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  Topic: Reporter in FL Seeks Opinions (seriously), ID in FL CLassrooms is the question< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

Posts: 1238
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2008,00:37   

Tell us: Intelligent design in schools?


The Florida Board of Education will consider adopting proposed new state science standards, which embrace Charles Darwin’s evolution theory as a foundation of modern biology.

The standards have been favorably received by teachers and scientists. But in four public hearings and thousands of postings on a Department of Education Web site, many parents and other observers have objected to the teachings and argue faith-based theories of creation should be in the curriculum.

Brevard Public Schools had the same battle in 2006, when the school board voted to take out two paragraphs in a science text that explained intelligent design

Does intelligent design have a place in the classroom? Let us know your thoughts for an upcoming story.

Contact Education Reporter Megan Downs at and include your name and a daytime phone number.


Just in case any of you church burnin ebola boys  might want to share your thoughts.

Uncommon Descent is a moral cesspool, a festering intellectual ghetto that intoxicates and degrades its inhabitants - Stephen Matheson


Posts: 2324
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2008,01:16   

Oh shit!  Real (unpaid) work.

"Science is the horse that pulls the cart of philosophy."


Wesley R. Elsberry

Posts: 4966
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2008,07:05   

My $0.02


   I’ve been interacting with “intelligent design” creationism (IDC) advocates since presenting at one of their conferences held in 1997. There, Phillip Johnson made clear that the theme was to “legitimate the question”, meaning that they were seeking a concession or acknowledgment that IDC was properly and rightly considered a scientific endeavor. I and other critics there asked a simple two-part question: what would an “intellligent design” hypothesis look like, and how would we test it? They had no answer then, and they have no answer now. This alone would disqualify IDC as rising to even a minimal level of science, but since 1997 we have found that IDC’s origin stemmed from a collaborative act of deceit.

   In 2005, evidence in the “Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District” case showed that the 1989 and 1993 editions of the “intelligent design” textbook, “Of Pandas and People”, had started out as — and still contained verbatim sections from — drafts advocating “creation science”. Chillingly, and tellingly, a critical difference between drafts in early 1987 and late 1987 involved the wholesale replacement of references to “creationism” and “creation science” to “design” and “intelligent design”. The cause? 1987 is the date of the US Supreme Court ruling in “Edwards v. Aguillard” holding that “creation science” was a “sham” and narrow religious viewpoint that was unconstitutional to insert into the public school curricula. The response of the group putting together “Of Pandas and People”, which included many of the people now known as IDC advocates, was to perpetrate another sham in simply re-labeling the same content and treating it as if it represented a new field of scientific inquiry, “intelligent design”.

   This unseemly act of creation introduced its own fall from virtue, as the actions of IDC advocates since that time have incorporated all sorts of political machinations and sharp practice, from the picayune to the spectacular, such as holding a Congressional “briefing” billed as bringing “top scientists”, when the IDC advocates who came were mostly lawyers and philosophers, and one recent doctorate and one mid-rank biochemist. In 2005, IDC followers grabbed power in Kansas, holding “hearings” over new science standards, where many IDC advocates were brought in to testify that the IDC version of the standards were superior. The transcripts reveal that many of the IDC witnesses were willing to testify that the IDC version was the better, even though they had to admit under questioning that they had not bothered to read the original set of standards. Even one of the state board of education members indicated that she hadn’t read the original standards, either. Last year, the third edition of the IDC textbook, “Of Pandas and People”, appeared. Titled “The Design of Life”, its editor made a point of publicly commenting on early favorable reader reviews on, the online bookseller. The same editor attempted to get Amazon to remove an early critical review, which for a time was taken offline, and later restored. There were six favorable reviews posted within three days of the book’s release, and all of those who posted the early reviews were people closely associated with the book’s editor or with an easily discovered history of advocating IDC. The editor and publisher each published comments making it clear that they closely scrutinized pre-publication requests for courtesy and review copies, denying those to people they believed would be critical of the book. In Florida now, several county school boards are passing antievolution resolutions calling on the state board of education to gut the draft science standards. The versions of these resolutions bear uncanny resemblances to one another, leading to the inference that these efforts are connected by a single source, operating behind the scenes and out of the sunshine. These are the actions of people without legitimacy, but desperately trying to create a false impression that they have such.

   “Intelligent design” creationism is not science. IDC is not even a legitimate field of human inquiry. It is, at basis, simply a political ruse, a sham, intended to evade clear legal precedent that excludes narrow religious doctrines from being advocated by the government. The intent of IDC advocates is to introduce as many of the standard religiously-motivated antievolution arguments as they can manage into public school science curricula, and they seem not to care what means they must use to do so. They speak of “alternatives” to evolutionary science, but often refuse to identify just what they intend to offer as such alternatives. They speak of presenting “weaknesses” of evolutionary science, though they will not specify what those weaknesses might be, nor whether they have the sort of scientific accountability that evolutionary science does bring with it. Antievolution arguments are historically and currently comprised of misunderstandings and falsehoods, often intermixed and intermingled. There is no moral imperative to teach students antievolution falsehoods. There is no benefit for students to learn both science and anti-science, and anti-science is precisely the content of IDC argumentation.

   Florida’s citizens should demand that their school boards and political leaders come clean when they talk about “alternatives” to science, or “weaknesses” of science. What, precisely, do they propose to teach Florida’s students, and where did they get the idea that the content they are talking about would be good for students to learn? Does that content have a documented history of presentation to the scientific community, such that the scientific community is generally convinced by the arguments given? Scientists have not had to hold fake “briefings” and “hearings”, game review systems, or organize political resolutions on the sly in order to make their findings accountable and useful for students to learn. Why should we accept the word of people who choose such underhanded and unfair tactics as the IDC advocates have used?

   Wesley R. Elsberry, Ph.D.

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on Jan. 15 2008,07:09

"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker


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Joined: Mar. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2008,09:18   

I sent a long response to that reporter. As a veteran of school board standards shenanigans in the Sunflower State, I hope that my opinions count for something.

I also pointed her to the current pathetic "gimme some ID predictions!" thread at UD. I do hope that she reads it   :)

Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.
                        - Pattiann Rogers

Glen Davidson

Posts: 1100
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2008,13:15   

My comments:

Dear Ms. Downs:

I saw your request for comments about teaching ID in schools, and decided to respond.  Many will bring up church and state issues, so my comments are targeted more toward the science issues.  The following is mostly a response that I made to somebody else, which I repeat here because such a declarative statement provided just the right context for discussing the failings of ID and the successes of normal science.  It begins with an IDist's claims, pretty much what they all say:

IC, CSI, the existence of the cosmos and life itself are ALL compelling evidence for design. What’s denied is that any of these can be taken to be evidence for actual design, even in principle, because we already know a priori that nature posses all the creative power she needs through the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy acting through chance and necessity to explain everything

No, there isn’t anything in “IC” or “CSI” that indicates design. Do you know why nature is called “nature”, and not artifice? It’s because artifice and “nature” (obviously in this sense we’re using "nature" as something opposed to human action, though the default meaning includes human action) are readily, easily distinguishable. That is to say, organisms don’t actually even “appear designed,” except to those who are culturally conditioned to see it that way. And indeed, organisms were credited to God’s doing because they were not the sorts of things that humans can or do make, or would even imagine making prior to seeing them.
Actual designs (including alien designs that we should be able to detect) are distinguishable through their rationality, apparent purposefulness, their lack of evolutionarily-imposed constraints, and by novelty and/or promiscuous borrowing. Not every one of these must appear in each artifact, but one or more must whenever we are not familiar with the objects and their creation.

Do you really think that we’d mistake the aliens for being machines, and their machines for being aliens? Of course we wouldn’t, at least not if the two haven’t become hopelessly entangled through interventions. We’d know the aliens because they show evidence of having evolved (and not having been rationally designed), and we’d know their machines precisely because they had not evolved (not as biology evolves, in any case) and were designed with evident rationality, and mostly likely with apparent purpose.
This is what the IDists with all of their unthinking analogies forget, that with aliens not hugely more advanced than ourselves we’d be able to see what was "natural" (in the narrower sense) life, and what was artifice, because we know the characteristics of each–and these happen to be substantially different.

Dembski has to conflate rational simplicity with “complexity” in order to obscure this fact for the scientifically naive persons who want to believe him, because in fact much design is not very complex (even if it is unlikely to form without intelligence working on it), and much of nature is very complex indeed.

I would repeat a challenge that I've made previously in various forums, including the old Spectrum blog: The IDists have to explain to us why any designer would make all vertebrate wings out of forelimbs originally adapted for moving on the ground (the Wright brothers did not, of course), why the taxonomies appear as predicted by evolution, and why asexual prokaryotes appear to have evolved quite differently from sexual eukaryotes, essentially as predicted by our knowledge of biological evolution. All of these are readily explained by evolution, and are inexplicable through any design principles.


Glen Davidson

I hope that she doesn't mind the cut and paste, but I wouldn't have done better by starting from scratch.

Glen D


Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of coincidence---ID philosophy

  4 replies since Jan. 15 2008,00:37 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  


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