- Aug 4, 2004
Source: http://abstractfactory.blogspot.com/2005/10/only-debate-on-intelligent-design-that.htmlThe only debate on Intelligent Design that is worthy of its subject
Moderator: We're here today to debate the hot new topic, evolution versus Intelligent Des---
(Scientist pulls out baseball bat.)
Moderator: Hey, what are you doing?
(Scientist breaks Intelligent Design advocate's kneecap.)
Intelligent Design advocate: YEAAARRRRGGGHHHH! YOU BROKE MY KNEECAP!
Scientist: Perhaps it only appears that I broke your kneecap. Certainly, all the evidence points to the hypothesis I broke your kneecap. For example, your kneecap is broken; it appears to be a fresh wound; and I am holding a baseball bat, which is spattered with your blood. However, a mere preponderance of evidence doesn't mean anything. Perhaps your kneecap was designed that way. Certainly, there are some features of the current situation that are inexplicable according to the "naturalistic" explanation you have just advanced, such as the exact contours of the excruciating pain that you are experiencing right now.
Intelligent Design advocate: AAAAH! THE PAIN!
Scientist: Frankly, I personally find it completely implausible that the random actions of a scientist such as myself could cause pain of this particular kind. I have no precise explanation for why I find this hypothesis implausible --- it just is. Your knee must have been designed that way!
Intelligent Design advocate: YOU BASTARD! YOU KNOW YOU DID IT!
Scientist: I surely do not. How can we know anything for certain? Frankly, I think we should expose people to all points of view. Furthermore, you should really re-examine whether your hypothesis is scientific at all: the breaking of your kneecap happened in the past, so we can't rewind and run it over again, like a laboratory experiment. Even if we could, it wouldn't prove that I broke your kneecap the previous time. Plus, let's not even get into the fact that the entire universe might have just popped into existence right before I said this sentence, with all the evidence of my alleged kneecap-breaking already pre-formed.
Intelligent Design advocate: That's a load of bullshit sophistry! Get me a doctor and a lawyer, not necessarily in that order, and we'll see how that plays in court!
Scientist (turning to audience): And so we see, ladies and gentlemen, when push comes to shove, advocates of Intelligent Design do not actually believe any of the arguments that they profess to believe. When it comes to matters that hit home, they prefer evidence, the scientific method, testable hypotheses, and naturalistic explanations. In fact, they strongly privilege naturalistic explanations over supernatural hocus-pocus or metaphysical wankery. It is only within the reality-distortion field of their ideological crusade that they give credence to the flimsy, ridiculous arguments which we so commonly see on display. I must confess, it kind of felt good, for once, to be the one spouting free-form bullshit; it's so terribly easy and relaxing, compared to marshaling rigorous arguments backed up by empirical evidence. But I fear that if I were to continue, then it would be habit-forming, and bad for my soul. Therefore, I bid you adieu.
Source: The Sun-Herald[size=+1]Crusade to lead kids in anti-evolution discussions[/size]
By Sarah Price
November 6, 2005
Supporters of a Bible-based alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution plan to lobby every state high school to have their ideas discussed in science classes.
Campus Crusade for Christ Australia (CCCA), an affiliation of a US-based ministry, plans to send all state secondary schools in the country a copy of an American DVD that outlines the theory of intelligent design.
The theory argues that some living structures are so complex that they must have been created by an "intelligent designer" or God rather than via evolution.
In the DVD, Unlocking The Mystery Of Life, scientists outline the controversial theory and the development of the intelligent design movement.
Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson has backed the teaching of intelligent design in schools, should parents want it.
But suggestions that the theory should be taught alongside evolution have sparked controversy among teachers.
Last month, a coalition representing 70,000 scientists and science teachers said intelligent design should not be taught in school science classes as it was unscientific.
A spokesman for State Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt said the minister did not believe intelligent design should be part of the science curriculum or that it should be included in the syllabus.
"It is not scientific, it is not evidence-based," he said.
The spokesman said intelligent design was not in any NSW Board of Studies syllabus, was not part of the NSW science curriculum, nor were there any investigations being made to have it included as part of the curriculum.
CCCA national director Bill Hodgson said they wanted to make information on the theory available to schools to get students "thinking about the process of life".
"I personally don't see any difficulty for it to be received in science class," he said.
"If [schools] feel they would use it to stimulate critical thought in terms of the processes of science, they can use it in a science class to promote those sorts of discussions."
A Catholic Education Office spokesman said the theory was seen as a philosophy, not science, and they would be happy to have it discussed in religious education classes.
Source: The Sun-Herald
Source: New York TimesNovember 5, 2005
[size=+1]Closing Arguments Made in Trial on Intelligent Design[/size]
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 4 - The nation's first trial to test the constitutionality of teaching intelligent design as science ended Friday with a lawyer for the Dover school board pronouncing intelligent design "the next great paradigm shift in science."
His opponent, a lawyer for the 11 parents suing the school board, dismissed intelligent design as dishonest, unscientific and based entirely on "a meager little analogy that collapses immediately upon inspection."
The conclusion of the six-week trial in Federal District Court on Friday made it clear that two separate but interconnected entities are actually on trial: the Dover school board and the fledgling intelligent design movement.
The board in Dover, a growing town south of Harrisburg, voted last year to read to ninth-grade biology students a four-paragraph statement saying that there are "gaps" in the theory of evolution, and that intelligent design is an alternative they should explore.
At the trial, board members repeatedly said they wanted to "encourage critical thinking." But the parents presented evidence that the board's purpose was religious and that the intelligent design statement was a compromise that the board settled for after learning it could not teach creationism.
Operating on another plane in the case were the dueling scientists, those who argued that intelligent design is an exciting new explanation, versus those who testified that it does not deserve to be called science.
The case, Kitzmiller et al v. Dover, will be decided by Judge John E. Jones III, who says he hopes to issue his ruling before the end of the year, or early January at the latest.
The scientists who advocate intelligent design explained that the complexity of biological organisms and the "purposeful arrangement of parts" are evidence that there is a designer. They said their theory is not religious because they are not claiming the designer is God, since that is untestable.
Scott A. Minnich, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Idaho, testified for the defense on Thursday and Friday, likening intelligent design to seeing a watch and implicitly knowing that it had a designer - the argument the plaintiffs' lawyer called "a meager little analogy."
In his blunt closing argument, the plaintiffs' lawyer, Eric Rothschild, accused the intelligent design movement of lying, just as he said the school board members had lied when they testified that their purpose for changing the science curriculum had nothing to do with religion.
They lied, he said, when they testified that they did not make or hear religious declarations at board meetings, and when they claimed they did not know that 50 copies of an intelligent design textbook were bought for the school with money collected at a church and funneled through the father of a school board member, Alan Bonsell.
This week, the judge himself grew agitated as he questioned Mr. Bonsell about whether he had lied about the books. Mr. Rothschild reminded the judge of that interchange and said that the board's dishonesty "mimics" the intelligent design movement.
"Its essential religious nature does not change whether it is called 'creation science' or 'intelligent design' or 'sudden emergence theory,' " Mr. Rothschild said. "The shell game has to stop."
A lawyer for the school board, Patrick Gillen, said in closing arguments that while some board members had strong religious beliefs, neither their "primary purpose" nor the effect of their policy was to advance religion.
The trial laid bare the fighting over the biology curriculum that went on between Dover's board and science teachers for more than two years. Science teachers testified that they fought the change at every step, but Mr. Gillen said that the final result "has much more to do with the teachers' input" than the board's.
The campaign to teach creationism alongside evolution was largely driven by two school board members, William Buckingham and Mr. Bonsell, who both testified that they believe the Bible's account of creation is literally true.
Michael R. Baksa, the assistant superintendent of the Dover schools, testified Thursday that when he started his job there in 2002, Mr. Bonsell handed him a copy of "The Myth of Separation," a book by David Barton which argues that the founding fathers intended to create a Christian nation, not one in which church and state were separate.
In 2004, after the board passed its policy on intelligent design, Mr. Baksa received a cynical e-mail message from a social studies teacher saying that since the district was transformed from being "standards driven" to "living word driven," maybe the social studies curriculum should change, too. Mr. Baksa responded: "Feel free to borrow my copy" of the "Myth" book "to get an idea of where the board is coming from."
The big question now is whether the judge will base his ruling more narrowly on the specific actions of the Dover board, or more broadly on the permissibility of teaching intelligent design in public school science classes.
Robert Muise, a lawyer for the board, said his strategy was to present scientists as expert witnesses to prove that there is a complex debate among scientists. "It's going to be difficult for the judge to decide" whether the pro- or the anti-intelligent-design scientists are right, Mr. Muise said.
But Mr. Rothschild said, "This isn't really science against science because that would be two competing arguments based on evidence, research and peer-reviewed articles - and intelligent design has none of those."
Source: New York TimesNovember 9, 2005
[size=+1]Kansas Board Approves Challenges to Evolution[/size]
By JODI WILGOREN
TOPEKA, Kan., Nov. 8 - The fiercely split Kansas Board of Education voted 6 to 4 on Tuesday to adopt new science standards that are the most far-reaching in the nation in challenging Darwin's theory of evolution in the classroom.
The standards move beyond the broad mandate for critical analysis of evolution that four other states have established in recent years, by recommending that schools teach specific points that doubters of evolution use to undermine its primacy in science education.
Among the most controversial changes was a redefinition of science itself, so that it would not be explicitly limited to natural explanations.
The vote was a watershed victory for the emerging movement of intelligent design, which posits that nature alone cannot explain life's complexity. John G. West of the Discovery Institute, a conservative research organization that promotes intelligent design, said Kansas now had "the best science standards in the nation."
A leading defender of evolution, Eugenie C. Scott of the National Center for Science Education, said she feared that the standards would become a "playbook for creationism."
The vote came six years after Kansas shocked the scientific and political world by stripping its curriculum standards of virtually any mention of evolution, a move reversed in 2001 after voters ousted several conservative members of the education board.
A new conservative majority took hold in 2004 and promptly revived arguments over the teaching of evolution. The ugly and highly personal nature of the debate was on display at the Tuesday meeting, where board members accused one other of dishonesty and disingenuousness.
"This is a sad day, not just for Kansas kids, but for Kansas," Janet Waugh of Kansas City, Kan., one of four dissenting board members, said before the vote. "We're becoming a laughingstock not only of the nation but of the world."
Ms. Waugh and her allies contended that the board's majority was improperly injecting religion into biology classrooms. But supporters of the new standards said they were simply trying to open the curriculum, and students' minds, to alternative viewpoints.
There is little debate among mainstream scientists over evolution's status as the bedrock of biology, but a small group of academics who support intelligent design have fervently pushed new critiques of Darwin's theory in recent years.
Kenneth Willard, a board member from Hutchinson, said, "I'm very pleased to be maybe on the front edge of trying to bring some intellectual honesty and integrity to the science classroom rather than asking students to check their questions at the door because it is a challenge to the sanctity of evolution."
Steve E. Abrams of Arkansas City, the board chairman and chief sponsor of the new standards, said that requiring consideration of evolution's critics "absolutely teaches more about science."
The board approved the standards pending editing to comply with a demand from two national science groups that their copyrighted material be removed from the standards document because of its approach to evolution.
When Sue Gamble, a board member opposed to the standards, questioned the wisdom of voting on an unfinished document, calling it "a pig in a poke," Mr. Abrams dismissed the concern, saying, "It's immaterial because you're not going to vote for it anyway."
Indeed, when it was time to raise hands, the four self-described moderate board members cast nay ballots in unison.
Their protest was echoed by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, who called the vote "the latest in a series of troubling decisions" by the board.
"If we're going to continue to bring high-tech jobs to Kansas and move our state forward," Ms. Sebelius said in a statement, "we need to strengthen science standards, not weaken them. Stronger public schools ought to be the mission of the Board of Education, and it's time they got down to the real business of strengthening Kansas schools."
Kansas' move comes a week after the conclusion of a trial in which parents sued the school board in Dover, Pa., over the district's inclusion of intelligent design in the ninth-grade biology curriculum. The two debates have led a swell of evolution skirmishes in 20 states this year.
Local school districts in Kansas, as in most states, choose textbooks and set the curriculum, but the standards provide a blueprint by outlining what will be covered on state science tests, given every other year in grades 4, 7 and 10. The new standards emerged as part of a routine review and would take effect in 2007, presuming next year's elections do not shift the balance on the board and result in another reversal.
Though the standards do not specifically require or prohibit discussion of intelligent design, they adopt much of the movement's language, mentioning gaps in the fossil record and a lack of evidence for the "primordial soup" as ideas that students should consider.
The other states that call for critical analysis of evolution - Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania - do so only in broad strokes, in some cases as part of a standard scientific process.
"They've given a green light to any creationist throughout the state to bring these issues into the classroom," said Jack Krebs, a Kansas science teacher and dissenting member of the standards-writing committee. "Science teachers are not prepared for that discussion and don't want it, because they've got plenty of science to teach."
John Calvert, a lawyer who runs the Intelligent Design Network, based in Kansas, praised the board as "taking a very courageous step" that would "make science education interesting to students rather than boring."
In the standing-room-only crowd in the small board room for Tuesday's session were two dozen high school students fulfilling an assignment for government class by attending the public meeting. They shook their heads at the decision.
"We're glad we're seniors," said Hannah Teeter, 17, from Shawnee Mission West, a high school in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City. "I feel bad for all the kids that are younger than us that they have to be taught things that aren't science in science class."