Skip to comments.Evolution vs. Intelligent Design : Chesterfield School Board takes up debate on theories of life.
Posted on 06/08/2007 10:45:45 AM PDT by SirLinksalot
How were the oceans, puppies and human beings formed? Was it through evolution, creationism or something in between?
It's a heavy topic that's generated debate for years. That discourse landed in Chesterfield School Board members' laps recently when they set about adopting new science textbooks for middle and high schools.
At issue was the concept of intelligent design, and why none of the proposed textbooks offered an alternative to evolution for how the universe came to be.
Intelligent design proponents urged the School Board to include that theory in the school system's science curriculum so students can consider differing viewpoints in the classroom. But, federal law requires school systems to remain neutral on the topic, making it illegal for teachers to prompt discussions involving intelligent design or creationism.
In the end, members unanimously approved the proposed textbooks, but issued a formal statement saying, "It is the School Board's belief that this topic, along with all other topics that raise differences of thought and opinion, should receive the thorough and unrestricted study as we have just articulated. Accordingly, we direct our superintendent to charge those of our professionals who support curriculum development and implementation with the responsibility to investigate and develop processes that encompass a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of these topics."
(To read the School Board's complete statement, visit www.chesterfieldobserver. com and click on the link for "special" in the menu on the left.)
Superintendent Marcus Newsome was also asked to ensure teachers are aware of federal laws regarding any discussions of religion in the classroom. Currently, any discussions of creationism or intelligent design must be raised by students not teachers and teachers must remain neutral on the topic.
But some proponents of intelligent design who spoke before the School Board last week believe limiting discussions to evolution is anything but neutral.
"Our children are not being educated; they are being indoctrinated," said Cathleen Waagner. "Let the evidence speak for itself and let [the students] draw their own conclusions."
Another speaker, Michael Slagle, presented a document containing 700 signatures of scientists worldwide who have questioned the validity of evolution.
"Students are being excluded from scientific debate. It's time to bring this debate into the classroom," he said.
On a personal level, some School Board members appeared to agree that discussions on the beginning of life should encompass more theories than just evolution. Dale District representative David Wyman said limiting discussions to evolution is "counterscientific" and said religious topics are already frequently touched on in classrooms. He cited the Declaration of Independence, the paintings in the Sistine Chapel and the Crusades as examples.
School Board Chairman Tom Doland stressed that students are not discouraged from discussing alternatives to evolution or any religious topic. "They do not leave their First Amendment rights at the door," he said.
"As individuals, as parents, we have the right to instruct our children, and we should never turn that over to someone else," he added.
Clover Hill District representative Dianne Pettitt reminded everyone that "teachers are agents of the government Students are free to initiate discussions but we do have to stay within the limits of the law. We cannot just do what we personally want to do."
Midlothian District representative Jim Schroeder said he didn't want those who attended the meeting to "walk out of here thinking, 'There goes the public schools kicking God out of the schools again.'"
"I believe God is the author of life, and I don't want anything taught in schools that denigrates that," he added.
Bermuda District representative Marshall Trammell Jr. was more cautious, saying he was afraid to have teachers deal with such issues in the classroom because they might infringe on students' personal religious beliefs.
"I don't want that in a public school," he said. "That is a matter for church and home."
Students will begin using the new textbooks this fall.
Due to my weaker background for macroevolution, I believe it is harder to test it in the lab. (There may be good examples of reproducible experiments, but I am not familiar with them.) It is, however, easy to observe its effects. I've previously mentioned Darwin's finches, plant reproduction problems, and geographic isolation.
Creationism could be true. The problem is that it is difficult to test its propositions. We can observe a lot of things that seem to be the products of design, for example, there's a mantis in Indonesia that looks exactly like a flower. But, it's not scientific to attribute the result to a higher power. Doing so invokes the supernatural, which has no place in science. What's more, claiming that "God did it" is tantamount to quitting, in my opinion.
When asked to reconcile the not-perfectly-circular orbits of the planets, Newton claimed that it was the work of God. It took another scientist, Kepler, to show that the orbits are elliptical.
We may never know the answers to life, the universe, and everything. But, claiming that "God did it" and leaving it at that takes the fun out of observation, inquiry, and discovery.
Sorry - I guess I wasn’t as clear as I could have been. I meant that I don’t see new and complex genetic information such as would be required to form a new protein forming through a process of random mutation + natural selection. This is because partially coding for a new protein would not provide any benefit to the organism and thus would not be supported by natural selection.
I would agree with you that natural selection will change the allele frequencies in a population over time. Thats really not any different than what happens in a controlled breeding program except that survival is operating as the breeder. And I would not be surprised if that sort of variation is the explanation for Darwin’s finches.
The problem is that evolution claims the complexity of life is the result of mutation + random chance. As I discussed in my earlier posts there isn’t really any good natural explanation for the coding of the complexity of life (all the proteins and such). You reject by definition any appeal to an intelligent designer and I don’t see any natural explanation that satisfies the evidence so I guess we are at an impasse.
Oops typo, my previus post should have read that evolution claims that the complexity of life is the result of mutation + natural selection.
I myself am not religious. I reject the inclusion of an intelligent designer into the field of biology as his existence cannot possibly be tested or observed. (Even if we witness what appears to be design, we are only witnessing the "product" - we do not see the producer.) I do not, however, reject the possibility that such an intelligent designer exists. He very well could. I don't know, and I'm not willing to have faith. But whether or not he exists is a moot point for science unless he reveals himself. As the New Testament says, though, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
I'm happy that you and I have had a civil and courteous discussion on this issue. All too often, supporters of evolution label creationists as rubes and backwards. From the reverse side, supporters of creationism resort to charges of atheism, propaganda, and secularism with unnecessary frequency.
So, it's good to have a calm discussion.
Thanks, I enjoyed discussing the issue with you too. Have a great evening.
Why is it that before the Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom, most tree moths had lighter colors? The trees werent covered in soot. Darker colored tree moths were more readily spotted by birds and thus their numbers were minimal. After the revolution, though, soot began to make its way to the forests, and consequently the trees became darker. The situation was reversed. Now, lighter colored tree moths were more visible to birds, and their numbers dwindled. Natural selection initially favored lighter colored tree moths, but when the environment changed, natural selection began to favor darker colored tree months. Observation something that intelligent design can not do.
This is classic ignorance taken to the limit. The moths that changed colors exhibited no sign whatsoever even of micro-evolution, let alone macro-evolution. All that happened is that moths of a lighter color died off at a more rapid rate than the moths of a darker color. And this is taken as a great “observation” of evolution. What absolute incredible ignorance.
Oh, and ID cannot do any observation? Have you ever looked at how the ear works? Try to build a working model of that sometime, moron, and keep us posted about how far you get. That is an “observation” of ID to anyone with half or more of a brain in their head, which apparently excludes you.
Oh, and I already know your reply: I cannot “prove” that the ear could not have come about without ID. But you have it backwards. The burden of proof is not on me to “prove” that ID was required for the ear to develop. The burden of proof is on *you* to explain how the ear came about by random mutations and natural selection alone. Evolutionists don’t even *try* to do that. They just tell us to use our imagination, and if we cannot imagine how it could happen, then we somehow don’t “understand” science. Bullsh*t.
Cripe, the time I have to waste on you fools.
I myself am not religious. I reject the inclusion of an intelligent designer into the field of biology as his existence cannot possibly be tested or observed. (Even if we witness what appears to be design, we are only witnessing the “product” - we do not see the producer.) I do not, however, reject the possibility that such an intelligent designer exists. He very well could. I don’t know, and I’m not willing to have faith. But whether or not he exists is a moot point for science unless he reveals himself. As the New Testament says, though, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
Oh, this one again. So we cannot identify design unless we can also identify the designer. Hey, genius, suppose I give you a computer program. Would you conclude that we cannot say it is intelligently designed until we know who designed it? Use your brain for a minute if you can.
Suppose we receive an apparently intelligent message from space. Should we reject the idea that it originated from an intelligent source until we can identify that source? Use your brain for a minute if you can. It won’t hurt too much.
I disagree that this is classic ignorance taken to the limit.
I never once mentioned that the moths were an example of macroevolution. It is you, rather, who suggested that I made such an allusion. I did, however, present the moths as an example of microevolution change in the allele frequencies of a population over time. Your statement, All that happened is that moths of a lighter color died off at a more rapid rate than the moths of a darker color, ironically enough, actually confirms that microevolution happened. The moths of a lighter color died off at a more rapid rate than the moths of a darker color. Thats what we call change in the allele frequencies of a population over time. Of course, like with GourmetDan, I dont expect you to realize that what you wrote confirmed my example. That would be asking for too much.
The problem with your take a look at how the ear works argument is that you assume an ear has to be as complex as ours to in order to be considered an ear. It does not.
The burden of proof is on you to show that intelligent design was required for the ear to develop. Your refusal to do so is irresponsible and childish - I believe it, now you prove it. Does that make sense? No. If its your belief, then dont ask others to do the hard work for you. Do it yourself.
Why dont you give me a simple experiment that demonstrates the existence of an intelligent designer? As Ive said multiple times before, I could care less about whether or not youre creationist. Thats your business, not mine. I do care greatly, though, if you attempt to pass off your creationism as science. In order to be considered science, your creationism requires a redefinition of the scientific method to include the supernatural. If you can show that your creationism is science under the commonly accepted definition, more power to you. But, for some inexplicable reason, I get the feeling youre not going to make it. Wonder why.
Also, you didn't have to waste time on "fools like me." That was your choice. You're free to waste time preaching your beliefs on persons such as myself, and you're free to use that time to do other things. I can't force you to do anything.
Verbal irony aside
I would not conclude that if you gave me a computer program and I did not know who programmed it, then the program simply was. Even if the program had no credits whatsoever (i.e. no mentioning of any lead programmer, teams, etc.), it would still not make sense to claim, This program is not the product of any mind or minds. Not only would it not make sense, it would also not be scientific.
So, whats the difference between this and intelligent design ideology? Nothing, really. As you saw in your quotation, I acknowledge the possibility that an intelligent designer exists. Really, he might. But, its not scientific to say, Well, I RussP am too smart to see the massive amount of evidence that is in favor of natural selection and mutation being sufficient to account for natural diversity, so God did it all. And, the burden of that proof is on you, not me. Im sure you agree with me on that. The only way your creationism can be considered scientific is if science is expanded to include supernatural phenomena. As James Randi has demonstrated, supernatural phenomena has a nasty habit of not working under controlled lab conditions. Wonder why.
I ask that you please keep the context of the controversy in mind. Judge Jones ruled in Kitzmiller that you cant teach intelligent design in the public science classroom. He didnt rule that you couldnt teach it in another class; it just cant be a science class.
Im all for any of your attempts to strengthen the role of creationism in history or composition classes. Go ahead. But, if you try for one second to add creationism to the science classroom, then I wont offer you an iota of support.
Good programs are written in many small modules. A change to one can make a program suffer or perform better, or do little or nothing to the functioning of the overall program. The function of a module often does change to essentially become a new feature. And often change over time becomes so much that the interface between the newest module (that's in the latest version of the program) and the old, original program doesn't work anymore (speciation).
Any case they make is not what I'm talking about. It's the willingness of the Discovery Institute to always try to put a new face on its theology to make it more acceptable in science classes. Their goal is to market it by any means necessary, not to let it compete on the merits.
We've tested both micro- and macro-evolution with bacteria. Remember, "macro" refers to a change in species, not to the size of the subject. We've accomplished or observed it mainly in plants though.
Our ears? Yes, quite evolved, but then we are higher animals. I suggest you start looking at a far less evolved ear, which is nothing more than a taught membrane with a chordotonal organ behind it. Such organs are a set of a several nerves that detect stretching, and they're found in many places in the bodies of various animals to detect, for example, the stretching of a limb. But one behind a taught membrane results in primitive hearing as the impact of sound waves on the membrane stretches it (stretch detector, remember?).
To make a long story short -— The calculations of British mathematician Roger Penrose show that the probability of universe conducive to life occurring by chance is 1 in 10^10123.<<
Those kind of arguments generally work to missing something in the calculation. Like all the engineers who said supersonic flight was impossible.
Well, since the tip of a bull whip is supersonic a rational person might argue it more likely that the engineers were making a math error or false physical assumption than thew God intervenes when a whip is cracked.
Likewise, it is more likely that this mathematician made a mistake than that God intervenes each time there is evolution.
What I find much more believable is that God created the first life. There is no science or other evidence to contradict that.
>>Irrelevant to the discussion. The theory of evolution only addresses the development of life, not its creation.<<
Not to mention that what he actually said was that the know principles of physics are insufficient and worked on improving physics principles rather than giving up.
Also he did his work extra-solar planets were unknown and we think there are likely at least billions of planets,
But no matter how good the math work, without knowing what variables one is missing, an accurate probability estimate cannot be counted on.