Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Intelligent Design in the courts

You can read the long opinion in the Dover I.D. case here. Or you can just read this AP report. Those with a more voracious appetite for information can go here (the Discovery Institute’s Dover page) and here (the National Center for Science Education’s Dover page).

My piece on the Cobb County (GA) textbook sticker case will be posted at The American Enterprise Online tonight. (You know you can’t wait.)

Update: Here’s my TAE Online piece.

UpdateUpdate #2: I haven’t yet finished reading the long opinion in the Dover case, but have read enough to know that the judge may be a good lawyer (or at least may have once been a good lawyer), but that he’s a bad philosopher and theologian. Since his judgment on the law depends upon his seriously flawed opinions regarding philosophy and theology, well, you get the drift.... I have in my mind a piece entitled "Irreducible Hostility," but writing it is at least a day away. (I should also note that the Dover policy, from what I can gather, was much more ham-handed and poorly constructed than the Cobb policy.) For the moment, you can read this fine post. Hat tip: Ken Masugi.

Discussions - 10 Comments

"interlligent" design?

Oops! Fixed it. Thanks.

I found these lines from an AP story amusing, and quite satisfying:

"Jones decried the ’breathtaking inanity’ of the Dover policy and accused several board members of lying to conceal their true motive, which he said was to promote religion.

A six-week trial over the issue yielded ’overwhelming evidence’ establishing that intelligent design ’is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory,’ said Jones, a Republican and a churchgoer appointed to the federal bench three years ago."

Breathtaking inanity - precisely.

I’m a little torn by this decision. While I agree that ID isn’t a scientific theory, this kind of ruling will only convince religious people more thoroughly that the real point is to eliminate "competitors" to a thoroughly atheist, secular worldview. It will propel some out of public schools altogether, and others will only redouble their efforts to get what they see as a fair hearing for their beliefs.

Isn’t it often the case the science courses teach the philosophical history of their disciplines? I’m not sure why ID couldn’t at least be mentioned early in biology courses as a philosophical alternative that, while not a part of the scientific tradition, does provide meaning and understanding in a different way (which it does, after all). This hostile defensiveness on the part of secularists will not serve them well in the future...reasonable yielding and a bit of compromise would go a lot further.

Ideas such as intelligent design can be, and are taught in public schools. Students can learn about them in courses entitled, "Mythology," or "Western Religion," or "History." They are likely to be mentioned when the development of the scientific theory of evolution is discussed. This decision is evidence that the system still works, and I applaud it.

Seriously, what really makes a scientific theory "scientific"? If it can’t be proved, it is a theory. If it can be proved by science, then it is no longer a theory. Is evolution a theory or a fact?

Why then, is everybody so afraid to include the "theories" of intelligent design or creationism in teaching? What happened to a well-rounded education? God forbid we should educate THINKING, DECISION MAKING STUDENTS...

If the idea of an intelligent designer or God offends those who would rather not believe God, why is it acceptable to offend my belief in God with a theory that supposes we descended from monkeys? Once again, the Christian is supposed to "turn the other cheek" and accept what is unacceptable.

Deb, above all a "scientific theory" must be falsifiable using empirical information. ID isn’t falsifiable because the prime explanation (i.e., the Hand of God) isn’t something directly observable in the corporeal world. Natural selection has been replicated in the laboratory and we see it daily in the mutation and selection of such things as flu viruses. It is in every sense a scientific theory.

Nonetheless, ID is an alternative explanation, and I think it probably should be mentioned in biology courses. If nothing else, it should be discussed as untestable and yet possibly valid. True science isn’t as arrogant as secularists apparently think it has to be agnostic (rather than dismissive) about explanations that can’t be tested.

I agree (excuse me a moment) .... with Dain, up to a point.

In his second paragraph, however, he says that true science isn’t arrogant. Science is characterized by its methods, and cannot appropriately be personified. Therefore, science cannot be "right," either. It is a way of doing things. In a similar (not identical)way, a fact may be "true" but inaccessible in a court because it was not found in a legal manner.

To the extent that students should be taught a wide variety of tools, including science, then I agree that ID should be mentioned, but in the context of learning how to DO science, then ID should only be presented as a foil.

Put another way, if we (as we should) introduce science as ONE way of investigating the world, we must also describe other ways (common sense, authoritarianism, faith, tenacity,dogma, etc.). We should suggest that students introduced to the scientific method are not being intoctrinated in it; they may ultimately choose other ways of learning. But, within the context of the scientific method, ID is not a valid explanation.

"Science" is a shorthand for "the scientific community," Fung. And yes, a community can display arrogance, and many scientists often do.

And to correct you, science is not a methodology (although it advocates certain methodological choices). Strictly speaking, it is a philosophy or, more exactly, an epistemology.

Thank you, Dain, for the correction. I’d be even more grateful if I had said that science was a methodology, but I expect that your heart is in the right place.

"Epistemology" is exactly the word I was struggling for.

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