'Intelligent design' taught in Pennsylvania - Jan 19, 2005 ~ NanoThoughts 1.0

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

'Intelligent design' taught in Pennsylvania - Jan 19, 2005

CNN.com - 'Intelligent design' taught in Pennsylvania - Jan 19, 2005: "'The revolution in evolution has begun,' said Richard Thompson, the law center's president and chief counsel. 'This is the first step in which students will be given an honest scientific evaluation of the theory of evolution and its problems.'"

Intelligent design doesn't sound very scientific to me.

Biology teacher Jennifer Miller said although she was able to make a smooth transition to her evolution lesson after the statement was read, some students were upset that administrators would not entertain any questions about intelligent design.
"They were told that if you have any questions, to take it home," Miller said.

Hmmm, that doesn't sound very scientific either.


Anonymous said...

My main objection to teaching ID in science classes is that it's not science. There are a great many other things that are not mentioned in science classes for this very reason.

The main defense against this, I think, is that evolutionary theory really doesn't produce many testable propositions, and thus it doesn't mean the strictest test of science (falsifiability) either. On the other hand, the real reason that ID isn't science is that it encourages people to just give up. If you can't explain something, just say it was designed and don't consider it further. That's just not an acceptable philosophy for scientific inquiry.

Also, I've been trying to come up with an argument along the lines that any being which could create an 'irreducibly complex' structure, must have had such a structure themselves (although Christians never seem troubled by the 'who made god?' question anyway), but I'm not sure that will really work.

heatkernel said...

This whole affair seems to me to have less to do with science than socio-economical cicrucmstances in the affected areas (two small poor counties of PA and GA). I'll bet it'll be a cold day in Hell before you see any of this nonsense go on in affluent suburban or even troubled but modern urban districts where the parents understand that their children need to have the best science education avaailable to have any hope of advancing. Of course, that doesn't mean it's right, just that perhaps it's not going to be a trend that will go beyond a few out-of-the-way places.

Who is "anonymous"? I liked your post. I would agree that core statements of evolution are not really "falsifiable". I see these core tenets as being 1) that all life forms we see today arose from previously existing ones, and so on, as far back as we can consider and 2) the mechanisms for the transition from one life to another are natural mechanisms. However, using these basic tenets as guides, scientists can and do all the time produce specific falsibiable claims. For example "X species descended from Y species" or "the earth's underwent a great natural disaster X million years ago", "genetic mutation produced this variation", etc. are all falsifiable statements that grow out of using the two basic tenets. All sciences rely on various assumptions that are not "falsifiable" in the Popperian sense, and any philosophy of science that says otherwise is itself inaccurate. The basic reason for adopting the two propositions above is that their negations are inherently unscientific, in the sense of cutting off any further investigation.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous was me. Someday I will take the time to create an account.


Rog said...

Well, if we're talking about natural processes that take long periods of time to take place, then plate tectonics, the big bang etc. are not really falsifiable as well. Certain aspects of evolution are a lot more falsifiable than an "intelligent design" theory. The main point is that science is about natural processes, not intelligently directed activities, so by defintion "intelligent design" isn't science at all. It is outside science. Of course there are problems with contemporary evolutionary theories, nobody who has ever deeply studied would suggest otherwise, but that is what science is about. Not throwing up your hands and saying "it's so complex, somebody had to think it up." I think there are a lot of problems with modern day physics too, but that doesn't make the theories any less valid. I hope that people on both sides can start to realize that science and religion are usually dealing with two very different areas of investigation, existence, etc. but I think this is a particularly enlightened view not held by the majority.

I'd never thought about the rural angle before. It does make sense that a lot of these iniatives take place is less populated areas for the reasons you state, and these people are way more inclined to not be as critically thinking. I have relatives that teach their kids that the world is 6000 years old after all.

Today on Science Friday with Ira Flato on NPR, they had a dialogue about science and religion. This very anti-religion guy was on named Stephen Weinberg. I was listening for a few minutes when I thought "Hey, this is the guy that won the Nobel Prize with Glashow and Salam, I think."

I need to post about that book The God Gene, Richard Dawkins' memes theory and tie it all together. Very interesting how Dawkins invented memes basically to attack religion and theism in general and now there is research that says humans have a gene predisposing some to a belief in God. It all eventually comes full circle I guess.

heatkernel said...

The New York Times weighs in:
(how do you include hyperlinks when posting comments in this format?)

Rog said...

Yeah, I read that too. Glad to see that they are up on it and can eloquently point out the flaws in the ID argument.

To make hyperlinks, type [a href="url"]hyperlinked text[/a]

where the brackets are replaced by less thna and greater than. (comments are simply html. that's all)

another thing about nytimes articles. after the html url, put ?pagewanted=all after it
or just replace the part after the ? with pagewanted=all. that'll put everyting on the same page and for people that don't know how to hit next :) will be able to read the whole article.


Rog said...

here's the link to the science friday with Ira Flato and Stephen Weinberg et al.

January 21, 2005, Hour One: Meteorite on Mars / Science and Religion Part 1: Physical SciencesHeatkernel, another easy way to get hyperlink html is to just hit the blogthis button on whatever page you want to put in the comment. then, just cut the html out of the new blogthis! window and paste that into the comment window.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so this discussion ended, like, a year ago, but I'm just now getting back to it.

Anyway, Rog I think you are playing into hands of the ID folks a little bit with your argument that science is about "natural processes". They have already mounted an assault on this front, with their constant criticism of "naturalism" in science. I think one can avoid this argument entirely (and avoid defining what is "natural") by defining science instead as research that is conducted according to the scientific method (and associated principles). That sounds redundant, but its not really, because one can define the method independently of any definition of science.

I think most people would agree that if the existence of god could be demonstrated scientifically, it would not be "outside of science". For instance, that fake prayer/pregnancy study that was in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine a while ago. Of course, no real study has ever shown such a thing, but if one did, even I would be tempted to accept it.

Then again, it is just such a definition of science that ID, like other pseudo-sciences, seeks to exploit. But their claims are easy to refute (technically, at least) on these same grounds. Beating them politically is another matter.