicts with theistic beliefs that many parents seek to instill in their children that life results from guided, rather than unguided change.

[Footnote 3 from above]

The claim that: Many scientists who are theists believe in evolution, therefore evolution has no conflict with religion, is not logically coherent because there are many reasons why scientists who are theists do publicly deny or take issue with evolution. Based on the testimony at the hearings and numerous conversations I have had with scientists and biology teachers over the past six years I know that many theistic scientists who fall into this category do so:

(a) because their religious beliefs are held for completely unrelated to science;

(b) because they have been misinformed about the adequacy of the evidence that supports evolution,

© because their reputation, job performance and job security depends on their allegiance to the theory,

(d) because they work in operational or applied science where evolution is generally irrelevant and there is no reason to question it, and

(e) because they can easily avoid social and political controversy by thinking of evolution as a “tool” used by God to do his work without truly understanding the nature of the evolutionary mechanism and its logical conflicts with their the beliefs.

Of all these reasons, concern about reputation and job security is probably the most significant reason for not voicing any doubts about Darwin. Indeed a theist can actually win friends and influence people in high places by simply toeing the line. Who wants to wind up like Nancy Bryson or Roger Dehart? Who desires the kind of verbal abuse that is levied upon anyone who has the courage to voice sincere and honestly held reservations.

Let’s put this in simpler language: Calvert is saying that if you are a theist who accepts evolution, you hold a logically contradictory position. However you persist in holding this position, perhaps not even seeing the contradictory nature of your beliefs because you are some combination of misinformed about evolution and/or God, uncaring, cowardly in respect to your beliefs, and so on.

No place is there any acknowledge that such theistic evolutionists might have a legitimate religious view. Calvert, and many others in the ID movement, can just not conceive there are other ways of understanding the nature of the metaphysical/spiritual world, and thus the necessarily conflate two distinct things: informing people (including students) about people’s beliefs, the existence of which disproves the basic premise of the Wedge, on the one hand, and asserting or teaching that some particular religious beliefs are true. For them, talking about a religious perspective and proseltyzing for it are synonymous, it seems.

It is not surprising that the IDists don’t “get” this (irrespective of the political reasons for not wanting to get it), because most of them are so certain of their religious perspective, and so certain that other perspectives have some degree of pernicious effects, that they really can’t conceive of a range of religious beliefs being tolerable. As has been made abundantly clear in Kansas, for the IDists either you admit the possibility of supernatural design into science or you are in league with the dreaded human secularists whose beliefs are responsible for the sorry state of modern civilization.

I have not looked closely at the materials on the Evolution website, but I can imagine that there are places where the distinction that I am pointing out (between teaching about religious beliefs in regards to science vs. teaching that certain religious beliefs are in fact true) may not be as clear as they should be. However, with that said, I am certain that Casey Luskin or Larry Caldwell or the IDists in general do not understand and/or don’t want to acknowledge the distinction. And I am reasonably certain (from a layman’s point of view) that there is nothing legally wrong with teaching about religious views as part of an argument that science is neutral in regards to metaphysical belief.

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Comment #52434

Posted by Philip Torrens on October 17, 2005 10:57 PM (e)

As has been repeatedly noted on this site, nothing about believing in evolution precludes belief in a god. That said, I think the IDists do correctly sense a real threat from Darwinism to their literal interpretation of the Bible. For while evolution does not make it impossible for there to BE a god, it does make it possible for there NOT to be one. Prior to the idea of natural selection, the “argument from design” would have been a hard one to answer. And how you gonna keep the kids down on the farm of literal belief in the Bible unless you use smoke and mirrors to create the illusion that evolution is “unproven” or at least “controversial”?

Comment #52436

Posted by Jack Krebs on October 17, 2005 11:09 PM (e)

This is a good point - belief in God is going to have to find some rationale or justification other than an inability to explain the natural world, and that is a threat to some people.

Also, science has disproven, or made extremely unlikely, many religious beliefs: the idea that the wind is a breath of a spirit is no longer believed by any educated person; and the belief in a God that created the universe de novo six thousand years ago is likewise unsubstantiated by science. Scientific knowledged has honed our notions of what God might be like, and winnowed out many beliefs. This is something we have to live with, I think, but it also doesn’t touch the essential elements of what religious belief is about.

Comment #52437

Posted by Apesnake on October 17, 2005 11:38 PM (e)

It is interesting to me that ID movement will never realize that it is they themselves who are responsible for the eroding of theism for many people. One of the first things to cause people to examine their faith in a critical light is the realization that the people who are telling them to “just believe” in God are actively struggling to convince, intimidate or even trick them into “just believing” in other things which are demonstrably false.

Comment #52438

Posted by T. Russ on October 18, 2005 12:00 AM (e)

Maybe the NCSE should collect signees of a statement unsupportive of naturalistic evolution from religionists and then put that on their websites. It could go something like this….

“The following promonent religious thinkers, ministers, and other various believers in Chrisitanity do not support the naturalistic foundations of evolutionary biology. Because these people are not naturalists and believe in a God who made the universe by non-natural intelligent design of some form, they question the validity of natural selection and random mutation, as well many other naturalistic mechanisms, to fully explain the observable biotic reality we live in. Some of theses signees reject evolutionary naturalism on purely religious grounds based primarily fully rational philosophical and theological arguments, while others believe that evolutionary naturalism not only has non-scientific objections, but also fails to be an adequate scienitific explanation. Some of these signees while they are themselves religionists, do not see any religious problems with evolutionary theory but nonetheless find evolutionary naturalism unconvincing for various rational reasons.”

Then have some huge list of religionist signees for people to look through.

This of course would be dangerous because religious students (more than half of America’s students?) viewing this list might respond with something like…

“Wow, look… there’s my minister and a thousand other ministers. I believe in God and want to think about how he made the natural world in a systematic and rational way. Man I better look into these questions and not just accept N.O.M.A. or some form of theistic evolutionary naturalism.”

While the response of a religious student to a list of ministers supporting evolution goes something like this…

“Ohh…. Well I had wondered whether or not I should think about my religious beliefs in relation with my science education but, lookie here, I don’t have to think about this at all, for religion endorses evolution anyways, and there must not really be any controversy between evolutionary naturalism and Chrisitanity. Good thing. It would suck to have to think about all this critically. Phew”

T. Russ

And, just so you PT thought policeman know…. I don’t think ID should be taught to highschool students as part of their science education, and I’n not here saying anything about ID, or Evolution not being an adequate theory. Just making a point for the sake of pete.

Comment #52439

Posted by ConfusedPvM on October 18, 2005 12:04 AM (e)

What point ARE you making T Russ?

Comment #52440

Posted by T. Russ on October 18, 2005 12:17 AM (e)

wow,… fast reading.

The point here is simple. Getting a list of religionists to endorce evolutionary naturalism on a website designed to help students understand evolution is misleading because the website fails to mention that many religionists do not endorse evolution for various thoughful reasons. In my humble opinion, I believe students should be encourage to work out their religious and scientific understands of reality. Therefore I think it would be better to reveal to them that a controversy between their religious teachers and their scientific teachers exists. That way they don’t just take the easy way out and accept N.O.M.A. without ever thinking about it.

I have seen this intellectual shortcoming occur with many religious students in the university. I’ll meet a freshmen who comes into college as a creationists or anti-evolutionists of some kind for religious reasons and then after some time of dealling with the stigam and pressure of not believing in evolution they’ll here about somebody prominent who is a religionists (and boy ohh boy are there ever many different types of these) who say that evolution and religion aren’t in any conflict at all. Then viola! The student can aleve themself of social discomfort and never really think much about the subject.

Comment #52441

Posted by ConfusedPvM on October 18, 2005 12:57 AM (e)

Getting a list of religionists to endorce evolutionary naturalism

What is evolutionary naturalism?

Comment #52445

Posted by ah_mini on October 18, 2005 3:36 AM (e)

T. Russ, very little controversy exists in the UK, where church and state are not separate. Darwin is even buried in Westminster Abbey (and appears on the back of a £10 note)!

Theistic evolutionists come in for a bashing from the ID camp because we are what you fear the most, a group of people who accept God as the creator, but don’t believe that science is capable of testing this fact. Think about it, how are you supposed to test for a supreme deity, whose possible actions are virtually limitless? Also, by implication, if you sit there and point to “designed” objects as some kind of measure of God, then you are just fodder to atheists who will point out objects that look to be poorly designed and insist that God must be incompetent. Your witness is just plain bankrupt.

But of course, we’re just stupid and deluded right? We haven’t thought through out position properly I am told. And don’t forget the name calling! I have been called many things in my time, “backslider”, “atheist”, “naturalist”, “worldly”, “satanist”(!), etc. All by supposedly good Christian folk who just can’t seem to stop worshipping the Bible as an idol and poisoning their kids with their bibliolatry. Their kids get made fun of at college because they hold ludicrous strawman positions on biology. I’ve even see kids lose their faith over a comparative theology class, let alone learning about what evolution really entails. Such is the blinkered way they have been brought up, were any alternative interpretation of any Bible passage is deemed as grounds for a toasting!

From what I’ve seen, most people who deny evolution do it because they have elevated their personal, literalistic Biblical interpretation to a level of infallibility. They simply *cannot* be wrong, it *must* be evolution (or anyone else’s interpretations) that are in error. Have you ever considered that your theology may be mistaken?

Andrew

Comment #52446

Posted by tom_kbel on October 18, 2005 4:15 AM (e)

T. Russ:

The point here is simple. Getting a list of religionists to endorce evolutionary naturalism on a website designed to help students understand evolution is misleading because the website fails to mention that many religionists do not endorse evolution for various thoughful reasons. In my humble opinion, I believe students should be encourage to work out their religious and scientific understands of reality. Therefore I think it would be better to reveal to them that a controversy between their religious teachers and their scientific teachers exists. That way they don’t just take the easy way out and accept N.O.M.A. without ever thinking about it.

Russ, when I was young, I was lied to. The liars told me that you had to accept a literal reading of Genesis if you were to have a coherent doctrine of revelation. They told me that there was no evidence of abrasion at fault line of the Lewis overthrust. They told me there were no transitional fossils. The short term result was that, very thoughtfully but without any understanding of evolution, I rejected evolution. The long term consequence was that I rejected their religion.

It seems to me you are advocating that sort of uncomprehending rejection of evolution. You want people to decide it is against their religion before they look to see whether it is true or not. Of course, having decided that, only a rare and courageous individual can still openly look to see if it is true.

But even if NOMA is false, that is the wrong way to procede. The first issue is whether evolution is true; and that is a matter decidable, and decided on emperical evidence. Only after having examined the evidence (the actual evidence, not the creationist lies) should the secondary question of whether evolution is compatible with religion be raised.

Of course, this is the why and wherefore of the different stances. Creationists (including IDists) know they are on a hiding to nothing if the evidence for evolution is looked at openly. Therefore they want to poison minds before they start. The NCSE, of course, has the opposite position. So they wish to open at least some of the minds the creationists have closed.

Comment #52448

Posted by K.E. on October 18, 2005 5:00 AM (e)

And the *insert any deity, theology* said “let there be light (knowledge)and darkness (ignorance)was banished”.

Its all in the interpretation.

There is so much the ID crowd are missing out on by not investigating
myth in non oedipal manner.

Oh and I’m an atheist.

Comment #52449

Posted by Ginger Yellow on October 18, 2005 6:38 AM (e)

“Then viola!”

Is this the theory of intelligent orchestration?

Comment #52452

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 18, 2005 6:58 AM (e)

Getting a list of religionists to endorce evolutionary naturalism

What the hell is “evolutionary naturalism”? Is this the latest fundie code word for “atheism”?

on a website designed to help students understand evolution is misleading because the website fails to mention that many religionists do not endorse evolution for various thoughful reasons.

Why should science be in the position of teaching religious opinions? Or vice versa?

I don’t think ID should be taught to highschool students as part of their science education, and I’n not here saying anything about ID, or Evolution not being an adequate theory.

Don’t BS us, Russ.

Comment #52456

Posted by K.E. on October 18, 2005 7:38 AM (e)

Why do violists smile when they play?
Because ignorance is bliss and what they don’t know can’t hurt them.

Comment #52464

Posted by ex-fundie on October 18, 2005 9:39 AM (e)

Jack Krebs wrote:

the necessarily conflate two distinct things: informing people (including students) about people’s beliefs, the existence of which disproves the basic premise of the Wedge, on the one hand, and asserting or teaching that some particular religious beliefs are true. For them, talking about a religious perspective and proselytizing for it are synonymous, it seems.

That’s because for an evangelical, there is no reason to ever discuss religion other than to “win souls for Christ.” They simply cannot accept that a group of people could discuss a religious topic without the goal of winning converts, because that is the focus of their existence.

That is also the reason I was banned from teaching in my fundie church. No one could accept that I wasn’t trying to “corrupt the youth in the church” (all of whom accept evolution and only became Christians when I explained to them that YEC belief wasn’t necessary to be a Christian).

As Lenny so eloquently puts it:
(shrug)

Comment #52467

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on October 18, 2005 10:22 AM (e)

Keep in mind that there are many problems with a literal interpretation of the Bible before you even get into science. When you do come to scientific issues, Christian geologists found that the earth was millions of years old before evolution became known.

The Wedge which Jack mentioned holds that all science, not just biology, must be theodized.

For Russ: The Clergy Letter Project.

Isn’t it a bit dimbulbish to think that you honor the Creator by disbelieving the creation?

Comment #52473

Posted by Albion on October 18, 2005 12:50 PM (e)

That Calvert paper is a very good example of how logic can be used to confidently arrive at the wrong answer. Does he really think that because he’s talked to some scientists whose acceptance of theistic evolution is based on faulty thinking, it necessarily follows that all scientists fall into this category?

This seems to be another case of “allow me to know you better than you know yourself.” I come across this attitude all the time from religiously motivated pro-lifers in discussions about abortion, where they can’t or won’t believe that pro-choicers really mean what they say, and this business about rationalising away theistic evolution is yet another example. These people do seem to have a bit of trouble with the notion of looking at beliefs objectively and accepting that other people have their own point of view. So far his argument seems to be “This is what he says he believes. I think his belief is wrong. Therefore it is wrong. If it’s objectively wrong, he must know he’s wrong. Therefore he’s lying about his belief and I can discount what he says and substitute what I really know he means.” Arg.

Comment #52479

Posted by Leigh Jackson on October 18, 2005 2:02 PM (e)

Jack, your link to the slides does not work.

“During Pedro Irigonegaray’s closing statement at the Kansas hearings in May, we made the point that there are many Christians (and other theists) who accept evolution. Such theists, we pointed out, do not accept the argument put forth by ID leader John Calvert that “methodological naturalism” (i.e., science) implies “philosophical naturalism” (i.e., materialism and atheism) because they believe that God works through natural causes. Such theists accept that science is a legitimate and accurate use of our God-given reason to investigate the physical world, and that God’s presence in the natural world will manifest as a logically consistent world to our senses.”

If God works through natural causes then they are not, properly speaking, “natural” causes at all. Does it not also follow, that “nature” is identical with “Creation” on this view, and so theistic evolution is, properly speaking, an example of “methodological creationism”?

Comment #52480

Posted by T. Russ on October 18, 2005 2:08 PM (e)

Well, First off I was only suggesting another list which fully illustrates the actual state of things. I never said anything fundie at all. But as is always the case, here at PT if you attempt to add some thought to an issue that isn’t status quo with the group, you are assumed to be some kind of fundie who rejects evolution for religious anti-rational reasons. And here I sit as always reading the comments of jokes like Rev Lenny thinking to myself, “this guy has no idea what I actually think, but thinks he does.” I’m not BS-ing anybody. I think ID (that is the intellectual question of whether design has occure throughout biotic history, not the “movement”) should be discussed at the highest levels of academia and then filter down to the schools if it has any merit. And, If you really are concerned with my personal religious understanding of evolution go read some Asa Gray. He and I are pretty tight.

Also:

Evolutionary naturalism: See below… (who doesn’t know what this means?) Well, for those who actually want to know, check out

Boller, Peter .F. 1969. American Thought in Transition: The Impact of Evolutionary Naturalism, 1865-1900. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Evolutionary Naturalism: the Philosophical Foundations of Humanism
Presented by Pat Duffy Hutcheon to the January, 1997 meeting of the British Columbia Humanist Association
http://www.humanists.net/pdhutcheon/humanist%20articles/Evolutionary%20Naturalism.htm

Callebaut, W./Stotz, K. 1998. Lean evolutionary epistemology. Evolution and Cognition 4: 11—36.

Collier, J.D./Stingel, M. 1993. Evolutionary naturalism and the objectivity of morality. Biology and Philosophy 8(000603): 47—60.

Morgan, C.L. 1923. Emergent Evolution. New York: Henry Holt.

Sellars, R.W. 1969. Evolutionary Naturalism. New York: Russell and Russell.

Ex-fundie: I applaud you. The discussion of religious topics without the desire to win converts is very possible and should be done frequently. For, Religion is a major component of the observable world is it not. To dismiss intellectual discussions concerning the existence and attributes of God, or God’s relation to the natural world, is reckless stupidity. Truncate your thought if you want to. But damnit if you think you are really thinking critically about the world you may live in. I think philosophical and religious discourse and its relationship to science, society, culture, whatever, should never be discouraged. (Even if God does not exist or the Deists have it right.)

Pete, Thanks for the link to the clergy project. Were I a member of the clergy, I might consider signing off on 95% of the statement.

Comment #52481

Posted by Flint on October 18, 2005 2:15 PM (e)

Religion is a major component of the observable world is it not. To dismiss intellectual discussions concerning the existence and attributes of God, or God’s relation to the natural world, is reckless stupidity…I think philosophical and religious discourse and its relationship to science, society, culture, whatever, should never be discouraged.

Probably few here would disagree with you on this at all. The question is, should religious doctrine be presented in 9th grade science classes as scientific truth.

I suggest that discussion of the existence and nature of a wide variety of gods is probably worthwhile, for a wide variety of reasons. 9th grade science class is neither the time nor the place for such discussions to be helpful to anyone.

Comment #52482

Posted by Steve S on October 18, 2005 2:25 PM (e)

I’m not BS-ing anybody. I think ID (that is the intellectual question of whether design has occure throughout biotic history, not the “movement”) should be discussed at the highest levels of academia and then filter down to the schools if it has any merit.

ID has been discussed at the highest levels of academia. Such as by these groups:

National Academy of Sciences
American Association of University Professors
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Anthropological Association
American Astronomical Society
National Association of Biology Teachers
Geological Society of America
The American Chemical Society
American Institute of Biological Sciences
The Paleontological Society
Botanical Society of America
New Orleans Geological Society
New York Academy of Sciences
Ohio Academy of Science
Ohio Math and Science Coalition
Oklahoma Academy of Sciences
Society for Amateur Scientists
Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
Society for Neuroscience
Society for Organic Petrology
Society for the Study of Evolution
Society of Physics Students
Society of Systematic Biologists
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Southern Anthropological Society
Virginia Academy of Science
West Virginia Academy of Science
American Association of Physical Anthropologists
American Geophysical Union
American Society of Biological Chemists
American Psychological Association
American Physical Society
American Society of Parasitologists
Association for Women Geoscientists
Australian Academy of Science
California Academy of Sciences
Ecological Society of America
Genetics Society of America
Geological Society of America
Georgia Academy of Science
History of Science Society
Iowa Academy of Science
Kentucky Paleontological Society
Louisiana Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Sciences
North American Benthological Society
North Carolina Academy of Science

They conclude it has no merit. And so it hasn’t ‘filtered down’ to schools.

Comment #52484

Posted by Norman Doering on October 18, 2005 3:41 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank asked: “What the hell is ‘evolutionary naturalism’? Is this the latest fundie code word for ‘atheism’?”

It’s certainly a code word that points toward atheism, but doesn’t quite mean it.

Here’s how it works, on Dembski’s site now is a well mined quote from from Barbara Forrest:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/402

Dembski doesn’t even bother to comment on it himself. Barbara Forrest is simply quoted saying this:

“We have established scientifically some disquieting facts: (1) human beings have evolved from nonhuman life forms, meaning that (2) at one time we did not exist, and that (3) according to paleontological and astronomical evidence, at some time in the future we shall cease to exist. Furthermore, from a scientific standpoint, there is no discernible reason that we had to evolve in the first place, and there is no guarantee that we shall continue to evolve successfully; more hominid species have become extinct than have survived. The price of such knowledge has been the gnawing question of whether human existence has genuine meaning if it was constructed with cranes rather than supported by skyhooks, as Daniel Dennett says.

The problem of meaning is easily resolved for those who embrace a preconstructed system of meaning such as religion. However, religion cannot help us find meaning in any honest sense unless it can assimilate the truth about where human beings have come from, and the only real knowledge we have about where we came from we have acquired through science.”

The quote above can be called, by the IDers, an example of “evolutionary naturalism,” “atheism,” “metaphysical naturalism,” “infidel philosophy,” “Darwinism,” “Dawkinism” and “humanism.”

Those are all different things but the one thing they have common is they are in some far away land where IDers don’t see the difference and can only point in that general direction.

You will see if you read the comments, few people on Dembski’s site think that people evolved from an ape.

Comment #52490

Posted by Ed Darrell on October 18, 2005 4:27 PM (e)

Calvert’s and Luskin’s and the Caldwells’ argument boils down to this: ‘True religious people don’t put any stock in evolution, and anyone who does is not truly religious and will burn in hell.’

Then Caldwell has the gall to claim that’s the what Berkeley and NCSE do, while he is defending academic freedom.

Condemnation masked as toleration – only, oddly, it seems masked only to people like Calvert, Luskin and the Caldwells. The would-be emperor’s new iron fist of religious discipline.

Comment #52495

Posted by qetzal on October 18, 2005 5:03 PM (e)

Rather Caldwell is alleging that when the government specifically suggests to students that “religion need not conflict with evolution,” that the government is telling students what their religious beliefs should be. According to Caldwell, this form of telling students how their religious beliefs should deal with evolution constitutes impermissible religious endorsement on the part of the government.

Whether or not it’s constitutionally permissible to make such statements in public school science classrooms, I believe it’s a very bad idea to do so.

Presumbably, the point of such statements would be to reassure students that they needn’t be atheists to accept evolution, and thus defuse opposition to learning the subject.

But the fact is, some students’ religions do conflict with evolution, and public schools have no business trying to change their minds on that. Yes, it’s good for students to know that religion and science can be compatible, but public school science class is the wrong place to teach that lesson.

Another problem is that making such statements in science class implies that compatibility with religion is a legitimate consideration. That’s clearly wrong. It doesn’t matter that evolution is compatible with many religious beliefs, just as it wouldn’t matter if evolution conflicted with all religious beliefs. Neither is relevant to whether evolution is science, or whether it should be taught in science class.

Jack Krebs wrote:

[I]t is educationally appropriate to highlight the beliefs of Christians and other theists who accept evolution in order to combat the mistaken notion that Christians can’t accept evolution….

I agree that may be appropriate in some settings, but I think it is very inappropriate in a public school classroom, for the reasons given. So, if “educationally appropriate” means “appropriate in science class,” I must respectfully disagree.

Yet, the fact remains that some students will have religious objections to learning evolution. How should a public science teacher respond? My humble opinion is this. The teacher should explain that evolution, like all scientific theories, is based on empirical observation and evidence. It is a theory that has broad power to explain the observed diversity of life. More importantly, it is a theory that has broad power to accurately predict things we have not yet observed, and it has done so, successfully, many many times already.

That explanatory and predictive power is what makes it so valuable. It doesn’t mean that the theory of evolution is correct in all particulars. It’s almost certainly wrong in some small ways, and incomplete in others. It may even be wrong overall. No scientific theory can ever be proven absolutely true. But so far, evolution is the only theory that can successfully explain and predict our observations. That is why it’s an essential part of biology.

If necessary, the teacher can further explain that the possible religious implications of evolution will not be a topic for discussion in class. Students are not required to “believe in” evolution, any more than they must “believe in” any other scientific theory. They need only learn and understand it.

Comment #52496

Posted by T. Russ on October 18, 2005 5:10 PM (e)

Flint:

“should religious doctrine be presented in 9th grade science classes as scientific truth?”

Nope. Religion should not be taught in any form in 9th grade science classes. Also, It might be good if we didn’t teach or describe anything as “scientific TRUTH” per say.

“I suggest that discussion of the existence and nature of a wide variety of gods is probably worthwhile, for a wide variety of reasons. 9th grade science class is neither the time nor the place for such discussions to be helpful to anyone.”

I wholeheartedly agree.

Steve S.:

I don’t think that making statements about the ID movement counts as intellectual discussion of the question of design in nature. I do think that Dembski writing a paper and Elsberry then critiquing it does count. That is what needs to go on. I myself, don’t think it has been succesful enough to filter down. Maybe it never will. However, over the last 2500 years it has been discussed and at various times taught to young children.

Even though the scientific establishment of Galileo’s time made statements about his ideas having no merit they still eventually won the day in actual discussion. Statements by “scientific establishments” have meant very little throughout history.

Comment #52497

Posted by Jason on October 18, 2005 5:23 PM (e)

I like the link to Demski’s weblog. I urge any and all of you to go over and register. I did. I will continually try to post rebuts to all the silly posts people make and to the articles listed.

Comment #52499

Posted by sir_toejam on October 18, 2005 5:32 PM (e)

I like the link to Demski’s weblog. I urge any and all of you to go over and register. I did. I will continually try to post rebuts to all the silly posts people make and to the articles listed.

lol. good luck posting anything dembski doesn’t like (er, which is pretty much anything that doesn’t praise him as godlike).

Comment #52500

Posted by Flash Gordon on October 18, 2005 5:39 PM (e)

Theistic evolution offers great advantages. You don’t have to be angry with science.

Comment #52501

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 18, 2005 5:46 PM (e)

Well, First off I was only suggesting another list which fully illustrates the actual state of things. I never said anything fundie at all.

Don’t BS us, Russ.

Comment #52503

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 18, 2005 5:48 PM (e)

I think ID (that is the intellectual question of whether design has occure throughout biotic history, not the “movement”) should be discussed at the highest levels of academia and then filter down to the schools if it has any merit.

It’s already been discussed by lots of working biologists and other scientists.

It has no merit. It offers nothing useful. It is just religious apologetics pretending to be science. And it is about to be ruled illegal by a judge in Pennsylvania.

Game over.

Comment #52521

Posted by Steve S on October 18, 2005 6:51 PM (e)

T.Russ:

I do think that Dembski writing a paper and Elsberry then critiquing it does count. That is what needs to go on.

That’s what went on. IC was proposed and destroyed. CSI was proposed and destroyed. The NFL nonsense was proposed and destroyed. ID has been field tested. It was field rejected.

T.Russ:

Steve S.:

I don’t think that making statements about the ID movement counts as intellectual discussion of the question of design in nature.

From some of the groups I listed:

However, there is no debate within the scientific community over whether evolution occurred, and there is no evidence that evolution has not occurred….
the lack of scientific warrant for so-called ‘intelligent design theory’ makes it improper to include as a part of science education….

That’s about the lack of content of ID, not a criticism of the “movement”. You could also go read “A Critical Analysis of Science and Creationism:
A view from the National Academy of Sciences In relation to Intelligent Design Theory” if you don’t believe the groups I mentioned have addressed the content of the misnamed “ID Theory”.

T.Russ:

Even though the scientific establishment of Galileo’s time made statements about his ideas having no merit they still eventually won the day in actual discussion.

Quackwatch.org:

Pseudoscientists also love the “Galileo Argument.” This consists of the pseudoscientist comparing himself to Galileo, and saying that just as the pseudoscientist is believed to be wrong, so Galileo was thought wrong by his contemporaries therefore the pseudoscientist must be right too, just as Galileo was.

T.Russ:

Statements by “scientific establishments” have meant very little throughout history

Playing the odds, I’ll take a random (not cherry-picked) statement from a scientific organization, over a random statement from a religiously motivated fringe quack, any day. Especially if the quack is promoting an idea which you admit failed to gain scientific support in 2500 years.

Comment #52524

Posted by Matthew Cromer on October 18, 2005 7:05 PM (e)

As has been repeatedly noted on this site, nothing about believing in evolution precludes belief in a god. That said, I think the IDists do correctly sense a real threat from Darwinism to their literal interpretation of the Bible. For while evolution does not make it impossible for there to BE a god, it does make it possible for there NOT to be one. Prior to the idea of natural selection, the “argument from design” would have been a hard one to answer. And how you gonna keep the kids down on the farm of literal belief in the Bible unless you use smoke and mirrors to create the illusion that evolution is “unproven” or at least “controversial”?

And thus the enduring appeal for the Darwinian theory of evolution. And the deep faith in the theory’s explanatory power. Yes, evolution is obvious, but the explanation of evolutionary history as the result of random mutation and natural selection is simply wishful thinking.

It’s all about removing any sort of teleological challenge to the individual human ego as supreme. And as such, it’s a theory which simply must be true because it accounts for the prejudices of the current paradigm du jour.

Unfortunately, it’s a very weak theory as far as actually accounting for evolution, which is a thoroughly teleological process from top to bottom. The universe is bursting with consciousness and awareness and teleology, and the reductionist materialists can’t see any of it, some of them even deeming their own awareness an illusion.

Comment #52526

Posted by Steviepinhead on October 18, 2005 7:18 PM (e)

Mtthew, you already left your lame-ass link on another recent thread, and you’ve already been challenged there to provide some real evidence for your contentions.

We already suspect you’re an idiot.

Try not to display yourself as a boorish and inconsiderate idiot by going from thread to thread, leaving the same link over and over again, like some poor drooler caught in a behavioral fugue.

Comment #52527

Posted by sir_toejam on October 18, 2005 7:19 PM (e)

norman wrote:

You will see if you read the comments, few people on Dembski’s site think that people evolved from an ape

lol. except dembski himself, as he has stated many times publically and on TV. care for links, norman? i think i have one of his tv interviews where he explicitly states his support for common descent still on my harddrive.

Comment #52529

Posted by CJ O'Brien on October 18, 2005 7:23 PM (e)

Unfortunately, it’s a very weak theory as far as actually accounting for evolution,

It’s the ONLY theory on the table that describes a plausible explanation. The only one.

The assertion that “the universe is bursting with consciousness”, even (especially?) when linked to your extremely unimpressive blog, is not a theory.

It doesn’t even make sense.
A little advice: get over yourself. Learn something.

Comment #52530

Posted by T. Russ on October 18, 2005 7:25 PM (e)

Steve S, I’m not a “pseudoscientist” as you seem to argue that I am, because of my referencing the gallileo affair. In fact, I’m no scienitist at all. Not even a fake one. But as someone who studies the history of science academically and someone who understands the logic of an argument, I simply stated that statements from scientific establishments in response to new and contradictory ideas to the current paradigm of thought, mean jackcrap. I then noted the Galileo affair as an example. Yes. Amazingly, the gallileo affair did occur, and yes Aristotelian natural philosophers made rash statements about Galileo’s theories. I guess I could have sighted other statements from groups of scientists who were anti-evolutionists during Darwin’s time that made simple statements against his theory in hopes of disuading people from believing it… but, regardless of what Richard Owen and his cronies might have stated about the fixity of species, it just isn’t true.

I really wish that some of you were able to understand the complexities of this debate or were at least able to read and understand at least those interlocutors who fall somewhere in the middle of things. Oh well…

Comment #52531

Posted by sir_toejam on October 18, 2005 7:27 PM (e)

… and mathew continues his innapropriate use of creationist buzzwords..

deep faith
wishful thinking
teleological
prejudices of the current paradigm
and of course:

reductionist materialists

*sigh*. use a mirror sometime, matt.

Comment #52533

Posted by T. Russ on October 18, 2005 7:30 PM (e)

Matthew, Your not an idiot….you’re just kinda weird. Good luck at PT buddy.

Comment #52535

Posted by roger Tang on October 18, 2005 7:38 PM (e)

I really wish that some of you were able to understand the complexities of this debate or were at least able to read and understand at least those interlocutors who fall somewhere in the middle of things

Um. GIven that this “debate” depends on the evidence and the debate THERE is NOT complex…I fail to understand interlocuters who claim to be in the middle.

Comment #52537

Posted by Steve S on October 18, 2005 7:49 PM (e)

You don’t fall in the middle of things. You’re a creationist with terrible spelling.

Comment #52540

Posted by sir_toejam on October 18, 2005 7:59 PM (e)

I fail to understand interlocuters who claim to be in the middle.

it’s easy; folks like T russ like to think of themselves as being reasonable, however, they rarely appeal to reason when making their arguments.

there’s a term for it.

delusional.

T russ should just accept that he (?) is delusional and move on.

Comment #52545

Posted by Philip Torrens on October 18, 2005 8:29 PM (e)

Matt wrote “It’s all about removing any sort of teleological challenge to the individual human ego as supreme. And as such, it’s a theory which simply must be true because it accounts for the prejudices of the current paradigm du jour.”

People who misunderstand evolution often do misinterpret it to mean humans are supreme - the logical, inevitable culmination that evolution has been “working” toward. In this view, we’re perfection achieved, a done deal. In fact, of course, we’re a point on a continuum, not a final product. Evolution continues to operate. And “the fittest” by no means always means the smartest. I kayak a lot on the outer coast of BC. If I were to capsize in the winter waters, even with my wet suit on, I’d have shorter survival prospects than the “lower” creatures around me - the seals, the whales, even the seaweed and barnacles would be “fitter” than I would. So properly understood, evolution is actually quite a humbling concept. Unlike, for example, the notion that a god created Earth especially for man, and gave him Dominion over it and all the creatures on it…

Comment #52546

Posted by Steve S on October 18, 2005 8:42 PM (e)

Philosophers, such as T. Russ, will say anything. For instance,

“William Dembski is the Isaac Newton of information theory, and since this is the Age of Information, that makes Dembski one of the most important thinkers of our time. His “law of conservation of information” represents a revolutionary breakthrough.”

Rob Koons, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin

Now go to the IEEE Information Theory Society’s webpage, and search for “Dembski”.

http://odysseus.ieee.org/ieeesearch/query.html?col=allieee&qt=Shannon&charset=iso-8859-1&qc=allieee&nh=25&ws=0
“There were no results for dembski.”

For comparison, searching for “Shannon” gets you 782 results, because Shannon was the Isaac Newton of Information Theory in reality. Dembski is the Isaac Newton of Information Theory in Fantasyland.

Comment #52548

Posted by Steve S on October 18, 2005 8:46 PM (e)

In fact, I think I’m going to write the Information Theory Society and ask them why they don’t devote any space to the “Isaac Newton of Information Theory”, William Dembski.

Comment #52549

Posted by sir_toejam on October 18, 2005 8:50 PM (e)

please let us know if they actually respond; I’d be curious to know just how much satire they can handle in a response.

Comment #52550

Posted by Steve S on October 18, 2005 9:00 PM (e)

Ah, well, the IEEE ITSOC President:

President: Steven W. McLaughlin
School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA 30332-0250
USA
tel: +404 894 6617
fax: +404 894 7883
email: swm at ece dot gatech dot edu

My email to him:

Dear Mr. McLaughlin:
I was browsing the ITSOC website today and was shocked by what I saw. I saw lots of stuff about some guy named “Claude Shannon”, but not a single mention of William Dembski. As Mr. Dembski has been called “The Isaac Newton of Information Theory”, you can imagine my surprise. I humbly ask you for an explanation of this oversight.

thanks,
Steve Story

ps–do I have your permission to quote your reply? Other friends on the internet are curious about this question.

Hope he writes back.

Comment #52551

Posted by sir_toejam on October 18, 2005 9:05 PM (e)

hmm. i think you would have been better served if you supplied a link to the article that used the term to describe dembski; my bet is that Dr. McLaughlin hasn’t even heard of him, and will be most perplexed by your request. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, tho. :)

Comment #52552

Posted by Steve S on October 18, 2005 9:08 PM (e)

I don’t know. I think he might have heard it. Last year an IT grad student emailed me for the citation of the quote, after he saw it in a post. He was going to pass it around the department for laughs. The quote is years old, I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone in IT has heard it by now.

Comment #52555

Posted by Henry J on October 18, 2005 10:02 PM (e)

Re “It is interesting to me that ID movement will never realize that it is they themselves who are responsible for the eroding of theism for many people.”

Yep. They try to convince people, esp. perhaps other Christians, that they have to choose either relition or science. Well, if one convinces a Christian that they have to choose one or the other, this just might result in: that person choosing… one or the other. One choice makes no difference in the number of Christains left; the other reduces it. And this effort is helping their support base… how?

Henry

Comment #52556

Posted by T. Russ on October 18, 2005 10:11 PM (e)

Steve S wrote:
“You don’t fall in the middle of things. You’re a creationist with terrible spelling.”

1.) I fall in the middle of things because I am not wholly convinced that design is “scientifically” detectable in the way that Dembski and Behe thinks it is and do not think it should be taught in middle or high school. (However, I do think they are at least on to something worthy of serious thought and discussion. While their ideas are interesting and might just be heading in the right direction I do not think they are the end all be all of design theory. I share their conviction, which many of their theistic opponents share, that the world is designed and made by God. But I do not share their convictions concerning using ID as Christian apologetics in the culture war. I believe in God because of the awesome Cabernet I had last night, not because long sequences of amino acids form functioning proteins which work along side other proteins to unwind genetic information, or because bacteria have cool motor tails, etc etc etc… I also probably have a much more open philosophy of science and religion when it comes to God employing evolutionary mechanisms to design the world. Perhaps one day I will join the blogosphere and write up a profile with all my beliefs and views on a blog of my own so that I will stop being so misunderstood and thus misinterpreted. If your well read in the areas that I am then you can understand my views by the following statements.

As I posted somewhere earlier, my interpretation of evolution is akin to Asa Gray’s. My take on science and religion is much like John Polkinghorne’s. My views of science education are in line with Ed Larson and Steve Fuller’s. My philosophy of science is akin to William Whewell’s, but also Larry Laudan’s. My philosophy of history is very Kuhnian, my adherence to scientific realism is very much like Philip Kitcher’s. And my understanding of Christianity is akin to Houston Smith and CS Lewis’s.

2.) Sory my sppeling is ocasionaly poore. i reelise that thiz refootes my argyouments.

Actually, I really ought to read back over my posts and make some spelling as well as grammatical corrections before I push the post button. I’m always on the rush to do other things. But thanks Steve.

Steve S also wrote:
“T russ should just accept that he (?, yes, i am a male) is delusional and move on.”

Good argument buddy.

Comment #52557

Posted by Donald M. on October 18, 2005 10:23 PM (e)

Lenny asks:

Why should science be in the position of teaching religious opinions?

Good question. Perhaps you could take it up with Eugenie Scott who seems to not have any problem advising teachers on how talk to their students about the proper way to fit religious opinions into the science class. You can read her comments here. Apparently its okay to talk about religion in science class, as long as its taught the “right” way and with the “correct” interpretations and so forth.

Comment #52559

Posted by Jack Krebs on October 18, 2005 10:38 PM (e)

In the article linked above, Gebie Scott says,

Most Catholic and mainline Protestant denominations have accepted evolution as the way God brought the world about, and this is also true of the theology of all but the most conservative Jews. Although it would be inappropriate for a teacherto encourage students towards or against any religious view, it is appropriate to inform them, in a comparative sense, of the existence of more than one religious perspective on creation and evolution.

That’s seems to be a pretty reasonable statement to me.

Comment #52560

Posted by sir_toejam on October 18, 2005 10:45 PM (e)

T Russ prophesied:

Perhaps one day I will join the blogosphere and write up a profile with all my beliefs and views on a blog of my own so that I will stop being so misunderstood and thus misinterpreted.

spoken like a true crank. i think this fits in exactly with one of the crank identifiers in the list. anyone care to point out which number in the list this statement fits?

Steve S also wrote:
“T russ should just accept that he (?, yes, i am a male) is delusional and move on.”

actually, give steve a break, I wrote that and stand by it. I think the above statement from your diatribe sufficiently makes my case.

good luck with that mental disorder.
I truly wish you well.

Comment #52561

Posted by Steve S on October 18, 2005 10:50 PM (e)

2.) Sory my sppeling is ocasionaly poore. i reelise that thiz refootes my argyouments.

I didn’t see that you had any arguments which needed refuting. I was just hitting some of the more obvious points. I would not get into seriously refuting your arguments, because they’re just bad strawmen:

“Sory my sppeling is ocasionaly poore. i reelise that thiz refootes my argyouments.”

“I’m not a “pseudoscientist” as you seem to argue that I am,”

Refuting strawmen is tedious, because first you have to point out the mischaracterization of another person’s arguments. All your spelling did was let me determine that you are not BlastFromThePast. You two make different kinds of spelling errors.

Steve S also wrote:
“T russ should just accept that he (?, yes, i am a male) is delusional and move on.”

Good argument buddy.

I never said that. I know you are male, Mr. Hunter. So you can’t spell, so you don’t know any biology, so you can’t tell that Dembski and Behe were blown out of the water long ago, at least quote the right person. Give us that.

Comment #52562

Posted by Steve S on October 18, 2005 11:01 PM (e)

I’m just waiting around for a reply from Steven W. McLaughlin. I’d like to know why the Information Theory Society has so many resources on some “Claude Shannon” dude. Never heard of him. I’d rather read about “The Isaac Newton of Information Theory”, obviously. He better explain himself.

Comment #52570

Posted by RBH on October 19, 2005 12:06 AM (e)

Yeah, well. That Shannon dude did his dissertation in some backwater discipline like … well … population genetics, so what can you expect? Nothing a philosopher would consider worth being the Fig Newton of. Trust the information theorists to be bamboozled by Shannon’s bafflegab and ignore the Isaac whatsisname of info theory.

RBH

Comment #52574

Posted by T. Russ on October 19, 2005 12:51 AM (e)

Sorry for wrongly attributing that quote to Steve S. I meant to type Sir ToeJam but failed to do so. Honest mistake I hope.

Anyways,… you guys are hilarious. The thoughtful discussions here at PT are blessed with your…. Wait a second, you guys are couple of jokes.

But seriously, my experience and reasonable assessment of your ability (or maybe willingness) to discourse with people holding views different from your own, leads me to conclude that you guys are just a couple of childish punks.

I hope it’s okay with PT bloggers that I hit back every once in a while. All in good fun of course. :)

Comment #52575

Posted by mulp on October 19, 2005 12:56 AM (e)

Krebs wrote “As has been made abundantly clear in Kansas, for the IDists either you admit the possibility of supernatural design into science or you are in league with the dreaded human secularists whose beliefs are responsible for the sorry state of modern civilization.”

After debating a number of people on the PBS NOW! forum on politics, replace any religious group for “IDists” and any topic such as “peace” or “non-violence” based on the Beatitudes, and no matter the extent of the historic religious belief and Jesus quotes in response to Old Testament quotes, the end result is the accusation of “you are a Christian hating secular humanists indoctrinated by the humanist manifesto and the liberal elites, and you know it.”

(Actually, that was just one of them, others came back with “you are a traitor”, “you love terrorists”, “Stalin/Castro/Hitler is your hero”, etc.)

I have tried the “you believe in ID? Like in Kubric/Clarks 2001? Or is it more like the X Files?” but that evokes the other response to arguments that trap them in a contradiction: silence. I would love to ask queries about all the scifi plots of 1950/60s Clark/Asimov et al, that speculate on “space alien creators”, and then get into the X Files, Twilight Zone, etc., in a trial setting where they are required to answer. I would suggest that these frequent themes are evidence of alien abductions, genetic memories, of projected images from our creators, and then ask them to refute them or acknowledge the validity of this explanation of the identity of an Intelligent Designer.

I believe that firmly associating space aliens with ID would basically kill off that movement. And one reference for constructing the space alien explanation would be Chariots of the Gods, in which the “science” is just as valid as that of ID: the only possible way to fit boulders together as tightly as they are in the Inca cities is with technology far in advance of even 21st century technology - must be space aliens.

Comment #52576

Posted by sir_toejam on October 19, 2005 1:15 AM (e)

leads me to conclude that you guys are just a couple of childish punks

how’s that famous quote go: “stupid is as stupid does”

say something that wouldn’t insult a child’s intelligence, and perhaps the responses would be a little less critical.

*shrug*

Comment #52577

Posted by sir_toejam on October 19, 2005 1:19 AM (e)

Here, russ:

http://www.sciforums.com/showthread.php?t=5752

now fit your statements into that format. i think you will find they fit quite well.

can you self analyze?

Comment #52580

Posted by Norman Doering on October 19, 2005 2:58 AM (e)

Jason wrote: “I will continually try to post rebuts to all the silly posts people make and to the articles listed.”

Let us know when you get censored. When it happens, post here what Dembski censored.

Comment #52586

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 19, 2005 6:59 AM (e)

In fact, I’m no scienitist at all.

No kidding.

I really wish that some of you were able to understand the complexities of this debate or were at least able to read and understand at least those interlocutors who fall somewhere in the middle of things. Oh well…

I guess we’re just not as smart as you are. (shrug) Why don’t you stop wadsting your time casting pearls before us stupid swine, and move on to another forum where your genius will be better appreciated?

Comment #52587

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 19, 2005 7:02 AM (e)

Why should science be in the position of teaching religious opinions?

Good question. Perhaps you could take it up with Eugenie Scott who seems to not have any problem advising teachers on how talk to their students about the proper way to fit religious opinions into the science class. You can read her comments here. Apparently its okay to talk about religion in science class, as long as its taught the “right” way and with the “correct” interpretations and so forth.

Don’t BS us, Donald.

Oh, and I’m still waiting for you to tell me how anyone else can know any more about God than anyone else does.

Comment #52597

Posted by Louis on October 19, 2005 8:21 AM (e)

Hi T Russ,

Please read carefully what some people have written to you. What these writings have shown is that the vast majority of scientists have read, understood, and rejected ID creationism on the basis of the evidence. The ideas and claims of IDC have been discussed at the highest possible levels, and investigated thoroughly. They have been found to be unscientific and unrepresentative of reality.

Please don’t get the idea that this is a manifestation of conflicting paradigms, or the suppression/rejection of new ideas by an old establishment. There are of course many examples in which the conflict of paradigms and the suppression/rejection of the new by the old occur, and your Gallileo example was a good one for this. This is not the case here. Let me explain why:

Firstly, and quite importantly, things have moved on from Gallileo’s time! We are dealing with very different “establishments”. I doubt I need to delve into the history of this.

Secondly, the principle objection to Gallileo was religiously based. Given the reverse situation applies to IDC and its vacuous carpings about evolutionary biology (i.e. in Gallileo’s case he was doing science and the opposition was religious. In the IDC case, the “opposition” is scientific and the IDCists are promoting a religious claim) the irony of your choice of example should be obvious! It really is important to hammer this home. There is no scientific basis for the claims of IDC. None. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Sweet F…….anny Adams! It is very important you understand this. Also, please do not take my word, or anyone else’s word for this, it is quite possible to find this out for yourself. In fact I would very strongly encourage you to do so.

Thirdly, challenges to the scientific “establishment” are welcome. Challenge away. That’s what every scientist on the face of the planet is doing, and dreams of suceeding at. It’s pretty hard to have an “establishment” that is ever evolving, ever moving and never established. The one caveat to this is that your challenge must be at least as well supported as that which it is challenging. It must not only do its own job, but the job of the thing it replaces.

Which brings me finally to: Fourthly, “They laughed at Gallileo. They laughed at Columbus. They also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”. This is very, VERY important to remember. Yes, big revolutions and massive challenges appear to occur. Yes, they are sometimes successful. The reason they are successful is they do the job better than the previous thing on the basis of the evidence. That really is the key: evidence. IDC has none. None that is scientific. It has reems of handwaving and anecdote and unsupported philosophising, but no actual supporting reliable, reproducible evidence. Not only that, it doesn’t do the job it sets out to do, and fails to even do the job the thing it is designed to replace does. IDC, to use a colloquial phrase, sucks donkey balls.

Historians and philosophers of science tend to focus these “paradigm shifts”, these “big” revolutions and challenges. For what reasons they do this, I shall not say, but they are wrong, ask any working scientist (of which I am an example!). Science proceeds incrementally. There are myriad people working on similar problems in science. Often even ostensibly unrelated ideas and research cuase new ideas in one’s own field. Even the commonly touted “revolutions” of Darwin and Einstein were supported by many also-rans. Many people who had similar ideas but never quite hit the nail on the head. By the way, John Gribbin’s “Science: A History” is a good, basic and emminently readable introduction to this.

Why do I point this out? Well, because often people like to promote their ideas as being the next new big thing. What a previous poster referred to as a common symptom of pseudoscientists. Now I am not accusing you of being a pseudoscientist, or a creationist, or an anything, so please avoid any leaps for high horses! ID is a popular idea in the media at the moment. The media like to present issues as conflicts, its sexy news, it mimics the “talking heads” appraoch of much political debate, and it involves (dare I say) minimal research. This absolutely, catagorically does not work with matters scientific. The clash between evolutionary biology and IDC is being falsely presented as a clash of rough equals (in terms of their scientific nature and merit). This is palpably false. Firstly, there is no “clash”, just a whimper and squelch as actual science steamrollers over IDC. Secondly, the ideas contained in IDC are ancient, and were well refuted, long ago. It is only the ignorance of how science works and the previous failings of the teleological basis of IDC that keeps it going. The media is quite literally playing into the hands of the IDCists.

Now there’s a “conspiracy” for you! It isn’t the poor IDCists who are being oppressed by them ‘orrible scientificarious orthodoxists. It’s those innocent scientists being attacked by vicious charlatans manipulating the courts and media into acting on a non existant controversy. Scary!

Comment #52599

Posted by Louis on October 19, 2005 8:29 AM (e)

Oh and a quick P.S. The interlocutors who fall in the middle of things are falling prey to the same problems the media is. There is no middle. IDC lost the argument a VERY long time ago. The fence sitting smugness of people who claim to be “balanced” and “fair” misses the point entirely. Reality does not conform to opinioned niceties. Jump out of a high window if you doubt me on this. My reality based science opinion is that you will fall at a specific rate, and probably injure yourself or die. The contrary opinion that you will float is demonstrably false. The fence sitting position is equally false because you won’t hover to earth unharmed, nor will your rate of descent be other than can be predicted by science. This is the problem for politics/social science majors and their occasionally postmodern buddies.

Comment #52600

Posted by qetzal on October 19, 2005 8:45 AM (e)

Jack Krebs wrote:

In the article linked above [in #52557], Genie Scott says,

Most Catholic and mainline Protestant denominations have accepted evolution as the way God brought the world about, and this is also true of the theology of all but the most conservative Jews. Although it would be inappropriate for a teacher to encourage students towards or against any religious view, it is appropriate to inform them, in a comparative sense, of the existence of more than one religious perspective on creation and evolution.

That’s seems to be a pretty reasonable statement to me.

I strongly disagree. I think such statements have little or no upside in a science class, and enormous downside, for the reasons I gave in #52495. Donald M’s complaint in #52557 is yet another problem with this approach.

Mr. Krebs (or anyone else who agree’s with Dr. Scott’s position), please tell my why you think my concerns are unfounded, or why you think the benefits of making such statements in science class outweigh the detriments.

Comment #52602

Posted by Norman Doering on October 19, 2005 9:08 AM (e)

Matthew Cromer wrote: “The universe is bursting with consciousness and awareness and teleology …”

So, judging by your link;
http://amethodnotaposition.blogspot.com/

You believe in pet psychics, faith healers and a life after death.

Did it ever occur to you that if there were any real evidence for such things that someone would have walked away with James Randi’s million dollars?

http://randi.org/research/index.html

Comment #52605

Posted by Flint on October 19, 2005 10:18 AM (e)

qetzal:

I think possibly the concern here is on how to respond to religious objections being raised in science classes, without either appearing to ignore or dismiss such objections as stupid, or getting sidetracked into a long uncontrolled discussion of religious doctrines as seen through the eyes of the teacher (who is all too often a creationist).

So there should probably be some standard response geared to keeping science classes focused on science without appearing to reject such questions altogether. I don’t know what this response should be. Maybe it should be used as an opportunity to re-emphasize the role of evidence in science.

Simply saying “this is a science class; religious questions don’t belong here” plays into the hands of those who claim science is atheistic and rejects religion as a matter of doctrine. I don’t think 9th grade is too young to introduce students to the notion of what evidence is, what it is not, what it means to be testable, and how tests marshal and organize evidence usefully.

Comment #52606

Posted by Donald M on October 19, 2005 10:48 AM (e)

Don’t BS us, Donald.

Oh, and I’m still waiting for you to tell me how anyone else can know any more about God than anyone else does.

Perhaps you should take your “BS” complaint to Ms Scott, since she’s the one advising teachers on how to talk about religion in the science class.
Your BS line is old and worn out, Lenny. It’s your usual way to avoid dealing with any argument of substance.

As to your second sentence, you’ve got it exactly backwards. You’re the one who needs to answer the questions I put to you and not vice-versa. But as that was another thread, there’s no point resurrecting it here. It is, however, yet another pitiful attempt on your part to try and change the subject.
Red herrings, straw men, violations of the law of non-contradiction and ad hominems seem to be the only tools of argumentation you have. It’s amazing that anyone pays any attention to you at all.

Comment #52610

Posted by Donald M on October 19, 2005 10:58 AM (e)

Flint writes:

So there should probably be some standard response geared to keeping science classes focused on science without appearing to reject such questions altogether. I don’t know what this response should be. Maybe it should be used as an opportunity to re-emphasize the role of evidence in science.

Simply saying “this is a science class; religious questions don’t belong here” plays into the hands of those who claim science is atheistic and rejects religion as a matter of doctrine. I don’t think 9th grade is too young to introduce students to the notion of what evidence is, what it is not, what it means to be testable, and how tests marshal and organize evidence usefully.

It seems to me that this approach could potentially make things even worse. I could imagine some student asking “Teacher, are you saying that no religious beliefs are based on actual evidence?” That would be a pandora’s box for a science class! I don’t see any good way a teacher can address the evidence question with respect to religious beliefs in a science class.

Comment #52613

Posted by Flint on October 19, 2005 11:07 AM (e)

I could imagine some student asking “Teacher, are you saying that no religious beliefs are based on actual evidence?” That would be a pandora’s box for a science class!

Not necessarily. After all, this isn’t the issue here. The issue is, what does the evidence actually indicate, where did that evidence come from, how is it evaluated and tested. Whether or not any given religious belief is based on evidence belongs quite clearly and strictly in a class on religions. What evidence supports a given scientific theory belongs in a science class. The focus MUST remain on the scientific theory, not the religious objections.

I don’t see any good way a teacher can address the evidence question with respect to religious beliefs in a science class.

That’s exactly my point. Religious questions do not belong in science classes. Instead, I was envisioning inappropriate nonscienfic questions about religion being used as an opportunity to change the subject back to science, without seeming either to reject any particular faith or treat that faith as though it were scientific.

Comment #52617

Posted by Brian Spitzer on October 19, 2005 11:42 AM (e)

Most Catholic and mainline Protestant denominations have accepted evolution as the way God brought the world about, and this is also true of the theology of all but the most conservative Jews. Although it would be inappropriate for a teacher to encourage students towards or against any religious view, it is appropriate to inform them, in a comparative sense, of the existence of more than one religious perspective on creation and evolution.

From qetzal:

I strongly disagree. I think such statements have little or no upside in a science class, and enormous downside, for the reasons I gave in #52495. Donald M’s complaint in #52557 is yet another problem with this approach.

I think that Dr. Scott’s position on this is legitimate– although, qetzal, I agree that we’re in risky territory. However, I think that the issues you raise can be skirted, if the statement is worded carefully. Here’s my reason: it has been documented that students often have misconceptions about how various religious groups view science. Many students will enter the science classroom assuming that all, or almost all, denominations oppose evolution, when in fact many do not.

Noting that many groups do not reject evolution is correcting a common error about facts, which I think is an important goal of education. I think it’s very important that the statement doesn’t endorse one religious denomination over another; rather, I think it’s intended to encourage students to do some research (i.e., talk to their pastor!) and find out what their own denomination has to say on the subject.

IMO, the statement is legitimate only because it corrects that common misconception. If students were generally already aware that many denominations are OK with evolution, then making that statement would have a much weaker educational purpose (I feel like I’m arguing about the Lemon test).

I think it would be more even-handed if the statement also pointed out that some denominations do have problems with evolution. I would also bend over backwards to emphasize that it is not the role of science to recommend one religious belief over another; that’s the student’s prerogative.

And, qetzal, I think you hit a couple of nails on the head in one of your posts. First, I agree that it should be emphasized that we don’t pick scientific theories based on whether or not they fit with our metaphysical views. (However, I think that encouraging students to reflect on how they integrate science into their worldview is educationally worthwhile.) Second, ultimately it should be made very clear to students that they are expected to understand the theory of evolution, not believe it. I’m currently teaching intro-level college biology, and I stressed that point at the beginning of the semester.

–B

Comment #52618

Posted by Matthew Cromer on October 19, 2005 12:17 PM (e)

Did it ever occur to you that if there were any real evidence for such things that someone would have walked away with James Randi’s million dollars?

Randi’s challenge is a laughable joke. Let’s see him post his money up for an impartial judgement by disinterested third parties. We can’t even get Wiseman to admit it when he provides confirmation for psi with his own work. I don’t expect any better behavior on the part of Randi.

Randi’s credibility is poor. He’s already had to apologize to Sheldrake for his negligent, sloppy criticisms of Sheldrake’s work.

Comment #52619

Posted by T. Russ on October 19, 2005 12:18 PM (e)

Donald Wrote:
“Red herrings, straw men, violations of the law of non-contradiction and ad hominems seem to be the only tools of argumentation you have. It’s amazing that anyone pays any attention to you at all.”

So True.

Comment #52620

Posted by guthrie on October 19, 2005 12:22 PM (e)

Completely off topic, but:

Sir Toejam, which sciforummer are you?

Comment #52621

Posted by Flint on October 19, 2005 12:24 PM (e)

Matthew:

Randi’s challenge is a laughable joke. Let’s see him post his money up for an impartial judgement by disinterested third parties.

You mean, like the impartial judgment of the lotteries, the stock market, and the gaming industry? Seems these are ripe fruits just begging to be plucked by any decent psi ability. Yet you seem to be ignoring them very very carefully. Why?

Comment #52628

Posted by Matthew Cromer on October 19, 2005 1:14 PM (e)

You mean, like the impartial judgment of the lotteries, the stock market, and the gaming industry? Seems these are ripe fruits just begging to be plucked by any decent psi ability. Yet you seem to be ignoring them very very carefully. Why?

Radin (1997) documents variations in lottery and gaming payout rates due to GMF fluctuations. And certainly some stock pickers have experienced remarkable success which may (or may not) be due to psi-like “gut feelings”.

In any event, psi experiences are usually uncontrolled and emotion / sensation related – not the sort of thing to give you a winning lottery number on demand.

Rather than wondering why psi is not what you demand it to be, why not comment on scientific studies replicated by skeptics?

Comment #52639

Posted by Flint on October 19, 2005 1:45 PM (e)

Rather than wondering why psi is not what you demand it to be

No, I’m wondering why psi does not seem to work in environments where it would prove most powerfully useful. Are you seriously saying there is no uncontrolled emotion in the casino? Have you ever been in a casino? You think church is where people pray? Church is nothing. Casinos thrum and throb with the most determined, high-intensity, SINCERE prayer to be found in such high concentration anywhere.

I’m not going to go along with your “gee, I found a case where I think psi was actually found in an experiment, and the skeptics are either wrong, non-credible, or can’t explain it.” If psi doesn’t do those who possess it any good at all (and if it did, casinos would be belly up TOMORROW), this needs to be explained by something more persuasive than “ignore those things, look over there.”

I fully understand why psi doesn’t work under controlled circumstances. So do the casinos. So does the stock market. It’s because every way people have found to rig or game or otherwise beat the system have been identified, so even the most subtle and misdirectional cheating is eliminated. And therefore, so is psi.

Let me put it another way: if psi powers exist, they sure aren’t useful in the real world. Show me someone who can consistently beat the odds, even by a tiny little bit, at calling the cards or rolling the dice or spinning the slot machine, and I’ll sign right up for classes. Until then, you may be right but you’re only right in useless ways.

Comment #52650

Posted by Matthew Cromer on October 19, 2005 2:07 PM (e)

If you are going to claim that Psi doesn’t work in a Casino you need to explain Radin’s data which shows an effect on casino profits based on GMF. It’s in this book.

Comment #52656

Posted by Flint on October 19, 2005 2:23 PM (e)

No, I don’t need to explain Radin’s claims. YOU need to explain why casinos can and do safely ignore this. After all, casinos DO NOT see any deviation from expected, pre-calculated payouts. Their estimates, over a long period like a week, are invariably within a fraction of a percent (a small fraction) of calculated returns.

You will also need to explain why ZERO people are turned away from casinos because of any demonstrated psi ability (like they ban card-counters from the blackjack tables). At the very least, I suggest you collect your data from the Real World, rather than from books implicitly subtitled “parting the gullible from their money.” I know you are a True Believer in that stuff, and you think if you holler and wave it around, you are scoring points.

Meanwhile, my money is on the casino until their returns are NOT within a tiny fraction of calculations. Go ahead and turn your psi wizards loose on the casinos. I’m willing to bet that the casinos will trust THEIR data, rather than Radin’s data. The casino’s data can, and is, taken straight to the bank.

If Radin’s data were real, he wouldn’t be writing books, he’d be coaching “gifted” gamblers. In fact, if there were any gamblers with that gift, Radin’s data or not, they’d be out there exercising it. They are not. Imagine that.

Comment #52665

Posted by Don P on October 19, 2005 2:43 PM (e)

If we are going to tell students in public school science classes that there is a “plurality of religious views towards evolution” and that they don’t necessarily have to abandon their religious beliefs to accept evolution, as Eugenie Scott advocates, then we should also tell them that the belief that religion, or at least traditional religion, is compatible with religion is rare amoung evolutionary scientists themselves.

I suggest providing these students with the results of the Cornell Evolution Project, which found, for example, that 80% of evolutionary biologists do not believe in God in any traditional sense of the word, and that only 8% believe that evolution and religion are non-overlapping magisteria whose tenets are not in conflict.

Comment #52666

Posted by Don P on October 19, 2005 2:46 PM (e)

Matthew Cromer:

Despite over a century of attempts to demonstrate the reality of “psi phenomena,” no such demonstration has been made. The evidence just isn’t there. That’s why the scientific community does not accept it.

Comment #52667

Posted by Don P on October 19, 2005 2:50 PM (e)

Make that “is compatible with evolution” in the first paragraph of #52665.

Comment #52670

Posted by K.E. on October 19, 2005 3:10 PM (e)

I’ll get this
I printed out Matts post waved a dead chicken over the letters
I am now wrapping it around a doll and I’m going to stick pins in it.
If you get any pin pricks Matt just let know where they were and I’ll tell you if you are correct.
Then you can report in the press that ID/creationist proves PSI.
That will go down a treat but be quick because Behe is getting sucked into a black hole and they may be a bit more critical than you would want them to be.
The proof will be in writing on this thread all you have to do is tell me where the pin prick is.
I guarantee you’ll be famous I’m telepathic.
This could also help Behe since PSI is the same as Astrology which he concedes could also explain ID. After all it has the same predictive powers and so on. Gee That’s real easy to prove all you have to do is read the newspaper and it really happens.

‘xcuse me while I go stare at Goats.

Comment #52676

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on October 19, 2005 3:38 PM (e)

Mr. Cormer

Rather than wondering why psi is not what you demand it to be, why not comment on scientific studies replicated by skeptics?

Quite possibly because Sheldrake is not a skeptic - Sheldrake is, by all accounts, a crack-pot. See http://www.salon.com/people/feature/1999/11/23/sheldrake/print.html for starters.

Comment #52679

Posted by Matthew Cromer on October 19, 2005 3:56 PM (e)

Despite over a century of attempts to demonstrate the reality of “psi phenomena,” no such demonstration has been made. The evidence just isn’t there. That’s why the scientific community does not accept it.

Of course the evidence is there. Just like the evidence is there for evolution which the fundamentalist Christians reject.

Both phenomena are rejected for fundamentally sociological and religious reasons.

For starters, explain the studies I link here and here and here.

If you want to continue this discussion, please send me email or post comments on my blog.

Comment #52684

Posted by Matthew Cromer on October 19, 2005 4:15 PM (e)

Quite possibly because Sheldrake is not a skeptic - Sheldrake is, by all accounts, a crack-pot

Do you think calling people names is science? Wiseman was the skeptic I referenced, who replicated Sheldrake’s data despite his own preferences.

If you want to have a discussion on this topic, feel free to visit my blog – I actually publish well-argued articles by skeptics (gasp!) and the discussion is often quite informative.

Or you can just choose to hang out in echo chambers where everyone already knows that psi is bogus, there is no evidence, it’s all pseudoscience crackpots delusions nutters yadda, yadda, yadda. Of course that’s a faith-based approach to knowlege, not science.

Science is supposed to be about investigation of reality, finding out the truth, and challenging incorrect beliefs. Instead the taboo holds.

Here is Sheldrake from a debate with Lewis Wolpert on Telepathy:

I noticed when the parrot film was showing Lewis wasn’t looking at it… He said “telepathy is just junk, there is no evidence whatsoever for any person, place, or thing to be telepathic.” The filmmakers were surprised that he hadn’t actually asked to see the evidence before he commented on it. I think this is rather like the Cardinal Bellamine and people not wanting to look through Galileo’s telescope. I think we have a level here of just not wanting to know – which is not real science, I’m sorry to have to say it Lewis.

How do you argue with that? Wolpert didn’t even need to listen to the evidence, he already knew it was “just garbage” without listening to it.

That is exactly what the institution of science has become. A reductionist, materialist religion that thinks it knows the truth and has no interest in challenging its assumptions. Time to wake up.

Comment #52690

Posted by Flint on October 19, 2005 4:41 PM (e)

Hmm, still no comment about actual real-world casino results. Instead, we get a bunch of “read AnswersInPsi” where we abolish the taboo against rejecting what has been discredited, so that we can rationalize our beliefs.

(I read an interesting observation about statistical conclusions, concerning the 5% cutoff. In other words, statistically something had to have no more than a 5% chance of happening by sampling error to be published. But this means that up to 5% of all published results might have happened at random. Now, let’s say you believe in psi, and let’s say your “evidence” is necessarily statistical. Do a study 100 times, and by golly, five of those will find statistical significance. Now put those five (and no others, and no mention of all the studies that did NOT find significance) on your blog, point to them, and say “Explain THAT!”

This is the casino issue in miniature. Like collecting only those who win, and saying “Look, ALL these people defied the odds. Explain THAT!” Meanwhile the casino banks a predicted percentage day after day.)

Comment #52692

Posted by sir_toejam on October 19, 2005 4:49 PM (e)

Of course the evidence is there. Just like the evidence is there for evolution which the fundamentalist Christians reject.

lol. didn’t you tell us you thought evolutionary theory was “weak” as there was little or no evidence to support it, that’s why you didn’t accept it?

If you want to be a good target, don’t move around so much!

Comment #52701

Posted by qetzal on October 19, 2005 5:24 PM (e)

Brian Spitzer wrote:

I think that Dr. Scott’s position on this is legitimate— although, qetzal, I agree that we’re in risky territory. However, I think that the issues you raise can be skirted, if the statement is worded carefully.

Yes, that’s probably true, and I agree you can frame it as a legitimate correction of a common misconception. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Speaking rhetorically, why would we consider making such statements in science class? It’s certainly not the place for comparative religious discussions in general. The only real argument for making such statements in science class is to overcome religious objections to the theory of evolution.

But it’s a very poor way to do so. As Flint points out, there’s a great risk of getting sidetracked into irrelevant and inappropriate religious discussions (cf Don P’s comment #52665).

Even if that doesn’t happen, it sets a terrible precedent. It suggests that students should accept (or at least learn) evolution because it can co-exist with some religions. I can hardly think of a more dangerous message to convey in science class.

Flint has it right, I think. Teachers should be trained to respond to such questions in a way that keeps the focus on the science, without belittling or dismissing anyone’s religious concerns.

BTW - thanks, Flint, for making those points much more clearly than I originally did.

Comment #52702

Posted by Donald M on October 19, 2005 5:27 PM (e)

Flint comments:

Not necessarily. After all, this isn’t the issue here. The issue is, what does the evidence actually indicate, where did that evidence come from, how is it evaluated and tested. Whether or not any given religious belief is based on evidence belongs quite clearly and strictly in a class on religions. What evidence supports a given scientific theory belongs in a science class. The focus MUST remain on the scientific theory, not the religious objections.

Without disagreeing with you in principle, I can still envision a couple of scenarios where the lines just aren’t so clear. Let’s say a biology teacher is following Ms Scott’s advice here: “…one teacher presented students with a short quiz wherein they were asked, “Which statement was made by the Pope?” or “which statement was made by an Episcopal Bishop?” and given an “a, b, c” multiple choice selection. All the statements from theologians, of course, stressed the compatibility of theology with the science of evolution. This generated discussion about what evolution was versus what students thought it was. By making the students aware of the diversity of opinion towards evolution extant in Christian theology, the teacher helped them understand that they didn’t have to make a choice between evolution and religious faith.”

Now the teacher assigns the Chapter on evolution in their Biology textbook, which is the popular Miller-Levine text. The student reads “it is important to keep this concept in mind: Evolution is random and undirected” (emphasis in the original),(“K. Miller and J. Levine, Biology, 5th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2000 pg 658) and “It is important to remember that genetic variation is not controlled or directed toward a goal” (pg 299). (In earlier editions, now removed, Miller and Levine wrote that “evolution works without plan or purpose”.) Having read this in her homework assignment, the student asks “Teacher, at the beginning of the semester, you told us that evolution isn’t incompatible with my Christian faith. Well, my faith teaches that all things were made by God for a purpose. But, the authors of our Biology text say something quite different. Teacher, what scientific evidence is there to support their claim and how is that not incompatible with some of what my Christian faith teaches? And while we’re on the subject, teacher, is there scientific evidence that none of what we observe in biology represents actual design?”

Now the teacher has a problem. Having taken Scott’s advice and opened the Pandora’s box, she is now confronted with a bold counter example right from the textbook.

Flint continues

That’s exactly my point. Religious questions do not belong in science classes. Instead, I was envisioning inappropriate nonscienfic questions about religion being used as an opportunity to change the subject back to science, without seeming either to reject any particular faith or treat that faith as though it were scientific.

Would you consider the students questions I mentioned above as nonscientific questions about religion? Why or why not? If you do, then what about the statements in the textbook? What would you advise a teacher to do in this instance? (remember: the teacher opened the can of worms in the first place, based on reading Ms. Scott’s essay on how to discuss religion in her science class.)

I think teacher’s following Ms. Scott’s advice are in for a peck-o-trouble.

Comment #52711

Posted by CJ O'Brien on October 19, 2005 6:07 PM (e)

It was a simpler time (back when we thought Edwards was going to be the last word), but I’d like to share the approach my high school Biology teacher took toward the issue. (This is in Lawrence KS in 1987 [now that I think about it that was the year of Edwards, wasn’t it?] –the teacher was Stan Roth, for those, like Jack Krebs? who might recognize the name.)

He said (roughly)
Class, we are about to begin a six-week unit on Mendelian Genetics and Evolution. These are central concepts in the study of life, and you can’t really understand biology without them. However, there are those in this state and across the country who believe that I should be required to present you with an “alternative account” of how life, the universe, and everything came to be as it is…
*proceeds, without further introduction, to read the Hopi creation myth*
That’s my favorite.
*smiles. proceeds to teach evolution*
Thoughts?

Comment #52717

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 19, 2005 6:14 PM (e)

Mr. Krebs (or anyone else who agree’s with Dr. Scott’s position), please tell my why you think my concerns are unfounded, or why you think the benefits of making such statements in science class outweigh the detriments.

With respect, Dr Scott doesn’t speak on behalf of all scientists, whether I agree with her statement or not.

Donald would like us to think she DOES.

Donald is full of cow crap.

Deliberately so, I think (having seen lots of Donald’s dances before).

Comment #52718

Posted by sir_toejam on October 19, 2005 6:14 PM (e)

yeah, if the fundies get their way, that teacher would be subject to reprimand just as readily as one who wouldn’t read the statement to begin with. and you know why.

Comment #52720

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 19, 2005 6:19 PM (e)

Don’t BS us, Donald.

Oh, and I’m still waiting for you to tell me how anyone else can know any more about God than anyone else does.

Perhaps you should take your “BS” complaint to Ms Scott, since she’s the one advising teachers on how to talk about religion in the science class.

Dr Scott does not speak on behalf of all scientists, DOnlad. And your attempt to imply that she DOES, or that all (or even most) scientists agree with her, is BS. Deliberate, calculated, dishonest BS.

The kind I long ago learned to expect from ID/creationists.

As to your second sentence, you’ve got it exactly backwards. You’re the one who needs to answer the questions I put to you and not vice-versa. But as that was another thread, there’s no point resurrecting it here.

I don’t blame you, Donald. *I* sure wouldn’t want to state on a public blog, in front of the whoel world, that I think I know more about God than anyone else does because God talks to me and tells me.

People might think I was … well … nutty.

Comment #52721

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 19, 2005 6:22 PM (e)

Speaking rhetorically, why would we consider making such statements in science class? It’s certainly not the place for comparative religious discussions in general. The only real argument for making such statements in science class is to overcome religious objections to the theory of evolution.

And I don’t think science should be in the business of reconciling religion and science. That’s what we pay theologians and ministers to do. Science teachers get paid to teach science.

Comment #52726

Posted by Leigh Jackson on October 19, 2005 6:37 PM (e)

Is theistic meteorology compatible with naturalistic meteorology?

If I fully accept the scientific account of how hurricanes arise with the one proviso that the causes might appear to be natural, but in fact are guided by God, am I not contradicting the whole point of the scientific account?

Hurricanes used to be explained as being the wrath of God, before the concept of nature and the method of science existed. Is not theistic meteorology a contradiction in terms?

Comment #52730

Posted by Leigh Jackson on October 19, 2005 6:42 PM (e)

…and if it is not a contradiction then why should I not be allowed to say that Katrina and AIDS and all the afflictions of humanity are not the punishments of God?

Comment #52738

Posted by sir_toejam on October 19, 2005 7:08 PM (e)

am I not contradicting the whole point of the scientific account?

both the point and the purpose, to be sure.

Comment #52750

Posted by Flint on October 19, 2005 8:14 PM (e)

Donald M:

It strikes me that you are looking for a pure strategy in this game, and I doubt one can exist. For better or worse, the fact is that SOME religious doctrines do indeed make claims testable through the observation of evidence, and such claims run the risk of conflicting with the evidence and failing the tests. If Scott is saying this is not so, Scott needs to brush up on her religious doctrines a bit. It is just plain true that ANY religion that makes ANY testable claim bears this risk.

Now, what response can anyone possibly give when this happens? Should the teacher deny the evidence? Should the teacher reject the religious doctrine on the basis of evidence? If the teacher uses the general approach of “these are the facts on the ground, and here are the best current explanations for them, as science requires” is the student’s faith being undermined? How can the teacher best get across the essential point you focus your concern on: that the assumption of evolution as having no “overall goal” best explains the observations and leads to the most accurate predictions, while the projection of teleological views onto the evidence produces lousy predictions?

So I think any teacher should make this point at least once as required, and make it strongly: ANY religious doctrine that makes testable statements about the physical universe is ipso facto trespassing on scientific territory and runs the same scientific risk as any OTHER such statement, of being falsified by the evidence. And if your personal faith requires belief contrary to observation and evidence, this is YOUR problem and not a problem with either science or religion. At least not *necessarily* a problem with religion, because many faiths are careful not to insist on falsifiable claims.

Personally, I don’t like Scott’s approach, because I think it’s asking for trouble. To me, it implies that there are two classes of religions; neutral (read:useless) and stupid. And science only conflicts with the stupid religions. If yours is of the useless persuasion, you enjoy no benefits but at least suffer no conflicts. And in my opinion, faiths are perceived by those who hold them as being powerfully beneficial. Those that do not insist on the literal truth of arrant nonsense are fortunate that their faith did not choose to pick a fight with reality. Faiths that DO pick that fight will cripple their followers regardless of what Scott says or how science teachers teach.

So I prefer the approach Kurt Wise the Creationist recommends: tell the students to learn the lessons and pass the tests. There is no requirement that you *believe* anything you are taught, only that you understand it.

Comment #52760

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 19, 2005 8:45 PM (e)

…and if it is not a contradiction then why should I not be allowed to say that Katrina and AIDS and all the afflictions of humanity are not the punishments of God?

You ARE perfectly allowed to say that, and to preach it from any pulpit in any church anywhere in the United States of America.

What you are NOT allowed to do is claim that it is “science” and belongs in science classrooms or textbooks.

Comment #52766

Posted by Don P on October 19, 2005 9:02 PM (e)

Flint:

ANY religious doctrine that makes testable statements about the physical universe is ipso facto trespassing on scientific territory

Sorry, but the claim that religion is “trespassing” when it makes claims about the natural world is not a scientific claim, it’s a theological or philosophical one, and it does not belong in a public school science class. It’s essentially an expression of the NOMA position that the vast majority of scientists do not seem to accept.

Comment #52772

Posted by RBH on October 19, 2005 9:30 PM (e)

Cromer wrote

Radin (1997) documents variations in lottery and gaming payout rates due to GMF fluctuations. And certainly some stock pickers have experienced remarkable success which may (or may not) be due to psi-like “gut feelings”.

Years ago I critically reviewed a paper by Radin in which he claimed to have shown that sensitives could ‘read’ the state of the memory of a distant computer. (I may still have a copy laying around here somewhere, even after three office moves.) Examined carefully, Radin’s work was a massive exercise in data selection, optional stopping rules, and mis-used statistics. I thereafter occasionally used it in classes as an exercise for experimental design and stats students. Mostly they caught all the errors.

RBH

Comment #52780

Posted by Steve S on October 19, 2005 10:00 PM (e)

Speaking of Casey, he’s got some more crap up at Evolve “News”. Still no fixed Trackbacks.

Comment #52781

Posted by K.E. on October 19, 2005 10:02 PM (e)

Flint said

So I prefer the approach Kurt Wise the Creationist recommends: tell the students to learn the lessons and pass the tests. There is no requirement that you *believe* anything you are taught, only that you understand it.

This is the most sensible thing I have seen in a week.
Everyone is off the hook no further discussion required in the science class about what one “believes” just understand it. Science = understanding, God = belief and in science class we only do understanding NOT belief.

I never liked that word belief anyway and they can have trust, faith and truth as well …hey they owned them before science came along so they can have em back there’s plenty others! I hope they are satisfied with that because we could run out of few words we need but for the sake of peace whats a word here and there.

Why isn’t he running the DI ?
Oh that’s right its a diabolical conspiracy
How does the DI insult Wise etc I wonder… pragmatic wordists?

Comment #52785

Posted by Donald M on October 19, 2005 10:24 PM (e)

Lenny bombasts:

I don’t blame you, Donald. *I* sure wouldn’t want to state on a public blog, in front of the whoel world, that I think I know more about God than anyone else does because God talks to me and tells me.

People might think I was … well… nutty.

Have no fear, Lenny. People do think you’re nutty. Especially since you and not I have indeed have gone on a public blog (this one) and stated that you apparently know more about God than anyone else. (You recall, your as yet unsubstantiated claim that no one alive knows any more about God than anyone else…or was it, everyone knows zero about God…or was it no one can demonstrate that they know anything about God…it was really difficult to say, since you kept changing your claim) It’s there for all to see how you avoid any responsibility for your own bogus claim and then try to dodge defending it and pretend it was someone else (in this case me) who made the claim. But, this is your usual modus operandi when you’ve been caught in your own bad logic and “arguments”. Every post you make is either a red herring, a straw man, an ad hominem, a violation of the law of non-contradiction or a circular argument. There’s no reason to take you seriously about anything. You are simply intellectually dishonest. And you are a waste of time. You can hand wave away, make any false claim about me or anyone else you wish. You’re simply not worth responding to anymore.

Furthermore, I never ever made the claim you are desparately trying to imply I made, and you know it. In plain language, you are deliberatly being deceptive.

So, at the risk of bruising your tender ego, I simply see no reason to engage or respond to your non-sense (and that’s all it is) anymore.

Comment #52786

Posted by Donald M on October 19, 2005 10:32 PM (e)

Flint writes:

Personally, I don’t like Scott’s approach, because I think it’s asking for trouble.

Then, I think we agree. Note my last comment above: “I think teacher’s following Ms. Scott’s advice are in for a peck-o-trouble.”

Comment #52790

Posted by Donald M on October 19, 2005 10:44 PM (e)

I wrote:

Perhaps you should take your “BS” complaint to Ms Scott, since she’s the one advising teachers on how to talk about religion in the science class.

Which Lenny deliberately misinterprets thusly:

Dr Scott does not speak on behalf of all scientists, DOnlad. And your attempt to imply that she DOES, or that all (or even most) scientists agree with her, is BS. Deliberate, calculated, dishonest BS.

The kind I long ago learned to expect from ID/creationists.

Lest there be any doubt why I think Lenny is a waste of time. Lenny’s vigorous hand waving is simply not enough to get from my actual comment to his deliberate mis-characterization of it.

Comment #52791

Posted by sir_toejam on October 19, 2005 10:51 PM (e)

be careful donald, you’re many uses of lenny’s ™ colloqualisms and phrases like “hand waving” make it seem as tho he has you under his thumb.

how exactly did lenny misinterpret your statement?

when you say scott is “the one”? seems like he correctly interpreted that to mean you thought scott was the lone scientist advising the rest of us on how to teach science. perhaps you should be more clear with what you mean then? er, what WAS your point, anyway. I can’t figure it out even re-reading your statement several times.

Comment #52826

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 20, 2005 7:03 AM (e)

Furthermore, I never ever made the claim you are desparately trying to imply I made, and you know it.

Don’t BS me, Donald.

Comment #52835

Posted by Flint on October 20, 2005 8:55 AM (e)

Don P:

Don P wrote:

Sorry, but the claim that religion is “trespassing” when it makes claims about the natural world is not a scientific claim, it’s a theological or philosophical one, and it does not belong in a public school science class. It’s essentially an expression of the NOMA position that the vast majority of scientists do not seem to accept.

I don’t think you read my post very carefully. I didn’t intend this statement as a policy position, but rather as a general observation of why science and religion sometimes come into conflict. Science has by implication claimed as its territory any aspects of the physical universe that can be investigated through observation and test. Or (if you prefer) any statement about the universe that is subject to falsification. Any testable statement runs the risk of being demonstrated to be wrong on the merits.

And this leads to problems when religions make statements of this sort, because it means that religions are making falsifiable claims, which just might turn out to be false on the merits. So the explanation I’m offering isn’t intended to be presented as a philosophical position in 9th grade science class, but rather intended as an explanation to Donald M of why such conflicts can’t be avoided by any tactics however clever. Science WILL investigate anything it CAN investigate, and if religion has trespassed into that territory, we run the risk of conflicting truth claims, one based on evidence and the other on doctrine. Can’t be avoided, UNLESS religion repositions the claim somehow.

I regard Scott’s approach as being a variation on “teach the controversy” - take time out in science class to explain that since SOME religions find no conflict, therefore the conflict isn’t inherent in religion per se, but rather an artifact of specific misguided doctrines of some particular faiths. And I don’t think this approach is helpful. That’s why I prefer Kurt Wise’s approach, which summarizes succinctly as “you’re free to remain stupid, but not ignorant.”

Comment #52844

Posted by K.E. on October 20, 2005 10:31 AM (e)

I’m not actual sure where to put this as it is the second (and last) post
It is relavent to this part of the thread


Australian scientists are fighting back.

They’re producing an open letter that unequivocally states Intelligent Design is not science and must not be taught in science classrooms.

The open letter, signed by a host of Australian scientists and science educators, will appear in national newspapers tomorrow.

http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1486827.…

Comment #52868

Posted by Steve S on October 20, 2005 12:28 PM (e)

Got a bland reply back from the Information Theory Society

Dear Mr. Story
The IEEE Information Theory Society serves our members in several ways
- mainly through our journal, conferences, newsletter and website. Our
hallmark is peer review - we would welcome the submission of scientific
papers from Mr. Dembski or yourself to our journal or conferences.

Best regards
Steve McLaughlin
President, IEEE Information Theory Society, 2005

Comment #52869

Posted by Don P on October 20, 2005 12:42 PM (e)

Flint:

I don’t think you read my post very carefully. I didn’t intend this statement as a policy position, but rather as a general observation of why science and religion sometimes come into conflict.

I did read your post carefully. You said: “So I think any teacher should make this point at least once as required, and make it strongly: ANY religious doctrine that makes testable statements about the physical universe is ipso facto trespassing on scientific territory”

If you did not mean that you think teachers should make that point, you shouldn’t have said “I think any teacher should make this point…”

As I said, your claim that religion is “trespassing” when it makes claims that can be tested using the methods of science is not a scientific claim, it’s a philosophical or theological one, and it has no place in a science class.

Comment #52908

Posted by sir_toejam on October 20, 2005 4:16 PM (e)

@Steve

*sigh* pretty much what i expected; sorry. nice try tho.

Comment #52921

Posted by Leigh Jackson on October 20, 2005 4:51 PM (e)

Lenny wrote:

You ARE perfectly allowed to say that, and to preach it from any pulpit in any church anywhere in the United States of America.

What you are NOT allowed to do is claim that it is “science” and belongs in science classrooms or textbooks.

True Lenny, but the real point is that if theistic science is compatible with naturalistic science and not a contradiction of it, then there can be no reason for objecting to them being taught alongide one another in science class.

The reason that this is absurd is because, of course, theistic science is a scientific oxymoron.

How can saying that natural afflictions are God’s punishments possibly be compatible with science?

Yet this would be logically permitted if theological add-ons had no contradictory effect upon scientific explanations.

The reason that theological “science” must be kept out of naturalistic science class is because they are not logically compatible.

Comment #52944

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 20, 2005 6:16 PM (e)

True Lenny, but the real point is that if theistic science is compatible with naturalistic science and not a contradiction of it, then there can be no reason for objecting to them being taught alongide one another in science class.

Of COURSE there is —- the best reason of all. It’s illegal.

Science is science. Science is not religion.

Religion is religion. Religion is not science.

Comment #52961

Posted by Leigh Jackson on October 20, 2005 7:05 PM (e)

“Of COURSE there is —— the best reason of all. It’s illegal.”

Ha, silly of me. How right you are. Thank God for the constitution!

Comment #52970

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 20, 2005 8:30 PM (e)

Thank God for the constitution!

Indeed. It, and it alone, is preventing the US from degenerating into full-fledged theocracy. Despite all our collective cackling about “science education” and “educating the public”, it is a handful of lawyers in Pennsylvania, and nothing else, that will kill ID dead. Thanks to that Constitution.

And if the Supreme Court ever decides to abandon the Constitution and open the door for theocracy, then I think that we, as citizens, have not only the right but the obligation to do whatever becomes necessary to restore democracy and the rule of constitutional law.

Comment #82213

Posted by Leigh Jackson on February 25, 2006 8:34 PM (e)

Lenny wrote:

Science is science. Science is not religion.

Religion is religion. Religion is not science.

Absolutely! And religious science is just a nonsense: theistic evolution indeed.