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Thursday, March 30, 2006

About World View.....and Science

There are several good reasons that Darwinism needs to be questioned and other possibilities need to be considered by serious students. The philosophical stance of so many in the scientific community today cause them to work long and hard to keep creation science and Intelligent Design from the discussion. Ad hominem attacks and the dismissal of the numbers of non-Darwinist scientists and their work are the best weapons Darwinists have. When the fight comes down to science they struggle.

The Odds

I am told that I don't understand math while being in agreement with Michael Dembski, who holds a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Chicago and has done postdoctoral work in mathematics at MIT, in physics at the University of Chicago, and in computer science at Princeton University (and other stuff, but it gets pretty long, his list of accomplishments). That's fine, call what I presented a fallacy but that is because Darwinists cannot disprove it. So they try to talk their way around it by changing the assumptions and reworking the equation. Boo!

Complexity

Irreducible complexity is another problem for Darwinists. I only really concentrated on one of myriad examples in that post. What about the neck of the Giraffe, or the Bombadier Beatle's defense mechanism?

There are more huge problems for Darwinists, but even one major issue would be enough for serious scientists who would like to know the answers to questions no matter what they might be. If you read the comments sections of this blog, you will see that the Darwinists say the same thing in different ways, over and over. They do not want anything but macroevolution taught or even considered. They make fun of scientists who disagree with them and denigrate their work. They ignore the brilliant men who disagree with them (I am talking about guys like Behe and Townes and Tipler and Barrow, not me!),

The search for truth should be done with honesty and a willingness to learn something new. Many Christians believe in macroevolution and many believe in long ages for the earth, or at least for the universe. Many are young earth creationists. Some dyed-in-the-wool macroevolutionists are Christians. Some people who believe in a creation or at least in Intelligent Design do not believe in God per se. There are not just two simple sides in the debate. Heck, some of my best friends are Darwinists, hee hee!

What surprises me is the dogmatism associated with the apparent majority of Darwinists who cannot abide and even fear the teaching of creationism/ID. I believe a lot of that stems from philosophical differences, although some of them deny it (but not all). I have difficulty seeing their logic otherwise. I see them trying to deny and stifle something that threatens their very core beliefs even if it is a futile task.

Philosophy

Bible modernists have sought for ways to take the impact of the Bible away by casting doubts upon authorship. They attacked the book of Genesis based on the names in that book used for God. The JEDP documentary hypothesis requires remarkable twists of logic and it also requires a willful ignorance. For even as they sought to parse and part out that book by the use of the name of God, they knew that God was referred to by various names in other books as well. Good Bible students know that these various descriptive names had nothing to do with the author. (One can see that Moses may have used historical tablets as a basis for Genesis and it is possible the tablets had been passed down and added on to since Adam and on down. That only makes the record that much more reliable.)


But the Bible and Christianity have actually been key to the advance of Western Civilization and individual freedoms in the last few centuries. Francis A Shaeffer has written a great deal about the philosophy of the rational Christian and the effect of Christianity on today's world. I want to bring a few of his quotes into the discussion. This is because I believe, as the summary of his book How Should We Then Live states,

"Schaeffer wrote that, "To understand where we are in today's world -- in our intellectual ideas and in our cultural and political lives -- we must trace three lines in history, namely, the philosophic, the scientific, and the religious." That is exactly what he does in How Should We Then Live?. The way a person lives is based on how they view the world. Ideas are not without consequences."

We all stand on a platform of world view. This world view greatly impacts all that we think or do. Francis Shaeffer, in the aforementioned book, considers both the Renaissance and the Reformation as he looks at the three lines of history and mankind. All of the following quotes are from Shaeffer:

"There is a flow to history and culture. This flow is rooted and has its wellspring in the thoughts of people. People are unique in the inner life of the mind -- what they are in their thought-world determines how they act. This is true of their value systems and it is true of their creativity. It is true of their corporate actions, such as political decisions, and it is true of their personal lives. The results of their thought-world flow through their fingers or from their tongues into the external world. This is true of Michelangelo's chisel, and it is true of a dictator's sword."

One's world view comes with presuppositions:

" People have presuppositions, and they will live more consistently on the basis of these presuppositions than even they themselves may realize. By presuppositions we mean the basic way an individual looks at life, his basic world-view, the grid through which he sees the world. Presuppositions rest upon that which a person considers to be the truth of what exists. People's presuppositions lay a grid for all they bring forth into the external world. Their presuppositions also provide the basis for their values and therefore the basis for their decisions."

The man who has presuppositions based on Biblical absolutes is dangerous to those who do not. He is at odds with the totalitarian. He is at odds with oppression.

"No totalitarian authority nor authoritarian state can tolerate those who have an absolute by which to judge that state and its actions. The Christians had that absolute in God's revelation. Because the Christians had an absolute, universal standard by which to judge not only personal morals but the state, they were counted as enemies of totalitarian Rome and were thrown to the beasts."

Many Humanists today point their fingers at the Islamofascists (when they are not busy defending them) and say that this is what Christians would become if given the chance. Go read the Democratic Underground, the LA Times, the Huffington Post or the Daily Kos for awhile if you doubt it. In truth, Islamofascism and the rule of Sharia Law are among the things a Bible absolutist would recognize as entirely wrong.

"Because the Reformers did not mix humanism with their position, but took instead a serious view of the Bible, they had no problem of meaning for the individual things, the particulars; they had no nature-versus-grace problem. One could say that the Renaissance centered in autonomous man, while the Reformation centered in the infinite-personal God who had spoken in the Bible. In the answer the Reformation gave, the problem of meaning for individual things, including man, was so completely answered that the problem -- as a problem -- did not exist. The reason for this is that the Bible gives a unity to the universal and the particulars."

I endorse a world where the seeking of knowledge would be encouraged and there would be no orthodox or dogmatic stand against the advance of science where it did not intrude into the arena of Right or Wrong. Let Darwinists seek to prove macroevolution if they will and let all men of science seek for ways to improve the human condition and learn more about the world around us without doctrinal hindrances from religion (Christian or Humanist or any other).

" First, the Bible tells men and women true things about God. Therefore, they can know true things about God. One can know true things about God because God has revealed Himself. The word God was not contentless to Reformation man. God was not an unknown "philosophic other" because God had told man about Himself. As the Westminster Confession (1645-1647) says, when God revealed His attributes to people, the attributes are not only true to people but true to God. That is, when God tells people what He is like, what He says is not just relatively true but absolutely true. As finite beings, people do not have exhaustive truth about God, but they can have truth about God; and they can know, therefore, truth about that which is the ultimate universal. And the Bible speaks to men and women concerning meaning, morals, and values.

Second, the Bible tells us true things about people and about nature. It does not give men and women exhaustive truth about the world and the cosmos, but it does give truth about them. So one can know many true things about nature, especially why things exist and why they have the form they have. Yet, because the Bible does not give exhaustive truth about history and the cosmos, historians and scientists have a job to do, and their work is not meaningless. To be sure, there is a total break between God and His creation, that is, between God and created things; God is infinite and created things are finite. But man can know both truth about God and truth about the things of creation because in the Bible God has revealed Himself and has given man the key to understanding God's world.

So, as the Reformation returned to biblical teaching, it gained two riches at once: it had no particulars-versus-universals (or meaning) problem, and yet at the same time science and art were set free to operate upon the basis of that which God had set forth in Scripture. The Christianity of the Reformation, therefore, stood in rich contrast to the basic weakness and final poverty of the humanism which existed in that day and the humanism which has existed since."


The Bible includes historical narratives that help us understand science and history. But the Bible is not a science book and it was not given to us merely as a book of history. It is rather a basis for studies in science and history. But it is especially a book in which God presents to us His world view and invites us to live it.

"It is important that the Bible sets forth true knowledge about mankind. The biblical teaching gives meaning to all particulars, but this is especially so in regard to that particular which is the most important to man, namely, the individual himself or herself. It gives a reason for the individual being great. The ironic fact here is that humanism, which began with Man's being central, eventually had no real meaning for people. On the other hand, if one begins with the Bible's position that a person is created by God and created in the image of God, there is a basis for that person's dignity. People, the Bible teaches, are made in the image of God -- they are nonprogrammed. Each is thus Man with dignity.

That Man is made in the image of God gives many important answers intellectually, but it also has had vast practical results, both in the Reformation days and in our own age. For example, in the time of the Reformation it meant that all the vocations of life came to have dignity. The vocation of honest merchant or housewife had as much dignity as king. This was strengthened further by the emphasis on the biblical teaching of the priesthood of all believers -- that is, that all Christians are priests. Thus, in a very real sense, all people are equal as persons. Moreover, the government of the church by lay elders created the potential for democratic emphasis.

The Bible, however, also says that man is fallen; he has revolted against God. At the historic space-time Fall, man refused to stand in the proper relationship with this infinite reference point which is the personal God. Therefore, people are now abnormal. The Reformation saw all people as equal in this way, too -- all are guilty before God. This is as true of the king and queen as the peasant. So, in contrast to the humanism of the Renaissance, which never gave an answer to explain that which is observable in people, the Bible enabled people to solve the dilemma facing them as they look at themselves: they could understand both their greatness and their cruelty."


It is the world view of the Bible that has given us liberty as individuals. It is that world view that was the basis for the Constitution of the United States. It was the world view of Pasteur, of Newton, yes even of Galileo as he defied the orthodox view of the Catholic Church. It is that world view that I hold. Those who do not share that view, they are those who seek to ban the teaching of ID or creationism from the classroom. They fear ideas that do not agree with theirs. But how futile and foolish this is!

I think macroevolution was an interesting concept and that as science learned more about the nature of organisms it should have been discarded. But I don't want to ban macroevolution from science, from the classroom and from the museums. No! I endorse the free exchange of ideas and let the truth come forth. Man seeks for truth and in a free society he will continue to do so. The study of macroevolution has been, to some extent, the study of microevolution and such studies have reaped rewards to mankind. Since the proponents of macroevolution are at work to ban the very idea of creationism or ID then I must labor against them even as I know that we could both do more good were the issue settled and our energies devoted to better endeavors.

But I have a certain hope. In the book of Acts, when Peter and other believers were doing miracles and preaching in the name of Jesus, the orthodox Jewish leadership sought to oppose them and perhaps even have the men put to death. But then Gamaliel, a Pharisee, rose and spoke these words: "...Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." - Acts 5:38 & 39

I must, I have to believe that truth wills out and that man will continue to seek for truth. Creation science will either continue to prove to be the best scenario for the origins of all things, in my opinion, or it will not. I say to the Darwinists who seek to keep creation science and ID out of the classroom and the laboratory and the observatory, let my people go... if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

" What about the neck of the Giraffe"

What about the neck of the . . .oh (searching internet, reading). Hmm. Either never heard or forgot that one . . .
Paging Dr. Pangloss, paging Dr. Pangloss. And Dr. Paley . . .

Ok, radar, explain what you mean . . .

Do IDC folks ever mention wading-bird legs? That's pretty wild . . .

""But the Bible and Christianity have actually been key to the advance of Western Civilization and individual freedoms in the last few centuries."

Well, that's an extremely complex historical argument that I'm completely unqualified to get into - but how is this relevent to science?

"I think macroevolution was an interesting concept and that as science learned more about the nature of organisms it should have been discarded."
Oddly enough, pretty much everyone who studies the nature of organisms disagrees with you (which doesn't prove either that you're wrong or they're right, but what's usually considered reasonable in this kind of situation, for less heated topics?). But they're philosophically deluded, so I guess that explains it . . .

"In truth, Islamofascism and the rule of Sharia Law are among the things a Bible absolutist would recognize as entirely wrong."
Well, yes. 'Christofascism' and the rule of Biblical law (everybody must get stoned . . . .) . . . well, I dunno. I've heard creepy things about Dominionism, but . . . I dunno. I suppose you could argue that no true Bible absolutist . . .

" Since the proponents of macroevolution are at work to ban the very idea of creationism or ID" (emphasis added) . .

really?! How? Because we say science doesn't support it? Because we don't want ideas that are at best on the very fringes of science thrown into public high school intro-bio classes, something one doesn't see for any other topic or subject? - especially given the cultural reality of the situation, and the bit about how it's being done as part of a long-running campaign to undermine science education based on religious beliefs specific to a certain subset of Christians?***

you will only find yourselves fighting against God.

Call me Israel nee Jacob, then . . .*

There's some interesting things in your post, and you say something really good . .. but I have stuff to do. Alas. Maybe later.

* according to some interpretations**
** hey, if you get to quote the Bible in order to be all melodramatic, I can at least reference it for the same purpose! Although mine's quite a bit over the top . .

*** No doubt there are IDC supporters who are entirely sincere and pure of heart. I think P.T. Barnum allegedly had a phrase for them . . . (probably it was someone else, it seems . . )

This way to the egress!

-Dan S., trying to think of a humorous little phrase to put here . . .

creeper said...

"The philosophical stance of so many in the scientific community today cause them to work long and hard to keep creation science and Intelligent Design from the discussion."

That's what we've been doing here, discussing "creation science" and ID, and so far it is you who owes the most answers, by a long shot.

"Ad hominem attacks"

What do you think talking about the motivations of your opponents instead of the evidence at hand is?

"and the dismissal of the numbers of non-Darwinist scientists and their work"

Their scientific work, such as it is, is out there to be criticized, just like that of every other scientist.

"When the fight comes down to science they struggle."

Not really, and it's very ironic that someone who owes so many answers can say that to people who have responded to him at such great length.

Very well: Could you name some falsifiable creationist predictions, and the experiments or observations that confirmed them? Could you name some experiments or observations that falsified the theory of evolution?

Re. The Odds: A fallacy right off the bat - because you agree with Michael Dembski doesn't mean you understand math.

"call what I presented a fallacy but that is because Darwinists cannot disprove it."

What you presented did indeed rest on at least one fallacy, was also incomplete and did not show the assumptions or the equation at hand. We tried to explain this to you at great length, in layman's language.

Now, before you accuse us of changing the assumptions and reworking the equation, please tell us what the assumptions and the equation are.

Re. Complexity:

"Irreducible complexity is another problem for Darwinists."

Did you have a look at the articles I posted about this previously? Here's one, and here's another. (This is I think the third time I'm posting these, and you have yet to acknowledge them.)

Neck of the giraffe.

Bombardier beetle.

"There are more huge problems for Darwinists, but even one major issue would be enough for serious scientists who would like to know the answers to questions no matter what they might be."

"More huge problems"? What were the first ones?

And where is the one major issue?

"If you read the comments sections of this blog, you will see that the Darwinists say the same thing in different ways, over and over."

If we have to make the same point in different ways to get through to you, then so be it.

"They do not want anything but macroevolution taught or even considered."

I'm all for all kinds of theories being considered and explored. The evidence will lead where it leads, and the theories best supported by the evidence can be taught in a science class. Why this focus on fighting this out in the classroom anyway? Win the science and the classroom is automatically yours - why should this be a problem if you so strongly believe the science is on your side?

How did that decision to skip phase 1 (actual research) of the Wedge Strategy come about? Anybody know?

They make fun of scientists who disagree with them and denigrate their work."

I try not to attack the scientists directly; if I fail, my apologies. As for their work - well that's fair game. That's how science works - we evaluate the work at hand.

creeper said...

Re. the rest of your post:

We already know that people with all kinds of world views can engage in the scientific process, so can you please drop the false dichotomy so that we can look at the arguments at hand and consider them as rationally as possible?

xiangtao said...

As for the understanding of math: having been raised in a home where math was a very important subject (my dad has a PhD in mathematics from CalTech) I can tell you that I have yet to see a YEC or ID mathematician (including Dembski) who has a clue about how probability works. Either that or they fail to mention to their audience that numbers don't mean shit when you ignore or add certain assumtions

IAMB said...

Radar:

That's "William Dembski", not "Michael Dembski"...

Just a slight correction, but an important one.

Xiangtao, he's not going to listen to you on the math thing. He will side with Dembski even though most mathematicians think he's full of it. He (Bill) made a big deal out of being invited to speak at an information theory conference in the Netherlands (I think) last year. What he failed to mention was the reactions of the other people at the conference to his presentation.

Needless to say, he won't be invited back.

Radar, does it even matter to you that one of Dembski's former math professors thinks he's a quack (a guy with a longer publication record than all of the creationist organizations put together, including the DI)? Probably not.

One more thing:
If you read the comments sections of this blog, you will see that the Darwinists say the same thing in different ways, over and over.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

creeper said...

"I say to the Darwinists who seek to keep creation science and ID out of the classroom and the laboratory and the observatory, let my people go... if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."

Could you pleeease stop playing victim? "Let my people go...", whoa. It's getting embarrassing. Nobody is stopping you and your ideological fellows from coming up with the goods.

Okay, let's pretend what you say is true: please name three examples of "Darwinists who seek to keep creation science and ID out of the classroom and the laboratory and the observatory"?

Simply being criticized doesn't count - that's what happens to all scientists, that's part of the process, and I don't see those people going around howling about having been criticized. Maybe they moan once in a while, but they don't make up nonsense about having been kept out of the laboratory and, of all things, the observatory (where biologists surprisingly spend a good amount of their time...).

I realize this just adds to the ever-increasing heap of questions you can't answer, but hey. If what you're saying is true, then answering these questions (instead of obfuscating and pontificating about people's "motivations" and "world views") should be a breeze.

Anonymous said...

Testing Darwin's Teachers - LA Times:

LIBERTY, Mo. — Monday morning, Room 207: First day of a unit on the origins of life. Veteran biology teacher Al Frisby switches on the overhead projector and braces himself.

As his students rummage for their notebooks, Frisby introduces his central theme: Every creature on Earth has been shaped by random mutation and natural selection — in a word, by evolution.

The challenges begin at once.

"Isn't it true that mutations only make an animal weaker?" sophomore Chris Willett demands. " 'Cause I was watching one time on CNN and they mutated monkeys to see if they could get one to become human and they couldn't."

Frisby tries to explain that evolution takes millions of years, but Willett isn't listening. "I feel a tail growing!" he calls to his friends, drawing laughter.

Unruffled, Frisby puts up a transparency tracing the evolution of the whale, from its ancient origins as a hoofed land animal through two lumbering transitional species and finally into the sea. He's about to start on the fossil evidence when sophomore Jeff Paul interrupts: "How are you 100% sure that those bones belong to those animals? It could just be some deformed raccoon."

From the back of the room, sophomore Melissa Brooks chimes in: "Those are real bones that someone actually found? You're not just making this up?" . . .

. . . Other students gather ammunition from sermons at church, or from the dozens of websites that criticize evolution as a God-denying sham. They interrupt lectures to expound on the inaccuracies of carbon dating; to disparage transitional fossils as frauds; to show photos of ancient footprints that they think prove humans and dinosaurs walked side by side.

Most will learn what they need to pass the test, but some make their skepticism clear by putting their heads down on their desks or even stalking out of class.


Interesting, pertinent article. The teacher tries some nifty things, and I love what he does with that tool belt . . .
(wait, that sounds a little wrong . . .)

No, no, asking questions is good! Finding out how we know what we know - rather than taking it on faith because my textbook tells me so - is beyond good, it's vital. But read the article. How we know that the bones belonged to these animals - is a great question. Adding ' it could be a deformed racoon' makes one wonder a bit if Jeff actually wants an answer, but let's assume he does . . .

Oh, just read the article . . .
What should be happening in these classrooms?

Hmm,I musta missed that mutated monkey CNN show . . . explains some of the anchors, through . . .

-Dan S.

radar said...

Dan, that article doesn't surprise me at all. The majority of parents in the US want both sides of the subject presented. That majority has a good chance of growing because more information that supports creationism or at least ID is being presented.

Me? I told my children to learn what they were taught and give it back to the teacher. Get your 'A'. But you don't have to believe it. Nor do you have to pretend to believe it. I have had four graduate from high school so far. Two were National Honor Society students. Three were top twenty in their class. All received good feedback from teachers concerning their conduct in class. I think that they all liked to discuss Darwinism in their science classes and explain why they didn't believe in macroevolution, because they would come home and tell me sometimes about the discussions that resulted.

Now, does this horrify anyone? The exchange and questioning of ideas in a classroom? Isn't it time that the one-sided propaganda be put aside and we acknowledge what we all know to be true, that there is no concensus among scientists about Darwinism? That, in fact, the majority of Americans believe that some sort of creation/ID is responsible for origins rather than the macroevolutionist main line? Because right now science teachers are being made to look foolish because the restraints put upon them is foolish.

This sometimes seems like beating my head against the wall....

radar said...

Neck of the giraffe? A system of pumps, chambers and valves that keep the head at the correct blood pressure. The system is rather complex (uh-oh, you have heard this one before...) and has to work in concert to accomplish anything. Without the system, the first time a giraffe put his head down to take a drink, the pressure running to his head would knock him unconscious or perhaps even explode blood vessels. But with the valve system, the pressure is normalized all the way down the animal's neck. Then, when he raises his head, the sudden lack of blood pressure that would result would cause him to keel over. But, no, the chambers and valves work to normalize the pressure upon raising the neck, too. They can work very quickly, so that he can suddenly raise the neck and run upon being confronted with danger. The system requires a series of valves and chambers to cope with not just taking the head far below or above the heart, but to keep pressures normalized during quick movements.

Darwinists can only propose that valves and chambers were developed as the neck elongated. Not that we have a fossil record to support it. And it requires several different valve developments along the way, and chambers unlike the valves, and all working in concert with each other.....eh, the odds against the giraffe are longer than those against the horse. Unless you still endorse the voodoo math that reduces all impossibilities to inevitabilities. I still wonder why Darwinists aren't out buying lottery tickets?

ofxhdt! That's a good one!

radar said...

"Very well: Could you name some falsifiable creationist predictions, and the experiments or observations that confirmed them? Could you name some experiments or observations that falsified the theory of evolution?"

I posted a list of them previously, so in this case you didn't read the post, rather than me not responding. "Comparison of the Evolutionary & Creationary Origins Theories" is included in this article which I mentioned in an earlier post concerning this.

http://www.trueorigin.org/
creatheory.asp

Dominionism? A term for people who vote their convictions? What do you call far lefty liberals? Do they get a term? There is no reason that we all cannot vote if we qualify, whether we are Christian or atheist or Catholic or agnostic or Humanist or, hey, you think you are a rock. Whatever. But Christians (at least those with any sense) don't want a national religion, we just want a nation where religion doesn't get banned! Once the church becomes the government, both entities get a whole let less appetizing. And I am not real excited about the government as it stands now....I am sure Groucho could have put it better.

creeper said...

"I posted a list of them previously, so in this case you didn't read the post, rather than me not responding."

If you mean "some falsifiable creationist predictions, and the experiments or observations that confirmed them" or "some experiments or observations that falsified the theory of evolution", I'm pretty sure that I haven't missed them. I've read every post of yours since I showed up here, and even some from before, though I must admit that I haven't read through your back oeuvre in full.

I know you've posted some talking points that we had addressed and rebutted (and you had chosen not to defend) - perhaps you're referring to those. So let me rephrase the question just a little, hope this is clearer now:

Could you name some falsifiable creationist predictions, and the experiments or observations that successfully confirmed them? Could you name some experiments or observations that successfully falsified the theory of evolution?

So far the answer is no.

""Comparison of the Evolutionary & Creationary Origins Theories" is included in this article which I mentioned in an earlier post concerning this."

I had a quick look and spotted some massive errors - the title of the chart that you mention here being a prime example. What on earth is an evolutionary origins theory? Evolution is about evolution, not origins.

"we just want a nation where religion doesn't get banned!"

That's what you currently have, and nobody is trying to change that. Not even the ACLU, as we've hopefully clarified by now.

This playing victim stuff is really quite silly. Religion has its place and will never even come close to being banned. It's just that people (and the constitution) don't want it everywhere.

creeper said...

"we acknowledge what we all know to be true, that there is no concensus among scientists about Darwinism"

As for concensus regarding the theory of evolution - among earth and life scientists it's about as unanimous as it gets. More here.

And where are the examples of Darwinists who are trying to keep "creation science" research from taking place - keeping it out of labs and observatories? (What would a creationist want in an observatory anyway?) How much do the creationist "think tanks" spend on research every year, and how much on publicity?

creeper said...

"That, in fact, the majority of Americans believe that some sort of creation/ID is responsible for origins rather than the macroevolutionist main line?"

Perhaps you meant to say "the abiogenesist main line". What is a macroevolutionist? Is there such a thing as a microevolutionist?

"This sometimes seems like beating my head against the wall...."

Try to engage the arguments made in response to yours, and you won't have to jog in place.

Anonymous said...

" Isn't it time that the one-sided propaganda be put aside and we acknowledge what we all know to be true,"
Sure!

that there is no concensus among scientists about Darwinism?"
But that's not it. In case you're too busy to click the first link creeper posted, it's a 1997 Gallup poll showing that 95% of scientists - and that's all scientists, not just life and earth scientists - accept evolution - 55% nontheistic evolution, 40% theistic evolution. Ask only biologists and they'll mostly just look at you funny.

This isn't widely understood. An CSICOP essay on polling opinions about evolution notes that in a Dec. 2004 Newsweek poll, 42% thought that scientists had "serious doubts" about evolution. Presumably one factor is the habit of Creationist sources to frequently trumpet news about how evolution is about to be overthrown, not realizing (or caring) that what is actually going on is normal scientific debate about exact details, exactly like you find in many other fields. Every other week, it seems, there's some new study saying something else about fats and diet and such - that doesn't mean that nutritional science is overwhelmingly wrong, we are actually photosynthetic and should adopt the Apollo diet (eating sunlight).*

"The majority of parents in the US want both sides of the subject presented."

But is this relevent? Supposedly, there's a poll showing that a significant chunk of Americans belive the sun goes around the earth (I'm not checking that - what if it's true?!). If the majority of Americans wanted this taught as science in public school (in opposition to the staggeringly overwhelming scientific consensus, esp, among people who actually worked in the field) would that mean it should be?

If it was the other way 'round - massive scientific agreement that Genesis was literally accurate, based on everything from geology to genetics - but the majority of parents wanted the evolutionary account, because that's what the Origin says - then, in this mirror world, do you think evolution should be taught as science in public schools, on these grounds?

Now, if you wanted to change how science teaching works, so that classes are based on polls rather than current scientific opinion . . .. but that's not the way it works right now. Elitist? Sure. You got a problem with that? Take it up with the doctor who's about to operate on you after going to med school and learning all about what the majority of Americans think should be done, based on what they saw on ER. I mean, c'mon! Most Americans don't know much about science. They'll tell you so. It's not really valued in that way.

Many people respond this way because of religious beliefs, with little or no knowledge of the actual science (I thought that people managed their own children's religious education, both in the home and in church/temple/etc., but I guess they would prefer public school to do it for them). Additionally, as we see above, many Americans are mistaken or confused about the overwhelming scientific consensus. As a result, the 'fairness' rubric comes into play. Should we teach ymrwegfi or ofxhdt? Umm . . . both? (The 800-lb (but very moral) gorilla that is religious sentiment also influences this result, since many people imagine that evolution is anti-religion or anti-God.)

In fact, poll people aren't just underinformed about evolutionary science - they don't know much about the nonscientific alternatives, either! The CSICOP piece linked above uses the term "low information public," which is depressingly apt.

"Me? I told my children to learn what they were taught and give it back to the teacher. Get your 'A'. But you don't have to believe it."

Sure. (Although I would lean towards - think about what you're being taught, question it, challenge it if you think that's necessary - but respectfully.)

"Now, does this horrify anyone? The exchange and questioning of ideas in a classroom?"
Is that what you think is going on in that article?

Hey, I'm all for actual critical analysis. Everywhere, throughout the curriculum. But thinking critically requires actual critical thinking, not using completely unquestioned ideas to attack something you don't like. It's a weapon that fires in a full 360 degree angle - or you're cheating.

So - why should ID be in science classrooms? (Biblical creationism, although having the courage of its convictions, is not even on the Constitutional table. Of course , I wouldn't be surprised to hear that even as we speak, some teacher somwhere is sneaking it into science class, defying not only the Constitution, but their own professional duties and ethics, rather as if I taught kids that AAVE ('Ebonics') was the proper version of English to use for business letters and job interviews.)

Now, we're not talking about what's ultimately true. Nothing that follows rules out the possibility of, say ID sweeping the field within the next decade or two, like plate tectonics did. We're even going to suspend any questions about ID and treat it as any other hypothesis.

1) Because it's a fundamental idea necessary for a broad basic introduction to the field, either as a baseline for an educated public, or as a preparation for further learning? No. It's a controversial very fringy idea which so far has contributed nothing to science. Evolutionary theory, on the other hand, is the major concept for the life sciences, and has been used in numerous ways (most recently, in cancer treatment - will try to dig up link).

2a) Because it's a controversy!? No. Intro to Bio classes are not used to expose kids to random controversies - of which there are virtually endless numbers in the sciences, from the profound to the mindnumblingly pedantic. If you were teaching a intro to computing class - especially to a not entirely voluntary population, either in high school or as part of a workforce program - would you dump some high-level controversy about computing (I don't even know enough to think of one) in them? Does that make sense? From plate tectonics to the endosymbiont theory, that's not how it works. This sort of thing is thrashed out at the professional level, talked about in university classes, and finally, after it's all over, trickles down into secondary and elementary education.

2b) Because it's a major, important controversy that kids should learn? No. Generally you need both sides to agree that such a thing is happening. That's not currently the case. Right now the handful of ID proponents with any scientific training (as opposed to the lawyers, etc.) are complaining how nobody lets them publish in peer-reviewed journals, while mainstream science either completely ignores them (vast majority) or keeps explaining why it's a waste of time and shouldn't be taught in school (very small minority). Come back in a decade and we'll see.

3a) Because teaching the controversy is only fair!
Who told you life is fair? You should ask them for your money back. But they won't give it to you, because life isn't fair! If life was fair, smoking, drinking to excess, and eating whole chocolate cakes at every meal would be the secret to a long, healthy, beautiful life.

3b) Because parents want it!
See above.

3c) Because teaching the controversy will help kids learn how science works.
This might be true with certain kids in specific situations. In general, introducing extremely emotionally-charged issues tied to cherished religious beliefs into a intro class full of eary adolescents who are still learning how to think 'logically' both in formal settings and life itself (and often failing) is not usually seen as a recipe for success. Given the current climate in many places - where many teachers feel constant pressure to downplay and skip evolution, and some do - it's a recipe for chaos. I don't like making the following comparisons, but have to, to match the emotional charge: without at all suggesting any kind of moral equivalance, imagine an 9th or 10th grade class teaching the controversy over whether the Holocaust happened, or whether slavery was good for black people (anywhere that this would be a live and contentious issue. Would this help kids learn about the issues at hand, or how history is done? For some, probably. For many others . . .

3d) Because it would defuse tensions and help kids learn more.
I can't help thinking this is pretty doubtful. There might be a sort of pool of general disatisfaction that would be drained by such a measure, but the folks really pushing this on the public level (schoolboards, etc.) seem to have a pretty clear agenda. I don't know how much sense appeasement makes here. However, I think everybody on the 'science in science class' pro-science side has no problem with teaching creation (let alone ID) as part of a comparitive religion course. Most of them think its a great idea, generally because they tend to like studyin' stuff, although a few also think of it as a trojan horse of their own. In the one case I know of where this happened, the issue deflated to such a degree that they ended up dropping the elective course because after a year or two so few kids even wanted to take it . . . (will try to find link)

4) Because that's the Truth!
Well, convince enough scientists, and you're good to go! Until then, you already have a network of institutions disseminating this truth among the general public (the majority of which agrees with you), as opposed to the poor scientists, who just have schools (which, if they teach evolution at all, and spend more than a few days in June on it, now have to put up with kids who feel enpowered not just to put their heads down, but also interrupt class with remarks about deformed racoons that are clearly not intended as serious questions), some books (of the kind most people never bother to read) and a couple of shows shown on PBS and/or perhaps two or three cable channels.

"Dominionism? A term for people who vote their convictions?"

No, that's something like idealist, a general term. Dominionism is a specific set of convictions, but with a broad enough range that you have a point. Forgive me for being vague, and let me rephrase: I've heard creepy things about Christian Reconstructionism . . .

"we just want a nation where religion doesn't get banned! "
I seem to remember a couple of decades where we were locked in constant (if low-level) conflict with a country, bloc, and ideology where that was basically the case. We're not gonna do that. Someone tries, not only I (which might not count for much) but the entire ACLU will be on your side, along with liberals everywhere, and oh, the Constutution.

The whole gay marriage thing (a bit out of nowhere, but trying to think of supposedly religion unfriendly policies more serious than OHMIGOD, THEY'RE CALLING IT A SPRING BUNNY!!!) - whatever one's views, I hope everyone realizes that not only will people not have to get gay-married if they don't want to, but no church, temple, mosque, etc. will have to perform or accept gay marriages, y'know?

Of course, they'll have to put up with having it around, rather like the constant torture of knowing that places are open on Sunday!

"And I am not real excited about the government as it stands now...."

Is it even standing? It seems to be mostly sitting on its rear, twiddling its thumbs incompetently . .

"I am sure Groucho could have put it better."

Or Karl. But I'll take Groucho any day: "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." : )


"Because right now science teachers are being made to look foolish because the restraints put upon them is foolish."

You mean the ones about teaching currently accepted science? Doesn't seem to cause much trouble with heliocentrism or germ theory . .

"Darwinists can only propose that valves and chambers were developed as the neck elongated."
Sure. Seems reasonable enough.

"Not that we have a fossil record to support it"
Well, it is a bit hard to get that level of soft tissur preservation, unless you know of some proto-giraffes in a glacier somewhere. We do get to see this sort of thing regarding stuff that actually fossilizes, for example ear bone evolution across the reptile - mammal divide (and that's genuinely amazing. If we didn't have a record of it happening, it would be a great IC argument . . . oh well) . . .

But the bigger point is, we have a process, a mechanism that we can propose, one that seems to be backed up by lots and lots of other examples. ID creationism has nada. It just has 'design'. How? Who? When? Where? They dunno. Biblical creationism has Who, When and Where more or less nailed down, but How - in terms of scientific explanation - is still a big big question mark. Not having a mechanism isn't necessary fatal; if your data is clear enough, you might be able convince people of the W's and get everyone working on the How - but that's not the case here and now.

* Granted, it works wonders in terms of weight loss.

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

"eary adolescents "

I meant early, but eary is sometimes the case too . . .


And I meant to add two things:

Bringing up ID in a college bio course is a whole 'nother matter (both in terms of students' background knowledge, and hopefully level of general and cognitive maturity), and I know at least several professors do so. But think of the difference here. If I had to teach some variety of creationism to, say, 7th graders (I'm certified to teach middle school science - or let's say I get hired to teach on the high school level, somehow), I would have to explain that this isn't supported by current science. For late middle/early high school kids,* the result would be as if I said their religious beliefs were crap, something - whatever my opinion - that would be both personally and professionally wrong, completely inappropriate. Now, of course, I wouldn't be saying that, and I'd waste a lot of time explaining differing epistemological strategies (albeit not in those words), but it's not going to matter. That's what they're going to hear. Better to not bring it up. Explain how we know what we know, as best as possible within the time allotted, but is science class really the place for religious disputes? I mean, I spent most of 6th grade sitting in class reading primatology (and Chinese philosophy, and some Shakespeare),** and still I spent much of 9th grade biology looking at the girls. Don't we need to keep a little time for actually learning the subject?


* and frankly, many adults.

** Not to say that I'm particularly brilliant - I pretty much just peaked early. It also meant that when I got to chemistry I kept on mixing up and a href = "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meniscus">meniscus, at least spelling-wise . . .

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

that should be:
up Menciusand meniscus . . . see, it's still messing me up!

And not *all* kids would misinterpret what I would be saying at a hypothetical science teacher - trying to write too fast - but many would; even if they could repeat the reasons I would give for that not being the case, emotionally it would be the same thing. Have you seen some of the research on adolescent brains? Explains a great deal . . .

-Dan S.