Skip to comments.Scientists in the Kansas intelligent design hearings make their case public
Posted on 05/09/2005 11:35:25 PM PDT by Crackingham
While Kansas State Board of Education members spent three days soaking up from critics of evolution about how the theory should be taught in public schools, many scientists refused to participate in the board's public hearings. But evolution's defenders were hardly silent last week, nor are they likely to be Thursday, when the hearings are set to conclude. They have offered public rebuttals after each day's testimony. Their tactics led the intelligent design advocates -- hoping to expose Kansas students to more criticism of evolution -- to accuse them of ducking the debate over the theory. But Kansas scientists who defend evolution said the hearings were rigged against the theory. They also said they don't see the need to cram their arguments into a few days of testimony, like out-of-state witnesses called by intelligent design advocates.
"They're in, they do their schtick, and they're out," said Keith Miller, a Kansas State University geologist. "I'm going to be here, and I'm not going to be quiet. We'll have the rest of our lives to make our points."
The scientists' boycott, led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Kansas Citizens for Science, frustrated board members who viewed their hearings as an educational forum.
"I am profoundly disappointed that they've chosen to present their case in the shadows," said board member Connie Morris, of St. Francis. "I would have enjoyed hearing what they have to say in a professional, ethical manner."
Intelligent design advocates challenge evolutionary theory that natural chemical processes can create life, that all life on Earth had a common origin and that man and apes had a common ancestor. Intelligent design says some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent cause because they are well ordered and complex. The science groups' leaders said Morris and the other two members of the board subcommittee presiding at the hearings already have decided to support language backed by intelligent design advocates. All three are part of a conservative board majority receptive to criticism of evolution. The entire board plans to consider changes this summer in standards that determine how students will be tested statewide in science.
Alan Leshner, AAAS chief executive officer, dismissed the hearings as "political theater."
"There is no cause for debate, so why are they having them?" he said. "They're trying to imply that evolution is a controversial concept in science, and that's absolutely not true."
Good question. I will be glad to discuss it at some length if you care to.
First of all I will concede that zealots on both sides tend to make extreme statements. There are militant atheists in the evolution side, and there are creationists who use this fact to tar all evolutionists as Marxists, Nazis, atheists, etc.
Second I will acknowledge that there are well educated people who doubt evolution for various reasons. Some doubt the fact of common descent, and some accept common descent but deny that natural selection is sufficient to explain anything more than small adaptations.
Here is what I'm afraid of: the attempt by those outside the mainstream of science to change what science is and what science does.
Evolution is just the latest of a long procession of bogeymen that have been attacked in the name of religion. At the time Vesuvius erupted and destroyed Pompeii, such events were considered to be caused by the wrath of God, or gods as the case may be. The same for earthquakes, disease, storms, etc. It has only been in recent centuries that many people have come to believe these are natural phenomena. I would hesitate to say that even now a majority of people believe all disasters are natural phenomena.
Science has a history going back several centuries of fighting against the assumption that ordinary events require supernatural explanations.
Somewhere around 1700, Christianity adopted the idea that the order in nature was a sign of God's design. Science then became the study of God's design. This worked well until geology and paleontology began unearthing evidence of an earth much older and complex than what was described in Genesis.
First there were fossil remains of creatures never seen. The idea took hold that these bones were the remains of a God directed evolution. It was noticed that fossils associated with lower strata were smaller and less complex than those in higher strata. It was decided that these represented earlier creations, before God created man. The word evolution was first attached to this directed sequence of creation. the term applied to this idea was Natural Theology, the title of a famous book by the Rev. Paley, published in 1802. In this book, Paley outlined the complete argument for intelligent design, including many of the terms, such as irreducible complexity.
There really wasn't much of a philosophical difference between science an religion until science began to explain life as a natural process. It is true that some religious people have always objected to an earth much older than thousands of years, but most people consider the age of the earth a matter of biblical interpretation rather than an article of faith.
As long as science restricted itself to admiring the intricate structure of the cosmos, or the mathematical workings of inorganic chemistry, things were cool. But when biologists rejected vitalism, the notion that life involved something other than chemistry, things began to heat up.
I believe there are areas that cannot easily be reconciled. For one thing, science is the way of acquiring knowledge about the world. It has, in its very core, the assumption that worldly things obey regular laws that can be analyzed and discovered. Science does not distinguish between organic and inorganic. It does not hold any beliefs, even its own, as sacred. If the testimony of witnesses contradicts what can be established by instruments, the witnesses are discarded.
You ask what I am afraid of. I am afraid that the early faith in the essential compatibility of religion and science is being abandoned because science cannot support the opinions and interpretations of some believers. The problem is not with science, which has the same assumptions it had in 1802, a belief in the orderly workings of nature. The problem is with people who do not accept where belief in order leads. they wish to go back to a time when all things were products of a whimsical God, and divine intervention was an everyday occurrence. they wish to make intervention the primary assumption.
But science, makes the opposite assumption.
You make a very good point, but you need to take it a step further. Science, as a whole, does work around the politics and personal egos of the scientists in question. A simple example is to look at the scientific peer reviewed journals. There are a lot of heated, but politely written, exchanges. Over time adn across disciplines, such attitudes are diluted. One generation of scientists leads to another that have different opinions. If Rutherford were still around, nuclear power may not have been acheived because he was a prominent, politically connected scietist who firmly believed that the nucleus of an atom was fixed - it could never be split. Younger scientists took up the challenge and proved otherwise and we have nuclear energy and weapons as a result.
Gosh another area where you demonstrate abject ignorance. Somehow that does not surprise me.
It means biology is a soft science that should not be taken seriously. If you don't understand mathematics than whatever you understand is only at the level of theology anyway.
Thanks for demonstrating that you have shit for brains as well as a maladjusted personality.
Evolution is only the start - even some non-religous people don't like it because it hurts their pride. They don't want to be told that they are related to apes.
If evolution falls, paleontology will be next. The concept of animals existing before humans contradicts the bible.
Next will be geology - the world can't really be 6 billion years old.
Next will be astronomy - those stars can't really be that far away because the universe isn't that old.
And on it goes...
Balrog666: Until believers come up with something they all agree on regarding religion, what difference does it make?
mk9852:It doesn't make any difference. That is my point. And truth is truth. What we do with truth is up to us.
!?! You believe Catholic=Baptist=Unitarian=Judiasm (Orthodox=Conservative=Reform)=Islam=Taoism=Hinduism=Shintoism=Sikhism=Jainism=Zoroastrianism=Scientology?
It's ad hoc, it's not serious mathematics.
Are you under the impression that pure math hasn't got it's byways and alleys where we deal with failures, natural limits of analysis, and groping around in the dark, unaided by provably formal demonstrations?
Not in pure mathematics. It is not the same as an experimental science. Axiom, definition, theorem -- if it's proven, it's right. No muss, no fuss.
IMO the conservative movement has been hijacked by theocrats. I think to some degree that has been corrected here in Canada.
When I see posts suggesting that 'no conservative would support evolution' or 'a real christian has to be conservative' etc...
I have to wonder. :o(
Possibly true. The "thinking passion equals logic" idea is also quite prevalent in politics and the media.
Do you really believe that without any group of voters that Bush would be now be president? Every group is trying to lay claim to "putting Bush over the top". Hispanics, security moms, south park republicans, etc.
Evanglicals have been shown to have voted in the same numbers as in previous elections.
Very well put. It is very similar to the celebrities who spout off about politics. Like the "shut up and sing."
Wow. I've never read a post that so well-defines irony.
I should have begun that post by saying: "To the rational mind, one which does not believe that the fossil record is a gigantic hoax, perpetrated by a long-running conspiracy of thousands of scientists over several generations, or that it exists but was fabricated by the gods to perplex us and test our faith ..."
I would think any true Christian would not be afraid that science would discover something contrary to God. I welcome investigations into why things are and how they work. To me it just proves God knows way more than we do. For those Christians who are afraid, I would say they need to pray for faith. On the other hand, I believe some scientists (atheists) enjoy trying to prove God was not responsible for anything in the universe and that we are all here by random chance. Humans are spiritual beings and to deny that is to deny their humanity. Both religion and science should work at seeking truth, wherever it takes them.
Unless you are Geordono Bruno, or a member of any of several early heretical faiths and the the believers are the Catholic Church.
Kinda like scientists with the global warming scare?
That depends on what the definition of equals equals.
The Alliance party in Canada was a grass roots conservative party that became the major challenge to the Liberal establisment.
Back in 2000 they elected Stockwell Day as leader.
The problem with this choice was it alienated most of the Canadians who wanted a change and had hither to supported the Alliance as a viable conservative group. There was great hope that the Liberal's would finally be unseated..
However the Alliance elected Stockwell Day...those who were not social conservatives or 'retro-christian/ creationists' believed in my view correctly that he was more theocrat than conservative and simply opted to not vote or to vote the known parties...
The Liberals were returned with a majority.
thats the long and short of it....
Then explain the situation in Kansas.
We hear this nonsense all the time. "Gee, the Republicans are gonna lose voters unless they move to the left on [abortion, evolution, gay issues, school prayer, guns....just fill in the blank]."
The republican party has already moved to the left on all fiscal issues. How many spending bills has Bush vetoed?
The GOP is now a fiscal liberal/social conservative party. Fiscal liberal meaning spending money on every program in sight - social conservative meaning "morality police" and establishing a theocracy.
Without the war on terror, I doubt the GOP would get more than 45% of the national vote.
Stockwell Dat lead the Alliance (a conservative, federal party based in the western provinces). The Liberal party used his Christianity against him by basically scare mongering Canadians into thinking he was going to evangelize Canada to his form of Christianity. It worked. Canadians reject mixing religion with politics and it is a strike against anyoine running on the 'morals' platform there.
As for fossils, how many scientists have actually personally examined and tested them? Overall, there have not been as many fossils found as science would lead us to believe. Fossilization doesn't always occur, which I'm sure you know. So science (evolution) is actually passed on to others by very few who have actual evidence that they have examined and studied. A lot of what science purports to "know" isn't readily verifiable by others.
Not in pure mathematics. It is not the same as an experimental science. Axiom, definition, theorem -- if it's proven, it's right. No muss, no fuss.
You don't know what you are talking about. Much of "pure" mathematics has not been assailed by formal systems of proof, and some never can be, provably. You opinions about biology are as uninformed as your opinions about formal mathematics.
Let me see if I get it...
Biology is a "soft" science because it's not, well math.
And until biology actually *becomes* math, it is only something to sneer at.
Did I miss anything?
#####The GOP is now a fiscal liberal/social conservative party. Fiscal liberal meaning spending money on every program in sight - social conservative meaning "morality police" and establishing a theocracy.#####
I agree with you on the fiscal liberalism. But the theocracy charge is utter nonsense. Was America a theocracy from 1776 through about 1973? Listening to a lot of people, you'd think so. Social conservatives simply want an America like A) the Founding Father intended and B) like it was until activist social liberal judges changed it.
#####Without the war on terror, I doubt the GOP would get more than 45% of the national vote.#####
Then why is the GOP performing so well in states where the so-called "theo-cons" run the party (the south and heartland) while it's stagnant in areas where socially liberal Republicans hold sway? Lose the "theo-cons" and the GOP will perform nationally at about the level they perform in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Well I am not disagreeing with you at all.
Basically what I was trying to say is that is that while you correctly point out some creationist/religionists are patent liars the others are not really aware that they are lying.
When you are lied to about something by someone you have faith in has told you....when you pass that lie on as truth do you recognize it?
They have been lied to so much and so often by those they have faith in...they simply do not know fact from fiction
honesty from dishonesty.
Or sumpin like that .. :o)
Global warming or more accurately, global climate change is not a scare but a reality.
It is the cause of the climate change that has been politicized.
Infinitely more than the number of creationists.
Overall, there have not been as many fossils found as science would lead us to believe.
Ah, then you think it's a fraud?
Fossilization doesn't always occur, which I'm sure you know.
Yes. Thus the inevitability of gaps.
So science (evolution) is actually passed on to others by very few who have actual evidence that they have examined and studied.
So? Do you think they're lying?
A lot of what science purports to "know" isn't readily verifiable by others.
It's all verifiable, to anyone who wants to expend the effort. But for creationists, it's so much easier to do nothing, and thus to know nothing.
And also what best to do about it....
My opinion of the science is that there is strong confirming evidence that global warming is under way (for whatever reason). However non-attempts to deal with it like Kyoto, which seems solely to be a kind of developed world self-flagellation with no discernable benefit to anyone have rightly been rejected by the administration.
That's rich. You badly need to visit the backroom of a university museum before you shove your foot any further into your mouth.
I keep wondering why, if science has such a bad reputation, ID wants ot piggyback on the reputation of science.
If there is a better way of finding truth than through the methods established by science.
The textbook thing is interesting. My son took advanced biology in a public school from a teacher who hated all textbooks and who wrote his own. He must have been competent because all his students passed the AP exam with 4s and 5s.
The "thinking passion equals logic" idea is also quite prevalent in politics and the media.
You seem very defensive on the subject. I was just pointing out that a lot of science requires faith of what others have taught us. But so does most other subjects as well. History, for example. By definition it has to be passed on but a lot of people question others' take on it. I assume science could be the same. And truthfully, if you ask most Americans if they have been following the Kansas situation, I doubt there would be many who have. And what does the federal "No Child Left Behind" Act say about teaching evolution?
Hmmm - let's see. How many fossils of a T-rex do you think lurk in the back of the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Science?
"Overall, there have not been as many fossils found as science would lead us to believe"
I found no fewer than two dozen in one day at the beach last year.
In your opinion, how many fossils has science led us to believe exist? How much are they exaggerating?
There are literally *tons* of fossils out there. Try a search on ebay. You can buy a piece of an extinct animal for your very own.
Not defensive at all. Revolted by ignorance would be far more accurate.
I was just pointing out that a lot of science requires faith of what others have taught us.
No. That's a misuse of the term "faith." Faith is belief in the absence of evidence or logical argument. Science is the opposite. Any scientific proposition can be tested. Which is quite unlike creationism and ID, I should add.
The philosopher kings apparently have really bad teeth, and die, like Jim Henson, from rejecting medicine.
I've on occasion seen one creationist admonish another for such blatant dishonesty, but it is a rare thing to witness
Wow, I'm really impressed. Someone who has read Alfred North Whitehead. Wish more would.
Anything can be proven to be impossibly improbable. It takes a bit of psychosis to try this on something that has already happened.
"I found no fewer than two dozen in one day at the beach last year."
Week-old KFC bones don't count.