We’re in Kansas after all, Toto

President Bush gives props to the “intelligent design” (read: anti-evolution) campaign:

In an interview at the White House on Monday with a group of Texas newspaper reporters, Mr. Bush appeared to endorse the push by many of his conservative Christian supporters to give intelligent design equal treatment with the theory of evolution.

Recalling his days as Texas governor, Mr. Bush said in the interview, according to a transcript, “I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught.” Asked again by a reporter whether he believed that both sides in the debate between evolution and intelligent design should be taught in the schools, Mr. Bush replied that he did, “so people can understand what the debate is about.”

Mr. Bush was pressed as to whether he accepted the view that intelligent design was an alternative to evolution, but he did not directly answer. “I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought,” he said, adding that “you’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.”

The rest of the story has an aide trying to backtrack.

But then, in a story below, we see that Tom DeLay is appearing on the next Tony Perkins religious fringe TV extravaganza.

Mr. DeLay’s planned appearance adds the imprimatur of a top Republican elected official to the event, which seeks to call attention to what its organizers say is the Supreme Court’s hostility to Christianity and traditional families in its decisions about abortion, homosexuality and government support for religion. It will be broadcast to churches and Christian television stations and distributed as a video.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and the principal organizer, called Mr. DeLay, of Texas, “a natural fit” with the program.

The Republicans seem intent on being the party of the religious fringe.

  • Bill Henry

    In Texas, as elsewhere, excessive exposure to the Son may lead to a muddled thought process.

  • kat

    What should have Bush said. Should he have mndated the teaching of evolution only?
    {John West, commented: “President Bush is to be commended for defending free speech on evolution, and supporting the right of students to hear about different scientific views about evolution.” West is associate director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle.
    The Discovery Institute says it opposes mandating the teaching of intelligent design, but supports requiring students to know about scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory.
    That approach has been adopted by the science standards in Ohio, Minnesota, New Mexico and currently is under discussion in Kansas.
    The think tank also backs the right of teachers to voluntarily discuss the scientific debate over intelligent design “free from persecution or intimidation.”
    Bush expressed similar views in a fall 2004 interview with Science magazine. Asked whether “‘intelligent design’ or other scientific critiques of evolutionary theory [should] be taught in public schools?,” Bush responded that “it is not the federal government’s role to tell states and local boards of education what they should teach in the classroom” but “of course, scientific critiques of any theory should be a normal part of the science curriculum.”
    The National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science insist intelligent design has no scientific basis and oppose its inclusion in school science classes.
    Discovery Institute has compiled a list of more than 400 scientists, including 70 biologists, who are skeptical about evolution.
    “The fact is that a significant number of scientists are extremely skeptical that Darwinian evolution can explain the origins of life,” said West. }
    The leftists seem intent on being the party that wants to indictrinate students in leftist lunacy. What is wrong with allowing students to believe Darwin was wrong?
    Jeff gives props to the evolution (read: anti-religion) campaign. And he pretends to be for free speech–as long as it’s speech he agrees with.

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com Jersey Exile

    “The fact is that a significant number of scientists are extremely skeptical that Darwinian evolution can explain the origins of life”

    Classic misdirection. Evolution has nothing to say about the origins of life, merely the course of life’s development over the aeons after its inception. How the great jump from organic molecules to primordial life occurred is still a matter of scientific speculation, but that mystery shouldn’t be conflated with Darwin’s theory of evolution (which is as sound as scientific theory gets).

    Science is all about free speech, Kat. Give us a theory — any theory — and we will scrutinize it. If your hypothesis can be tested repeatedly under the scientific method and it still holds water, then maybe we’ll include it in the curriculum. Right now Intelligent Design isn’t a theory, it’s a black box. There’s no way to test it, which is why scientists aren’t interested in it.

    It’s not about free speech. Explain to us how ID works, and we will test it as we have tested every other theory which has attempted to explain the inner and outer workings of the universe since the dawn of rational thought. Simply throwing a temper tantrum and accusing us of denying equal time to the equivalent of saying “a wizard did it” isn’t going to cut it past the local PTA level.

  • http://www.dojustly.blogspot.com/ ajmac

    Jersey Exile,

    Evolution is as sound as theory gets? Really? As sound as the theory of electricity? Or gravity? Or quantum mechanics?

    After enjoying a century of dogmatic protection within the biological and education establishments, Darwinists have yet to verify their theory, i.e. no evidence exists to suggest that inter-species mutation has ever occurred in the history of the world. How long must a theory be permitted unsuccessfully to prove itself before we can reasonably say that it is unverifiable?

  • http://www.dojustly.blogspot.com/ ajmac

    In other words, Darwinists assume the ultimate question. If the origins and “development” of life cannot be ascertained through scientific means, then the best any of us can do is draw inferences from the science we DO know. Some of us happen to find the ID inference more compelling than the Darwinian one.

  • http://home.earthlink.net/~carlsdesk Carl

    To shift points here, I’m struck by the last sentance “the part of the religious fringe.” I’ve observered this for years. The reason the party is drawn that way is quite simple (basic economics, in a way): they vote in large numbers. No matter how loathsome you may find these folks, the Republicans have garnered an incredible amount of power by catering to them. The only way the Rep’s will back away is if staying aligned costs them. Until the moderates and left pull the same voting numbers, it’s not likely to happen.

  • kat

    The theory of intelligent design is every bit as much a theory as evolution is. It is a theory of evolution–because it is just that–can not be proven so it is not Leftist Law. Have you succeeded in testing the THEORY of evolution. Years of testing and no results. Could it be that it’s false?

  • whodat

    With the development of molecular biology, DNA and the 2nd law (not theory) of thermodynamics, macro-evolution as a theory for creation is simply obsolete. Science has rendered it so. I agree with Jersey to a point–we need to distinguish between macro and micro evolution. There are no valid occurrences of macro that can be pointed to by science. Micro, yes. The fossil record also supports creation.

    We may not be able to scientifically explain with our finite minds how ID works. But that doesn’t mean that evolution should be taught because it’s invalid.

  • owl

    Okay, I was going to stay out of this until the last sentence.

    Jeff and Carl are both wrong. As a former Democrat, you tell me the alternative. Do you want to compare “fringes”. I don’t think so.

    You people who are so concerned about religious fringes, would have a point if they were Islamic and determined to corner those 72 virgins. Now that would concern me. Peaceful people worshiping just can’t work my dander up. Now if you were concerned about some religious people studying and chanting to such an extent that several thousand of them want their 72 virgins, NOW, then I can get worked up.

    What is the problem with allowing peaceful American citizens free speech? Why is that so threatening? If they start blowing stuff up, worldwide, and want to keep all women prisoners at home, covered up to their chiny chin chins……….call me. I promise to show proper shock.

    If the best you can come up with is outrage at Republican religous fringe, you don’t have much. I might not agree with all their stands, and freely admit that the ’92 Convention cost them my vote, I have had a conversion. Hmmm, think Zell Miller did the same.

    I agree with Bush. Teach them both. Thought we were suppose to be moderates.

  • http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/ Bryan William Jones

    I am simply stunned by the lack of scientific education among the general population (and of many of the respondents of this post). The theory of evolution has been supported time and time again by experiments and observation of biological systems at the ecological level as well as the organismal, molecular and genetic levels. The problem with intelligent design is that there is no formal test of the hypothesis and therefore according to scientific principles is not a good “design” for a theory. This is where science and religion refuse to overlap. Science cannot test (many) religious beliefs and therefore should be considered separate from religion. In fact, this very separation allows many scientists to hold their own personal religious beliefs and still function as scientists without any conflicts.

    The reality is that Intelligent Design is a religiously biased belief that places pre-existing constraints upon science that will always lead to corrupt data. For those that are not familiar with the scientific process, in short it goes like this: You form an hypothesis and then attempt to disprove that hypothesis through scientific study and experiments. When you fail to disprove the hypothesis, you may consider it valid and base other hypothesis upon the original. The problem with many folks is that they believe that they can design experiments so that they find evidence that supports what they want to believe. This is bad design and will lead to incorrect assumptions.

  • Gunther

    Kat:

    You’re merely demonstrating your own ignorance in these matters. A theory is not a theory because it can be proven, but because it is capable of being disproven. The nature of scientific hypothesis testing is that a “theory” can be tested. i.e., it can (supposedly) be disproven if the right evidence is collected. A theory can never be proven per se, but what can happen is that it can be shown to account for every available piece of evidence that is out there. In other words, to say that a theory is accepted (like evolution) is to say that it can explain every available piece of evidence, and that there is nothing that contradicts it. If you think that no evidence has ever been applied to evolutionary theory and that it hasn’t been tested against such evidence then you’re woefully ill-informed — what else can I say? The theory of evolution has been evaluated constantly since it was first proposed.

    That doesn’t mean that next year, or 100 years from now, the theory of evolution will fail because evidence that contradicts it will turn up. But so far nothing like that has happened.

    ID, on the other hand, is not a theory at all. How do you disprove ID? How do you demonstrate that God or some intelligent designer does or doesn’t exist? How can you possibly test the theory of ID? You can’t. It is not a theory at all, but merely uses the language of science without having any of its content or rigour. ID is a scam. The choice is not between one theory (evolution) and another (ID) but between science and superstition.

  • http://www.themarketinggene.blogspot.com Stan DeVaughn

    I’m a part-time resident of San Francisco and I’m continually amazed by the similarities between the anti-science religious fringe and the looney-left, anti-everything else crowd that I suffer on a regular basis. Both extremes are true-believers (see Eric Hoffer’s book of the same name), both want to read and hear only the stuff that reinforces their worldview, and neither group has had an original (new) thought in decades. They should get together for lunch sometime. /sd

  • Gunther

    owl:

    Is it “moderate” to place a rational, science based explanation and a faith-based, irrational one on the same footing? Are they to be given equal weight? If so, then I can’t wait for the nation’s medical schools to be required to supplement their “science” based cures for diseases (e.g., drugs and medications, surgeries, etc.) with alternative cures such as “laying-on-of-hands”, exorcism, and faith-healing. If people are free to believe what they want, then hell, why can’t someone become an MD by studying a five-year curriculum of faith-healing procedures?

  • paladin

    Stan DeVaughn has it right. The loony left and the loony right should merge and become The Extremist Party. They are both “true believers” who will not countenance logic or dissention. They deserve each other, and think of the havoc The Extremist Party would play with party politics.

  • W.J. Jones

    What’s so funny here is that Jeff thinks it worth posting that the President’s comment on a difficult subject is for all sides to have their say in this ongoing debate so students can be exposed to various ideas, beliefs, suggestions, theories, etc. And…so…that’s a bad thing?

    It’s awfully funny that our supposed inarticulate, dimwitted, un-educated President can give such a reasoned, level-headed answer on such a difficult, emotional subject.

    Like someone asked, who are the moderates in this debate? And who, Jeff, are the “fringe” dogmatiac nutjobs? In this case, it’s not Bush.

    On this subject of intelligent design, it doesn’t take much of a brain to figure out how our science can’t figure out the answer to that theory? After all, since when does the creation of a creator have the intelligence of the creator?

    I don’t who made God, but I know that He made me. And that’s all I need to know. Sorry, is that dogmatic?

  • Hunter McDaniel

    It’s hard to know what Bush was advocating, but it sounded like he wants ID included alongside evolution in the science curriculum. That’s very misguided because ID isn’t science. This is a matter of definition – science consists of testable hypotheses, which ID does not present.

    On the other hand, much of the push for ID comes as a reaction to those who push the teaching of evolution well beyond science to encompass their own faiths or un-faiths. My son was subjected to “Inherit the Wind” 3 times in his “science” classes.

    Science instruction should focus on the theories and the evidence (which gets a lot more sketchy as one goes back in time). Speculations as to the origin of life (mechanism vs. ID) belong in philosophy class, if such is offered.

  • whodat

    ID is a scam? You are living in the 50′s. Do you also believe the world is flat? Even Antony Flew now believes ID is the truth. This seems to be the main problem: “The idea that one species of organism is, unlike all the others, oriented not just toward its own increated prosperity but toward Truth, is as un-Darwinian as the idea that every human being has a built-in moral compass–a conscience that swings free of both social history and individual luck.” (Richard Rorty, “Untruth and Consequences”)

    There are many scientists who affirm evidence for God’s existence through science.

  • http://healthy-elements.com Lynn

    “Frankly the mathematical chances of pure evolutionary theory producing life as we know it are less than those of a tornado blowing through a junkyard and assembling by accident a working jumbo jet.”
    Evolution – Who designed it? by Rev. Andrew Paton

    http://www.healthy-elements.com/evolution.html

  • Eileen

    Gunther says: “If so, then I can’t wait for the nation’s medical schools to be required to supplement their “science” based cures for diseases (e.g., drugs and medications, surgeries, etc.) with alternative cures such as “laying-on-of-hands”, exorcism, and faith-healing. If people are free to believe what they want, then hell, why can’t someone become an MD by studying a five-year curriculum of faith-healing procedures?”

    ***

    In an October, 2000 article for the Association of American Medical Colleges:

    “According to the latest survey conducted by the NIHR, approximately 70 U.S. medical schools address issues of spirituality in their curricula. Dr. Puchalski, like many other professors of spirituality in medical schools, sees this as a return to holistic medicine…

    …When Howard University medical students enter the classroom of Martin Jones, M.D., they are exposed to music and slides of fine art that are meant to elicit the traditional role of spirituality in medicine. One of the slides he shows is Rembrandt’s “Tobias Healing His Father’s Blindness.” “It shows Tobias healing his father, and over Tobias’ shoulder is an angel, implying that Tobias is relying on higher spiritual entities for guidance in treating his father,” explains Dr. Jones, who is the director of the Spirituality and Medicine Program at Howard University College of Medicine and professor of the course “Faith and Medicine: The Spirit of Healing.” “The image helps students realize that as physicians they can rely on their spiritual reservoir to guide them through their duties as doctors.”

    Dr. Jones gives credence to studies suggesting a link between spiritual and religious practices and improved health outcomes, and he presents them to his students as empirical data that give hard evidence to the benefits of addressing a patient’s spiritual needs. Among other things, these controversial studies have suggested that people who regularly attend religious services or engage in religious practices have lower blood pressure, recover more quickly from depression, have healthier immune systems, and experience fewer hospital stays.

    “Some folks argue against such connections, but I believe they exist,” says Northeastern Ohio Universities’ Pethtel. “I believe researchers are finding the connections between spirituality and health.”…

    …Dr. Puchalski says. “In any aspect of the doctor-patient relationship, it is the patient’s well-being that should always come first.”

    Dr. Jones agrees. “We’re not evangelists,” he says. “We’re not calling people to be ministers. This is about examining the potential spiritual awareness has for healing patients, body and soul.”

    http://www.aamc.org/newsroom/reporter/oct2000/spirit.htm

    So if trained doctors consider spiritual issues as part of their
    ‘scientific curriculum’, should we not be able to consider them alongside pure scientific theory in our classrooms? Or, at the very least, leave Darwinism – along with an analysis of it’s flaws – in science courses, but *also* require a course in philosophy which addresses ID, along with a full spectrum of other philosophies of religion.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Millions of people believe in divine creation or in ID theory. It should be presented in some classes as something that’s out there, so students will know about it.

    It definitely should not be taught in a science classroom in any public school, though.

    Jeff:

    Off-topic, you have probably heard of Stephen Vincent’s execution in Basra last night. I wrote a short personal recollection of him here.

    One can go visit Steven’s blog here.

  • Franky

    “There are many scientists who affirm evidence for God’s existence through science.”

    Well thanks for this. This thread has been the epiphany I guess I needed to experience about those who have been supporting Bush and not coincidently supporting ID – you’re simply not open to reason.

    It’s the age old problem of those with reason and the enlightenment values trying to explain to the guy carrying a piece of wood called his rainstick why the relationship he sees between his dancing and the advent of rain may not be as sure as he believes. Rationality against dumb faith.

    So I guess I could continue here arguing that Bush taking the longest-holidays in x many decades is another fundamental sign of how medicore this president is to the very core of his being but what would be the point? I would just have the rain stick shaken at me and some incantation along the lines of how he needs this to reconnect with the heartland or clear his mind or some other such stupidity. Any possible other explanation except the obvious – he’s a lazy incompetent who wouldn’t last a day in McDonalds. Occam’s Razor is very blunt indeed.

    I don’t know what you see as so precious in our dear leader that has made you suspend all your critical facilities, but neither at this point do I care. I am bothered by your horrific destruction of the values this republic needs, including accountability, intelligence, honor and truth but I see little that can be done to stop you at this point. The damage is done – the time was now to oppose it as a nation. From here on out, all other politicians can simply claim the precedent of Bush. Start a war for all the wrong reasons that leads to the unecessary slaughter of thousands of our troops? Hey Bush did it.

    So congratulations! the barbarians rule Rome, the retarded teach the lessons and the insane run the asylum.

    Jeff, thanks for putting up with me in spite of my snarky comments.

  • http://submandave.blogspot.com submandave

    1. I didn’t get too bent over this report, in part because it looked like cherry-picked extracts of a larger conversation put out by the AP (who would never exhibit any bias against Bush). In fact, reading over the complete transcript, we see Bush’s first response was that local school boards should choose what they thought was an appropriate curriculum. When pressed by the reporter for an answer, Bush gave his personel view that students should be aware of different schools of thought. And this makes him a dangerous religious nut how?

    2. Bryan William Jones: “The theory of evolution has been supported time and time again by experiments and observation of biological systems at the ecological level as well as the organismal, molecular and genetic levels.” Despite the impressive verbiage, you fail to acknowledge the basic fact that all evidence to which you refer only supports microevolution, and none of it supports macroevolution. It is one thing to look at Eohippus and conjecture that through natural selection stronger and more adaptable variations eventually became today’s modern horse. It is quite another, though, to look at diverse species with different numbers of chromosomes and conclude that somehow they all came from a common progenitor and that mutations that added or removed various chromosomes somehow turned out beneficial (rather than deadly, as all evidence I know of shows) and somehow didn’t render the organism sterile (another common effect of genetic mutations) and somehow the organism was sufficiently compatible with another mutation that somehow happened close enough for these two to mate and produce off-spring of a different species that somehow managed to meet up with other off-spring of a close enough genetic makeup to render them viable mates…

    If you want to call ID religious superstition you have to be fair and also call the idea of macroevolution scientific superstition. Both rely just as heavily on faith in the absense of evidence.

  • owl

    Open mind? I always think the new “food pyramid”.

  • roger tang

    Excuse me? Macroevolution has been OBSERVED. Scientific literature has been recording several instances a year and there’s always a journal article researching the mechanisms.

    Dunno about you, but I call that evidence.

  • http://www.perrspectives.com AvengingAngel

    By backing the quackery that is this repackaged creationism, Bush is showing both his usual disdain for the scientific method and his preference for faith over fact as the basis for public policy. This time, though, the President is also highlighting his ignorance of basic philosophy and pop culture.

    Bush, of course, can be excused for his ignorance of Scottish philosopher David Hume. Instead, Bush and intelligent design proponents should just see (or better yet, read) Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In the Hitchhiker’s Guide, Adams offers an absurd proof of the non-existence of God every bit as compelling – and baseless – as intelligent design.

    For the details, see:

    “Bush and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Intelligent Design.”

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com Jersey Exile

    A question for all you ID proponents out there: if Intelligent Design is truly an alternate scientific theory to the mechanisms of evolution and natural selection and not some hokey postmodern Christian superstition, then by all means produce for me some Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists who support ID as vehemently as American evangelical Christians do.

    As for mandating such crap be taught alongside of actual science in the classroom — if your local school board wants to live in the Dark Ages, it’s fine by me. Just don’t come crying to the rest of us when your kids can’t get into a decent college because they weren’t actually taught biology in high school (though I guess Bob Jones will always take them in, eh?).

    Eileen, modern medicine has long since acknowledged the beneficial effects of spirituality in treatment of disease. Requiring that ID be considered a “valid alternative” to Darwinian evolution would be like Harvard Medical School allowing its students to opt for a Christian Science medical track.

    The problem is that faiths that attempt to explain how the universe works (rather than sticking to the much more mysterious problem of why) are ultimately incompatible with science. Why do you think the Vatican has pronounced evolution acceptable within the context of Catholic theology? Maybe because they spent centuries trying to mandate that its adherents believe that the sun revolved around the earth, only to be proven to be utter fools by the facts.

    Evolution is as much a fact as gravity, which is also a theory, mind you — although I don’t see any evangelicals doing “faith leaps” off of steep cliffs in protest of that dogmatic assertion of Godless science! We may debate about how evolution works, but none of that constitutes refutation of the core principles. Nor is evolution about random chance somehow producing impossible complexity, a la the tornado and the 747. Of course such a thing is absurd, and there’s nothing in Darwinian evolution to support such a notion.

    But of course that’s the point. The would-be debunkers of evolution know that the comparison is absurd. But what if the tornado had produced a Spruce Goose instead of a 747? Less unlikely. A hang-glider? Even less. How about just a wing? Well now it’s not such a miracle anymore, is it? Darwin wouldn’t even start there, though, but with a thing that under certain circumstances might just generate some lift in a strong breeze, like for instance the wings of the birds’ ancestors. As time goes on, small advantages add up and reinforce themselves along the lines of natural selection — hardly a “random” process at this point.

    Proponents of ID however like to suggest that evolution is nothing more than tossing dice over and over again in hopes of getting a winning result , for it is to their advantage to prey on their supporters’ fear of living in a cosmos dictated by blind chance and arbitrary randomness. Again, Darwin does not presume to answer the question WHY but HOW.

    People who maintain that complexity invalidates evolution do so out of ignorance, pure and simple. Sorry if that offends any delicate sensibilites, but there it is.

    Moreover, if we as human beings are examples of Intelligent Design, than would one of its proponents kindly tell me why we have wisdom teeth? Tonsils? Appendices? Vestigial tails? Or why if evolution had nothing to do with our body’s design that the human head of an infant fails to make it through the pelvic opening of the mother in approximately 33% of all births, unlike virtually all other mammals (the science of it: our species was selecting for ever larger brains, up to the point where it was literally pushing the limits of female biological design).

    The main problem with ID is that in the end a believer is forced to accept either an incompetent or downright malevolent designer at Nature’s helm — so is God a screw-up, or is he simply a vicious bastard?

  • rick_d

    Here’s what George Will had to say in his Newsweek column (7/4 issue):

    “Today’s proponents of “intelligent design” theory are doing nothing novel when they say the complexity of nature is more plausibly explained by postulating a designing mind—a.k.a. God—than by natural adaptation and selection. By 1925, Larson’s book notes, ”Christian apologists had long regarded the intricate design of the eye as a ‘cure for atheism’.”

    “The problem with intelligent-design theory is not that it is false but that it is not falsifiable: Not being susceptible to contradicting evidence, it is not a testable hypothesis. Hence it is not a scientific but a creedal tenet—a matter of faith, unsuited to a public school’s science curriculum.”

    Never have I fathomed why Christians of whatever stripe would have a problem with Darwinian evolution. One might do well to remember we live in a solar system that has (and will again) provided the earth with mass extinction events which, as one might say, wiped the slate more or less clean. Perhaps He was unhappy with those dinosaurs?

  • http://www.gregpiper.com Greg

    A question for all you ID proponents out there: if Intelligent Design is truly an alternate scientific theory to the mechanisms of evolution and natural selection and not some hokey postmodern Christian superstition, then by all means produce for me some Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists who support ID as vehemently as American evangelical Christians do.

    Discovery Institute was my employer, although I didn’t work in the science program (tech, transportation and trade was my area). So I feel compelled to defend them against what I can only characterize as shallow, predictable attacks on the “religious fringe” and “creationists,” which they most certainly are not. (Ask a real creationist, like those at Answers in Genesis.) I can tell you one of the fellows in the science program, David Berlinski, is a secular Jew. He surely differs with the others on some things about origins and biological science, but is ultimately unconvinced by the evidence for neo-Darwinian evolution, which at its core says there is no purpose in the universe. Of course the establishment is against them, and most of the supporters are Christians and conservative Jews of some kind, considering they’re inherently friendly to the notion of design in the universe. This is a very new movement, stuck in the very tired lens of religion vs. science, and reporters aren’t sure how to characterize this issue any other way. Still they’ve been quite fair to Discovery, as the Discovery folks will tell you. I know that irritates many bloggers of the secular libertarian wings of right and left.

    The focus on intelligent design in education is rather misplaced – Discovery has principally argued that teachers not be punished for mentioning in class holes in Darwinian theory, the kind that get discussed in mainstream scientific journals. In Washington State, where Disco (as we affectionately call it) is based, one longtime biology teacher was run out of his school district for daring to bring in outside materials – those mainstream journals – and point out problems with Darwinian evolution over a couple days of classes. So I have little sympathy for these claims that we’re witnessing a new Dark Ages in education – look at who’s trying to burn the witches.

    I frequently disagreed with how the science program did its PR, and am still uncomfortable with the closeness they have with a lot of prominent religious conservatives. But actually read their materials, talk to them at conferences and listen to them in state education board hearings, and you’ll find a big tent for disagreement (they disagree on details even in the Institute), very intelligent analysis, and through background in the latest mainstream scientific discussions on Darwinian evolution. They are classic science nerds. If you’re irredeemably hostile to any form of design in the universe, and won’t accept anything other than hardcore materialism, your mind has always been closed. But for the vast majority of America that doesn’t fall into either scripture-based science or full-blown scientific materialism, Discovery’s education agenda isn’t terribly offensive.

  • Eileen

    “If you’re irredeemably hostile to any form of design in the universe, and won’t accept anything other than hardcore materialism, your mind has always been closed. But for the vast majority of America that doesn’t fall into either scripture-based science or full-blown scientific materialism, Discovery’s education agenda isn’t terribly offensive.”

    Yes, Greg, yes. ‘Disco’ (was just reading up on it today at PhysicsToday.org) rocks on all levels. Unless you’re tone deaf.

    I think it frightens some that scientific nerds would, could and DO – embrace the concept of Purpose utilizing tried and true scientific analysis.

    What *if* something actually exists ‘beyond’ their own huge little egos?! Heaven forbid? Their open minds are quite closed in this regard. THEY don’t buy into even the possibility of it; ergo, it just plain doesn’t exist. For They are the center of their own (little) egocentric universes. I say this as someone who was agnostic for over 20 years…

    I’ll go further. I guess they haven’t figured out, yet, that We are One. They are second graders. They’ll come along…in this lifetime…or the next or next.

    Why don’t we talk about the evolution of Souls? Darwin was clearly a First grader, focusing on matters merely related to matter.

    As to JE’s comment re my comment: of course! Question WHY I made the point.

  • Eileen
  • http://submandave.blogspot.com submandave

    Re. Evidence of Macroevolution – Scientific evidence such as the fact that no non-nucleic acid based life has been discovered on earth is often presented as evidence in support of the theory of common descent. I see this, however, not as independent evidence but rather as an interpretation of the fact shaped by the assumption that the chosen theory is true. All that can be really said is that known life shares several common characteristics, either by common descent or design. For example, if I have two chairs that are both made of wood one possible explanation is that they were both made from the same tree while another is that they were both made from distinct trees that were just similar in composition and characterization.

    I’m not hard bent for ID not hard bent against evolution, but the theory that the observable processes of adaptation and natural selection within distinct species indicates a common ancestry and source of life is just that, a theory. The question is if the faith placed in the validity of this particular theory is waranted, and I simply see no evidential reason to invest the same confidence in the theory of common descent as we do experimentaly supportable theories such as gravity, thermodynamics, electromagnetic waves and relativity.

  • whodat

    Jersey makes me laugh with his “living in the dark ages”. It’s so obvious that the “dark ages” is evolution as a means for creation. To teach this to our kids is just wrong.

    “Nor is evolution about random chance somehow producing impossible complexity, a la the tornado and the 747. Of course such a thing is absurd, and there’s nothing in Darwinian evolution to support such a notion. ”

    You really might want to read up on evolution.
    –chances of even the first rung of DNA structure being reached randomly are 10 to the 87th power. That’s 10 followed by 87 zeros, which translates to about 7 billion years. Not even the most ardent evolutionists is willing to take on the job of convincing anyone that it took close to 7 billion years for even the first single cell life form to emerge from what can only be described as primordial slime
    –not one single piece of evidence exists among the fossil collections in all the museums of the world to prove that their origins were evolutionary in nature

    Paul Lemoins (1878 – 1940), past president of the Geological Society of France, past director of the Natural History Museum of Paris–”with regard to the origin of life, science …positively affirms creative power.”

    There are so many other examples.

  • Puzzled Londoner

    Let’s not forget that Gravity is only a theory as well, but I still wouldn’t jump out of a window.

  • Puzzled Londoner

    Whoday – evolution is undirected but it isn’t random, rendering your stats pointless. Unprofitable mutations are lost and useful ones are built on. And if you want to see evolution in action, then have a look at how bacteria have evolved to make penicillin and similar drugs increasingly ineffective.

    And belief in evolution is in no sense incompatible with being a conservative or being a christian, at least on this side of the Atlantic.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Disco Greg misrepresents his employer’s agenda. They wrote a fundraising paper a few years ago explaining the goals and timelines of their ID program that paints a very different picture than the talking points he’s regurgitated here. Some relevant sections:

    Governing Goals – To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies. – To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

    Five Year Goals
    – To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory. – To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science. – To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

    Twenty Year Goals
    – To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science. – To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its influence in the fine arts. – To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

    Go read the whole thing here and theDisco response here.

    ID isn’t properly a “theory” in the sense that the term is used in science. It’s more correctly viewed as a “critique” of evolution by natural selection that essentially says “gee, I just don’t see how that could have happened.” If the ID’ers ever get around to building a theory, and ever get any traction in the peer-reviewed scientific press, and ever attract scientific proponents with genuine credentials, maybe we could think about including it in school science curricula. But it’s nowhere close to the first level of what can charitably be called science, and therefore not ready for prime time.

    And of course this will never happen because ID isn’t intended to shed light on any subject of scientific research, it’s intended to deceive.

  • http://www.gregpiper.com Greg

    Hey Richard, I described their education agenda, as opposed to the larger role they hope to play in scientific discourse. You were the one misrepresenting what I wrote. You’re right – they’ve had lots of trouble breaking through peer reviewed journals specifically on intelligent design and full-throated critiques of Darwinism. They’ve been published in those journals on other subjects, though. And if you bothered to see their scientific credentials – one of them is a five-time Nobel nominee – you’d have to retract your statement. Or at least specify it, as in “they don’t attract enough scientific proponents with genuine credentials.” Your own critique right now is sloppy and hackneyed.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Well actually, Greg, they don’t have any eminent scientists on board, they’ve got a lot of PR people, some philosophers of science, some lawyers, and a few people with advanced science degrees working outside their fields, such as the astronomer Gonzalez.

    Every once in a while some Ph.D. has a nervous breakdown late in life and turns to the life of prayer and contemplation – like Phillip Johnson – and they try and scoop him up, but their most significant catch so far is the molecular biologist Behe, and he’s a bit of a crackpot. (Behe invented the “irreducible complexity” argument that’s been demolished eight ways from Sunday already, and he accepts much more of Darwin then the rest of the Disco crowd thinks is permitted.) The program director, John West, is a flippin’ Moonie, for godsakes.

    So no, they don’t have anybody on board with the kind of credentials that could make their critique sing, but then again it’s a pretty shoddy critique.

    I’ve met some of the Disco people up in Seattle, and they’re extremely mediocre minds, but they try and make up for their lack of intelligence by acting arrogant and playing the victim. Disco is a blight on our democracy.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Oops. John West is not a Moonie; that honor goes to Jon Wells, another prominent ID’ist. Sorry.