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Dec 27, 2005

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Mike Musselman

Judicial activism, anyone?

Actually, "Intellegent Design" really is a scientific theory. It is a theory, and it held by some scientists. That's all it needs to be to qualify. It is not a popular theory, but neither was Darwin's work, at first. Is it good theory? Dunno. Haven't read the body of work. But I have read quite a bit of the body of work out there on evolution, and ... well, it's still a theory. Ain't a fact yet.

Meanwhile, there are physicists who are positing intelligence behind the universe. And recently, one very prominent fellow, whose name escapes me at the moment, declared a belief in God (although he made clear he had nothing in mind, at the moment, anything closee to the Christian God). I ran across a couple of early "intelligence" ideas in a physicists' journal as long as 20 years ago. And it is growing. Twenty years from now, when the textbooks finally catch up to the current theorists, intelligent design will have some prominent supporters and natural selection will have to make room for what will no doubt be a wealth of new, plausible -- but all unproven ideas -- about how we all came to be here. And at that point, it won't matter what any judge says.

For now, however, the thought police (who happen to be "liberal" today, but have also been "conservative") carry the day. They once attempted to silence Galileo. Now they attempt to silence someone else. It's all the same. No one has the right to stifle the pursuit of truth, and ultimately, no one will be able to. And it is a shame that any judge would declare that our public schools have the right to deny their students access to all the information available to them in that pursuit.

Mike M.

Carol Regehr

The point of view known as "Intelligent Design" and the "controversy" about it can be taught in a history class, sociology class, current events, etc. Public schools are not required to "deny" students access to this information.

This point of view is not science. It is nothing more than a variation on the old "God of the Gaps" philosophy. The judge is to be commended for recognizing this.

Michael Kruse

I am tempted to write a lengthy response here but I suspect I would do better to write another post on this topic. I will see if I can get one written and posted this week to clarify my thoughts on this.

For now I would say that a scientific theory has to be falsifiable and has to have predictive value. You can’t ever conclusively show that God didn’t do anything and I see no predictive value in ID. Am I therefore saying ID is wrong? No. I am simply saying that is bringing in a perfectly legitimate way of “knowing” into a more narrowly proscribed way of knowing, namely observation of natural phenomena. ID proponents have not yet demonstrated to me that it has scientific merit. I am willing to have that discussion.

I agree with not requiring instruction of ID in science classes. However, it is possible to come to the right conclusion for the wrong reasons and that is precisely what I believe happened here.

BTW, Thanks for dropping by Mike! I am glad to see you.

Denis Hancock

I am far enough into Wallis' "God's Politics" to have encountered his comparison of fundamentalists of the Right and fundamentalists of the the Left.

I have noticed over many years that the extremes of most debates are pretty much equally tolerant of dissent.

Michael Kruse

Their clearly is a relious fundamentalism of left and right. Thirty years ago, sociologist David Moberg also spoke of secular fundamentalists as opposed to religious fundamentalists. I think that is part of what we are dealing with here.

will spotts

OK. I'm going to hate myself for this because I think it is a horribly abused construct . . . but this strikes me as a worldview issue. Meaning that this debate tends to focus far less on the merits of the claims than on the overall prevailing philosophies (thus worldviews) of the players. I will not gratify either side with the label they desire -- either a Christian worldview or a scientific worldview. In either case, the arguments are generally disingenuous.

Most of the supporters of ID (not its advocates or originators) are in fact wanting to teach creationism. Most of the opponents of ID are wanting to teach unassisted evolution as fact -- which is by no means a scientific perspective because it assumes an unprovable negative.

ID is not a new phenomenon -- and no, it didn't start with young earth creationism in disguise. It is related to the anthropic principal arguments of the late 80's and early 90's. (That philosophy also made a huge leap from legitimate observation to statements of purpose and origin that are unsupportable on evidence.)

ID errs from a scientific point of view because it posits an intelligent designer it can neither prove nor disprove and for which it can make no test. That is overreaching -- it does not mean that the arguments it advances against weaknesses in Current evolutionary theory are not valid. Irreducible complexity, for example, is only a specious argument when it insists on plugging "God" into the gaps. It is perfectly legitimate, however, to point out that certain developments defy conentional evolutionary wisdom (for example, the development of very complex traits where all the components would need to be present in order to confer reproductive advantage. In those cases, the presumable evolutionary predecessors would have had to have had traits that conferred no reproductive advantage, and in fact would confer reporductive disadvantage). That in itself is intolerable to evolutionary orthodoxy.

What the two side are selling is a complete package -- to be accepted in toto uncritically. They are remarkably alike in their religious and fundamentalist tendencies.

Michael Kruse

"Most of the supporters of ID (not its advocates or originators) are in fact wanting to teach creationism. Most of the opponents of ID are wanting to teach unassisted evolution as fact -- which is by no means a scientific perspective because it assumes an unprovable negative."

Bravo Will! I would add that it is perfectly legitmate to assume unassisted evolution as a methodology just so long as we rememeber the limitiation is an assumption that we ourselves imposed for a particular purpose and not an unquestionable truth.

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