Re: [asa] Brownback on evolution

From: PvM <>
Date: Tue Jun 12 2007 - 00:30:09 EDT

On 6/8/07, David Clounch <> wrote:

> > IDists can deny that ID is all about
> > religion and claim that forensic sciences etc all show how ID is being
> > applied by science but as I have discussed elsewhere, such arguments
> > do not logically follow. ID's argument is a very narrow argument that
> > claims that "what remains after regularity and chance have been
> > removed as explanations" should be called 'design'. First of all this
> > means that ID cannot even compete with the null hypothesis because it
> > cannot even present an explanation as of the observed data, it merely
> > calls it 'designed'. Furthermore the step from design to designer
> There is no such step in my view. It is a philosophical mistake to make
> any such step.

It's a scientific mistake not to make such a step. In fact, without
such a step, I'd argue that a design inference is meaningless, it
basically is the null hypothesis where IDers argue that since known
hypotheses fail to explain, the default position thus should be
'design'. But that makes design include natural selection as its
designer. Not a very useful approach. In fact, I'd say that ID should
admit that their approach is at best a 'we don't know' statement.

> Of course people do try to make that leap. But people do all sorts of
> things. The question is whether or what (if anything) design tells us
> about the designer. I'd say "not very much". Not enough to warrant all the
> hoopla.

On the contrary

> The hoopla is about something else.

The hoopla is about the scientific vacuity of ID, the hidden agenda of
the Wedge, the flawed representations of scientific knowledge by ID
proponents, the attempts to introduce ID into school curricula etc.

> > cannot even eliminate natural selection as its designer. In other
> > words, there is so much wrong with ID that I do not know where to
> > start.

No comments?

> > I have a question for you though, elsewhere you stated that "I just
> > wonder, if the religious people in Dover had asked for E=MC2 to be
> > taught, if the Dover court would have banned physics, and thus
> > narrowed the curriculum to just one world view just because it wanted
> > to exclude their religion. Edwards mistake was in narrowing for
> > religion. The Dover court's mistake is in narrowing against religion
> > without an overriding state interest to do so."
> Did you reach this conclusion without having read the case?

> Yes, and it was based solely on reading press coverage, not the case. I was
> trying to get at the prejudice against a group of people simply because they
> are religious. Religious people believe in E=MC2.

Your point being? You drew a conclusion which was not warranted by
even a superficial reading of the case.

> I wasn't saying the court was being unfair, I was saying that people around
> the country are being unfair to religious people.

Such is life, people are being unfair to religious and non-religious
people. For instance, it is almost impossible for atheists to get an
elected job in politics

> > If you had
> > read the court case, you would have realized that it was the
> > combination of lack of secular purpose

> I can accept that because of the nature of the defendant board (and their
> poor judgement?). What I've read in the press about them anyway. And I'd
> believe it because the case was dealing with instruction time.

The lack of secular purpose was evidenced by the non-scientific nature
of ID. Did you know that?

> But putting those specific folks aside (can I do that for a moment? We can
> go back to them later if you like), I'd have to start asking questions about
> demarcation criteria for what is secular purpose. For example, in my

Aha, that infamous demarcation argument.

> school district "methodological naturalism", in whatever way Bruce Endler
> wanted to define it (which may or may not hold true to the real definition)
> was deemed as sufficient reason for the board to ban Darwin's Black Box and
> Darwin on Trial from the school premises. And the media specialists

Without any details it may be hard to draw any conclusions here. If
the standard for acceptance into the library was that the books had to
be of scientific relevance and value, then I can see why these books
may have been rejected.

> approved Darwin's Black Box (they must have thought it had secular purpose).
> But they (the media specialists) banned Darwin on Trial because it contains
> a sentence near the beginning where Johnson says (and I paraphrase) he is
> arguing for the rationality of a Christian world view. That is not
> allowable according to media specialist Connie O'Sullivan. A violation of
> the First Amendment according to her. But banning a book "just because of
> it's content" has often been seen by courts as beyond the power of a school
> board. Even if the book has religious content. For example, the ACLJ has

Not necessarily. Porn comes to mind as a good example.

> successfully pursued many cases where the Bible has been banned in various
> circumstances. This school board, if it were to treat all books on world
> view equally, would have to ban books arguing for an islamic world view, a
> hindu world view, a humanist world view, and even an atheist world view now
> that a federal court has ruled atheism as a religion. They singled out

Your understanding of what the federal court did and did not do seems
to have the same depth of your understanding of the Dover case.

> this one book based on their perception that it is in favor of a Christian
> world view. Is there a secular purpose in banning any of these? One
> schoolboard member said "lets just put them in the philosophy section". The
> other members insisted on banning the books.

So far you have done little to address the issue.

> Is there a secular purpose in allowing a discussion of Davies multiverse
> theory (a theory which is not scientific). Or in disallowing such a thing?

Again you are confused about some issues. Davies multiverse theory has
no religious relevance, and his idea indeed may be scientific as in
fact some forms of the multiverse may be disproven. What is more
important however is that these creationist arguments against teaching
science seem a bit old and lacking in much depth.

> Regardless of that, I'd argue in my school district that students need to
> understand what Behe is trying to say so they can understand what is wrong
> with it (and what is right with it). Banning it destroys the possibility
> of that critique. Thus I'd argue my board acted against a valid secular
> purpose, not in favor of one.

It is neither the school board nor the students' task to rebut Behe's
arguments, science has done so already.

> I usually try to come down on the side of disclosure.

A typical ID position as well.

> My concern is that schools should not exhibit "preferences" in these
> matters. But should accommodate various worldviews. It seems to me it is a
> valid secular purpose to allow such accommodation. If that was what the
> Dover board was trying to do then maybe they did a terrible job of it. Has
> the new board done any better? Or do they have a de facto (actually, a de
> jure) singular world view now? (I honestly don't know. Does anybody know?)

They have a wide varieties of worldviews, including Christian. Of
course, some may argue that a position based on methodological
naturalism amounts to a 'worldview'. Of course, such a 'worldview'
seems to transcend most religions so it really is not a particular

> > David K. DeWolf, Stephen C. Meyer, Mark E. DeForrest, Intelligent
> > Design in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook
> Really? How interesting. I think I'm still confused. Why would these folks
> take a creationist book that had morphed into an ID book and present it as
> an ID book?

Now that's the million dollar question and it does not take much
imagination to come up with the argument. Hint: Read the Wedge

> Was this above quote entered into evidence in the case?

I am not sure, most testimony seemed to reach a similar conclusion.

> > Ignore for the moment the unsupported claims about ID, it seems clear
> > that the book was presented as an Intelligent Design book. When the
> > court was shown how Intelligent Design had become just a placeholder
> > for 'creation(ism)' , the court was not too impressed.

> I bet.

Which is why ID seems to be such a tainted position since the court
observed that its religious roots may never be fully separated from it

> > Peter Irons in the Montana Law review provides us with some
> > interesting insight into the Kitzmiller controversy as well as the
> > claims by DeWolf, West and Luskin (see
> > for an
> excellent read)
> >
> > I'd be interested how you perceive ID ? Is it scientific? Should it be
> > taught in schools? How does ID relate to 'teach the controversy' ?
> wow...getting too asked....

> 1) Actually, its complicated.
> Scientific? Depends. I think some parts are. Demarcation criteria are needed
> here. Which means we have got to stop arguing about who the designer is and
> whether she is a republican or democrat and whether she beats her kids and
> cheats on her taxes. And is onmiscient (as all women purportedly are) and,
> well, you get the idea. My observation is the minute you take the
> Intelligence (with a capital "I") out of it all the creationists lose
> interest. In other words, they never were interested in design. Its just a
> way to shore up their world view. (OK, thats going to make some folks mad
> because its kind of mean. But it is what I've observed. Its a poor
> generalization. I'd say "Prove me wrong ye ol' creationists. Take out the
> intelligence and all the implications then study design using plain old
> math."
> I am not going to hold my breath.

Nor am I going to hold my breath that there will be any relevant
theory which studies 'design' using math. Dembski's approach is mostly
based on the age old probability arguments combined with a concept of
specification. But it does not really study intelligence either, it
deals with 'design'.
IDists have done much harm in conflating their terminologies.

> 2) Taught in schools? No. I'd say yes, taught about, except I wouldn't
> trust my school system to be accurate about it. You will learn why over
> time. I don't want them teaching the Bible either...same problem. But
> banning the Bible? nope. wrong approach.

I agree, teaching about the Bible and ID may have similar problems indeed.

> religious accommodation, the real view of the Court, cannot be
> accomplished by banning one idea in favor of another idea. I'd like to
> demonstrate this later by quoting a case if I may.

Banning ideas if they are religious in nature can be banned from
public schools under the first amendment.

> 3) Does ID relate to teach the controversy? I personally would say no. To
> me it (ID) relates to math. But the philosophical part of, having been

What math? ID is the set theoretic complement of regularity and
chance. There you have the extent of relevant math.

> blown out of proportion, relates to the cultural controversy. Try hiding
> that! Schools teach all about all sorts of controversy. Even
> controversies within science. But Discovery Institute (and I may be the
> only one on earth who says this) got this from the Edwards case. Its what
> the courts want. So DI got in line behind it. THE PROBLEM: It requires
> demarcation criteria.

The court did not want the DI's approach and certainly not the
disaster as found in Pandas. The DI's 'approach' is fully vacuous and
merely underlines their stated goals in the Wedge document. Let's not
pretend that this is an issue of accurate portrayal of real
controversies, that's not what the DI so far has been about. Meyer,
Wells, Behe, Nelson, their contributions to science have been minimal
and their 'controversies' mostly empty strawmen

Creationists have seen an opportunity to teach their ignorance in
classes and although they are now retreating from insisting that ID be
taught, they are resurfacing under a vacuous 'teach the controvery'
approach leading to such poor books as Edge of Evolution (Behe) or the
even more disastrous tract "Explore Evolution". Imagine the cost to
education if these books get used in our educational systems?

And the DI calls the latter one a 'textbook'. By any standard it fails
to be anything even closely similar to such.

And this my friend is why the conclusion that ID is scientifically
vacuous is so well established and further strengthened by the Dover
Kitzmiller ruling.

By any standard the demarcation between science and Intelligent Design
seems to be obvious. Combine the scientific vacuity of ID with the
strong religious foundations and ties, and little is going to save ID
from its inevitable demise. In the mean time, it may drag along quite
a few unaware victims, who like the Dover board took the ID claims
seriously, only to be totally surprised in court when their own
witnesses either did not show or severely undermined any case that

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Received on Tue Jun 12 00:30:55 2007

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