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November 30, 2005



Evolution? Intelligent Design? The irreducible complexity of Space in its totality proves the existence of God? Deo Gratias, as inscribed on the gravestone of a great Catholic Worker, Dorothy Day.


An excellent statement.

What a shame that, were you to try to read it aloud in a science class, you'd find yourself in federal court. Among your strongest supporters would be those who really are trying to use ID to smuggle in Genesis, and who might be better off paired one-each with the atheist evolutionists so that the Gingham Dog and Calico Cat could play the scenario out and at least, ultimately, reduce the noise level.

That your statement makes eminent good sense does not mean you would not be accused of "bringing the Bible into the classroom," "creating disrespect for science," and of failing to see that Darwinian eveolution is the capital-T Truth. (And let's face it, many of its proponents, who know the canons of science at least as well as you and I, have gone this far.)

Frankly, what has amazed me in this debate has been the rigidity of the mainstream scientists. If ID is so bad, why NOT discuss it in the classroom. Refute it. In those long-ago days when I was in classrooms, my astronomy prof spent time on the Aristotelian/Ptolmeic theory and even acknowledged it as the basis of celestial navigation. The chemistry teacher, far from forbidding discussion of alchemy, lectured on it to show that, though his science arose from it, it simply did not stand scrutiny. Biology teachers showed how such one-time "truths" as spontaneous generation had been disproven. But let those two letters, "ID," be heard; and all we get is an angry "We're NOT GOING TO TALK ABOUT IT!"

When I encounter reactions like that, I start wondering just how confident the speaker (screamer) is in his or her own case. Were that person a PhD, I'd look to see if perhaps his nametag didn't read "Goebbels." Yet it is Science itself that seems to be reenacting Scopes, with Darrow and Bryan having switched sides.

Thomas Jefferson, no mean scientist, spoke of a "marketplace of ideas," and in my lifetime scientists spoke of "free inquiry." What the hell happened!

Nonetheless, congratulations on a masterful statement of a good case. I only wish something would come of it.

D. C.

Many thanks, BobW. I agree completely.


Why not discuss it in a science class? Because it's not science. There's no data and there are no hypotheses that can be tested through experiment.

So what is there to do discuss? If it's to be discussed anywhere, how about in philosophy, where it does belong.

Michael Carey

Sometimes you cannot have an opinion without people taking away your comment. I had one here once upon a time. God Bless You


As I said above, to refute it, and to address its criticisms of the predominant theory,and to address the points you bring out, and our host's remarks concerning scientific discipline.
To "discuss" is not to endorse. It is quite often to criticize strongly.
In addition to these reasons, I think that the scientists and educators are really hurting themselves by needless intransigence. It's been my observation throughout life that most people who disagree with me, or have something to tell me that I don't know or understand, are only too happy to tell me not just why their view is right, but why mine is wrong or falls short.
There's an old lawyer joke about a young lawyer seeking advice from an older one. It goes something like:
YL: "What if I have the facts on my side?"
OL: "Hammer on the jury!"
YL: "What if I have the law on my side?"
OL: "Hammer on the judge!"
YL: "What if I have neither the law nor the facts on my side?"

This simply-not-going-to-discuss-it-in-science-class approach, however well intentioned, comes across to many of us as hammering on the table.


Bob: it's not even a theory. There's nothing to endorse or refute. Science uses data, and tests and retests it, refining its theses.

"ID" has no substance, no theories, no data, and it is not testable.

Here's John Derbyshire on the topic; perhaps he can convince you, if I can't. Here's a nice section:

"Why stop with Intelligent Design (the theory that life on earth has developed by a series of supernatural miracles performed by the God of the Christian Bible, for which it is pointless to seek any naturalistic explanation)? Why not teach the little ones astrology? Lysenkoism? Orgonomy? Dianetics? Reflexology? Dowsing and radiesthesia? Forteanism? Velikovskianism? Lawsonomy? Secrets of the Great Pyramid? ESP and psychokinesis? Atlantis and Lemuria? The hollow-earth theory? Does the president have any idea, does he have any idea, how many varieties of pseudoscientific flapdoodle there are in the world? If you are going to teach one, why not teach the rest? Shouldn't all sides be "properly taught"? To give our kids, you know, a rounded picture? Has the president scrutinized Velikovsky's theories? Can he refute them? Can you?"

So? Should we do this, then? Or should we stick to actual science?


(If you start teaching piffle in science - or even taking it seriously by trying to "refute" it - aren't people going to lose respect for science, or at least be extremely confused about what science actually is?

Refute it in philosophy, if you must. Refute it as science.

But don't dignify it by pretending it has substance.)


Whoa. I don't hear Behe and the others talking about "the God of the Christian Bible." I see you as talking about what in the eighties and nineties was (wrongly) called Creation Science.
And, though I indeed believe that all was created by that "God of the Christian Bible," I don't want that in a Science class anymore than I would a Lakota story or the doings of Saturn and Zeus. (Indeed, as a Christian I'm called on to accept some things on faith, not proof. And, by the way, I think the Genesis accounts are poetically and metaphorically true, ["My love is like a red, red rose."], not factually.) But, let's face it, there are those with impressive scientific credentials presenting Intelligent Design; and at least some of these want to present criticisms of the evolution paradigm. I don't know of any who want to simply replace the teaching of evolution with ID.
As to the long list of "If ID, why not..."s you present, the astronomy prof I referred to also dealt with astrology. And I doubt that, if a student were to mention it or one of the others, that we'd all immediately rush to the courthouse. The classroom is probably the best place to discuss and debunk. After all, it's your home ground!

Remember: to discuss is not to endorse. You and I are discussing; and clearly disagreeing. I don't see science losing respect by showing why "piffle" is "piffle."
The fact is, many intelligent students don't know what science is. The place to show them what is and what is not is the classroom, not the courtroom


Bob, Bob, Bob.


Let's clear this up once and for all; I think we're mixing up two points here. Reading through the posts again, it seems to me that your point was that, as you wrote in your first comment, "What a shame that, were you to try to read it aloud in a science class, you'd find yourself in federal court."

But isn't the statement you're referring to the "weak Intelligent Design statement"? I ask again: why would you "read this aloud in a science class?" It's a statement about God, not about science. There's no way to test it, and why would anyone want to? Belief in God is by definition a matter of faith. What is there even to say about it in a science class?

I don't get what your point is, I guess. If you want to refute "strong ID" using science - and since there's nothing there to refute, this could be done with one sentence and a snort - why do you need to bring "weak ID" into it? It's a religious statement.


"It's a religious statement."

Good. Say so in Science class. That's my point in a nutshell.
And say why it isn't, since many of your students really aren't that clear what science is, and how "belief" differs from "hypothesis" or "theory." And, at the secondary and primary levels, have almost certainly not had a Philosophy class; and quite possibly no real exposure to the philosophy of science.
For whatever reason, people want to read statements (few as lucid as our host's) or slap silly stickers on textbooks. Let them, then answer them. You won't convince everybody? You ain't doing that now, and won't if the nine Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court sign an opinion supporting you.
Even if it takes one whole class period, it's quicker than court. You save time and a helluva lot of legal fees. Quick, simple, cheap; done on your turf, not theirs and, I think you'd find, more effective in both the short and long term.


OK, I see your point.

Still, I think Philosophy's the place for it, although of course most schools don't teach classes in Philosophy. It just seems really silly to me to bring non-Science into Science class - and it seems to give the Creationists exactly what they want: to be taken seriously. We really shouldn't.

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