From: John W Burgeson (burgytwo@juno.com)
Date: Thu Mar 01 2001 - 18:10:37 EST

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    Keith -- I'm still surfing around in the wealth of materials you've led
    me too.

    You have no doubt seen all the stuff below before -- perhaps some on the
    LISTSERV would like to see it.

    I found the following to, perhaps, give a decent summary of the issues. I
    have snipped part of it --the full page is at


    The Intelligent Design Network (new organization?) wrote a response to
    the committee. This is the committee's answer.

    Response of the Writing Committee to the Cover Letter and Document
    Prepared by the Intelligent Design Network
    [Part of a Memo Dated January 30, 2001 to The KSBE]

    The Intelligent Design Network prepared a lengthy response... The Board
    directed the writing committee to consider the ID Network's document in
    preparing its current draft (6.1) of science standards.

    The writing committee set the context for its response by quoting from
    the Intelligent Design Network's cover letter of January 5, 2001 to the
    Kansas State Board of Education:

    "Our proposal is focused on one issue. It seeks only to stop the
    teaching/preaching of naturalism to our children in the area of origins
    science - science that deals with the origin of the universe, of life and
    its diversity. As you know, Naturalism is a doctrine or belief that
    states that all phenomena result only from natural causes - chance and
    necessity - and that design inferences are invalid. It is not a proven
    theory. It is a philosophy."

            My comment: If someone insists that naturalism is a "belief," that means
    necessarily that they are seeing it as a
            philosophy, not as a science. I don't know how to interpret their use of
    "doctrine" above. The IDN's response is
            not at all clear here. Philosophical naturalism is a position that
    insists all events are a result of natural causes.
            Methodological naturalism, still a foundational assumption of science,
    regardless of Phil Johnson's attempts
            to equate it with philosophical naturalism, is a position that I, acting
    as a scientist, assume that all events are a
            result of natural causes. Richard Dickinson, in a recent issue of
    PERSPECTIVES, called science as played by
            that rule a "game. (Not pejoratively, by the way). The physicist Bohr
    observed that It is wrong to think that the
            task of physics is to find out how nature is. He insisted that "Physics
    concerns only what we can SAY about nature."
            I find both these gentlemen very persuasive.

            The IDN is correct, IMHO, when they call Naturalism a philosophy. But
    they err in ascribing to the science standards that
            that philosophy is what must be taught. What is to be taught is
    Methodological naturalism, a rule of the "game,"
            and those, presumably the people in the IDN, who equate PN with MN (in
    error) are free to do so, but not free to
            impose on the rest of the world their misconceptions.

    Writing Committee's Response: Naturalism, as defined by the ID network,
    is a philosophy not a science. In contrast to naturalistic philosophy,
    the proposed draft six standards are about science. ... these standards
    do not foster teaching naturalistic philosophy.... draft six describes
    the limits of science: "Science is the human activity of seeking natural
    explanations for what we observe in the world around us.

            My comment: I could argue that the sentence above might be fleshed out,
    but it is directly to the point.

    Science does so through the use of observation, experimentation, and
    logical argument while maintaining strict empirical standards and healthy
    skepticism." This means that by its methods, science limits its
    investigations to the natural world. It does not propose or even suggest
    that ALL phenomena result from only natural causes. Draft six does not
    state, "Nature is all that is or was, or ever will be."

            Again -- I might argue that the last thee sentences be put in bold print
    at appropriate places within the standard. Perhaps
            they are;I did not read the entire (104 pages) document.

    Consistent with the above response, science itself is limited to natural
    explanations. To open it on par with non-natural explanations would
    erroneously elevate the scope and importance of science. To adopt a
    science definition not anchored in the natural world would make these
    standards the first to invite non-science into the science classroom.

            A good conclusion to a well-measured response, IMHO. I don't expect ID
    to go away; indeed, I hope that it
            does not, for many of the questions they raise are good ones. But I am
    somewhat concerned that they, with their
            currently defined "let the supernatural in" position attain a majority
    position, might open the door to all kinds of foolishness.
    Again, Keith, thanks. I have had a good educational experience from this.

    Burgy (John Burgeson)


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