Well after a 4-week hiatus, I'm back and back with more fascinating evolution and religion information! Yay! So, let's dive in then.

I want to talk about my feelings on why I disagree with Intelligent Design, and do not want it taught in the public classroom. I have a lot of things I want to say though, and I'm not really good at organizing my thoughts into a cohesive unit (unless I'm getting graded on it) so bare with me (unless you don't want to, in which case you are going to be missing out).

Intelligent Design formerly known as Scientific Creationism (they cleverly left out the word creationism so that people won't know they're trying to put creationism in the schools) is something that has been around since Darwin first published his The Origin of Species. In the US, in 1925, Creationists won their first battle in Tennessee, where a law was passed that outlawed the teaching of evolution in public schools. Since then states throughout the US have been trying to pass similar laws, and now we are seeing several states bringing the "new" idea of Intelligent Design to their legislature.

According to Sir Francis Bacon their are preconceived ideas that man must fight off in order to accurately interpret observations; he called these ideas idols. The Idols of the Marketplace are the semantic problems that occur when people try to communicate and use words differently. This is largely the case with evolutionists and Creationists. For a scientist the Theory of Evolution is irrefutable fact, while a Creationist would say "it's just a theory". The problem is in the scientific world the word theory has a different meaning than in every day language. A Creationist will argue that the theory of evolution shouldn't be in the classroom because it is just a theory and scientists argue about its factuality. To a scientist the word theory is structures of ideas that explain and interpret fact. So the process of evolution is fact (something that scientists do not argue about) the mechanism for the process of evolution is not set in stone (it is this that scientists are trying to figure out and are "arguing" about). This is much like Newton's gravity and Einstein's theory of gravitation, Einstein didn't argue that Newton's idea of gravity was wrong (because it is a fact that gravity is real and occurs) he simply found a possible mechanism for how gravity occurred. Anyway the point of this was to say that when a Creationist says that evolution is not agreed upon by scientists and it is just a theory, now you know what's really going on in the scientific world. There is no reason to throw a scientific fact out of the classroom, if you want to throw out the Theory of evolution as just a theory then you'll have to throw out all the rest of science with it.

All right secondly, Intelligent Design is not science. Creationists are trying to get Intelligent Design into the public school under the guise that it is a science. Science is something that can be tested, it is something that can be made falsifiable. Intelligent Design states that science can't explain the supernatural and so there has to be a Designer who created these things that science can't explain. The Creationist Duane Gish says it best. "We do not know how the Creator created, what processes He used, for He used processes which are now not operating anywhere in the natural universe. This is why we refer to creation as special creation. We cannot discover by scientific investigations anything about the creative processes used by the Creator." So Intelligent Designers also known as Creationists admit that there are no possible tests that can be done to confirm Intelligent Design as a science. I really can't see why that would be allowed in a classroom of any kind. It's basically a Creationist's doctrine that their trying to force on unsuspecting students. Let the Creationists spread their doctrine in their own churches to their own congregations.

(I would call myself a creationist, but I don't like the connotation that goes along with it. So I can simply say that I believe their is a God and that through His own means (yes, it could be evolution, some other scientific possibility yet to be discovered, or something else entirely) He organized this earth and the beings on it. I don't believe God is trying to confuse us, if something is scientifically proven to be true I believe that it was intended that way because of the laws that rule the universe and the laws that govern our existence.)


(I had help from my good friends John A. Moore in Science as a Way of Knowing: the foundations of modern biology, and Stephen J. Gould in Science and Its Ways of Knowing: Evolution as Fact and Thoery.)

11 comments:

  1. Maggie said...

    So my question from what you're saying is that ins't the "argument" about evolution being in school a question of semantics in general? I mean I think that evolution should be taught in school as a scientific fact, but I don't know if I want my children to be taught a plausible mechanism for evolution that may or may not be true. That mechanism could then be wrapped up and indeed tangled within the truth behind evolution as we see it exist. The real question is when someone says they're going to teach the Theory of Evolution, what are they teaching? Are they teaching that living things evolve in response to their environment or is it something beyond that?

    PS. I don't really know that much about this whole evolution stuff so my questions may be coming from left field here.  

  2. Heather said...

    No, that's a good question. From my experiencce they way evolution is presented in the classroom, is basically a description of, as you said , "living things evolve in response to their environment". This is introduced along with natural selection. Topics that correlate with evolution (and there are tons) are also presented in class such as the geologic timeline, fossils, etc. I'm sure that Charles Darwin is mentioned as the man behind the theory. I have never heard of a teacher in a secondary school bringing up the topic of human evolution or the many different ideas of how evolution occurs, and especially how evolution occurs and if God does or does not have a hand in it.
    In a biology classroom students are taught what evolution is and how natural selection plays a role in it. Every aspect of the class is scientific, and backed by scientific evidence. ID on the other hand is not scientific, maybe they could get away with their topic in a philosophy class?
    Anyway, did that answer your question at all?  

  3. Maggie said...

    Completely. Thanks! From most people I've talked to about this that are opposed to evolution in the classroom they think it will go beyond that simple concept to saying how humans have evolved. Maybe they just don't know what it is that will be taught. Maybe they have a problem with the geologic timeline too? I don't know.

    Holy cow a guy just walked into the library and I think he might be 7 feet tall! And he has a mowhawk!

    PS. Tell your husband that he saved my hide today! I didn't understand the explination he gave me, but I don't think that matters since I'm not actually going to be tested on how he magically got the thing to work!  

  4. the narrator said...

    if you are still around, the annual religious studies conference that we are setting up for this fall at uvsc will cente around the whole intelligent design debate.  

  5. Matt said...

    I don't know what you're talking about... but... yeah, that's what's going on.  

  6. One-Eyed Pirate said...

    Evolution, whether "fact" or "theory," claims to explain how things came into being, namely by a tediously slow and enormously epoch-consuming process guided (sic) by chance events (random mutations, according to neo-Darwinism) and consolidated by natural selection. The ID guys I've read say, look, we see some things here (like the enormously complex machines now known to be motoring around inside living cells) that simply cannot be explained by any such gradual, haphazard, trial-and-error, willy nilly mechanism. They make no attempt to explain how these things were made by a Designer, and there is no burden of proof for them to do so. If you claim I murdered John Doe by choking him to death, and I prove that I couldn't have done that (like, maybe I don't have any arms or legs), then I'm under no legal obligation to explain how the real bad guy may have done it. Likewise, I am free to disprove your theory (by demonstrating that it cannot possibly explain what it claims to explain), without any obligation to give an alternative explanation as to the "how." Like it or not, ID (not to mention modern biochemistry) is posing a very real challenge to evolutionists. The more candid ones are acknowledging the problems and taking up the challenge. But intellectually lazy armchair evolutionists will, I suppose, continue to cast aspersions at IDers, reciting the tired old mantra of evolution being fact and science and universally accepted by real scientists, and so on and so on. Sorry, fellows, but that's not going to make ID go away. Oh, and one more thing. By the "tossing out evolution = tossing out science" silliness, you can only mean "science as taught today at the popular level," which has, I admit, been so systematically wrapped and bundled up in Darwinian language that it will take a herculean effort to dismantle the packaging. But fear not, brave hearts! Your high-speed internet connections will not disintegrate into nano-dust, jumbo jets will not begin plummeting to earth, and the orbitals in all our atoms will not simultaneously implode. And, what's more, you can still all be scientists. You're just going to have to stop pretending that scientists who admit to the growing evidence for design cannot be taken seriously as rightful members of your noble community. You can't just tell them to take their toys and go home. They're here to stay.  

  7. Heather said...

    Skeptico-
    The problem that I was pointing out here is the fact that ID will be something taught in the schools. However, it can't be taught in schools for at least two major reasons, 1) it is not science and 2) the major religious implications make it unconstitutional. It doesn't matter whether they can prove something or not; it is by definition not science because there is as I quoted no way to test scientifically the ideas of ID ("We cannot discover by scientific investigations anything about the creative processes used by the Creator." In other words the ideas behind ID are not testable, and should not be considered science).
    Also my "silly" idea that throwing out evolution = throwing out science isn't as silly as you may think. Evolution is a highly regarded theory in the world, along with the cell theory, the theory of gravitation, the atomic theory, etc. If we are to disregard the actuality of evolution we are devaluing the validity of all other theories in science.
    Again with ID, scientists have had a hay-day with the concept of irreducibly complex materials. I suggest you read Kenneth R. Miller's The Flaw in the Mousetrap at http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/ under the Special Features topic of "Intelligent Design?".
    Also if you got the idea from my post that I do not believe in the creation you are mistaken. I believe that God created the world. I, however, cannot always read the Bible literally (e.g it is quite obvious the earth isn't only 6000-ish years old as a literal translation of the Bible would suggest). I believe God has not revealed to us how he went about creating the world, and with the research I've done it seems highly likely that evolution was a factor in how God created the world. I believe in God, I cannot deny his existence. I cannot deny scientific truth either. So, I accept and embrace the truths that are found on the earth, and I do not let these things hinder my belief in God.  

  8. One-Eyed Pirate said...

    Heather (or Matt) -
    (1) Thanks for responding to my post.
    (2) I read enough of your site to know you believe in God. Excellent.
    (3) Re "(ID) can't be taught in schools": Really?! The patent religious implications of Darwinism (c'mon, c'mon, if you try to deny that then you just aren't reading the big-gun evolutionists, because most of them don't make any bones about this) are OK, but it's unconstitutional to point out collosal failings in a theory that's supposed to be the great organizing theory of life?
    (4) "The ideas behind ID are not testable." This isn't about ideas "behind" something, it's about the inescapable conclusion, unless logic be turned on its head, that we are now confronted with many observable, measurable, TESTABLE complex systems that quite simply could not possibly have been produced by any conceivable coherent evolutionary scheme. ID scientists are looking at what exists, here and now. That's testable. Evolutionists try to explain how, in the distant prehistoric past, against mind-numbingly staggering mathematical odds, all this order and function and complexity came about by chance. That is untestable.
    (5) "Evolution is a highly regarded theory...." Yes, and so was the phlogiston theory of combustion. But, as scientific knowledge evolved, it was discredited and abandoned. Your dogmatic insistance on the inviolability and sacredness of evolution theory, ironically, flies in the face of the ongoing development (i.e. evolution) of science.
    (6) I have read Miller's "The Flaw in the Mousetrap," which I found really disappointing. I honestly think I could have been a more convincing devil's advocat myself. Isn't that the piece where he says, well, short a component or two, the mousetrap could have still functioned as a keychain? (If I'm thinking of another critique of Behe's humble analogy, let me know; I'm writing from memory here.) Miller can't be serious. This may be stand-up comedy, but it's not logical scientific argument, and totally totally misses the point. We might as well say that, well, the blood clotting system, before it developed to the point of being able to, you know, clot blood, it MAY have functioned to mercifully kill the host outright so he or she wouldn't have to suffer the slow agonizing death of bleeding to death.  

  9. Heather said...

    1) I don't know where you are getting your sources from (maybe a creationist website?), but there is only a slight minority of evolutionists who believe evolution proves there is no God, and you get all kinds of scientists who don't believe in a God so evolution isn't a special science that invokes that feeling.
    2)Evolution is widely accepted by scientists as truly occuring, and I don't think I am being dogmatic about it. What I am trying to say is there is irrefutable evidence for evolution. It is not the fact that evolution occurs that is argued, but the means for it (that's what science is though of course).
    3)I'm sorry you weren't impressed by Kenneth Miller's response to Dembski's irreducible complexity (which I was greatly unimpressed by Dembski's argument). I think you are missing the point with Miller's article. Actually the proteins in the blood clotting system did have other functions, like as digestive enzymes. (he wasn't saying that they were non-functional before as you suggest). If a few parts are removed from the mousetrap it doesn't leave it as random nonfunctional items, what's left is a tie-clip, a fish hook, a paperclip, etc. Having an organized end product doesn't mean it's parts couldn't have any function.

    Anyway, thanks for the comments, you're welcome at my blog whenever you wish.  

  10. One-Eyed Pirate said...

    It's your blog; you get the last word.  

  11. One-Eyed Pirate said...

    I would like to extend a cordial invitation to Heather, Matt, Maggie, their friends, and all other champions of objective science to respond to my latest post on my fledgling blog "Evolution and Other Scourges." (Just don't come armed with anything like a spell-checker.)  


 

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