Courts rule Divine Creation is Science

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  • #1
Jason
http://www.cnn.com/2005/EDUCATION/05/05/evolution.hearings.reut/ [Broken]

Evolution hearings open in Kansas May 5, 2005 Posted: 4:05 PM EDT (2005 GMT

TOPEKA, Kansas (Reuters) -- A six-day courtroom-style debate opened Thursday in Kansas over what children should be taught in schools about the origin of life -- was it natural evolution or did God create the world?

The hearings, complete with opposing attorneys and a long list of witnesses, were arranged amid efforts by some Christian groups in Kansas and nationally to reverse the domination of evolutionary theory in the nation's schools.

William Harris, a medical researcher and co-founder of a Kansas group called the Intelligent Design Network, posed the core question about life's beginnings before mapping out why he and other Christians want changes in school curriculum.

School science classes are teaching children that life evolved naturally and randomly, Harris said, arguing that this was in conflict with Biblical teachings that God created life.
more...

Intelligent Design is a neat little trick developed by creationists that uses the scientific method to present a possible theory that implies a creator.
 
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  • #2
Bystander
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The link isn't working. Scare the hell out of us --- "courtroom style debate" isn't an actual ruling --- "thank god."
 
  • #3
Jason
My apologies for not posting the full article, I was just trying to save a little space on this forum. The link is working fine now. Let me start off by saying:

I think that anything schools can do to help our youth think more on their own should be strongly encouraged. With the abundance of information and mis-information on the Web these days, our kids need a viable strategy for wading through it and skimming off the facts.

Now you can offend me. :smile:
 
  • #4
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Talk about lousy reporting --- starts off saying Harris (the "design" nut) organized the "hearing" --- later says Ks. St. Board of Ed. set it up. Deja vu all over again.

Gotta wonder if schools actually performed whether it would cut down on this endless business of setting standards and performance guidelines.

The hope being that if that door ain't open, the nutsos don't get their feet in it.
 
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  • #5
Jason
I want to emphasize that science, and more importantly scientists, are not infallible. Science searches for better understanding of our universe. If creationism or intelligent design theory is presented as a scientific theory in our schools, it must be open to the same standards of proof and disproof, open to critical assessment, and subject to the same standards as all scientific theories. Otherwise, creationism and intelligent design should be presented as articles of faith and not a matter of science.
 
  • #6
SOS2008
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Jason said:
My apologies for not posting the full article...
You did the right thing--I believe PF guidelines state you are not to post entire articles. :smile: Some more sources -- a link for the Washington Post (and unfortunately the New York Times link is for subscribers only).

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/05/AR2005050501927.html

From the AU site: May 06, 2005
Kangaroo Court In Kansas: School Board Hearings On Evolution Are Stacked

Kansas public school officials are again drawing national attention for their dogged determination to teach students that Darwin's theory of evolution is controversial.

Spurred by Religious Right activists, attempts to undermine the teaching of evolution are not unique to Kansas. The battle over the scientific theory's place in the public schools is not a new one either. The controversy has plagued the nation for well over 80 years now. The historic and often-vitriolic campaign against evolution was born from fundamentalists' fear that mounting scientific evidence showing that current species evolved from preexisting species would undermine belief in a literal reading of the Bible.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Bible's creation story couldn't be taught alongside evolution in public school science courses, Religious Right groups have, as The New York Times recently put it, "become more wily with each passing year."

But the 2004 statewide elections swept Religious Right allies back into the board's majority. And yesterday, a subcommittee of the board got started by presiding over the first of several days of hearings to create new standards aimed at undermining evolution. Scientists and other teachers opposed to changing the standards refused to attend the first day of hearings because the deck seemed stacked against accepted science.

...the Kansas board heard only from panelists who claimed evolution is controversial within the scientific community and that something called "intelligent design," a recent concoction of creationists, should be noted in the public school science courses, if not taught. As The Times reported today, if the board adopts the standards "as expected," it will join Ohio, which "took a similar step in 2002."

Intelligent design (ID) is one of those wily maneuvers the Times' editorial referenced. The Discovery Institute in Seattle peddles ID. The Institute tries, but is not always successful, to dilute the religious underpinnings of ID and instead argues that human beings are so complex that they must have been the product of a purposeful designer. The institute works also to avoid describing the designer.

Late last year, a public school board in Pennsylvania voted to require that their science students be taught that evolution is in controversy and alerted to an alternative theory such as ID. Americans United, representing public school parents, has lodged a federal lawsuit against that school district arguing that ID is watered-down creationism and therefore violates the separation of church and state.

In fact, federal court precedent, well more than a decade old, holds that public school science classes are not the proper forums for discussions of religious concepts. Several Supreme Court decisions make it clear that public schools may teach objectively about religion, but only in classes such as comparative religion or literature.
Jason said:
I want to emphasize that science, and more importantly scientists, are not infallible. Science searches for better understanding of our universe. If creationism or intelligent design theory is presented as a scientific theory in our schools, it must be open to the same standards of proof and disproof, open to critical assessment, and subject to the same standards as all scientific theories. Otherwise, creationism and intelligent design should be presented as articles of faith and not a matter of science.
Though I would say it should be limited to only mentioning creationism as an alternative belief--but not a theory, and therefore that is all that is said. Like mythology, etc., if a student wants to take theology classes, they can with the clear understanding that the are studying religious beliefs. But likewise, I feel evolution should be an elective, so if parents don't want their child to take this class then they don't have to.
 
  • #7
Jason
Intelligent Design doesn't exclude evolution. From what I have read, ID (Intelligent Design) is more of an alternative to the Big Bang than anything else. Creationists probably hope that this will lead to teaching Creationism, but it opens the door for teaching string theory, among other potential things, as well.
 
  • #8
BobG
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The problem is that if a religion is going to serve its members, it has to keep up with the times and find a way to deal with new discoveries and knowledge. A lot of the people behind this have a backwards view of what religion is supposed to be. They're very fundamentalist and their attitude is that humans only exist to serve their church, not the other way around.

If they're that committed to creationism, let them establish their own religious school for whoever they can convince to attend. You can't ignore every development that has occurred over the last 2000 years and expect public schools to cater to your beliefs.

Likewise, it would be just as appropriate to drop the 'diversification training'. While there may be nothing wrong with this in principle, in practice, the issue has consumed so much attention that more and more communities are threatening the very existence of public shools with school voucher programs. I could even live with dropping the Christmas, er, I mean Holiday presentations, even though those were always so much fun.

Schools should concentrate on the skills people need to do the jobs they're most likely to hold. They need to increase the emphasis on science and math and quit trying to push anyone's social agenda.

Ehh, and maybe should put a little emphasis on spelling, too. :rofl:
 
  • #9
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tell me guys, on thursday there was national day of prayer in USA right ? do you have to pray in class ? who came up with this stupidity ?
 
  • #10
Jason
Originally posted by SOS2008
I feel evolution should be an elective, so if parents don't want their child to take this class then they don't have to.
I think this is the situation we already have, isn't it? High school biology class is an elective--you only have to take it if you want the science credit. I agree with you that not every parent would be comfortable with having their child study science, but for those that are, let's make sure the class meets the regular criteria for science I mentioned.
 
  • #11
Math Is Hard
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...the Kansas board heard only from panelists who claimed evolution is controversial within the scientific community and that something called "intelligent design," a recent concoction of creationists, should be noted in the public school science courses, if not taught.
A recent concoction? Hardly. The Argument from Design goes at least as far back as Thomas Aquinas.

That said, I don't believe biology classes are the appropriate venue for discussions of Intelligent Design. They do belong in philosophy and theology classes. IMO, discussions of the Design Argument are not about how the complex systems we observe now came about, but why they came about.
 
  • #12
learningphysics
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I don't see how "Intelligent Design" can be a scientific theory. Is it falsifiable?
 
  • #13
SOS2008
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Math Is Hard said:
A recent concoction? Hardly. The Argument from Design goes at least as far back as Thomas Aquinas.

That said, I don't believe biology classes are the appropriate venue for discussions of Intelligent Design. They do belong in philosophy and theology classes. IMO, discussions of the Design Argument are not about how the complex systems we observe now came about, but why they came about.
Good catch. The AU folks can be biased as well.
stoned said:
tell me guys, on thursday there was national day of prayer in USA right ? do you have to pray in class ? who came up with this stupidity ?
However, since the AU is one of the foremost groups that represent the "other side" of the story, here is another quote to this question:
Wednesday, May 4, 2005
Inclusive Event Celebrates Freedom Of Conscience, Welcomes All Faiths And Philosophical Traditions

By act of Congress, the National Day of Prayer takes place the first Thursday in May. Many events are coordinated by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a private group run by Shirley Dobson, wife of radio broadcaster and Religious Right kingpin James C. Dobson.

The Task Force excludes certain religious groups from its events and has turned many of them into highly politicized fundamentalist rallies. In years past, it has advised that non-Christians not be allowed to speak at local events, and this year the Task Force mandates that participation be limited to "Judeo-Christian" groups.

"Let Freedom Ring: A Celebration of Freedom of Conscience," an event sponsored by the Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United, will be open to Americans of all faiths - as well as those who don't pray.

"America is a nation with rich diversity, and we want to celebrate that fact," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, who will be in Oklahoma City to speak at the event. "The National Day of Prayer has become an excuse for the Religious Right to practice exclusion and peddle bad history. We want to offer an alternative."

Continued Lynn, "Americans United's event is about inclusion, not exclusion. It's a different celebration that honors the Constitution and celebrates our diversity."
For an opposing view feel free to visit the site for the Task Force.
 
  • #14
Jason
Intelligent Design vs. Evolutionary Theory

A preponderance of credible data argues strongly against the literal creationism theory or the theory that the world was created exactly as the Bible described. It is more difficult to evaluate a more allegorical interpretation of the creationism theory because such interpretations are variable and difficult to pin down in terms of details.

The argument for intelligent design is largely based on the judgment that the world and life is too complex to have evolved randomly and must have been created by a intelligent being by design. In a sense, it is the logical counterpart to a "random" model and this is often used as an negative argument for intelligent design.

This unfortunately gives the inaccurate impression that evolutionary theory proposes a random mechanism for change or that evolutionary theory claims to explain all of life. Evolutionary theory simply states that selective pressure explain many aspects of life, as we know it. Darwin proposed natural selection to explain certain phenomena, not all life.

From a pedagogical point of view, we should value theories by how well they predict phenomena. For example, the arithmetic theory is valuable because they predict the outcome off addition, subtraction, and multiplication phenomena. Likewise, Newtonian physics is very useful for predicting certain classes of phenomena. Evolutionary theory predicts many biological phenomena.

Last year, troubled by an informal poll that suggested a majority of students at Columbia thought that evolution is an "unproven" theory, I asked several students to give me three examples of how evolutionary theory affects the science that they are doing now. I was flabbergasted when none of the students can name even one example.

One obvious example is the similarity of humans and non-human animals. If God indeed the similarity of gene sequences in humans and other animals, with differences that correlate with evolutionary distance from us? A second example is evolution of many life forms, such as bacteria and their responses to antibiotics, right before our eyes.

Several students actually came up with a novel explanation. They said that God deliberately made evolution a part of life, in order to fool us humans. This corollary to the creationism or intelligent design theory would be difficult to prove or disprove. Both theories are not also not particularly parsimonious.

If both creationism and intelligent design theory were included in science classes but only if they should discussed rigorously and critically. Such a discussion would actually very very good. I am afraid, however, that proponents of both theories might object to such critical discussion and evaluation, calling such discussion blasphemous.
 
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  • #15
They can't justifiably allow Intelligent Design in schools. Teachers are supposed to present concepts logically, and, therefore, would have to question the existence of God. A teacher might recieve a question on God and be expected to answer. The problems with allowing Intelligent Design go beyond the flaw in the concept itself.

I was frightened when I saw the title of this thread. Intelligent Design is an attempt by fundamentalists to spread their doctrine.
 
  • #16
arildno
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Courts should judge themselves incompetent at ruling in these matters, and give full jurisdictional powers in these matters to a collegium of tenured science professors.

Just my two cents..
 
  • #17
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Jason said:
I think this is the situation we already have, isn't it? High school biology class is an elective--you only have to take it if you want the science credit. I agree with you that not every parent would be comfortable with having their child study science, but for those that are, let's make sure the class meets the regular criteria for science I mentioned.
It depends on where you go to school. When I was in high school, everyone had to take 3 science classes. The standard track that most students took was General Science->Biology->Chemistry. For the honors students it was more like Biology->Chemistry->Physics. You couldn't take Chem/Physics until you had Biology, so I would be hard pressed to call it an elective.

arildno said:
Courts should judge themselves incompetent at ruling in these matters, and give full jurisdictional powers in these matters to a collegium of tenured science professors.

Just my two cents..
My understanding is that it's not a 'court' in any legal sense of the word. It's members of the Kansas Board of Education having hearings about what should be taught in classrooms.

Jason said:
If both creationism and intelligent design theory were included in science classes but only if they should discussed rigorously and critically. Such a discussion would actually very very good. I am afraid, however, that proponents of both theories might object to such critical discussion and evaluation, calling such discussion blasphemous.
I think most people's problem (mine included) with ID is it's not a testable, disprovable theory. As many times as the Theory of Special Relativity has been verified, if we find a circustance where the speed of light is *not* constant, we have to admit there is something wrong with the theory and modify it or come up with a new theory. Too many people have the impression that 'theory' is the same as 'idea' when it comes to science.

My understanding of ID is that it states 'the odds against life coming into existence are 1 in 10100000. Given these odds, there's no way it could have just happened randomly.' Bad logic (and possibly bad math) notwithstanding, I've never heard a way we can test this idea. You either believe it or disbelieve it, and that to me sounds like a subject for a philosophy or theology class.
 
  • #18
honestrosewater
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Intelligent Design differs from the argument from design in that the former (usually) intentionally avoids mentioning God, gods, or anything overtly religious.
Here's what I think is the crux of this or any other similar argument, from the Majority Opinion in a US Supreme Court case regarding creationism in public schools:
The Establishment Clause forbids the enactment of any law "respecting an establishment of religion" (4). The Court has applied a three-pronged test to determine whether legislation comports with the Establishment Clause. First, the legislature must have adopted the law with a secular purpose. Second, the statute's principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion. Third, the statute must not result in an excessive entanglement of government with religion.
Even though some IDers have tried to disguise their religious motivations, I don't think they're fooling anyone.
From the CNN story:
"They are offering an answer that may be in conflict with religious views," Harris said in opening the debate. "Part of our overall goal is to remove the bias against religion that is currently in schools. This is a scientific controversy that has powerful religious implications."
They are offering an answer that is supported by scientific evidence, as is appropriate in a science class. The US government is not biased against or towards religion; It is secular. Offering answers that may be in conflict with religious teachings is not a problem in a secular science class. And any alternate theory presented still must be a scientific theory, and ID is not.
Furthermore, evolution itself is not a theory. Evolution is an observed fact. Natural Selection and other proposed evolutionary processes are theories.
 
  • #19
loseyourname
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stoned said:
tell me guys, on thursday there was national day of prayer in USA right ? do you have to pray in class ? who came up with this stupidity ?
The day has no legal significance and no connection to the state. I'm pretty sure it was a church organization that came up with it and I don't see what's so stupid about it. If people want to all pray about something on the same day, let them.
 
  • #20
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it is stupid with BIG S.why because USA suppose to be secular nation .but when you see politicians and that moron Bush and his criminal gang praying in white house only one question comes to my mind WTF!
Oh ! i know very well this is just smoke and mirror on their behalf so uneducated masses follow in their path but then again I ask my self even more so WTF ! is wrong with americans.
 
  • #21
loseyourname
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Are you ignoring the fact that I told you the Day of Prayer is not state-sanctioned? There is nothing about politicians praying that violates the sanctity of a secular government. It most certainly does violate that same sanctity if you force politicians to give up their religious beliefs and practices. Take a chill pill, stoned. Why are you getting worked up over this?
 
  • #22
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Okay it is not sanctioned but it is slowly going in that direction, is it not ?
 
  • #23
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stoned said:
Okay it is not sanctioned but it is slowly going in that direction, is it not ?
http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/idaho7.htm [Broken] may interest you.

I think you would be hard pressed to find many aspects of American life that are *more* religious than they were 40 years ago. In any debate, the most radical ideas will shine through, but I don't think they represent the majority. It's just a great pendulum swinging back and forth.
 
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  • #24
Jason
Intelligent Design vs. Evolutionary Theory

Originally posted by Grogs:
I think most people's problem (mine included) with ID is it's not a testable, disprovable theory. As many times as the Theory of Special Relativity has been verified, if we find a circustance where the speed of light is *not* constant, we have to admit there is something wrong with the theory and modify it or come up with a new theory. Too many people have the impression that 'theory' is the same as 'idea' when it comes to science.

My understanding of ID is that it states 'the odds against life coming into existence are 1 in 10100000. Given these odds, there's no way it could have just happened randomly.' Bad logic (and possibly bad math) notwithstanding, I've never heard a way we can test this idea. You either believe it or disbelieve it, and that to me sounds like a subject for a philosophy or theology class.
Thanks Grogs. Your comments here prompted me to check PubMed for ID references.

Of interest, a paper entitled Peer-reviewed paper defends theory of Intelligent Design was published in the September 9, 2004 edition of the journal Nature; unfortunately, no abstract is available. I'm sure this would make an interesting read.

A http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050425/full/4341062a.html published online discusses ID. Some quotes:
Back in the student union, Cordova is carefully pointing out what intelligent design can, and can't, do. The concept makes no attempts to verify the creation myth or other major biblical events, such as the flood, he says. Nor does it worry about whether Earth is a few thousand years old, as most creationists believe, or four-and-a-half billion years old, the current geological estimate. Intelligent design, Cordova notes, does not even attempt to prove the type of deity involved, it just points to some sort of supernatural intervention. In other words, he says: "Intelligent design doesn't have any theology to it."
Intelligent-design advocates have mixed reactions to the Christian right's support of their work. On the one hand, the movement is largely dependent on funding from wealthy conservative philanthropists. That, according to Meyer, is why a 1999 funding document from the Discovery Institute argued that intelligent design had "reopened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature", and would eventually lay the groundwork for a series of debates and legal challenges over what should be taught in America's classrooms.

Although Meyer is willing to promote such perceptions, he concedes that they can cause problems. For intelligent-design researchers who would like to see the concept peer-reviewed and accepted by the scientific community, the politics are frustrating, and potentially dangerous. The political goals associated with intelligent design lead many scientists to reject it outright as little more than creationism in a cheap tuxedo. "Some of the policy proposals that have been made, for example the Dover case, are frankly, from our point of view, distracting," says Meyer. "We want to focus on intelligent design as an emerging research programme."
The ID people apparently want it to be scrutinized.
 
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