Re: [asa] Cobb County settles lawsuit

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Thu Dec 21 2006 - 12:50:09 EST

There seems as much a threat to 'science teaching,' caused by twisting facts rather than following the evidence where it leads, as to 'theology teaching.' It appears that many things are lowering the status of science from its position as arbiter of truth above all other spheres of knowledge. I am surprised by the number of persons at ASA who sluff off the word 'philosophy' as if discussing things like ID, evolution or creation there would simply be of lower value than discussing them in a 'science' classroom.
  Maybe it's because I've read some philosophers of science, even Feyerabend, that I don't hail 'science' as highly as the philosophes once did. Even without reading philosophy of science, one has to admit that the discipline of science today does not have the iron grip on reality that it once did. There are competing paradigms on what counts as socially important knowledge these days. Scholarship is nevertheless still influential.
  What the court statement shows is the power juriprudence holds over teaching science. I agree with David when he notes that disallowing viewpoints contrary to the status quo a priori is quelching criticism rather than encouraging the development of better views...following the evidence where it leads. I may not agree with IDM-ID, but there are some aspects of the argument for ID that are not entirely idiotic.
  Where I disagree with Michael (while at many other times agreeing with him) is on the notion that geology holds a monopoly over evolutionary thought. It doesn't. It would be an ideal situation if every scientific discipline humbly presented their contribution to human knowledge with the caveat that other disciplines know things they do not and see things differently than they do. Unfortunately, since it serves the interests of individuals to prop up their own areas of study (judges and geologists not excluded) above others, an egalitarian approach to paidea and the 'most important questions' are often lost in our current educational system.
  This leads me to ask: would Michael and others here at ASA speak out to criticize evolutionary theories if they were being taught in a philosophy classroom (c.f. process philosophy) in which they were present? On the flip side, it seems to me that arguing against the 'theology of ID' (which several people here have already done) rather than about the so-called 'science of ID' would be a more suitable opposition to reveal to IDists that their views are perhaps counter-productive to the ultimate cause they are trying to promote.
  In all cases, lowering scientific 'discovery' into courts of law seems an unfortunate result of the conditions of our age. Too many lawyers and psychologists in one sovereign place is almost bound to lead to nowhere good.
  Michael wrote:
The problem is that since Arkansas in 1981 and now in the UK with the
Truthin Science stuff, no one can be as relaxed as they were with
militant "creationists" looking over one shoulder and Militant atheists over the
other!! Now I don't know which is the greater curse to science teaching!


"D. F. Siemens, Jr." <> wrote:
      With the decision contrary to what the "Christians" desired, there is sniping at the judge. I would not want to answer at the judgment seat of Christ for such demeaning of a brother.
  I personally insist that the universe follows the design of an omniscient and omnipotent Creator, and adore him. But I recognize that this is not a scientific theory, but springs from religious and philosophical commitments. If God is omnipresent and omnific, how do I scientifically pin him down to a specific location or action?
  On Wed, 20 Dec 2006 10:43:43 -0500 "David Opderbeck" <> writes:
    If this broad language is interpreted literally, depending on what "disclaimers" means in Paragraph 2(a), no teacher in Cobb County can ever criticize the theory of evolution in any way, nor can the citizens of Cobb County vote to adopt a policy that would allow teachers to criticize the theory of evolution in any way, even in a philosophy or history class.

When Kitzmiller was decided, I took lots of heat for arguing that, even if the result was right, the fact that a federal trial judge took it upon himself to provide a philosophical definition of "science" was bad for science as a discipline. This Consent Order seems to me like another step towards control over the philosophy of science by the federal trial courts. I can't see how this is good for science or for democracy.

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Received on Thu Dec 21 12:50:31 2006

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