PvM posted Entry 1633 on November 1, 2005 10:50 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1628

On the ACLU Pennsylvania Blog “Speaking Freely” I noticed an interesting posting on ID around the world.

In Australia minister Lynne Kosky ruled that “Victoria’s government schools will treat intelligent design as a religious faith, not science,”

And remember the much hailed ID conference in the Czech republic?

Hundreds of supporters of “intelligent design” theory gathered in Prague in the first such conference in Eastern Europe, but Czech scholars boycotted the event insisting it had no scientific credence.”

Vaclav Paces, chair of the Czech Academy of Sciences, called the conference “useless.”

“The fact that we cannot yet explain the origin of life on Earth does not mean that there is [a] God who created it,” Paces was quoted as telling the Czech news agency CTK.

Scientists gather to talk about intelligent design
(The Manila Times, Czech Republic, 10/26/05)

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Comment #54736

Posted by Marek14 on November 2, 2005 3:40 AM (e)

I live in Czech Republic. There was quite a good article in the newspapers on Saturday which took the “I can’t really understand how anyone can believe ID” approach.

Comment #54738

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 3:59 AM (e)

“The fact that we cannot yet explain the origin of life on Earth does not mean that there is [a] God who created it,”

That’s true, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with the issue, which isn’t about either the origin of life on Earth or whether there is a God.

Comment #54740

Posted by Fernmonkey on November 2, 2005 4:13 AM (e)

Marek14: I used the ID articles in the Prague Post as teaching material for one of my students. She can’t see it ever catching on in this country, because most Czechs really mistrust supernatural mystical explanations for things, and I have to say I agree with her.

I rather regret that I was having a fun and deeply self-indulgent weekend in the Netherlands with my husband at the time of the conference, because it might have been worth going to the conference and reporting back to PT, although 650 kc is a lot of money to listen to creationists.

Comment #54741

Posted by outeast on November 2, 2005 4:24 AM (e)

I live in the Czech Republic, too - but I knew nothing of this conference until this post. A quick search throws up a predictably poor article from the Prague Post(http://www.praguepost.com/P03/2005/Art/1020/news7.php) but on the whole it doesn’t seem to have ‘stirred up much controversy’. Czechs seem to tend towards cynicism rather than fundamentalism on the whole.

Comment #54789

Posted by Antiquated Tory on November 2, 2005 12:58 PM (e)

Yes, the Prague Post is fairly crap in its coverage of things (so, there’s another one of us out here!). I have no idea who this ‘electrician’ is who goes around lecturing about ID in Czech high schools (presumably secondary schools). The Czechs are well into degrees and titles; I have a hard time believing ANY Czech school would let an unqualified technical worker lecture a science class.
Mister Doctor Docent Professor Paces clearly doesn’t actually know what ID is about, as morbius spotted. It is just as obvious that he doesn’t *care*; that he considers finding out more about the subject to be a waste of time.
I think Flegr’s attitude is much more typically Czech:

Prague Post wrote:

However, Jaroslav Flegr, a lecturer at the Natural Sciences Faculty of Charles University, says he knows of no scientific support for Intelligent Design, which he describes as either an attempt to provide people with false information or the result of ignorance of evolutionary biology. “But it is good business — books on the subject sell 10 times more than scientific books,” Flegr adds.

Also, Marek, I’ll have to try to track down a surviving copy of the Saturday papers. Maybe Respekt will have something on it–or maybe the next Zeleny Raul.
(pardon the in joke)

Comment #54802

Posted by Tent O Field on November 2, 2005 1:57 PM (e)

Lynne Kosky is the Victorian Minister for Education and Training. The Victorian State Government is politically opposed to the Federal Government. The Federal Minister for Education, Brendon Nelson, sees no reason why ID should not be taught in schools if the parents want it. He did not go so far as to say that it should be in science classes but he left that open. After the last election, the religious right has gained a good foothold in the Federal Government and is looking at doing the same in the States. ID has not made much of an impact on Australia so far but I fear that will soon change.

Comment #54823

Posted by JS on November 2, 2005 3:58 PM (e)

There’s recently been an upsurge in media attention for IDiocy in Denmark, sparked by the Kitzmiller trial. We’ve always had a full-blown creationut fringe (nothing new or dangerous, just bad translations of AiG propaganda - but sufficiently densely packed to establish that they are lying on purpose, not just making clerical errors), but our Ministry of Education has so far done a sterling job of unleashing all the daemons of Hell upon the poor fools who tried to sneak it under the radar into our educational mainstream.

This time, though they’ve made an out-and-out assault on our school system: Teach the Controversy, watchmaker analogies, Flood geology, it’s there lock, stock, and pocketwatch. I hope it’ll backfire on them: Right now the majority of Danes think they are just cute barbarians, and I hope we can contain them before they disseminate their lies far enough to become a major hassle.

On a positive note, though, we’ve finally got a Minister of Education with a backbone: He’s gone on a virtual spree when it comes to closing substandard schools. So far he’s fragged (IIRC) 3 christian fundie, 1 scientology, and 2 muslim fundie schools. Which is more than the past five or six Ministers of Education put together.

If we manage to contain the IDiots and creationuts, then Mr. Haarder’s got an excellent pretext for cracking down hard on the lunatic fringe in our education system.

- JS

Comment #54841

Posted by AV on November 2, 2005 5:58 PM (e)

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Backing for intelligent design

Date: October 28 2005

By Shane Green

The headmaster of The King’s School has thrown his support behind the discussion of the contentious theory of intelligent design in the nation’s secondary schools.

Tim Hawkes has warned against gagging debate in schools on the theory, which argues that gaps in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution point to an “intelligent designer” of life.

Dr Hawkes has reviewed a DVD on intelligent design for the Campus Crusade for Christ, which is planning to distribute thousands of copies to Australian secondary schools in the next few months. In his review, Dr Hawkes says educators should not fear using the DVD, called Unlocking the Mystery of Life, which he says has a “legitimate case to put to students, and indeed, to humankind”.

“There are undeniable weaknesses within Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and these must be acknowledged honestly,” he writes. “Failure to do so would mean an abrogation of our responsibility as educators.”

Dr Hawkes says that without necessarily pushing any particular religion, it is “quite legitimate to challenge students to think through the implications of there being a ‘grand architect’ of the universe”. He argues that how the DVD is used should be the exclusive preserve of the principal and teachers. But he says it would be a shame if the DVD was “forever shackled” within religious education faculty, arguing it should be used within the science faculty and others that explored theory and scientific assumptions.

Dr Hawkes warned that distribution by Christian groups might compromise its acceptance, and said there should be a “totally transparent revelation” of those behind the making of the DVD.

The King’s School, Australia’s oldest independent school, is Anglican and widely regarded as the nation’s most prestigious.

Dr Hawkes’s entry into the debate coincides with a push by a
coalition representing 70,000 scientists and science teachers to prevent the teaching of intelligent design in science classes. In an open letter last week, they likened it to teaching the flat earth theory.

“Of all places, schools should be allowed to explore ideas and theories,” Dr Hawkes said yesterday. “If we’re all of a sudden going to get precious and say, ‘Well, hang on, exploring this theory, this suggestion, is not to be allowed’, then in fact I think we are being dishonest as educators.”

Dr Hawkes supported the use of the DVD at his school, but said it would only be shown to senior students because of the concepts and language it used.

Bill Hodgson, head of Campus Crusade for Christ, said educators should “form their own opinion with first-hand assessment, rather than being told what to think by those who in many cases haven’t even seen the DVD”.

See also: http://dailyflute.com/?p=878

Comment #54878

Posted by dillan on November 2, 2005 9:04 PM (e)

Did anyone here actually go to the Prague Conference? Or, did anyone read the proceedings or transcripts? By my lights it is impossible to say that it was all just bunk if no one actually knows the material presented. Now, from the familiar faces (i.e. Wells and Meyer) there was probably a reiteration of the same (and sometimes fallacious) logic. However, what do we know about Berlinski’s presentation? The origin of protein and DNA from an RNA world is certainly interesting, and is largely an open question. Much is still unknown in regard to this evolutionary transition. What do we know about Oxford mathematician John Lennox’s presentation? He may have something interesting to say on the explanatory power of design, or if not interesting, then at least something new.

Did anyone attend? Can anyone give a good summary of Berlinski’s and Lennox’s ideas?

Comment #54881

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 9:14 PM (e)

By my lights it is impossible to say that it was all just bunk if no one actually knows the material presented.

Is the same true of a Flat Earth Society conference?

Can anyone give a good summary of Berlinski’s and Lennox’s ideas?

By inductive inference we can expect that they argued that goddidit.

Comment #54888

Posted by dillan on November 2, 2005 9:57 PM (e)

Berlinski is an agnostic and does not in the least support intelligent design. I’m not sure aobut Lennox. What I do know is that Berlinski gave a topic over a real issue–the origin of RNA, the genetic code and translation apparatus–and that it is simply stupid to throw his argument out of court before even knowing what the argument is. Perhaps you, morbius, can show me the holes in his argument? While your at it, you can show me how Lennox was wrong as well, right? The Flat Earth equivocation will not due. I want a definite rebuttal to these issues that these authors raise. Again, if no one is prepared to even summarize Berlinski’s position, why in the world do you think he is wrong? He could very well be right. Or is it unthinkable to be critical of anything, especially the de novo origin of the RNA world? In that case, then you must accuse Robert Shapiro, Harold Morowitz, Christian de Duve, and Leslie Orgel of Berlinski’s fallacy of providing critical commentaries. Is anyone actually prepared to rebut what Lennox and Berlinski said?

Comment #54889

Posted by rampancy on November 2, 2005 9:57 PM (e)

Funny that AV brings up an article mentioning the group Campus Crusade for Christ; apparently, just like the CRSC/CRC, Campus Crusade for Christ has now changed its name to “Campus for Christ” (C4C), in order to get rid of the apparently bad connotation linked to the word “crusade”.

As expected, they still have largely the same “We’re going to claim this university for ourselves (and all other religions will burn)”-rhetoric as before.

Comment #54907

Posted by outeast on November 3, 2005 4:26 AM (e)

dillan:

Is I said, I didn’t go. However, there seems to be some difficulty in establishing exactly what was presented (and by whom); one website (www.arn.org) which plugged the conference, for example, listed the speakers as Stephen C. Meyer (USA), Jonathan Wells (USA), Charles Thaxton (USA), David Berlinski (France), John C. Lennox (UK), Cees Dekker (The Netherlands), and Dalibor Krupka (Slovakia). It also claimed that ‘the five main speakers (Meyer, Wells, Thaxton, Berlinski, and Lennox) had provided written summaries in advance that were available in English and Czech.’ Unfortunately, these summaries do not appear on the conference website (www.darwinanddesign.org) - several articles are available by most of the speakers, but alas there is nothing from Lennox. The speaker list differs there, too, and does not include Berlinsky.

This having been said, I’ve been trawling the Web for something about Lennox’s position in all this; as a pure mathematician, of course, he is not necessarily qualified to lecture on biology, but I thought it probable that he would be turning to theories and hypotheses in his own field to support his (orthodox Christian, incidentally) viewpoint. So far, all I have been able to turn up is an article entitled ‘Is the watchmaker really blind?’ (http://tinyurl.com/99cul).

I would like to be able to report that this contains something new, but a quick read reveals that (consistently with IDiots’ own beliefs) there is indeed ‘no new information’. He turns up all the old canards (no transitional fossils, no macroevolution, assumption that evolutionary theory can be gleaned in its entirety from a page of quotes from Darwin, etc.); he also uses - as one of his key sources - the evidence of the Bible (!). I will not critique his ‘case’ here since it would be a waste of time: read the article, and if you feel he has made a good case then get an education.

My favourite bit is his conclusion: ‘After all, “in the beginning was the Word”, not mere matter and energy. And the Word is not blind.’

PS If any of those living in Prague fancy a beer sometime…?

Comment #54908

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 4:54 AM (e)

Berlinski is an agnostic and does not in the least support intelligent design.

By recycling their arguments against evolution, he certainly does support them.

The Flat Earth equivocation will not due.

It will for bright people who can spell “do” and know what “equivocation” means.

He could very well be right.

And God could very well be meddling with biology. Many things could very well be. But bright people understand inductive inference and Occam’s Razor and the intellectual bankruptcy of demanding certainty in epistemology.

Is anyone actually prepared to rebut what Lennox and Berlinski said?

There is no reason why anyone should bother.

Comment #54910

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 4:57 AM (e)

outeast wrote:

if you feel he has made a good case then get an education

Damn that’s good.

Comment #54926

Posted by dillan on November 3, 2005 8:22 AM (e)

So what were the lessons learned thus far?

No one has actually attended the conference. No one knows what any of the speakers presented. And no one really cares. It would not have mattered what any of the participants would have said, because they are by default incorrect. Why was Berlinski incorrect? After all, he was speaking about a legit scientific topic–the origin of the RNA World, and life in general. People like Harlod Morowitz do not think life began with RNA, while people like Jim Ferris do. There is room for debate right now. But, according to you guys, who cares what Berlinski thinks? Same thing with Lennox. He wasn’t speaking about biology, but the mathematical intelligibility and explanatory power of design. But just because he dared to share the same stage as Steve Meyer he must be incorrect and plain stupid. I wasn’t there. I can’t say that either of them had anything interesting to say at all. But you certainly can’t say that they didn’t. Now, if there is someone from Prague who actually attended the conference that could give a summary, it would be helpful…

I especially like Morbius’ logic. It reminds me of a two year old in the middle of a tantrum that has closed his ears when his mother tells him the way things must be. It reminds me of literalist creationism as well. “The other guy is wrong because I know I am right and I don’t have to know what the other guy says, let alone show WHY he is wrong because, uh, I am right you see.” For all you know Lennox and Berlinski could have agreed with you.

Morbius, would you silence and dismiss Robert Shapiro, Leslie Orgel, and Gerald Joyce from critically commenting on the origin of life as well? Why then would you dismiss Berlinski without reading what he has to say? That is just stupid. You don’t know the first thing about anything he said.

I will ask again, does anyone actually know what Berlinski or Lennox presented at the conference? I am not asking for old articles like “The Deniable Darwin” or “The Blind Watchmaker”. I am asking for their actual presentations. Until you can summarize what they have presented, which you are quite unable to do, you cannot tell me that they were wrong. Why? Because you don’t know. Period. Case closed.

Comment #54938

Posted by Fernmonkey on November 3, 2005 10:11 AM (e)

Outeast: Sure, email me through the address here (that will also reach Antiquated Tory, who is my husband).

Comment #54949

Posted by Marek14 on November 3, 2005 11:07 AM (e)

[quote=outeast]PS If any of those living in Prague fancy a beer sometime…?[/quote]
Although it’s strange, I’m one of those Czechs who don’t drink beer. All the others are trying their best to keep the national average despite that, though. :)

Comment #55085

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 3, 2005 8:08 PM (e)

Did anyone at this big International ID Conference present any scientific theory of ID and tell us how to test it using the scientific method?

Why not?

Comment #55295

Posted by morbius on November 4, 2005 11:27 PM (e)

It must be hard, Dillan, to always be the dullest one in the room. No one cares what was presented at the conference because there’s no reason to care. Your position seems to be that we should care because it’s possible that, for the first time in history, someone at such a conference said something of value.

Morbius, would you silence and dismiss Robert Shapiro, Leslie Orgel, and Gerald Joyce from critically commenting on the origin of life as well?

In honor of WinAce:

http://users.rcn.com/rostmd/winace/pics/red_herring.jpg

Until you can summarize what they have presented, which you are quite unable to do, you cannot tell me that they were wrong. Why? Because you don’t know. Period. Case closed.

Uh, what case? I also can’t tell you that the guy down the street was wrong about whatever he said to his wife three days ago, but no one has offered any reason why I should care whether he was right or wrong.

Comment #55466

Posted by Orewan on November 6, 2005 10:23 PM (e)

Intelligent Design proposes only a “who” without any attempt to explain “how” or even “what.” The argument made by the school board’s lawyers that they want to foster critical thinking in students by showing different “viewpoints” is unfortunately lacking in critical thought. There is no critical thought to be had about Intelligent Design, since it really involves mere faith, consisting of a thin shell that cracks upon any level of scrutiny.