Timothy Sandefur posted Entry 1881 on January 4, 2006 05:44 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1876

Non-lawyer Joseph M. Knippenberg of the Ashbrook Center has posted this article attacking the Kitzmiller decision on the grounds that it represents “hostility” to religion. I’ve pointed out many times that this accusation of “hostility” is generally just a complaint by people who believe that their religious freedom entitles them to use the government for their religious purposes, which is not correct. Freedom only means that we have the right to do what we want on our own time and with our own money; it does not include the right to use other people’s money or infringe on other people’s rights. Religious freedom does not include your right to use the government’s school system to teach religion to people. When the court stops you from doing so, that is not “hostility,” despite Dr. Knippenberg’s claims to the contrary.

Knippenberg starts his post, understandably, by quoting the Dover ID disclaimer. But he then contends that since “the Board’s statement doesn’t explicitly mention, let alone endorse, religion,” it therefore cannot violate the Establishment Clause. Of course, this is the kind of argument-from-superficiality that the Supreme Court has rightly rejected time and time again. As the great Justice Stephen Field once put it,

what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly. The Constitution deals with substance, not shadows. Its inhibition was levelled at the thing, not the name. It intended that the rights of the citizen should be secure against deprivation...under any form, however disguised. If the inhibition can be evaded by the form of the enactment, its insertion in the fundamental law was a vain and futile proceeding.

Cummings v. Missouri, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 277, 325 (1866). In religion cases, the Court has been particularly keen on avoiding silly formalism, and has held that even a law that appears on its face to be religiously neutral, can violate the Establishment Clause if it discriminates in substance. “[T]he Establishment Clause extends beyond facial discrimination. The Clause “forbids subtle departures from neutrality,” and “covert suppression of particular religious beliefs....” [It] protects against governmental hostility which is masked, as well as overt.” Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 534 (1993) (citations omitted). Courts will therefore look behind a law to see if it is, in reality, enacted for unconstitutional reasons. In Hialeah, a law prohibiting the killing of animals in certain circumstances, which might have been seen as a legitimate public health law, was in fact a religiously motivated attempt to curtail religious animal sacrifice, and was unconstitutional. In Kitzmiller, Judge Jones found overwhelming evidence to support the conclusion that, like the law in Hialeah, the Dover ID policy was adopted for religious reasons despite whatever facial neutrality it might have.

Knippenberg acknowledges that “[o]ne’s sole purpose in enacting a piece of legislation or pursuing a policy cannot be to promote a purely religious point of view,” but complains that the Dover ID policy was not such an instance. There are secular reasons, he says, for adopting that policy, and therefore it ought to be upheld. Of course, this is not correct: the argument that species today are the product of a supernatural creation is a religious argument, no matter what it chooses to call itself. Knippenberg argues that the argument for design “is an argument from reason,” but of course it is not. Positing a supernatural cause is not an argument from reason, but an argument from faith, since it depends necessarily on an Entity which is beyond nature and beyond comprehension. Still, this is not relevant. The Constitution, after all, does not make a distinction between the state endorsing a religious viewpoint for “religious” reasons as opposed to endorsing a religious viewpoint for purportedly “rational” reasons. It makes it illegal for the government to engage in any act “respecting an establishment of religion.” That means, the government may not take any official position on the existence vel non of a godhead, whether that position is based on faith, loyalty, patriotism, algebra, indigestion, romantic longing, artistic inspiration, or political expediency. It is simply irrelevant for First Amendment purposes whether the ID disclaimer was supported by “a rational argument, in principle accessible to anyone who has reason.” The Constitution forbids the state from making such arguments, or any arguments, to students supporting the existence of God.

Then Knippenberg engages a straw man. The Kitzmiller case, he claims “mean[s] that one could not teach the history and philosophy of science as part of a high school science curriculum without running afoul of the First Amendment.” Of course, the decision makes no such claim. Schools are perfectly free, both before and after the decision, to teach students that people once believed that the origin of species was attributable to supernatural causes. They may even teach students that people still believe that the origin of species is attributable to supernatural causes. What they may not do is teach them that the origin of species is attributable to supernatural causes. This proposition is so clear, and has been restated so many times in the decisions on this subject, that it is discomfiting to run into it time and time again. See, e.g., Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, 593-94 (1987).

Knippenberg mischaracterizes Kitzmiller in an indefensible way:

This, then, is where Judge Jones would leave us: the fact that religious people agree with a rational argument is sufficient to make that argument religious and, consequently, to make it impermissible for a school board even to suggest it as an alternative to widely-held scientific orthodoxy. An argument that does not demand, but simply permits one to supply, a religious conclusion is religious and hence impermissible.

Only Phyllis Schlafly could have done a better job of misrepresenting what the case actually decided. Kitzmiller does not, in any way, suggest that religious people agreeing with a rational policy makes that rational policy into an impermissible religious viewpoint. Nothing like that happened in Dover. What Kitzmiller says is that there is no such thing as a scientific theory of Intelligent Design—a conclusion for which the trial judge describes a compelling amount of evidence; it is instead a religious viewpoint masquerading as science, and a religiously motivated school board sought to promulgate that viewpoint in government-run schools. This is unconstitutional, because the First Amendment prohibits the government from teaching that a religious viewpoint is true. If Dr. Knippenberg is going to accuse people of “disingenuousness,” perhaps he should ponder the beam in his own eye.

Not satisfied with blatantly mischaracterizing (or at least, misunderstanding) what the decision actually holds, Knippenberg proceeds to adopt the old ID canard that teaching science in a government school science classroom is somehow an establishment of religion. “We can establish and protect scientific orthodoxy, but not religious orthodoxy,” he complains. But there are two fundamental problems with this.

First, nobody objects to teaching genuine scientific controversies as such. The problem is that evolution is simply not a scientifically controversial matter, and teaching evolution as true is not “protecting” an “orthodoxy,” any more than teaching students that the earth orbits the sun, or that human babies are not delivered by a stork. If a school were to teach these “alternatives,” it might might very well be described as “unorthodox,” but these “theories” do not deserve any serious attention because they are not scientific theories; they are simply untrue. To bar them from the classroom isn’t censorship—it’s responsible science education.

Second, and most importantly, there is no constitutional prohibition on teaching what Knippenberg calls “scientific orthodoxy.” Government schools are free to teach a lot of things, including things that we might wish they wouldn’t teach. Such schools are even constitutionally allowed to lie to children. But what they are not allowed to do is to teach children that a religious viewpoint is true. Religion is simply off limits. Religion is treated differently by the Constitution than are anything else, for solid historical and political reasons.

Knippenberg’s mischaracterization of the decision, and his adoption of tired old fallacies (teaching science is establishment! it’s hostility to not let me use the government to teach my religion!) should suggest to us the tremendous vacuum that makes up the argument supporting ID.

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Comment #67693

Posted by improvius on January 4, 2006 6:25 PM (e)

Just out of curiosity - is there anyone at all out there who is basing their argument against the judge’s decision on the trial transcripts? I mean, that’s where you’d have to make any substantial complaint, right? You’d have to dig through the transcripts, and determine that the judge misinterpreted something, you know, from the actual trial. But so far, all I’ve seen are references to the ruling itself being supposedly incorrect, without any supporting evidence from the trial itself.

Comment #67696

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 4, 2006 6:56 PM (e)

tada!

Comment #67698

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 4, 2006 7:05 PM (e)

This horse is dead, folks.

The IDers can bitch and moan all they want. They had their day in court. They were able to present any evdience they wanted to, to trot out all the scientific experts they thought they needed, and to cross-examine the “evolutionists” and point out any errors or flaws they thought they saw.

They shot their load.

They lost.

I have no interest in their weeping.

It’s time for them to quit their damn whining and get used to it. (shrug)

Comment #67701

Posted by Eugene Lai on January 4, 2006 7:12 PM (e)

Just out of curiosity - is there anyone at all out there who is basing their argument against the judge’s decision on the trial transcripts? I mean, that’s where you’d have to make any substantial complaint, right? You’d have to dig through the transcripts, and determine that the judge misinterpreted something, you know, from the actual trial. But so far, all I’ve seen are references to the ruling itself being supposedly incorrect, without any supporting evidence from the trial itself.

But then you wouldn’t be “scary” any more!

Comment #67705

Posted by steve s on January 4, 2006 7:22 PM (e)

But Lenny, the ACLU had too many lawyers, it Wasn’t Fair, they’re SO MEAN!!!!!!!!1

AHAHAHAHAHA

Comment #67711

Posted by Troy Britain on January 4, 2006 7:31 PM (e)

Just out of curiosity - is there anyone at all out there who is basing their argument against the judge’s decision on the trial transcripts? I mean, that’s where you’d have to make any substantial complaint, right? You’d have to dig through the transcripts, and determine that the judge misinterpreted something, you know, from the actual trial. But so far, all I’ve seen are references to the ruling itself being supposedly incorrect, without any supporting evidence from the trial itself.

This relates to one of my motivations for starting the McLean vs. Arkansas Documentation Project.

Several times over the years I got into debates with creationists where the McLean trial came up and the creationist would imply that the trial had been unfair, or that the judge in the case had been biased.

So I thought the trial transcripts should settle the question (unfortunately it turned out getting the transcripts wasn’t so easy).

Comment #67713

Posted by Troy Britain on January 4, 2006 7:34 PM (e)

Dag nabit! the link to the McLean site didn’t take. Could one of you Thumbers put it in for me please?

http://www.antievolution.org/projects/mclean/new_site/index.htm

Feel free to delete this msg afterwards.

Comment #67714

Posted by Dr. Peter Paulinmary, Creationist on January 4, 2006 7:36 PM (e)

Sandefur

If a school were to teach these “alternatives,” it might might very well be described as “unorthodox,” but these “theories” do not deserve any serious attention because they are not scientific theories; they are simply untrue.

Ah, but just wait until you hear my “rational” argument for the earth-centered universe thory.

Then you’ll have to EAT your words, Mr. Sandefur, along with the other atheists.

Religious fanatics can be rational, too, you know. How do you think we figured out that junk DNA would have a function, just as predicted if an intelligent being designed the flagellum? You think we read that in the Bible?

No, it was our minds, even as you sit and scoff at it.

Perhaps if scientists spent less time in court and more time doing experiments they would discover that they can’t make life from a mixture of dirt and water. And then they would understand why the people in Dover needed a textbook that wasn’t filled with materialist lies.

Religion is treated differently by the Constitution than are anything else, for solid historical and political reasons.

Check the grammar.

Comment #67717

Posted by Flint on January 4, 2006 7:41 PM (e)

The arguments against the Dover decision are an eerie echo of the arguments against evolution. They both say: We know what’s right and what’s wrong before we start; these things are obvious to anyone of sincere faith. The arguments against evolution, as a whole, are arguments that we must somehow be misinterpreting the evidence. We already KNOW the answer; either the evidence supports that knowledge, or our interpretation of that evidence must be wrong. And the same with Kitzmiller - there certainly is no question of *whether* Jones got it wrong, we know he did ipso facto, because he decided for the wrong side. The only task remaining is to comb through the evidence/decision in search of just how the error could have been made.

I suppose Knippenberg could make the same claim as the creationists - “Look, I’m not a lawyer/biologist and maybe my understanding of the law/science is imperfect, but even the veriest dunce can see evolution/Kitzmiller is surely wrong *somehow*, provided that dunce isn’t a God-denying atheist.”

Comment #67727

Posted by improvius on January 4, 2006 8:37 PM (e)

And then they would understand why the people in Dover needed a textbook that wasn’t filled with materialist lies.

You can either provide at least 2 examples of lies in that particular textbook, or admit that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Comment #67732

Posted by Rich on January 4, 2006 9:13 PM (e)

“Dr. Peter Paulinmary, Creationist” - again I am unsure. Is this a parody post?

If so 8/10, arf arf arf. If not, er…

We’d love to entertain your “rational” argument for the earth-centered universe theory. Make sure you know what theory means, though. In the scientific sense, that is. If its really good, well help you submit it for peer review and you van really start to change people’s minds.

‘How do you think we figured out that junk DNA would have a function, just as predicted if an intelligent being designed the flagellum? You think we read that in the Bible?” – I like this stuff. What do you predict about men having nipples? You seem to be getting at ‘everything has a purpose’ – is that what you meant?

I for one am eager and open minded for your SCIENTIFIC theory. Get posting!

Comment #67734

Posted by Michael Rathbun, FCD on January 4, 2006 9:19 PM (e)

Knippenberg wrote:

This, then, is where Judge Jones would leave us: the fact that religious people agree with a rational argument is sufficient to make that argument religious and, consequently, to make it impermissible for a school board even to suggest it as an alternative to widely-held scientific orthodoxy. An argument that does not demand, but simply permits one to supply, a religious conclusion is religious and hence impermissible.

One is strongly inclined to return to the halcyon public-school days of “Our Miss Brooks”:

Osgood Conklin said:

What manner of bovine jest is this?

Comment #67738

Posted by Norman Doering on January 4, 2006 9:53 PM (e)

Dr. Peter Paulinmary wrote:

Religious fanatics can be rational, too, you know. How do you think we figured out that junk DNA would have a function…

Taken out of context, that’s a great joke all by itself.

But I have to ask, what function does junk DNA have?

Comment #67740

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 4, 2006 9:56 PM (e)

But I have to ask, what function does junk DNA have?

the debate appears to be still out on whether Dr. P is really a creationist or just a lame parody of one.

Comment #67741

Posted by rdog29 on January 4, 2006 9:57 PM (e)

Steve S and Lenny -

You guys got it all wrong. In reality, the IDiots carried the day in Dover, but that damn Commie Athiest Activist Judge Jones just couldn’t resist legislating from the bench!

I’ll bet ya that he didn’t even say “Merry Christmas” this past holiday, er, um , I mean Christmas season.

Comment #67742

Posted by Bing on January 4, 2006 9:58 PM (e)

Dr. Peter Paulinmary, Creationist

why don’t we See What Tomorrow Brings because it’s No Easy Walk to Freedom.

Comment #67744

Posted by Corkscrew on January 4, 2006 10:07 PM (e)

Peter Paulinmary wrote:

Perhaps if scientists spent less time in court and more time doing experiments they would discover that they can’t make life from a mixture of dirt and water. And then they would understand why the people in Dover needed a textbook that wasn’t filled with materialist lies.

Actually one of the guys over at ARN (not one of the IDers, needless to say) has been mucking about with that for some time. He’s been trying to vaguely approximate what the early earth would have looked like. So far the interesting conclusions are that not only does protein tend to stack up massively around beaches but, in the presence of hydrophobic molecules like lipids (he used oil) you tend to get little cell-like bubbles of protein forming with a hydrophobic shell.

Completely unrigorous but very cool - I think that this sort of hands-on science could be an excellent educational tool.

Comment #67750

Posted by steve s on January 4, 2006 10:30 PM (e)

yeah, phospholipids smooshed through the right sized holes will spontaneously form phospholipid bilayers. standard biophysics or biology technique. did it when i was studying single-molecule proteins with FRET.

Comment #67752

Posted by Red Right Hand on January 4, 2006 10:40 PM (e)

Troy:

Just checked out your McLean Project site. Fantastic! I’m stunned the courts are so sloppy preserving their trial records. I also sent you via email a Michael Ruse reference you may be able to use in your bibliography.

Excellent work!

Comment #67759

Posted by Alexey Merz on January 4, 2006 11:21 PM (e)

Corkscrew and Steve S, there’s some really remarkable work currently being done with replicating RNAs and liposomes.

The emergence of competition between model protocells.

Chen IA, Roberts RW, Szostak JW
Science. 2004, 305:1474-6

The transition from independent molecular entities to cellular structures with integrated behaviors was a crucial aspect of the origin of life. We show that simple physical principles can mediate a coordinated interaction between genome and compartment boundary, independent of any genomic functions beyond self-replication. RNA, encapsulated in fatty acid vesicles, exerts an osmotic pressure on the vesicle membrane that drives the uptake of additional membrane components, leading to membrane growth at the expense of relaxed vesicles, which shrink. Thus, more efficient RNA replication could cause faster cell growth, leading to the emergence of Darwinian evolution at the cellular level.

PDF available here.

Comment #67764

Posted by NJOsprey on January 5, 2006 12:07 AM (e)

Perhaps if scientists spent less time in court and more time doing experiments they would discover that they can’t make life from a mixture of dirt and water.”

It bears repeating…the theory of evolution is concerned with the how species evolved, not how life originated.

Comment #67773

Posted by Alexey Merz on January 5, 2006 1:09 AM (e)

NJOsprey,

while I agree that the TOE does not directly address the origins of life, it nevertheless has deep implications for many such theories. See the abstract that I posted directly above your most recent entry for an example from the current peer-reviewed literature.

Comment #67774

Posted by not in the least sarcastic on January 5, 2006 1:13 AM (e)

About the Ashbrook Center … Some of the world’s most noted political figures, including Ronald Reagan, Colin Powell, Margaret Thatcher, Dick Cheney, Benjamin Netanyahu, Henry Kissinger, and William J. Bennett have participated in the Center’s programs.

A nicely balanced group that indicates that the Ashbrook Center is sincerely interested in a search for truth.

Comment #67778

Posted by nah on January 5, 2006 1:19 AM (e)

while I agree that the TOE does not directly address the origins of life, it nevertheless has deep implications for many such theories.

Not really. It’s the facts of cell biology that have implications about abiogenesis, not the TOE as such.

Comment #67784

Posted by Alexey Merz on January 5, 2006 2:19 AM (e)

nah: care to turn that assertion into an argument?

Comment #67786

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 5, 2006 2:39 AM (e)

Posted by Dr. Peter Paulinmary, Creationist on January 4, 2006 07:36 PM (e) (s)

Sandefur

If a school were to teach these “alternatives,” it might might very well be described as “unorthodox,” but these “theories” do not deserve any serious attention because they are not scientific theories; they are simply untrue.

Ah, but just wait until you hear my “rational” argument for the earth-centered universe thory.

Then you’ll have to EAT your words, Mr. Sandefur, along with the other atheists.

Religious fanatics can be rational, too, you know. How do you think we figured out that junk DNA would have a function, just as predicted if an intelligent being designed the flagellum? You think we read that in the Bible?

No, it was our minds, even as you sit and scoff at it.

Perhaps if scientists spent less time in court and more time doing experiments they would discover that they can’t make life from a mixture of dirt and water. And then they would understand why the people in Dover needed a textbook that wasn’t filled with materialist lies.

Religion is treated differently by the Constitution than are anything else, for solid historical and political reasons.

Check the grammar.

LOL.
That was funny. But who are you? My first guess would be Lenny, however the total resistance to insert a (shrug) makes me think otherwise. Doubt it is Sir T-J or he would have been debating himself.
I am going to go for a guess at K.E.

Dr. Peter Paulinmary, Creationist…please unmask.
BTW I particularly appreciated your last 2 sentences.

Comment #67788

Posted by Les Schulz on January 5, 2006 2:57 AM (e)

Do any of you ever answer the questions that the ID people bring up or do you just make ad homonym attacks and talk about the separation of church and state?

I know lots of scientists that aren’t creationists that have lots of problems with evolution and some of it’s claims.

We need to make sure that we don’t become so dogmatic that we close our eyes about other ideas.

By the way can anyone here explain the mechanism of evolution or that there are good questions regarding the fact that evolution might be breaking the second law of thermodynamics.

Your thought full scientific answers would be most appreciated.

Comment #67791

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 5, 2006 3:18 AM (e)

By the way can anyone here explain the mechanism of evolution or that there are good questions regarding the fact that evolution might be breaking the second law of thermodynamics.

*sigh* an ad-hominem attacker accusing all of PT of being ad-hominem.

anywho, go here les to answer your questions:

http://www.talkorigins.org/

there you will find the direct refutation of using slot to argue against ET, and many other dogmas taught by creationists.

there was even a thread recently posted to PT completely devoted to slot, if you had bothered to examine the front page of the site (which, btw, contains many links to great resources to answer your questions).

here is the slot thread:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/01/sewells_thermod.html#comments

don’t blame me if you get lost in the physics nuances.

I suggest you check out the talk origins archive, and do a search of the database for the slot argument before you check out that more recent thread.

you might also check out this site:

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

which is an excellent and easy to understand introduction to the essentials of evolutionary theory.

get out there and learn, man!

it isn’t scientists that teach dogma, les. that would be the ID side.

Comment #67795

Posted by logic lesson on January 5, 2006 3:29 AM (e)

“care to turn that assertion into an argument?”

Um, it’s self-evident that the facts of cell biology constrain theories of an abiogenesis that gave rise to those facts. The ToE, OTOH, explains biodiversity, not abiogenesis. The facts of cell biology also constrain the ToE. You are committing a logical fallacy:

P -> Q
P -> R
——
Q -> R

In this case, P is the facts of cell biology, Q is the ToE, and R is abiogenesis.

Comment #67796

Posted by hypocrisy detector on January 5, 2006 3:31 AM (e)

“We need to make sure that we don’t become so dogmatic that we close our eyes about other ideas.”

Gee, ya think so?

Comment #67800

Posted by Eugene Lai on January 5, 2006 3:54 AM (e)

We need to make sure that we don’t become so dogmatic that we close our eyes about other ideas.

For some reason, I only hear this type of statement from one type of people.

By the way can anyone here explain the mechanism of evolution or that there are good questions regarding the fact that evolution might be breaking the second law of thermodynamics.

Ditto.

Comment #67805

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 5, 2006 4:20 AM (e)

Posted by Les Schulz on January 5, 2006 02:57 AM (e) (s)

Do any of you ever answer the questions that the ID people bring up or do you just make ad homonym attacks and talk about the separation of church and state?

I know lots of scientists that aren’t creationists that have lots of problems with evolution and some of it’s claims.

We need to make sure that we don’t become so dogmatic that we close our eyes about other ideas.

By the way can anyone here explain the mechanism of evolution or that there are good questions regarding the fact that evolution might be breaking the second law of thermodynamics.

Your thought full scientific answers would be most appreciated.

Les,
Do you happen to live under a bridge? Sorry couldn’t resist.
Evolution does not break the 2ndLOT as Earth is constantly receiving energy from the Sun.

You really should follow the links given by Sir T-J. Especially the one to Talk Origins. You will be surprised to find that the arguments you are making against evolution have already been answered (several years ago). Also the arguments you are going to make next are already answered there. Somebody is being dishonest with you. Stick around, you might be shocked when you realise who it is that resorts to lies and distortions.

Comment #67821

Posted by DrFrank on January 5, 2006 6:09 AM (e)

I loved the reference to “ad homonym” attacks :D

Comment #67825

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 5, 2006 6:17 AM (e)

that’s not a very thought full post there, Doc ;)

Comment #67828

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 5, 2006 6:24 AM (e)

it never ceases to amaze me that creationists, whose arguments are damn near 100% presented as ad hominem, so often accuse those that they are directing their ad hominem arguments against as doing the same.

funny.

but, it fits the pattern of creationists calling science “religion” and saying evolutionary theory requires “faith”.

they simply project all aspects of their belief structures onto everybody else. I guess that’s how one can become convinced of one’s “righteousness”.

If i look at the world thru dark blue glasses, nobody is gonna tell me red ain’t black.

Comment #67840

Posted by Corkscrew on January 5, 2006 7:24 AM (e)

OK, I’m bored. Apologies to the rest of you for responding to what’s likely to be a troll.

Les Schulz wrote:

Do any of you ever answer the questions that the ID people bring up or do you just make ad homonym attacks and talk about the separation of church and state?

Yes. They do answer questions. At great length. And then the next ID person to come along brings up the exact same question and demands an answer. That’s why the ad hominem attacks happen - people are just very tired of repeatedly answering the same obvious questions. That’s what the TalkOrigins archive is for.

Well, I’m not sure about Lenny Flank, I think he just makes ad hominem attacks cos he thinks the IDers are idiots. But that’s a different argument.

Les Schulz wrote:

I know lots of scientists that aren’t creationists that have lots of problems with evolution and some of it’s claims.

Are these scientists actually evolutionary biologists? Are they even biologists? Are they rendering that opinion as a consequence of having thoroughly researched evolutionary biology? If none of the above are true, there’s no reason to listen to them. Me, I’m a mathematician, which is more relevant to evolutionary theory than a lot of sciences (cosmology, for example), and I wouldn’t dream of critiquing evolutionary theory without spending at least a week reading textbooks and research papers to make sure I was up to speed.

If they haven’t done this before raising doubts about evolutionary theory, they’re not speaking in their role as scientists but as normal fallible human beings. Which is OK, it’s fine to wear two hats, just as long as you don’t try to wear them at the same time.

Len Schulz wrote:

We need to make sure that we don’t become so dogmatic that we close our eyes about other ideas.

From what I’ve seen, evolutionary biologists are very open-minded. They’ll consider all sorts of naturalistic causes for a given variation. What neither they nor any other scientist will do (not in their official capacity, anyway) is consider supernatural explanations. Supernatural explanations are, more or less by definition, not scientifically tractable. All that giving a supernatural explanation would do is put a big “here be dragons” sign on the evolutionary map that subsequent research would have to avoid. This is not generally considered terribly useful.

Len Schulz wrote:

By the way can anyone here explain the mechanism of evolution or that there are good questions regarding the fact that evolution might be breaking the second law of thermodynamics.

Take a species, kill off all the sucky ones, combine the genomes through the act of mating, add a few random mutations and produce another generation of the species. Congratulations, your new generation will on average be marginally less sucky than the last one (actual variation in suckiness depends on the circumstances). It’ll also have a few new genetic behaviours from the mutations which, given enough time, may collect together to produce new traits. For example, it doesn’t take much mutation to give a creature basic camouflage.

There are no good questions regarding evolution and the second law of thermodynamics. Said law states that the entropy of a closed system always increases or, alternatively formulated, that if you manage to reduce the entropy in one place you increase it even more in another. Entropy is often interpreted as disorder, although this is in fact only one facet of it. An example of entropy decrease would be a refrigerator - it’s cooler on the inside than the outside, and that heat differential works out as representing a reduced entropy. Therefore we know that the entropy should be increasing somewhere else and, sure enough, we see that the fridge is dumping a lot of waste heat.

Anyway, regards life, evolution is the least of our second law worries. How the heck can an acorn transform a big chunk of dirt into a comparatively “ordered” oak tree? That represents a massive drop in entropy. So where is the entropy rising to compensate?

Fortunately, the Earth is not a closed system. In fact, we have a ruddy great big entropy sink approximately eight light-minutes away from us called the Sun. The process that’s going on in there represents a massive increase in entropy, so this can fuel all sorts of behaviours on Earth.

To summarise, evolution is no more in violation of thermodynamics than standard everyday plant growth is (in fact a lot less, now I come to think about it), and both are possible because the Earth is not a closed system.

Hope this helps.

Comment #67842

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 5, 2006 7:39 AM (e)

Comment #67693 posted by improvius on January 4, 2006 06:25 PM

Just out of curiosity - is there anyone at all out there who is basing their argument against the judge’s decision on the trial transcripts? I mean, that’s where you’d have to make any substantial complaint, right? You’d have to dig through the transcripts, and determine that the judge misinterpreted something, you know, from the actual trial. But so far, all I’ve seen are references to the ruling itself being supposedly incorrect, without any supporting evidence from the trial itself.

Court opinions are routinely criticized and debated without any reference to the trial transcripts. Just go to a big law library and you will see hundreds or thousands of volumes of court opinions that are presented without the trial transcripts.

I myself have made the following criticisms of the Dover opinion without looking at the trial transcripts –

(1) The Dover opinion thoroughly trashed the Pandas book after the judge denied the publisher’s motion to intervene. The motion was made a whopping 4 months before the start of the trial, but the judge called it untimely.

(2) The Dover opinion quoted a confidential message that the board’s Solicitor sent to the board and used that message against the defendants.

(3) The opinion’s conclusion said that three specific prohibitions were going to be included in the official order but only one was actually included.

(4) The judge wanted the opinion to be the last word on the issues of ID as science and ID as religion.

(5) His lack of restraint in the opinion was an exploitation of the fact that there was virtually no possibility of an appeal.

(6) The opinion claimed that he is not an “activist judge.”

Comment #67843

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 5, 2006 7:49 AM (e)

My first guess would be Lenny

I never post under anything other than my own name.

Comment #67844

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 5, 2006 7:52 AM (e)

Yes. They do answer questions. At great length. And then the next ID person to come along brings up the exact same question and demands an answer. That’s why the ad hominem attacks happen - people are just very tired of repeatedly answering the same obvious questions. That’s what the TalkOrigins archive is for.

Well, I’m not sure about Lenny Flank, I think he just makes ad hominem attacks cos he thinks the IDers are idiots.

IDers *are* idiots. Lying, dishonest, evasive, deceptive idiots. (shrug)

But, I too get tired of hearing the same crap time afetr time after time after time. After all, I’ve been fighting ID/creationists since 1982, so I’ve heard all their crap an awful lot more times than you have.

But if you think all I do is make ad hominem attacks on IDers, then I suggest you take a look at:

http://www.geocities.com/lflank

Comment #67845

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 5, 2006 7:54 AM (e)

I know lots of scientists that aren’t creationists that have lots of problems with evolution and some of it’s claims.

Name five.

We need to make sure that we don’t become so dogmatic that we close our eyes about other ideas.

What “other ideas” do you have in mind.

Comment #67850

Posted by Corkscrew on January 5, 2006 8:06 AM (e)

Lenny Flank wrote:

IDers *are* idiots. Lying, dishonest, evasive, deceptive idiots. (shrug)

But, I too get tired of hearing the same crap time afetr time after time after time. After all, I’ve been fighting ID/creationists since 1982, so I’ve heard all their crap an awful lot more times than you have.

But if you think all I do is make ad hominem attacks on IDers, then I suggest you take a look at:

You’re preaching to the converted here. Personally I consider your ad hominem attacks fully justified, excellently complemented by your full rebuttals and essential as reminders to resist taking ID proponents too seriously when they come out with dumb comments (that way lies madness). Also they’re damn funny.

Comment #67851

Posted by Alan Fox on January 5, 2006 8:07 AM (e)

Peter Paulinmary? Ghost of Paley? Similarities? Len Shulz? Sockpuppet?

Comment #67852

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 5, 2006 8:08 AM (e)

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 5, 2006 07:39 AM (e) (s)

Court opinions are routinely criticized and debated without any reference to the trial transcripts. Just go to a big law library and you will see hundreds or thousands of volumes of court opinions that are presented without the trial transcripts.

I myself have made the following criticisms of the Dover opinion without looking at the trial transcripts —

(1) The Dover opinion thoroughly trashed the Pandas book after the judge denied the publisher’s motion to intervene. The motion was made a whopping 4 months before the start of the trial, but the judge called it untimely.

Neither side in the trial wanted this intervention. This and other relevant points have been explained to you painfully repetitively. Do you ever listen to other voices than your own?

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 5, 2006 07:39 AM (e) (s)

Court opinions are routinely criticized and debated without any reference to the trial transcripts. Just go to a big law library and you will see hundreds or thousands of volumes of court opinions that are presented without the trial transcripts.

I myself have made the following criticisms of the Dover opinion without looking at the trial transcripts —

(2) The Dover opinion quoted a confidential message that the board’s Solicitor sent to the board and used that message against the defendants.

I am pretty sure that once an email has been publicly announced it should no longer be considered confidential.

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 5, 2006 07:39 AM (e) (s)

Court opinions are routinely criticized and debated without any reference to the trial transcripts. Just go to a big law library and you will see hundreds or thousands of volumes of court opinions that are presented without the trial transcripts.

I myself have made the following criticisms of the Dover opinion without looking at the trial transcripts —

(3) The opinion’s conclusion said that three specific prohibitions were going to be included in the official order but only one was actually included.

What is your point here?

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 5, 2006 07:39 AM (e) (s)

Court opinions are routinely criticized and debated without any reference to the trial transcripts. Just go to a big law library and you will see hundreds or thousands of volumes of court opinions that are presented without the trial transcripts.

I myself have made the following criticisms of the Dover opinion without looking at the trial transcripts —

(4) The judge wanted the opinion to be the last word on the issues of ID as science and ID as religion.

Who could blame him? It was very clearly exposed that the whole ID movement was religious in nature. Why would he want more money/time wasted having the same argument repeated ad nauseum?

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 5, 2006 07:39 AM (e) (s)

Court opinions are routinely criticized and debated without any reference to the trial transcripts. Just go to a big law library and you will see hundreds or thousands of volumes of court opinions that are presented without the trial transcripts.

I myself have made the following criticisms of the Dover opinion without looking at the trial transcripts —

(5) His lack of restraint in the opinion was an exploitation of the fact that there was virtually no possibility of an appeal.

Did you actually follow the trial at all? The board was caught red handed. Who on Earth would appeal a case where they had been captured on film telling lies?

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 5, 2006 07:39 AM (e) (s)

Court opinions are routinely criticized and debated without any reference to the trial transcripts. Just go to a big law library and you will see hundreds or thousands of volumes of court opinions that are presented without the trial transcripts.

I myself have made the following criticisms of the Dover opinion without looking at the trial transcripts —

(6) The opinion claimed that he is not an “activist judge.”

What is your problem with that statement? Please define what exactly you mean by the term Activist Judge. Then show how it applies to Judge Jones.

Comment #67867

Posted by Greg H on January 5, 2006 9:27 AM (e)

Stephen Elliot wrote:

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 5, 2006 08:08 AM

What is your problem with that statement? Please define what exactly you mean by the term Activist Judge. Then show how it applies to Judge Jones.

You do realize that asking a supporter if ID to provide positive evidence of a claim is like putting a pig in a mudhole with the admonition “Ya’ll stay clean now, hear me pig?” All you get is a lot of “problems with this other theory” and no actual positive arguments.

And a dirty pig.

Comment #67872

Posted by ben on January 5, 2006 9:48 AM (e)

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 5, 2006 07:39 AM (e) (s)

Court opinions are routinely criticized and debated without any reference to the trial transcripts. Just go to a big law library and you will see hundreds or thousands of volumes of court opinions that are presented without the trial transcripts.

I myself have made the following criticisms of the Dover opinion without looking at the trial transcripts —

(6) The opinion claimed that he is not an “activist judge.”

What is your problem with that statement? Please define what exactly you mean by the term Activist Judge. Then show how it applies to Judge Jones.

It’s really quite simple. Larry doesn’t like the decision, therefore Jones is an Activist Judge, QED. Just like, Larry doesn’t like the decision, therefore the plaintiffs used too many lawyers. Larry doesn’t like the decision, therefore the ACLU is charging lawyers’ billing hours for work done by legal clerks. Larry doesn’t like the decision, therfore the judge wanted the opinion to be the last word on the issues of ID as science and ID as religion. Etc., etc., etc.

It’s really very simple for Larry. Assume the conclusion, assume that because your conclusion is true that all possible arguments must support it, barf them in a new 10-paragraph post every 1/2 hour regardless of the actual thread subject, then publicly pat yourself on the back for how convincing you are. Repeat ad nauseam.

Comment #67874

Posted by AC on January 5, 2006 9:52 AM (e)

some troll wrote:

Do any of you ever answer the questions that the ID people bring up or do you just make ad homonym attacks and talk about the separation of church and state?

That is an ad homophone attack, and I refuse to respond.

Comment #67879

Posted by David Harmon on January 5, 2006 10:10 AM (e)

No matter how many questions they pretend to ask, the IDiots are not in fact interested in actual discussion, at least not if they actually have to reconsider their position. They have long since been reduced to infantile defenses, not for their arguments, but for their own egos. Most prominent among those defenses are denial (“I’m not listening, la la la!”), denigration (“you’re all godless atheists, so anything you say is Eeevil”), and projection (“I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you”). That last is most interesting to me, as it’s also in heavy use in current American politics.

The reason they’re limited to infantile defenses is that their basic ego-structure is based on an infantile sense of authority (“It’s so because DaddyGod says it’s so!”) and infantile dualism (“We’re saying what DaddyGod says, so if you say anything different, you’re naughtyevil”.) They are not capable of grasping the idea that anything might be true or correct in it’s own right, without some Authority saying so. That’s why they keep treating science as a competing religion, they can’t conceive of any sort of confidence or authority aside from their own One True DaddyGod, and if someone else tries to claim such authority, they fall back to one of the above, if not to “My DaddyGod can beat up yours!”. (Q.v. Pat Robertson’s response to the Dover verdict.)

All of the above is why I don’t bother arguing with these people. They don’t need to be “refuted”, they need a good spanking!

Comment #67881

Posted by i like latin on January 5, 2006 10:28 AM (e)

Has anyone ever thought of writing a textbook that uses the ID’ers arguments on PT and in other places as examples of logical fallacies.

I think it’d be fun to use in an undergraduate seminar.

Comment #67886

Posted by Registered User on January 5, 2006 10:43 AM (e)

Stephen

Dr. Peter Paulinmary, Creationist…please unmask.

Okay, it was me. And I admit: not one of my best efforts. You really have to go beyond the weird to parody the creationist troll, or else nobody can tell the difference. I tried to make sure every sentence included a baffling logical disconnect but … evidently not good enough!

Isn’t the line, “No, it was our minds, even as you sit and scoff at it,” too dumb even for the average creationist????

Comment #67887

Posted by Corkscrew on January 5, 2006 10:44 AM (e)

I had actually been wondering about that - not a book but possibly a website page. It’d provide great material for critical analysis.

I for one have noticed my critical analysis abilities improving dramatically over the course of the last few months since I started posting regularly here. Far as I can tell, the most important point is that when you’re reading something it’s vital to keep telling yourself “just cos this guy says it, doesn’t make it so”.

Anyone else got any similar truisms that they apply when analysing debates like this? (I.e where one side gives a strong impression that they’re suffering from cognitive dissonance)

Comment #67888

Posted by Alan Fox on January 5, 2006 10:48 AM (e)

OT

More street theatre

Comment #67891

Posted by Tim Johns on January 5, 2006 10:52 AM (e)

Len Schulz wrote:

I know lots of scientists that aren’t creationists that have lots of problems with evolution and some of it’s claims.

How is it that these creationists always know so many scientists? I love science but I can’t claim to know “lots” of scientists. And I’ve never met one that had any problem with evolution.

Comment #67893

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 5, 2006 11:09 AM (e)

Posted by Registered User on January 5, 2006 10:43 AM (e) (s)


Okay, it was me. And I admit: not one of my best efforts. You really have to go beyond the weird to parody the creationist troll, or else nobody can tell the difference. I tried to make sure every sentence included a baffling logical disconnect but … evidently not good enough!

Isn’t the line, “No, it was our minds, even as you sit and scoff at it,” too dumb even for the average creationist????

I liked it. Made me laugh. Especially these bits.

Ah, but just wait until you hear my “rational” argument for the earth-centered universe thory.

Good.

Then you’ll have to EAT your words, Mr. Sandefur, along with the other atheists.

Very good.

Religious fanatics can be rational, too, you know. How do you think we figured out that junk DNA would have a function, just as predicted if an intelligent being designed the flagellum? You think we read that in the Bible?

Hehe, like it.

No, it was our minds, even as you sit and scoff at it.

In the UK scoff also means eat or food.

Perhaps if scientists spent less time in court and more time doing experiments they would discover that they can’t make life from a mixture of dirt and water. And then they would understand why the people in Dover needed a textbook that wasn’t filled with materialist lies.

That, I found especially funny.

Religion is treated differently by the Constitution than are anything else, for solid historical and political reasons.

Giving the game away now.

Check the grammar.

A hint that I could not ignore.

Posted by Tim Johns on January 5, 2006 10:52 AM (e) (s)


How is it that these creationists always know so many scientists? I love science but I can’t claim to know “lots” of scientists. And I’ve never met one that had any problem with evolution.

I hope you are not suggesting that some of them could possibly be dishonest. ;)

Comment #67894

Posted by Flint on January 5, 2006 11:10 AM (e)

I think “Dr. Paul Peterinmary” would have been more suggestive.

Comment #67895

Posted by steve s on January 5, 2006 11:12 AM (e)

Comment #67881

Posted by i like latin on January 5, 2006 10:28 AM (e) (s)

Has anyone ever thought of writing a textbook that uses the ID’ers arguments on PT and in other places as examples of logical fallacies.

I think it’d be fun to use in an undergraduate seminar.

I imagine they are often used as examples of error. I had questions in several undergrad physics classis along the lines of “Some cranks assert there’s no gravity, it’s just induced-dipole effects. List three huge problems with this nonsense”

Comment #67897

Posted by improvius on January 5, 2006 11:16 AM (e)

RU, you got me. But it was only because I’ve seen too many creo posts that were far LESS coherent than yours.

Comment #67899

Posted by Alexey Merz on January 5, 2006 11:18 AM (e)

Posted by logic lesson on January 5, 2006 03:29 AM (e) (s)

“care to turn that assertion into an argument?”

Um, it’s self-evident that the facts of cell biology constrain theories of an abiogenesis that gave rise to those facts.

I did not deny this. But I did question your assertion that the theory of evolution is irrelevant to theories of the origin of life. Many of the people working on abiogeneisis concur with my view, by the way (Manfred Eigen comes to mind). Why do you think biologists so interested in the concept of the RNA world?

The ToE, OTOH, explains biodiversity, not abiogenesis. The facts of cell biology also constrain the ToE.

How so? I can see how aspects of cell biology (and biochemistry, and genetics) constrain particular instances of evolution. How or whether these facts constrain evolutionary theory is an altogether different matter, though.

Can you give one clear example of what you mean by this? Can you be more specific about which facts of cell biology we are concerned with here? (You can be as technical as you like; I’m a cell biologist with substantial training in microbial genetics and biochemistry.)

You are committing a logical fallacy:

P -> Q
P -> R
———
Q -> R

In this case, P is the facts of cell biology, Q is the ToE, and R is abiogenesis.

I don’t believe that I ever made that argument. Handsome straw man, though.

Comment #67902

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on January 5, 2006 11:28 AM (e)

My first guess would be Lenny

Lenny:

I never post under anything other than my own name.

I never post under any name but my own, either.

Comment #67910

Posted by Corkscrew on January 5, 2006 11:47 AM (e)

Ah, Lenny’s Pizza Guy, I was wondering if you were around. Completely offtopic, but I thought you might find this EULA spoof amusing.

Comment #67916

Posted by qetzal on January 5, 2006 12:00 PM (e)

Then you’ll have to EAT your words, Mr. Sandefur, along with the other atheists.

See how evil evolution is? It even promotes cannibalism!

;^)

Comment #67920

Posted by k.e. on January 5, 2006 12:10 PM (e)

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 5, 2006 02:39 AM (e) (s)

Dr. Peter Paulinmary, Creationist…please unmask.
BTW I particularly appreciated your last 2 sentences.

Nup not I.
I’m more of a Gospel of Thomas Guy(Almost Zen Koans) although Mary had a few choice words in her own Gospel and I don’t think she would have let Peter or Paul since she had to warn them off changing a few things ;>
Besides the only team sports I play are one on one.
And I don’t know a thing about messing people around……ooops I mean oils ;0

Comment #67923

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on January 5, 2006 12:24 PM (e)

Corkscrew wrote:

Ah, Lenny’s Pizza Guy, I was wondering if you were around. Completely offtopic, but I thought you might find this EULA spoof amusing.

Ugh! That would be even funnier if it weren’t so uncomfortably close to the truth… Who would even want to re-heat or share most of that “corporate” pizza?

Almost as funny as LaLaLarry

Comment #67925

Posted by Louis on January 5, 2006 12:26 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #67926

Posted by Louis on January 5, 2006 12:27 PM (e)

Way back in #67867

Greg H wrote:

You do realize that asking a supporter if ID to provide positive evidence of a claim is like putting a pig in a mudhole with the admonition “Ya’ll stay clean now, hear me pig?” All you get is a lot of “problems with this other theory” and no actual positive arguments.

And a dirty pig.

I totally disagree. Asking an ID supporter for positive evidence of a claim is far more like inserting your arm into the anus (and beyond) of a slightly kinky bull to relieve it’s constipation. The bull may enjoy itself, heck it may even feel relieved, but it is very rare that you get covered in anything other than bovine faeces. (This is the toned down version!)

Comment #67927

Posted by conspiracy theorist on January 5, 2006 12:28 PM (e)

Larry Fafarman wrote:

I myself have made the following criticisms of the Dover opinion without looking at the trial transcripts —

Um, Larry since you are totally lacking in knowledge of the facts in evidence (since you have avoided becoming familiar with the actual trial record), you are without information to basis your arguments on for at least points (2) and (3).

For example perhaps for (2) the defendants explicitly waived any privilege and introduced the board’s lawyer’s advice into evidence themselves. You don’t know ‘cause you’ve intentionally kept yourself unfamiliar with the trial record. Wouldn’t you look like a super-dork if that were the case? I know you’re smugly thinking “but it’s not the case”, but until you familiarize yourself with the trial record you have no basis for asserting this.

Same thing for your argument (3), you don’t know in what form the official order was entered into evidence because you are ignorant of the trial record. Argument from ignorance - a powerful (yet erroneous) tool for creationists of all stripes.

Now your choices are either (a) get familiar with the trial record and base your arguments on facts or (b) be dismissed for admitting that you’re arguing from ignorance of the facts.

Comment #67928

Posted by jim on January 5, 2006 12:36 PM (e)

Wow, I was just hit by a stroke of genius!

Just like Larry, I’ve never studied nor am I competent in many many subjects! That means (according to Larry) I’m the ultimate expert in just about everything!

So feel free to ask me questions on about any subject you need information on. However, you’d better avoid asking me questions on engineering, project management, and various IT subjects since I do have some educational and/or practical experience in these fields.

But on Law, Biology, Medicine, Economics, Education, etc., etc., etc. you should regard my opinion as final!

Comment #67929

Posted by k.e. on January 5, 2006 12:42 PM (e)

Same here Larry ask me anything except about Dancing Norwegian Cow Girls…. I might still make it there one day.

Comment #67975

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 5, 2006 2:39 PM (e)

But on Law, Biology, Medicine, Economics, Education, etc., etc., etc. you should regard my opinion as final!

Jim: what’s your opinon about Larry?

Comment #67976

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 5, 2006 2:43 PM (e)

See how evil evolution is? It even promotes cannibalism!

hmm. if eating humans is cannibalism, and eating sh*it is coprophagy, what would eating words be?

etymophagy? etymobalism?

Comment #67977

Posted by shenda on January 5, 2006 2:44 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott replying to LF:

“Neither side in the trial wanted this intervention. This and other relevant points have been explained to you painfully repetitively. Do you ever listen to other voices than your own?”

Methinks he always listens to those voices in his head.

Comment #67983

Posted by qetzal on January 5, 2006 2:59 PM (e)

What would eating words be?

How about corvophagy? (Hint: Google Corvus.)

Comment #67985

Posted by jim on January 5, 2006 3:03 PM (e)

Sir Toejam,

Larry is a doo doo head!

Comment #67986

Posted by Moses on January 5, 2006 3:03 PM (e)

Comment #67714

Posted by Dr. Peter Paulinmary, Creationist on January 4, 2006 07:36 PM (e) (s)

Sandefur

If a school were to teach these “alternatives,” it might might very well be described as “unorthodox,” but these “theories” do not deserve any serious attention because they are not scientific theories; they are simply untrue.

Ah, but just wait until you hear my “rational” argument for the earth-centered universe thory.

Then you’ll have to EAT your words, Mr. Sandefur, along with the other atheists.

Religious fanatics can be rational, too, you know. How do you think we figured out that junk DNA would have a function, just as predicted if an intelligent being designed the flagellum? You think we read that in the Bible?

No, it was our minds, even as you sit and scoff at it.

Perhaps if scientists spent less time in court and more time doing experiments they would discover that they can’t make life from a mixture of dirt and water. And then they would understand why the people in Dover needed a textbook that wasn’t filled with materialist lies.

Religion is treated differently by the Constitution than are anything else, for solid historical and political reasons.

Check the grammar.

Is this parody? It’s always difficult to tell when someone is being serious and engaging in parody.